As the PGA season tees off, there’s no better time to test out the new golf courses around the world. From a nature-embracing layout in Central Florida to Donald Trump’s latest endeavor in Scotland, fresh greens have popped up everywhere. And if you’re anything like our putter-wielding editors, you can’t wait to try them out.
East Course, Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico
Though the course itself has been open since November 2011, the real draw at Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico is the just-opened luxury resort to retreat to after you play. Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve welcomed its first guests in December 2012 and is poised to bring the former Laurance Rockefeller estate back to its circa-1950s grandeur. The East Course, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., underwent an extensive 18-month renovation led by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and his firm; all 18 greens were rebuilt and resurfaced with ultradwarf Champion Bermudagrass. But much of Jones Sr.’s original design was kept intact—panoramic site lines to the Atlantic have been restored on 15 of the 18 holes. In the fall, Dorado Beach will debut its renovated West Course.
Streamsong Red and Streamsong Blue, Streamsong Resort, Ft. Meade, Fla.
You can’t list one without the other, because both courses at this new central Florida resort are equally worth the trip. While the current Streamsong Clubhouse includes only 12 guest rooms, the resort, which is located about an hour from Tampa, will add an additional 216 rooms in the new, luxurious main lodge in the fall. Streamsong Red, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw of Coore & Crenshaw, features 419 Bermuda grass fairways spotted with sand dunes, lakes and natural bunkers. Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design crafted Streamsong Blue, taking advantage of the natural features of the terrain—think various elevations, wild grasses and deep-water ponds. In a state that has quite the roster of top-notch golf courses, Streamsong’s pair will definitely make a name for itself this year.
The Fazio, PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Known as the Haig when it was designed by George and Tom Fazio in 1980, the PGA National Resort & Spa’s reincarnation of this popular Palm Beach course debuted in November 2012. Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Tom Fazio (son of Jim and nephew of Tom) renovated the 18-hole course, adding a few modern advances. Now renamed the Fazio Course—thanks to keeping the work in the family—it maintains the original par-72 routing, but features updates such as a 70 percent increase in total green surface. The Fazio is also much more player-friendly now; the redesign keeps play challenging to pros, but still accessible to those with higher handicaps.
Laguna Lang Co Golf Club, Laguna Lang Co, Vietnam
Part of the massive Laguna Lang Co resort complex on Vietnam’s Central Coast, Laguna Lang Co Golf Club opened for play in mid-December 2012. Designed by English pro golfer Sir Nick Faldo—this is his second design in Vietnam—the par-71 championship course shows off its dramatic design, yet it’s playable (and enjoyable) for golfers of all levels. The ocean views and mountainous backdrop create a unique, amphitheater-like experience. Playing off the natural terrain, Faldo adds strong features and allows each hole to reveal its own character—from streams to rice paddies. To top it all off, the seaside resort boasts two top-notch hotels (Banyan Tree and Angsana) just waiting to rejuvenate you before your next round.
Trump International Golf Links, Aberdeen, Scotland
The newest addition to Donald Trump’s golf portfolio harkens back to traditional Scottish links. Of course, as any Trump property—hotel, spa or golf club—warrants, Trump International Golf Links has received quite a bit of hype. But it’s for good reason: The rugged Aberdeenshire coastline makes this course both challenging and stunningly beautiful. Dr. Martin Hawtree, one of the premier golf architects in the world, designed the championship golf course so nearly every hole has a view of the sea. The par-72 course follows the classical pattern with two out-and-back loops of nine holes each; but it’s the lush vegetation combined with the dramatic dunes that makes Trump International Golf Links one for the books.
PGA Centenary Course, The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland
Scotland is the birthplace of golf, and the PGA Centenary Course at The Gleneagles Hotel (about an hour from both Edinburgh and Glasgow) should be on the bucket list of any avid player. These Scottish links were originally designed by Jack Nicklaus and will host the 2014 Ryder Cup, which is held every two years, with this event being the first time in more than 40 years that the top players of European and American golf will duke it out in Scotland. Head to the resort between now and the end of April and your foursome can play the course for £201.40 ($327.21). While there may not be any design updates to the PGA Centenary Course, it’s still a must-hit in our book—if only to play on the same fairways as some of the greatest golfers in the world.
Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course, Laredo, Texas
The first city-owned public golf facility in Laredo opened in October 2012 and has already received quite the round of applause. Robert Trent Jones Jr. and his firm spearheaded the design, drawing inspiration from the Rio Grande River. The Max, as it has been dubbed, winds through 270 acres with nearly a mile of riverfront property—and views that stretch across the Rio Grande to Mexico. One unique aspect of this South Texas course is its “courses within the course”—meaning that the back nine includes a three- and six-hole loop, so you can play anywhere from three holes to a full 18. And if you’re looking for a course to play with your kids, this is it: The Max features “family tees” to allow parents and children to play together.
Photos Courtesy of Streamsong Resort, Gleneagles Hotel Ltd. and Brian Oar