5 PLACES TO GOLF IN THE WINTER While Your Buddies Shovel Snow Back Home
Many believe "The End" by The Doors is a song about death—they are wrong. In fact, the legendary song brilliantly frames the misery we all experience as summer ends and cold weather begins. With eloquence, Jim Morrison sings, Ray Manzarek plays the keys, Robby Krieger strums his Gibson guitar and John Densmore bangs the drums—together they harness sadness as we remember yestermonth backyard barbecues. No more pool parties, no rooftop parties either and soon we will be lashing away at our windshields with the damn ice scraper. Oh, the agony. Day after day, the skies are dark, the wind blows and the temperatures dip into the depths of a frozen hell—this is winter.
However, there are escapes and warmth awaits—you just gotta go get it. Do not forget that it is always summer or spring somewhere in the world, always. Here are five places where the sun awaits while snow and cold blankets America's north in winter.
Colombia, South America
A burgeoning tourism destination, Colombia has moved away from the violence it was branded with in the 90s. The dollar is strong there; here is an example: a pizza, two 18 ounce draft beers and dessert at the Bogota JW Marriott bar with tip costs less than $30 (this would cost $80 in the states). It's always warm in Bogota, Medellín and Cartagena and unbeknownst to many, the golf there is amazing. The slopes, hills and mountains in Bogota make for amazing golf—in fact, there are 30 golf courses there. North of Bogota along the coast in Cartagena is one of the best courses in the country: Cartagena TPC at Karibana. Flights from the states are affordable and for accommodations, tee times and transportation, reach out to a tour operator such as Astro Tours in Bogota. Be sure to ask about San Andrés Golf Club and Club Campestre Los Lagartos.
It's often said people love Miami because it's so close to the U.S. and it offers the opportunity to visit a foreign country without packing a passport—the Magic City is an international city with many cultures and flavors. It's also home to some of the best rays in America and it never gets cold there. Anything in the 60s and people are wearing fur and Ugs—true story. And for the sake of simplicity, we're going to group together Palm Beach County, Broward County (Fort Lauderdale) and Dade County (Miami). In Miami, there is Trump National Doral Miami, Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne and Turnberry Isle Resort and Club—three of our favorites. In Broward County, play Jacaranda Golf Club and in Palm Beach be sure to visit PGA Resort. While there, be sure to stroll through Wynwood, enjoy a Pan con Bistec at Mary's Coin Laundry and spend a day on South Beach (take a cooler, just make sure it's cans, no glass on the beach).
The Algarve region in the south of Portugal is one of the premier places to play in Europe for one major reason—unlike most of Europe where it's cold every day, Algarve is warm. In West Algarve there is Espiche Golf, Central Algarve has Quinta do Lago and San Lorenzo Golf Club and East Algarve is home to Monte Rei Golf Club. After the round, Portuguese seafood awaits and entrees rarely cost more than 10 Euros—also try some medronho, a spirit made from the fruit of the Strawberry tree.
Dominican Republic, Caribbean
The Domincan Republic is often called the Pebble Beach of the Caribbean—many say it's even better. The DR golf trinity: Punta Cana, Casa de Campo and Punta Espada are quality. Golf in the Caribbean isn't always amazing—golf courses there are difficult to maintain and it's hard to keep equipment running (salt is a killer). On the contrary, Casa de Campo is one of the best resorts in the world with three courses shaped by Pete Dye. Its Teeth of the Dog golf course is a top 50 in the world and arguably the best in the Caribbean. Seven of the holes on "Teeth" cozy up next to emerald ocean water. There are 45 holes at Puntacana, but it's Tom Fazio's Corales that gets all the talk. The finishing hole there, a 409-yard par four, offers the best views of the day, which makes for nice conversation at the rum bar.
Costa Rica, Central America
Golf or not, Costa Rica is always a good idea. Imperial beers in Costa Rica is like Budweiser in St. Louis except Costa Rica is a hell of a lot more fun than the STL (no offense Nelly). La Iguana - Los Suenos digs into the rainforests, a truly unique experience. And if the golf game is a disaster there are sloths, rainforests, volcanoes, good food, surfing, jungle adventures and attractive ladies. Costa Rica is a good value.
The wrath of old man winter is here, but do not surrender to the attack. Resist, relocate and seek sunshine even if it's for a long weekend. As Mel Gibson said in Braveheart, "They may take our suntans, but they’ll never take our love of frozen drinks!”