Photo: Veterans Day

Built in 1925, the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg was taken over by the U.S. Army during World War II and used as a training center.

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The LPGA’s Best Returning to TwinEagles in Naples

There's still time in 2012 to see golf's greatest players in Florida.

From Nov. 15-18, the LPGA Tour concludes its season at the CME Group Titleholders at TwinEagles, an outstanding 36-hole golf community in Naples.

TwinEagles' Talon Course has hosted the ACE Group Classic for several years on the Champions Tour, with Kenny Perry winning the latest installment in February. The Eagle Course, designed by Steve Smyers, is the newer of the two layouts, a classical design meant to pay homage to some of the game's greatest architects. The "Smyers tees" on the Eagle play to over 7,600 yards.

If you haven't seen an LPGA event in person, check this one out. The field is compiled through a unique qualifying format where three players qualify from every LPGA event in 2012. In other words, the very best on the circuit are coming to Naples.

For ticket information and more, visit the LPGA's website.
 

Continue reading The LPGA’s Best Returning to TwinEagles in Naples »

Deerfield Country Club Hotel Rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton

A chocolate chip cookie and a tee time. If I’ve got at least that to look forward to on my travels, I’m set.

That’s now available at the DoubleTree by Hilton Deerfield Beach-Boca Raton, after a recent rebranding. Formerly known as the Hilton Deerfield Beach, the 220-room flagship hotel is located within range of three major South Florida airports (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Palm Beach and Miami International), situated just minutes from beaches and is an ideal vacation and business property.

"With the reflagging to a DoubleTree by Hilton, leisure and business travelers will find a new relaxed environment that is more fitting to this outstanding destination," General Manager Walter Chapman said. "The fresh and comfortable styles of DoubleTree by Hilton will be experienced throughout the property, from guest rooms to our meeting space."

The hotel is on the grounds of the Deerfield Country Club, a nearly 50-year-old par-63 short course that's perfect for multiple skill levels. It’s well-bunkered but not filled with many water hazards, and has three sets of tees.

Of course, the rebranding to DoubleTree means their famous warm chocolate chip cookies upon arrival. One just can’t underestimate how far a good cookie goes toward enjoying a hotel.

Continue reading Deerfield Country Club Hotel Rebranded as a DoubleTree by Hilton »

A Fernandina Beach-based Deal from Florida’s First Coast of Golf

If you're looking to put together a golf package in Northeast Florida, a good place to start is Florida's First Coast of Golf, a not-for-profit that exists to promote all the great golf from Amelia Island to Palm Coast and all points in between.

Bookmark their deals page and check it regularly for a variety of stay-and-plays. A good one right now is a four-night, three-round stay at Amelia Hotel at the Beach in Fernandina Beach.

The package, starting at $349, includes rounds at Queen's Harbour, Fernandina Beach and North Hampton.

Pricing is based on midweek rounds, but you can customize your trip through the website.

More deals

The Players Pass at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, home of two excellent courses in the Champions and Legends, is now on sale for 2013. It offers 25 percent off the "rack" rate anytime, and once you play five rounds the sixth is free. Also included is the GHIN handicap service. The card costs $259 on Jan. 1 but is available for $179 throughout November. For more information, call 386-274-5742.

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 of 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.

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.

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

Continue reading A Fernandina Beach-based Deal from Florida’s First Coast of Golf »

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 »