Fore! 3 Great Golf Getaways

Golfing among palm trees and monkeys? Or sagebrush and snakes?

golf-1Barbados

If a troop of monkeys and tropical breezes are to your liking, try the eponymous course at Royal Westmoreland in Barbados. The community of residences and vacation rentals in the parish of St. James range from villas (worth upwards of US$1 million) to apartments (around $250,000). The golf course has sun-drenched vistas of the Caribbean Sea – on every hole.

Several of these holes utilize an old limestone quarry, complete with drop-offs, and the par-3s have been described by Ian Woosnam, a Masters champion and successful Ryder Cup captain who also has a home here, as some of the best he’s ever played. Steep ravines, swaying palms and abundant sand traps add to the appeal and the challenge – to your game and your golf bag, as just about every club will come into play here.

While on the course, there are also views of the villas that overlook the fairways, including those of sporting Brits such as the footballer Wayne Rooney and the retired pro boxer Joe Calzaghe. A par-72, the 7,045-yard championship course was designed by the American golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. Royal Westmoreland also has a Canadian connection, with director of golf Roger Beale, a PGA Golf professional who has both Bajan and Canadian roots. When not teeing off with club members, Beale is available for lessons. You don’t need to own a home here to golf but if you’ve got pockets as deep as Rooney’s, rent a villa – you’ll get a complimentary tee time for every day of your stay. If you’re more of a duffer like me, book a round in advance of your visit to the island. www.royalwestmoreland.com

NEXT: BRITISH COLUMBIA

 golf-3-osoyoos-golf-club-JH

British Columbia

Osoyoos Golf Club sits in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley in Canada’s only desert climate, an extension of the Sonoran Desert, which runs all the way to Mexico. Osoyoos shares its namesake glacial lake with Washington State and is just a few kilometres from the U.S. border. Overlooking the 6.5-mile Osoyoos Lake, one of Canada’s warmest lakes, and having a view of Anarchist Mountain rising to 4,892 feet, the Jack Reimer- and Doug Thompson-designed 6,500-yard Desert Gold course offers two 18-hole golf experiences.

I booked my round through the Watermark Beach Resort (the property features golf getaway packages) and highlights include outstanding elevation changes and fairways being carved into the face of Mount Kobau. As if the surrounding mountains, vineyards and orchards are not enough, the skies are filled with eagles and hawks soaring overhead.

On the par-3 signature 12th hole, I’m at one with these bird’s-eye views, at 155 yards in distance, the drive begins with an elevated tee shot and a panorama of the Valley below – stretching all the way from Oliver, B.C., to Oroville, Wash. When making your club selection, take into account the swirling valley winds and elevation; it can vary anywhere from a sand wedge to a five iron. The bonus? The unique desert climate allows for near year-round golf, a rarity in Canada.

But it’s not just heights to fear. I got the drill from the pro shop: if you happen to stumble upon a rattlesnake, step back and leave the snake alone. Sounds obvious, but I had heard stories of golfers trying to get up-close-and-personal with the creatures. www.golfosoyoos.com; www.watermarkbeachresort.com

NEXT: TEXAS

golf-2-HR-Palmer-Clubhouse-and-#18-greenTexas

“Just don’t go into the woods looking for your errant shots.” This advice came via the attendant at the Palmer Course at La Cantera in Texas Hill Country. The reason? Rattlesnakes, naturally. B.C. doesn’t have a lock on the poisonous predator.

When I arrived at the course, about 25 minutes from downtown San Antonio, I was greeted instead by blue skies, wild turkeys and jack rabbits on the practice range. A place where nature meets golf.

The course, designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer, opened in 2001 and winds its way through many elevations using natural rock formations and water features to create challenging approach shots. The par-4 383-yard ninth hole – a dog-leg right – tasks golfers with a tight jaw-dropping elevated tee shot down into the valley below, lined on both sides by mature trees. The approach shot on the same hole requires an accurate shot to the postage stamp-sized green guarded along its full length by a creek, flowing waterfalls and rock formations.

My playing partner informed me that Texas is known for having its share of premium golf courses in the affordable US$70 to $140 price-per-round range and that we had just played one of the local gems.

www.lacanteragolfclub.com