2024 Wellness Guide

An aerial view of  beautiful green golf course with sand traps surrounded by blue ocean
Punta Espada, a Jack Nicklaus Signature course


The Secret to VIP Golf Experiences

BY Larry Olmsted
There are thousands of golf resorts around the world where you can “stay and play,” but much rarer is the standout luxury hotel that offers a turnkey golf concierge program. At these special places, you can enjoy the best white-glove service, accommodations, and cuisine, along with easy access and transportation to the best golf the region has to offer—in many cases, private or exclusive courses that you can only play by staying at this one place. For those who appreciate great golf, luxury, and creature comforts, golf concierge packages are one of the best-kept secrets in travel, offering the best of both worlds. Here, four standout examples.
A golf course on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean. The cliff is green with shrubs, grass and many trees.
The legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course

Torrey Pines Golf Course via Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa 

San Diego, California
A group of women doing yoga on a wooden platform deck at an outdoor spa area of a resort. The spa is located inside a lush garden with palm trees in the background.
A woman wearing a blue swimsuit seated at the edge of a resort swimming pool with a cocktail next to her.
 An aerial view of a group of people playing tennis on a bright green tennis court. The court is surrounded by tall trees with full green leaves.
Closeup of a lamb chops entrée on a dark gray serving dish
Boutique resort Rancho Valencia with just 49 private casitas, each with a patio and fireplace, along with three more lavish private residences, has long been one of the nation’s most acclaimed and awarded escapes; it has been ranked Southern California’s best tennis resort by Tennis Magazine for more than 15 years.

Its unique golf offerings, however, are far less well-known—though no less impressive. Concierge staff at Rancho Valencia routinely arranges golf for guests, including door-to-door chauffeured transportation, at nearby hot spots such as coveted Torrey Pines, a famed PGA Tour and US Open venue that is one of the most difficult public courses in the nation to get on. In addition, Rancho Valencia offers guests special rates at Aviara Golf Club and La Costa Resort, as well as highly exclusive “member for a day” access to several completely private clubs. Hotel guests enjoy exclusive rates and reciprocal billing privileges at the Aviara Golf Club, Del Mar Country Club, and The Farms Golf Club, ranked one of the 50 Top Clubs in the United States by Golf Digest. Aviara and The Farms are both within 25 minutes of the resort, and Rancho Valencia may be the only hotel in the country that does not have a golf course but does have a high-end fleet of rental sets and current bags from Callaway Golf, complimentary for all area rounds.

For 2024, the hotel launched the Golfer’s Paradise Package, which pairs two nights in its top-tier lodging (one of the three private residences) with three days of golf at The Farms, Del Mar Country Club, Aviara, or Torrey Pines (which requires a longer lead time), including all transportation. ranchovalencia.com

Teeth of the Dog via Eden Roc Cap Cana

Dominican Republic
An aerial view of a beach resort with swimming pools, lush green lawns, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. The turquoise water of the ocean stretches out to the horizon.
Beachfront Bungalow Villas at Eden Roc Cap Cana

At boutique hotel Eden Roc all 65 freestanding accommodations, ranging from cottage suites to larger villas, come with their own pools, and some are right on the beach. The hotel is within the Cap Cana resort community and sits immediately next to Punta Espada, a Jack Nicklaus Signature course with eight oceanfront holes that many consider the finest of his several hundred designs worldwide. Punta Espada is ranked the second-best course in the Caribbean by Golf Magazine and in the top 20 for all of North America.

You can take the golf cart included with your villa right over to the course, but the Dominican Republic has—by far—the best slate of high-quality courses of any nation in the Caribbean, and to expand options for traveling golfers, in 2023 the Eden Roc introduced the region’s first “golf butler.” This allows visitors to play day after day, including the three best courses in the country, and butlers book tee times, organize door-to-door transportation and club rentals, schedule private instruction, and even pack snacks or book meals. The golf butler experience with included transportation is offered to three area courses beyond Punta Espada, including the 27-hole La Cana Golf Club and the Corales Golf Course, both located at the Punta Cana Resort and Club. Corales, a Tom Fazio design, is the third-highest ranked course in the golf-rich Dominican Republic, and another Golf Magazine North American Top 100. But the big prize is the legendary Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo, Pete Dye’s crowning achievement with seven jaw-dropping holes that are more in than on the ocean. Golf Magazine ranks The Teeth of the Dog No. 1 in the entire Caribbean and Top 10 in North America. edenroccapcana.com

Royal Dublin Golf Club via Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel

An aerial view of a white clubhouse surrounded by a golf course. There is a large body of water next to the golf course.
Royal Dublin Golf Club

A large, modern glass and steel hotel building with a curved facade, located next to a body of water. There is a dock in front of the building and spotlights lighting up the building from below.
Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel

When Asia’s Anantara brand came to Ireland, it arrived with a splash, in the form of a sleek and ultra-contemporary new 187-room hotel with a lavish rooftop bar on the waterfront in Grand Canal Square. Beloved Irish celebrity chef Gareth Mullins was brought in to run all the food service, and Anantara, famous for its spas, quickly nabbed Dublin Spa of the Year from Irish Tatler.

