Archive for October, 2012

Scariest hole in golf? One magazine says No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass

In the spirit of Halloween, LINKS Magazine recently selected its 10 scariest holes in golf.

There are some truly terrifying shots on the list, from Pebble Beach to Pine Valley to Scotland, but they all trail the iconic island-green 17th hole at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach — the scariest hole in the game according to the magazine.

I can't argue. I first played the Stadium Course in 2010 and, well, let's just say I didn't find the green with my first shot at 17. Not sure my second ball survived, either. All I remember is the short iron feeling like a 2-by-4 at the top of my backswing.

That's the beauty of the 17th. The hole is not long at 137 yards from the pro tees, and the green is bigger than most at TPC Sawgrass. If the water were sand, there wouldn't be 120,000 balls missing the green every year.

Of course, some other "ifs" at 17 include "if I had just taken one more club" and "if only the wind hadn't kicked up at the last second."

If the definition of a scary golf hole is one that has your attention from the moment you book the tee time, then the 17th is a worthy top pick.

What's the scariest hole you have played? Tell us on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

Continue reading Scariest hole in golf? One magazine says No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass »

Five Florida Stops Included on 2013 PGA Tour Schedule

Are you ready for more Tiger, Rory and Phil? The 2013 PGA Tour schedule is out, with its five familiar Florida stops on the docket again, ready to welcome the best in the game.

Got your calendar handy? Here they are:

Continue reading Five Florida Stops Included on 2013 PGA Tour Schedule »

Save on 2013 Players Pass at LPGA Int’l in Daytona Beach

If you're a frequent player at specific courses, now's a good time to start scouting discount cards for 2013. Courses are happy to sign you up early at a discount now in exchange for your business in a few months.

One example is the Players Pass at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, home of two excellent courses in the Champions and Legends.

The Players Pass — formerly known as the Champions Club — immediately offers 25 percent off the "rack" rate anytime, and once you play five rounds the sixth is free. (And your rounds are tracked in the pro shop, no need to remember yourself.) Also included is the GHIN handicap service, so you can maintain your official handicap — and hopefully watch it go south as the year continues.

If you arrived on Jan. 1, 2013, at the club and wanted to buy the pass it would be $259. But acting before Oct. 31 pays off big — it's $159. Or $179 in November, still a nice savings. But act now for a great deal at a pro-caliber facility, just off I-95 in Daytona Beach.

For more information, call 386-274-5742.

More deals

Bay Point Resort Golf Club in Panama City Beach, with two courses in the Nicklaus and the Meadows, is offering a six-pack special valid through March 31, 2013. Buy six rounds for $239 and play either course with a cart at any time on any day, with a seven-day advance booking window. Two passes per day may be used, so the pack can be shared. For more information or to order, go to baypointgolf.com and click on the Winter Specials tab.

TPC Sawgrass and the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach have a stay-and-play from Nov. 22-Jan. 31, 2013 that includes two nights accommodations and two rounds (on the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course) plus a free third night at the hotel and a free arrival round (after 2 p.m.) on Dye’s Valley. A TPC Sawgrass welcome gift is included. Rates start at $599 for a standard room, villas are extra and weekend golf surcharges may apply. Guests must arrive before Jan. 28. For more information, call 866-605-3544 or visit TPC.com.

MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando, a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed course, can be played for $35 (cart included) on October weekdays, a savings of $20. Find it by booking through the course's website.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, featuring Naples' first 18-hole golf course and the only resort in town with the golf course on-site, on the beach, has a buy two nights-get one free special from Oct. 21-31. For more information or for reservations, call 800-237-7600 or 239-261-2222 and ask for the “3rd Night Free Promotion.”

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples has a special running through the end of the year at the hotel and on-site Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Golf Club. Packages start at $239 per night and include accommodations, one round at Tiburon including cart, club storage and tax, unlimited same-day golf (through Oct. 31) and complimentary TaylorMade club rental. For questions, call the Ritz-Carlton’s golf department at 239-254-3340.

