Course Reviews/Travel


Dye Course Restoration - PGA Golf Club PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

 

It's during this time of year when much of the U.S is under a blanket of snow

and frigid temperatures, which is always a good time to focus on those warm

weather destinations that offer the finest hospitality and golf to our northern

friends.

 

There's a big revitalization going on at the PGA of America's flagship golf

property - PGA Village in Port St.Lucie, Florida. Jimmy Terry, the club's

General Manager is leading the effort of a five year improvement plan

and it shows. During the season it's not uncommon for PGA Golf club to

host 600 rounds per day on its 72 holes of Championship Golf. When we

arrived on a gorgeous sun drenched January afternoon the club was playing

host to the annual PGA Senior-Junior Team Championship.


I have to admit it was our first time at PGA Village in many years, word had

reached me from my travel scribe brethren that the recently renovated Dye

Course was worthy of our attention. Since PGA Village is just an hour from

our home base in West Palm, it became front and center on our radar as we

learned of the Dye re-opening last fall. After an amazing lunch at the club's

Taplow Pub, it was off to our round on the Dye.

 

 

 

Taplow Pub at PGA Golf Club

 

 

 

 

The Dye course was the third championship layout built at PGA Golf Club,

opening in 2000 after the two Tom Fazio designs - Wanamaker and Ryder

(formerly known as the North and South courses). St.Lucie Trail rounds out

the stable of championship routings for the club (originally designed by Jim

Fazio, it has also undergone a similar facelift back in 2014). PGA Village is

obviously very involved in growing the game, and the 6-Hole Family Short

course is a great example of that. If tuning up your game is the focus, the

35 acre PGA learning center is one of the finest of its kind in the world.

 

 

 

 

PGA Learning Center features a massive sand bunker complex where

you can practice virtually any type of sand shot imaginable.

 

 

 

 

After 15 years the Dye layout had lost some of its luster, so an overhaul

was in order. Although Pete Dye gave his approval on the work, it was Head

Agronomist Dick Gray and staff that went to work restoring the links style

beauty. "All we did was restore the greens back to Pete's original intent, and

put new skin on them, Gray said."  "Then we just re-faced the bunkers." Gray

and his staff also uncovered bunkers that had become overgrown by bermuda

turf over the years. New Celebration turf in the fairways and Tif-eagle greens

restored to Dye's original dimensions have it looking and playing better than

ever.

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the photo above, it was a picture perfect January

day in South Florida for our spin around the Dye course. The par-5

seventh is very gettable, but the task becomes robust if your tee shot

finds this wicked combination of sand and turf that guards the right side

of the fairway. Not sure what it says about you if you fancy this bunker

compound, but I do . . . maybe it's because Pete Dye has a way of creating

demonic golf landscapes that are beautiful. Whatever the reason, I find

that the more I experience Pete's designs, the more affinity I gain for his

sinister work.

 

 

 

The tranquil setting at the Dye is a blend of some of the best natural Florida

surroundings - mature Slash and Loblolly Pines, wetlands, coquina waste

areas and of course clear blue skies. There are no hardscapes to be seen

(other than the halfway house snack bar between the ninth green and tenth

tees). The complex around the 11th green (shown above) offers more extreme

obstacles the further you get from the putting surface. Note the angled and

raised pot bunker that's circled by 6 ft of thick bermuda rough some 40 yards

from the pin. Is it Picasso, mad scientist or genius? Perhaps all three, but one

thing it's not - is ordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Dye gives the golfer a less intimidating visual from the tee here

than on many of his more famous layouts like Kiawah Ocean, Whistling

Straits and TPC Sawgrass, but just like those, hitting the correct side of

the fairway is paramount to having the best angle for each approach.

 

Spending the day on the updated Dye was a blast, conditions were

superb and the course provided more than it's fair share of challenges

(we used every club in the bag). Coming down the finishing holes at

gloaming is a sight and a day that we won't soon forget. We look forward

to our next visit to PGA Viillage, where later this spring we'll feature the

St.Lucie Trails Course.

