Streamsong Resort no Concession to Great Golf, It's a Beach at MBCC, Winter Park is Wild
ART OF GOLF VISITED 1/20: While Florida lacks much of the dramatic, rolling topography to produce visually stunning golf courses, The Sunshine State in the January Sunshine is quite a trip as the AOG found out during a trip January Florida Golf Tour.
The Streamsong Resort located in the remote former mining territory 90 minutes from Orlando and Tampa has positioned itself as the Brandon Dunes of the East Coast and without an ocean as a calling card it certainly comes close. There is the Black, Red and Blue golf courses, plus a short course. Each is memorable in its own way, but with a modern hotel, caddies and great food is a wonderful golf find.
The exclusively private Concession Golf Club on the west coach just south of Bradenton has a pristine Tom Fazio layout and a wonderful short course he laid out adjacent to the massive clubhouse. Miami has many great golf choices including the famed Doral layout with his historic Blue Monster Golf Course, but the public Miami Beach Golf Course is a true find. It's just minutes from the Miami Beach Convention Center, hidden among the tall skyscrapers but value priced good times golf.
One more course worth check out is the Winter Park 9 hole layout in the historic section in North Orlando. There is a challenging and comforting golf layout, a place where you can easily walk or ride and enjoy some green grass time with friends or competitors during a regular Friday afternoon skins game.
Peerless Pinehurst Perseveres for a New Decade with Fun, History and Good Times
ART OF GOLF VISITED 10/19: For a place that at times has gone by the moniker,The Capital of American Golf, it would seem impossible for the historic Pinehurst Resort in the Sandhills of North Carolina, which has been welcoming golfing guests for more than 100 years, to continue to improve and reinvent itself.
But with the latest improvements of the resort, which now include The Cradle Short Course, the newly renovated, No. 4 course, not to mention the new Pinehurst Brewing Company, that is exactly what they have done.
Thankfully the primary reason for generations of golfers visiting to seek out this tiny town is still the same, the outstanding historic Donald Ross No. 2 layout. It has hosted the Ryder Cup along with the Men’s and Women’s US Open, among the other eight courses there, but over the last decade, Pinehurst stewards decided visits here needed to be fun as well
They led to calling architect Gil Hanse to craft the first ever short course next to the main clubhouse. Combine that with free and reduced fees for juniors, a relaxed atmosphere, with a wooden drink cart parked between some of the holes and you have an overwhelming success. Then Hanse redid the original Tom Fazio No. 4 course onto a more player friendly layout.
For the after golf time, the Pinehurst Brewing Company, located behind one of the resorts historic lodging units, has proved to be another huge success with plenty of downhome food and local brews. The historic golf and the landmark Carolina Hotel, which opened in 1895, is never going away. But the fun is here and the Perfection at Pinehurst is as strong as ever.
Northern Michigan Treetops Tops Them All
AOG VISITED 9/19: For an upper Midwestern State with a decidedly short golf season, Michigan, especially Northern Michigan, has always had a high concentration of high tone golf courses to stay and play at in the summer and early fall.
But one of the original golf resorts, Treetops in the small town of Gaylord, has always emerged as the leader for value priced golf in scenic surroundings and challenging golf tests. The allure to Treetops is the variety of top name course all by the best architects. The Fazio Premier, the Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Masterpiece, The Rick Smith Signature and Tradition also by Smith.
The Jones masterpiece came first here in 1987 and each of the others have followed in steady succession. But the most famous course here is not really a course at all. The 9-hole Threetops at Treetops is one of the most incredible short course anywhere. The design by Fazio is so dramatic, it’s impossible to be walked, but the scenery and shot values make it impossible to forget as well. The holes range from 80 to 180 yards over the steeply rolling terrain with the most famous, the 7th hole where Lee Trevino won $1 million dollars for an ace on a nationally televised par 3 tournament.
Treetops and especially Threetops at Treetops are an unforgettable golf resort experience in the summer time in the golfing buffet known as Northern Michigan.