World Woods Golf Club, about 60 miles north of Tampa in Brooksville, has deals on villas in October starting at $79 per person, based on quad occupancy between Sunday and Wednesday nights. The two-day, one-night golf package includes two rounds, range balls and a package lunch. A full non-refundable payment is due at the time of booking. Call Susan Burkel at 352-796-5500 ext. 22 to make reservations.

The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club in St. Augustine is offering a coupon book with $500 in savings for visitors through Dec. 30. Discounts can be used at the World Golf Hall of Fame, PGA Tour Golf Academy and Tour Stop store, plus on food, merchandise and club rentals at the King & Bear and Slammer & Squire golf courses. Call 888-740-7020 or visit the resort’s website for more information and special hotel rates for October and November.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is offering "The Raven Experience" featuring two rounds of golf including one on its acclaimed Raven course. Among the extras in the package are free day-of-play replay rounds. Packages start at $165 per person, per night, through Oct. 31. Call 855-240-3515 and mention code "DM4GLF."

What's your next golf getaway? Tell us on our Facebook page or drop a line on Twitter.

Continue reading Save on 2013 Players Pass at LPGA Int’l in Daytona Beach »

South Florida Icon Dan Marino’s Favorite Florida Courses

There aren't too many icons in South Florida bigger than Dan Marino. The Miami Dolphins quarterback was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2005 and has remained an active part of the community since his 1980s playing days.

He's especially active on Florida golf courses, where he carries a 3 handicap and walks the fairways with other great athletes including PGA Tour pros.

When he talks about his favorite places to play, I'm interested. He did that in a recent issue of Men's Journal, spotlighting several great private courses and two notable courses that anyone can play.

His two favorite public access courses are:

TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach: Coming to Northeast Florida is special for Marino because his son, Joey, plays for the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Marino loves the Stadium Course but knows it's as punishing as a Pro Bowl middle linebacker — and he might not be a 3 handicap if it was his everyday course.

Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Jim McLean Signature Course
, Miami: Do you have a course that's a sentimental favorite for one magical shot? For Marino, that's this Miami course, where he made a double eagle early in his golf career. I wouldn't forget that, either!

What do you think of Marino's choices? Played any of them? Tell me on Twitter or Facebook.

Continue reading South Florida Icon Dan Marino’s Favorite Florida Courses »

Two Courses to Test You at the Excellent Tiburon Golf Club in Naples

On a recent golf trip I visited the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples and marveled at its luxury, amenities and straight-out-the-back-door proximity to Tiburon Golf Club.

Given that the Resort sets the bar so high, does Tiburon hold up its end of the deal as a golf centerpiece?

Without question, yes.

Guests of the Ritz-Carlton have access to all of Tiburon’s amenities, the newest being a TaylorMade Performance Lab, one of only three in Florida. The Lab dissects every part of a golf swing through computer imaging in a unique fitting experience, and users can apply that information to new TaylorMade clubs built on-site.

Teaching facilities are top-notch and the clubhouse is memorable, from a gigantic pro shop to Sydney’s Pub, a prime lunch spot.

But the golf courses, of course, are the stars of the show, and the simply named Gold and Black are terrific. The Gold hosts the Franklin Templeton Shootout every winter, hosted by Tiburon designer Greg Norman, while the Black was named 17th-best among Florida public courses by Golf Magazine this year.

Both courses test your brain as well as your swing, but staff and members at Tiburon will tell you the Black demands just a bit more from your game. I agree – if I only had time for one round on a visit (heaven forbid!) I’d tee it up on the Black. The course is shorter than the Gold by some 200 yards from the championship and the back tees, so length isn’t a primary factor in success. Accuracy off the tee is job one, and a well-struck fairway wood or hybrid can be enough to set up the approach on most par 4s.

Anything well off the mark will find woods, water or waste areas – there’s no rough at Tiburon to gobble up errant shots. Instead a lush carpet greets you on every hole, all the way through the green. If you’re a little yippy with short chips, Tiburon is especially inviting. All day long you can putt from well off the surface with confidence as the closely mown areas roll splendidly.