 

 

For more info: https://www.pgavillage.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Visit Sebring - Citrus Golf Trail PDF Print E-mail

 

 

Recently we traveled to Sebring, Florida and it's neighboring communities

of Avon Park and Lake Placid to experience the Citrus Golf Trail. Located

in Highland County (nearly 90 miles south of Orlando proper), this rural

central Florida region is a bit of an unknown in national golf circles. In a

state that boasts well over 1,000 golf courses, there is bound to be hidden

gems. The Citrus Golf Trail is an eclectic blend of both modern and

classic course designs that will pique the interests of the die hard and

casual links lover. Highlands County offers less crowds and a more

laid back atmosphere than the tourism mecca of the I-4 corridor. We

sampled golf at five of the Trail's layouts: Harder Hall, Placid Lakes,

Pinecrest, Highland Ridge and Sun N' Lake.

 

 

The Inn on the Lakes was our home base for week, and is the perfect

lodging compliment to the local golf scene. Located in the heart of Sebring

right on Hwy 98, the Inn is THE spot in town to relax and recharge for

whatever type of vacation plans you have in store.

 


 

 

The Inn has 155 rooms providing an atmosphere of casual luxury.

The Chicanes restaurant and bar will impress with cuisine and

service that's on par with the best resorts, but with the charm of

a small town bed & breakfast. Hospitality isn't a slogan here, it's

a staple.


 

 

 

 

The view of little Lake Jackson from the terrace outside my room.

For more info: http://innonthelakes.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Harder Hall golf club was our first stop. Dick Wilson was commissioned

to transform the course into a championship layout. 2016 marked the

61st playing of the Harder Hall Womens Invitational run by Amateur

legend Carol Semple Thompson. The 62nd edition of the event was

underway as of this writing. It remains one of the most prestigious

events in women's amateur golf, some notable past winners include:

Natalie Gulbis, Christie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Morgan Pressel and Brittany

Lincicome.

 

 

 

The history runs deep at Harder Hall, check out this honor roll of

Mixed Team Champions from yesteryear. http://www.harderhall.com/

 

 

 

 

 

If you have an affinity for classic works, Pinecrest an original 1926

Donald Ross design just might me the sleeper of the Citrus Golf Trail.

This Avon Park routing bobs and weaves through mature orange

groves and challenges even the best players with the Scotsman's

famous false front greens (that have just been re-grassed with ultra

dwarf tif-eagle bermuda) that rolled liked glass. The first ever televised

golf event was played here in 1959 and was covered by NBC. Slammin

Sam Snead, and Carey Middlecoff were among those competing at

Pinecrest that historical week. Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Grover Cleveland

and FDR were among the luminaries that played here back in the day.

GM Joe Staffieri met with our group and summed up the value here,

"Where else can you play a genuine classic Ross design for $30 ($38

right now in full season). This is the very definition of "Hidden Gem".

https://www.golfpinecrest.com/

 

 

 


 

Highlands Ridge has 36 holes of golf designed by Steve Smyers

(South course) and the late great Dave Harman (North course)

who crafted Orange County National and the highly acclaimed

Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand. We played the North course which

opened in 2001 (earning many honors as one of North America's

best new designs), and impressed everyone in the group. At

7234 yards from the tips, this is a big ballpark and will test even

the biggest hitters. http://www.highlandsridgegolf.com/

 

 

 

If you're after some local dining specialties, the Cowpoke's Watering

Hole steakhouse on U.S Hwy 27 has it all. I highly recommend the

the seafood choices as well. A big thumbs up to the Whole Snapper.

http://www.cowpokeswateringhole.us/

 

 

Located in the city of Lake Placid, Placid Lakes Country Club recently

celebrated it's 50th year. A complete renovation of fairways, greens

and bunkers was finished in 2005. www.placidlakescc.com

 

 

Many would consider Sun 'N Lake as the pinnacle of Highlands County

golf, no arguement here. The 36 hole facility consists of Deer Run (built

in 1976) and Turtle Run which was added over two decades later in 1999.