Buddies Trip Bandon Dunes Gives Out Quite an Anniversary Present with new Sheep Ranch
AOG VISITED 8/19: Bandon Dunes has long been a favorite buddies trip with its authentic links courses on the remote Southern Oregon coast But to celebrate its 20th anniversary, understated owner Mike Keiser — who carried on with his American links golf dreams when many thought he was crazy — is giving golfers another gift.
He is opening the new Sheep Ranch Golf Course, a Coore and Crenshaw design with nine holes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It will open in early 2020 with the naturalistic Coore-Crenshaw layout open to the golf elements with few, if any bunkers, but instead fescue, wind and awesome scenery standing as the main defenses of the new course.
There will be Scottish dunes and fescue and more authentic golf features to continue to draw golfers here from all over the world for the ultimate golf buddy’s destination.
The Sheep Ranch layout has existed in some form since 2001 when it was just untouched raw land where you played from open spot to open spot and made up the holes and score as you went along. To gain any limited access you literally had to call the nearby A Bandon Inn, usually ask for Al, tell him you knew a guy, and hope they would let you come and play a few holes.
Keiser and his talented team of architects has found so much good golf on the 1,300 acres with plenty of ocean access, Bandon and Pacific Dunes, Old MacDonald, Brandon Trails, the Punchbowl, it’s hard to know where even to start, but The Sheep Ranch is an anniversary gift to golfers which should last for a very long time.
Wonderful Whistling Straits Wow Golfers and International Combatants
AOG VISITED 8/19: Whistling Straits golf course will be in worldwide international headlines this fall as the 2020 Ryder Cup takes place on it's scenic shores, hard by Lake Michigan, as the U.S. and Europe's best golfers stage a 3-day battle and the Americans try to win on home soil again.
But aside from 3 days in September, the course is all yours. The recently departed architect Pete Dye crafted a hilly and heaving golf masterpiece which will test every part of your game with challenge and scenic views to relieve any on-course sting.
Along with the Straits course, there is the adjacent Irish Course, along with Meadow Valley and River Course at Blackwolf Run. Top the great golf with a stay at the on-site American Club, perhaps the best golf course lodging at any golf resort outside of Pebble Beach. You can always watch the Ryder Cup on TV, but to play the Whistling Straits courses is a true golf-rich experience .
AOG VISITED 7/19: Many people wait a lifetime to walk the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters golf tournament, others wait even longer to play the course with members. But some have worked their entire lifetime to faithfully recreate Augusta National in their hometown and that was certainly the case for The Alotian Club and founder Warren Stephens. He and his father Jack, who has since passed away, are longtime members of Augusta National with the father a former chairman.
But in 2004, they called on architect Tom Fazio to craft the Alotian Club, named for a lot of traveling golfers, on very hilly ground just west of Arkansas' capital Little Rock. Like the orginal Augusta, the course is spectacular in every respect, routed through a huge forest and overlooking a nearby lake.
Like Augusta, every detail is take care of, from the on-site cabins to professional trained caddies to a simply elegant clubhouse and wine cellar.
You may never play at Augusta National or for that matter The Alotian Club, but either are simply golf experiences you will never forget
San Francisco Treat!
AOG VISITED 3/19: When it came to choosing a college where to play golf, Tiger Woods looked at many places, but it ultimately came down to Stanford and UNLV before he choose Stanford in Northern California. While he hasn't always made the best off-course decisions, you can say Woods did right by choosing to be among the many outstanding golf courses around San Francisco and Stanford.
The Holy Trinity of N-Cal golf is the San Francisco Golf Club, the Olympic Club and the criminally underrated Cal Club. Each has his own special treats and challenges, each guards its first tee for the most select of golfers. The SF, as its known to locals, is hidden in plain sight, behind a local private school where you have to dodge the carpool lane to find the front gate. Once inside the boundary you'll find a rich, smooth canvas laid out by master architect Alister MacKenzie. The Olympic Club is a multiple U.S. Open Site with nary a flat lie anywhere. The Cal Club has stunning views with delightfully quirky holes and challenges. All three are golf nirvana, but two (in the same day!!) are the ultimate San Francisco Treat.
