Masters' Courses

Golfing at PGA Tour venues

Land, ho: Harbour Town Lighthouse in Hilton Head, S.C., is a familiar landmark for pros competing in the MCI Heritage Golf Tournament every April

Golfers love to imagine themselves in the competitive shoes of their favorite pros. When planning a meeting with a golf element, why not offer participants the
opportunity to attempt that putt Tiger Woods missed or see if they can avoid the pond that was David Duval’s Waterloo? The resorts profiled here have been the site of many PGA Tour events; their storied fairways and greens will make attendees’ dreams come true.

Doral Golf Resort & Spa
Site of the PGA Ford Championship, March 1-7
(305) 592-2000

One of five championship courses at Doral, the Blue Monster has been hosting the PGA Tour since 1962. Almost every golfing great in recent history has had a moment of glory (or agony) on this track. Created by Dick Wilson, the course was restored by Ray Floyd in 1996.
   Eight major water hazards make it difficult to keep balls dry here. A fountain marks the much-televised 18th hole where, in 2003, Scott Hoch put his name in the record books by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt for a sudden-death victory over Jim Furyk.
   The 693-room resort has everything a guest could want five courses, a 148,000-square-foot spa, an aquatic recreation area, 11 tennis courts and five restaurants. More than 40 rooms in the conference wing provide 100,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, and outdoor venues for receptions and events are scattered throughout the 650 acres.

Desert track: This month,
the pros head to Phoenix
for the FBR Championship,
played on the TPC of Scottsdale

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Site of the FBR Championship, Jan. 26-Feb. 1
Scottsdale, Ariz.
(480) 585-4848
Held at the TPC of Scottsdale since 1987, the Phoenix Open (in 2004 it will be called the FBR Championship) has been the stage for a lot of great golf. This includes a 21-year-old Tiger Woods’ hole-in-one on the 16th hole in 1997, and Mark Calcavecchia’s 72-hole PGA Tour record of 256 in 2001. In 2003, Vijay Singh birdied five of the first six holes and tied the PGA Tour final round lowest score of 63 to win over John Huston. 
   The Stadium Course is a fine Tom Weiskopf-Jay Morrish design incorporating desert flora (and fauna), 72 bunkers, six lakes and a plethora of mounding to give character to the flat site. It is part of the Tournament Players Club Network, which not only provides top-quality venues for the Tour, but also makes them accessible to resort players.
   Set in the desert with a mountain backdrop, the Scottsdale Princess has two courses, four restaurants, five swimming pools and a 44,000-square-foot spa. Guest accommodations include 650 rooms and suites, all with oversize bathrooms and terraces. The resort has more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 22,500-square-foot ballroom.  

Cliffside drama: The Buick Invitational in February benefits from spectacular views and testy winds off the Pacific at Torrey Pines

The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Site of the Buick Invitational, Feb. 9-15
La Jolla, Calif.
(888) 826-0224

The municipal Torrey Pines Golf Course has hosted the Buick Open since 1968. When Tiger Woods claimed the 2003 title over Carl Pettersson and Brad Faxon, perhaps he lingered in the clubhouse long enough to look at photos of himself and Phil Mickelson as teenage winners of tournaments here. The course gets a lot of traffic from star players and will host the 2008 U.S. Open, only the second public course to do so. 
   This year, Torrey Pines South was a revitalized venue for the Buick Open, having received a major tweaking by Rees Jones that stretched its length by 500 yards, raised some greens and almost doubled the bunker count. 
   The relatively new Lodge at Torrey Pines, a 1900s-style hotel opened in 2002, is beautifully positioned on the 18th fairway, overlooking rugged Pacific cliffs. The lodge offers 175 guest rooms, a 9,500-square-foot spa, two restaurants  and more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space. The 10,000-square-foot Arroyo Terrace is the perfect spot for functions in the ocean air. The Lodge is 20 minutes from the attractions of San Diego and within walking distance of miles of trails in the Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Wooded: Nemacolin's Mystic Rock Course

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa
Site of the 84 Lumber Classic, Sept. 20-26
Nemacolin, Pa.
(800) 422-2736

A duffer named Joe Hardy is one of the PGA Tour’s newest best friends. The 80-year-old owner and founder of the 84 Lumber chain vows he’s going to put on the Tour’s best tournament next year, no matter how much it costs.
   The billionaire, who owns Nemacolin Woodlands, a lavish resort in western Pennsylvania, got his feet wet last fall literally as well as figuratively, when the resort hosted the inaugural $4 million 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania on its Pete Dye-designed Mystic Rock Course. Hurricane Isabel dampened the event, but not Hardy’s enthusiasm. Nor did the soggy going faze J.L. Lewis, who set a course record 62 to win over Frank Lickliter II and Stuart Appleby. 
   The day after the tournament, Hardy and daughter Maggie Magerko broke ground just off the 18th green on the 42-room Falling Rock Lodge, which will offer a 50,000-square-foot clubhouse, a pro shop, locker rooms, a dining room and lounge, and an executive boardroom. 
   Falling Rock Lodge is icing on Nemacolin’s cake. The resort already has 292 rooms, suites and town houses; an award-wining spa; 36 holes of golf; several restaurants, and 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