Sun N' Lake is worthy of it's praise, and is the annual host of PGA Tour

Latin America Q school. Their vast and faithful membership is a testament

to the great job being done by Head Golf professional Jim Kurtzeborn and

his staff, the club is vibrant and playing conditions are superb.

https://www.sunlakegolfclub.com/golf

 

 

 

 

Any visit to the area would be incomplete without visiting the world

famous Sebring International Raceway. The Chateau Elan hotel and

Convention Center sits beside the nation's oldest road racing track

that began it's storied history in 1952.

Chateau Elan features the Esperante restaurant and Hairpin lounge

that serves as a lodging and entertainment partner to the legendary

racetrack. Visitors who reserve a room for the "12 Hours of Sebring"

in March will have a vantage point to watch the races from the comfort

of their suites and hotel rooms. During our visit, BMW and Audi were

out testing their race cars, what an adrenaline rush it is just watching

the speed displayed on the 3.74 mile track . . . and yes, they have

golf packages available with your stay.

 

 

Florida golf of both the modern and classic variety is what the Citrus

Golf Trail is all about, and at a great value. Throw in some small town

charm and hospitality, an international sporting event at a world class

venue, and it all adds up to VISIT SEBRING. You'll be glad you did.

 

http://www.visithighlandscounty.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 


 
Kiawah Island Resort PDF Print E-mail

 

by Jason Bruno

Kiawah Island Resort, the Ocean Course and it's clubhouse (above)

is on our very short list of the finest that American Golf has to offer,

but there is so much more here than Pete Dye's masterpiece. The

resort is world class with a vibe that's unique unto itself. Recently

we visited Kiawah and enjoyed all it's splendor along with perfect

Autumn weather.

 

 

Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Kiawah Island, (which sits just

21 miles south of Charleston) in early October, rendering most of the

coastal area without power for well over a week, the resort which

was closed during that time had re-opened just before we arrived

in mid November. Remarkably, not a thing was out of place, a

mammoth clean up effort to say the least - the Kiawah staff had

everything restored to it's usual pristine state.

 

 

 

 

The Sanctuary Hotel     *denotes certain photos in this feature furnished courtesy of Kiawah Island Resort

The Ocean Course is the reason that Kiawah is known as one of

the World's best golf destinations, but the luxurious Sanctuary Hotel

and Spa is the reason why it's now widely known as one of the

best beach resorts in existence. Although it opened in 2004, The

Sanctuary has on old world feel, as if it's been on the island for

over a century. The list of accolades continues to pile up for

this mecca of low country hospitality, and for good reason, the

setting, service and cuisine are impeccable.

 

Cuisine choices within the Sanctuary include The Ocean Room

(the hotel's signature steakhouse restaurant), Jasmine Porch

which is a casual restaurant featuring regional cuisine, and

Loggerhead Grill which is seasonal outdoor dining (and bar)

located close to pool area.

 

 


*The overhead view of The Sanctuary gives you an idea of the

setting - situated between canopies of mature Live Oaks along

the entry and the magnificent shores of the Atlantic, the hotel

offers 255 guest rooms and suites - 10 of which are executive

suites (the largest being the palatial 3000 sq ft Presidential suite).

The standard King guest rooms measure at a spacious 520 sq ft.

(90% of the rooms have ocean views).

 

 

 

 

 

Jasmine Porch

Our first night on the property we dined at Jasmine Porch*, which

is a great casual spot to unwind after a full day of activity at the

resort. Jasmine Porch features a smooth low country theme and

specialties like, Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp & Grits and She

Crab Bisque (I highly recommend). Make sure you don't pass on

the dessert, especially the banana bread pudding with homemade

praline ice cream.

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary Spa

The Sanctuary Spa* is the perfect escape from fatigue and tension.

