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Family golf: The best kid-friendly vacation spots on the West Coast

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

Trying to book a golf vacation that will be tolerable for your wife and kids? A number of resorts in California, Arizona and Nevada will fit the bill. Chris Baldwin recommends Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, the Portola Plaza Hotel at Monterey Bay and the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. Also, the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak in Scottsdale and the Ritz Carlton in Lake Las Vegas.

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Lake Las Vegas is kid-friendlier than Vegas, and the fairways are greener.
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LOS ANGELES - Vacation time gets stretched thinner than Nicole Richie these days.

A golf trip with the buddies sounds like a great idea to the middle-aged man, the stuff of an Owen Wilson movie. Until the wife casts that "are you kidding me?" glare and lets you know she's not getting stuck with the kids. Buddy trip dream over.

Face it. Your fantasy golf trip needs to include several kids and a nongolfing spouse. This is why you need to book that resort carefully, to factor in much more than your wild golf wishes.

Drag the family out to Bandon Dunes, for example, and you'll be spending much more than a week on the couch. This is one of the best golf spots in the world. And one with almost nothing for anybody to do who doesn't love golf.

Handing the kids a few coloring books in the room and giving your wife a peck on the cheek in the morning just isn't going to cut it.

This trip requires some finesse. Not to mention a hell of a pool and spa. An amusement park nearby doesn't hurt.

TravelGolf.com has done the hard work for you, breaking down the best family golf resorts on the West Coast. These are the top combinations of good golf and great family diversions you can find.

They might just save your marriage and keep you in the running for one of those Dad of the Year mugs.

1). Hotel Del Coronado: San Diego could give grandma a run for her money in kid friendliness. An award-winning zoo, the best Sea World in the country and tons of outdoor activities (surfing, windsurfing, seashell collecting, sandcastle building, you name it), and it's hard to imagine even the most moody teen being bored.

"San Diego is one of those destinations that's great for kids without being annoying for adults," golfing dad Doug Bole said. "If you know what I mean."

Young kids don't. And they will not care if you do Diego right.

Stay at the Hotel Del Coronado, host to presidents, royalty and thousands of happy kids since its 1888 opening, and you eliminate the slightest possibility of backseat mutiny. The beach is steps away on this island retreat with views of downtown. Surfing and kayaking lessons are available. Young children (ages 4-12) can spend the day in the resort's kids camp. Which means mom and dad can spend theirs golfing.

Coronado Golf Course is a $25 greens fee muni right on the island that's a virtual must play. The San Diego Union Tribune newspaper rated it a 10 on a scale of 1-10. When you're done discovering it, there's this little course called Torrey Pines.

2). Portola Plaza Hotel at Monterey Bay: Try not to salivate like Pavlov's dog when you suggest this one. After all, Monterey invokes some of golf's greatest images. This is your chance to play Pebble Beach, Spyglass and several lesser-known wonders.

Going with a hotel like Portola Plaza makes this quest a whole lot less selfish. You're close to the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, and you'll surely find time to take your children on a whale-watching cruise. Dennis the Menace Playground, which includes a huge hedge maze and has delighted kids for more than 50 years, is less than a mile from the hotel.

Be patient. Let the young ones go crazy. You'll be lost in ocean fairways soon enough.

3). Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak: This is a resort that's in the heart of Scottsdale golf heaven, yet is super kid geared. The pools look straight out of a water park. Slides crisscross and send preteens screaming into the water. There is a lazy river pool that you'll see 40-year-olds enjoying as much as their youngsters.

The putting course comes with mountain views. Though you might have trouble getting your kids out of the arcade.

If you can't find a golf course to escape to here, you're playing the wrong sport.

4). Disneyland Hotel: You didn't think you could get away without a Disneyland mention, did you?

Relax. Unlike Disney World, which pushes its golf almost as much as it pushes Mickey, Disneyland is much more low-key when it comes to the little white ball. There is a 27-hole course dubbed Golf Disneyland, but this is no one's idea of Fantasyland.

Instead you're largely left to your own devices to play good nearby courses like Coyote Hills, Black Gold and even waterfall heaven Trump National LA. You will not feel shortchanged on golf quality, and the kids will love you forever (or at least until they plead for their next vacation spot of choice). Staying at the Disneyland Hotel, right at the park gate, will particularly wow any princess-obsessed little girls in your family. This resort looks like a palace.

Luckily for you, the rooms are very adult-plush, too.

5). Ritz Carlton Lake Las Vegas: Las Vegas is not a place for kids, even if the Strip is sometimes filled with strollers. Lake Las Vegas is an entirely different story though.

There's a village full of kid-loved shops complete with an outdoor ice skating rink (yes, ice skating in the desert). Family concerts and fireworks shows are the norm.

And the golf? Try a Jack Nicklaus course along a wowing man-made lake (Reflection Bay), a
Tom Weiskopf
that climbs high into the rocks (The Falls) and a long-awaited Tom Fazio on the way (Rainbow Canyon).

The Ritz's superb babysitters don't hurt either. Yes, the Ritz for kids. Hey, Eloise had the Plaza. Why deny your runts - and yourself - some finer things?

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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Dates: January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014
Carlton Oaks may just be the perfect place for your next golf outing, getaway or special event in the San Diego area. Golfers will rejoice at Carlton Oaks, San Diego’s only Dye-designed championship course. Packages starting at $160 for 1 night stay and 2 rounds of golf.
Price range: $160