Monday, October 10, 2011

Crystal Springs Golf Resort, Sussex County, New Jersey

I truly never knew New Jersey had mountains. While there are miles of beaches and scores of casinos to be seen and enjoyed, you need to know where to look to find the mountains. In the very northwestern corner of the state just east of the Delaware Water Gap in Sussex County are the Kittatinny Mountains, and best of all they’re only an hour from New York City and Liberty International (Newark) Airport. While these mountains are not the Alps or even the Rockies, they are nevertheless quite beautiful and offer a variety of great recreational opportunities year round.

Located in a pristine mountain valley just outside Hamburg, NJ, Crystal Springs Golf Resort offers outstanding vacation and weekend getaway opportunities for couples, families,
and golfers looking for a variety of world class courses. Crystal Spring boasts seven championship golf courses, unmatched by any other New Jersey resort including Ballyowen, Black Bear, the new Cascades, Crystal Springs, Great Gorge, Minerals and Wild Turkey all located within a 5-mile radius and open to resort guest and the general public.

Ballyowen Golf Club was just named as one of the Top 50 Public Courses in the U.S. by Conde Nast's GolfWorld Magazine. More than 21,000 individual golf courses were evaluated based on thirteen different performance criteria, including quality and condition of the course, reputation/prestige, food/dining, and service.

Boasting a 6,673-yard layout co-designed by famed developer Jack Kurlander and PGA “Golf Instructor of the Year” David Glenz, the nearby Black Bear course offers players an inviting diversity of terrain, scenery, and shot selections.

Cascades is the newest golf course at Crystal Springs Resort. Nationally renowned golf course architect Roger Rulewich, of The Golf Group was responsible for the course’s design -- his third at Crystal Springs Resort. Measuring just 3,627 yards, the course’s design stresses playability.

Crystal Springs Golf Club is recognized as one of the finest golf facilities in the northeastern United States. When it opened in 1992, it was rated among the top 25 new golf courses in America by Golf Digest Magazine. Year after year, Crystal Springs ranks among Golf Digest’s top 10 list for public golf courses in New Jersey.

Crystal Springs is also considered the most challenging course layout in New Jersey. Despite measuring just over 6,800 yards from the championship tees, the distinct character of the club can be attributed to designer Robert von Hagge of Houston, Texas, one of the leading golf course architects in the United States.

Great Gorge Country Club is a golfer’s paradise. The George Fazio designed, 27 hole complex was given four stars by Golf Digest. It offers a truly exceptional challenge for golfers of all skill levels. Great Gorge is composed of three separate and distinct nine-hole courses:

The Minerals Golf Club is designed for great family fun. Known locally as the best 9-hole golf course in the region, its Robert Trent Jones-designed layout is perfect for every member of the family. Advanced players can be challenged on a spectacular mountainside layout measuring over 2,305 yards, while younger players have their own tees way ahead of mom and dad.

Wild Turkey is the Crystal Spring Resort’s second Roger Rulewich design, following Ballyowen. Located next to Crystal Springs Golf Club, Wild Turkey’s features two distinct terrain types combine the sheer expansiveness of Ballyowen with the rugged, multileveled nature of Crystal Springs.

The resort features two luxury hotels -- the Minerals Resort & Spa featuring 175 spacious and elegantly appointed guest rooms, as well as condominiums, and the Grand Cascades Lodge
offering 250 outstanding 4-star Adirondack style accommodations and world-class amenities.

After a rewarding day of golf, resort guests can head to the spa. Crystal Springs features two award-winning spas - Reflections Spa and Elements Spa. They were recently ranked among the top 20 Spas in America featuring mineral-based treatments and therapies.

Crystal Spring has twelve different restaurants, cafes, and bistros, serving a variety of delicious food. Restaurant Latour, at the Grand Cascades Lodge, is the resort’s premiere restaurant. It is known for its fine cuisine, outstanding selection of wines, and impeccable service. Its 64,000 bottle wine cellar (one of the world’s largest), winner of Wine Spectator's Grand Award, is available for tours and group tastings. Latour offers a truly memorable dining experience in every respect. You can even watch a colorful sunset beyond the distant mountain tops while you enjoy your superb dinner.

To learn more view

James Weaver
Sr. Travel Writer
GolfWiz Blog

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Great Golf and Horse Racing In Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas, became America’s first resort city (in the mid-nineteenth century) because of the natural thermal springs that provide warm water for its healthful and soothing baths. But tourists can only spend a part of each day “taking the waters,” so it was not long before other diversions began to take root. Golf had become a popular sport in America and the Hot Springs Country Club was established in 1898 as a semiprivate Club offering membership privileges to the local residents, as well as providing golfing opportunities for the out-of-town visitors.

Nestled in the Ouachita foothills and surrounded by neighboring lakes and national parks, the Hot Springs Country Club continues to operate with those same Southern traditions of service. With 36 holes of golf available, the Club offers a wide variety of golfing experiences. The Arlington course has recently been reworked and restored by Master's Champion Ben Crenshaw, with Bentgrass greens and a restoration of its original classic design. Steep and narrow Bermuda fairways through rolling hills make this course a true challenge for any golfer.

The Park course, a bit more open than the Arlington, offers its own sandy and watery challenges. It also was recently renovated by Coore and Crenshaw. It is a little longer than its sister course at 6,836 yards and also offers new Bentgrass greens for year-round play.

Located only three and a half miles from downtown Hot Springs on Highway 7 north, Belvedere Golf Club (a public course) is an inviting destination for golfers at all levels of play.

Its a beautiful and scenic 18-hole championship golf course spread over 135 acres surrounded by the Ouachita Mountain range, neighboring lakes and the national park. Belvedere has bent grass greens and Bermuda fairway. Designed by Herman Hackbarth in 1949, it remains one of Arkansas top ten courses. Hackbarth designed more than 40 courses and was voted into the ASGA Hall of Fame in 1994.

Belvedere Golf Club is open six days a week with a restaurant grill and full service bar. A driving range is provided, along with a putting green and electric golf carts. There are golf packages available at several hotels in the Hot Springs area.

Golfing was not enough of a diversion and horse racing (and wagering) came to Hot Springs early in the new century, On February 24, 1905, Oaklawn Race Course presented its first racing card before a crowd of 3,000 that turned out after Hot Springs Mayor John Belding declared a half-day holiday for the city. The first race at the new track was won by Duelist, owned by John W. Schorr, a prominent Memphis sportsman. Since then, Oaklawn has evolved into one of the premier race meets in the country.

Best known as the home of the Racing Festival of the South and Arkansas Derby, the track has played host to some of the biggest names in the sport including champions Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lookin At Lucky, Blind Luck and Zenyatta who won the 2010 Apple Blossom Handicap and Horse of the Year honors. Winners of the Arkansas Derby (for three year olds) regularly go on to compete at the Kentucky Derby and other Triple Crown races, The Oaklawn racing season extends from mid-January to mid-April with the Arkansas Derby the final race of the season.

Today Oaklawn also offers wagering on television simulcasts of races around country and a casino with electronic slots and table games. Its open daily year round.

To learn more about attractions in Hot Springs

James Weaver
Sr. Travel Writer
GolfWiz Blog

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