Travel Insider: Garden Isles of Kauai, Inlet Sports Lodge, Fort Lauderdale, and more

By: Brian McCallen

Heading to the Garden Isle of Kauai with your golf-happy tykes? Three of the island’s top courses—Makai, Kauai Lagoons, and Puakea—are offering free golf to junior players. Makai, set high above Hanalei Bay at The St. Regis Princeville Resort, waives green fees for players age 15 and under seven days a week with a paying adult. Complimentary Callaway rentals are also available. (Serious players can arrange to play Princeville’s top-rated Prince Course, which reopens March 1 following a 13-month renovation). At Kauai Lagoons, golfers between ages 6 and 17 can tee it up for free on the 9-hole Waikahe Course, an inland nine well-suited to juniors and beginners. (The resort’s top venue is the Kiele Moana Course, which features the longest stretch of ocean holes in Hawaii). Puakea, a verdant spread where portions of Jurassic Park were filmed, offers free golf to juniors ages 7 to 17 seven days a week when accompanied by a paying adult.

Tucked away in sleepy Murrells Inlet at the south end of Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Inlet Sports Lodge attracts hunters, fishermen and golfers who’ve outgrown the Grand Strand’s pinball arcades and taffy stands. Guests receive preferred access to two superb Mike Strantz-designed courses on Pawleys Island: Caledonia, a dazzling spread that skirts rice fields and the Waccamaw River; and True Blue, a rugged layout flanked by sandy wastelands and piney woodlands. The Lodge, convenient to 30 area restaurants, features comfortable nautical-themed accommodations. Daily, weekly, and longer-term plans are available.

Fort Lauderdale, honeycombed with over 160 miles of palm-fringed waterways and known as the “Venice of America,” is quietly staking a claim as Florida’s “next place.” Connected to a lovely stretch of beach by a skywalk is The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale (pictured above), a recently revamped hotel with a white curvilinear exterior designed to resemble a 1940s ocean liner. Tastefully appointed guest rooms overlook the ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway. Guests have access to otherwise-private Grande Oaks, a.k.a. Rolling Hills, where Caddyshack was filmed in 1980. With its gopher head covers and the original signed movie poster on display (tagline: “Some People Just Don’t Belong”), Grande Oaks is a must for fans of the comedy cult classic. The course itself, carved from oak hammocks and always in good shape, is delightful. The staff will tell you where Ty told Danny to “Be the ball,” among other set locations.

Want to go low this season? At 214 feet below sea level, Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley, Calif. is home to the lowest elevation golf course in the world. The vintage 1931 layout is short at 6,236 yards, but the small greens, well-placed trees, and numerous water hazards warrant against easy pars. Also, the ball doesn’t fly as far at Furnace Creek as it does at sea level. The resort’s Stay & Play package features unlimited golf daily, 18-hole cart rental, and club storage. From March 1 through April 30, the per person, double occupancy rate is $282 at the Ranch, $452 at the Inn.

Often overshadowed by the Algarve, Portugal’s Lisbon Coast offers an outstanding collection of 20 courses plus a temperate year-round climate, first-rate hotels, and charming villages that claim some of the finest seafood restaurants on the Iberian peninsula. Among the top tracks: Penha Longha, a three-time site of the Portuguese Open; Oitavos Dunes (Cascais), one of the best new courses in Europe; and Troia, a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design with stirring ocean and mountain views.


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