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For the first time since it opened in 1965, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa has the two newest and most exciting golf courses in Southern California. With the comprehensive renovation of the Legends Course completed in November 2013, the iconic golf venue – which has hosted the greatest names in the game for six decades – once again has 36 outstanding holes available for play. The Legends and the Champions, which underwent a complete transformation in 2011, provide guests with two different and complementary golf experiences, each engaging, challenging, and enjoyable in its own distinct way.
The Sporting Life literally comes to life in this playground of the Caribbean. There is something for every taste, every activity. White-sand beaches and clear blue waters surround La Romana; but at Casa de Campo, there are even more places for games. 90 holes of golf created by celebrated course designer Pete Dye challenge you. 13 impeccable fast-dry Har-Tru tennis courts, three polo fields and a comprehensive 245-acre shooting facility await your test. Each is world-class in its own category and incomparable.
When it comes to natural beauty, enjoyment, and relaxation, it’s tough to beat a walk along the white sands of Carmel Beach in Central California. But coming close is the Carmel Wine Walk, which can lay claim to being the “tastiest” trail in charming Carmel-by-the-Sea. Now featuring nine tasting rooms within a three-block radius, Carmel has become a premier wine tasting destination for sophisticated travelers and wine-lovers from around the world.
Whether it’s their great assortment of headwear, the innovation and creativity of its accessories lineup, or its compelling collections of quality apparel, AHEAD is clearly at the head of the class. Led by one of the top-ranking women in the golf industry, the company enjoyed a banner 2013, with a presence at more than 20 Tour and major golf events, including the U.S. Open at Merion and the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Just as important are a long-term partnership with LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam, a new corporate division, and enhanced exposure in the Canadian market.
Achieving the previously unthinkable – firm and fast playing conditions year-round in Pebble Beach – will be the norm at Poppy Hills when it reopens in April 2014. Robert Trent Jones II golf course architecture firm and the Frontier Golf construction team have reinvented Poppy Hills, building a firmer, faster, and more fun course that fits seamlessly into the stunning and serene Del Monte Forest.“The fundamental tipping point for this renovation was water conservation,” said Robert Trent Jones Jr., the original architect who designed the course that opened in1986.  “The NCGA is a leader for all golf courses because it oversees, protects and enhances the Northern California Golf Community. If you’re going to rip up the course to put in irrigation and install this new way of thinking, it was time to rethink the entire course. This was a remarkable opportunity to rejuvenate this world-class venue.”
While there may not be any golf courses in Manhattan, there is a world-class venue for improving your golf game and your body in the heart of the Big Apple. Minutes from Broadway and Herald Square is Golf & Body NYC, which features state-of-the-art methods and machinery for enhancing performance on and off the course. Leading its staff of expert trainers is Ben Shear, who also works with a number of PGA Tour pros. Based on his years of experience with athletes at the top of their game, Shear has five off-season tips for the rest of us, including: eat and drink healthier; get a physical assessment; pursue an exercise program; change your mental outlook from focusing on each shot to end results; and determine your level of commitment.
Located halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, sits Reynolds Plantation, which for 25 years has lived up to its goal of being the ultimate golf resort community. Offering the same Southern hospitality and magnificent tree-lined beauty of Augusta National—but open to everyone—Reynolds Plantation has six courses, designed by some of the greatest names in golf architecture, from Nicklaus to Jones, Fazio to Cupp and Engh. In the last few years, the courses have undergone minor tweaks and some major re-construction, so the golf experiences at Reynolds showcase more variety, challenge, and joy than ever. Along with the unmatched collection of gorgeous golf holes is a dizzying array of recreational activities centered around Lake Oconee, the state’s second largest lake.
When Royal Isabela, the spectacular destination resort in northwestern Puerto Rico, opened two years ago, it immediately won the hearts of golfers for its spectacular golf course. Not to take anything away from the dramatic links, but Royal Isabela will also win the hearts of lovers looking for a secluded romantic getaway and personalized service for Valentine’s Day, honeymoons, or just an escape. New vacation packages include accommodations in the 20 free-standing “casitas,” each with extensive outdoor patio space, private plunge pool, and horizon-vast ocean views. Also included is fine dining in the resort’s farm-to-table restaurant, plus other amenities.
