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Golfin’ & Racin’


As the race for the Nextel Cup heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway and Jimmie Johnson tries to hold off the competition for his first championship, race fans will be traveling to Florida from all parts of the country.

The race is the attraction, but thousands will also be looking for ways to enjoy their time in the days before and after the race. Many will bring along their golf clubs and hit the Country Club of Miami (www.miamidade.gov), located Just 39 miles from the track. The Robert Trent Jones design – a place Arnold Palmer served as its first professional – features 36 holes. Between the course and track are many hotels.

Miami isn’t the only place where golf is more than an afterthought. Victoria Hills Golf Club (www.stjoegolf.com) in DeLand, Fla., is a favorite stop in mid-February when NASCAR hits the Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500.

Tucked between Orlando and Daytona, and only 20 miles from the Speedway, Victoria Hills boasts more than 50 feet of elevation change and features rolling hills and wetlands. Recently named the No. 8 public access course in Florida by Golfweek, other accolades for Victoria Hills include “Top 10 You Can Play” (GOLF Magazine), “4-1/2 Stars” (Golf Digest), and “No. 2 Florida Course of the New Millennium” (T+L Golf).

While race fans crowded the Texas Motor Speedway for the Dickies 500 the first week of November, golfers flocked to Bear Creek (www.bearcreek-golf.com) near Dallas-Fort Worth Airport grounds. The 36-hole venue is 25 miles from the track. Bear Creek has been named among the "Top 50 Resort Courses in America" (Golf Digest) and one of the "10 Great Places to Golf" (The Wall Street Journal).

Designed by distinguished golf architect Ted Robinson, Bear Creek’s courses – both opened in 1980 – combine rolling North Texas terrain, stands of mature live oaks and its namesake waterway. Also on hand is an expansive practice facility.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail garners much of Alabama’s golfing attention, but the savvy Talladega Superspeedway fan makes the short drive to Twin Bridges Golf Club (The par-72 course – set along the Coosa Bend River – was designed by Gene Bates and challenges golfers of all skill levels. Twin Bridges has earned Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary Status by successfully integrating natural resource conservation with economic progress and community education.) 40 miles away in Gadsden. Whether it’s the Aaron’s 499 in May or the UAW-Ford 500 in October, golfers/race fans can enjoy Southern hospitality, fast greens and faster cars.

The par-72 course – set along the Coosa Bend River – was designed by Gene Bates and challenges golfers of all skill levels. Twin Bridges has earned Audubon International Silver Signature Sanctuary Status by successfully integrating natural resource conservation with economic progress and community education.

Like Talladega, the Pocono Raceway is visited twice a year by NASCAR – for the Pocono 500 in June and Pennsylvania 500 in July. Fans with a golf itch to scratch are overwhelmed with options as there are no fewer than five resort courses and a nine-hole layout within a 20-mile radius and more within an hour’s drive.

Visitors will discover golf’s great destination secret in the Pocono Mountains (www.poconosgolf.com), with golf courses designed by architects such as Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast and Jack Nicklaus. Whether looking for a championship course that challenges the most accomplished golfer or an affordable option for beginners, the Pocono Mountains have a fit for anyone.