I have the target in my sights.
I try to remain focused, steady, relaxed. I pull the trigger.
Another miss. Kind of like the golf I played earlier that morning at Mossy Oak Golf Club, the new Gil Hanse course in West Point in rural Mississippi.
I'm shooting sporting clays over a pond at the Orvis Shooting School at Prairie Wildlife, a nature preserve just minutes from the course. I find it kind of ironic that I never had any experience shooting a gun until I started visiting top golf resorts around the country as a golf writer. Who would have thought golf and guns were a perfect match?
Both playing golf and shooting guns/hunting are great ways to fall in love with the outdoors. Many of the best golf resorts offer gun clubs, shooting ranges and/or hunting experiences. Dozens of premier private clubs - Bluejack National and Cordillera Ranch in Texas and Brays Island Plantation Golf Club in South Carolina, for example - do as well. The partnership between Prairie Wildlife and Mossy Oak came about because the owners of each are cousins. Family ties have made Prairie Wildlife another amenity of the "resort", which includes stay-and-play accommodations at the semiprivate Old Waverly Golf Club across the street from Mossy Oak.
"Guys are less and less into 36 holes a day," said Chris Jeter, the director of golf at Mossy Oak and Old Waverly. "It makes sense to do packages (with both golf and guns)."
Golf and shooting provide similar challenges. They require good aim, precision, confidence, proper technique, etc. They're also a great way to get a group together for some competitive fun.
"It is so much the same hand-eye coordination, whether it is sporting clays or bows (and arrows)," Jeter said. "You are going from hole to hole (in golf) and station to station (in shooting). It translates really well. The same skill sets are good for both."
Could a shooting experience be the ultimate adventure on your next buddies trip? Shooting takes less time than golf and costs less, too. It helps golf fatigue from dragging your group down. I'm guessing more golfers will be talking about what they shot on the gun range than their golf score at the final banquet. Rookies with no experience around guns need not fear. All the proper training and equipment (ear plugs, guns, safety glasses, etc.) will be provided by your guide.
I've found more than 40 golf resorts in five countries and 18 states where you can experience both golf and guns. Most of these resorts operate their own shooting schools, but a few are so close to nearby gun clubs/ranges that they advertise the connection on their websites. The top choices made my Deegan's Dozen, the best of the best in America. The rest are listed in alphabetical order by state with international destinations to follow.
Would you be interested in a shooting experience on your next golf trip? Why or why not? If you have tried it, what was your impression? Be sure to tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @golfadvisor.
Primland, Meadows of Dan, Va.
Golf: The Highland course is truly off the grid situated in the Blue Mountains, but the reward for the journey is a scenic mountain course kept in immaculate shape.
Guns: The resort, a member of the National Sporting Clays Association, has it all, including a mile-long shooting course with 14 stations, where clay targets, for example, simulate the flight path of game birds or rabbits skittering along the ground. Participants may walk or ride an RTV through the course. Five-stand incorporates the best of skeet, trap and sporting clays into a field game. Two parcours, European-style sporting clays, are also available on property. Guided shooting adventures hunt deer, turkeys, birds and more.
Streamsong Resort, Fort Meade, Fla.
Golf: We can debate all day which course is better: Red by Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw, Black by Gil Hanse, or Blue by Tom Doak. All three, cut from manmade dunes of the phosphate mines of central Florida, have changed the perception of what Florida golf is.
Guns: Located 15 minutes from the Lodge is Streamsong's 12-station sporting clays course. The setting is nice with a deck overlooking a lake. The target game is designed to simulate upland hunting and the flight path of game birds.
Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Ga.
Golf: Will you have enough time to play all the resorts courses and get a round of shooting in? That's the question. You've got to play the headliner, Great Waters, with a sampling of the others: The National (27 holes), the renamed Preserve (formerly Plantation), The Oconee and the Landing.
Guns: Named for the stream that flows into Lake Oconee, the 100-acre Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds debuted last year under the design direction of international shooting champion Justin Jones of Great Britain. It is quite versatile with a 20-station sporting clays course, a five-stand shooting range, a sporting clays instructional and games area, an air-rifle range and an archery range. Other outdoor activities include fishing, kayaking, canoeing and hiking.