Three cool holes

No. 2, 436-yard par 4: The No. 1 handicap comes early and requires a drive down the middle or a shade right to attack a green protected by water on the right.

No. 8, 345-yard par 4: Most visitors will play this hole from 282-yard tees and be very tempted to attack the green despite a pond fronting it. Resist the temptation.

No. 9, 581-yard par 4: If you want to get home in two shots here (501 yards from the second and third tee boxes) you’ll have to carry a pond in front of the green. Short of the water is a 100-yard-long waste bunker.
 

Continue reading Two Courses to Test You at the Excellent Tiburon Golf Club in Naples »

Friday Deals: Panama City Beach’s Bay Point Resort Offers Winter Six-Pack

Perhaps you’re one of those golfers who stocks up for the season with extra balls, tees, hats, beer, whatever.

At Bay Point Resort Golf Club in Panama City Beach, you can stock up on rounds, too.

Bay Point, home of two excellent courses in the Nicklaus and the Meadows, is offering a six-pack special valid through March 31, 2013. Buy six rounds for $239 and play either course with a cart at any time on any day, with a seven-day advance booking window.

Two passes a day can be used, so the six-pack is a good thing to share with a spouse or friend. And at $239, or just under $40 a round, that’s a savings off the regular rates. Smart!

For more information or to order, go to baypointgolf.com and click on the Winter Specials tab.

More deals

TPC Sawgrass and the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach have a stay-and-play from Nov. 22-Jan. 31, 2013 that includes two nights accommodations and two rounds (on the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course) plus a free third night at the hotel and a free arrival round (after 2 p.m.) on Dye’s Valley. A TPC Sawgrass welcome gift is included. Rates start at $599 for a standard room, villas are extra and weekend golf surcharges may apply. Guests must arrive before Jan. 28. For more information, call 866-605-3544 or visit TPC.com.

MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando, a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed course, can be played for $35 (cart included) on October weekdays, a savings of $20. Find it by booking through the course's website.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, featuring Naples' first 18-hole golf course and the only resort in town with the golf course on-site, on the beach, has a buy two nights-get one free special from Oct. 21-31. For more information or for reservations, call 800-237-7600 or 239-261-2222 and ask for the “3rd Night Free Promotion.”

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples has a special running through the end of the year at the hotel and on-site Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Golf Club. Packages start at $239 per night and include accommodations, one round at Tiburon including cart, club storage and tax, unlimited same-day golf (through Oct. 31) and complimentary TaylorMade club rental. For questions, call the Ritz-Carlton’s golf department at 239-254-3340.

World Woods Golf Club, about 60 miles north of Tampa in Brooksville, has deals on villas in October starting at $79 per person, based on quad occupancy between Sunday and Wednesday nights. The two-day, one-night golf package includes two rounds, range balls and a package lunch. A full non-refundable payment is due at the time of booking. Call Susan Burkel at 352-796-5500 ext. 22 to make reservations.

The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club in St. Augustine is offering a coupon book with $500 in savings for visitors through Dec. 30. Discounts can be used at the World Golf Hall of Fame, PGA Tour Golf Academy and Tour Stop store, plus on food, merchandise and club rentals at the King & Bear and Slammer & Squire golf courses. Call 888-740-7020 or visit the resort’s website for more information and special hotel rates for October and November.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is offering "The Raven Experience" featuring two rounds of golf including one on its acclaimed Raven course. Among the extras in the package are free day-of-play replay rounds. Packages start at $165 per person, per night, through Oct. 31. Call 855-240-3515 and mention code "DM4GLF."

What's your next golf getaway? Tell us on our Facebook page or drop a line on Twitter.

Continue reading Friday Deals: Panama City Beach’s Bay Point Resort Offers Winter Six-Pack »

Naples’ Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Offers Luxury and Incomparable Convenience

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Want to know one of the definitions of golf vacation bliss? I arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, on a Monday, handed the car keys to the valet and didn’t see another wheel outside of my golf cart until two days and 36 holes later.

Or, in short, I had arrived at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.

