Southern California’s legendary weather blesses the region with the perfect conditions to play the “gentleman’s game,” whether you’re a man, woman or child. When clear skies and 75-degree temperatures beckon, duck out of the city and check out three golf courses that offer unmatched luxury, way beyond the greens.
The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort, Solvang
For spectacular Santa Ynez Valley hill country views, the 10,000-acre Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort in Solvang lets you tee off on a bona fide luxury dude ranch. But even beyond the fairways, the resort, which sits about two and a half hours from Los Angeles, allows guests to step back in time and relax with an array of activities and amenities — from horseback riding and 12-mile cycling tours to fishing on a sparkling lake and savoring lavish wine tasting dinners with local vintners. Two first-class golf layouts, the Ranch and River Courses, provide every level of challenge for the recreational golfer and the pro in a secluded setting. Visionary Billy Bell Jr. designed the venerable, par-72 Ranch Course back in 1955. Reputed for its narrow fairways, deep barrancas and 6,500-yard sprawl, the course challenges even the most seasoned golfer while being surrounded by majestic and towering eucalyptus, oak and sycamore trees. For hardcore enthusiasts, the par-72 River Course, meticulously crafted by Jack Daray Jr. and Stephen Halsey, ups the ante with 6,830 yards nestled up to the Santa Ynez riverbed. With recent enhancements such as new tees, renovated sand bunkers, new landscaping and a refreshed River Grill restaurant serving up views of the greens, the River Course is a vacation in itself. Available year-round, the Golf Getaway package offers amazing perks (studio accommodations, unlimited golf, daily meals) and access to these unique environs.
With its proximity to the endless Pacific Ocean, idyllic San Diego serves as a vibrant backdrop for the golf purist. There’s no better or more playable course to take it all in than at The Grand Del Mar, one of the country’s most luxurious, family-friendly retreats. Less than a two-hour drive from L.A., this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resort boasts some of the finest championship-quality greens at The Grand Golf Club, featuring 18 holes over 380 verdant acres, designed by Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker and renowned golf architect Tom Fazio. Besides sweeping vistas and fairways blanketing the rolling Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, the 7,160-yards, par-72 beauty offers up the equally impressive perks of a recent redesign, including a $1-million-dollar cascading waterfall feature, a new short game practice area with sand bunkers and a chipping green, a 4,200-square-foot putting green and high-tech laser measuring devices. From new, bright red tees for beginners to the recently opened 2,000-square-foot Grand Junior Golf Academy and golf pavilion (ideal for hosting clinics), opportunities abound to perfect your game and get the kiddies in on the action. Top off a day of play with a soothing, herbal Golf Revitalization massage at Five-Star The Spa at The Grand Del Mar and a delicious, locally sourced meal crafted by chef William Bradley at Five-Star Addison on The Grand Golf Club.
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach
On a clear day in Newport Coast, the views from Pelican Hill’s championship golf courses are a testimony to why Southern California is one of the most sought-after places to live (or visit) in the world. Now, if you can peel yourself away from your private bungalow or lounge-chair margarita at the Five-Star gem that’s less than an hour from L.A., you can take in the scenery from the 36-hole, Fazio-designed courses, Ocean North and Ocean South. The works of art highlight the tremendous vistas of the Pacific, as the holes weave in and out of 400 cliffside acres. Despite being a favorite amongst pros, Pelican Hill also is known for great instructional options for the less advanced players. Glenn Deck, one of the top 100 teachers by Golf Magazine, runs a program that offers academy-style training for competitive teens, clinics for adults and juniors and junior golf camps during the summer. When you finish up on the course, the Pelican Hill pampering continues with divine services at the Five-Star spa and delectable offerings from the Four-Star Andrea.
Photos Courtesy of The Grand Del Mar, Robert Kaufman and The Irvine Company Resort Properties