Sometimes it seems that golf courses are ranked by sadistic circus clowns. How else to explain that the historic Gold Course at Colonial Williamsburg’s Golden Horseshoe Golf Club could be listed among “America’s Toughest Courses” as well as “America’s Most Fun”? It’s just that special a place. The Robert Trent Jones original—which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013—has withstood the test of time, no matter who plays it or rates it. Many great golf courses have come along since 1963, but this timeless gem remains “The Gold Standard,” a challenging layout in a beautiful setting that every golfer is sure to enjoy.
Michelle Xie is just one example of how the Junior Tour of Northern California, sponsored by Capital Insurance Group® (CIG), has become one of the premier regional golf organizations on the West Coast. The 15-year-old JTNC product from Palo Alto won the 2013 Jr. Girls State Championship; teamed with veteran Tour pro Kirk Triplett to win the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, a nationally televised Champions Tour pro-am; and then led her high school team to the state championships, winning the section and NorCal individual titles along the way. And she’s the first to admit that she couldn’t have done any of it without the lessons she learned competing on JTNC.
Not many resorts in America can claim to provide perfect snow conditions for the winter recreation season without seeing a weather forecast!  But Wintergreen Resort in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains has that kind of power … SnowPower, that is.  Wintergreen’s fully automated snowmaking system – one of the most advanced in the world – can create a perfect snowstorm with the click of a button, guaranteeing the Mid-Atlantic’s best skiing, snowboarding, and tubing surfaces.
What’s the big fashion story going to be in the new year? It’s no cover up: It’s sweaters! According to Cutter & Buck corporate national sales manager Joel Freet, the company has tripled its sweater selections for 2014 to answer the booming demand. “It’s a more traditional look and works great over classic pattern shirts. You could say it’s a generational shift.” Freet also advises looking to the workplace, where people are beginning to dress up a bit. “We’re especially seeing a return to classic men’s wear patterns in sportswear. Watch for classic Tattersall and smaller-sized Ginghams, and they’re turning up in more interesting ways.”
To be truly successful at golf, the world’s best players get joined at the hip to their instructors. That same level of commitment is trickling down to everyday golfers, who are signing up for long-term coaching programs that go way beyond the occasional lesson. Leading this evolution from “teaching” to “coaching” is Proponent Group, which provides its membership—the game’s leading instructors—with best practices in business and education. In the coming year, look for more golf instructors to leave the security of private-club jobs for their own companies and academies, where they can devote themselves to coaching their students in swing mechanics, proper practice, course management, and the skills one really needs to shoot lower scores.
We all can’t be Craig Stadler: The rest of us need to keep our weight down and our bodies in shape to play our best golf. Omni La Costa Resort & Spa has found a surefire way to get healthier and play better golf by teaming the golf pros at its TOURAcademy with the trainers at the on-site Premier Fitness Camp. Together, they can develop a personalized wellness program that will be both life- and game-changing.

For more than 25 years, LINKS Magazine has been the high-quality alternative to the idea that one magazine fits all golfers. In 2014, LINKS takes its coverage to another level with a series of digital magazines, called “HotLINKS,” that will cover tournaments, travel, technology, and more. LINKS is also putting more resources and creativity into its website, apps across a number of platforms, and a host of custom publishing projects. 

Long known for its famous former mayor (make his day), its unparalleled white-sand beaches, and charming downtown, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers something else not enough people know about –the ideal location for small corporate conferences. The newly formed Carmel Hospitality Improvement District – a joint effort of the City of Carmel, Carmel Chamber of Commerce, and Carmel Innkeepers Association – wants small and mid-size companies to know all about the town’s myriad attractions and events, plus its unique lodging properties and meeting venues (perfect for groups 10 to 250). “Sure thing, boss, I can clear my schedule for that meeting you’re planning in Carmel!”