Tag Archives: Georgia

Golf, Getting Into the Swing of Things.

Augusta.

Augusta.

This weekend starts the first of the four major championships that revolve around a little dimpled white ball. Cherry blossoms may herald spring but so does The Masters Tournament, held annually at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It’s the only major tournament held at the same course each year. Why? I have no idea…you’ll just have to ask a golfer. Mark Twain once said that golf is a good walk spoiled and while I tend to agree with him, there are plenty of folks who’d gladly argue that point over 18 holes.

Listening to the Masters on TV, broadcasters speak in hushed tones and a whispered reverence normally reserved for church as they profile everything from a golfer’s background to the state’s iconic magnolia blossoms. From a live perspective, I don’t really see how spectators can glimpse that little ball as it flies through the air but I guess that’s what passion’s all about. And I suppose that after watching the pros go at it for four days, the desire to hit the links and pull out your Big Bertha is just too overwhelming. So if you’re itching to get out there—and get away—here are a few budget friendly destinations to put you in the swing of things:

Mirimichi
Memphis, TN
This southern city may be renowned for its blues and barbecue but the addition of Mirimichi golf course in 2009 provided another reason to visit the land of Elvis. Native son Justin Timberlake did the right thing when he invested $16 million on revamping an existing golf course in his own backyard, turning it into a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly property. He also kept prices low, making this public course user-friendly for locals while encouraging tourism at the same time. Mirimichi was ranked the #1 golf course in the U.S. in 2013 by Golfweek magazine and is also the first golf course in the U.S. to receive official Audubon Classic Sanctuary certification by Audubon International, a non-profit environmental education organization.

Another good reason to go to Memphis.

Another good reason to go to Memphis.

Torrey Pines Golf Course
San Diego, CA
As the song says, it never rains in California and with pretty much perfect weather all year round, San Diego is a traveler’s dream. Its spectacular scenery, nightlife, and dining options make it a hole-in-one destination for most travelers but it’s the municipal greens in La Jolla at Torrey Pines that make this destination a paradise for golfers. Yeah you might blow a bit more cash on this trip but it’ll be worth it for the five diamond experience and panoramic views you’ll get at the Lodge at Torrey Pines when you book a Signature Package that includes two nights and a chance to play on the course that hosted the 2008 US Open and which has been chosen to host it again in 2021.

A captivating course at Torrey Pines.

A captivating course at Torrey Pines.

Salish Cliffs
Shelton, WA
My British friends who live in the US have no problem going to play golf when there’s a chance of rain; they know they’ll have the course all to themselves. If you’re of the same spirit then you may want to consider a flight to Seattle. Most people may not think of The Evergreen State as a golf destination but Salish Cliffs is changing all that. Part of Little Creek Casino Resort, this property offers inviting stay and play package discounts where you’ll golf in a pristine wilderness area of the Pacific Northwest. The hotel’s amenities include Seven Inlets Spa, which has a robust menu of treatments and entertainment at the Skookum Creek Event Center that often includes headline acts. After a few days of golfing, head into the Emerald City and explore all its unique offerings.

The 17th hole at Salish.

The 17th hole at Salish.

Tobacco Road
Sanford, NC
Golfers are spoiled for choice in North Carolina, as anyone who’s ever spent time swinging balls down there knows. Tobacco Road has earned its place as one of the top 100 public golf courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine and it also ranked as one of the top 50 in the world by Golf Course Architecture Magazine. With its gorgeous greens, friendly rates, proximity to 30+ other courses, and southern hospitality, what more could you want from a golfing weekend. Check out Tobacco Road Golf & Travel to see all the options within this destination.

The view above the Road.

The view above the Road.

The Algarve
Portugal
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators voted this southern region of Portugal, Europe’s Best Golf Destination for 2014. The Algarve beat out such heavy hitters as the Scottish Highlands, the French Riviera, and Central Ireland. Portugal is one of the few affordable European countries where you can stretch a dollar, offering yet another reason to consider putting this trip at the top of any vacation plans you may be working on. If golf’s your game then you don’t need me telling you where to go in the Algarve…you’ll figure it out but click here for some sweet recommendations.

