Saturday, September 27, 2014

On Location: Ryder Cup 2014--What I Like Best

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND--The Guru arrived in Edinburgh on Monday. I took a day trip to St. Andrews on Tuesday to roam the village and shoot some video of the Old Course. The last few days I spent wandering around Edinburgh and stopping in pubs for a pint here and there or attending the Ryder Cup matches in Gleneagles, about a 1 hr and 15 minute bus ride.

Here are some of the things I like best:

Best place to hangout in Edinburgh: The Grassmarket area has lots of pubs, a pedestrian walking area that splits two streets and an amazing view upward to the Castle.

Most annoying Ryder Cup player: The nomination easily goes to Ian Poulter or "Poults" as they call him over here. This guy really hams it up for the cameras and Euro fans. All the screams, fist pumps and chest thumps get really old after awhile. Especially when the U.S.A. is losing.

Best U.S.A. players: Rickie Fowler looks in top form and the rookie duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed has delivered big time. I've been very impressed with their calm demeanor and confidence when surrounded by crazed Euro fans. These guys should be great Ryder Cup players for years to come.
(Photo courtesy of PGA TOUR)

Best holes at Gleneagles to watch the action: My favorites were in the stands on No. 11 and 13 and along the ropes by the green on No. 16 and 18.
No. 13 hole

Best Ryder Cup moment: Watching Phil Mickelson sink a two-footer for birdie on the 18th hole to secure a victory with his partner Keegan Bradley on Friday morning over Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Best players to watch at Ryder Cup 2014: Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Victor Dubuisson.

Best places at the Ryder Cup Spectator Village: I like the BMW display where you can get a picture taken while holding an American flag; the Standing Man Public Bar, a large saloon with all sorts of whiskey and beers; and the Scotland display, where there was an occasional free whiskey sampling.

Best dressed fans at Ryder Cup 2014: A group of guys from Michigan (clients of Premier Golf) put together a super patriotic outfit with kilts, Scottish hats and stylish vests.



Best pubs in Edinburgh: My favorites near my hotel (Radisson Blu) are Deacon Brodie's on the Royal Mile and Bee Hive Inn in the Grassmarket area.

Best pub in St. Andrews: Love the lounge bar at the Dunvegan Hotel just a half block from the Old Course. I shared a few pints with a couple of caddies on my visit. Wow, did I learn a lot.



Best celebrities I've seen at Ryder Cup 2014: Basketball icon Michael Jordan, former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy, former Pittsburgh Steelers great Lynn Swann and former Ryder Cup captains Corey Pavin, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam.

Best fish & chips on this trip: Cromars Classic Fish & Chips in St. Andrews

Best park to sit and view the Edinburgh Castle: Princes Street Gardens



Thursday, September 25, 2014

On Location: Ryder Cup 2014 Gleneagles Resort in Scotland

EDINBURGH,SCOTLAND-- The Guru is holed up in his nice room at Radisson Blu Edinburgh overlooking the Royal Mile. As I gaze out my window, I see pubs to the left and pubs to the right. One never has to travel far for a frosty pint in this great city.

Ryder Cup 2014 is going to crank up tomorrow with lots of anticipation. If you think the RC is big in the States, you won't believe the buzz over here in Scotland.

I know there are whiners and complainers out there who don't like the Ryder Cup. Some say the Americans just can't win anymore, others criticize the rowdy fans, still others just, well, love to complain about something.

I believe it has evolved into one of the world's greatest sports events. Not on par with the World Cup certainly, but right alongside in popularity, I believe, with Wimbledon and every golf major except the Masters.

While the American fans are drastically outnumbered, the ones that made the trip across the pond have lots of spirit and camaraderie and don't seem to be paying the doomsayers much mind. The ruthless writers over here have all but buried the American team before the first tee shot on Friday.

The decided difference I see in this team is the leadership of Tom Watson. He brings calm and confidence to a U.S.A. team that's been on the losing end more often than not the past few years.

I've been very impressed with how the Scots and European Tour set up the spectator village, corporate tents, food court, bleachers and retail store. It's a giant undertaking and they performed admirably. Despite the huge crowds, people seem to move about quite nicely.

My favorite spot is "The Striding Man" pavilion and bar, a giant makeshift saloon with pints of Guinness, lagers and whiskeys. The food court has everything from fish and chips and meat pies to hot dogs, cheeseburgers and roast pork sandwiches.

I'm looking forward to three great days of golf. Perhaps the Americans will break through with Watson's leadership, but, let the best team win.

