BACK TO SCHOOL
In late March, I went to a 3-day golf school at Grand Cypress in Orlando. Their Academy of Golf has its own facility, driving range, short game areas, and 3-hole practice course. I was amazed by the role that technology now plays in golf instruction. I now have a link to a web site with a video of my swing compared to a composite of the top 50 players in the world (quite depressing, to be honest) and audio of my teacher’s comments. My iPhone now has video of my putting lesson an app to help with my practice routine! Now, if I only can clear my head of 43 simultaneous swing thoughts! To be honest, it’s information overload. You need to do a lot of sifting.
The Villas of Grand Cypress is a 5* resort far from the madding crowds in Orlando. There are 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus golf (all of them difficult), including an 18-hole “New” Course which is a tribute to (and sometimes copy of) the Old Course at St. Andrews. The smallest room on the property is a 650 sq ft club suite. They also have sizeable (huge?) 1BR, 2BR, and 3BR villas, all within walking distance of the clubhouse and golf facilities. The staff is pleasant and eager to please. The Club dining area and bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The (somewhat pricey) 9/18 Restaurant is open for dinner. One also can stay and/or dine at the sister property 700+-room Hyatt, which has four restaurants, three lounges, and complimentary shuttle service to the Villas and Disney World.
This lovely island, which is chock fill of golf courses, is only a 2-hour flight from the DC area (daily nonstops from BWI and Reagan start in late May). Three of my favorite resorts are Pompano Beach (next door to Port Royal), The Reefs (which offers a 5th night free summer special with a Sunday arrival) and Tucker’s Point, which has huge rooms and it s own golf course. Mid-Ocean, one of the world’s top 100 courses, is generally available to guests of these properties two days a week.
DON’T GET SHUT OUT!
I recently tried to book tee times for clients during the first week in September at Royal County Down (which gets my vote as the #1 course in the world). Much to my dismay, I discovered that the course already is fully booked for the first two weeks of September! I also had some difficulty booking tee times at Portstewart, Nairn, and Royal Dornoch. Lesson learned: If you want to play the premier courses, you must book early. To ensure that you get the courses you want on the days you will be in the area, I recommend starting the process in November of the year before you want to go to Ireland or Scotland. It’s not too late for this year, but the early bird will have much better choices in 2014.
I just returned from my annual trip to Mid-Pines and Pine Needles (near Pinehurst, NC) more enthusiastic than ever. Mid-Pines has been restored to its original Donald Ross design, with lots of added waste bunkers and much less rough. The course is visually striking and plays a couple of shots harder than it used to. They will install new Bermuda greens late in May, so the course will be even better starting in August. The dining experience is also vastly improved. Pine Needles is always in excellent shape (both the golf course and the resort facilities). I highly recommend this property as a terrific value compared with the Pinehurst resort. If you want to play a US Open course, stay at the Pinehurst resort, which will host both the men’s and women’s US Opens on its #2 course in June 2014.
Keep your head down and your chin up!