The spa has 12 treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room and

whirlpool. Restore balance with one of the spa's massage escape

treatments - choose from the Signature, Citrus, Island Stone, and

the Athletic Recovery massage (preferred by many golfers). We

chose the Signature treatment and can tell you first hand what a

great experience it is to spend part of your day here. Fitness Center

and Salon services are also available at The Sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

*The Spa

 

 

 


Events

Always an event happening at the resort, The Earl Klugh Jazz festival

was in full flight the week we were at the resort, staged on the lawn

overlooking the ocean at The Sanctuary, is there a better setting for

a concert?


 

 

 

Golf


There are 5 championship courses at the resort with Pete Dye's Ocean

Course being the crown jewel. World famous for the scoring challenge

it provides, the Ocean Course has hosted the '91 Ryder Cup, '07 Senior

PGA, '12 PGA Championship and the upcoming '21 PGA Championship.

Osprey Point, Turtle Point, Cougar Point, and Oak Point round out the

rest of the rotation.

 

 

 

 

 

Ocean Course

This was the scene on a mid-November morning just after sunrise on

the 1st tee on the Ocean Course. At only 365 yards from the Dye tees,

anything down the left center here leaves a perfect angle with a short

iron approach to a generous sized green.

 

There may not be a better links stroll available to all golfers anywhere

on the east coast. In fact, with 10 holes along the Atlantic, Dye's Ocean

course has more seaside holes than any other routing in the Northern

Hemisphere (the other 8 holes run parallel, with the ocean always

within view).

 

 

 

 

(Above: an overhead view of the 390 yd par 4 - 3rd hole)*

 

It was actually Alice Dye's idea to raise the level of every fairway so

the ocean views would be visible on every hole. Although it created

one of the most scenic walks in the game, it also brought the windy

seaside conditions more into play, thus creating a stern test of which

very few layouts can match.


 

 

Above: *The view from the 13th tee, what many think is the best tee

shot on the golf course (we concur). Smash driver towards one of

the bunkers down the left side and watch as the easterly ocean

breeze gently influences your shot back towards the middle of the

shortgrass. Pull that off and you're left with a short/mid iron approach.

Note the violet hues of whispering muhly grass that line the tee box,

the perfect accent to this launching pad. Anyone who appreciates

course design has a particular hole that inspires, this one "had me

at hello" when I first put the peg in the turf here in 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

A brief account of the daunting final two holes on the Ocean Course and

my thoughts as I played them.

Note the far right pin position here on the mighty 17th, about as

intimidating a par 3 as you'll face anywhere. In the photo above

I'm taking a moment to contemplate my club selection and get

committed to the shot shape I'm intending to play. The safe play

or bail out here is the far left edge of the green directly behind

me, but that's no picnic either - from the left edge of the green

you may have a 100 ft putt. Going over the green leaves you

with a brutally long bunker shot back towards the water, and

short is swimming. Having said that . . .

 

You didn't come this far to this iconic hole to play a bail out. The

shot played 182 yards to the hole (176 yards to carry the water

hazard). I decided to play a high cut 6 iron, and when it was struck

I knew it was good. In the air it worked it's way right at the flag,

but carried a few yards deep and right of the pin, landing directly

beyond the stick settling about 28 feet past the hole (One less club

and it would have been stiff, but that would have brought the water

into play, no thanks). The birdie putt cozied it's way up to the front

lip of the cup but chose to stay topside (never disappointed with a

3 on that beast, it was on to the home hole).

 

 

 


(below) The captivating view walking down the last. Note the crane

on the roof of the clubhouse, the staff were replacing the damaged

weathervane (from Hurricane Matthew).

A center cut tee shot on the 439 yd 18th hole left 176 yds to a another

tucked pin, this one was on the left edge of the green. 6 iron again,

but the attempted draw was overcooked and bounced down into a

hollow below the putting surface - leaving an unlikely up and down

from a tight lie to an uphill green with very little green to work with.

The hero shot could bring a big number so I chose to play a conservative

pitch. Contact was mediocre at best, and the result beared that out

as it rolled out 35 ft past the hole. On a day of pretty solid ball striking

where no putts outside of 6 feet dropped, of course the bomb for par

goes in here at the last. The 3-4 finish helped erase the taste of how

I finished on those two holes on our previous spin around the Ocean

Course 5 years ago. Lunch at the Ryder Cup Bar would definitely taste

even better now.

