Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Say "No" to Tiger for Ryder Cup

Do we really need a struggling and befuddled Tiger Woods on this year’s Ryder Cup team?

Hey, Captain Corey, just say “No”.

Realistically, I know this will never happen because television networks and sponsors will put too much pressure on Pavin to add Woods as a Captain’s pick.

Pavin is playing the diplomatic politician card when it comes to Woods’ Ryder Cup participation. Here’s what Captain Corey had to say when asked about the situation recently at a press conference at the PGA Championship:

“I think a couple of things have happened the last couple of weeks. Obviously he played better last week. He's working on some things that seem to be improving his game. So I was obviously pleased to see that happen last week. His comments to the press and the media are very positive. He wants to play and he wants to be on the team. Again, he's high on my list. He's certainly a big consideration, no doubt.

But as I've said before, you know, everybody I'm looking at, and come September 7, I will let you guys know who those four are going to be. But he and a lot of other guys are up on my list, and probably that list will grow in the next three weeks.”

The Euros haven’t been quite as complimentary of Woods lately and are circling him like sharks after some fresh bloody chum. Irish phenom Rory McIllroy first called out Woods, then Luke Donald chimes in and you know Colin Montgomerie (Monty) won’t be far behind. They can’t wait to get a piece of the new Tiger—the one who barely breaks par anymore, can’t hit two fairways in a row and hasn’t hit a 10 footer since his Escalade ran over a fire hydrant.

Remember, too, we didn’t even need Tiger back in 2008 at the Ryder Cup Matches at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Heck, we pasted the Euros 16 ½ to 11 ½ without Tiger. In fact, when Tiger did play previously, the U.S. had losses three successive times.

I’d rather have somebody like Champions Tour star Fred Couples be a Captain’s pick. At least Freddy is at the top of his game right now. Tiger  has too much baggage and he’ll detract from the team concept Pavin is trying to perpetuate. Do we really need the British tabloids attacking Tiger daily while our other lads are trying to sharpen their games for the TwentyTen course at Celtic Manor?

I’m not a Tiger hater, but I really think he should sit out this Ryder Cup and open the spot up for a youngster who would treasure the opportunity.

As I said, that’s not gonna happen. So, get ready for the “American Ryder Cup Team and the Tiger Woods Road Show.” With Euro team members popping off regularly, the British tabs about to join in and the steady murmur of controversy that Tiger woods brings these days, it should be one heckuva Ryder Cup.




Monday, August 16, 2010

Golf in Venice, Italy? Yes, Bravo.

Last month, I spent several days in Venice, Italy. Like most tourists, I strolled the sidewalks lining the canals, sipped wine at a café on San Marco Square, indulged on gelato and watched the passing parade of boats on the Grand Canal.
My biggest discovery in Venice (my third visit) had nothing to do with culinary delights, gondolas or Murano glass. Through a well-informed and connected lady named Tabita Miotto, I found out about the wonderful golf opportunities around Venice and Italy in general.
Miotto is a key principal in Amazing Venice Golf , a marketing coop organization that not only promotes golf in Venice but in other regions of Italy, such as Tuscany, Piedmont, Rome, Apulia, Sicily and Sardinia and the Italian lakes region. If you want to play golf in Italy (which has about 200 golf courses), I highly suggest you consult this site first. They’ll guide you to great golf as well as incorporating other activities such as gastronomic, art and wine tours.
Miotto summarizes the appeal of Italian golf this way: “Sipping a cappuccino in the main piazza, under the Italian sun surrounded by art masterpieces….I have always been used to the Italian sweet life…I was inspired to share these emotions with other people…Italy has excellent courses and I hope you will experience the unique feeling of playing in Italy.”
Designers like Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones and Kyle Phillips (designer of Kingsbarns in St. Andrews) have fashioned courses in Italy.
The Amazing Venice Golf site includes a “Great Deals” section which features package deals and an E-Quote, which allows you to submit your destination, accommodations, golf and other requests resulting in a customized quote.
Back to Venice. The closest golf course to Venice is the Golf Club Venezia, which was built in 1926 and is ranked among the top ten courses in Italy. Thirty minutes away in the picturesque, college town of Padova, there are several options to play, including the Golf Club Montecchia, Golf club Frssanelle and Golf Club Padova.
The Veneto Region, where Venice is located, is diverse topographically and you can enjoy a variety of golf experiences in and around main cities like Venice, Padova, Vicenza, Verona and Treviso as well as layouts in mountain settings in the Dolomite Mountains.
Amazing Venice Golf works with a long list of hotels, resorts and luxury bed and breakfast properties and golf courses. Ms. Miotto arranged for me to stay in the Domus Orsoni, a fabulous luxury boutique bed and breakfast situated next to the Orsoni glass factory, which manufactures glass mosaic with gold leaf. The five rooms and hallways are brimming with works by different Italian artists and the mosaic-tiled bathrooms are phenomenal. Located in the quiet Cannaregio section of Venice, the Domus Orsoni is a great respite after a day of playing golf or traipsing over and around canals.
So, if you’re seeking “la dolce vita” (the sweet life) and an Italian golf experience, go to Amazing Venice Golf and you’ll be sipping cappuccino in sidewalk cafes and playing golf among the olive trees in no time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Sunny Side of Life

I spent the first week of August playing golf at Sun Valley Resort in Ketchum, Idaho. Sun Valley, which just celebrated its 75th winter season, is known as one of the best ski resorts in the world, and it’s definitely distinguishing itself as an exceptional place to play golf from April 1 to October 1.

