Tired of those endless lines at your local course? There are lots of hot vacation spots where you can swing sticks with more elbow room. But since woman does not live by golf alone, we’ve selected resorts that combine great golf with extra distractions that just may tempt you to skip a round.
Manele Bay Resort, Lanai Oft-links diversion: Trading bubbles with exotic fish.
Forget the leis and syrupy drinks: There’s no Don Ho tackiness on this gorgeous, sparsely populated island, a former pineapple plantation oft Maui. The two sister resorts at Manele Bay and Koele are the only real games in town, but with links like these, who cares? The course at Manele might as well be a whalewatching expedition, especially along the par-three twelfth hole, with its “Look, Ma” 200-yard carry across the ocean from a cliff-top tee (ignore Orca or you’ll miss it for sure). If you pick up mogul vibes, it might be because Bill Gates chose this location for his power-putting nuptials, after reserving each of the island’s 351 hotel rooms. Leave the sand traps for the beach and head into the clear waters of Hulopoe Bay for some of the most pristine snorkeling on the islands. Stealth swimmers may catch sight of giant turtles meandering along the 200-yard-long natural reef
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs Oft-links diversion: Some of America’s best whitewater rafting.
If you’re looking for a place to play Scarlett O’Hara and not give a damn (an attitude that pays oft when the hotel bill is presented), this is the spot. The Georgian style resort is known almost as much for its southern hospitality as for its stunning course, which winds through the Allegheny Mountains. Multitiered greens punish sloppy approaches (stop rolling!), as do some deceptively short holes. Take out your frustrations by screaming down the incredible whitewater rapids–rated from level two to (gulp!) level six–at the nearby Gully and New rivers. You’ll be in good hands in these world-famous swirls: The Greenbrier organizes trips with expert guides, and each excursion includes a very civilized picnic lunch on the river banks
Loews ventana Canyon, Tucson Oft-links diversion: A massive spa with cutting-edge treatments.
Could this resort be any more minimalist? Calvin Klein could learn a thing or two at this spare, peace-inducing, ecru-colored monolith, situated about 20 minutes outside the city. The resort fades like a mirage into the canyon walls. Indulgence comes across the mad at the expanded spa, where techniques like reflexology, hot stone treatments and craniosacral massages promise to relieve stress (even if the names induce their own). The Canyon Course has one of the most famous–and expensive–holes in golf: a 107-yard par three, from one Rocky Mountain precipice to another. You can lose an entire sleeve of balls just trying to land on the green
The Inn at Spanish Bay, Monterey Peninsula Off-links diversion: Wild drives.
Spanish Bay shares Monterey’s famous 17-mile drive with its show-offy world-famous sibling resort, Pebble Beach. Playing the Bay would be less difficult were it not for some of the natural obstacles of this most ecofriendly course. Deer act like hired extras for moveable hazards; and if your ball strays from the straight and narrow into the dunes, don’t even think about going after it–take the drop. It takes stamina to come around the left-listing bend on the eighteenth hole and avoid the rivulet. But the seventh hole wins the topography award: sand dunes and marsh grasslands, inland trees on the approach, stunning ocean views. On a day oft, get into the car and drive south on Highway 1 to Big Sur–the world’s most spectacular 26-mile ocean drive. Once you’ve arrived, check out the Henry Miller museum or have a cappuccino at the cliffside Ventana restaurant
The Equinox, Manchester Oft-links diversion: Bargain-shopping nirvana.
The Gleneagles course is modeled after its namesake in Scotland, and winds through some of New England’s most sumptuous wooded terrain. The thirteenth hole tests nerves at the “snake-pit”–a grass bunker that runs 40 yards and impedes your second shot. If that’s not enough of an adrenaline rush, head to Manchester Center for a pulse-quickening assortment of top designer outlets, offering some of the best bargains in the Northeast. Trust me: Armani dresses at 85 percent oft are nothing to shake a sand wedge at (802-362-4747).
Marriott at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach Oft-links diversion: Catching rays at beachside cabana club.
The Player’s Championship–held here in March–separates the heavyweights from the hackers, fast. The famous seventeenth is probably the most telegenic hole in golf: The moment-of-truth drive to an island green with a brutal far-right pin placement and a lipless edge when you muscle it too much (splash). Sawgrass is one of the biggest tour events of the PGA, and everyone who plays Pete Dye’s first stadium-designed course feels like a pro: Each fairway is literally built to be a gallery, curved up on the edges to allow for gawking spectators. The place to be late afternoon is the resort’s new Cabana Club, with a luxurious pool and bar. Take the hotel’s free shuttle to the pristine beach (read: no spring breakers), fall into a sunny snooze and dream of customized clubs