CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico â€” The table stands in the middle of the sand, its white linen tablecloth flapping in the ocean breeze. Torch lights illuminate your entrees and your date's face. Your personal waiter trudges to and from the table in the sand at your beck and call.
So much for just another dinner on the road. So much for just another golf trip.
The place is Los Cabos. The setting is the sand just off the ocean at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Resort & Spa. But the possibilities for romance are endless.
Yes, romance. On a golf trip. To many that's akin to expecting snow in Phoenix, Allen Iverson at practice or the cable guy on time.
Other couples know better â€” understand just how well a cozy candlelight dinner or a plush four poster bed at a European castle can go with a day chasing birdies.
"You're in Cabo," vacationing golfer Theola Kirschbaum said, smiling at her husband. "It's one of the most beautiful places in the world. It has some of the best golf courses in the world. And you're together. How can you not enjoy that?"
It sounds so simple. But as anyone who's ever dealt with romance knows it rarely is in real life. Making a golf trip romantic takes a little more tact than just replacing the usual crew with your significant other, dropping the beer bong and teeing it up.
"On a couple's golf vacation, the non-golf activities become even more important," said Jim Ward, president of Premier Golf, a trip planning company that specializes in upscale destinations. "Active shopping, all kinds of sight seeing, spa facilities all need to be taken into major consideration."
In other words, that place where you binged on cheap golf and ate Taco Bell in the room is probably out. At least, if you're looking to keep your sweetie pie around.
Why not leave the crowds behind while finding better weather, a more romantic feel and maybe just as good golf?
The Costa del Sol region of Spain could be the secret find you talk about for anniversaries to come. This will take you through the lush Spanish countryside, into Moorish villages and medieval ruins, not to mention high-end restaurants with super fresh seafood.
You'll golf Valderrama of course. But there's more than just the storied home of the 1997 Ryder Cup here. Courses like Sotogrande â€” opened in 1964 and considered the grandfather of golf in the region and still one of the top courses in Europe â€” and Torrequebrada â€” where its beauty is equaled by its trickiness â€” provide more than enough rounds to fill a trip.
"I honestly believe that if I wanted to get away with my wife and another couple on a trip, I'd pick a trip to Spain's Costa del Sol," Ward said. "It's just a beautiful climate â€” it's always moderate. The people are very friendly and there's a great series of little villages and hilltop views."
Visiting a castle on that Scotland golf trip is expected. Staying in one is a move straight out of one of those Fabio-covered novels your wife sometimes abandons you for.
Borthwick Castle scores any romantic major points while putting you close to Edinburgh's historic golf scene. Built in 1430, frequented by Mary Queen of Scots and stormed by Oliver Cromwell in 1650, Borthwick has the high spiraling twin towers you expect in your old castle (100 feet from the dungeons to the top) and modern amenities any luxury traveler demands (central heat, for starters).
Being just 12 miles outside of Edinburgh in the countryside, courses like Muirfield and Musselburgh are very much in play when you and your partner aren't chasing each other around the turrets.
"If two people are looking to get away to be together, I can't think of a greater place than Kiawah," Ward said. "It has terrific golf and wonderful things to do. You can almost feel like you're off on your own estate in the middle of all this nature."
You cannot just feel it â€” you can rent it. There are number of luxury homes available for short-term rental on Kiawah, places that put you up close to the alligators who've roamed these island marshes for hundreds of years (but not too close) and to Pete Dye's famed Ocean Course on the Carolina seascape.
Then again, your personal favorite may be that table almost literally on the ocean on the Mexican coast. Sheraton Hacienda del Mar averages one of these beach meals a week (there's only room for one couple max a night at the set-away private table). Though there's plenty of debate over how many of these googley-eyed couples are golfers.
"I didn't know golfers were romantic," a waiter at the resort said, grinning.
Hey, a round at Jack Nicklaus' famed Cabo del Sol Ocean Course is one heck of a foreplay.
Golfers not romantic ... we'll, we never ...
"Honestly, I pick the great golf course I want to play first and then find something snazzy or candlelight around it so my wife's all into the trip too," said one Cabo golfer who asked not to be identified for obvious reasons.
OK, everyone cannot be Giacmo Casanova. Or one of those "Bachelor" guys with the roses. But golf still has a way of opening up the heart. "Fore!" included.
November 13, 2006