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Five Blue-Chip U.S. Golf Vacations

The ultimate golf destination should have year-round courses, a signature course worthy of a pilgrimage and a wide variety of courses to suit scratch golfers and passionate beginners. And it should have something else to do or see, either after a round or for non-golfers.

Here are five golf vacation ideas within the continental U.S. that meet each criteria.

The St. Andrews of American Golf:
Pinehurst, N.C., Area

Golf legend and Masters founder Bobby Jones is a huge fan of Pinehurst, N.C., where eight championship courses surround the posh Pinehurst Resort, which was named the world's best golf resort by Travel & Leisure Golf in three of the last four years. In fact, there are 43 courses within a 15-mile radius, generally open year-round, and 31 of them received four stars or better from Golf Digest magazine.

There are there are 43 courses within a 15-mile radius of Pinehurst Resort.

Getting there: Airports in Raleigh/Durham, Fayetteville and Greensboro are about an hour away.
Signature course: Pinehurst No. 2 ($339-$410) hosted the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens.
For non-golfers: It's not for the faint-of-wallet -- lodging is $124-$204 per person in winter, $213-$357 in spring -- but Pinehurst Resort offers a beach club, kayaking, tennis, world-class spa facilities and plenty of porch rockers.
More info: The Pinehurst area visitors' bureau lists all 43 courses, many lodging options and packages. Homeofgolf.com has in-depth course guides and tons of information.

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