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Top 10 US Golf Destinations of 2012

By Mike Wolfe
April 13, 2012; 8:18 AM

10. Ocean City, Md., & Delaware Shore

Why: Great golf courses, food and a reasonable price make Ocean City one of the top golf destinations in the US. With over 20 golf courses located within short drive, Ocean City offers golf courses for golfers of any skill and budget. If you have been to Myrtle Beach, it's likely you will enjoy Ocean City.

Top Courses: Golf Digest ranks the Bayside Resort 88th on their list of America's Greatest Public Golf Courses and the Links at Lighthouse Sound was once voted Top 10 Best New Public Golf Facilities.

Where to Stay: There are hundreds of hotels so look for the best deals. Harrison Group Golf (www.tee1off.com) owns several hotels varying in price and a couple restaurants.

9. San Antonio, Texas

Why: Known for the Alamo, the Riverwalk and LoneStar beer, San Antonio is quickly becoming one of the top golf destinations in the U.S. Several resorts featuring multiple courses make this a popular destination and the PGA Tour pays a visit every April for the Valero Texas Open.

Top Courses: It's difficult to pick just a few because there are so many great ones. The TPC San Antonio is always a favorite (it hosts the PGA Tour event) but you can't go wrong with La Cantera Resort which features 36-holes of golf or the Hyatt Hill Country Resort with 27-holes.

Where To Stay: It depends where you play but like most resorts, you can stay and play in the same place. Decided which course you want to play or which resort you want to stay at and go from there. If you want more information visit: SanAntonioGolfDestination.com to help guide your decision making.

8. Las Vegas, Nev.

Why: It's often said there are many different ways to enjoy Las Vegas and one of them is to golf. Whether it's a bachelor party or just a weekend away, Las Vegas offers some of the best golf courses in the world.

Top Courses: Shadow Creek highlights a long list of great golf courses in Las Vegas. A Tom Fazio design, Shadow Creek ranks 6th on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. Once private, this course is now the premier public course in Las Vegas. Visit shadowcreek.com.

Where To Stay: If you're looking to enjoy all Las Vegas has to offer stay on "The Strip". If golf is your priority, see what packages are available. Some hotels have deals with golf courses to provide the best rates. There is always a deal to be had in Las Vegas!

7. Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz.

Why: Arizona is consistently one of the top golf destinations in the U.S. and the Phoenix/Scottsdale area is often the place to go. When the PGA Tour arrives here in early February all eyes are on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. The desert designed courses offer a spectacular challenge while the mountain terrain provides one of the most scenic backdrops in all of golf.

Top Courses: TPC Scottsdale, Troon North and We-Ka-Pa all are some of the favorites in the area. TPC Scottsdale is the most popular due to the PGA TOUR but don't overlook We-Ka-Pa which offers two 18-hole championship courses.

Where To Stay: If you're going with a large group renting a house is always an option. If you prefer resort accomodations the Radisson Fort McDowell (http://www.radisson.com/arizonagolf) or Four Seasons Scottsdale (http://www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale/) offer stay and play packages which make booking a little easier.

6. Williamsburg, Va.

Why: Williamsburg may be known for it's history but it's slowly becoming one of the premier golf destinations in the country. With plenty of courses to choose from and a variety of resorts to fit most budgets, Williamsburg is great for a family trip or your annual golf trip.

Top Courses: Kingsmill Resort may be the most well known when it comes to golf and for a good reason. The resort offers three 18-hole championship courses and a 9-hole par 3 course. Arnold Palmer, Pete Dye, Tom Clark and Curtis Strange highlight the list of Kingsmill designers. The River Course, designed by Dye, sits at #79 on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. (http://www.kingsmill.com/golf/)

The other resort worthy of any golfers attention is the Golden Horseshoe. Feautring two 18-hole golf courses and a 9-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Rees Jones. The resort courses are all popular but the Gold Course ranks #50 on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. (http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/visit/golf/)

Where To Stay: Look no further than the resorts listed above when seeking accommodations. The resorts make it easy to book tee times and by staying on the property you can eliminate travel.

5. Anywhere in Hawaii

Why: Hawaii is known as one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. If not for the distance and the cost it could be in the top spot. Although it consists of several small islands, the state has six golf courses on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. It's a golfers paradise but it's won't come cheap.

