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Great Destinations

Appeared in Spring 2014 LINKS

The Greenbrier Sporting Club

Pick any superlative you want. There is no doubt that The Greenbrier is one of the premier resorts and destinations in the world. It has a rich history, a magnificent setting, and is one of the country’s great comeback stories. Sam Snead put it on the golf map decades ago, and today golf luminaries such as  Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson, Bubba Watson, and Webb Simpson are keeping it there.   
The story of local businessman Jim Justice, who invested millions to bring the historic property back to prominence, is well known. As part of the resort’s rejuvenation, he brought the PGA TOUR here (The Greenbrier Classic), opened an $80-million casino club, and purchased The Greenbrier Sporting Club, the resort’s private residential community.

Last year Justice paid to have three model homes built in the community, each the pinnacle of luxury living. The homes sold quickly, helping propel the community to more than $26 million in real estate sales, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Three more model homes are now in the works.

The Sporting Club’s 15 neighborhoods are all on the resort’s grounds, with 45 of the homes ringing the member-exclusive Snead Course. Even though members enjoy unparalleled access to The Greenbrier’s ample amenities, they have many more just to themselves. While they can play any of the resort’s courses (The Old White TPC, The Greenbrier, and The Meadows), it’s a distinct advantage to have a private—and highly rated—Tom Fazio course always at your
disposal, where tee times are not required.

The elegant homes of The Sporting Club include timber-frame mountain homes with fieldstone chimneys, classic white-clapboard cottages, and custom estates. Home prices range from $1 million to $5.5 million. Currently, they have nine developer properties being offered with no club dues through 2015—essentially providing owners with full membership benefits for free after payment of the one-time, 80 percent equitable membership initiation fee.

With miles of trout streams and 10,000 acres to explore, the Sporting Club’s year-round outdoor-pursuit experts help guide members in fly fishing, sporting clays, horseback riding, hunting, archery, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and nearby whitewater rafting. A strong emphasis on children’s programming ensures the entire family has endless possibilities for adventure. As one member put it, “They’ve brought back the
lost art of family togetherness.”

Flights to Greenbrier Valley Airport (15 minutes away), available year round from Atlanta and Washington, D.C., make getting here easy. Interstate 64 runs within a mile of
the resort’s entrance.

The Greenbrier Sporting Club
 
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
888-766-8637
GreenbrierSportingClub.com

The Quechee Club

Vermont, with all its New England charm, changes its appeal with the seasons: Spectacular skiing in the winter, unparalleled leaf peeping in the fall, the quintessential summer retreat, and the place to be when the maple runs in the spring. For generations, the state has served as a refreshing retreat for those who live in the region’s cities.

There is no more perfect example of a place that offers all of Vermont’s best than The Quechee Club, a year-round community near the New Hampshire border about halfway up the state. Just over two hours from Boston, Hartford, and Montreal (New York City is four hours away), its members enjoy seasons of golf and skiing, and a relaxing escape from hectic work-weeks.
This is the picturesque, traditional Vermont we all dream of. Acres of apple orchards surround the golf course, a summer beach camp enlivens the lake, and the big ski hills are within easy reach. Even better, The Quechee Club is an incredible, affordable family-friendly option even for those who primarily use it for a weekend getaway.

For golfers, there are 36 holes, designed by Geoffery Cornish, that comprise two distinctively different courses. The Highland, as its name suggests, runs up through the hills and features dramatic elevation changes with panoramic views. The Lakeland, which plays a bit easier, is more of a links-style design with a long stretch that runs along the Ottauquechee River, while several holes edge Lake Pinneo.

Hurricane Irene ravaged Vermont in 2011. The Quechee golf courses were hit hard and 27 of the 36 holes had to be rebuilt. The good news is that the rebuilt holes are remarkable. The courses’ comeback is so complete that this year they will host Ivy League and Junior PGA tournaments.

There are almost 1,400 members here and about 20 percent call this their full-time home. Ownership opportunities include existing homes, homesites and condos.

In addition to being close to the major ski resorts (Killington is just 30 minutes away), the community has their own ski hill with a quad chair lift. It’s very popular with kids, grandparents, and anyone learning to ski. On President’s Day Weekend, 340 kids came down the slopes in a torchlight parade.