Royal Visits on the Links of Ireland
AOG VISITED 6/19: Eight courses in Seven Days, three Royals; Dublin, County Down, Portrush, two in the same day, it was quite a visit to the scenic and ever challenging Links of Ireland. There are way too many good courses in the golf-heavy Island to make into one trip, So we started on the East Coast, playing the hugely overlooked European Club just South of Dublin, then playing the three Royals, capped by the site of the 2019 British Open, the Open Championship as its known over the pond, Portrush, in the small town of the same name. Then is was down to Doonbeg with perhaps the best opening hole in all of Ireland. Plus Tralee, Waterville and Adare Manor. Grand Time in a Great Golf Island.
Why Cabo Golf is Ever Popular
AOG VISITED 10/18: You can hamper it with hurricanes, scare it with gangs, slow it with bad economy, but Cabo, Mexico golf will never die. Too many great courses, too many pretty views, too much fun and challenge, on and off the course. Chileno Bay Resort and Golf Course are only the latest examples. Classics like Cabo del Sol and Querencia always endure, they're just joined by a new crop in a true embarrassment of golfing riches. www.chilenobay.aubergeresorts.com
AOG VISITED 3/18: The world's best golfers will show up at Innisbrook Resort, just outside Tampa, in a few weeks for the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship, but the professional golfing millionares will quickly find out what thousands of amateur vacationers already know. Innisbrook is a fun and sometimes mean championship stayover with four top flight courses and the Tour site Coperhead layout with the back nine Snake Pit which can derail anybody's round, pro or amateur. There is a great steakhouse named after course designer Lawrence Packard and old school wooden luxury lodging right on the golf course. Everything an amateur or pro superstar would ever need, www.innisbrookgolfresort.com
AOG VISITED 12/17: Golf's Northern California landscape, specifically the Pebble Beach-Carmel area, has long overflowed with top notch courses, including Cypress Point Golf Course, known as the Sistine Chapel of Golf. But more recent changes at nearby Poppy Hills, which removed dozens of trees to expose distant ocean views and the existing landscape, has made golf's most target rich environment even better. Pebble Beach and Spyglass are as good as ever, The Gallery Cafe is the perfect start to the day located behind the first hole at Pebble, even the Peter Hay Par 3 is a blast to play with even more oceanside views. Best hidden gem of this year or many others is the rennovated Cal Club in San Francisco. It's an outstanding Kyle Phillips redesign with great SF views. Private, but has some outside play, so pull whatever strings it takes to play here. It's Olympic Club without the US Opens.
AOG VISITED 1/18: There are more than 700 Bahamas Islands, laid out in a scenic string South and Southeast of Florida, but only a fraction are inhabited. Thankfully, The Abaco Club at Winding Bay is one of those. From its awesome two mile crescent shaped beach to a unique oceanside links style golf course, The Abaco Club, site of a Nationwide Tour event, is one scenic pleasant resort surprise. Add a mountainside clubhouse, direct commercial flights to the capital of Marsh Harbour and a full harbour and it's one (slightly) inhabited island to seek out.
AOG VISITED 3/18: The Streamsong Golf Resort, located on thousands of acres of an old Mosaic Phosphate Mining facility, in desolate central Florida between Tampa and Orlando, has been a hit with links loving golfers ever since it first opened in 2013. But the most recent Gil Hanse designed Black course, which opened in late 2017, has taken the resort to another level. It's a big, bold golfing canvas making the Black course a true delight and challenge where golfers can make a 3 or an 8 on almost every hole there. Go bet on the Black as soon as possible. It's the East Coast's most interesting and intriguing course, www.streamsongresort.com