Sea Island, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Golf: After the PGA Tour's RSM Classic this fall, the Plantation course will go under the knife as part of the resort's $25-million enhancement. The Seaside course best explores the scenic saltmarshes. The Retreat course plays third fiddle. The nearby King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort also sends guests to the shooting school.
Guns: Taking advantage of the secluded tidal marshes of the Lowcountry, this local private shooting school offers endless programming for all ages: Annie Oakley Shooting Hour for Ladies, Intro to Clay Target Shooting, Air Rifle Bull’s-Eye Hour for youngsters 12 and under; and archery and skeet, trap or five-stand sessions for experienced shooters.
Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, Mo.
Golf: The Top of the Rock Golf Course is such a good nine-hole par 3 course that it hosts a PGA Tour Champions tournament, along with Tom Fazio's Buffalo Ridge Springs course (formerly Branson Creek). The Gary Player Mountain Top Course , a 13-hole par 3, debuted in 2017. Payne's Valley (19 holes) and a par-3 "short course" by Tiger Woods are under construction.
Guns: The Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy is another reason why Big Cedar Lodge touts itself as the "American's Sportsman Lodge". Shooting disciplines, including ATA trap, wobble trap, American skeet and sporting clays, are available at this outdoor playground with a backdrop of Table Rock Lake and its own amphitheater.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pa.
Golf: The new Shepherd's Rock debuted in 2017, replacing the old links, but Golf Advisor reviews have been decidedly mixed. Pete Dye's Mystic Rock, former host of the 84 Lumber Classic, will always be the favorite.
Guns: Secluded in the Laurel Highlands Mountains, the 140-acre Nemacolin Field Club complex houses a top sporting clay facility and serves as the gateway to some fine fishing streams and creeks. Eight special shooting events are planned for 2018 at its 35-station course and two five-stand pavilions. Guided turkey and bird hunts are available.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
Golf: All the courses at the Greenbrier have been repaired and tweaked since the catastrophic flood in 2017, including the Old White TPC that hosts the Tour event, and The Meadows, which has six new holes after a redesign. The Greenbrier course, originally designed by Seth Raynor in 1924 and redone by Jack Nicklaus in 1978, will be completely redesigned by Phil Mickelson. The Oakhurst Links, the oldest nine-hole course in America, can be played with hickory clubs.
Guns: The Greenbrier's Gun Club wins for longevity, having formed in 1913. Lessons and target shooting are held atop Kate's Mountain at four combination trap and skeet fields and a 10-station sporting clays course.
The American Club, Kohler, Wis.
Golf: Walking the Straits Course at Whistling Straits, host of three PGA Championships and the 2020 Ryder Cup, remains one of my favorite experiences in golf. The River Course at Blackwolf Run, Irish Course at Whistling Straits and Meadow Valleys Course at Blackwolf Run are nearly just as compelling Pete Dye experiences.
Guns: River Wildlife, Kohler's private, members-only club, is available to resort guests who purchase an entry pass. The 500-acre wilderness preserve offers many adventures, including clay trap shooting, five-stand shooting, pheasant hunting, youth archery and youth air rifles.
Mission Inn Resort & Club, Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla.
Guns: The range at Mission Inn offers trap, where a single machine throws targets at five different stations, and skeet, where two machines throw targets as participants advance around stations arranged in a semi-circle pattern on the range.
Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C.
Golf: May River, a Lowcountry gem by Jack Nicklaus, headlines the dozens of courses just off of Hilton Head Island.
Guns: The Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club features 13 sporting clays stations winding through 40 acres of forest. An elevated and covered five-stand station, plus a wobble deck field, total up 14 shooting sites.
Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Va.
Guns: The historic Homestead Shooting Club, dating to 1933, hosted the first-ever U.S. Open Sporting Clays Championship in 1992. A mile of wooded courses, four skeet fields, two sporting clay courses and trap and five-stand courses simulate all types of game birds and rabbits.
