July 8, 2015

Want to beat the heat? Escape to these 10 cool summer golf destinations

Want to beat the heat? Escape to these 10 cool summer golf destinations

This time of year Northern golfers finally get the last laugh on their Southern counterparts.

Getting scorched in Scottsdale? Feeling sticky in Myrtle Beach? How's life in Hotlanta? Is the steamy Sunshine State treating you well?

Summertime is when the Northern half of the country shines. The climate is usually so comfortable in June, July and August that these months are the reason Northerners put up with their winter weather. Life is grand.

Summer's best golf destinations happen to coincide with cooler temperatures. If you're looking for an escape from the summer swelter, here are 10 hotspots I love.


Northern Michigan


Average monthly high temperature in Petoskey: June, 70; July, 75; August, 74

The lowdown: Michigan's mitten is where it's at in summertime, specifically the pinky and ring finger. They hug Lake Michigan, featuring beach towns like Traverse City, Petoskey and Harbor Springs that are stocked with golf resorts, tourist traps, breweries and more. There are really too many strong golf resorts to list -- Grand Traverse Resort & SpaCrystal Mountain Resort & SpaShanty Creek ResortsBoyne USA ResortsArcadia Bluffs Golf Club and The Homestead. Gaylord sits farther inland, but the glacier-cut hills carved up dramatic settings at Treetops Resort and the Otsego Club & Resort.Forest Dunes Golf Club, already home to a fantastic Tom Weiskopf course, will open Tom Doak's reversible course in 2016. Golfers visiting northern Michigan can tee off comfortably at 7 a.m. and walk off past 10 p.m. with daylight still lingering.


Pacific Northwest


Average monthly high temperature in Seattle/Bandon: June, 69/65; July, 72/67; August, 73/68

The lowdown: The convergence of the air off the Pacific Ocean colliding with the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges keeps Seattle's climate mild. The glaring spotlight of the controversial 2015 U.S. Open should keep Chambers Bay near Tacoma top of mind for years to come. I've yet to find a better municipal course in the country than the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club on the nearby Kitsap Peninsula. Salish Cliffs Golf Club in Shelton isn't far away, either. I sadly haven't played golf in Oregon yet. Whenever I met anybody who has, they rave about Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the coast and the inland golf in Bend, specifically at Tetherow Golf ClubPronghorn Golf Club and Crosswater. Bend will be much warmer than Bandon, though, averaging 81 degrees in August compared to 68 degrees for Bandon.


Canadian Rockies, Alberta


Average monthly high temperature in Banff: June, 69; July, 75; August, 75

The lowdown: The weather can be unpredictable in the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies. During my visit in July 2009, it snowed heavily during the journey on the Icefields Parkway between the Fairmont Banff Springs and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. By the next day, I was enjoying the refreshing mountain air, sightings of elk and bear and wilderness golf as good as it gets. The scenery from the Silvertip Golf Resort and Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club is just as good. Whistler, located a couple hours north of Vancouver, and Mont-Tremblant, an hour north of Montreal, are two other great Canadian mountain golf getaways I adore.




Average monthly high temperature in Vail: June, 70; July, 76; August, 74

The lowdown: Sensing a theme? Heading to the mountains is a sure-fire recipe to find summer bliss. Not many people know that the two excellent courses at Red Sky Golf Club inspired my wife and me to give our daughter the middle name Skye. That trip, we spent three days at both Beaver Creek Resort in Avon and the Keystone Resort 45 miles closer to Denver. Each has the perfect mix of restaurants, spas and golf.


Brainerd, Minnesota


Average monthly high temperature in Brainerd: June, 76; July, 80; August, 79

The lowdown: I discovered Brainerd long before most golfers did. My aunt and uncle, who live in the Twin Cities (where I was born), have owned a cabin for years just down the road from the Grand View Lodge Golf Resort and Spa on Gull Lake. Another aunt and uncle, and four cousins, grew up in Brainerd. The Classic at Madden's and Deacon's Lodge Golf Courseby Arnold Palmer stand up to any of the Midwest's best golf experiences. There are plenty of four-star courses nearby at Breezy Point Resort, Cragun's Resort and Grand View Lodge to fill out a week's worth of rounds. The summer temperatures are just cool enough for golf and still hot enough to enjoy boating, swimming and fishing on the many lakes in the region.


