Cigar Aficionado

Sea Island, Golf and Cigars

To fully appreciate the quality of the golf instruction at the Sea Island resort's Learning Center, on the southern coast of Georgia, go in early April. One week before the Masters, this place teems with PGA Tour players intent on honing their games through the personalized attention and a state-of-the-art practice facility awash in such things as lasers (for putting), radar-based monitors (for determining launch angles), massive short game areas, club fitters and video analysis. One practice green is even surrounded by a marsh to replicate high-stress conditions.

Of course, if you'd like to forgo simulated anxiety and simply whittle strokes off your 25 handicap while enjoying world-class amenities at an island resort, you can come any time of year. The 149-room Cloister Hotel and Beach Club was recently rebuilt with loving attention to its 80-year heritage. Its Spanish Lounge, for example, was dismantled piece by piece and restored in the new building. Guest rooms are tricked out with period furniture and Turkish and stone baths. Sea Island's Lodge offers clubby accommodations with butler service and the cigar-friendly veranda at the Oak Room restaurant. The Cloister has its own cigar area (pictured), where a white-jacketed attendant will greet you with the question: "Would you prefer a V-cut or a straight cut, sir?"

The eight dining choices include the elegant Colt & Alison and the Georgian Room (with its private dining room option) and the more casual Beach Club and Davis Love Grill. Should you tire of golfing on Sea Island's three courses, plenty of other activities await, such as tennis, shooting, horseback riding, boating and fishing, and enjoying the five miles of private beach, accessible from the Beach Club.

If you come with children in tow, you can plug them into the ample activities for the young set and make your way back to the links, where the quality and quantity of golf pros are phenomenal. A few lucky golf academies around the country can boast one big-name instructor—a Top 100 teacher who is no stranger to Golf Digest or the Golf Channel. Sea Island doesn't have one such teacher—it has three. What's more, while most golf academies' B-level instructors tend to be 20-something kids with a lot of game but little teaching experience, at Sea Island you'll find teachers who would be a Dream Team of their own at any other resort, making it fantastic for Sunday swingers as well as scratch golfers. Visit