8 surprisingly budget-friendly spring golf destinations you should consider
Ready for a spring golf trip? Of course you are, and our spring trips package has you covered. Through the next week, our experts will name their top destinations, value spots, favorite resorts and more for spring getaways, all with the goal to educate — and motivate — you for your next trip. So read up, grab your family, tell your friends and book your next unforgettable golf trip right now.
What’s your go-to spring golf location for those looking for value and to save a few bucks?
Steve Lapper, course panelist: If maximum value is the goal, a visit to Orlando would be tops on my list. With a plethora of reasonable airfares, food and amenities all within a 10-20 minute drive, it’s hard to beat. The choices for accessible golf are many: Shingle Creek, Orange County (Panther Lake), Champions Gate and, my favorite, the charming Rhebb & Johns-designed Winter Park 9. Within an hour of town, Mission Inn Resort or Victoria Hills are also favorites.
Josh Sens, GOLF senior writer, course panelist: Architecture snobs tend to curl their lips at Myrtle Beach, but there’s a reason this slice of South Carolina is the OG of budget-minded golf getaways. The laws of supply and demand hold sway, and with more than 80 courses in a 60-some-odd mile stretch here, the prices don’t get much better. Golf packages are the way to go, bundling your tee times and accommodations (and, in some cases, meals) into a single price. It’s true. This ain’t Long Island. You aren’t going to find a cluster of World Top 100 Courses. But there are quite a few very good ones, like the Dunes Club, a terrific Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, and the Heathland Course at the Legends, one of Tom Doak’s early works. Drive south of the Grand Strand to Pawley’s Island, and you’ve got Caledonia and True Blue, a pair of Mike Strantz courses, sitting side by side. If I were booking a package deal, I’d be tempted to stay down in that area and play those two over and over.
James Colgan, GOLF assistant editor: I pride myself on being a value traveler, largely because I much prefer quantity of trips (a lot of them) to quality of amenities (so long as the hotel is clean and the tee times are booked in advance, I’m good!). This mindset has brought me to Ireland, Scotland and Pinehurst all in the last 12 months. For my next act, though, I’m going to blow your mind. Skip the resort town. Skip the greens fees. Skip EVERYTHING. Just find 15 of your closest friends and book this MANSION in rural Vermont. For a few hundred bucks a night per person (if you get a big group) enjoy a slice of the really good life — and have your own golf course, to boot. It’s too good not to take advantage of. Except, of course, for the part that once this becomes public knowledge, it won’t be available to me for many years.
Will Davenport, course panelist: Pinehurst, N.C., delivers an extensive variety of golf options and can be navigated without breaking the bank. While I highly recommend playing Pinehurst No. 2 (dramatically improved by its renovation 10 years ago), there are many other options with more reasonable price tags. In my opinion, Mid Pines and Pine Needles are two of the finest courses in the area and are not to be missed (and have reasonably priced accommodations on site). The novel sensation Tobacco Road is also undoubtedly worth experiencing; while polarizing, I personally very much enjoyed the drama of the course. When I visit Pinehurst, I almost without exception book an Airbnb at the golf villas near Course No. 5. Usually very reasonably priced, the highlight is the easy walk to The Cradle for one or two (or four) whiskey loops on the gentle Gil Hanse short course (unlimited replays!). And it goes without saying that no trip to Pinehurst is complete without an evening at Pinehurst Brewing Company.
Ryan Barath, GOLF equipment editor: Orlando! It offers an inexpensive destination with lots of golf for basically any price range. Extra points for the rental car setup at MCO, especially for golfers that travel with clubs, since it’s one of the easiest airports to grab a car and go in a very short period of time. With so many courses in the Orlando area, tee times can be found easily, even when you don’t book weeks in advance. And if you really want to explore the higher end you can find those courses too, so you can treat yourself once or twice.
Josh Berhow, GOLF managing editor: How about two? And let’s give some love to the northern States (you just have to wait until the snow melts). First, you need to check out Northern Michigan, which is still somewhat of an under-the-radar golf travel destination yet beloved by those who have been there. Belvedere, Forest Dunes, the list goes on and on. As for another option, it’s Brainerd, Minn., which I’ve written about before. And you know why? Because it’s that good. People in Minnesota or those who have ventured there will admit it, too. It’s got everything you need for the perfect golf trip, and spring and fall rates are extremely affordable (as are the twilight golf rates). You just still might need a stocking hat. Heck, even the summer rates are reasonable, and you get to play courses like Deacon’s Lodge, The Preserve, The Classic and Cragun’s Legacy Courses.
Jessica Marksbury, GOLF senior editor: This might sound crazy, but consider Ireland! Flights are significantly lower in the late winter and spring than the summertime peak, and, in my experience, the weather has often been better than I expected. I’ve traveled to the Dublin area multiple times in February and March over the last 15 years, and while some days were cold, it was never unbearable. If balmy heat is what you’re looking for, it’s obviously not the best time to go. But if maximizing savings on a bucket-list trip is a top priority, this time of year is a good bet!
Nick Dimengo, GOLF instruction editor: Nothing beats Seattle in the spring, so when it’s time to grab my clubs and hit the links, Eagle’s Talon in nearby Redmond is my top spot. About 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, Eagle’s provides exceptional quality for a public course, offering a challenging design for both new and veteran golfers. It requires control from the tee box more than distance, along with precision on approach shots given all of the greenside bunkers. For about $55 during the week and $70 on the weekend, it’s a fair price point. As an added bonus, Eagle’s Talon is situated between a number of different parks, which provides another outdoor activity for people to try when they aren’t swinging the clubs. Oh, and it’s also located near Kirkland (which offers a smalltown vibe that overlooks Lake Washington), Bellevue (home of big tech like Microsoft for those looking for a bigger city feel), and Woodinville (Western Washington’s mini Napa Valley, with hundreds of wineries to choose from). There are plenty more worthy courses around, too, so you can make an easy golf trip out of a Seattle weekend. Fred Couples would approve.