An Overview of Golf Vacations
For those who wish to improve their game (or simply watch a lot of great golf): schools, resorts and tours
But like so many other vacations, packages are the way to go here. Two companies, SunBelt Golf (800/949-4444, rtjgolf.com/), which administers the trail, and Fairways Golf (800/647-2447, fairways.com/), offer a multitude of packages that are hard to beat.
The Big Fore Package, Mt. Tremblant/Gray Rocks, Quebec: Mt. Tremblant, 90 minutes from Montreal, is the premier ski resort in eastern North America, and understandably so. At its base sits Tremblant Village, a carefully planned pedestrian-only hamlet comprised of interconnected plazas and cobblestone streets, lined with cafes, bakeries, shops, and restaurants. In the heart of French Canada, the feel is more French than some parts of France. The village is also home to a luxury hotel (the Chateau Mt. Tremblant, a member of the upscale Canadian Pacific chain), several other hotels, and several condominium complexes. A few miles away sits Gray Rocks, an older, traditional, family mountain resort on a lake. Each of these resorts has two golf courses, and cooperates to promote a package combining all four layouts with numerous lodging choices.
Rates vary annually with exchange rates, which have been very good for Americans lately. This is strictly a late spring, summer, and early fall golf destination, and last year, the lowest-priced packages began at US $111 per person for two nights' lodging and two rounds of golf, including carts. At Gray Rocks, prices start at $129 mid-week in June, and climb to $191 for a weekend in July and August for two nights of double occupancy.
The two courses at Tremblant are both new, fully featured resort courses, with included amenities like yardage books, and excellent maintenance throughout. At Gray Rocks, La Bete (The Beast) is a new course designed to look like an old one and has a truly exceptional layout that could command greens fees of $175 in many parts of the country. The old course, La Belle (The Beauty), is not so good, but most of the packages allow you to choose any four rounds you want, so playing each Tremblant course and La Bete twice gives you great golf for the money. All the Tremblant Packages can be booked at 800/461-8711, and Gray Rocks at 800/567-6767 or visit the website at grayrocks.com/.
Golf camps and schools
The John Jacobs Golf Schools
The largest chain of American golf schools is that of English golf star and coach John Jacobs-the John Jacobs Golf Schools-at 32 resort hotels in 15 states; it is now in its 31st year. Reason for its success? Affordable prices for high quality instruction at good resort and hotels. It's an excellent value, and you'll want to obtain the free, 72-page brochure outlining the program in all of its locations and seasons. John Jacobs also has an in-house travel department offering complete packages with airfare, foreign programs, and, for larger groups or families, condos at many locations in lieu of hotel rooms. A 10 percent discount is available to seniors much of the year. Write to Jacobs Golf Group at 6210 E. McKellips Rd., Mesa, AZ, 85215, or phone 800/511-1639, or access jacobsgolf.com/.
The Golf School: The Original Golf School, debuting 26 years ago at Mount Snow, Vermont (Grand Summit Resort Hotel) is operated from May until October at Mount Snow, from in the winter months at Crystal River, Florida (Plantation Inn) and Beach Club Golf Link (Ocean City, MD), and during the summer and early fall at Sugarloaf, Maine (Grand Summit Resort Hotel). Participants receive hotel lodgings (double occupancy,) for two days from $469. There's one pro teacher for each four students. There is a program for women-only at Mount Snow. Call 800/240-2555, or access thegolfschool.com/.
In the field of individual golf schools, limited to one location per school, I find two establishments to be especially impressive.
The Golf Academy of Hilton Head Island
7 Office Park Road, Suite 105
Hilton Head, SC 29928
A far more expensive golf school than those we've 'arlier named, whose students make their own arrangements for accommodations in any of the many upscale hotels and lodgings of the popular, mild-weather, offshore Hilton Head Island. Here, of course, you are in one of the nation's o'tstanding golf locations, and the Golf Academy was founded in 1994 to take advantage of Hilton Head's e'inence in the sport. Instruction is by "Class A" PGA professionals, and is "meant to be non-intimidating," ac"ording to the Academy. It has programs for golfers of every level and welcomes singles, couples, seniors and the young. Accommodations can range from villas in Sea Pines (the island's f'remost golf area) to beachfront hotels, to cozy B&Bs. Instruction packages? They are for either three or four days. Each day typically begins with instruction from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by lunch, with a round of golf afterwards at 2 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are included in the rates, which are $1,395 for three days of instruction, $1,695 for four days of instruction. Add the cost of lodgings and dinner.