November 19, 2018
A couple hours by car from Las Vegas, great scenery and value awaits in lesser-known St. George, Utah. Courtesy of Sand Hollow G.C.
Going to Hawaii, Arizona, Palm Springs or South Florida in the winter is, for the most part, a pretty expensive proposition. But those are far from the only options for golfers who dream of teeing it up when much of the country is covered with snow.
There are, in fact, several destinations that are fairly reasonably priced in the winter. They offer good to exceptional golf, mostly affordable accommodations and a laid-back atmosphere.
They do come with some risk, of course, which is why most of them are a bit off the radar. Some do have the potential to be cold and wet. Playing golf with temperatures in the 40s in sideways rain on courses that don't drain like coastal links course isn't just unpleasant; it's often impossible.
With that said, rolling the dice (your odds are good that the weather will cooperate) for these six destinations might be worth it. They all have average highs in the 50s, 60s and even 70s throughout the winter and can have stretches where it's much warmer than that. Just bring your warm-weather gear, a great attitude and your buddies for a fine time for a fraction of the price of most better winter destinations.
New Orleans/Mississippi Gulf Coast
Bayou Oaks, the relatively new New Orleans "super-muni," may get the Zurich Classic someday. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Average daily high temperature in degrees Fahrenheit: Dec.: 64 degrees. Jan.: 62. Feb.: 65.
The New Orleans/Mississippi coast area benefits from the relatively warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and depending on whether or not a cold front has gone through, not only can you get pleasant days during the winter, but it can sometimes be downright warm. With all that said, the more resort-like courses are probably in the Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss., area, which is only an hour from New Orleans. Fallen Oak is a high-end amenity of the Beau Rivage Casino Resort, but there is affordable golf as well. You'll want to check out the Davis Love III-designed Shell Landing in near Biloxi, Miss., the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear, the semi-private Preserve Golf Cub (a Jerry Pate design that can be a little pricey) and one of my personal favorites, Great Southern Golf Club (less than $40), the area's oldest course, a Donald Ross design located right across the street from the beach in Biloxi.
As for New Orleans, not only does it offer some of the most affordable golf in the country, but, well, it's New Orleans. That means plenty of great food and entertainment, including Mardi Gras, to close out the winter months. When you get there, definitely check out Audubon Park Golf Course, located next to the zoo and Tulane University. It's one of the best executive courses you'll ever play. The Dye-designed TPC Louisiana, host of the Zurich Classic on the PGA Tour, is pretty affordable as TPC courses go. And be sure to check out the relatively new Bayou Oaks City Park South Course, designed by Rees Jones. Replacing what was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago, the course may someday land the Zurich Open itself.
Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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