In Hollywood, Florida, staying at the Westin Diplomat means you’re either at the high-rise on the beach sharing the infinity pool with the young (er) and more stylish set – and their children or you’re a few minutes inland at the quieter, more refined, Diplomat Country Club, overlooking the splendid golf course of the same name.
Between 1997 and 2000, architect Joe Lee completely revamped Robert von Hagge’s original golf course. From your balcony, it doesn’t look like the course occupies 6,728 yards, though the full practice facility is highly visible – perfect for spying on golfers whose swings are worse than yours.
Hole one is a 500-yard double dogleg with water in front of the tee and again on the approach. Only those playing from the red tees have a realistic shot at par. While water is present on all other holes except 10 and 11, it is not much of a problem except for holes 4 and 8. 14 is the hardest hole on the course, because of its length and the wind.
The par 4, hole 2 features the signature island green and at 385 yards, requires a good drive to get there in two shots, tricky as most of these layouts are usually found on a par 3. One of the best features of the course are the smooth, immaculate, greens that play at just the right speed.
A free shuttle connects the Westin Diplomat Country Club with her sister on the shore, a good mile walk to the lively Hollywood Beach boardwalk. Refreshingly devoid of trendy cafés and pricey boutiques, the strip is well worth the journey for the open air breakfast/lunch/dinner specials served surfside amid cyclists, roller bladers and tacky tee-shirt shops.
The Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa
3555 South Ocean Drive • Hollywood, FL 33019
For more on Florida hotels and golf go to VISIT FLORIDA.COM.
BROMONT, QUEBEC — Just an hour south of Montreal, the Eastern Townships offer the highest concentration of golf courses in Quebec. Situated in the Appalachian foothills surrounded by mountains, rolling hills, river valleys and lakes, these naturally beautiful courses offer some of the best golfing deals in Canada with low season/twilight rates from $20 — rarely topping $70 in high season.
Here are five of the best courses in the region:
1. Golf Château-Bromont
Serge, a local golf fanatic, says Golf Château-Bromont is his favourite course in the region. “The mountain views are spectacular and the greens are always in great shape and mosquitoes and black flies are rare.”
This par 72 course, opened in 1964 sports wide fairways, easy par 5s, and great views of the Townships. The back nine plays easier than the front and the best holes start with an elevated tee shot to a green far below. The greens play fairly slow with challenging undulations and large breaks compliments of nearby Mount Bromont. The intimidating signature 15th demands a long drive over water.
Tips: Take a cart — usually included — to combat serious uphill climbs.
A design quirk on the 13th hole requires golfers to approach the tees from the green — note the hidden water hazard behind the hole as you approach the tee boxes.
Rates range from shoulder season specials of $45 per person including golf, cart and a light lunch. Regular walking rates range from $40 to $50 with twilight/early mornings from $20 to $30.
Bring your bathing suit to the course for an après golf swim in the outdoor pool adjacent the clubhouse, which is less crowded than the hotel pool.
One-night packages per person including full breakfast, golf and cart start at $136.00 with four-course meal in superior accommodations.
Apres golf activities: Take advantage of a wide range of Château Bromont Spa treatments and an oriental-style hammam surrounded bylandscaped gardens, waterfalls and a whirlpool bath — the only one of its kind in Quebec. An adjacent bike trail joins the 3,000-kilometre Route Verte. Dining options include the popular Les Quatre Canards restaurant with signature Lac Brome duck and an extensive wine list.
While Golf Château Bromont scores points for scenery, Le Royal Bromont takes top marks for course conditions. “The Royal is better groomed, better maintained and has faster greens than Château Bromont,” Serge says.
Le Royal Bromont, a public course designed in 1992 by Graham Cooke, hosted the 1994 Canadian PGA Championship and appears on Golf Digest’s 2012 Best 100 golf courses in Canada. A par-72 track, Le Royal Bromont ranges from 5,181 to 7,036 yards and features bent grass greens, fairways and tee areas and white silica bunkers. As with most Quebec courses, pesticides are banned. Green fees from $26 to $71.
Another 18-hole championship course, Le Parcours Du Vieux Village sits in the shadow of Mount Bromont on the banks of the Yamaska River. Since 1994, this Score Golf favourite (9/10) with the pretty Victorian clubhouse has been attracting locals and visitors with bargain green fees from $20 to $44.
Facing Mont Orford, the Manoir des Sables Golf Course includes 27 holes sitting on a private lake. The par-71,18-hole championship course starts with an uphill par 5 followed by three holes of excellent mountain views.
On the 5th, aim further right than what your eyes suggest, otherwise your curving downhill tee shot will hit the woods on the left. The 6th, 10th and signature 16th all feature elevated tees.
You’ll have an audience as you approach the 9th green, which sits below a balcony at the Hotels Villegia. Shorter hitters should play up to avoid a difficult second shot around the dog leg left access to a green protected by an overgrown, garden-like hazard from which balls are impossible to retrieve. Shooting uphill under the watchful eyes of curious onlookers can make for some messy approach shots.
Greens fees are a reasonable $38 to $42 but do not include cart. Best to go for the golf/cart/three-course dinner package for $79 or a Stay and Play package in one of 117 rooms and suites with mountain or lake views.
Apres golf activities: Enjoy great drink specials — $12 pitchers of premium beer anyone? And $2 steamies (hot dogs) on the sprawling verandah of the Albatross Bar as you watch weary golfers struggle on the 18th green. Alternatively, head into Magog a few minutes away for a cooling dip in Lake Memaphremagog or a meal on the many terraced bars and restaurants lining the main street and Cherry River.
90, avenue des Jardins, Orford (Canton d’), Quebec J1X 6M6
Not far from Mordecai Richler’s Eastern Townships watering hole sits an award-winning, Graham Cooke-designed championship course at the foot of the western slopes of Owl’s Head Mountain.
The Owl’s Head Golf Course offers panoramic views, bent grass tees, fairways and greens, and strategically placed white silica bunkers and water hazards on six fairways. Most holes offer a view of Jay Peak in Vermont.
The course is well laid out so that each hole, including a signature island green, play quite differently from all the others thanks to the good use of woods, water and elevated tees. Prevailing left to right winds and optical illusions around the slope of the greens and fairway directions require a close study of hole-by-hole descriptions available online.
The par-5 12th offers the best shot at birdie or eagle but only if you avoid the fairway bunker on the right and hidden greenside bunker on the left. On the signature 16th island green, aim straight at the pin.
Rates range from twilight/off-season specials of $30 to weekend high season rates of $60.
Apres golf activities: Be sure to check out the impressive clubhouse complete with 45-foot ceilings of British Columbia timber and five fireplaces of native fieldstone, which houses an award-winning dining room specializing in classic French dishes.
40, chemin du Mont Owl’s Head, Mansonville, Quebec J0E 1X0