Tee Time: Our Top U.S. Golf Destinations
PGA Pro Dan Budzius shares his favourite places to hit the links – and where you’ll find him when he hangs up his clubs for the day.
“Golf is the greatest excuse in the world to hang out with people I love, enjoying incredible scenery – and you can play at age 5 and 95,” says Dan Budzius, who discovered his passion for the game as a 5-year-old growing up in Illinois. He’s been a PGA Professional for more than 30 years and is also the general manager of Troon North Golf Club – which offers special access to guests of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North.
Here, Budzius reveals the courses he thinks every golfer should play, from Scottsdale to Orlando, as well as some of his favourite spots off the green.
ON THE GREEN: A COURSE TO RIVAL DISNEY
“You can fall out of bed at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort and it’s literally 300 yards to the golf course,” Budzius says of the Resort’s Tranquilo Golf Club, which was designed by Tom Fazio and is also an Audubon sanctuary, replete with shimmering wetlands. “The hospitality of
Four Seasons extends to the course – lots of daily fee courses don’t offer complimentary bottled water and fruit anymore, but they do, along with Titleist
Pro V1 golf balls at the driving range, the best quality range balls you can get.”
OFF THE GREEN: HIGH-FLYING THRILLS
Budzius last visited in January for the PGA show, one of the biggest golf trade shows on earth. “You’re in the middle of Disney World, so you don’t have to go far for entertainment and dining,” he says. His recommendation: the fresh catch and oysters on the roof at Capa and a ride on Space Mountain – the roller coaster was designed with the assistance of a NASA astronaut in 1975 and still thrills today. “It’s the ride you want to go on over and over again.”
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ON THE GREEN: SOUTHWESTERN CHARM
Budzius’s go-to golf course in Dallas is the 18-hole, par-70 TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. “It was one of the best stops on the Byron Nelson PGA tournament, a beautiful course in Irving, a suburb of Dallas,” he says. “It’s between Dallas and Fort Worth, which means you get to explore both authentic cowboy culture and the glitz and glamour of the big city. Plus, you’ll hear some of the best country music on earth.”
OFF THE GREEN: MARIACHI AND MORE
His favourite place to head for a meal when he’s in town: Joe T. Garcia’s, in Fort Worth, which has been family-owned since opening in 1935. “They’re known for tacos and burritos, but there’s a line out the door every Friday and Saturday night,” he says. “They have the greatest margaritas in the world and authentic live music, like mariachi bands.”
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ON THE GREEN: MOUNTAIN VIEWS
Just 25 miles south of Four Seasons Hotel Denver, The Ridge at Castle Pines North is another one of Budzius’s preferred places to play. “It’s an immaculately manicured course designed by Tom Weiskopf, and you can see Pikes Peak, Devils Head and Mount Evans from the green.” In the winter, Budzius says, herds of elk often frequent the course. “They shy away during the warmer months, but in winter they just roam.”
OFF THE GREEN: SKI AND SPA
When he’s not teeing off at The Ridge, Budzius can be found skiing the 2,465 acres of terrain at Copper Mountain, 75 miles west of the city. “The mountains aren’t too far from Denver, so you have some of the greatest skiing in the world at your fingertips.” Back at Four Seasons Hotel Denver, the 10-treatment room Spa awaits to soothe tired muscles. Opt for the Evergreen Massage, which uses heated oils from indigenous evergreen trees – like lodgepole pine and blue spruce – for a deep-tissue massage.
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ON THE GREEN: HIGH-TECH AMENITIES
But Budzius says it’s hard to top his current home turf, Troon North Golf Club, just minutes from Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. “It’s honestly two of the best desert golf courses that you’ll see here in the Southwest or anywhere in the world,” he says. “There’s typically beautiful desert on both sides of the holes, with huge rocks and distinct elevation changes.” And though you’re playing a centuries-old game, at Troon North you can expect 21st-century amenities: “Our golf carts have GPS that will give you exact yardage to the pin. Or you can order off the food and beverage menu and have it delivered to your exact location.”
OFF THE GREEN: LIVE MUSIC AND DESERT HIKES
Thursday nights are beloved at the club’s Dynamite Grille, thanks to live music and delicious barbecue. “The chef smokes unbelievable brisket, and the sliders are phenomenal as well,” Budzius says. The area’s unique landscape also offers ample opportunity for adventure. Budzius enjoys hiking the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain, about 40 minutes away. “In summer, be sure to go in the early morning when it’s cooler, but in high season it’s great all day. If you go all the way up and back, it’s as good a workout as you could ever get, with beautiful rock formation views to boot.”