Lajitas Golf Resort, Lajitas, Texas
Golf: Lanny Watkins took a course ravaged by flooding and built the wildly scenic Black Jack's Crossings in 2011. A wild ride of elevation changes challenges players.
Guns: Since it's in Texas, Lajitas goes above and beyond the usual five-stand sporting clay shoot. A Cowboy Action Shoot sends gunslingers walking through the Old West town of Stargazer Springs, shooting a single-action pistol, a side-by-side shot-gun and a lever-action rifle at various targets. Are you tough enough for combat training? It's similar to what a soldier might experience in boot camp.
Pursell Farms/Farmlinks, Sylacauga
Guns: The Orvis Shooting Grounds at Pursell Farms sports a 12-station sporting clays course and five-stand at the base of Chalybeate Mountain.
Multiple Scottsdale resorts
Golf: Too many courses to mention, so here's Mike Bailey's 10 favorite local courses.
Guns: Numerous high-end golf hotels in Phoenix/Scottsdale work with Desert Wolf Tours, where you can go into the desert and shoot rifles, AK47s and handguns at targets. I had a blast (pun intended) on the excursion in 2012.
Barnsley Resort, Adairsville
Golf: Barnsley Resort.
Guns: The SpringBank Sporting Club offers shooting over ponds on 14 stations on the wooded Mine Course and in an open field on the 12-station Rock Course. A covered five-stand offers seven trap presentations over another bauxite mine pond.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Golf: Manele Golf Course.
Guns: In 2016, this lux resort began offering upland escapes to the forest to take aim for clay shooting on a 14-station course, five-stand and an eight-station archery adventure at the Lanai Archery and Shooting Range.
Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley
Guns: The Sun Valley Gun Club, one of the premier facilities in the Rocky Mountain west, sells trap, double trap, wobble trap, skeet, duck tower, five-stand and sporting clays.
Coeur d’Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene
Guns: Guided and non-guided hunting, bird hunting, sporting clays and dog training are options at the Double Barrel Ranch located less than 30 minutes from the resort.
French Lick Resort
Golf: The Pete Dye Course sits atop some of the highest ground of Indiana and provides a stern test, while the century-old Ross Course, host of the 1924 PGA Championship, is one of the best you can play in the architect's portfolio.
Guns: The 73-acre shooting range features clay targets using various elevations, distances and trajectories. It's a particularly popular draw for groups or conferences staying at the West Baden Springs ore French Lick Springs hotels.
Mossy Oak/Old Waverly, West Point
Guns: Prairie Wildlife, where I tested my skills in the fall of 2016, also offers an Orvis fly-fishing school, hunting, horseback riding and off-road driving in LandRovers.
Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg
Guns: The new Clay and Oak Sporting Club at Clove Spring Range resides 15 minutes away in Wantage. Its trap and skeet range is surrounded by historical dairy farms, meandering brooks, old-wood forest and secret fishing holes.
Turning Stone Golf Resort, Verona
Guns: Turning Stone offers hunting packages on its private, tribal preserve, not an actual shooting school/gun range.
Silvies Valley Ranch, Burns
Guns: When I visited Silvies last summer, the Pistolero Range was just finishing construction. I wouldn't have lasted long in the Old West, as I'm more accurate with a nine iron than a "Peacemaker". A Rifleman Range, featuring Western-style offhand shooting, with a variety of firearm options, and a Sharp Shooter Range, simulating long-range buffalo hunter-style shooting, are two other options. In between shots, you can test your martial arts skills by throwing a 'ninja' star.
Pocono Manor Resort & Spa, Pocono Manor
Golf: East course.
Guns: Trap shooting, archery, five-stand and BB guns are all options through Manor Sports.
National Shooting Complex, San Antonio
Guns: Both the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio tout their location near the National Shooting Complex, a 671-acre multi-million-dollar complex considered one of the most complete sport shooting and recreational facilities in the world. Open public shooting on Thursday and Saturdays includes sporting clays, trap, skeet, five-stand and bunker trap.
The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, Manchester Village
Golf: The Golf Club at Equinox.
Guns: This Orvis Shooting School is seasonal, available with one or two-day sessions from mid-July to mid-October.