With 11 tennis courts, members enjoy an active tennis program. Last fall a new platform tennis facility opened, which has been a big hit. In the next two years the existing indoor and outdoor swimming pools will be replaced with bigger, more state-of-the-art pools to accommodate a growing membership.

The Quechee Club
Quechee, Vermont, 802-295-9356
QuecheeClub.com

Potomac Shores Golf Club

One of the most widely anticipated golf course openings in some time will happen this spring just 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. Potomac Shores Golf Club will celebrate its grand opening and debut its Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, seven years in the making and already creating quite a buzz.

Golf aficionados, especially those in and around the nation’s capital, can’t wait to get a crack at playing the Nicklaus layout that will be open to both residents of Potomac Shores and visitors. The Troon-managed course is expected to debut high in the golf world of rankings.

Potomac Shores boasts a par 72 layout that stretches to 7,082 yards from the back tees and unfolds through acres of rugged, natural landscape. The course is highlighted by dramatic elevation changes, wide playing corridors, and green complexes that maneuver through hardwood forests along the banks of the Potomac River. Jack Nicklaus says of the project, “The vistas are great. The challenges are great. The ‘ooh factor’ is there and the ‘wow factor’ is there.”
Situated on a pristine peninsula with hundreds of blissful acres of hardwood forest and two miles of shoreline, the club’s tranquil beauty offers a rare juxtaposition of privacy and accessibility. That’s no small thing in the D.C. region. As part of a master-planned community that forms a 2,000-acre riverfront retreat, the clubhouse is already in place, homes are under construction, and the first residents are moving in. Most who live within the town center will
be within a five- to seven-minute walk from the train station.

Completing the vision for a true mixed-use destination with a five-star resort will be a town center, luxury hotel, waterfront center with a 450-slip marina, two public schools, a corporate hub, more than 15 fields and courts, parks, trails, and walkable neighborhoods. When all is complete, there will be 3,800 homes. The project, which first broke ground in 2006 and went on hold when the real estate recession hit in full force, is coming back to life under the ownership of SunCal, one of the country’s leading developers.

The community is arranged into a series of walkable, traditionally scaled neighborhoods with tree-lined streets. The five distinct neighborhoods at the Fairways are tucked among lush forests and golf views, providing a rare respite from the busyness of Washington’s hectic pace. Helping to create a sense of tranquility will be nearly 850 acres that have been set aside as natural open space. Model home tours are now available for those interested in exploring an idyllic life along the Potomac.

Potomac Shores Golf Club
Potomac Shores, Virginia
703-595-7888
PotomacShoresGolfClub.com

French Lick Resort

The rejuvenation of the French Lick Resort was nothing short of extraordinary when it reopened in 2006 after a $500 million makeover. The renovation included full restoration of its two historic hotels (French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs) to their original sophistication and luxury, as well as adding two spas and a new casino. The makeover also included a meticulous restoration of the resort’s Donald Ross Course. Host of the 1924 PGA Championship, the course is now one of the most authentic examples of the great designer’s work.

For golf aficionados, the real treat came in 2009 when the Pete Dye Course opened, giving guests two completely different golf venues to play.

The Dye Course, which can stretch to 8,102 yards with five sets of tees beginning at 5,100 yards, offers a variety of elevation changes, rugged and dramatic terrain, narrow fairways, and challenging bunkers. The course is carved into one of the highest points in Indiana on a hilltop overlooking the Hoosier National Forest with views that can stretch for more than 40-miles in
any direction.

French Lick is now the only resort in the world that combines the classic history of Donald Ross and the modern-day design of the legendary Pete Dye. Complementing the award-winning Dye and Ross courses are the Tom Bendelow Valley Links nine-hole course, which is a wonderful family golf experience, and the nearby Sultan’s Run, which was designed by Dye disciple Tim Liddy. French Lick Resort has also become the home to premier golf championships including the PGA of America’s Professional Players National Championship, Indiana Open, both the Men’s and Women’s Big 10 Championships, which return for the third year in a row, and the USGA Men’s State Team Championship coming in September.

In adding to the long history of women’s professional golf at French Lick Resort, the LPGA Legends Tour, featuring LPGA Hall of Famers and Solheim Cup Captains, will compete for a half-million dollar purse.