 

Caddies Robert and Mark were superb, and my playing partners for

the day (Dave from Canada, Dave from West Virginia and Butch from

the midwest were all great company). To read more about my personal

accounts on this journey - go to our "Bruno's Blog" section on the home

page.

 

 

 

 

*Ryder Cup Bar

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of reminders of who has played here, like this 1991

Team USA Ryder Cup bag in the pro shop.

 

 

 

 

Turtle Point (Nicklaus Renovation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The gorgeous seaside 15th is a short par 4 sandwiched between the

two best par 3's at Turtle Point.

 

 

Having just re-opened before our arrival, the newly renovated Jack

Nicklaus design at Turtle Point was our next stop. Eager to have a go

on the Bear's latest completed project, a better day couldn't be had -

it was a flawless 68 degree fall afternoon on the island. Having sat

down with Mr. Nicklaus in the past discussing many of his thoughts

on modern course design, I was intrigued to see exactly what his

team had accomplished here with the renovation. Here's the rundown:

The 9 month project included new irrigation, redesigning all 18 green

complexes, rebuilding all bunkers, expanding fairway sizes from 20

to 34 acres and laser leveling every tee box (Paspalum replaced

Bermuda turf throughout).

 

 


 

A reverse view of the 15th* really illustrates how well Nicklaus crafted

this design between the hardscape and sea. Don't stray far from the

shortgrass at Turtle Point, this routing requires precision off the tee

to score well (housing boundaries and hazards come into play on many

of the holes at Turtle Point). Holes 14 thru 16 on Turtle Point run along

the Atlantic shoreline, showing off photogenic scenes like this sunrise.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3-16th runs along the same corridor as the 15th, playing 150

yds from the Turtle tees. Nicklaus used the shoreline dunes and mass

plantings to create a buffer and an intimate setting here, but beware,

the wind will wreak havoc with any mis-hit shot.

 

 

 

 

 

*The approach to 18th at Turtle Point

 

 

 

The Turtle Point Nicklaus renovation has created fast and firm

conditions that will delight resort guests and test those that compete

in many of South Carolina's most prestigious events. Turtle Point has

hosted many top championships including the Carolina Amateur,

Carolina PGA and the South Carolina Amateur.


 

 

 

 

 

Tomasso Italian Restaurant

*Tomasso Italian Restaurant is located within the clubhouse of

the Turtle Point golf course. Top shelf Italian cuisine is prepared

by Chef Brandon Lapp. An authentic Italian family style atmosphere

makes for a very memorable dining experience - staff server Joe

Lapolla is superb, as is the Taglietelle and Chicken Parmigiano.

 

 

 

 

Osprey Point

Tom Fazio's Osprey Point might be the most widely enjoyable course

offering at the resort. Broad fairways and diverse hole designs weave

around lagoons and salt water marshes. Renovated in 2014 by Fazio

himself, Osprey Point now has Paspalum playing surfaces throughout.

 

 

 


(The par 3 - 15th shown above) Every hole at O.P offers a different

challenge. Although here at the 15th the sand and waste areas

are extensive, notice short of the green is open for a run up option.

Fazio believes strongly in designs that give multiple options for all

levels of player. The better player will enjoy working shots around

this eclectic design that rewards proper placement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherrywood Grill

*Cherrywood Grill is located in the Osprey Point clubhouse and

is the resort's classic southern barbecue dining experience. The

St.Louis Ribs, Cornbread and Four Cheese Mac are just a few of

their delicious specialties.

 

 

 

 

Cougar Point

Gary Player's Cougar Point (formerly known as Marsh Point) originally

opened in 1976 and was redesigned in 1996 by the Black Knight. In

2017 Cougar Point will undergo a renovation of their own. Stay tuned

for updates and a future review when it reopens.

