LPGA sensation Inbee Park is the problem. The young lady who won the U.S. Women’s Open on June 30, her third consecutive majors victory, is making it look entirely too easy on the greens. Folks are watching her effortless stroke and thinking they can do the same things on the fairway. But instead of emulating one of our contemporary greats, you should reserve tee times at some of the finest golf academies across the country. These standout schools, which are held at luxury resorts, offer club-wielding guests everything from multi-day sessions to private on-course classes with an LPGA legend. The following five golf getaways can’t promise to make you the next Park, but they will ensure palatial accommodations while assisting with your inconsistent putting.
The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Learn: As one of the most revered names in professional golf, you’d expect Pebble Beach’s legendary courses to have an equally impressive grip on the amateur scene—and they do. The Pebble Beach Golf Academy is a polished, well-rounded school with great teachers (Laird Small, Sally Dodge) and diverse programs (half-, one- and two-day). Clubbers looking for actual lessons on famed Pebble Beach Golf Links will be slightly bummed that sessions aren’t conducted there; nonetheless, the experiences on the neighboring nine-hole Peter Hay course and The Links at Spanish Bay aren’t too shabby, especially considering how views of the rocky Pacific coastline are picture perfect (even if your swing isn’t quite there yet).
Lounge: With the summer’s Stay & Play package at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Inn at Spanish Bay, guests get two nights’ accommodations, a round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links and another 18 holes on either The Links at Spanish Bay or Spyglass Hills Golf Course, giving you the perfect opportunity to show off what you’ve learned in class.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
Learn: The Franklin Templeton Shootout is a unique PGA event held annually at The Ritz’s fabulous Tiburón Golf Club that has pros battling it out across three formats—modified alternate shot, better ball and scramble format. While we can’t guarantee if any of these quirky styles of play will be on the TOURAcademy’s curriculum, we’re confident you’ll find the itinerary it does have to be otherwise fulfilling. TOURAcademy launched its third Florida location at this Four-Star resort back in November 2012. Much in the tradition of its other Sunshine State addresses in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach, revered TOURAcademy instructors such as Trevor Gliwski and Kathy Padgett lead two- to five-day schools, offer beginner programs and conduct corporate clinics. There’s even a strong initiative to broaden young players’ horizons with the Junior Camp.
Lounge: Through Dec. 31, driver-wielding visitors can partake in the Golf Fore You package at The Ritz. The deal includes an overnight stay, a round at Tiburón, a $50 credit on your TOURAcademy lesson and TaylorMade club rental. Bring along a second player in the aptly named Golf Fore Two package.
Old Edwards Inn and Spa, Highlands, N.C.
Learn: This posh resort in the North Carolina Highlands doesn’t offer an on-site golf academy, per se, but it does provide a wonderful way for resort guests to improve their swing this summer. Mike LaBauve, an Arizona-based instructor who’s ranked No. 39 on Golf Digest’s respected list of top teachers in the sport, will be on property through August, helping folks with all aspects of their play. Over one-hour private sessions or 2.5-hour mini schools, LaBauve and his wife, Sandy, will help males and females complement the gorgeously elevated, Tom Jackson-designed course with their improved game. At day’s end, the LaBauves and their prized pupils reconvene at Old Edwards Inn for a session-capping chat.
Lounge: In addition to the superb golfing conditions, the Four-Star resort is also home to Four-Star The Spa at Old Edwards and some of the finest cuisine the Tar Heel State has to offer at Madison’s. The just-opened Falls Cottages are a stunning rustic addition to the property’s seemingly endless catalog of attractions.
Reunion Resort, A Salamander Resort, Kissimmee, Fla.
Learn: Annika Sörenstam holds a club bag full of LPGA records, including the lowest season scoring average (68.6969) and Player of the Year honors (eight). Though she formally retired from competition back in 2008, she can still teach you a few things on the fairway. And through the ANNIKA Academy at Reunion Resort, Sörenstam and her team of instructors are doing just that. With classes ranging from the pedestrian (Adult Happy Hour) to the pro-like (the multi-day Major package includes a clinic with Sörenstam), the experiences are personalized and fun. But if you want to take things to the top of the leaderboard, sign up for of the Sören-Slam package and score three days of golf and guidance, daily breakfast and lunch, nutritional consultations, and the chance to play nine holes with the legend herself.
Lounge: If you’ve been waiting for the perfect girls golfing getaway, you’ve finally found it. Reunion’s Mulligans, Manicures & Martinis is an all-encompassing deal that includes two nights at the resort, two 90-minute golf clinics from a resort pro, two nine-hole rounds of action, an express manicure and pedicure at the spa and a signature cocktail (perhaps the lemon basil martini?) at the Grande Lobby Sushi Bar.
Pinehurst Resort, N.C.
Learn: After his bumpy finish on June 16, the last phrase Phil Mickelson probably wants to hear is “U.S. Open.” But Lefty can take a bit of solace in knowing that the 2014 tournament will be held at Pinehurst No. 2, a majestic, 7,335-yard wonder of bunkers and beautiful foliage. And to think, after you’ve played the course a few times as a part of your studies at the Pinehurst Golf Academy, you may be able to share some pointers with Mickelson about undulating surfaces and blind spots. But beyond walking the iconic course—which, by the way, is also hosting the Women’s U.S. Open the week after the men’s major next year—students enrolled in the school also get a room at Four-Star The Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst Resort (or one of the other stately choices), three daily meals, club fitting, on-course instruction from talented teachers such as Eric Alpenfels and Kelly Mitchum, as well as video analysis of their swing.
Lounge: While the 30-plus miles of golf on the resort’s eight courses can certainly be enjoyed any time, you could kill several birdies with one trip by coming in late summer for the 25th annual Pinehurst Food & Wine Festival (Aug. 30 to Sept. 2). Expect three days of wine tastings, vino-related seminars and a culinary sampling of dishes from South Africa, Spain and succulent spots in between.
Photos Courtesy of Salamander Resorts, The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company LLC, Michael Clemmer and The Inn At Spanish Bay