All it takes to make golf a sport for all seasons for the Washington-area enthusiast is a full tank of gas.
Within a day's drive from the nation's capital, one can try his golf skills on literally hundreds of courses up and down the Atlantic Seaboard. From the Poconos of Pennsylvania to the offshore islands of Georgia, here is a compendium of outstanding courses. PENNSYLVANIA
Pocono Mountain resorts are noted for World War II-vintage entertainment and honeymooners. They also boast some of the best golf in the north. Spectacular views and impossible shots can be a part of the trek around Shawnee, Tamiment, Pocono Manor and Buck Hill Falls, all in the stretch of mountains along the New Jersey line near Stroudsburg.
Farther south in Dutch Country lies one of the nation's finest layouts, Hershey Country Club's West Course, rated among the top 100 in Golf Digest magazine's biennial survey. VIRGINIA - WEST VIRGINIA
For a short trip, one in which the price is right and the golf course is challenging, try Shannon Green in Fredericksburg, Mike Fitzgerald of Washington is the congenial pro.
Colonial Williamsburg is one of Virginia's leading tourist centers with its restored colonial area and the nearby Busch Gardens: one of the best-kept secrets is that it also is the site of two of the more interesting golf courses in the state - Golden Horseshoe and Kingsmill on the James.
If there is a golf course anywhere with four better par-three holes than Horseshoe, lead me to it. The 16th, 155 yards from an elevated tee to an island green, is the most esthetic, but the 178-yard third hole, high over a swampy lake to a narrow green fronted and backed with U.S. Open-type frog hair, will frighten you to death.
And if you're used to playing winter rules off level lies, don't bother with Kingsmill. There are few level lies on its undulating fairways and few long putts dropped on its two-; three- and even four-tiered greens.
For a fun vacation (boat trips and the like) try the Tides Inn and Lodge in Irvington, Va., where the golf is sporty but not ego-deflating.
If your game and pocketbook are up to it, move on to other elegant surroundings at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., or the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Located some 40 miles apart on the border due west of Charlottesville, these two resorts have been the homes of Sam Snead, who recently crossed the state line from West Virginia to his present post at the Homestead, which he left in 1936 for the Greenbrier. NORTH CAROLINA SANDHILLS
Pinehurst, N.C, "the pocket," according to Post sports staffer Bob Williams, is considered by many to be the golf capital of the world. No matter what the weather anywhere else along the Atlantic Coast, it will be better in "the pocket," William insists. Pinehurst is a sleepy Southern town southwest of Raleigh that closes well before the 11th hour. But during the daylight hours it's all golf. The No. 2 course is considered one of the top 10 in the world, but realistically it parts too long for the average golfer. Try your hand at No. 4 and No. 5 for all the challenge you'll need; then go to No. 1 or No. 3 to regain your composure.
The complex also has a pleasant bar overlooking the 18th hole of the No. 2 course, called the 91st Hole. When a sixth course is completed in the near future, the name of the bar undoubtedly will be changed to the 109th Hole.
Although Pinehurst is the best known of the golfing complexes in this part of the state, many other fine courses are among its neighbors. Tall pines, small lakes and a moderate climate make Foxfire, Pine Needles, Mid-Pines and Whispering Pines worth a trip. NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS
If your vacation plans call for hiking mountain-climbing, lake swimming and fishing - and golf - try the Great Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, N.C., about 450 miles from Washington.
Among the excellent courses are Springdale Country Club, featuring rushing mountain streams; immaculate Sapphire Valley; Etowah Valley Golf Club, which has a course rating of 73.4 from the blue tees; Beech Mountain, the highest course east of the Rockies; Beaver lake, with a 690-yard par-five hole, and Black Mountain, whose 17th hole plays to a par six for its 745 yards. SOUTH CAROLINA
One of the most popular golfing meccas is Myrtle Beach, with 25 full-size golf courses and four nine-holers. Probably only the North Carolina Sandhills and California' Monterey Peninsula can equal the quality of the golf available on the Grand Strand, as that stretch of South Carolina is known.
The Dunes has two of my favorite holes, the 520-yard "Waterloo" 13th and the 400-yard lake-fronted 18th. The Dunes encourages proficiency in sand wedge use, not only to escape one of the many traps, but to pitch over the top of those monstrous bunkers. Arcadian Shores, narrow, long and with a monstrous 13th hole of its own, a par-four with a lake fronting a smallish green, is another championship layout.
Two of the toughest courses are newer designs: Myrtle Beach National's North Course, bult with the consultation of Arnold Palmer, the Carolina Shores, just across the state line in North Carolina but part of the Myrtle Beach complex. The National North has water on all but two holes; its No. 3 has an island green shaped like a map of South Carolina and with two huge traps, one contoured like an "S" and the other like a "C." Carolina Shores is tight, has water on 12 holes and so many traps (96) that each cart comes equipped with a rake.
Two islands face each other across Port Royal Sound between Beaufort, S.C., and Savannah, Ga. One is the playground of "a few good men." The other is the playground of tennis players and golfers, "good" and otherwise. Parris Island, of course, is a Marine training base, while Hilton Head Island is the most compleat resort.
Some "good" golfers do play Hilton Head: The Heritage Open is held each year over the Harbour Town Golf Links, whose 458-yard, par-four finishing hole has a lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean set to receive an errant shot. Of course, water plays a key role in the design of all 15 courses on the island. And beware of alligators and snakes. After all, for years it was their island. GEORGIA SEA ISLANDS
Oh, like to the greatness of God is
the greatness within
The range of the marshes, the
liberal marshes of Glynn
Sydney Lanier - The Marshes of Glynn
St. Simons Island is really two islands, connected by the Marshes of Glynn.Sea Island, the northeastern portion, is the vacation spot for President Carter, part-time home of many of America's millionaires seven of the magnificent homes on the island are said to have an average value of $2.1 million) and site of the Cloister, with two excellent golf courses.
Actually, the courses are on the other side of the Marshes, on St. Simons Island proper. These are four separate nines which can be played in any combination. According to Post sportswriter Tom Boswell, Seaside can be "terrifying," especially on a windy day. The Retreat nine is spectacular.
Washington-area visitors are particularly welcome at Sea Palms. Assisting former touring pro DeWitt Weaver is Lyn Diskin, a Washington-area junior girls golfing whiz of several years ago when she was Lyn Murcer of Bethesda. Sea Plams is an excellent resort-type course away from the resort atmosphere. Some of the club's cottages are within walking distance of the shopping area, the public beach and the island's liveliest watering hole, Murphy's Tavern.