Shave two strokes off your handicap in two days.
Hours From New York: 4
TYPE OF VACATION: Male Bonding
Many golf junkies try every new club looking for a soul mate, but with endless, ever-changing models that neither you nor the golf-shop guys understand, it’s hopeless. Pros customize their gear to maximize their swing, and so should you. The new TaylorMade Performance Lab, millions of R&D dollars in the making, is at Georgia’s Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, an easy drive from Atlanta. Step inside, put sensors all over your body, swing for an array of nasa-like cameras and computers, and let the PGA teaching pros punch up your perfect clubs. This is the same fitting Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen get, except they do it in a California warehouse, and you do it at Ritz-Carlton’s best golf resort, a lakefront lodge reminiscent of the Adirondacks, complete with a spa and five courses designed by Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones, and Bob Cupp. Adding the hotel, lab, and a new golf academy has quickly made Reynolds a marquee-destination golf resort (lab fitting, $400; package with lodging and one round of golf daily, from $675 per couple; 760-467-0600).
Rhode Island’s South Shore
Go bivalve bingeing at the source.
Hours From New York: 4
TYPE OF VACATION: Eating
For seafood fans, only a sandy beach day topped off with a shack meal properly celebrates summer. Some of the best bivalves and beaches are in the Victorian beach and port towns lining Rhode Island’s south shore, where clams are venerated and Narragansett Harbor narrows produce crisp, briny oysters—watch for Moonstone, Watch Hill, and Prudence Island varieties. Start with a wander around Watch Hill’s early-1900s ocean cottages, then drive north on Route 1A for Watch Hill oysters sold off the road on Saturdays from June through August at Tom’s Clam Stand. Bypass overdeveloped Misquamicut Beach’s carnival rides in favor of Charleston’s East Beach and pristine South Kingston town beach. Listen to rolling waves from your room at the Victorian Admiral Dewey Inn (401-783-2090; from $120) overlooking Matunuck Beach. Feast on juicy steamers and clam cakes (the doughy puff of clams and cornmeal, a Rhode Island specialty, originated here) at Aunt Carrie’s (401-783-7930). Cross a bridge to mile-wide Conanicut Island, boasting picturesque Jamestown, where Chopmist Charlie’s (401-423-1020) serves prize-winning seafood (try the clear-broth clam chowder), and the Jamestown Oyster Bar & Grill (401-423-3380) shucks the local finest. For enthusiasts, several Narragansett-area harvesters will let you wade through the shallows or watch shellfish farming by appointment; call Bob Rheault (401-783-3360) or Perry Raso (401-932-4946). Finish in Newport: Stay at the elegant Castle Hill Inn & Resort (401-849-3800) and have the spicy stuffed quahogs (“stuffies”) and littlenecks on the half-shell at Flo’s Clam Shack (401-847-8141).
See Broadway-caliber theater in bucolic surroundings.
Hours From New York: 2.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Female Bonding
Ivoryton, a small village in the lower Connecticut River Valley, is a stone’s throw from the Goodspeed Opera House and about as far from 42nd Street as you can get: You’ll see original productions (no touring shows here!) in a regal white Victorian playhouse. This summer, go for Singin’ in the Rain, which plays through July 1: a reworking of Twyla Tharp’s not-so-successful Broadway adaptation from the eighties, but this time going back to the original MGM movie’s story line (plus real rain onstage!). The Ivoryton Playhouse is the nation’s oldest summer-stock theater; this summer’s shows are A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Stay at the elegant Copper Beech Inn (from $195; 860-767-0330).