Vale do Lobo,

Vale do Lobo, just one of the many courses in the Algarve.

Any good courses in your neck of the woods? Share the wealth and drive some travel there!

For D.H.P

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Cherry Blossoms, It’s Poppin’ Time.

US-FEATURE-CHERRY BLOSSOMSIt’s April and that means it must be cherry blossom season. Nothing says spring like these glorious trees and even though there’s still a chill in the air, I’m going to trust Mother Nature to make one of her finest appearances when she’s ready. After the drudgery and darkness of what seemed like the longest winter in ages, when these buds burst in shades from the softest white to the deepest pink and reach full blossom, the world just looks a whole lot brighter. Few things are more delightful than lying under a cherry blossom tree, its pinky petals swirling a magical snowstorm around you.

I’m crazy for cherry blossoms and crazier for them because of the travel they inspire. If you’re looking for a good reason to get away, I’m giving you one. Washington, D.C. may showcase the grand dame of cherry blossom, or sakura, festivals in the U.S., and a trip to the nation’s capital never disappoints, but there are plenty of other places around the country to be in their good company. So if you’re looking for a day trip, weekend getaway, or something a bit longer, figure one of these destinations into your plans and don’t forget the camera.

Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival
Branch Brook Park, NJ

April 5-13, 2014
Cherry blossoms are the crowning glory of this town and Essex County takes great pride in these trees.  Locals and visitors pack this park to take part in a 10K run through the cherry tree groves, bike race in the Cherry Blossom Challenge, or enjoy a number of other events. Vaux and Olmsted, who designed NYC’s Central Park, conceived the design for this park so visitors are in for a treat.

Essex County Branch Brook Park, NJ April 5-13, 2014

The pride and joy of New Jersey’s Essex County.

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
Vancouver, British  Columbia
April 3-28, 2014

Vancouver came late to the cherry blossom garden party but after their first festival in 2006, the city’s been attracting visitors to this extravaganza ever since. The festival’s organizers believe so strongly in the power of the beauty of these blossoms to unite people, that their purpose behind this annual event is simple—to embrace citizens of all ages.  Yet another great reason to visit Canada.

Vancouver's very cherry trees.  (Photo credit: Richard Greenwald)

Vancouver’s very cherry trees. (Photo credit: Richard Greenwald)

International Cherry Blossom Festival
Macon, GA
March-April

Cherry blossom season peaks early in Georgia, with these natural debutantes making their entrance in March. No worries, festivities run through April and because this town is the cherry blossom capital of the world, visitors can reap the benefits long after the crowds have gone.

Southern bells.

Southern bells.

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival
April 2-13, 2014

Philadelphia, PA
The City of Brotherly Love, karaoke, and cherry blossoms—it doesn’t get much better than that!  A project of the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival is an engaging cultural celebration with events like Dine Out Japan, musical and dance performances, sushi making classes, martial arts and loads more.

Philly's festivities await you.

Philly’s festivities await you.

Sakura Matsuri,Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
April 26-28, 2014

Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s CherryWatch Blossom Status Map predicts the first tree to bloom next week and Brooklynites can’t wait.  Held the last weekend of April, the Sakura Matsuri is an entertaining celebration of Japanese culture, including a traditional kimono fashion show.  The garden will be buzzing that weekend, so if you’d like to avoid the crowds and have the view all to yourself, plan an off visit during the week.  No matter when you go, make a day of it by visiting the Brooklyn Museum, located next door.

Blossoms and more are in the house in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Wesley Rosenblum)

Blossoms and more are in the house in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Wesley Rosenblum)

You don’t need to visit a festival to enjoy these blossoming beauties.  They’re easily found along esplanades, in most parks, and sprinkled throughout neighborhoods that have cherry blossom friendly climates.  All that’s required on your part is to gaze up and enjoy their pink but fleeting loveliness.