As a frequent business traveler, I can tell you that the thrill of flying the “friendly skies” is gone. The full-body frisking at TSA doesn’t exactly get things off to a good start, and I could certainly do without the over-caffeinated flight attendants slinging stale pretzels for $5.95. For golfers, the ordeal is even worse. Checking a second bag? That’ll be $25. Oh, that second bag is a golf bag? That’ll be $50 and please sign our liability waiver. Oh, your brand new shiny staff bag is overweight? You get the idea…
Still, many golfers find nothing more exhilarating than leaving the confines of their home course behind and embarking on the best type of vacation – a golf vacation! For Midwesterners, there is no better golf destination than Door County. An added bonus… there’s no need to worry about your tube of toothpaste or stick of deodorant weighing in at under three ounces. So what makes Door County such a great golf destination? To answer that question, we’ll take a look at four of the most commonly planned golf trips – The Romantic Golf Getaway, The Family Golf Adventure, The Four and a Half Hour Meeting, and The Buddies Trip.
Sunsets and winery tours are great, but the perfect couple’s getaway to Door County is The Romantic Golf Getaway. Andrew Isaacson, Executive Producer with The Famous Group and a Twin Cities resident, couldn’t agree more. “We honeymooned in Door County…it was incredible. Holly and I really enjoyed staying in Sister Bay, the location was great and we found JJ’s/LaPuerta which was a great place to relax at the end of the day. The real treat of our vacation was the golf. Peninsula State Park Golf Course was in pristine condition, and we were able to get on the private course at Horseshoe Bay Farms which was unbelievable,” he says.
In addition to The Romantic Golf Getaway, there’s The Family Golf Adventure. With the help of initiatives like PlayGolfAmerica.com’s Family Golf Month, Take Your Daughter to the Course Week, and Bring Your Kids to the Golf Range, parents across the country are finding that there’s no better place to spend quality time with their kids than the golf course. Door County has long been known as a premier family vacation destination; that reputation is enhanced by family-friendly courses like Stonehedge in Egg Harbor and Bay Ridge in Sister Bay.
Perhaps the most exciting golf adventure for the whole family is a trip across Death’s Door to Washington Island’s hidden gem – Deer Run. Not only will the kids love the ferryboat ride from Northport pier to Detroit Harbor, they’ll also enjoy Deer Run’s 9-hole golf course and 18-hole mini-golf course. While you’re on the island, be sure to catch the Cherry Train, “The ‘Original’ Tour of Washington Island!”
For the corporate golf enthusiast, no business trip is complete without The Four and a Half Hour Meeting. The Four and a Half Hour Meeting is the only sanctuary from the stuffy monotony of a continuing education seminar, the only refuge from the incessant bickering at a strategic planning round table. Is there anything more cathartic than turning off your Blackberry on the first tee? The phone calls can wait, and you’ve already set up an email auto-responder stating you’re in an extended meeting that could take all afternoon.
Businesses from Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison, and the Twin Cities hold meetings in Door County not only because of the county’s natural beauty, but also because the peninsula’s hospitality industry has been quick to synergize state-of-the art facilities with first-class service. The new clubhouse at The Orchards at Egg Harbor features a meeting room that can accommodate up to 50 guests with high-speed internet access, audio/visual equipment, and access to the full bar and grill menu. Why not schedule your board meeting at the same place you’ll have your Four and a Half Hour Meeting?
Finally, there’s The Buddies Trip. The Buddies Trip is so popular among golfers that every single issue of Golf Digest features an article about a group of guys or gals and the details of their annual golf excursion together. For these trips, the requirements for a suitable destination are simple: 1) abundant supply of golf courses, 2) centrally-located lodging and, of course, 3) easy access to food and drink.
With over 58,000 yards of fairways, there’s no doubt that the Door Peninsula is teeming with beautiful golf courses. More so than the sheer quantity of courses, the quality is what sticks in the mind of avid golfer Vince Pavilionis. Pavilionis, an Elementary School Teacher in suburban Chicago, recalls, “We took our first ‘guys only’ golf trip to Door County a few years ago, and while the courses we played were challenging, they were also very playable and the scenery was spectacular.”
Convenient lodging, another key ingredient to the perfect Buddies Trip recipe, is also easily found in Door County. Some courses, like Maxwelton Braes in Baileys Harbor, The Alpine in Egg Harbor, and Cherry Hills in Sturgeon Bay offer onsite lodging. In addition to convenience, these “stay and play” arrangements can help turn your “buddies trip” into a “buddies trip on a budget.”
A successful Buddies Trip can’t be had without hearty food. For those of you ambitious enough to play 36 holes per day, you’ll want to indulge in one of Kris’ famous cheeseburgers and a milkshake at Peninsula State Park Golf Course for lunch – trust me. For dinner, a Friday night fish fry at The Orchards at Egg Harbor is hard to beat. Since some groups have been known to wager on the links, you’ll need enough drink for the winners to recount their glory and the losers to forget how many Pro V1s they sprayed into the woods. There’s no better place for a post round beverage of your choice than the panoramic IdleWild Bar & Grill in Sturgeon Bay.
Next time you’re dreaming about a vacation filled with lush fairways, piles of pars and a few birdies, forget about throwing your clubs into the underbelly of an Airbus. Instead, throw ‘em in your trunk and make the short drive to Door County. You’ll be glad you did, and the only air traffic control you’ll have to worry about is turning that wicked slice into a high-flying draw.