Play It Where It Lies

For the best golf experiences in 2016, the executive director of the Northern Trust Open suggests these impressive courses for your must-play list

I’m used to working with and watching the greatest players in the world come to The Riviera Country Club each spring, golfing among thousands of fans – so to me that’s what a golf getaway is all about. Getting away. Be it with a few buddies, colleagues, or a trip with my family – I’ll always look to these five places first!

Gamble Sands
Brewster, Washington

My first getaway is in the Pacific Northwest at one of Golf Digest’s best new courses of 2014, Gamble Sands. A links-style course located over the Columbia River Valley in central Washington, this course must be appreciated as much for its natural beauty as the challenge it presents. A perfect combination of golf constructed among the shadows of the Cascade Mountains, this course gives a unique perspective that can only be found a few places in the world.
When To Go May – June


Bandon Dunes
Bandon, Oregon

While I’m in the Pacific Northwest it only makes sense to head down to Oregon and take in the best the game has to offer at Bandon Dunes. While Bandon Dunes is the most famous, I’ve never gone wrong at any of the resort’s six courses. The thing I like most about Bandon Dunes is that it’s about as secluded as you can get – but isn’t that why they call it a “getaway”? Old MacDonald and Bandon Trails are two of my favorites at this resort, giving you different looks but never a boring one!
When To Go July – September


Whistling Straits
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

If I’m going to get to the Midwest this summer, my first stop would have to be the home of the 2015 PGA Championship, Whistling Straits. If you haven’t noticed thus far I have an affinity for links-style courses and this one certainly holds its own as well. The Pete Dye course is famous for the eight holes overlooking Lake Michigan and I couldn’t help but wanting to go back after watching Jason Day carve it up this past summer. The rolling greens and wind-swept dunes are some of my favorites features here.
When To Go June – August


Fort Meade, Florida

Central Florida is my next stop to play Golf Digest’s top ranked public course in the state of Florida, Streamsong. While this resort doesn’t have the name recognition of some of my other picks, I fell in love with it the first time I played it. Extremely easy to walk and enjoy, both the Red and Blue courses are shaped uniquely to the Florida landscape. In addition to the golf, Streamsong also offers packages that include shooting and fishing but at a place like this there’s no reason to ever step off the course.
When To Go February – March


Sea Island Resort
Sea Island, Georgia

My final pick for a must-play golf getaway is the Sea Island Resort in Georgia. You don’t have to take my word for it as it’s routinely rated a Top 10 golf resort in the country, but there’s something about the South and these spectacular golf courses that keep me coming back. It’s another unique and hard-to-get-to resort, but that’s what I love most about the game.
When To Go November – December


OD Vincent is a former NCAA All-American and former professional golfer on the PGA European Tour. From 1995 to 2008, Vincent was Head Men’s golf coach at the University of Washington, UCLA, and Duke University where he coached 30 individual medalist, 35 team champions, 11 All-Americans, and 4 academic All-Americans. Vincent is enshrined in the Palm Springs High School (2014), the University of Washington (2012), and GCAA (2014) Halls of Fame.