But it was General Manager Michael Davern, coming off stints at three world-class golf resorts—the K Club in Ireland, Sandy Lane in Barbados, and Fancourt in South Africa—who immediately implemented the golf concierge program at the city hotel, in a city full of great golf. This combines the best of a world-class golf trip and urban vacation, and the main partner is the Royal Dublin Golf Club, a true Irish links course located on Bull Island in Dublin Bay, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Opened in 1885, it is Ireland’s second-oldest club, and a stunner. The Quintessential Irish Whisky & Golf experience includes a round-trip chauffeur, golf with a VIP personal greeting, course and club orientation, and a unique “19th hole” back at the hotel, following the round with a private tasting of a trio of special Irish whiskies alongside caviar at the rooftop bar with 360-degree views.

There are lots of other choices they can arrange as well, and Davern firmly believes in “Dublin as a golf destination, staying with us and playing Royal Dublin, Portmarnock, The Island, St. Anne’s—some of the best links courses in the world without leaving the city!” Portmarnock cracks Golf Magazine’s Top 60 courses in the entire world and is sixth best in all of Ireland and Northern Ireland by Golfweek, which also puts the Island, a famously well-known “hidden gem,” at 11th. anantara.com

Shadow Creek via MGM Resorts

Las Vegas
A modern hotel living room with a couch, armchair, and coffee table arranged in a seating area facing large floor-to-ceiling windows. The windows offer a panoramic view of a city skyline and mountains in the distance.
Sky Suite at Aria

A lush green golf course that has a winding fairway and a sand trap on clear day with a very blue sky. There are many trees surrounding the golf course with several mountains visible in the distance.
Shadow Creek

With no members, extremely limited play, perennially perfect conditions, and the highest greens fees in the nation, Shadow Creek is solidly at the top of many golf fans’ bucket lists. Golf Digest ranks it fifth for America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. Golfweek puts it at No. 13, and every critic rates it the best in Las Vegas—and all of Nevada. But it is also the most private of any public course, with a fraction of the play its highly ranked peers such as Pebble Beach or Pinehurst No. 2 get, and many golfers see no one outside their group the entire round. The $1,250 greens fees include things included nowhere else, such as round-trip limo rides to the course (you’re not allowed to drive yourself), a caddie, and a cart, the latter customized with a stocked complimentary cooler under the seat.

It’s widely believed that the Tom Fazio–designed stunner was the most expensive course ever built when it debuted, and the only people who can pay to play (or get comped as casino high rollers) are guests of one of the hotels in the portfolio of course-owner MGM Resorts. There are more than a handful of options, including Nomad, Delano, Vdara, Aria, and Bellagio, all the way up to the Skylofts at MGM Grand and Sky Suites at Aria. Or, there’s the company’s most exclusive offering: the Mansion at MGM Grand, a surreal, hidden, ultra-luxe gem where Tiger Woods has been known to rest his head.

In addition to Shadow Creek, MGM Resorts offers turnkey golf concierge services for guests of all its hotels at four other top courses with partners Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort and DragonRidge Country Club. Considered the premier “pure golf” facility in the area, the Paiute Golf Resort sits on Native American–owned land just outside the city, carved from the desert with nothing else in sight—no casinos, no hotels, no homes—just a fabulous clubhouse, nature, and three acclaimed 18-hole layouts by Pete Dye, the most awarded golf architect in history. The signature course is The Wolf, infamously challenging and the longest in Nevada, stretching to 7,604 yards, with a true island green par-3 homage to the original invented by Dye at TPC Sawgrass. DragonRidge, on the other hand, is famous for the way iconic sections of the Las Vegas skyline are framed behind several greens. It’s in the desert but you know it’s Vegas, and it is a completely private club that was designed by desert specialist Jay Morrish and named one of the nation’s best new private clubs by Golf Digest when it opened in 2001. Other than a membership, staying at an MGM property is the only way to play here. mgmresorts.com

Photo credits: Courtesy Punta Espada; San Diego Tourism/Joanne DiBona; Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa; Eden Roc; The Royal Dubliln Golf Club; Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas; MGM Resorts