Spring may get all the glory when it comes to golf, but fall deserves some love, too. Hitting the links during the autumn months generally means smaller crowds, milder temps and beautiful red-orange hues to complement the view, especially in the Southeast.
Here are four golfing destinations around the region to consider this season, and one easy-to-reach spot in Mexico for the ultimate Mayan golf getaway.
Cashiers, North Carolina
High Hampton Resort, a lakeside mountain retreat steeped in tradition with an historic inn and cottages on its property, has reopened after a long renovation that includes a makeover of its golf course by legendary architect Tom Fazio. This classic course was always stunning with its high-country scenery of rock-faced mountains and jutting Blue Ridge peaks. Now, Fazio has redesigned it so the play is as thrilling as the vistas. While it may be more challenging, five sets of tee boxes let short-range players enjoy the par-71 course, too, without so many strokes to the green. The total length is 7,000 yards from the back tees and 4,500 yards from the front ones. With advance booking, private instruction and golf clinics are available to guests through the Range House pro shop. Inn and cottage guests also receive access to other club amenities such as tennis, pickleball, the swimming pool, private hiking trails and lake activities. Breakfast and dinner in the inn’s century-old wood-paneled dining room with a mountain view are included in the daily rate. High Hampton has been the summertime getaway of choice for generations of families since 1922, but the once-seasonal-only resort is now open year-round.
High Hampton. $595 and up. Green fees $250 and up. 1525 Highway 107 S., Cashiers, North Carolina. 800-648-4252, www.highhampton.com.
Since its founding as Reynolds Plantation in the 1980s, Reynolds Lake
Oconee has become a major golfing destination in Georgia. The posh gated resort community halfway between Atlanta and Augusta quietly dropped the word “plantation” from its name a few years ago. It previously served as a hunting retreat for the Reynolds family, whose old hunting lodge now rests beneath the waters of the reservoir created by Georgia Power in 1979. Today Reynolds has six championship courses, five open to guests of its large and luxurious four-bedroom rental cottages suitable for a family getaway or a multiple couples’ retreat. (The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, is also on site but operates independently of Reynolds Lake Oconee.) Reynolds’ signature course, Great Waters — designed by “The Golden Bear” himself, Jack Nicklaus — opened in 1992. Nicklaus rededicated his waterside masterpiece in 2019 after a major renovation that modernized many elements and expanded the lake views. Beyond the links, Reynolds is modernizing itself in other regards, appealing to a younger generation that grew up vacationing on the lake who now have kids of their own. Along with an updated culinary program at its 11 restaurants, the focus is on outdoor recreation. The new Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds contains a 20-station sporting clays course, archery range, air rifle range, off-road driving course, and a three-mile hiking trail. Full-service marinas allow for plenty of boating and watersports fun on the lake.
Reynolds Lake Oconee. $869 and up. Green fees $130 and up. 5741 Lake Oconee Parkway, Greensboro. 1-800-901-1204, www.reynoldslakeoconee.com/visit.
Isle of Palms, South Carolina
On the north end of the Isle of Palms, 13 miles from downtown Charleston, Wild Dunes Resort is home to two well-known Lowcountry courses — the Links Course and the Harbor Course. Both are open to the public, as is the golf school offering clinics and private lessons. For guests of the resort, a new golf package is available geared toward foursomes. The Stay More and Play More package includes two nights in a two-bedroom condo for four people, a round of golf on both courses for each person, and complimentary range balls. Prepare for water hazards on the scenic Harbor Course with its lagoons, wetlands and salt marsh. The Links Course was Tom Fazio’s first and has been called “a golf landmark in Charleston” by Golf Digest. It’s considered one of the finest courses in South Carolina and has a spectacular oceanside finish on the 18th green next to the beach. Afterward, enjoy a seafood dinner and craft cocktails at the resort’s signature restaurant Coastal Provisions.
Wild Dunes Resort. Stay More and Play More package $255 and up per person, per night based on four-person occupancy. Green fees $84 and up. 5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, South Carolina. 866-359-5593, www.destinationhotels.com/wild-dunes.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
As easy to reach from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as the resorts in South Florida, the newly expanded Banyan Tree Mayakoba provides guests access to the landmark El Camaleon Golf Course. Designed by golf legend Greg Norman, it’s the first PGA Tour course in Latin America. The World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba is played there each fall. (This year’s tournament takes place Nov. 1-7, so the course will be closed to guests during that week.) The 7,024-yard El Camaleon is so-named because of the way the landscape changes as golfers play through three distinct ecosystems that include a jungle, dense mangrove, and a sandy oceanfront spot with shimmering Caribbean views. Notably, El Camaleon is a certified Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary site committed to using eco-friendly practices to maintain its natural resources and native wildlife habitats. Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s expansion includes the Lagoon Villas opening in early 2022. Constructed on pilings in a lagoon, the new villas feature a covered, open-air second level for watching the sunset.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba. $569 and up. Green fees $219. Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juárez KM 298 Riviera Maya, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico. 855-421-1507, www.banyantree.com/en/mexico/mayakoba.
St. Petersburg, Florida
For families interested in getting in some golf on a Florida vacation, The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort has a Kids Play Free program at its golf club. Children 15 and under can play for free after 3 p.m. with a paying adult, including complimentary club rentals for the youth. If your kids are new to golfing, there’s also a golf simulator where they can practice their swing before heading out on the links, and lessons are available from PGA-certified instructors. Located on Snell Isle, The Vinoy Golf Club is a five-minute shuttle ride from the bayfront hotel in downtown St. Petersburg. Like El Camaleon in Mexico, it’s also an Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary site populated by shorebirds and offering plenty of natural beauty along its stimulating and challenging terrain. Another noteworthy and new family-friendly attraction near the historic hotel is the sleek St. Pete Pier at 2nd Avenue. A complex of multiple connected piers with a 26-acre greenspace containing a white-sand beach, it is the site of plenty of activities and attractions for all ages, including the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center and its wet classroom.
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort. $279 and up. Green fees $161. and up. 501 5th Ave., St. Petersburg, Florida. 727-894-1000, www.marriott.com