New Nicklaus course to open in Punta Mita next month

A new Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course is opening next month, so you may want to start planning immediately. On November 16, 2009, Nicklaus himself will hit the ceremonial first tee shot at the new Punta Mita Bahia golf course. This is the second of his courses at Punta Mita – he designed Punta Mita Pacifico, which opened in 1999. Both Bahia and Pacifico are part of the private Punta Mita Club de Golf and are reserved for Punta Mita homeowners and guests.

The new course is just shy of 30 miles from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and is on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean that boasts 9.5 miles of beach. So, even if you aren’t a golfer, there’s a reason to head out to Punta Mita. But, this really is a golfer’s escape. Five holes play along the ocean, and another two have views of the water. From December to April, you can get a great look at the humpback whale migration from the course.

“You would be hard-pressed to ask for a more beautiful backdrop for a golf course than Punta Mita,” says course designer Jack Nicklaus. “To be given spectacular oceanfront land as a canvas not once, but twice, here at Punta Mita is exciting for a designer, and it reflects a commitment from ownership to provide a memorable golf experience. I’m confident people are going to enjoy the challenge and beauty of this golf course, as well as the incredible scenery.”

Holes 15 and 17 on Bahia are said to be the most memorable. For 15, the approach shot gives you a great view of Banderas Bay and the Puerto Vallarta skyline. Look out, though, it’s green has a tricky drop-off and a nasty bunker. The 17th hole – a 387-yeard par 4 with a short dogleg left – follows the contour of a cove and offers a small waterfront green.

The new course is a par 72 and has Miniverde greens built to USGA standards. There are five par 3s, eight par4s and five par 5s. Both courses wrap around both the residential communities and the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort.

Plan a golf getaway in New England this summer

When summer hits, it’s time to go north to play golf. After all, who wants to get drenched while pushing through 18 holes on a hot Florida day? Instead, put New England on your itinerary. There are plenty of golf packages being offered in conjunction with the inns and resorts in these six small states. And, where else will you find some courses with unlimited rounds, free carts and unrestricted tee times?

The New England Inns and Resorts Association, which consists of nearly 300 properties in the region, has pulled together some of the best packages in the area. Here’s a taste.

At Cranwell Resort, Golf & Spa, in Lenox, Massachusetts, your stay comes with a country breakfast, a bucket of balls per golfer for the range and an unlimited day of golf. You can also use the spa after you drop your bag in your room. At $215 to $250 per person, this is an absolute steal!

Glynn House Inn, in Ashland, New Hampshire (a great town, which I remember well), a three-night stay will get you a free day of golf for two and a cart. At $159 a night for two people (including breakfast and daily refreshments), the savings tops $130.

In Kennebunkport, Maine, you can take advantage of the Kennebunkport Inn‘s “Golfer’s Getaway.” Spend two nights there, and you’ll pick up an unrestricted tee time for Old Marsh or Webhannet, a four-course dinner for two and a special in-room golf amenity. Breakfast is included too. The package starts at $519.

The “Fore” Getaway Package at Groton Inn & Suites in Groton, Connecticut includes accommodations for four people (either two traditional rooms or a two-bedroom apartment) with breakfast. You’ll also get 18 holes of golf Pequot Golf Course in Stonington (with carts). Rates start at $360 for four people, includes taxes and gratuities.

Golf discounts abound in Salt Lake City

Golfers just got a new reason to go to Salt Lake City. The new Golf Salt Lake Super Pass provides some fantastic deals at several golf courses in the city, along with a full 18-hole round for up to four players, carts, complimentary time at the range and a discount of up to 20 percent on rental clubs. And, guests can make reservations for tee times up to 60 days in advance … as opposed to the usual seven.

Golf courses on the list include: Bonneville, Mt. Dell (Canyon), Mt. Dell (Lake); Old Mill, Riverbend; River Oaks; South Mountain; Stone Bridge; West Ridge and Wingpointe. From one to four golfers can play for as little as $45 each (online purchase – $40 when purchased in conjunction with hotel packages).

“This pass provides a great opportunity to play several of the beautifully diverse golf courses Salt Lake has to offer,” said Scott Beck, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Whether you’re in town on business or pleasure, or live here year round, the Golf Salt Lake Super Pass offers a great opportunity to experience our excellent and incredibly affordable golf.”

Isla Viveros will keep the riff-raff away

Golfers, vacationers and anyone looking to fly under the radar will have a new place to go in May. Grupo Viveros has sunk $300 million into the Viveros Resort on Isla Viveros (Viveros, Viveros, Vivieros … sense a theme?), and in a few months, this small, once uninhabited island off the coast of Panama will be home to a five-star resort community.

Forty-five of the 200 homes being built on the island have already been purchased, but the 140-room hotel on the island’s northern beach may be a reasonable, if short-term, alternative. The hotel won’t be open until 2010, but for now, you can always dart out there and take in a round of golf on the new course. Another hotel – for those who like to chase little white balls – is in the works as well.

Need more exclusivity? Spa facilities, upscale dining and a 300-slip marina and yacht club are on the agenda. Also, a private runway will ensure that you won’t have to mix with the proletarians.

Mark your calendars!