Best of Lists

2018 Best Golf Courses

By
Doug
Simmons

You can feed your craving for golf by hitting balls off your boat's foredeck and into the ocean with no pin in sight. Or, you can plan a birdies-and-bogies dream cruise to some of the world's top golf courses many of which just so happen to be located on luxury resort properties with superb marinas and amenities. Doesn't sound like a tough choice. Fore!

1.Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, Fla.

This private club's golf traditions date back more than a half-century to 1955, when its first nine-hole course opened. Today, it boasts two 18-hole championship courses designed by Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin the Hammock Course and the Dolphin Course both featuring distinct challenges along with beautiful seaside vistas. Ocean Reef Club also offers an inn and vacation rentals, a salon and spa, more than a dozen restaurants, a 175-slip marina and a private airport for the enjoyment of members and guests alike.

Where to Dock: Ocean Reef Club (305-367-5908, oceanreef.com)

2.Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, La Romana, Dominican Republic

With not one but three championship courses designed by World Golf Hall of Famer Pete Dye, this is one of the Caribbean's premier golf destinations. Teeth of the Dog is carved from the coral shores of the Dominican coastline; Dye Fore has spectacular views of the mountains, marina and river; and The Links winds through the interior of the resort property, with rolling hills and water hazards. Casa de Campo also offers tennis courts, polo facilities, a selection of dining options and a private white-sand beach. Those arriving by boat can tie up at the resort's Marina Casa de Campo with 370 slips, accommodating vessels up to 250 feet in length.

Where to Dock: Marina Casa de Campo (809-523-2111, marinacasadecampo.com)

3.Sea Pines Resort & Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the RBC Heritage, South Carolina's only PGA Tour event, held at the Sea Pines Resort's famed Harbour Town Golf Links. Two other courses here are the acclaimed Heron Point by Pete Dye and the all-new Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III. Nearby Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort offers three courses all its own, each one distinctively different and uniquely appealing, including the Robert Trent Jones, ranked the third-best course in the state.

Where to Dock: Harbour Town Yacht Basin (843-363-8335, seapines.com);Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina (866-400-7894, palmettodunes.com)

4.The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel Island, Fla.

This 18-hole championship course designed by 10-time Tour winner Mark McCumber is the only PGA-rated selection on the island. It unfolds within a stunning wildlife preserve sanctioned by the Audubon Society and features lush tropical links surrounded by water at nearly every turn. Drop a stroke or two with expert input from the on-site golf school. After your round, unwind with a drink and dining at the newly remodeled clubhouse restaurant look close and you might just see the green flash at sunset from the patio.

Where to Dock: Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa (239-472-5161,tween-waters.com)

5.Whistling Straits Golf Course, Kohler, Wis.

Whistling Straits features two courses of world-class pedigree, both designed by the legendary Pete Dye. Open, rugged and windswept terrain characterizes the Straits, situated along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Just inland and scattered by four meandering streams, the Irish has a deceivingly tranquil landscape of grassland and dunes, but is no less challenging. After your round, enjoy the rustic Irish farmhouse setting of the Clubhouse at Whistling Straits, complete with a refined restaurant, pub and selection of fine Scotch.

Where to Dock: Harbor Centre Marina (920-458-6665, harborcentremarina.com)

6.Port Royal Golf Course, Southampton, Bermuda

Robert Trent Jones laid out this course on the high ground overlooking the Atlantic in 1970. The 16th hole is considered one of the premier par 3s in golf, offering a clear shot across the ocean to the green, which is perched on a coastal peninsula. The course was renovated in 2009, with original design team member Robert Rulewich spearheading the $14.5 million effort ahead of that year's PGA Grand Slam of Golf. A driving range with ocean views complete with a restaurant and lounge round out the amenities here.

Where to Dock: Caroline Bay Marina (441-234-4900, carolinebaymarina.com)

7.Torrey Pines Golf Course, San Diego, Calif.

Well known as the host of the PGA Tour's annual Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines is actually comprised of two 18-hole courses Torrey Pines North and Torrey Pines South. The two courses top the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and were designed by William Bell Sr. Both were also named after the Torrey pine, a rare tree that grows in the wild only along this local stretch of the coastline. Players can expect rugged beauty, deep ravines and classic championship golf holes, located about 20 miles from downtown San Diego.

Where to Dock: Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina (619-221-4858, missionbay.regency.hyatt.com)

8.Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, Williamsburg, Va.

Forty-five walkable holes on three courses await golfers at this remote and peaceful property hewn from mature forest. The Gold Course reopened last summer following a complete renovation of all greens, fairways, roughs and bunkers. The Green Course is the longest of the three, while the Spotswood Course has been called the best short nine-hole course in the country by Golf Magazine. The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club was designed by father-son duo Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Rees Jones and offers to on-site restaurants.