The Ritz-Carlton name is one of the world’s most reliable for impeccable accommodations and service, but its Golf Resort in Naples ups the ante with immediate access to Greg Norman’s 36-hole masterpiece, Tiburon.

Tiburon’s Black Course was named 17th-best among Florida public courses by Golf Magazine this year, while its Gold Course has a pro pedigree as host of the annual Franklin Templeton Shootout. Both courses are a joy, set in native woods with wall-to-wall pristine turf—there’s no rough, allowing for unique shotmaking opportunities around the greens

You could just about throw a golf ball from the balcony of a golf-view room and hit the 18th hole of the Gold Course, that’s how convenient the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort is. If you’ve taken shuttles from golf resort hotels to their courses or have driven yourself, you’ll appreciate such immediacy to the tee, the practice facilities or the other golf amenities such as the TaylorMade Performance Lab—the only one in Southwest Florida.

When not on the golf course, a large massage and fitness center, or the pool, awaits. If you don’t want to get in the water, at least hang out at the Poolside Grill for lunch. If the kids are in tow, there’s an inviting playground and a children’s program called Eye Wonders on the weekend where children from 5 to 11 can enjoy hands-on activities and science-based experiments (and the parents can then go play more golf).

If you want to explore a little, or take in those warm Gulf waters, the Ritz-Carlton has you covered with its flagship Naples hotel. Complimentary shuttles run down Vanderbilt Beach Road to the beachside hotel all day—shoot over for a meal, a spa treatment or a walk on the beach, the perfect cool-downs from a round of golf.

I didn’t get to explore the beach hotel on this visit—too much golf was on tap in two fast days—but hopefully next time. For this trip, I had everything I wanted in one place.
 

Continue reading Naples’ Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Offers Luxury and Incomparable Convenience »

Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass Welcoming Web.com Tour Pros

One of the guilty pleasures of golf fandom is watching The PLAYERS Championship every May, where the stars of the PGA Tour frequently find their hands full on the tough TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course.

But that’s not the only course at in Ponte Vedra Beach that torments pros. This week, TPC Sawgrass’ younger course takes on the (mostly) younger pros of the Web.com Tour.

The Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open is Thursday through Sunday at the Dye’s Valley Course, which poses its own challenges.

Dye’s Valley has water in play on nearly every hole and gnarly Bermuda rough that can eat a ball that’s just inches off the fairway. It’s not uncommon for amateurs playing the course to lose balls despite seeing them enter the rough.

There’s no island-green par 3 but Dye’s Valley features the 227-yard par-3 11th hole, perhaps the hardest one-shotter on either course with water all the way down the right side and behind the green.

Last year’s winner, Gavin Coles, shot 6 under for four rounds. Granted, Dye’s Valley plays to a par 70 for the pros (it’s a par 72 the rest of the year), but it’s rare for winning scores on the tough Web.com Tour to be that high.

Want to see for yourself? Each round of tournament is on Golf Channel from 2-5 p.m. ET.

Continue reading Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass Welcoming Web.com Tour Pros »

Friday deals: A winter special at world-famous TPC Sawgrass

When I’m not playing golf on the road for VISIT FLORIDA, I’m teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass, my home course.

During the winter and spring months I often play with tourists, and in talking to them about their vacations, many will say they’re on a stay-and-play at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa.

It’s the best way to take in the world-famous Stadium Course, home of the PGA Tour's PLAYERS Championship, and anyone itching to get to Ponte Vedra Beach soon may want to jump on TPC Sawgrass’ latest deal.

From Nov. 22-Jan. 31, 2013, TPC Sawgrass has a winter special of two nights at the Sawgrass Marriott and two rounds (on the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course, an underrated gem) that includes a free third night at the hotel and a free arrival round (after 2 p.m.) on Dye’s Valley. A TPC Sawgrass welcome gift is included.

Rates start at $599 for a standard room, villas are extra and weekend golf surcharges may apply. Guests must arrive before Jan. 28.

Considering a la carte golf at both courses would total more than $500, this is a great deal. A number of tee times are blocked every day for Sawgrass Marriott guests, so these deals are the best path onto the fairways at TPC Sawgrass.

