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Best of the Best 2002: Golf: Best Resorts

Great Scot

Once the summer home of Andrew Carnegie, Skibo Castle in Scotland’s Northern Highlands is now the setting for a year-round house party for the members of Peter de Savary’s Carnegie Club.

The public rooms are decorated in chintz and furnished with plush settees grouped around crackling fires, and animal heads, portraits, and rows of leather-bound books cover the walls. Jackets are required in Carnegie’s huge banquet hall, where guests raise a toast in honor of the Scottish-born industrialist and philanthropist before dinner is served.

Over a hearty breakfast, one decides what to do that day. Falconry? Land Rover expeditions through the glens? Fly-fishing on the estate’s lochs? Golf is always a primary choice. Carnegie, a bad golfer, built the Monk’s Walk course on the estate so he could practice in solitude. De Savary hired English architect Donald Steel to build a new links course on the nearby shores of the Dornoch Firth.

Nonmembers are allowed one-time visits, and leaving Skibo at the conclusion of that visit, knowing that you might not return, isn’t easy. Indeed, leaving the castle under such circumstances has always been difficult. Carnegie’s brother-in-law, even after he divorced Carnegie’s sister, refused to vacate the house and lived there for another 20 years. We understand completely.

The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, +44.1862.894600, skibo@carnegieclub.co.uk


In Knead of Pampering

The Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., contrasts starkly with the rugged red rocks of Camelback Mountain that tower behind it. It is a sprawling oasis in the great Southwest desert, one that offers first-class golf and an even better spa.

If your golf game tends to be a beguiling and humbling experience that is anything but stress-free, The Phoenician’s Centre for Well-Being is a better post-round choice than any 19th hole.

If a mildly abusive Swedish massage doesn’t put you right, you can sample some of the delights from the rest of the resort’s massage menu: Have your pressure points worked during Shiatsu, undergo the gentle touches of Reiki, or experience the needles of Accusage, a combination of massage and acupuncture.

If none of those therapies work, try a spell in the Meditation Atrium, where a clinician will guide you through a program of introspection and perhaps help you release your inner scratch player.

The Phoenician, 800.888.8234, www.thephoenician.com


Supreme Shark

In the countryside west of Naples, Fla., Greg Norman has created something special, his Tiburón course adjacent to the new Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort (there’s another Ritz-Carlton in town on the beach).

Tiburón is a unique hybrid that combines Floridian waterways, the pines of the Carolinas, the rolling fairways of Ireland, and the raised greens of Augusta National and Pinehurst No. 2. The result is an intriguing collection of 27 holes that challenge, and indeed captivate.

The hotel itself is a stunning edifice that houses all the opulence that you would expect at a Ritz-Carlton. Like the golf course, it offers a unique blend of exceptional ser-vice and a genuinely comfortable atmosphere.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, 941.593.2000, www.ritz-carlton.com

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