Golfing Down South

The states that belong to the Southeast Tourism Society keep travelers in the swing

Since 1983 the Atlanta-based Southeast Tourism Society (STS) has worked to promote and develop tourism to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The STS has a lot of tools, especially when it comes to golf. On the preceding pages, we provided a sampling of golf and other outdoor activities for Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi. Following are golf options for the remaining states. For details on the sites listed, call the state tourism offices or the STS.

Alabama: The International Association of Golf Tour Operators has nominated Alabama as one of the world's top 10 emerging golf destinations. Highlighted by the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail--which has 27 greens in eight locations--Alabama has more than 140 courses. The newest trail site, Capitol Hill in Prattville, has three 18-hole championship courses. Other RTJ sites are Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Grand National in Auburn/Opelika, Oxmoor Valley in Birmingham, Hampton Cove in Huntsville, Silver Lakes in Anniston/Gadsden, Highland Oaks in Dothan and Cambrian Ridge in Greenville.

Georgia: From the first Master's tournament, in 1934, to this year's hosting of two major tournaments, Georgia continues to attract players from all over the world. There are more than 400 courses, designed by such renowned pros as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Georgia's seven state park courses are suited to both novice and seasoned players. Several million dollars in recent improvements have enhanced the courses. The new Georgia State Park Golf Card allows five days of unlimited play at one or more state park courses for $59.

Kentucky: The Bluegrass State may be best known for the Kentucky Derby, but golf can also rank high on a list of things to do here. A variety of courses in Louisville is generally open year-round and charge modest greens fees. Among the premier, courses are Quail Chase Golf Club and Seneca. The Lexington area has two Pete Dye-designed courses, including Kearney Hill Golf Links, which has large bunkers and lots of water.

North Carolina: Millions of rounds are played each year at North Carolina's nearly 600 public access, resort and private courses. Perhaps the best known is the Pinehurst Resort. Pinehurst, which has eight courses and a total 144 holes, plays host to the North and South Amateur Championship each year. Also available is the Golf Advantage School.

South Carolina: Golf courses and resorts can be found throughout the Palmetto State. Kiawah Island Resorts, in the Charleston area, has four courses. The Ocean Course, built by Pete Dye for the 1991 Ryder Cup, has 10 holes along the beach. Osprey Point has 15 holes on the water, four lakes, and oak and magnolia trees. Turtle Point, designed by Nicklaus, uses marshes and dunes in its design and has three oceanside holes. Cougar Point has 10 water holes, tidal marshes, bunkers and a view of the Kiawah River.

Tennessee: Thanks to a generally balmy climate--even in the coldest months the temperature usually stays above the freezing point--intrepid golfers can play year-round in Tennessee. Perhaps the best-known golf destination in the Nashville area is the Hermitage, which last year opened a second 18-hole course called the President's Reserve. The new course is positioned on 200 acres of natural wetlands near the Cumberland River. The older course, the General's Retreat, includes eight lakes and large bunkers along the Cumberland River.

Virginia: Virginia Beach, with its aquariums, marine science museums and watersports options, is a nautical heaven. At the same time, it is a golfer's paradise. Two courses are slated to open this summer--the Palmer-designed Signature at West Neck and Bay Creek, which will offer two 18-hole courses designed by Palmer and Nicklaus. Other popular courses in Virginia Beach are Hell's Point, Heron Ridge, and the Tournament Players Club.

West Virginia: Cacapon Resort Park in Berkeley Springs, just a two-hour drive from the Washington metropolitan area, offers 6,000 acres of outdoor activities. Cacapon Mountain, at 2,300 feet, is the backdrop to a challenging Robert Trent Jones golf course that sits at the base of the ridge. The rolling terrain, three ponds and various streams on the course add to the difficulty. Weather permitting, the course is open year-round. A full-time PGA golf pro and part-time LPGA pro are available for individual and group lessons.

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