Whether your sport of choice is golf, tennis, or cycling, there are athletic adventures aplenty — to partake in or to watch — at top spots around the world. Here’s where and why to get in on the action.Few things reveal more about an athlete’s character and prowess than the skills he or she brings to mano a mano sports. The men and women out there on their own, with no teams behind them, relying solely on their wits and skills to win, personify competition in the purest sense.
For those of us who appreciate the sense of accomplishment that comes with breaking personal bests at golf, cycling, and tennis, striving to model ourselves after Phil, Lance, or Monica as we go for the gold with no backup and no safety net if we choke, here is a look at what’s new, where to train like a pro, and where to watch the pros.
Golf is an unabashedly old-fashioned sport. We love its traditions and customs. But even the most die-hard classicists know that new technology can enhance a player’s approach to the great game. In fact, it’s no coincidence that the average golfer’s handicap has dropped by two strokes since the early 1990s. Technological innovations account for at least some of that. For example, GPS-driven tools, which include the highly touted SkyCaddie SG5 and the extremely versatile Garmin Approach G5, allow players to ascertain optimal approaches to holes on thousands of courses around the world. Hybrid clubs from companies such as The Bobby Jones Golf Company come outfitted with weight- and angle-adjustment capabilities. And even the lowly golf ball, via makers such as Srixon and Titleist, has benefited from esoteric fixes such as enhanced dimple designs and cutting-edge core and cover materials.
That said, a bag full of high-performance equipment gets you only so far. To really up your game, you’ll need to get out there and swing it.
At Sea Island Golf Club (seaislandglc.com), located off of a picturesque stretch of Georgia coastline, specialized coaches help you to focus on improving specific aspects of your game. Guests get to play the resort’s spectacular Seaside course, which benefited from a renovation at the hands of star designer Tom Fazio. It’s a tough 18-holer, with a challenging back nine that will become increasingly manageable over the course of your stay there. Specialized instructors who’ve worked with tour pros such as Davis Love III and Lucas Glover focus on your short game, your long game, and your mental game. “We run every player through an assessment, find out what they want to work on, figure out how much they want to improve, and set realistic plans,” says Eric Schneider, vice president of golf operations at Sea Island. “We don’t do golf schools; our programs are individualized in their approach.”
Other spots where you can live the good life while honing your golfing skills take you from the oceanfront of Hawaii to the desert sands of Arizona. Maui’s Wailea Golf Club (waileagolf.com), situated in one of the world’s most beautiful locales, houses three excellent courses and features a branch of the well-regarded David Leadbetter Golf Academy. A few days of instruction at La Costa Golf Academy at La Costa Resort and Spa (lacosta.com) in Southern California will prepare you for successful rounds on their two championship-caliber courses. The Boulders Golf Club (bouldersclub.com) in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers a variety of instructional packages that range from hour-long tune-ups to three full days of intensive training. And in San Diego, The Grand Del Mar’s top-notch golf program will really get your game going (see page 15 for more information).
To see professional play at its finest — and, no doubt, to be inspired to further improve your own skills on the course — you’ll want to attend the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Unfortunately, those tickets are more difficult to snag than 50-yard-line seats at the Super Bowl. On the upside, sports-travel operators such as Premiere Sports Travel (sportstravel.com) and Roadtrips (roadtrips.com) offer Masters packages that can get you so close to Phil Mickelson that you’ll hear the whoosh of his drives. An alternative is to attend the Ryder Cup, a competition in which all-star teams from Europe and the United States play against one another. The Ryder Cup takes place every other year, with venues alternating between Europe and the U.S. Tickets are available via a lottery system. rydercup.com
In the Swing
Plaid pants and polo shirts are always par for the course, but check out this season’s newest patterns, prints, and updated color palette.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Puma San Jose visor, $16, puma.com; Antigua golf cap, $15, antigua.com; Tehama polo shirt, $65, argyle sweater vest, $85, and pleated dobby-textured shorts, $50, tehamainc.com; Smith Optics square tortoise Interlock Spoiler sunglasses, $139, smithoptics.com; Footjoy Icon MyJoys custom men’s golf shoes, $270, footjoy.com/myjoys; Walter Genuin women’s golf shoes with kiltie, $450, and golf gloves, $28, www.walter-genuin.com; Callaway FT9 Driver, $450, and NO1 colored club grips, $20 each, available at Compugolf Dallas, compugolfcenter.com; Miura CB-301 forged iron golf clubs, from $1,600, miuragolf.com; Miura by Sun Mountain SL 3.5 golf bag, $225, sunmountain.com; Ruletwentyone pocket towel/ball cleaner, $10, ruletwentyone.com; Footjoy FJ Icon sport saddle men’s golf shoes, $250, footjoy.com; Antigua women’s Desert Dry performance polo shirt, $55, antigua.com; Walter Genuin belted vest, $250, and printed loop capri pants, $250, www.walter-genuin.com