Travel Picks: Top 10 golf resorts around the world

Fri May 24, 2013 11:34am EDT

LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) - If your idea of a nature hike
involves driving an elusive ball over acres of meticulously
manicured greens, then bookmark this list of premier putting
destinations created with golf enthusiasts in mind, hand-picked
by the boutique hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith
(www.mrandmrssmith.com). Fore! Reuters has not endorsed this
list:

1.  Primland; Virginia, USA
    Pristine Primland hotel in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains
is an elegant estate surrounded by 12,000 verdant acres. One of
the many spectacular ways to explore the grounds is by playing
across ridge tops and over valleys on the 18-hole Highland
Course, designed to thrill every level of golfer. Rejuvenate
following your day of sport with a bespoke golfer's treatment -
sea salt scrub, mud wrap, deep tissue massage - at the sublime
spa. All before retiring to your luxurious Fairway Cottage with
a fieldstone fireplace and private deck, set just steps from the
scenic greens.
2.  Residences at Kapalua Bay; Maui, Hawaii
    Perched on the Pacific Ocean, Maui's Residences at Kapalua
Bay hotel is the ultimate paradise playground with its
landscaped lagoon pool, airy, modern suites, kaleidoscopic coral
reefs, private beaches, and spa honouring traditional Hawaiian
treatments. And, what draws club-toting travellers is the two
championship palm-strewn golfing greens. Brush up on your
technique at the state-of-the-art Kapalua Golf Academy, or
tee-off on either of the world-renowned courses, each set
against a background of sweeping ocean and ancient mountain
vistas. It's possible you'll take more photos than you will
strokes on these jaw-dropping courses.
3.  Farm at Cape Kidnappers; Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
    Set in the foothills of Hawke's Bay in one of New Zealand's
fêted grape-growing regions is the Farm at Cape Kidnappers
hotel. This 6,000-acre working sheep and cattle farm is dotted
with 22-charming cottage suites, and has a par 71 golf course
dramatically perched on a cliff above the churning Pacific. With
deep ravines, jutting ridges and windswept terrain, this unique
course is perfect for those who relish a challenge. And, no
matter how things play out, reward efforts with a trip to the
hotel's serenity-boosting spa followed by an epicurean feast
paired with local wines.  
4.  Kirimaya; Thailand
    Khao Yai boutique hotel Kirimaya, a few hours' drive from
Bangkok, is a grown-up rustic Thai retreat, and a most exotic
setting for an exclusive, Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole golf
course. With its single-track layout surrounded by lush jungle
and mountains, you may feel as if you're the only one out on the
links. Overall the resort exudes understated good taste and
combines modern sophistication with an all-natural escape.
Rustic trimmings such as antique doors and wooden decking give
way to simply furnished rooms showing off the best of
contemporary Thai design, as well as elegant tented villas.
5.  Masseria Torre Maizza; Puglia, Italy
    In the coast-hugging countryside of Puglia, the 16th-century
Masseria Torre Maizza hotel offers yet another tempting reason
for an Italian adventure: a scenic round of golf. Immersed in a
grove of olive and almond trees is a handsomely landscaped
split-level nine-hole course with sea views. And, this spacious
escape with cool, contemporary décor and jasmine-lined pathways
offers plenty of additional amusements too: an Aveda spa,
private beach, two massive pool decks, cookery school and
equestrian centre.
6.  Stoke Park; Buckinghamshire, England
    Seasoned pros and untested novices will both feel right at
home on the majestic grounds of Buckinghamshire's Stoke Park,
whose 27-hole championship course has seen games by the likes of
James Bond in Goldfinger. The acclaimed golf academy includes
everything from a swing-analysis video suite to a driving range.
If you can tear yourself away from the golf lover's dream,
though, the stately mansion is equally impressive; the White
House-resembling building was designed by 'Mad' King George
III's architect and the highly acclaimed spa Stoke Park Spa is
the perfect alternative if your other half isn't quite as
passionate about the links as you are.
7.  Finca Cortesin; Costa del Sol, Spain
    The Costa del Sol's elegantly sprawling Finca Cortesin
boasts both one of Spain's top courses and the idyllic
year-round weather to go with it. Host of the Volvo World Match
Play Championship for three years and home to a Nicklaus
Academy, this course is one of our favourite places to spend a
day, from the Mediterranean views to the green-side Spanish
dining. Afterwards, make for one of the three Moorish-tiled
pools or head straight for the private Beach Club to recuperate.
By night, sip potent cocktails and dine on fresh seafood at one
of the three international restaurants.
8.  Blantyre; Massachusetts USA
    If you unexpectedly stumbled upon Blantyre, a grand old
Berkshires estate, you might think yourself somewhere in
Scotland, between its castle-inspired architecture and the
18-hole Cranwell Golf Course that surrounds it. Hike around the
rolling hills and admire the area's renowned natural beauty -
the colourful autumn leaves are legendary - or participate in
old-world sports like croquet and snow-shoeing. The illusion
continues inside, where it's all roaring fires, antique
accessories and cheese fondue whenever you want it.
9.  Namale; Fiji
    For anyone but a golf aficionado, the tropical Fijian Namale
Resort's nine-hole course, driving range and virtual golf
simulator might go unnoticed amid the opulent hydrotherapy spa,
snorkelling and diving excursions and picturesquely situated
private bures. Private outdoor dining overlooking the ocean is
de rigueur and resort-coordinated visits to local villages make
stays that much more memorable. If you decide to just lounge by
your airy villa's plunge pool, though, you'll be in good company
- Namale has been a favourite retreat of such privacy-seeking
celebrities as Ed Norton and Russell Crowe.
10. Carneros Inn; California, USA
    Nestled away in Northern California's legendary Napa Valley
wine region, the 'agri-chic' Carneros Inn seamlessly blends
local farm style with contemporary architecture and the area's
relaxed vibe. Surrounded by rolling hills and lush vineyards,
it'd be a shame not to spend as much time as possible outside.
Fortunately, four world-class golf courses are within half an
hour of the resort, including the Chardonnay Golf Club and Eagle
Vines Golf Club, both within a 10-minute drive and both winding
their way through acres of oak trees, creeks and working
vineyards whose products you can sample at the end of a round on
the links.

 (Editing by Paul Casciato)
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