We believe that traveling with your kids is the ultimate education. One of the best ways to experience a new destination is to truly immerse yourself in it, and if you are a golfing family - play golf in it! In this article we provide a selection of some of the best golf resorts for families in the USA.
When traveling to vacation golf resorts with junior golfers we like to ask the following questions:
- Are junior golf rates available?
- Are any junior golf camps available?
- Are there any other resort activities ideally suited to families (e.g. swimming pool, biking, clubhouse, fishing etc)?
Below are our pick of 15 of the Best Golf Resorts for Families that are guaranteed to provide for an unforgettable golfing vacation for you and your junior golfers.
Pinehurst Resort - Pinehurst, NC
A stay at the Pinehurst Resort is an experience within itself. Pinehurst is known as the birth place of American golf. There are 9 "numbered" courses including the famous #2 which is one of the most legendary courses in the world. In addition to past and future US Opens, the US Kids Golf World Championship, Teen World Championship and Van Horn Cup are played annually on Pinehurst courses.
In addition to the Pinehurst numbered courses there are many other great courses to play with kids including Mid Pines, Tobacco Road, Talamore, Longleaf, and Pine Needles. The US Kids golf academy is based at Longleaf. Insider tip: in addition to number the famous No, 2, the redone No. 4 is a great course to play. No's 8 and 9 are also highly recommended and a little different in layout to the older courses.
The Cradle is the newest addition to the Pinehurst Resort. It is a nine hole short course that caters to all levels of players and features holes from 56 to 127 yards. Kids 17 and under play the Cradle course free with a paying adult. Check in at the pro-shop - or resort guests can book tee times in advance. Pinehurst encourages family golf and has seasonal packages that include kids under 17 staying and playing free.
"Thistle Dhu" is an awesome, challenging and fun 18 hole putting green in front of the main club house. Not your regular putting green by any stretch of the imagination! Probably the most fun your kids will have while you watch from a rocking chair on the clubhouse patio with a sundowner in your hand!
Pinehurst offers overnight junior golf instruction camps for juniors with handicaps of 15 and under. Pinehurst is truly an excellent golf resort for families with keen junior golfers.
Pinehurst Resort accommodations in the Pinehurst Village include The Carolina Hotel, The Holly Inn and The Manor Inn. Our favorite is the Carolina which epitomizes old world elegance and has the most amazing breakfast buffet included in the rate. The Condos at Pinehurst are great for families and longer stays in this picturesque cradle of American golf. There are many other good hotel options in the area.
The Carolina Hotel and The Holly Inn have swimming pools to cool off in and play after a hot day on the links. The Holly pool is quiet and more intimate whereas the pool at The Carolina is bigger and surrounded by a putting green, playground, kiddies pool, and open lawn for various activities.
There is a fitness center located at the Spa at Pinehurst open to guests 16 years and over. Pinehurst also offers a Kids Club that is open to kids 3 to 12 years old.
Sea Pines Resort - Hilton Head, SC
The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island features the world renown Harbor Town Golf Links, Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III. They all offer junior rates at 50% of adult rates. Venturing out of Sea Pines there are over 30 very good golf courses on Hilton Head Island, so it is definitely a golfing destination for all skills and levels of golfer. Junior golf instruction and camps are available for all ages and levels at the Sea Pines Resort Golf Learning Center.
Insider tip: Haig Point, a Reese Jones signature course has appeared in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Courses", "Best in State" and Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 in the World.” It is located on Dafuskie Island, which can be accessed by ferry from Harbor Town Yacht Club. There are no bridges to the island and the ferry ride with your clubs is a fun trip for kids! It is a private course but has some affiliations and you can request a tee time for an unaccompanied guest as a "member for the day" Haig Point Golf Play Information.
The Sea Pines Resort's flagship accommodation is the small, luxurious The Inn & Club at Harbour Town. It is located at the Harbour Town Golf Links and is the epitome of elegance with a boutique pool and legendary service. Breakfast is not included in the rates. For a greater variety of family friendly accommodation options Sea Pines offers access to over 400 vacation homes, villas and condos.
Sea Pines (and Hilton Head in general) is, in many ways, the ideal family vacation spot with easy access to golf, tennis, the beach, shopping, great cycling trails, fishing and sailing opportunities.