Muskoka Lakes region, Canada


Average monthly high temperature: June, 75; July, 77; August, 77

The lowdown: Muskoka is Toronto's version of Brainerd, except its wooded backdrops are more rugged. The exposed granite of the Canadian Shield ups the difficulty factor for golf. The Highlands Course at Deerhurst Resort was the first destination course in "cottage country" two hours north of Toronto and continues to be a must play. Taboo and theMuskoka Bay Club were designed to be even more beautiful. The one drawback is the narrow, winding roads around the lakes, which make it tough getting from course to course.




Average monthly high in Bar Harbor: June, 74; July, 79; August, 78

The lowdown: Maine only offers a couple months of peak golf season. Boy is it glorious. There's no splashy four-course golf resort to hang your hat, so be ready to drive and explore the rugged mountainous interior of the state and its coast. I bumped into Rudy Giuliani at the Samoset Resort at the height of his popularity after Sept. 11. The crowd was so large that I didn't get the chance to ask if he's ever played the resort's scenic course. Sugarloaf Golf Club, ranked no. 1 in the state 29 times by Golf Digest, ate me up the only time I played it, so I'm ready for a rematch. It's located in ski country in the Carrabassett Valley. The highly regarded Belgrade Lakes Golf Club and Sunday River Golf Club have always been on my bucket list. I'll get there someday.


A tale of two Canadian islands


Average monthly high in Victoria, Vancouver Island/Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: June, 66/63; July, 69/69; August, 69/71

The lowdown: Vancouver Island and Prince Edward Island couldn't be more opposite. It must be an east coast/west coast thing. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, gives Vancouver Island a vibrant harbor, cultural epicenter and big-city feel. PEI counters with a laid-back vibe like you've taken a time machine back to the 1960s. Vancouver Island's golf scene is probably stronger at the top with the two Jack Nicklaus courses at The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa andOlympic View Golf Club. PEI has The Links at Crowbush Cove along the Atlantic and the red-sand bunkers of Dundarave, but its strength lies in the depth of its offerings from Mill River Golf Course in the west to Andersons Creek Golf Club in the north.


Monterey Peninsula, California


Average monthly high temperature: June, 65; July, 66; August, 68

The lowdown: While the rest of California worries about wildfires and oven-like temperatures, the microclimate of the Monterey Peninsula stays mild. Its highest monthly averages actually occur in September and October. While staying at Pebble Beach Resorts is a must in every golfer's lifetime, there are ways to save money on a visit. Tee times at Pacific Grove Golf Links and the Bayonet and Black Horse Courses buy views of Monterey Bay at a discount. The renovation ofPoppy Hills Golf Course has rejuvenated that interesting Robert Trent Jones Jr. design. Dr. Alister MacKenzie'sPasatiempo Golf Club in nearby Santa Cruz has recovered nicely from last summer's drought.


Kohler, Wisconsin


Average monthly high in nearby Sheboygan: June, 76; July, 81; August, 80

The lowdown: Kohler, a small village an hour north of Milwaukee, is the Midwest's Monterey Peninsula. The American Club is its Pebble Beach Resorts. The American Club remains the only five-star golf resort in the region, thanks to its award-winning Kohler Waters Spa, four top-100 public courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, and superb dining scene. If the epic Straits Cousre at Whistling Straits, host of the 2015 PGA Championship and 2020 Ryder Cup, isn't enough to draw you in, how about a side trip to Erin Hills Golf Course? The host of the 2017 U.S. Open is less than two hours away. Golfers can easily add rounds at The BOG Golf Course by Arnold Palmer in Saukville or at the Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls during their stay.

• Editor's Note: All average temperatures were taken from usclimatedata.com (America) and worldweatheronline.com (Canada).

Jul 08, 2015

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