Golf Vacations... plus!

10 golf itineraries plus great food, surfing, fishing, and more

It's a common enough scenario. You're a dedicated enthusiast of the links, but your spouse isn't. For many, amazing courses aren’t enough to justify a five-day vacation, but how about an arts festival in Edinburgh? Or treatments at a world-renowned spa in New Mexico? They might close the deal.

Golf Plus Trekking

After arriving in Buenos Aires, drive 20 minutes outside of town for a round at the Jockey Club's superbly preserved Alister Mackenzie course worthy of any golf architecture fan's pilgrimage. (It's private, but open to guests of the Four Seasons.) Explore the city's cobblestoned European charm in the evening with a visit to La Cabaña for a taste of Argentina's delectable world-renowned beef. Two and a half hours southwest of Buenos Aires by air, the alpine village of Llao Llao boasts a beautiful little golf course set in the Andes. Further south into Patagonia, some of the best glacial trekking anywhere can be had on El Calafate—with a guide, or making use of inns along the way; 90 minutes from Calafate is the site of the spectacular sheer monolithic Fitzroy Massif, rising 6000 feet.

Golf Plus Spas

New Mexico
Thanks to development spearheaded by Native American casinos, the central New Mexico corridor is dotted with spectacular and distinctive desert courses. Start with Black Mesa Golf Club, a bracing challenge half an hour north of Santa Fe; then retire to the mountainside Ten Thousand Waves spa for Japanese-style spa therapy treatments. The next morning, play the superb Ken Dye-designed Paa-Ko Ridge, which threads through a high desert pine forest alongside the Sandia Mountains just north of Albuquerque. Or enjoy Twin Warriors Golf Club, just one of the attractions of the sprawling Santa Ana Pueblo-owned Hyatt Regency Tamay Resort and Spa, covering 50,000 acres north of Albuquerque along a peaceful green bosque, where you can also indulge in herbal spa treatments or learn pueblo-oven bread baking, or take an afternoon horseback ride.

Golf Plus Cooking Lessons

When the Thu Bon River silted over in the late 19th century, commerce died in the coastal Vietnamese city of Hoi An. Effectively dipped in amber, Hoi An lives on today as a melange of mossy, tiled roofs, balconies of ebony ironwood, distressed facades of ochre paint, exquisitely woodworked interiors and pedestrian-friendly streets. Buying and selling have returned to the city—$50 buys a beautifully tailored, two-piece suit in 24 hours—and Hoi An has evolved into a capital of central Vietnamese cuisine. Cooking classes attract visitors eager to learn the secrets of rice paper rolls with shrimp, crispy pancakes and warm squid salad. This summer, world-class golf makes its debut with the opening of the Montgomerie Links this summer, featuring views of China Beach and the Marble Mountains.

Golf Plus the Performing Arts

Each August and September, Edinburgh turns into a bustling arts festival. First, the Edinburgh International Festival brings noteworthy programs of classical music, opera and theater; then, the Fringe Festival sets up shop with alternative theatrical productions and solo acts from around the world. The city's suburbs are famously unrivaled for great historic golf courses. In nearby Fife, St. Andrews has added a brand-new links course, the town's seventh (including The Old Course): the David McLay Kidd-designed Castle is a beautiful, scruffy blonde challenge above the crashing waves of the North Sea. Just east of Edinburgh, East Lothian boasts half a dozen spectacular links golf courses, including North Berwick and Gullane #1.

Golf Plus Surfing

Choosing a favorite hotel in Hawaii isn't easy, but the Four Seasons Wailea inspires loyalty. A visit to the spa there, or to the Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea, is the perfect preparation for a dinner at Nick's Fish Market. The next morning, novice surfers can get lessons from Maui Wave Riders in Kihei, while the bravest and most accomplished riders (or dedicated spectators) can travel to Hookipa. Honeymooners might then choose a sunset cruise. And don't forget the famous sunrise at Haleakala Crater: Arise at 3:30 a.m., travel up the summit in the chill of dawn, and behold the dawn (and the warmth). Golfers face difficult choices as well—between Kapalua, Wailea Gold and Emerald, Royal Kaanapali and Makena.

Golf Plus Gastronomy

Generally speaking the golf in Italy is no match for the cuisine, the scenery or Italian warmth and charm—but any reason to visit Italy is a good one. This summer, Italian golf gets a boost when the luxurious Argentario Golf Resort opens on the southern Tuscan coast, just across the sea from Corsica. Knowledgeable Italian golfers recommend pairing a stay at one of the well-appointed city hotels with an excursion into the countryside. Follow in the steps of the Duke of Windsor, for example, and stay at Portofino's Hotel Splendido, set among cypresses and lavish gardens above the harbor—from there it's a 20-minute drive to The Golf Club of Rapallo.


Golf Plus Motorcycle Racing

Monterey, Calif.
The golf courses at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay make Monterey a mecca of American golf. But 16 miles inland from the Pacific coast lays the Laguna Seca racetrack, the site of the U.S. staging of the international Grand Prix motorcycle races. Laguna's signature is the infamous, twisting Corkscrew—racing's answer to San Francisco's Crookedest Street in the World. If the past is any indication, Hollywood luminaries will be among the thousands of race fans who'll gather at Laguna on July 20 to watch Kentuckian Nicky Hayden, 2006 GP champ, go up against reigning winner Australian Casey Stoner and GP virtuoso Valentino Rossi. Looking for a luxe spot for dinner? Club XIX overlooking the 18th green at Pebble takes the winner's flag.

Golf Plus Fishing

New Zealand
The crown jewel of golf in New Zealand—which is second only to Scotland in per-capita number of courses—is Tom Doak's Cape Kidnappers, in Hawke's Bay. Fortunately, it's also famous for world-class fly-fishing. "New Zealand is known for its brown trout," says Wide World of Golf's Bill Hogan. The fat three-, four- and five-pounders were stocked from Northern California and Oregon about 100 years ago, and really took hold. Novice fly-rodders are welcome. According to Hogan, the local guides will "do almost everything for you but reel the fish in." On her first time out, Hogan's wife "out-fished" the experienced sportsman.

Golf Plus Wine

A select few resorts in France offer a heady combination of access to superb wine and excellent golf. In Bordeaux, the Hotel Golf du Médoc & Spa boasts two 18-hole courses, including the Bill Coore-designed Les Châteaux course, site of the 1999 French Open. You might decide to spend a night or two at the nearby Château Cordeillan-Bages, a converted 18th-century mansion featuring Chef Thierry Marx's two-Michelin star restaurant; Marx's assistants also offer cooking classes for the truly devoted. For oenophiles, such celebrated names as Mouton Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Lafitte are produced nearby. Tasting classes are available at the Médoc vineyard at Château Lynch Bages.

Golf Plus Game

South Africa
Though golf was popular here long before apartheid ended—having produced champion Bobby Locke in the 1930s—South Africa has become one of the world's most intriguing destinations in the last few decades. Start your trip with a round at the Links at Fancourt, site of the 2003 Presidents Cup. Then head up the coast along the Garden Route to Shamwari, a luxurious game camp with comfortable bungalow cottages and excellent cuisine.