PGA National Resort & Spa - Palm Beach Gardens, FL
PGA National hosts a number of prestigious junior golf tournaments during the year. The resort features five, all newly renovated, championship golf courses: The Champion Course (widely regarded as one the toughest course in Florida), The Palmer, The Squire, The Fazio and The Estates,. Junior rates are available. This is one of our favorite golfing destinations.
Golf instruction is available at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, Dave Pelz Scoring Game Golf School and EBC Elite Training School. A Junior Summer program is offered at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy for juniors 7 through 17 years old.
The PGA National Resort & Spa offers a variety of accommodations from guest rooms to suites and cottages. We have always enjoyed our time there with everything you need comfortably on the property.
This resort has one of the most fabulous pools we have experienced, with pool side dining, and the kids love the game room and proximity of the huge practice putting green.
Callaway Gardens Resort - Pine Mountain, GA
Callaway Gardens Resort offers two extremely scenic golf courses - the Mountain View Course (the more challenging of the two and host of many regional junior golf tournaments - as well as past PGA Tour tournaments) and the scenic Lake View Course. Both feature a lot of water, wildlife and natural beauty. Junior rates are available for junior golfers 13 and under.
Our recommendation for a stay at Callaway Gardens is The Lodge & Spa or The Cottages that are located next to the Lodge & Spa. The Callaway Gardens Inn (same ownership) is more of a travel motel and not our favorite even though it is slightly cheaper. The Cottages (located near the Lodge & Spa) are well equipped for families and are nestled peacefully in the trees but a close walk to a great dinner at The Lodge & Spa if you are disinclined to cook. The Lodge & Spa is comfortable, walking distance to the lake, well equipped and has a great breakfast buffet which can be included in your hotel rate if you wish.
Callaway Gardens is full of family entertainment and enjoyment off the beaten track (about an hour south of Atlanta International Airport). It is located on 2,500 spectacular acres for wildlife viewing, hiking, biking, fishing, water sports and lake side fun at Robin Lake. A fantastic Butterfly Garden, TreeTop Adventure (tree-top obstacle course and zip-lining), Discovery Center and Fantasy In Lights at Christmas time makes this one of our personal favorite family destinations.
Like many of the family golf resorts on this list, Callaway is little off the beaten path but we have included here as if offers so many activities for families with kids.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort - Kiawah Island, SC
The world renown Kiawah Island Golf Resort boasts five idyllic courses on the pristine Atlantic coastline designed by the whose-who of architects in the country. Junior golf rates are available and the resort also has a Family Tee program designed for families to play together. With a paying adult, children under 17 play free under this program on the Osprey, Cougar, Turtle and Oak Point Golf courses.
Junior golf clinics are also offered through the summer for juniors 8 to 17 years old.
There are various accommodations available on Kiawah Island. The Sanctuary Hotel is elegance and Southern charm personified. A rare experience right on the ocean with every amenity you could imagine. Villas, private homes and golf course cottages are also available for rent and cater to the full resort experience.
Tennis, nature programs, beach, pools (both adult only and family friendly) make this beach vacation one for the books!
Pebble Beach Resort - Pebble Beach, CA
Visiting the Pebble Beach Resort and playing Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and The Links at Spanish Bay is probably the ultimate American golf experience. There is no more beautiful backdrop than the Monterey Peninsula with its cliffs plunging into the Pacific, Cypress tree silhouettes, and pristine sand beaches.
Junior golfers are welcome to play but unfortunately there are no Pebble Beach junior rates. The courses are very expensive (Pebble Beach is $500 plus caddie fee and tip)!
Insider tips: Pacific Grove Links is an excellent alternative for families with younger juniors. It has fantastic views of the ocean at less than 6,000 yards is ideally suited to juniors. At less than $50 a player this is a must play! For a tougher challenge, we recommend Bayonet and Black Horse up in the hills overlooking the Monterey Bay. These are great courses at reasonable price with junior rates available. Also close-by course is Pasatiempo which is semi-private but open to the public with advance reservations possible. With views of the Monterey peninsula this fantastic Alister MacKenzie design (he also designed Augusta National and Cypress Point - but apparently this was his favorite), is another bucket list course.