Many thanks to Atlanta, Georgia-based Premier Golf, a luxury golf travel company and official distributor of Ryder Cup travel packages for the PGA of America, for partnering with me on this trip.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

On Location: Turnberry Isle Miami Resort

One of my favorite places on the planet is the French Riviera. The stunning panoramas, refined lifestyle and superb cuisine make it a phenomenal getaway. For an American translation of a Cote d' Azur resort, Turnberry Isle Miami in south Florida is a luxury golf enclave with a decided French and Italian Riviera flair.

Set on 300 impeccably landscaped acres enveloped by tropical foliage, the multi-amenity resort is a wonderland of stucco facades, terra cotta roofs, pillars and arched promenades. Best of all, the secluded environment creates an atmosphere of exclusivity and isolation, yet, you're just a few minutes from the massive, luxurious Aventura Mall and only a 20 minute drive from glitzy South Beach and a wealth of dining, shopping and entertainment options.

GOLF

The two 18-hole championship golf courses--Miller and Soffer--were originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1970 and later redesigned by PGA TOUR great Raymond Floyd in 2006.

Floyd did a masterful job of modernizing the layouts and transforming them into fun-to-play, yet challenging resort courses with lots and lots of eye candy.

The courses have lush landscaping, coquina shell waste areas, waterfalls and other aesthetic touches. Contoured fairways, clever doglegs, sculpted bunkers undulating greens and strategically placed water features present many challenges.

Masters Champion Floyd has stated he wanted to achieve a "tropical Augusta look" so his design team created rolling berms planted with colorful indigenous shrubs to frame each hole. Turnberry Isle Miami courses are among the most photogenic in Florida.

The Soffer Course finishes in grand style with a spectacular 64-foot waterfall that provides a memorable finish on an island-style 18th green.  Stretching to 7,047 yards from the championship tees, the Soffer Course is the more difficult of the twosome. Landing areas are fairly generous, however, Floyd demands accuracy on approach shots to the greens or it's bogey time or worse.

Measuring 6,417 yards, the Miller course is a bit more kinder and gentler. While the Soffer Course is dotted with tall, majestic palm trees, the Miller has tropical trees like ficus, banyon and black olive.

For a video view of the courses at Turnberry Isle Miami, click to Golf Travel Guru T.V.

ACCOMMODATIONS/AMENITIES

Four towers with Mediterranean style architecture contain 408 guest rooms, which are pet-friendly and non smoking. Each room has a private balcony and is appointed in soft neutral tones of almond and beige with hardwood floors and plush carpeting. French doors open to flower-lined balconies with spectacular view of fairways and greens or pool gardens.
My room view

Room amenities include:

--47 inch LED flat screen TV
--iHome AM/FM clock radio and docking station
--Pet-friendly services
--Keurig coffee maker
--Luxury skin and hair toiletries
--Complimentary plush robes and slippers

Resort amenities include:

Exclusive Beach Club
Spa and fitness center
Marina
Jogging trail
Tennis center
Kid's Connection program
Valet parking

10 Little Things I Like:

1. The marble appointed bathroom with whirlpool bathtub, separate shower with large shower head and Molton Brown toiletries.


2. The delicious little green apples and tangerines and ice cold water with lemons and oranges at the front desk.


3. The elegant and comfortable Lobby Lounge with its plush furniture, hardwood floors, massive chandeliers and piano, which is great place to enjoy a drink after a round or before dinner.


4. The Tiki Bar at the Cascata Pool.


5. The convenient five-minute walk to the Aventura Mall.


6. The extremely easy access to golf just outside the back door of the resort. It's only 75 steps from the pro shop door to the starter's hut.


7. My room's balcony, a great place to enjoy morning coffee or a glass of wine in the evening.


8. The 1,600-foot long Lazy River at the Laguna Pool.


9. The spectacular tropical foliage dominating the resort that serves as a natural buffer from the outside world.


10. The Keuring coffee maker in my room.


DINING & LOUNGING

Bourbon Steak Miami, a Michael Mina Restaurant--The headliner restaurant at the resort, this contemporary steakhouse with its chic mirrored walls and wood burning grill features more than 1,000 bottles in its wine cellar. If you love grilled steaks, seafood and poultry, Bourbon Steak delivers big time.

Cascata Grill--With an outdoor terrace setting, this restaurant offers excellent al fresco dining with views of the Miller golf course and tropical vegetation.

Laguna Grill--Outdoor dining by the pool with a menu featuring salads, sandwiches, burgers and frozen cocktails.

Beach Club Grill--A casual eatery with sandwiches, wraps and salads.

Lobby Lounge--A classic cocktail lounge brimming with plush, comfortable large chairs and couches, a creative appetizer menu, fireplace and piano.

