Have you ever been to a boutique golf resort?
If not, I highly recommend you experience one.
With only, say, 12-100 rooms and usually one golf course, the vibe and experience are very different than what you're probably used to.
Like when people greet you warmly by your name?
And having a golf course entirely to yourself?
Again, at boutique golf resorts, it's not about getting thumbnail sketches of as many courses as possible.
It's about getting to know the nuances of one excellent golf course...while the highly attentive resort staff gets to know you and your preferences for a great golf vacation.
Here are my picks for 9 of the best boutique golf resorts east of the Mississippi (next week I'll cover the West)...
Barnsley Gardens Resort - Adairsville, Georgia
Set on the site of an antebellum manor with elaborate attendant gardens, Barnsley Gardens is secluded and special. A group of 65 on-site cottages give the resort a quiet, Southern village feel to complement the Jim Fazio-designed course.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge - Orlando, Florida
Despite its Orlando address, Bay Hill manages to be low-key enough to feel like a true escape. Thank Arnold Palmer for that - the King can often be found personally overseeing the operations of the place, ensuring guests' enjoyment of their stays.
FarmLinks at Pursell Farms - Sylacauga, Alabama
Each of the Hurdzan/Fry circa-2002 course's 18 holes features different strains of golf course grasses. Lodgings include the 8-suite Parker Lodge and a number of outlying cottages and cabins for groups of varying sizes. Other on-site activities include sporting clays shooting hunting for dove, duck, quail and turkey and fishing.
Gasparilla Inn - Boca Grande, Florida
Gasparilla is definitely a cure for the common Florida golf resort. The inn dates to 1913 and the course to 1928. About a decade ago, Pete Dye was asked to make some refinements to the layout and he roundly succeeded. Guests who wish to play the course need not reserve tee times.
Keswick Hall - Charlottesville, Virginia
Situated quite close to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home, Keswick is a stately boutique hotel set on 600 acres. The golf course is undergoing a complete renovation by Pete Dye (it's essentially a new course as only the routing remains the same) and will be ready for play late this summer.
Linville Golf Club/Eseeola Lodge - Linville, North Carolina
The golf course, a Donald Ross classic, dates to 1926. It sits above 3,800 feet, so expect some extra carry. More than half the adjacent Eseeola Lodge's guests are repeat visitors, a testament to both its quality and friendly environs.
May River Golf Club/Inn at Palmetto Bluff - Bluffton, South Carolina
Arguably the Lowcountry's most luxurious resort, Palmetto Bluff is quiet and pristine, with a stellar Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and numerous other activities and amenities to match.
Old Waverly Golf Club - High Point, Mississippi
The Bob Cupp-designed course hosted the 1999 U.S. Women's Open and has appeared on numerous "Top 100 Courses" lists since opening in 1990. An expert culinary staff and gracious accommodations in the form of cottages, villas and condos completes the scene.
Primland - Meadows of Dan, Virginia
With a Donald Steel-designed course set on top of a mountain with world-class dining, spa and lodgings, Primland is blissful seclusion personified, with a European feel thanks to the vision of its Swiss billionaire founder, Didier Primat. The Lodge, Fairway Cottages and Mountain Homes offer a range of accommodation options. There are no wrong answers.
What are your picks for best boutique golf resorts -- in the USA or around the world?
Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.