Discovering a new golf hot-spot: The Landings on Skidaway Island in Georgia
I have to confess that before this trip, I had barely heard of The Landings, and I'm a traveling golf writer who has logged more time on I-95 than your average long-haul, amphetamine-addicted truck driver.
It would appear difficult to keep The Landings a secret, because it is a vast golf community with six - six! - excellent courses to keep the golf nuts there busy.
These aren't just roll-them-out community courses. They have some heavy-hitting designers behind them like Arnold Palmer, Arthur Hills, Tom Fazio and Willard Byrd. They're all tree-lined, parkland layouts that use the coastal island scenery to its fullest. Some of the marsh views are spectacular.
The Landings is on Skidaway Island, about 15-20 minutes from the heart of downtown Savannah, depending on the traffic. This is an inner barrier island, well protected from Atlantic storms, and it has similar physical characteristics to other Georgia and north Florida barrier islands, like Jekyll and Amelia Islands.
That means plenty of ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss, marshes that seem to go on forever, little inlets feeding off the bigger waters and, of course, an array of southern wildlife like deer, otter, sea turtles, wading birds and, yes, alligators.
The Landings isn't a retirement community, but a large percentage of the population is of a certain age, shall we say, and they are very active, with more than 100 organizations of every size and shape; the women's golf league here is one of the biggest in the country.
Still, there are quite a few younger families on the island as well.
There is some dispute over the origin of the island's name, whether it came from Indians or English settlers, but in any case, after the Civil War, freed slaves set up a school with the help of Benedictine monks.
Skidaway Island prospered during prohibition with several stills on the island, and Union Camp eventually took control and used the heavily-treed island for pulpwood production in the 1940s, before eventually developing the island for residential use.
There are all sorts of amenities, and then there is the Village, a family-style shopping center so residents don't even have to leave the island. Now that I've been here for a few days, I can see why.
Visitors to San Antonio spend as much time with the River Walk as Ryan Seacrest does with his makeup artist. But if you're in town for the NCAA Final Four this weekend, the River Walk won't be enough to keep you entertained during down time. Not to worry, there's plenty of excellent golf in San Antonio at courses such as Westin La Cantera Golf Club and Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa.
There are probably just as many fishing options in Hilton Head Island as there are golf courses. It's a known fact that most golfers would just as soon have a fishing rod in their hands as a 7-iron, and the island and surrounding areas offer an unusual bounty for the golfer/angler. So if you're planning a Hilton Head golf vacation and want to escape the cozy confines of the course, by all means bring your tackle.
Kiva Dunes is the type of course you travel to play, the kind of showpiece that is a great impetus to come to the Alabama Gulf Shores and discover the other outstanding golf courses here. Some golf courses hit you with unforgettable holes, Chris Baldwin writes. Kiva Dunes produces more of an unforgettable feel, a seaside golf play in a setting that soothes frayed senses.