Pebble Beach is expensive - you pay for the experience, which for many is the experience of a lifetime. It truly is a wonderful place and for the price you owe it to yourself to lean in and surrender yourself to the surreal beauty and old-world charm of the resort. Also, in order to pre-book times a lodging reservation is required. Our recommendation is to stay at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Luxurious rooms, spectacular scenery and who doesn't love the sound of bagpipes lilting on the sea air as the sun sets into the Pacific?
There are many activities in the area that encourage the family to get outdoors and explore including nature trails, horse trails, cycling trails and the beach. Cruise the famous 17 Mile Drive in a complementary Lexus for resort guests and meander through the enchanting Carmel-By-The-Sea. Seriously, its a vacation like no other.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort - Bandon, OR
The Oregon coast is one of the most wildly captivating natural marvels in the United States. Off the beaten path, and through progressive and environmentally conscious law-making, its cliffs and beaches remain open and largely untarnished by modern developments. The Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has been aesthetically crafted into the landscape as paint on a canvas. Its four golf courses (walk only) are links golf at its finest. The resort also features a 13 hold par 3 course that starts up in the sand dunes and flows down to the sea (net proceeds of which go to the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance) and The Punchbowl which is a, free to resort guests, challenging 100,000 square foot putting green.
Shorty's is a, free to resort guests, 9 hole par 3 course that is open four afternoons a week. Donations can be made towards the Bandon Junior Golf program. The Bandon Dunes Practice Center offers junior golf instruction to all levels.
Bandon Golf Resort is not overly luxurious but has many accommodations to meet your needs including comfortable hotel rooms, suites and cottages with incredible views and modern, spacious touches.
The Oregon coast truly is one of the most beautiful places in the country. From the resort you can immerse yourself in nature and explore the dunes, coastline, wildlife and bird viewing on a myriad of trails. Fishing is available on the resort as well as a fitness center. Horseback riding along the coast is an unforgettable experience and if you are into watersports the Oregon coast is a mecca for experienced kite and windsurfing enthusiasts.
The Wigwam Arizona - Litchfield Park, AZ
The three Championship courses that sprawl their rich green fairways through the western desert are a draw in themselves. Majestic sunsets reflect in the lakes and canals that feed the wildlife, and in the shadows of the Sierra Estrella this is a family high-altitude golf experience at its best. The Wigwam Resort also hosts a variety junior golf tournaments throughout of the year and offers a family friendly golfing experience and the courses are an easy walk for juniors.
After 1 pm on Saturdays through Thursdays and all day Fridays, kids under 17 play free with a paying adult.
The Wigwam is a sprawling (440 acres) South-Western style adobe luxury resort. A large variety of spacious accommodations are available to suit your needs from guest rooms, terrace rooms and suites - all tucked away down meandering stone paths and surrounded by lush vegetation and bird life.
The resort has two beautiful pools (the smaller, Oasis, is adults only Fridays through Sundays from Memorial through Labor Day). A variety of lawn games are available for guests' enjoyment as well as tennis courts on site. Nearby (within a few hours drive) are beautiful Sedona (2 hours) and the Grand Canyon (a little longer at 4 hours).
La Quinta Resort & Club - La Quinta, CA
In the shadows of the Santa Rosa Mountains, near Coachella and mere miles from the breathtaking Joshua Tree National Park in the heart of the Southern California desert is a rich oasis consisting of miles and miles of golf courses where the Pros and Hollywood elite flock to play. The area around Palm Springs has over 100 golf courses and La Quinta Resort & Club is home to five championship courses featuring desert sand, undulating shadows, wildflowers, water and the architecture of the world's golfing greats.
Old world architecture with a modern flair in this oasis setting helps you leave all your troubles behind. Studios, villas, casitas, suites - many options for a family golf vacation are available for your individual needs. Some with private pools and fireplaces, most steps away from one of the 41 resort pools surrounded by lush vegetation and always with views of the magnificent Santa Rosas. The resort is pet friendly by the way and actually back in the day, before we had junior golfers, we enjoyed a fabulous round here while our little white dog rode around in the golf cart with us!
In addition to the many pools found throughout the resort, cycling, fitness classes, tennis and pickleball are available to guests as well as instruction. The greater Palm Springs area around the resort has a multitude of opportunities for hiking, shopping and sight-seeing while all the time experiencing the uniqueness of this Southern California desert experience.