Guns: Go old-school by firing reproduction 18th-century firearms at the Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range. Participants ages 14-and-older (ages 14-17 must be with an adult) will fire two different flintlock firearms commonly used during the Revolutionary War period and learn some of their history.
Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center, Davis
Golf: Canaan Valley.
Guns: This resort only operates its clay-pigeon shooting range from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays until mid-November when it closes for the winter.
Casa de Campo, La Romana, Dominican Republic
Guns: This 245-acre Shooting Center is the most comprehensive in the Caribbean with more than 200 stations for sporting clays, not to mention trap and skeet shooting, plus the main feature, a 110-foot tower that projects sporting clays into the air.
Fox Harb'r Golf Resort & Spa, Wallace, Nova Scotia, Canada
Guns: After conquering the 24 stations of the sporting clays or the shorter five-stand course, guests can unwind in the impressive post-and-beam Sporting Lodge, relaxing with a drink and savoring the warmth emanating from the stone fireplace.
Dromoland Castle, Newmarket On Fergus, Ireland
Golf: Dromoland Castle.
Guns: Dromoland Clay Pigeon Shooting offers year-round international sporting trap shooting on the gorgeous estate of the castle in southwest Ireland near the Shannon Airport.
Trump International Golf Links Ireland, Doonbeg, Ireland
Guns: Clay-pigeon shooting takes a back seat to the links of southwest Ireland, but it is an option at Doonbeg.
Mount Falcon Estate, Ballina, Ireland
Guns: Although there's only a driving range on property, this is one of Ireland's best golf "resorts" thanks to such beautiful grounds and Irish hospitality. Take aim on the clay shooting range or for archery.
Slieve Russell Hotel Golf & Country Club, Ballyconnell, Ireland
Guns: The resort promotes the action at ODD (Out-Doors & Dirty), a gamepark outside Ballyconnell home to off-road buggies, solo hovercrafting, dragster carts and clay pigeon shooting.
Castlemartyr Resort, County Cork, Ireland
Golf: Castlemartyr Golf Club.
Guns: Guests who want to organize archery or laser-clay pigeon must prebook prior to the stay.
Adare Manor, Adare, Ireland
Golf: Adare Manor.
Guns: The Adare Manor concierge can set up excursions with Mulberry Shoot, a bird-hunting experience about an hour away that runs from September through February. After the hunt, savor a traditional meal and wines served in the Keeper’s Cottage, which is fully furnished with antiques collected by the owners over the years.
Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort, Waterford, Ireland
Golf: Waterford Castle Golf Club.
Guns: Mick, the Irish guide, will bring laughter and energy to every clay pigeon shooting adventure.
The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland
Guns: True to the resort, the 13-stand clay shooting course is first class. Air rifles, bird hunting and deer stalking are other alternatives. When I visited Gleneagles in 2016, I was so busy playing golf, visiting the spa and training gun dogs that I didn't get the chance to shoot.
Trump Turnberry Scotland, South Ayrshire, Scotland
Guns: Donald Trump has invested heavily in the Ailsa course and hotel. A clay shooting school and "all-weather" rifle target shooting facility provide alternatives for entertainment.
Cameron House, Loch Lomond, Scotland
Guns: Anyone for clay pigeon shooting on the banks of Loch Lomond? It sounds sublime.
Old Course Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, St. Andrews, Scotland
Guns: The nearby Scottish Clay Shooting Centre, located in Leuchars 15 minutes from the hotel, is subject to availability. Lessons and stag or hen parties are available.
Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Heiton by Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Guns: The Roxburghe Shooting School of Excellence shares 500 acres with the hotel grounds beside the River Teviot. Packages can be bundled to feature clay pigeon shooting, archery, tomahawk throwing, air rifles, gun fitting and even spa treatments.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Air rifle shooting with Fyfe Off-Road is only available to large groups booked at the Fairmont St. Andrews in Scotland. More exotic locales like Real Club Valderrama in Spain and Kauri Cliffs Golf Club & Lodge and Cape Kidnappers Golf Course in New Zealand offer shooting experiences but weren't included.