As people seek safe outdoor recreation activities amid the coronavirus outbreak, golf is a safe bet where you can tee up while social distancing.
Golfers who are ready to travel can get their daily dose of iron this fall with Alaska Airlines’ low fares to some of the country’s premier golf destinations.
“Golf is inherently consistent with the concept of ‘social distancing,’ as it can be played, even in groups, without any close physical interaction among players, or among the course staff,” said Brian Mogg, voted Golf Magazine Top 100 Golf Instructor & Golf Digest 50 Best Teachers in America. “In many ways, it’s the perfect activity for our new normal and has never been more popular.”
We asked Mogg and some of our partners who fancy golf to tell us their favorite spots around the country to go on golf trips and the essential items to bring. Here’s what they told us:
Play it safe
These days, most golf courses have implemented strict safety measures to protect golfers and course staff. Common adjustments may include:
- Require staff members to wear masks and gloves — most courses allow customers to play without a mask if they are on the course but are required if they cannot remain 6-feet from someone outside of their party.
- Make sanitizers, masks or tissues readily available.
- Flags remain in the hole to reduce contact.
- Install foam to fill the bottom of the holes to eliminate the need for golfers to reach into the cup to retrieve their ball.
- Eliminate ball-washers and bunker rakes.
- Remove on-course scorecards, pencils, golf tees, ball markers, etc.
Before you go, triple check the specific course’s website for the most up to date rules.
Spend time with family & friends
If you’re longing for a trip with your buddies, family or some alone time, golf is a great way to unwind and experience some of the best sights. Take it from some of our favorite pros:
Alaska Airlines Chief Football Officer Russell Wilson:
Seattle Mariners Pitcher Justin Dunn:
“Quarantine gave me the chance to start playing more so I started to really get into it. Me and my college roommates talk about doing a guys trip somewhere every year to just get away and go to a golf resort for the weekend or week and hang out and do a little get together,” said Dunn. “It’s definitely something I’m looking into and we’re trying to figure out how to make happen.”
Something Justin always brings to the course: “I’m superstitious. If I play well, I’ll wear the same clothes out again, and then my shoes, always my (Nike) shoes. I got to make sure they look good.”
Cody Ross former San Francisco Giants Outfielder:
“I love golf because I get to do it with my family. I get to still play with my dad who’s 70,” said Ross. “My advice to golfers trying to get better during this time is get outside and play as much as you can if you are able. Watch videos online that show you the correct way to swing the club. I’ve never had a golf lesson but if you can, I highly recommend it.”
Cody’s favorite golf course: “Pebble Beach in San Jose, California. One of my most memorable golf trips is when I flew Alaska Airlines to San Jose to play golf at Pebble Beach for an event put on by the USGA to promote the US Open. I made my first Hole in one on the iconic hole #7 that trip. It is by far my most memorable golf experience.”
Pack the essentials
University of Washington Head Men’s and Women’s Golf Coaches, Alan Murray and Mary Lou Mulflur suggest the following items to stay stylish and prepared no matter what comes up on your next golf trip:
- A mask or face covering (you’ll need it for your flight!)
- Shirts or pants that make a statement
- An easy-to-store umbrella in case of showers
- A long sleeve shirt or jacket for a chance of cooler weather
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Yardage books and rangefinders if you really want to get into the swing of things
- A protective, high quality travel bag to protect your clubs—Mogg suggests Club Glove, a brand used by the pros for more than 20 years. Watch Mogg’s packing tutorial below ↓
Packing 101: Follow these steps so your clubs have a nice flight
Fly your clubs for FREE
That’s right, clubs fly free if you’re an Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K, MVP Gold, MVP, Club 49 member, or booked a First Class ticket. The same benefit applies for Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® cardholders and counts toward your free checked baggage allowance. Otherwise, golf clubs fly for just $30.
Location, Location, Location
To help plan your next golf trip, below is a list of great golf destinations you can fly to on Alaska and tips from Mogg where you can have the time of your life.
|Destination||Must-visit public & private courses|
The International Golf Club (GC) is the longest course in the U.S. and has two championship courses, the Oaks and the Pines. Overlooking the lush Nashua River Valley, the Oaks course has a scenic and diverse landscape that Fazio fully utilized.
The Country Club has hosted multiple USGA events with Francis Ouimet’s huge upset in winning the 1913 US Open and the USA Ryder Cup victory in 1999. The 2022 US Open will be played here.
The PGA Tour annually hosts the Deutsche Bank playoff event at TPC Boston each September.
The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island has hosted one of the most memorable professional golf events of all time in 1991 with the USA winning on the final putt. It also hosted the PGA Championship won by Rory McIlroy in 2012.
Yeamans Hall is a Top 100 course.
Columbus might have the best private clubs in the US for a medium sized city. The public courses are good too with The Ohio State University course being the best.
Wilson Road Golf Course is Ohio’s only executive 9 hole golf course that features six par 3’s and three par 4’s making it a great place to learn or to tune up your golf game.
The views in Denver can be stunning, and Cherry Hills was the scene of Arnold Palmer’s great comeback win in the 1960 US Open.
Fossil trace is also an unusual course where you have to clear boulders, rusty pieces of equipment and footprints left by dinosaurs on holes 11 through 15.
Hawaii Prince GC is home to one of my academies and has 27 holes along with the only grass based driving range on the island.
Ko Olina is spectacular on the West side of the island while Turtle Point is adjacent to the North Shore and where world class surfing takes place.
Waialae Country Club (CC) hosts the annual PGA Tour Sony Open every January.
|Kona||Spectacular resorts dot the Big Island, PGA Champions Tour begins their season at the Hualalai Golf Course every January.|
TPC Summerlin hosts a PGA Tour event every October.
Shadow Creek is ranked 26th in the Top 100 Rankings, and can be played if staying at Wynn Resort. It has rolling hills and canyons from the flat desert floor north of Las Vegas and plenty of water.
Huge variety of golf can be played here, with Princeville on the North side of the Island, Wailua on the East and Poipu Bay on the South. Poipu Bay used to host the PGA Tour Grand Slam of Golf for many years.
The opportunity to play The Club at Kukuiula is one of the best experiences in golf with both the service and the views.
There are an abundance of great courses and options around Cabo San Lucas. Cabo del Sol has one of the best par 3 holes literally on the ocean as its signature hole.
Diamanté El Cardinal is one of the few Tiger Woods designed courses so far.
Given Maui’s idyllic setting, there are no bad places to play golf. Yet there’s a must-play venue, the Plantation Course at Kapalua, recently revamped by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The PGA Tour starts every year here with the Tournament of Champions on the North side of Maui.
The Gold and Emerald courses at Wailea deserve consideration as well that are close to the main hotels and beach area, as does King Kamehameha rising 750 feet above the island’s north shore.
Erin Hills hosted the 2017 US Open and is about 30 minutes west of Milwaukee.
Whistling Straits is about 90 minutes north of the city on Lake Michigan and has hosted multiple PGA Championships and will be the host site for next September’s Ryder Cup matches (was supposed to host in 2020 but was postponed).
Black Wolf Run is an underrated gem adjacent to Whistling Straits and hosted the US Women’s Open in 2012.
Milwaukee CC is a Top 100 course.
Brown Deer Park is also where Tiger Woods played his first PGA Tour event as a professional.
This is a rich area for golf with Pebble Beach always ranked close to #1 for best U.S. courses. The courses in this area have hosted so many Major Championships, with the 2019 US Open being the last one there.
Spyglass Hill, the Links at Spanish Bay, Poppy Hills and even modest Pacific Grove highlight are also great courses.
Disney World began their phased reopening July 11 almost four months of being closed. Walt Disney World Golf remains available on their regular schedule and can be a fun family golf trip.
Moggs’ Academy resides at Waldorf Astoria GC. There is a great opportunity to cross paths with Tour Players if playing one of these courses in Central Florida.
Palm Springs is the home of golf when the weather turns cold up North. PGA West and its numerous courses is part of the PGA Tour event in January.
Mission Hills has hosted the LPGAs first Major every April for the last 30 years and is the site of the famous winners who jump into the Dinah Shore pond by 18th green with family and caddy.
The Valley of the Sun offers endless combinations of multi-round golf days with 200-plus golf courses surrounded by stunning desert landscape, including We-Ko-Pa GC, Grayhawk GC, Talking Stick GC and Wickenburg Ranch.
If you only have time to play one of two courses in Scottsdale, opt for Pinnacle at Troon North GC, it’s a standout sweep through the desert.
While the PGA Tour only uses the TPC of Scottsdale for one week during the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Stadium course maintains top-notch playing conditions for most of the year.
Portland is a very visitor friendly city with plenty of sights and attractions to explore, including solid public and private golf courses, starting with Columbia Edgewater CC located immediately west of the Portland International Airport and two courses at Heron Lakes just a few miles from downtown. Waverley CC is also another beautiful private course that sits right on the Willamette River.
If you’re looking to drive a short ways out of the city for a green escape, head south toward Salem where you’ll find two popular golf courses at Langdon Farms and the Oregon Golf Association.
Bandon Dunes is likely the most well known golf course in Oregon and is highly ranked among golfers, although 5 hours south of the Portland, the resort can also be reached 3 hours from the Medford Airport where Alaska flies.
|Puerto Vallarta||One of the most famous holes in golf is the extra 19th hole at PuntaMita Golf Course. A 170 yard par 3 out into the ocean where only access is by boat (if it’s not too dangerous). It can be played as part of the regular course or as an extra hole, it is truly one of the most fun. and challenging shots to see if your ball can stay dry and on the green.|
Central Oregon has become quite a bucket list topper for true golfers from around the world. With 30 courses within 45 minutes of each other (three named Golf Digest’s Top 100). it’s hard to beat. Toss in endless outdoor adventures, nearly 30 breweries and perfect weather it’s a golfer’s dream.
Bend has beautiful golf resorts including Crosswater GC at Sunriver Resort, Pronghorn GC and Tetherow Golf Resort (a Scottish links course). Links courses – though not all – are typically located in coastal areas like Bend, on sandy soil, often rougher turf that lets the ball roll much further, with few water hazards and little – if any – trees.
No golf trip to San Diego is complete without a visit to the city-owned North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, host of the 2021 US Open.
But more gold awaits in SoCal’s crinkled hills in the form of Omni La Costa Resort, Rams Hill GC, and Barona Creek, reopening this summer after a comprehensive renovation.
|Salt Lake City||
Park City has multiple courses that are spectacular in the summer.
Jeremy Ranch has hosted PGA events.
Chambers Bay is in Tacoma, about 40 minutes south, and hosted the 2015 US Open won by Jordan Speith plus the 2010 US Amateur. It’s also home to Mogg’s Golf Academy, a premier venue for teaching the game of golf.
Gold Mountain GC in Bremerton is an 18-hole golf course with a relaxed restaurant, driving range & shop and has hosted the US Junior also won by Jordan Speith.
Sahalee CC has hosted the PGA Championship and US Senior Open.
To all our guests, tee it high & let it fly!