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Smoker's Heavens

Cigar Aficionado's well-traveled golf writer picks his favorite golf courses to smoke cigars in the United States and around the world
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Morgan Freeman, Mar/Apr 2005

(continued from page 3)

The Lodge at Sea Island is très upscale, with lovely rooms and a superb restaurant, Colt and Alison's. Cigar smokers can light up in both the Oak Bar (an homage to the Oak Bar at the Plaza Hotel in New York) and in the men's locker room. The Lodge has a cigar program, the goal of which is to provide a wide selection taken from Cigar Aficionado's lists of the top cigars. So if you are looking for a Fuente Fuente OpusX, a Fuente Short Story or a Padrón Anniversary, you are likely to find it here and be able to smoke it in an unencumbered environment. Whether with a beer in the locker room or a single-malt Scotch in the Oak Bar, cigar smoking at Sea Island comes guilt-free.

If you are fortunate enough to have an in at the Ocean Forest Club, you can also smoke in the locker room and the bar. The club has gone so far as to provide private humidors for its members and is completely cigar-friendly. And the golf's not half bad, either.

The 10th Green at Garden City Golf Club
It's really too bad that a New York State law enacted in 2003 forced cigar smoking out of the bar and lounge at the Garden City Golf Club. This was a very special place to smoke, if you knew a member and had an invite. Sure, you can smoke near the putting green now, sitting in a wooden armchair, and that's a very nice experience in its own right. But smoking in the old, creaky clubhouse was extremely satisfying and not a little charming.

Garden City Golf Club is an anachronism, a men's only club in the middle of a tony suburban town on Long Island, a quick drive from Manhattan. It has played a stellar role in golf in America, hosting the 1902 U.S. Open as well as U.S. Amateur and Walker Cup competitions. Its annual Walter Travis Invitational tournament for mid-amateur players is among the finest of its type in America, and an invitation to it is coveted.

The course has virtually the same routing as it did in 1897 when Walter Travis and Devereux Emmet designed it, and is very suggestive of the inland courses of the United Kingdom rather than the United States. Garden City is always a treat to play, and despite its rather tame appearance, it can be a stern test.

Since smoking on the course isn't prohibited, I'd suggest lighting one up as you leave the 10th green. A recent eradication of scruffy trees and bush has opened up a wide vista, and from the 10th tee it's possible to see all the way to the 16th tee, maybe three-quarters of a mile away. Garden City is a nifty, trapped-in-time, decidedly old-fashioned place that becomes more special hole by hole. And puff by puff, you can enjoy it even more.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Oregon
If the high and the mighty have their Pine Valleys and Augusta Nationals to retreat to, then the merely well-to-do have Bandon Dunes. Bandon Dunes, which is slated to open a third course on June 1, is America's truest linksland golf destination, perched on bluffs overlooking the Pacific on the southern coast of Oregon near the artsy town of Bandon. It's difficult to get to, but worth every ounce of effort.

Mike Keiser, the Chicago greeting card magnate, has created an ultimate male-bonding, macho-mystique, must-see, must-do golf eden on land that's just perfect for the game. (Women cheerfully admitted.) With courses by David McLay Kidd, Tom Doak and Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore, Bandon Dunes is nothing short of wonderment.

It's also ultra-cigar-friendly with two great gathering spots: the Bunker Bar and the immense outdoor fireplace outside of McKee's Pub. The Bunker Bar resembles a cozy rec room, with card tables, pool tables and thick leather chairs. It is so named for the pictures of famous bunkers from around the world. See how many you can name. The outdoor fireplace is ringed with teak chairs and log benches. There are patios outside all the public places in the Bandon Dunes complex, all cigar-friendly, all intimately part of the linksland that surrounds them. A wide range of high-end cigars is available throughout the property.

While Bandon Dunes is ideal for buddy trips, show up as a single and you will instantly be among friends. And should you be a cigar smoker, you will be in an atmosphere designed to please you.

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