 

 

Oak Point

Clyde Johnston's rolling layout was renovated in 2015, it now also

plays on the firm and fast blades of Paspalum. Acquired by the resort

in 1997, Oak Point filled out the rotation making it 5 championship

courses at Kiawah Resort. An old school classic style design where

strategy is paramount over power.

 

 

 


Beach

Kiawah is a quiet beach setting that appears endless, the firm sand

is perfect for a jog, relaxing walk, bike ride or to just chill and enjoy

the sights and sounds of the Atlantic. The resort offers beach chairs,

umbrellas, toys for the kids, bike rental and customized beach nature

tours are also available.

 

 

 

 

Resort Villas

Another great option for lodging at Kiawah Resort are the Villa's

like this one at Turtle Point.

 

 

 

Villas give more of a normal family living arrangement and are great

for those with small children and also for those who prefer to cook

while away. Ranging from 1-4 bedrooms, they include full kitchen,

living room, dining room, family room and breakfast nook.

 

 


 

 

 

Just as Jack Neville and Douglas Grant crafted their masterpiece

on the Monterey Peninsula nearly a century ago, perhaps only the

lifelong collaboration of Pete and Alice Dye were meant to have

crafted what we now experience on these magnificent shores of

South Carolina.

 

Today it's more than just a Top 100 golf course, it's quite simply

one the very best travel destinations in America.

 

For more info on Kiawah Resort: https://www.kiawahresort.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Mystical Golf - Myrtle Beach PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

Mystical Golf is a triple layer of Myrtle Beach golf properties within the

abundant golf locale of the Grand Strand. Recently we traveled to Myrtle

Beach and experienced The Wizard, Witch and Man-O-War layouts under

absolutely perfect autumn weather just 3 weeks removed from the fury

of Hurricane Matthew. The storm unleashed its wrath upon the area with

damaging winds that took down over 100 mature trees on the Mystical

trio of routings (dumping nearly 20 inches of rain). We're always amazed

by the work of agronomy teams after such damaging weather. The excellent

playing conditions we were provided just a few weeks after the storm

made landfall in South Carolina was a testimony to the entire Mystical

Golf staff.

 

 

 

 


The island par 3 - 17th at the Wizard.

 

 

 

 

 

Mystical Golf is the brainchild of owner and course operator Claude Pardue.

Pardue is an old school golf entrepreneur who operates way outside of the

modern business model (he doesn't believe in POS systems, or layers of

management. He believes heavily in giving back to the community's youth

and being visible to his customers nearly everyday at each of his three

courses (for a more detailed look into Claude Pardue and his business

model, check out Trent Bouts' in depth feature "On His Terms" by clicking

on the link:

http://www.golfbusiness.com/article.aspx?id=3592&bq=6yfv%5Eg433$ ).

 

Pardue hired golf course designer Dan Maples to craft the trio of routings, and

Maples came through with three completely unique experiences for the avid

linkster.

 

 

 

 


The Wizard clubhouse is a replica castle that overlooks the ninth (shown) and

eighteenth greens. A wide open links style design, the Wizard will test your

ability to control your golf ball on windy days (of which there are countless in

the coastal community of Myrtle Beach). Bent grass greens aren't the usual

surfaces this far south, but both the Wizard and Man-O-War courses feature

smooth Bent that rolls pure (the Witch has a hybrid Bermuda greens).

 

 

 

 

 

Man-O-War has the flavor of parkland Carolina but water is a feature

in some part on all 18 holes (14th hole shown above). Many will choose

M.O.W as their favorite course in the Mystical portfolio because of the

playability and variety including generous fairways and mammoth sized

Bent grass putting surfaces. Lag putt proficiency is a must in order to

score here.


 

 

 

 

The Witch is anything but what the name implies. Set within 500 scenic

acres, the Witch offers perhaps the best test of golf anywhere within

Myrtle Beach proper. "The Broomstick" has a bit of everything, rolling

fairways, magnificent par 3's, well undulated hybrid bermuda greens

and the demand that your ball striking be its very best. The experience

starts with a magnificent cart ride through a shaded corridor of nature's

canopy en route to the 1st tee. Dan Maples' routing traverses through

magnificent foliage and undisturbed wetlands where vibrant Wildlife is

intimately up close here on the 6796 yard championship layout. Maples'

arrangement of eclectic topography within such a beautiful setting has the

Witch easily as my personal favorite f the Mystical tracks- a certified

LinksNation gem, and a must play if you visit Myrtle Beach.

