Druids Glen Golf Resort, an award-winning golf course only 30 minutes from Dublin. Technology keeps this par 71, 7,046-yard parkland course open year-round, allowing play despite cold weather.
“We call it an electric blanket,” Denis Kane, chief executive officer and director of Druids Glen, says about the heating system installed at holes 8, 12, and 13 (other holes on the course receive ample sunlight for warmth).
“What we have are warming cables, which are located 14 inches beneath the surface of the greens. These cables are in a continuous loop and are spaced 12 inches apart.”
The heating system, the resort’s own invention, was installed when the course was under construction in 1992. When the ground temperature falls, sensors activate the cables, causing heat to rise toward the surface, thus keeping frost at bay.
So far, Druids Glen is Ireland’s only course to put this technology to use.
“Because our proximity is less than one mile from the Irish Sea, Druids Glen does not suffer from the extreme cold as other inland courses do,” Kane says. “The objective is [to ensure] that play is not disrupted … [if] we get frost.” -- Mary Lu Laffey
About Druids Glen
Often compared to Augusta National, Druids Glen was named European Golf Course of the Year in 2001 and European Golf Resort of the Year in 2005. The club has hosted the Irish Open for four years, the Seve Trophy, and players like Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros (yes, the Seve Trophy is named after him). Druids Glen Golf Resort, County Wicklow, 011-353-1-287-3600, www.druidsglen.ie
Fees through May 1
Round of golf: $114
Round plus breakfast: $127
Round plus five-course dinner: $166
Marriott Druids Glen Hotel and Country Club, from $159 per night
Go for golf but stay to see what else makes these courses special.
Winter Play a course built on a lava field at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu on the Big Island of Hawaii, 10 minutes from Kona International Airport. The course’s design is courtesy of Jack Nicklaus, and the base is the result of 70 million years of volcanic forces from two volcanoes, Hualalai and Mauna Loa, which are still active and now a part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Greens fees: $250. www.fourseasons.com/hualalai
Spring A museum near the putting green? The World Golf Hall of Fame Museum is situated near two distinguished courses -- the King & Bear, the only design collaboration from Arnie Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and the Slammer & Squire, designed by Bobby Weed with input from Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen. Less than an hour from Jacksonville, Florida. Greens fees vary: $134 to $189. www.wgv.com
Summer Celebrate art and golf at Crystal Mountain Resort in northern Michigan. Michigan Legacy Art Park, less than 45 minutes from Traverse City, lies along the four-box Mountain Ridge golf course. Man In His Element, an eight-foot sculpture from John Sauvé, overlooks activity on the 18th hole at Mountain Ridge. Greens fees: from $40. www.crystalmountain.com
Autumn Be part of U.S. history at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, near Manassas National Battlefield Park. Ruts from the Carolina Trail, which was used for troop movements during the Civil War, were undisturbed during the development of this championship public course, a mere 45 minutes from Washington, D.C. Visible remnants flank several holes. Greens fees: $59 to $69. www.stonewallgolfclub.com
*All greens fees are subject to change.