Here are some of the highlights of my visit:

·     I played the 18-hole Trail Creek course a couple of times and was impressed with the 6,941-yard layout offering fairways framed by tall evergreens and Aspens.  From the middle and resort tees it has generous and fair landing areas and there’s suitable challenge when low-handicappers move to the back tees. The mountain panoramas, open, flower-laden meadows and wildlife at seemingly every turn (I saw deer prancing by on several holes) provide a great way to spend four hours.

·     The new 9-hole White Clouds course is extreme mountain golf at its finest. Some holes feature tee shots from highly perched tee boxes to wide-open fairways down below. The views are stunning. You have 360-degree wrap-around panoramas of the Wood River Valley encompassing world famous ski runs on Baldy Mountain and Dollar Mountain, the Pioneer Mountains, Angel’s Perch, Devil’s Bedstead and the home of Ernest Hemingway. For a vast understatement, Sun Valley Resort owner placed a stone with a plaque on the 5th tee box that reads: “This is not all about golf.” My favorite hole is the 523-yard, par 5, number eight where you smash your drive from an elevated tee into the brilliant blue sky to a spacious valley below.

·     One of the amenities that makes Sun Valley a great family golf destination is the innovative 18-hole Sawtooths Putting Course, which is patterned after the one at St. Andrew’s. Though I actually scored a nine one of the wildly undulating holes, the course is an absolute blast to play.

·     After a round, there’s a great treat waiting for you—Sun Valley’s golf clubhouse, a 59,000 square-foot stone edifice with wrap-around terraces with mountain views and indoor and outdoor fireplaces. The menu goes well beyond your typical, boring clubhouse fare. Here I munched on sweet potato fries and a Mediterranean Lamb Gyro and washed it down with a frosty brew from the tap. I hear the grilled wild salmon sandwich is a good choice as well. For traditionalists, the Kobe Beef Burger, a half-pounder with cheddar, Swiss or bleu cheese will make you forget about all your bogeys, too.

·     I got to see country crooner Garth Brooks in concert (see photos) with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony at the phenomenal new outdoor pavilion. The copper roof structure accented by Italian stone has a superb sound system and seats 1,500. Among the acts that have appeared recently are former Eagles lead guitarist Don Felder, singer/songwriter Peter Cetera, formerly of the band Chicago and violinist Itzhak Perlman. The Sun Valley Symphony performs free concerts at the pavilion throughout the summer.

·     One of the highlights of visiting Sun Valley Resort in the summer is the Olympians on Ice program staged at an outdoor rink directly behind the main lodge. The night I saw the show, Olympic Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen was the featured performer and she headlined a dynamic show.  The shows are staged every Saturday night from late June to early September. I was told many top skaters use the Sun Valley Resort facility as a summer training ground so there’s never a shortage of great skaters for the show.

·     To really get a sense of what the resort has to offer, you’ve got to rent a bike. The on-site bike shop has everything from serious mountain bikes to big tire cruisers. I chose a cruiser and rode into the town of Ketchum about a mile away. A picturesque village peppered with bistros, restaurants, bars and gift shops, Ketchum is laid-back without the pretentiousness of, say, Aspen or Vail.  Celebrities apparently love the understated lifestyle.  Among those with homes in the area are actress Demi Moore, actor Bruce Willis, and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

·     Legend abounds that Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Ketchum off and on later in his life, wrote part of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in a room in the Sun Valley Lodge. From the 5th tee on the White Clouds Course you can see Hemingway’s house.

·     The dining at Sun Valley has a little something for everybody. Following a gondola ride up Baldy Mountain, I dined at the legendary Roundhouse (Averell’s), one of the great on-mountain dining places in the world. At The Ram, the resort’s top gourmet restaurant, I had one of the best German cuisine-inspired dishes to ever grace my palette. It consisted of a seasoned piece of pork roasted for eight hours then placed over a bed of spatzle with a course mustard sauce. Absolutely superb. One of my dining partners raved about the oven-roasted Chilean sea bass and the pan-seared prosciutto stuffed breast of free-range chicken is a can’t miss as well. Don’t leave the property without dining at the Trail Creek Cabin, a fixture since 1937 that sits next to a babbling brook and features and outdoor bar with phenomenal mountain views. Locally raised beef, Idaho Trout, baby back ribs and meat loaf are the top menu choices. In the summer, you can take a wagon ride to the cabin for dinner.

·     If you’re looking for a summer or early fall golf getaway where everybody in the family will find an activity to enjoy, I highly recommend Sun Valley Resort. Among the activities available are tennis, hiking and biking, horseback riding, paddle boats, trap, skeet or sporting clays shooting at the gun club, gondola and ski lift rides, fly-fishing, three swimming pools, on-site boutique shopping, wining, dining and shopping in the nearby village of Ketchum, spa, fitness center, ice skating, on-site six lane bowling alley, kid’s program and the list goes on.