The Lodge Torrey Pines - La Jolla, CA
Located in the prestigious La Jolla area of southern California atop the rugged cliffs that plunge into the glorious Pacific is the world renown 36 hole Torrey Pines Golf Course. It is a challenging, municipal course with wind, spectacular views and Lodge guests get priority tee times. Junior rates are available for play Monday through Thursdays. The club has an active Junior Club and hosts Summer camps for junior golfers ages 10 to 17 of all skill levels.
The Lodge Torrey Pines has been rated as the #1 hotel in the West and one of the most beautiful anywhere. It is very luxurious with rooms and suites offering the finest in service, culinary innovation, coastal experience and views.
While the Lodge might not be the natural selection for a family vacation, like Pebble Beach, one stays for the golf experience as a whole. The area offers beautiful beaches, wildlife viewing and nature trails.
The American Club - Kohler, WI
The American Club's signature course, Whistling Straits is a bucket list course for most golfers. Expensive and challenging, with wind and sand galore, it is still rated as one of the finest links golf courses in the world and the views of Lake Michigan are spectacular. It is a walking course but not too hilly.
Blackwolf Run, with its The River and The Meadow Valleys courses, is carved into an ancient glacier and features lots of water, wildlife and undulating greens. Some regard The River as even more majestic than Whistling Straits.
Junior golf rates are offered to junior golfers 17 years old and under with a paying adult.
The Junior Golf Academy offers instruction and playing privileges for all participants. Participants play for free on The Meadow Valleys and The Irish courses after 5pm through the summer with a paying adult player.
Summer camps are held for high level tournament players ages 12 through 17.
The American Club is a 5 star, Diamond resort that focuses on high quality service and providing an elegant, luxurious experience. It is expensive but the epitome of old world American charm and hospitality.
River Wildlife is a 500 acres reserve for guests of all ages to enjoy outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, hiking and horse riding. Sports Core facilities are open to guests to play tennis, swim and use the fitness center.
Crystal Springs Resort - Hamburg, NJ
Not far from New York City and set in the beautiful Appalachians is the Crystal Springs Resort with is six championship public golf courses that are well suited for family golfing. Ballyowen is probably the most famous and designed as a links style course surrounded by heather and meadows atop a vast plateau with river and farmland views. Idyllic to say the least with a piper to serenade the approaching dusk each evening.
The other courses have something for everyone with changing terrain and scenery, serene vistas, challenging layouts and more open fairways for the recreational golfer. Minerals Golf Club is an executive 9 hole course designed into the mountains and perfect for family outings.
The Leadbetter Golf Academy offers junior instruction for all ages and levels. Summer camps for junior golfers are available too.
The Grand Cascades Lodge is a four-star luxurious, yet family orientated, Adirondack style lodge with majestic views across the valleys and set into the mountains. Even though it is so close to New York City and the hustle and bustle of New Jersey village life, guests feel a world away.
The Minerals Hotel is tucked into the mountains between the Grand Cascades Lodge and the Mountain Creek Ski Resort and is a great place for active, outdoor-orientated families. Clean, spacious and friendly with easy access to everything the area has to offer.
The Crystal Springs Resort area is alive with experiences for family members. Set in the Appalachian Mountains there are an abundance of hiking trails, fishing spots and wildlife viewing areas. Kayaking, paddle-boarding, horse-riding, zip-lining and (seasonally) skiing is close by. The hotels feature three individually inspired swimming pool complexes including the cutting edge Tropical Biosphere Pool complex - one of the only ones of its kind in the USA.
Sunriver Resort - Sunriver, OR
Oregon's high desert central region provides a majestic backdrop for golf and there are a few very popular golf resorts in the area. The Sunriver Resort has four unique courses, each designed to flow with the landscape around forested meadows and meandering rivers with views of the soaring Cascade Mountain range.
The Crosswater course is a multi-award winning course played through wetlands and woodlands and criss-crossing the Deschutes River. The Meadows hosts numerous championship tournaments annually and offers a challenging round with remarkable vistas. It is also home of a fun 9 hole putting course.
The Woodlands course is one of the Pacific Northwest's finest championship courses and features an abundance the terrain that the area is famous for - pine trees, lava rocks and a lot of water.
The Caldera Links is a family friendly 9 hole golf course with holes ranging from 60 to 185 yards. Playing Caldera Links is reserved only for Sunriver Resort guests. Junior rates are available on all Sunriver golf courses.
