Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Favorite Golf Resort Amenities

When you travel as much as I do, it's the little things that count. It's the flight attendant that rewards you with an extra bag of peanuts, the bellman who actually brings your bags directly to your room not 30 minutes later and the bartender who eschews the jigger on your Bloody Mary. Any intrepid business traveler knows what I'm talking about.

That said, here are five little things that make a difference to me:

Crunchy Apples

At the 10th tee at Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida, a block or so from the Orange County Convention Center, there’s an inconspicuous container filled with fresh, chilled, crispy, red apples. You can have your hot dog smothered with chili and onions at the turn, I’ll take one of the apples, which are a great pick-me-up. In a close second place are the apples on the front desk at the main hotel at Pinehurst Resort.

Charcoal Chicken Sandwich

The halfway hut at Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico has, what I consider, the best grilled chicken sandwich on the planet. This is not some lame, tasteless piece of poultry prepared on a gas grill. No, here they use real charcoal. Before they grill, the chicken is marinated in concoction of lime juice, onions, green pepper and garlic. It’s served on a crispy Puerto Rican roll. Chase it down with an ice-cold Medalla beer and you’ve got heaven on earth, brother.

Meet Arnie

If you stay at the 70-room Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, there’s a good chance you’ll run into Arnie, especially during the winter months. Palmer can be spotted just about anywhere on the property from the golf course and clubhouse to the dining room and front lobby. Bay Hill is a private club and besides an invitation from a member the only way you can play it is to stay at the lodge.

Steps at St. Andrews

About 50 yards or so away from the 18th green at the Old Course in St. Andrews are steps that lead up to the clubhouse. At the end of the day, there’s no better place to sit and watch golfers finish their rounds. You’ll see everything from Americans just glad to be there to grumpy locals who aren’t so glad to have Americans around. In the distance you can see the Swilcan Bridge and the Old Course Hotel. If nothing else, sit for a few minutes, take a few deep breaths and fully soak up one of golf's great panoramas.

Donald Ross Grill

Oozing with history and once operated by Donald Ross, this is the ideal spot to conclude an early morning round at Pinehurst Resort with a great lunch. Overlooking the world's largest putting green and Putterboy statue, it's ideally situated in the clubhouse complex. Following my favorite lunch, a Maniac Hill Club Sandwich with hickory smoked bacon and Beefsteak tomatoes and a large unsweetened tee (the locals love the sweetened, but it's way too sugary) I exit through the front door, take a right to walk through a hallway dotted with historic photos and proceed to gaze at the Payne Stewart statue just outside the side door by the pro shop.

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