THINGS TO DO

Aventura Mall--A three-minute walk from the front door of the resort, this super mall has 300 stores and restaurants and a 24-screen movie theater. Anchor stores include Nordstrom, Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Restaurants such as Bella Luna italian restaurant and Johnny Rockets.

Bal Harbour Shops--The posh Bal Harbour Shops on Collins Avenue, about a 10 minute drive from Turnberry Isle has stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, specialty shops like Michael Kors and Bulgari and restaurants such as Zodiac Cafe at Neiman Marcus, Carpaccio and Makoto.

South Beach--About a 20-minute drive south of Turnberry Isle, this dynamic beach area is brimming with fashionable hotels, an internationally flavored dining and nightclub scene and a spectacular Art Deco district. Great shopping at upscale boutiques and numerous al fresco dining options are possible on Lincoln Road, which is lined by designer stores, sushi bars, elegant Euro-style bistros and steak houses.

Calder Race Course-- Located 12 miles from the resort, this gaming and racing complex features thoroughbred horse racing, 1,200 slot machines and poker.

LOCATION

The resort is located at 19999 West Country Club Drive in Aventura approximately 17 miles north of downtown Miami. Turnberry Isle Miami is 12 miles from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and 18 miles from Miami International Airport.

GET THE SCOOP

For more information on the resort, click to Turnberry Isle Miami Resort. To check on rates and availability, call 866-612-7739.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Everything You Need to Know About Playing Golf in Florida

Hammock Bay Golf Club--Marco Island Marriott
Ya gotta play Florida.

There are nearly 1,400 reasons (golf courses) to tee up in the Sunshine State and more than 50 resorts with golf as their centerpiece amenity.

I've walked the fairways of hundreds of courses in the state, lost golf balls in lakes, wetlands, swamps and palmetto fields and had a great time along the way.



Check out the Guru's numerous articles for the best places to enjoy golf in Florida:

Play Golf on Marco Island, Florida 

Golf in Tampa-St. Petersburg: A Beginner's Guide

Play Golf on Florida's Nature Coast

Play Golf in South Florida

Play Golf in the Florida Panhandle in Bubba and Boo Country 

Play Golf at Streamsong Resort and Other Polk County Courses 

Play Golf in Port St. Lucie, Florida

Great Places to Tee up with Nearby Casino Gaming in Florida 

Play Golf Near Florida's Historic Towns

Play Golf Near Florida's Best Beaches 

10 Reasons for a Golf Vacation to the Space Coast in Florida 

10 Reasons for a Golf Vacation to Lake County in Florida 

Play Golf and Take a Cruise from a Florida Port 

Sarasota: Where Golf and Culture Combine for a Great Vacation 

Where to Find Great Golf and Fishing in Florida 

Play Florida's Top Resorts









Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Location: Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland


Donald Trump loves golf with a passion. 

A recent expression of that love is his purchase of the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland (formerly named The Lodge at Doonbeg) in County Clare. It's the 16th golf club in Trump's ever expanding golf portfolio.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and was impressed with the lodging, dining and golf offerings. Better still, the resort is going to improve as Donald Trump is embarking on an ambitious enhancement program this winter for the course and resort facilities. 


Set amid lush farmland and framed by the Atlantic Ocean, this luxurious resort near the village of Doonbeg features American style amenities with a distinct and engaging Irish flair and friendliness.  

GOLF

Designed by Greg Norman and opened in 2002, the golf course looks like it's been there for decades. The site, which runs along 2 miles of a crescent shaped beach and dunes, is spectacular.

Some of the dunes rise to almost 100 feet and Norman stayed true to the land. His minimalist approach on the course led to a natural routing that resulted in five par 3s and five par 5s. The greens are not contrived and generally follow the natural terrain undulations.

Like most great links courses, don't let the yardage (6,785 from the black tees, 6,239 from white and 5,553 from gold) make you think you'll have a scorecard full of birdies. Between the constant ever-changing winds, high grasses and sometimes wildly undulating fairways, the layout is a formidable challenge. 

There are five sets of tees and I highly suggest you play the correct tee for your skill level. If you don't, bring along your calculator because the numbers will add up quickly if you keep trying to navigate the winds and hit long irons into the greens.

Postcard beautiful, the course offers majestic ocean views from the tee, fairway or green on 16 of the 18 holes. You'll definitely want to pause and take some pictures along the way.

For a video view of Trump International Golf Links, click here to Golf Travel Guru T.V.


 ACCOMMODATIONS/AMENITIES 

Trump International Ireland has 218 rooms and suites. A classic links hotel room is 390 square feet. The Guru stayed in a Links Cottage, a wonderfully furnished, one-bedroom suite. The Links Cottages range in size from 1,100 square feet to 2,800 square feet.

