Capital Conundrum: Which destination is the golf capital of the United States?

By Jason DeeganJune 28, 2012, 11:45 am

The PGA Tour is in our nation's capital this week for the AT&T National, which begs the question: Which destination is our country's golf capital?

A handful of golf destinations claim to be the golf capital of America - or even the world - and plenty more can throw their hat in the ring as contenders.

It’s hard not to recognize established golf resorts like Kohler, Kiawah Island or Bandon Dunes, while other golf-rich destinations like Hilton Head Island, San Diego, Orlando all have strong cases. 

So which destination is in fact America’s Golf Capital? Here are seven finalists: 

The Monterey Peninsula: I’ve long trumpeted this special spot in northern California as the best golf destination in the world, not just America. Pebble Beach Golf Links alone has the scenery, history and swagger to carry the moniker, but Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, Quail Lodge and ultra-private clubs like Cypress Point and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club make up a deep roster of places to play. Those to say the place is too pricey have never played Pacific Grove, Del Monte (the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River), Poppy Hills and the Bayonet and Blackhorse courses in Seaside. 

Pinehurst: The Sandhills of North Carolina are another place filled with history and charm, especially the village of Pinehurst. All the destination lacks is the ocean. The recent redesign of Donald Ross’ Pinehurst No. 2 has rejuvenated Pinehurst Resort. The No. 4, No. 7 and No. 8 courses are just as good as No. 2 in my opinion. Smaller resorts like Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club and Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club – and the wild look of Tobacco Road by Mike Strantz – can keep golfers busy for a week or more.

Myrtle Beach: The “Grand Strand” – a stretch of roughly 90 miles from Pawley’s Plantation, S.C., up into North Carolina – once boasted more than 115 courses. That number has been trimmed to around 90, but that’s still enough inventory to be the self-proclaimed “Golf Capital of the World,” a slogan trotted out by Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. I call this place an “everyman” kind of golf destination. It’s affordable and loaded with convenience, making it ideal for buddy trips of all sizes. Resorts, restaurants, bars, entertainment and courses can be found seemingly on every block.

Phoenix-Scottsdale.: The Valley of the Sun could probably proclaim itself America’s “Winter Golf Capital.” Outside of southern California and southern Florida, it’s probably got the best golf weather in the country from October through April. Heavyweight clubs – think Troon North, Grayhawk, Talking Stick, TPC Scottsdale, We-Ko-Pa, The Boulders – compete every day to impress customers with great service and awesome desert courses in prime condition. In summer, the rates drop significantly for value-hunters still looking to bag a trophy course.

Northern Michigan: The Gaylord Golf Mecca calls itself “America’s Summer Golf Capital,” but we’ll lump in northern Michigan as a whole for this piece. Maybe I’m biased because I live in Michigan, but this is my second favorite golf destination in the States. What it lacks in high-end restaurants and nightlife, it makes up for with comfortable summer temperatures, a rustic backwoods vibe, cool beach towns like Traverse City, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix and plenty of great golf resorts (Boyne Mountain and Highlands, Bay Harbor, Treetops, Crystal Mountain, Shanty Creek Resorts, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Arcadia Bluffs, The Homestead) and standalone courses (Forest Dunes, Black Lake, True North).

Naples: Naples also proclaims to be the “Golf Capital of the World.” This ritzy, sleepy southwest Florida enclave does boast the second-most golf holes per capita than any other community in the country. I’m not a fan of Florida’s flat terrain and how developers constantly use all the best beachfront property for real estate and resorts instead of golf holes, but there’s no arguing there’s plenty of strong golf at Tiburon, TPC Treviso Bay and Old Corkscrew, along with wonderful restaurants up and down Tamiami Trail and a vibrant art and shopping scene.

Palm Springs: I hesitate to put Palm Springs here, because this desert oasis might be past its prime. It’s not as much of a Hollywood hangout anymore and the bursting of the real estate bubble has decimated Coachella Valley, putting many of the golf courses in financial limbo. But there’s just too much history and too many fine resorts, restaurants and courses – Indian Wells, PGA West’s TPC Stadium course, La Quinta, etc. – to ignore another vacation hideaway known for great winter weather.

Getty Images

After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

Getty Images

Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

Getty Images

Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry