Swinging open the RV door, a warm breeze greets our arrival as the slowly setting sun illuminates our Winnebago View floor. Sounds of deep laughter and nearby chit-chat fill the air, while evidence of early-evening grill sessions commingle with the refreshingly salty air. Golf carts zoom by, dog walkers pass at every turn, and a few towel-clad ladies emerge in the distance, inevitably surrendering their poolside lounge chairs to the retiring sun. It’s January in Florida. Which is to say, snowbird season has officially begun.
My wife and I may only be 31, but by all accounts, we’re a couple of snowbirds. Okay, that’s not exactly true – technically we don’t live in the Northern part of the U.S. (nor Canada) and we’re not retired – but intents and purposes we fit the mold. Like many others both young and old, our RVing lifestyle has us fleeing any sign of the encroaching winter cold for the warm south.
My “retirement” from the banking industry and second career of launching The Dapper Drive, a golf-focused digital content and social media marketing company, has left us migrating with the masses to explore every southern state – and most importantly, their golf courses. So whether you’re hanging in sunshine-filled Florida, on the heavenly coastline of Southern California, or somewhere in between, chances are there’s some incredible golf right around the corner.
There are no doubt a myriad of great golf courses in each snowbird-bound state, but below we highlight a few of our absolute favorite must-play courses – and the nearby RV-friendly accommodations – spanning across the southern U.S.
Streamsong Resort: Bowling Green, Florida
If you’re not looking for it, you’re unlikely to find it. That elusiveness is partly what makes Streamsong Resort so good. Built on a former phosphate mine, the sandy soil below Streamsong’s turf allows for firm-and-fast fairways, mimicking the conditions and playability of the best links courses.
It’s landlocked central-Florida location may lack ocean views, but don’t be fooled: 75-foot sand dunes, gnarly wasteland, glistening auburn fescue, and larger-than-life bunkers and green complexes all combine to serve-up a golfing visual ecstasy unlike any other.
Streamsong Resort feels almost prehistoric at times, with epic dunes and expansive bunkers and greens.
It is home to three championship courses – the Red, Blue and Black – each expertly crafted by some of today’s top golf architects. And while the courses may appear alike at first blush, they actually play quite differently, offering a unique experience on each.
The resort pride’s itself not only on world-class golf (check), but also on top-notch service. In Florida, the Streamsong experience can’t be beat. Play all three courses, and expect to come running back year-after-year. More on Streamsong Resort’s golf courses here.
A look at the incredible topography of Streamsong Resort, home to three top-ranked courses.
RV Accommodations: Hardee Lakes Park
Four lakes, horse and hiking trails, and a host of lakeside camp/RV sites lay across this 1,200 acre park. Low-lying fog made for some beautiful mornings, while the crackle of a campfire rounded out our golf-packed days. It’s just 13 minutes from Streamsong Resort and priced nicely at $15-23 per night!
Beau Rivage Resort’s Fallen Oak: Biloxi, Mississippi
Throughout our travels, I’d be hard pressed to point to a golf course that provides a more intimate experience than Fallen Oak. It’s location in the heart of the De Soto National Forest makes for a secluded feeling, while the ultra-friendly staff treat you like a regular.
The golf course itself oozes charm, with age-old oaks flanking the well-manicured fairways and pure-rolling greens. The lengthy 18th hole is one of my favorites, housing the courses namesake tree – the majestic fallen oak. After spending a full day at the course, it comes as no surprise that Fallen Oak remains one of the Champions Tour players’ favorite stops all year.
The De Soto National Forest makes for quite the backdrop at Fallen Oak.
Expect to be pampered during your visit, and be sure to enjoy lunch from the clubhouse restaurant overlooking the 18th hole. Fallen Oak delivers on every level, and if you’re lucky, they might even let your furry friend join for the round. No promises, but Ella sure did love running alongside us! More on Fallen Oak here.
Ella takes a break from “chasing birdies” during our round at Fallen Oak.
Accommodations: Beau Rivage Resort
Okay, so here’s the catch. Fallen Oak is reserved exclusively for guests of Beau Rivage Resort – 20 minutes south of the course in Biloxi. In order to access the golf course, you’ll need to spend a night in the hotel. No biggie though. Enjoy a night off from the RV, wandering the beautiful coastline or trying your luck in the casino. The good news? Beau Rivage will keep your RV safe and sound in a security-guarded lot, just across the street.
Park your RV for free and enjoy a night at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
Barton Creek Resort & Spa: Austin, Texas
Not that you need any more convincing to head to Austin, but Barton Creek Resort is yet another reason to love this eclectic part of Texas. Barton Creek is home to four different courses, my favorite of which is the Fazio Canyons Course.
The golf course perfectly captures this region, with dramatic elevation changes helping to accentuate the already spectacular Hill Country views. Almost every shot is fired up-or-down the hills, with the 15th and 18th holes providing the most epic views. Add a limestone creek that meanders through the property, and you’ve got one special golf course. Just beware: while you’re out enjoying all this golf, trust your other half will be taking full advantage of the Barton Creek Spa! More on the Fazio Canyons course here.
RV Accommodations: McKinney Falls State Park
It’s not the closest spot, but McKinney Falls State Park is certainly the best spot to stay – and well worth the 30 minute commute to Barton Creek. Trails, fishing, and swimming holes are only topped by the spacey, wooded RV spots in the park. It’s also just 25 minutes from downtown Austin, and one of our favorite all-time camp spots. Consider the nearby Roy Kizer Golf Course – a super cheap and fun municipal course that’s also dog friendly – as the icing on top.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club – Saguaro Course: Scottsdale, Arizona
Though the desert is littered with golf courses, none provide an experience like We-Ko-Pa’s Saguaro Course. Unlike most desert courses that dictate play with “target” golf, Saguaro’s wide fairways flowing with the natural topography of the land, lets you play any style of your choosing.
Epic views run abound, with the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions setting the backdrop. Its location, 30 minutes east of downtown Scottsdale allows the course to stretch far and wide, without a house or condo in sight. More on the Saguaro Course here.
RV Accommodations: Eagle View RV Resort
Like golf courses, RV parks are plentiful in Scottsdale. Adjacent to We-Ko-Pa’s golf courses you’ll find Eagle View RV Resort. It’s nothing over-the-top, but it’s convenience to the golf course and the abundance of amazing nearby hiking spots can’t be beat.
Plenty of desert spots to explore east of Scottsdale. The hike to the Wave Cave was a favorite.
Torrey Pines Golf Course: San Diego, California
It may be a city-owned, municipal golf course, but Torrey Pines packs quite the punch. The ongoing love affair between golfers and courses by the sea might well be epitomized at Torrey, with countless holes dancing along the Pacific coastline.
Torrey Pines boasts two championship golf courses (North and South course), each delivering an unforgettable seaside golf experience. If you want to see what the Tour pros face each year, try your luck on Torrey South, but both courses are worth a play.
RV Accommodations: Santee Lakes Campground
Though oceanfront camping is always a thrill (check out Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego), we loved our stay at Santee Lakes Campground. It’s a 25 minute drive to both Torrey Pines and Downtown San Diego, and the overall value for California is great. A string of lakes and myriad of activities make for a fun place to call home base during your stay. Plus, Carlton Oaks Golf Club – a great Pete Dye designed public golf course – is right around the corner, too.
Carlton Oaks GC is a local gem, with great prices and close proximity to Santee Lakes Campground.
For more ideas on golf courses, be sure to check out The Dapper Drive Interactive Course Map, where we highlight our best golf experiences across North America.