Rustic, high-desert luxury defines the Sunriver Lodge, and for those brisk nights all rooms and suites have stone fireplaces. Set against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountain range there is no better place to get truly away from it all - yet sufficiently close to the happening and vibey Bend for a night out on the town Pacific Northwest style. Bend just happens to be one of our favorite towns and offers the outdoors-orientated family immense opportunities for fun year round.
This area is blessed with an abundance of good weather and outdoor opportunities including hiking, nature trails, wildlife viewing, fishing, biking, tennis and skiing. The resort features The Cove which is a giant zero-entry pool and includes a hot tub, private cabanas, a waterslide, nature walk and discovery area, lakeside trails and a spacious deck and lawn.
Hershey Lodge - Hershey, PA
The East and West golf courses of Hershey Country Club are both legendary championship golf courses and home to golfing legends. Consistently rated among the top resorts in the country the course features old tree lined fairways, lush manicured greens, plenty of bunkers and challenges for all level of golfers. These courses are private but available to guests of Hershey Lodge. Nearby is also the Spring Creek Golf Course that features a public 9 hole course very welcoming to junior players and offers junior rates.
Hershey Lodge, in the middle of traditional chocolate country, continues the focus on warm, traditional, chocolate decor in a timeless and elegant style. Rooms are spacious and the larger rooms can sleep up to 6 people.
One of the greatest attractions of Hershey Lodge and perhaps the biggest draw for families, is the 30,000 square foot indoor pool complex with tons of fun, interactive water features. Guests also get free admission to Hershey Gardens and the Hershey Museum Experience as well as some perks to the Hersheypark Amusement Park. Lodge guests can also play basketball, tennis and mini-golf and partake in various family friendly craft activities.
Walt Disney Resort - Orlando, FL
As with everything associated with Disney, Disney Golf's three championship golf courses and one 9-hole course feature impeccable attention to detail, design and service. The courses, managed by Arnold Palmer Management, are challenging in varying degrees and are designed to feature the tropical nature of the terrain with an abundance of palm trees, water and wildlife. In fact, the Magnolia and the Lake Buena Vista courses are certified as Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Disney's Oak Trail course is a nine hole walking course (push/pull carts allowed) with junior tees and guaranteed fun for the whole family. Junior rates are available for players under 18 years old at all courses.
Junior golf clinics and camps are available for players 7 to 17 years old.
Walt Disney World is full of accommodation options from super luxury to budget and to fit any need or desire. Here is a link to Walt Disney World Accommodation to help narrow your search.
Disney World consists of four Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park), and two Water Parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park). It is a perennial favorite vacation destination of families around the world.
Marriott's Kauai Resort - Lihue, HI
The Marriott's Kauai Resort is an excellent place to stay and play the longest stretch of unrivaled oceanfront golf possible at the world renown Ocean Course at Hokuala - regarded as one of the most beautiful courses in the world. Wind, water and strategically placed sand notwithstanding, it is still considered one of the most playable and enjoyable of all of Jack Nicklaus' signature courses. On Tuesday afternoons the club holds a fun 9 hole scramble tournament. Juniors age 6 to 17 are welcome to participate and junior rates are available.
This luxury hotel offers rooms and amenities to cater for guests and families of all sizes. Island views, beach fun and Aloha hospitality ensures you get everything you imagined when plotting your Hawaii holiday. Rooms are spacious and updated and a simple breakfast is served in the bar area.
The hotel boasts one of the largest, heated pools on the island and the beach on Kalapaki Bay is protected and perfect for swimming and water sports. Truly an island getaway!
Golf Travel Bags
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince (an important read as a matter of fact, that transcends time whatever your age) said: He who would travel happy must travel light. Chances are he never traveled with a golfer! Most places have adult golf clubs to rent, however, most places don't have junior golf clubs to rent. We travel with our boys clubs and put them in sturdy golf travel bags for protection. There is enough room in the travel bag to also include golf shoes, other shoes, hats and bulky jackets and sweaters. These add another layer of protection to the clubs which is always a good idea and free up space in the invariably over-crowded suitcase! See this article for tips when packing and travelling with golf equipment, as well as some of the best golf travel bags.
Let us know what other golf resorts you and your junior golfers enjoy, including some of the smaller ones that are perhaps hidden gems off the beaten path. Because even though today was good, today was fun .... tomorrow is another one! (Dr. Seuss).