 

 

 

 

 

Tee markers resembling witches hats are made from the knees of Bald

Cypress trees in the swamps within the 500 acres that make up the property

of The Witch course.

 

 

 

 

 

Where to stay: Our group stayed at the Breakers Resort on the Ocean.

Outstanding amenities, service and surreal ocean views are the norm

at the Breakers. Vacation lodging & golf packages are available at

http://www.breakers.com/

 

 

 

 


What's better than waking up to this view each morning? The scene from

my balcony at the Breakers Hotel on a cool autumn morning in early

November.

 

 

If you're planning a Myrtle Beach golf getaway, Mystical Golf is worthy of

your objectives - quality, value, variety, and service are all standard fare.

The coastal Carolina area also boasts some of the nation's best weather -

combine all of these factors and that's why avid golf vacationers from

around the globe continue to flock to the Grand Strand.

 

https://www.mysticalgolf.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
A Summer Day at Bethpage Black PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

The sign speaks for itself. A longtime favorite of ours, it doesn't get much better than

the facility at Bethpage that includes 5 eighteen hole golf courses: Blue, Green, Yellow,

Red and the world famous Black course - regarded by many as A.W Tillinghast's best work.

 

 

 

Our first trip to Bethpage in over a decade was on a beautiful summer day in late July.

Fresh off the 6am flight from West Palm Beach into La Guardia, I had just enough time

to grab a quick brunch at the local Bethpage diner (and a meeting with a longtime

friend, who I hadn't seen in years) and bolt for a quick warm up for my 12:51 starting

time on the Black course. Since I was in town to cover the PGA Championship at Baltusrol,

the hierarchy at Bethpage saw fit to give me a primo time slot, but since I was in that tee

time as a solo player - the starter paired up a father and son duo to join me. I was relieved,

because nobody wants to walk a top 100 layout for 5 hours by themselves. Meeting new

people is part of the experience when you travel, especially on the links - it certainly

makes for a much more enjoyable afternoon.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Mark and Sean were my playing partners for the day (Sean attends and plays a bit of

college golf in Georgia and was home for the summer), natives of Long Island's North

Shore, Sean tries to get out on the Black a few times each summer before returning to

school. Mark and I choose to play the middle tees at 6704 yards - with a rating and slope

of 74.0/145, while Sean played the back tees that have a staggering rating and slope of

78.1/152 (although listed at 7465 yards, many tees were pushed forward just behind our

tee box for daily play. I'd estimate it played at 7000 yards). The remarkable thing is the

rating/slope are on an 80 year old classic design - no OB stakes and the only water hazard is

a small pond that fronts the par 3 eighth green. Also, the putting surfaces on the Black are

fairly pedestrian in their undulations and pitch (The green speeds were perfect - a smooth

10 on the stimpmeter). When people ask, I always refer to the Black as the toughest totally

fair layout you'll ever play. You'll use every club in your bag, will be required to maneuver

the golf ball in all directions and likely will not suffer a single penalty stroke during your

stroll on the routing that hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S Open Championships (and will be

the host venue for the 2019 PGA Championship & 2024 Ryder Cup). I've never come close

to scoring to my handicap on Tillinghast's "Mona Lisa" (and either does anybody else), but a

day of hitting golf shots on a design of this ilk is always a treat (and a challenge).

 

 

By now this sign on the first tee is as famous as the course itself. Even for the

most highly skilled players, the layout requires supreme ball striking to score.

Stay out of the gnarly rough and you have a chance to post a decent number.

High handicap players need not apply.

