When we started discussions last December about planning the 1st Annual
LinksNation Cup, the first order of business was location and venue. We knew
we wanted to play in Florida since it would be a short two day trip and the
weather in other regions during early March (3rd & 4th) was dreck.
photo Guy Buzzelli
The trinket on the line, a Claret Jug also known as the "LinksNation Cup". . .
just before tee off I dangled this beauty infront of the troops to get them
fired up. Putting hardware on the line is never a bad thing.
Originally a yearly singles match between two close friends and fierce competitors,
it was time to spread the spirit of the competition to our friends and co-workers
(Also truth be told, because of my continuous injuries the last few years and an
obvious deficit in ball striking talent to the young professional, I finally woke up
and realized that bringin a knife to a gun fight was futile. Since I'm not a fan of
consistently being drubbed, what's better than bringing in reinforcements to fight
Always seeking something unique from the usual South Florida Landscape, we
often head just Northwest of Orlando to areas like Clermont, Brooksville, Lecanto,
and Ocala. These locales are largely unknown as a golf destination to many around
the U.S, and surprisingly, many South Floridians also aren't familiar with it's diverse
The par 5 - fourth at Pine Barrens, a top 100 track and one of the sites of the 2013 LinksNation Cup
There is a ridge that runs through this section of the state, from Lake Wales on the
south end, where Seth Raynor designed Mountain Lake in 1916, to the rolling hills and
horse country of Ocala. Somewhere between the two is Howey Inn The Hills, where
Mission Inn's El Campeon was designed by George O'Neil in 1917. Famed course
architecht Charles E. Clarke of Troon, Scotland put his refinements on the layout in
A friendly competition was on the slate, and so The First Annual LinksNation Cup was
underway in Brooksville at Tom Fazio's two World Woods courses: Rolling Oaks, and
his ode to Pine Valley-Pine Barrens. Day two was at Mission Inn, on El Campeon.
The downhill left to right 14th at El Campeon
The event format was 54 holes: two man team scramble at Rolling Oaks, two man
team better ball at Pine Barrens, and the final 18 were singles matches. The 12 man
group consisted of friends and co-workers from within the golf industry, divided into
two teams of six players (Team Bruno vs Team Kartrude).
Day 1- The weather just north of Tampa was more reminescent of a ski trip, than golf in Florida - mid
30's when we teed off on Rolling Oaks.
The downhill par 3 - 8th at Rolling Oaks
For those in the group who had previously been to the 36 hole Fazio sanctuary, it
was great to get back to the tranquility and beauty of World Woods. For those who
saw the facility for the first time, they experienced two of Tom Fazio's best designs
in all their glory (except for the freezing temps).
By the end of a long, cold, blustery day at World Woods, Team Bruno had a sizable
lead, but at dinner Sunday night opposing captain Michael Kartrude was channeling
Ben Crenshaw from the 1999 Ryder Cup, throwing out this doozy: "I'm a big believer
in fate, I've got a good feeling about this".
El Campeon was also in great condition, the greens were smooth and the speed a
hair slower than greased linoleum. Mission Inn's marque track just might be the best
course that few know about in Florida. Tough to imagine a layout the pedigree of El
Campeon could exist for nearly a century and not garner more acclaim. A very old
school atmosphere with charm, a great routing and a championship design that will
test the best of players. As it turned out, Kartrude is no Crenshaw (but he did drub
me 3 & 2 in the our singles match). The vets on Team Bruno came through on day
two and thwarted any Brookline (or Miracle at Mediah) like comeback.
Day 2 at Mission Inn, after an early morning frost warning, the chill gave way to a
gorgeous day for golf. From left to right Stevie, Buzz, P.C, Chuck, J.B, Baker, Ken,
Dircky, T.W (cute pants), Chris, M.K & Rich.
The singles were split 3-3, which gave Team Bruno a 7-5 victory and the 2013
LinksNation Cup. World Woods & Mission Inn were the perfect fit for the 1st Annual,
and the courses were in amazing condition . . . Many thanks to Scott Wycoff at
World Woods for accommodating our group.
When all was said and done, a great time was had by all, can't wait for next years
To Team Kartrude - Boy that jug sure looks good in my golf room . . . just sayin.