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Not every golfer can be a Tiger or a Phil, however even at the amateur or occasional-player level it’s always fun just to get out on the links for a few hours and swing away. Golf getaways are great, quick vacations that allow you to unwind on the course for a few hours and still leave enough time to explore the local sights, sounds and flavors of whatever location you choose to take your talents to. One of the great things about living in Southern California is accessibility of some of the country’s most beautiful courses in the most beautiful and interesting locales.

Here are three great golf trips just a few hours out of Southern California:

Auburn, California

Being one of the prime locations of the gold rush in the 1840s, Auburn is a northern California town with a wealth of history. Today, the city is still attracting prospectors, but the one of the treasures that many in the town are after is creating an experience worth remembering with great restaurants, outdoor adventures and one of California’s finest golf courses.

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The Dark Horse Golf Club is a course that runs through the winding valleys at the base of the Sierra Mountain range in Auburn. Marginal players will love the course with its elevated tee areas and generous fairways making the way for big drives, while more experienced players will appreciate the challenge brought by various trees and water hazards. Outside of golf, there are plenty of great activities including white water rafting in the American River as well as plenty of hiking throughout the picturesque area.

Napa, California

In Napa two great California traditions combine for one amazing weekend: wine and golf. While Napa has so many wineries that tours and tastings can get a little out of hand, there is one golf course that remains supreme in the area. Silverado Resort and Spa is home to two courses, both of which were redesigned by PGA Hall of Famer Johnny Miller, who also happens to own the facility. This year pros will be competing on the courses for the Frys.com Open from October 6 to 12, but any other time of the year the magnificent course is open to the public and provides a great game for players of all levels.

Monterey, California

While Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay have become meccas for local golf lovers, Monterey is home to another course with breathtaking views of the ocean and challenging greens. Pacific Grove Golf Link is a great course designed by Jack Neville, who also had a hand in the design of Pebble Beach. While the front nine of the course are somewhat unremarkable, the back nine are truly spectacular with views of the Bay and the cliffs above. In between rounds on the course, take in the local sea life from a whale watching excursion or peruse the shopping district in downtown Monterey.

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