For more information, call 866-605-3544 or visit TPC.com. Book sooner than later if you’re interested; these packages sell quickly. Maybe I’ll see you on the course.

More deals

MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando, a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed course, can be played for $35 (cart included) on October weekdays, a savings of $20. Find it by booking through the course's website.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, featuring Naples' first 18-hole golf course and the only resort in town with the golf course on-site, on the beach, has a buy two nights-get one free special from Oct. 21-31. For more information or for reservations, call 800-237-7600 or 239-261-2222 and ask for the “3rd Night Free Promotion.”

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples has a special running through the end of the year at the hotel and on-site Greg Norman-designed Tiburon Golf Club. Packages start at $239 per night and include accommodations, one round at Tiburon including cart, club storage and tax, unlimited same-day golf (through Oct. 31) and complimentary TaylorMade club rental. For questions, call the Ritz-Carlton’s golf department at 239-254-3340.

World Woods Golf Club, some 60 miles north of Tampa in Brooksville, has deals on villas in October starting at $79 per person, based on quad occupancy between Sunday and Wednesday nights. The two-day, one-night golf package includes two rounds, range balls and a package lunch. A full non-refundable payment is due at the time of booking. Call Susan Burkel at 352-796-5500 ext. 22 to make reservations.

The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort and Beach Club in St. Augustine is offering a coupon book with $500 in savings for visitors through Dec. 30. Discounts can be used at the World Golf Hall of Fame, PGA Tour Golf Academy and Tour Stop store, plus on food, merchandise and club rentals at the King & Bear and Slammer & Squire golf courses. Call 888-740-7020 or visit the resort’s website for more information and special hotel rates for October and November.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is offering "The Raven Experience" featuring two rounds of golf including one on its acclaimed Raven course. Among the extras in the package are free day-of-play replay rounds. Packages start at $165 per person, per night, through Oct. 31. Call 855-240-3515 and mention code "DM4GLF."

What's your next golf getaway? Tell us on our Facebook page or drop a line on Twitter.

Continue reading Friday deals: A winter special at world-famous TPC Sawgrass »

TPC Tampa Bay praised by the pros, for good reason

For two decades, the stars of the Champions Tour have visited TPC Tampa Bay. To a man they say it’s one of the best courses they see all year.

When your golf travels include west-central Florida, you can see what the pros mean.

TPC Tampa Bay is one of the top public tracks in the national TPC network, which of course in Florida is headlined by TPC Sawgrass. Tampa’s course (actually it's in golf-rich Lutz, about 20 miles north of downtown) is designed in the same stadium style, with spectator mounds framing each hole.

To succeed on the par-71 layout (6,898 yards from the tips), you have to leave the mounds to the annual April golf fans. Spend some extra time on the range working out the driver if necessary, because on the course it’s a must-have. Greens are generously sized at more than 6,400 square feet on average, but most are elevated and well-protected, so attacking from the fairway is key.

“Simply put, there is danger all over the golf course and the TPC Tampa Bay is not a venue that you can take lightly,” Champions Tour pro John Cook told PGATOUR.COM earlier this year.

The course winds through residential areas yet is also recognized as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, a certification reserved for courses maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in areas such as wildlife and habitat management. You can see deer, foxes, alligators, storks and other local residents around the wetlands and cypress heads.

On the day I played, the starter warned us not to veer far off the grass to hunt lost balls – and then showed us a photo on his phone of a four-foot snake he killed at his house a mile from the course. Point made.

Three cool holes

  • No. 4, 427-yard par-4: The first big driving test of the round; skirt the water down the right side for the best angle to the green.
  • No. 15, 452-yard par-4: Cook calls this one of the great holes all year on the Champions Tour, a long test that can be a beast into a crosswind. Par is a great score.
  • No. 17, 217-yard par-3: The target is a massive 11,000-square foot green, but the length demands a long iron or hybrid and there’s water along the way.

Continue reading TPC Tampa Bay praised by the pros, for good reason »