Amenities:

--Marble bathroom with walk-in rainfall shower
--Fireplace
--Air conditioning
--Custom design furnishings
--Egyptian cotton linens
--Exceptional high quality Internet access
--42 inch LCD flat-screen HDTV with DVD player

    
10 Little Things I Like


1. The phenomenal view of the 18th hole and oceanfront from the dining room where I had breakfast.


2. The interesting golf photos and artwork in the hallways just off the lobby.


3. The fireplace in my roomy golf cottage unit.


4. The shuttle bus to the village of Doonbeg.


5. The fantastic onion rings I enjoyed at the golf grill restaurant after a round of golf.


6. My caddie Owen, who was informative and helpful to me, a disoriented, jet lagged golfer.


7. The inspiring sounds of crashing waves next to the 18th green.


8. The genealogy services offered to trace your Irish ancestry.


9. The farmland surrounding the resort that provides a soothing buffer from the rest of the world.


10. The professionalism and attentiveness of the golf staff.


DINING & LOUNGING

Trump's--On the second floor of the clubhouse with views of the Atlantic Ocean and 18th green, this warm and friendly pub-style restaurant has a fireplace, a bar with padded stools and lots of beers and ales on tap. Popular menu choices include Traditional Fish & Chips, Pan Seared Clare Island Salmon and Braised Shank of West Clare Lamb. P.S. Don't miss the world-class onion rings.

Ocean View--Voted the "Best Hotel Restaurant Ireland 2012" by the Restaurant Association of Ireland, this elegant and romantic dining experience features an extensive wine list, impeccable service and beautiful panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean surf. The menu, please...Highlights include the Seared Atlantic Scallops, Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb and Pan Fried Whole Black Sole.

THINGS TO DO

--Luxuriate at the resort's White Horses Spa

--Take the resort shuttle bus into the village of Doonbeg.

 --Enjoy popular pubs in nearby Kilkee like Murphy Black's, Greyhound Bar and Naughton's Bar. 

--Visit the magnificent Cliffs of Moher, which are located 26 miles north of the resort.

 

--Fish for salmon and sea trout in Doonbeg River.

--Hike the picturesque West Clare Loop Walking Trails. 

--Ride the historic, steam-powered West Clare Railway train. 

--On-site genealogy services to trace your Irish ancestry.

--On-site Tranquility Hair and Nail Salon

--Activities arranged by the resort concierge such as horseback riding, coastal bicycle rides, kayaking, diving and rock climbing.

LOCATION

Trump International Ireland is located near the village of Doonbeg in County Clare on the main coastal road between Ballybunion and Lahinch about a 45 minute drive from Shannon International Airport.

GET THE SCOOP 

For more information, click to Trump International Golf Links Ireland or the resort's website Trump Hotel Collection-Ireland. Telephone number is 353 65 905 560.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Product Review: Bluff Works Travel Pants

I received my Bluff Works Travel Pants several months ago. As a Florida resident, I don't get around to wearing long pants till, say, November. Even in the winter, you see more shorts than trousers on the course in the Sunshine State.

Luckily, I traveled to Ireland recently and I had more than a few chilly opportunities to wear my Bluff Works. I put them through a stern test on the Sandy Hills Links course at Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Downings near Letterkenny in the County of Donegal. It was a windy day with a few raindrops along the way as I walked the sometimes wildly undulating layout next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Simply put, my Bluff Works performed much better than I did that blustery day.

Before I left on my trip, the breathable polyester fabric made the pants easy to roll neatly and pack in my suitcase and they took up minimal space. While they can be used for a variety of travel activities, I found them to be excellent golf pants. There are lots of pockets to hold tees, balls and divot repair tools. Bluff Works's biggest assets-- especially when you're walking a golf course-- is they're light-weight, wrinkle-free and super comfortable.

They look good on the course and in the clubhouse and you can even keep them on for dinner (as I did) for the ultimate in versatility.
Sandy Hills Links at Rosapenna Golf Resort in Ireland

My Bluff Works (light khaki) are what I would classify as an athletic cut and, I assume, designed for fit, action-oriented sportsmen. They're also available in charcoal, velvet brown and classic gray colors.

While my Bluff Works didn't help me find any of the countless golf balls I whacked into the tall grass rough at Rosapenna, they performed admirably.

If you're looking for a multi-functional travel pant that can be worn on the golf course, on a bike ride or even during a business meeting, I highly recommend Bluff Works.

Bluff Works are available in waist sizes of 28" to 42" and cost $93. You can buy them online at: Bluff Works Travel Pants