The weather has finally started to warm up and golfers, even wannabe golfers, are eager to get out for a round on their neighborhood courses. Many are also busy planning golf-focused getaways (or "golfcations") to world-class golf resorts like Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and The Lodge at Pebble Beach near Monterey, California. Beyond stunning greens, these resorts offer spas, fine dining, even beach clubs and tennis academies. Plus, they're all located stateside. Here are some of the top places to tee off.
See: Best Golf Vacations
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head has long been considered a paradise for golfers, with two dozen golf courses on the island that see one million rounds of golf each year. Haul your golf clubs (or better yet, have them shipped using Ship Sticks) to Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort for one of its popular Stay & Play packages, which include a three-night stay, plus two or three rounds of play on championship courses. Get in a round at one of three on-site golf courses before kayaking along an 11-mile inland lagoon and dining at the resort's nearby Shelter Cove Harbour.
Port Royal Golf Club is another top pick on the island, boasting 54 holes of play on three courses. Tee up on Barony Course for scenic views on the back nine, or try your swing on Robber's Row, a golf course that sits on top of grounds used during the Civil War. And for a place to hang your hat, stay at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, which sits less than a mile south of the golf club. Take advantage of the Golf & Spa package for rounds of golf and daily, 25-minute express spa treatments, including foot massages, body scrubs and pedicures.
Getting in a round at Pebble Beach is nothing short of a golf lover's dream. Celebrities, politicians, and of course, all the golf legends, have played a round or two at Pebble Beach Golf Links, home to multiple U.S. Open Championships. The cliffside fairways and scenic views of Carmel Bay make Pebble Beach Golf Links a bucket list course for many golfers. And you'll never have to stray too far from the greens with a stay at The Lodge at Pebble Beach: the resorts sits on the course's 18th hole.
For travelers looking to test their skills, head to Spyglass Hill Golf Course, which is considered to be among the most challenging courses in the world, requiring golfers to weave around bunkers, sand dunes and lakes before kicking back at the club house. Book the Pebble Beach Stay & Play spring and summer getaway package, which includes two nights at The Inn at Spanish Bay and a round of golf at two of three Pebble Beach golf courses, including Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Pebble Beach Golf Links and The Links at Spanish Bay.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Best known as a family-friendly destination chock full of summer beach rentals and pristine shorelines, the Outer Banks is also a must-go for golf enthusiasts. Tee up at The Currituck Club in Corolla, North Carolina, for play across rolling dunes with views of the Currituck Sound. Bring the whole family during the summer months for golf clinics for both adults and children. When you need a break from the fairways, retreat to Sanderling Resort in nearby Duck. The expansive oceanfront property boasts a tranquility pool, sunrise yoga and beachside picnics, among other amenities.
Travelers also praise Kilmaric Golf Club, which has twice hosted the North Carolina Open and is considered one of the top golf courses in the state. Play through giant oak, pine, even dogwood trees to take in the natural beauty of the course. Stay at the on-site Kilmaric Club Cottage, which sleeps eight and is perfect for multigenerational vacations, allowing for golf play, swimming and walks along nature trails, as well as trips to the beach, which is just 10 minutes from the cottage.
West Palm Beach, Florida
From Naples to Fort Lauderdale to Pensacola, you can get in a lot of golf in Florida, but it's West Palm Beach that stands out as the best place to go for a golfcation. You'll find dozens of golf courses across greater West Palm Beach, but it's the PGA National Resort & Spa that will draw in golf lovers, both those who like to play and those who like to watch. Look for five golf courses, including The Champion, which hosts the annual Honda Classic, as well as a golf academy, a full-service spa, and of course, beautiful beaches just minutes away.
Another top pick? Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach County, which boasts a championship 18-hole golf course, as well as The Trump New Nine, a Jim Fazio-designed nine-hole golf course. After a few rounds, enjoy lunch or dinner at the Grill Room and relax in a luxury guest room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, which sits about 5 miles east of the golf course and offers croquet on the lawn, a luxury spa, a freshwater pool and a beach club, among other amenities.
About the author: Erin Gifford is a Washington, D.C.-based travel writer and founder of Kidventurous, an award-winning family travel resource. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kidventurous, connect with her on Facebook or get the latest tips and tricks for traveling families at http://kidventurous.com.