Radisson Plaza Hotel & Convention Center
Site of the 2000 Ingersoll-Rand Senior Tour Championship
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
(843) 918-5000
The TPC of Myrtle Beach
(843) 357-3399

When the TPC of Myrtle Beach opened in 1999, it was the 100th course in the Myrtle Beach area, a prime destination for golf and family fun. The Tom Fazio design is a certified Audubon Sanctuary in a wetlands area. It has surprising elevation changes for a lowlands track and, of course, water or wetlands on 11 holes. Long carries, sloped fairways, 70 strategic bunkers and undulating greens add spice to the scenic 6,950-yard route. 
   The Senior Tour Championship, played in Myrtle Beach since 1994, moved to the TPC in 2000. The players loved the course. Tom Watson won that year, going bogeyless for his final 26 holes to beat John Jacobs. The course was meant to be a permanent home for the tournament, but bigger sponsorship from another venue won out. Another Tour event is expected to take its place in the near future. 
   The Radisson offers 402 well-appointed guest rooms and easy access to meeting facilities. The hotel lobby and second-floor lounge connect directly to the 250,000-square-foot Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The center has 17 meeting rooms, including a 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall. A new plaza has ample space for outdoor events.

Windswept: Kapalua's Plantation Course

Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
Site of the Mercedes Championships, Jan. 5-11
Maui, Hawaii
(808) 669-6200

Ernie Els took the 2003 Mercedes Championships with a PGA Tour 72-hole record of 31 under par. The venue is the Plantation Course, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore with wide fairways to compensate for the wicked wind. The 663-yard 18th hole downhill but still daunting has seen many a spectacular finish. Two Arnold Palmer-designed companion courses are nearby, the Bay (which draws more rounds than the Plantation) and the Village. 
   Great layouts and 30,000 square feet of meeting space (plus outdoor areas) make the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, an inviting convention venue. The resort also specializes in personal space each of the 548 guest rooms has an oversize marble bathroom and a private lanai with a view. Add to that a 10,000-square-foot, three-tiered swimming pool; an extensive spa with traditional Hawaiian treatments, and five diverse restaurants one of which is ideal for watching whale migrations and the destination is hard to beat.

Sea Pines Resort
Site of the MCI Heritage Golf Tournament, April 12-18
Hilton Head, S.C.
(888) 807-6873

Harbour Town Golf Links is a lucky place for Davis Love III, judging by his 2003 MCI Heritage win, his fifth in this tournament. Golfers regularly ante up a $250 greens fee to challenge this 1960s Jack Nicklaus/Pete Dye collaboration. 
   Seen on TV, with its trademark red-and-white lighthouse at the nearby marina, the setting is lovely. But the layout is both diabolical and inspired, marked by tiny greens, pot bunkers, waste areas and narrow fairways.
   The 5,200-acre Sea Pines Resort offers 500 villas and homes and a new 60-room inn, with settings varying from oceanside to Southern plantation-style to marina village. In its forest preserve, there is a ropes course, and the resort offers eight eco tours on the grounds.
   Overlooking the course is the Harbour Town Conference Center, more than 6,500 square feet of meeting space offering the latest technology. An additional 4,600 square feet of of event space is available outside.

Westin Innisbrook Golf Resort
Site of the Chrysler Championship,
Oct. 25-31
Palm Harbor, Fla.
(727) 939-3859

The aptly named Copperhead Course, one of four layouts at the Westin Innisbrook, was designed by Roger and Larry Packard, who put plenty of bite into the rolling, 7,200-yard track. It’s a great place for grip-it-and-rip-it types who like to use a driver off the tee, but the approach shots are tricky and the greens are fast, sloping and/or heavily contoured. The former site of the LPGA/PGA J.C. Penney Classic, Copperhead is now home to the Chrysler Championship. K.J. Choi set a tournament record 267 in his 2002 win here over Glen Day.
   The 11,000-acre resort just west of Tampa has more pools than golf courses six, including the huge Loch Ness, which is in the middle of a three-acre fun park. Cycling trails and a wildlife area also are on the grounds, as well as a tennis, racquetball and fitness center. Guests staying at the resort’s 600 rooms and suites can choose from four diverse restaurants. The 65,000-square-foot conference complex offers three buildings, including the Inverness Hall, which has a 14,000-square-foot ballroom that seats 2,000 people theater-style.