Where to Dock: Kingsmill Resort and Marina (800-832-5665, kingsmill.com)

9.Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, Calif.

Since 1919, the incredible beauty and inspiring challenge of Pebble Beach Golf Links have thrilled golfers and spectators alike. Designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, the course hugs the wave-swept coastline, providing wide-open vistas, cliffside fairways and sloping greens. The first 10 holes head out, and the final eight come back along the ocean, with No. 18 considered perhaps the greatest finishing hole in all of golf. Amazingly, the course has hosted a PGA Tour event every year since 1947.

Where to Dock: Breakwater Cove Marina (831-373-7857, montereybayboatworks.com)

10.Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, Harwich, Mass.

Club members and guests don't play right at Wequassett but rather at neighboring Cape Cod National Golf Club. Designed by Brian Silva and opened in 1998, the breezy and well-groomed course here takes advantage of the area's unique topography and natural beauty: its rolling hills and hollows, its kettle ponds and bogs, and it stunning views of Nantucket Sound. Wequassett Resort itself features 120 guest rooms and suites, four on-site restaurants, two pools, two beaches, boating and water sports and four clay tennis courts.

Where to Dock: Saquatucket Municipal Marina (508-430-7532, harwich-ma.gov)

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- Learn how to do a back dive, canon ball or jump off the back of the boat into the water.  Rope swings are also an invigorating option.

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Available on Google Play, the Apple App Store and Galaxy Store

This fish finder app lets anglers discover saltwater and freshwater catches with the snap of a picture. Take a live shot or import photos and the AI technology works its magic. Learn about marine habitats and check weather conditions including winds, tides, water temperature and barometric pressure. (Free download; premium subscription is $29.99/year) fishverify.com

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Available on Google Play and the Apple App Store

This navigation and social boating app offers satellite, terrain and NOAA map features, depth and contours, trip planning, voyage tracking and a captain’s log for itineraries. Find points of interest such as fuel docks, anchorages, marinas and restaurants. The social boating features helps you connect with the boating community (Free download) argonav.io

SPECIES GUIDEBOOKS

REEF FISH IDENTIFICATION — FLORIDA, CARIBBEAN, BAHAMAS

By Paul Humann and Ned Deloach

Whether you’re a southern angler or marine wildlife documenter, you’ll love combing through 1,000 photographs of more than 683 species in this book. Designed as a reference guide, this new 4th edition identifies fish and aquatic creatures throughout the waterways of Florida, the Caribbean and Bahamas. ($44.95) reef.org/products/reef-fish-identification-florida-caribbean-and-bahamas-4th-edition

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Top 10 New England Sailing Regattas
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What do a media mogul, movie maker and American President have in common? Taking part in yacht racing, one of our nation's oldest sports, and New England, the cradle of this sport in America. Ted Turner won the 1977 America's Cup in Newport. Roy Disney sailed from Newport to Bermuda with record-breaking speed in 2002. And in 1936, JFK earned a winner's cup racing Stars in the Hyannis Port Yacht Club race to Edgartown.

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MAINE

Camden Classics Cup - new england regattas - marinalife
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Camden Classics Cup

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Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club Annual Regatta & Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge

July 23-24

A trend toward classic yacht racing and a nod to the area's deep sailing roots combined for the first time last year at the Shipyard Cup. This new addition to the nearly 50-year-old annual regatta put lots of eye-candy on the water. The 1926-built NY-40, Marilee and 1937-constructed 12-meter America's Cup contender, Gleam, plus classic Boothbay Harbor one-designs like the 21-foot, Geerd Hendel-designed, 1938-launched sloops, are expected back this year along with contemporary race yachts. We invited several America's Cup contenders to join Gleam this year on the start line, says co-chair Bob Scribner. Spectators can observe from Spruce Point, McKeown Point or Southport. A narrated parade of participants in the inner harbor starts at 10:00 a.m. on July 24.

MASSACHUSETTS

Marblehead Regatta - new england regattas - marinalife
NOOD Marblehead Regatta 2021 | Bruce

Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series - Marblehead

July 28-31

The 1889-founded Marblehead Race Week joined with National Offshore One-Design concept a few years back, and the result is close to 200 boats racing. We now have all our regular classes like J/70s, Rhodes 19s and Viper 640, plus there are usually one or two guest classes like RS21s, Skuds, 2.4's and J/24s, that hold regional championships as part of the week, says Leslie Rousseau, race committee chair for the host Boston Yacht Club. We expect to see the return of Jud Smith, two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and local J-70 favorite. Spectators on land can get a bird's eye view of the racing from Chandler Hovey Park on Marblehead Neck. Those with a fast center console can watch the boats line up to start off Turkey Point in Middle River or set their chutes at the windward mark in Middle River.