In 2015, French Lick will host one of the premier events in golf—the 76th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid on the Pete Dye Course.
Along with all of the championship caliber golf, there is a major focus on youth. The resort provides an Evans Scholarship for Caddies and a First Tee program for local children. The Resort also offers free golf to children under 12 playing with an accompanied adult. The resort is pet-friendly, too, both in the hotels and on the golf course.

In addition to golf, you can enjoy Vegas-style gaming in the 51,000-square-foot casino, fishing, horseback riding, and bowling or relax at the spa, where you can still enjoy the healing waters of the Pluto Mineral Spring. Dining options include the resort’s signature 1875 Steakhouse (named for the first running of the Kentucky Derby). There is so much to do here that the Golf Academy’s programs are purposely flexible to accommodate the dizzying array of options guest face.  

French Lick Resort
French Lick, Indiana
888-936-9360
FrenchLick.com

Golf Prince Edward Island

Of the many reasons Prince Edward Island should rate highly on Americans’ list of preferred golf destinations, there are a couple very practical ones. First, a Canadian dollar will cost you about 90 cents in U.S currency right now, giving you a 10 percent savings on your trip. Second, the island province is closer than you think: a direct flight from New York City is quicker than one to Myrtle Beach. (But for our money, there is nothing more thrilling than driving over the eight-mile Confederation Bridge.) Finally, the island is a great golf value no matter what the exchange rate is. The green fees are affordable by any standards, with the most expensive course topping out at just $100.

Canada’s No. 1 golf destination, Prince Edward Island offers 28 golf courses on a beautiful island that is only 139 miles long and 40 miles wide. All of the courses are located within 45 minutes of each other, making multiple-round days an easy task.

Most golf fans will recognize Mill River’s wide rolling fairways from Golf Channel’s Big Break a few years ago. Located on the west end of the island, it is well worth the trip. Over on the east end, you can easily play both the popular Brudenell River and Dundarave, with its signature red-sand bunkers, on the same day. The Links at Crowbush Cove, overlooking the ocean and dunes on the north shore, is a must-play that was rated Canada’s best new course in 1994 by Golf Digest. Stanley Thompson fans will want to make sure they play Green Gables’s oceanside fairways, while a trip of any length would not be complete without a visit to the beautiful rolling landscape and views of the Atlantic Ocean at Glasgow Hills.   

There is no need to worry if you aren’t familiar with either the island or its award-winning courses. Golf Prince Edward Island launched a full-service golf vacation operation in February that has made planning a golf getaway here, including tee times, the easiest you have ever booked. You can do it all in minutes online at GolfPEI.ca, or speak to one of their golf-travel experts by phone. They have ready-to-book packages available or you can customize your trip right down to specific tee times. Because of the proximity of the courses, you will find plenty of two-night/four-round packages.

Golf Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island, Canada
866-GOLF-PEI (465-3734)
GolfPEI.ca

The Otesaga Resort Hotel

One of the most scenic layouts you’ll find in the Northeast (and a public one at that), the highly ranked Leatherstocking Golf Course is an excellent golf course built on a perfect piece of land. Located on the western shore of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York, the course climbs mid-round to provide beautiful views of the lake and village. The finishing holes are the real payoff, though. The par-five 18th with its island tee, borders the lake and finishes looking up at The Otesaga Resort Hotel’s spacious veranda, bringing to mind the famed Pebble Beach’s 18th hole. A testament to the great golf experience offered, this year they will host the 2nd Annual New York State Golf Association Four-Ball Championship and remain home of the New York State PGA Junior Championship.

Though you don’t have to stay in the lakefront Resort to play, it is well worth it. Attractive golf packages, whether you stay one night or multiple nights, let you enjoy the exceptional service, accommodations, and atmosphere that has made this award-winning destination a favorite for over a century. Just in time for the opening of its 105th season, the hotel is finishing extensive renovations to its 132 guest rooms and the lobby. You’ll find plenty to do, too, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame, just a half-mile down the road in Cooperstown, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.  

The Otesaga Resort Hotel
Cooperstown, New York
800-348-6222
Otesaga.com

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