 

 

 

 

The Black was in prime shape just four weeks prior to hosting the Barclay's and kicking off

the Fedex Cup playoffs. If there is a better parkland par 5 in America than the fourth on

the Black, than I haven't seen it yet. My best drive on the outward side flew the left fairway

bunker and left only a 5 iron in, but after just missing the green on front left side, par was

all I could muster after a mediocre greenside chip from the heavy rye rough. As you'll quickly

learn (it took me a few holes to remember how to best escape from the Northeast nasty stuff),

use as much loft as possible. The 54 degree sand wedge never stood a chance, at times, even

my 58 degree seemed inadequate.

 

 

 

 

 

The fifth is every bit as "ALL TIME" as the fourth, and in my opinion is the best shot makers

hole on the property - a soft fade off the box is required to set up the proper angle to this

elevated green that has a bit of a bowl effect (it sits perfectly into the landscape). The

approach just begs for a smooth right to left shot shape on one of the best inland par 4

holes in existence. After I play the fourth & fifth I wanna turn around and play them again,

(there is no greater compliment to a great design than that) similar feelings to the seventh

and eighth at Pebble, fifteenth and sixteenth at Bandon Dunes, the sixteenth and seventeenth

at Merion, the fifteenth and sixteenth at Streamsong Red and thirteenth and fourteenth at

Seminole just to name a few.

 

 

 

 

 

The grandstands for the upcoming Fedex Cup Playoffs were already in place on many of the holes.

The fourteenth on the Black is the shortest par 3 on the layout and played about 150 yards to the

back left pin position (right in line with the middle of the small white VIP tent. Note the exquisite

design of the front right bunker. For all of the criticism Rees Jones takes for his U.S Open

restorations, his work on the Black that began nearly 20 years ago is worthy of the highest praise.

 

 

 

 

Everybody that plays this game for a period of time has their nemesis holes. For me

that has always been the 15th on the Black. For a hole with no hazards, boundaries

or fairway bunkers, it has always had my number. I've always referred to it as the

"Beast". Not on this day though . . .

 

 

 

 

 

The wind was of the helping variety and slightly left to right. Normally a long iron to

a severely elevated putting surface, a busted tee shot left a gap wedge approach. Crisp

contact resulted in a straight 12 foot uphill birdie attempt on the most undulated green

on the Black. After leaving the birdie putt on the front lip, the group remained birdie-

less, but par was secured on the "Beast". Breaking that dubious streak was one of the goals

before I even boarded the airplane in Florida. Finally, a first in six attempts over a 20 year

span. The Beast is dead, atleast for that Sunday it was.

 

 

 

 

Side view of the green complex on the par 3 - 17th

 

 

 

 

 

Just off the green on the 17th, you can see how healthy the rye rough has grown in.

The tee was up a few yards on the toughest one shotter at Bethpage and played 185

yards into a left to right breeze. A solid 6 iron left this putt for a deuce, but as with the

16 holes previous - feathers were not to be had. However, I'll always take a 3 on this hole

and bolt up the hill to the tee on 18th hole.

 

 

 

 

The view from the tee box on the last. Never regarded as the toughest hole on Tilly's classic,

it does present the need for a striped tee shot down the center - anything else is an act of

sheer folly. The new championship tee, some 60 yards behind the 394 yard middle tee will

present the proper challenge for today's elite players.

 

 

 

 

 

A piped 3 wood center cut into the shortgrass left this 138 yd uphill approach in. Desperately

striving for birdie (did I mention that our group remained without paydirt thru 17 holes), I

took dead aim but slightly over clubbed and ended up 30 feet above the hole. The last attempt

narrowly missed, but there were no complaints on this end after posting a workman like 75

(Bethpage Black is a par 71).

 

 

Gorgeous weather, better company and another great memory on my favorite "Muni" in America.

Exhausted from a long day of travel and toting around Tilly's finest design, I made my way towards

the Garden State where the assignment of PGA Championship week was on the horizon. This was a

summer day in Gotham that was certainly one to remember.

 

 

 

Bethpage State Park: http://nysparks.com/golf-courses/11/details.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 
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