Top Courses: The Plantation Course at Kapalua (#17) and Waialae Country Club (#74) host the first two events of the PGA Tour season each year. If you're looking to play where the pro's play, this is it. If you're not worried about the PGA Tour status you can always try your luck at the Golf Course at Mauna Kea (#27), The Challenge at Manele (#37) or the always popular Turtle Bay Resort Palmer Course (#81).

Where to Stay: In most cases playing all six courses above is unlikely so decide where you want to play and consider staying on the resort or island which that course. If you can't decide, I recommend Turtle Bay Resort featuring two spectacular golf courses. (http://www.turtlebaygolf.com/)

4. Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Why: Although it's been hit hard by tough economic times in the past few years, Myrtle Beach remains one of the top golf destinations in the U.S. Myrtle Beach has over 100 courses varying in price and difficulty including three on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses.

Top Courses: Getting a tee time is rarely an issue in Myrtle Beach but if you want to play one of the top courses you need to book early. The Dunes Golf & Beach Club (#46) is considered by most to be the premier course in the region. It's not to be mistaken for Grand Dunes Resort Club which is ranked 88th on the list. If you want to play a premier course without the word "Dunes" in it, visit Tidewater GC (#94th), or Barefoot Resort.

Where to Stay: When it comes to lodging in Myrtle Beach you won't be short on options. Some prefer renting a condo on the golf course while others prefer a house on the beach or staying in a hotel. Take a look at the area and where you're playing to see what is best for you. (http://mbgolfonesource.com/).

3. Pinehurst, N.C.

Why: Pinehurst Resort features eight golf courses on one property and all of them are first rate. If you prefer a golf destination that you can stay in one place, Pinehurst should rank at the top of your list, especially on the east coast.

Top Courses: While Pinehurst has eight courses on the property, the most famous may be Pinehurst #2 ranked 8th on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. It's hosted the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005. Renovations were completed in early 2011 to prepare the course for 2014 when it will host both the men's and women's U.S. Open Championships in back to back weeks.

If you don't want to spend the extra money to get on the famed "#2" Pinehurst offers two more golf courses on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. Pinehurst #4 is ranked 63rd and just a few spots below is Pinehurst #8 in 68th.

Where To Stay: Pinehurst Resort makes it easy to book your golf trip with. They regularly offer packages and specials through their website but the option is add Pinehurst #2 is always available for an additional fee.

(http://www.pinehurst.com/)

2. Pebble Beach, Cali.

Why: When you mention Pebble Beach every golfer becomes a little more interested in the conversation. The beauty of the Pacific Coast, the climate to play all year and the prestige all make Pebble Beach one of the premier golf destinations in the U.S. and the world.

Top Courses: Pebble Beach, California is home to Pebble Beach Golf Links which ranks #1 on Golf Digests list of America's Greatest Public Golf Courses. It hosts a PGA Tour event every year and has played host to the U.S. Open five times and one PGA Championship. While you're visiting play a round at Spyglass Hills, #11 on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses and the Links at Spanish Bay which rank 57th on the list.

Where To Stay: Pebble Beach Resorts offer accommodations for golfers and similar to Pinehurst and Bandon, allow you to book your golf and lodging in one shot. They offer remarkable lodging, top notch restaurants and of course, the golf. (http://www.pebblebeach.com/golf/pebble-beach-golf-links)

1. Bandon Dunes (Bandon, Ore.)

Why: Bandon Dunes combines beauty and challenge to become the premier golf destination in the U.S. Located in the Pacific Northwest, Bandon Dunes sits on a perch looking over the Pacific Ocean offering players breath taking views to distract them from the challenge in front of them. The resort offers five courses and playing any one of them is sure to be a memorable experience for any golfer.

Top Courses: Traveling to Bandon Dunes may not be easy but golfers who make the trip are handsomely rewarded with five golf courses, three of which are in the top 15 on Golf Digests America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. Pacific Dunes (#2), Bandon Dunes (#5), Bandon Trails (#14) all offer golfers an experience they will never forget. Old Macdonald is arguably the top golf course to not make the Top 100 list and offers an outstanding challenge for those who play it.

Where to Stay: Your options are limited out here, stay at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. (http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/pages/lodging/6.php)

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