Edgartown Race Weekend

June 23-25

Since 1938, celebrity-studded Martha's Vineyard is home to this week of combo coastal, offshore and round-the-island racing hosted by Edgartown Yacht Club. The history, charm and summer activity on Martha's Vineyard is a meaningful draw, in addition to fantastic wind and ideal sailing conditions, says Alex Nugent, one of the event's co-chairs. Plus, we typically host a big welcome party that's sponsored by Mount Gay Rum. New is the ‘Round-the-Sound series of races, which features 20-some nautical mile coastal sprints around Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound and replaces the around-the-buoy series. There's monohull and multihull, racing and cruising, double-handed and many-handed entrants including teams from state and federal service and maritime academies.

Nantucket Race Week

August 13-21

Nine days of racing, parties and awards ceremonies take the concept of race week to the extreme. There's something afloat for everyone: kids in Optis and 420s, women in Rhodes 19s, kiteboarders, radio-controlled model boats and some of the country's top sailors competing in high-performance big boats and classic wooden yachts. This year we celebrate the 50th Opera House Cup Regatta, the grand dame of classic wooden boat regattas. The Cup, named after a legendary Nantucket restaurant, attracts some of the finest wooden boats on the East Coast and Europe. There is a big awards party on the beach after the race, says Diana Brown, chief executive of Nantucket Community Sailing. The Parade of Wooden Boats offers a brochure that describes each participating boat. The public can watch the parade from Brant Point Beach.

RHODE ISLAND

Annual Regatta

June 10-12

Hosted by the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) out of its facilities in Newport, this is North America's oldest continuously held sailing event going on its 168th year. The format features two days of buoy racing, prefaced by a race around Conanicut Island. The sight of 100-plus spinnakers running north in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay from Fort Adams, Castle Hill or Beavertail Light is breathtaking. Entries are invited to one-design classes, and boats more than 24 feet race under a variety of handicaps. The Annual Regatta is one of my perennial favorites, says Paul Zabetakis, NYYC commodore and a regular participant on his Swan 42, Impetuous. The race management is impeccable with multiple course configurations. Few other venues offer the perfect combination of offshore racing in Rhode Island Sound and inshore racing on Narragansett Bay. The Saturday night regatta party is one of the biggest occasions of the Newport regatta season with sailors converging on Harbour Court for cocktails and dinner.

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Newport to Bermuda Race

June 17

The lawn at Castle Hill Inn in Newport and Fort Wetherill in Jamestown are ringside seats to watch nearly 200 vessels start in the East Passage on a 635-mile passage south to Bermuda. Fort Adams State Park also provides close-up views of many of the boats as they depart from Newport Harbor. The fleet then sails past Brenton State Park as it clears Brenton Reef and turns to the southeast. Charter boats and private yachts assemble to watch the start from the water as well, says John Burnham. It's one of the oldest regularly scheduled ocean races, happening biennially since 1906. This year, three high-speed multihulls -- two MOD 70s, Argo and Snowflake, and the 78' trimaran Ultim'Emotion 2 -- are entered, and each has a good chance of breaking the elapsed time race record of 34h:42m:53s set in 2016 by the 100' maxi yacht, Comanche.

Ida Lewis Distance Race

August 18-20

The fleet goes where the wind blows. The Ida Lewis Distance Race is like no other in that the Race Committee chooses from among four different courses, based on the weather. Each course incorporates some of the most storied cruising grounds in New England and is just long enough for the fleet to be offshore overnight, yet not so long to prohibit inviting family and friends to join for a first-time adventure, says Anselm Richards, event chair. The goal: get about 60-some teams to compete on race boats 28-foot and longer in double-handed, youth, collegiate and different handicap classes back to the dock in under 24 hours. The start happens off Fort Adams and ends inside Newport Harbor, where each team is handed a congratulatory bottle of Prosecco.

CONNECTICUT

Block Island Race

May 27

Stamford is the start of this Memorial Day weekend regatta that for many sailors kicks New England's offshore racing season. The 186-nautical mile course down Long Island Sound and around Block Island and back also acts as a ‘warm up' for many teams that are racing some two weeks later in the Newport to Bermuda Race, says Kate Wilson Somers, who handles media for the event. The race marks its 75th anniversary this year and is organized by the Storm Trysail Club, based in Larchmont, NY.

Cedar Point One Design Regatta

June 4-5

A 20-year+ tradition on the first weekend in June, this one-design keelboat event hosted out of the Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, CT, can draw as many as 800 competitors on over 100 boats. The key is that all the boats in a class are the same; no handicap scoring is needed. This makes it easy to watch, as first over the finish line is the winner. Currently, the event is open to J70, J88, J105 and J109, and Beneteau 36.7 fleets, but other fleets are welcome if they meet the requirements, says Joyce Oberdorf, who handles the club's communications.

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