Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 Most Annoying Resort Practices


I absolutely love playing golf at resorts. There's nothing like a massage or herbal wrap at the spa after an arduous round or a cool libation on the veranda of a plush clubhouse. That said, there are some annoying practices by resorts that drive me crazy. Check out my latest post at the Golf Partners Club.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Old Course Ballot Changes to 48 Hours Ahead


Here's a heads up for Old Course lovers:

The ballot for tee times on the world famous Old Course will be changing to being drawn two days ahead from January 2012.

The ballot has been drawn one day ahead for many years but St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the seven public courses in the town, is making the change to help people plan their golf more effectively.

On Saturday, January 7, 2012, the ballot will be drawn for Monday, January 9 and will continue to be drawn two days ahead from then onwards.

The plans to make the change were announced earlier this year and the Trust has been communicating with the many thousands of golfers from near and far who play the Old Course to make sure they are aware that the change is being made. The Trust conducted its Advanced Reservations for visiting golfers for play on the Old Course in 2012 on September 7 and has advised the more than 2500 applicants of the change.

The 48 hour ballot will dovetail with the one-day ahead booking system on the Castle, Jubilee, Eden and Strathtyrum courses and will enable golfers who have been unsuccessful in the ballot to book an alternative course for the day they want to play. The earlier draw will make it easier for visiting golfers to plan accommodation and travel arrangements and will encourage them to stay longer in St Andrews and play more golf in and around the town.

Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, “The ballot is designed to ensure that golfers who haven’t been able to book in advance still have a chance to play the Old Course. It has been drawn one day ahead for many years but we conducted an extensive consultation exercise with a range of different stakeholders and the feedback was that people felt drawing it two days ahead would make it much easier for people to plan their golf. We believe the change will help to improve the experience of playing in St Andrews and to ensure that people have more opportunity to book golf on the other courses.”

To enter the ballot requires at least two golfers and they will have to enter their names, home clubs and handicaps by 2pm. The ballot will take place every day of the week with the exception of Friday as there is no play on the Old Course on Sundays. The entries can be made by phone on 01334 466666 or in person at any of the three clubhouses at the Links.

St Andrews Links Trust is a charitable organization responsible for the management and maintenance of the Links courses at St Andrews, including the famous Old Course, host of the 2010 Open Championship. The Trust was established in 1974. 

Around 200,000 rounds are played over six public courses, which feature two additional championship courses (the New and the Jubilee), two 18-hole courses (the Eden and the Strathtyrum) and a nine-hole course (the Balgove).

A seventh course, The Castle Course, opened for play in 2008 on a site to the south-east of St Andrews and has already won several international awards including being named by Travel & Leisure Golf magazine in America as the New Course of the Year and International Development of the Year by Golf Inc magazine in America. The course was also included in the prestigious Golf Digest Top 100 Courses in its first year.

The Trust manages a number of additional facilities including three clubhouses, a golf practice center and golf academy and five shops. It recently reopened The Tom Morris Shop, the oldest golf shop in the world. Artifacts belonging to the four-time Open champion such as his locker, fireplace and workbench are on display in the shop, which sits opposite the 18th green of the Old Course.

For more information visit www.standrews.org.uk.

Monday, November 21, 2011

If You Visit Orlando, Florida...


If you’re visiting Orlando for business, theme parks or some other reason next year, by all means play some of my favorite layouts and resorts. The list includes Bay Hill (a private club course you can play if you stay at the on-site lodge), MetroWest, an undulating layout near Universal Orlando, Grand Cypress Resort, home to 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus designed golf and Reunion Resort, which has three 18-hole golf courses designed separately by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.

Off-the-course, gentlemen start your engines. Debuting in January is the Exotic Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway, which will offer you the opportunity to drive supercars such as the Ferrari F430 and 458, Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 and LP560-4, Porsche 997S and Audi R8.

You’ll get to accelerate these awesome cars to high speeds on a special course. The experience starts at $199 for 6 laps around the 1-mile course. Part of the Richard Petty Driving Experience, the Exotic Driving Experience will also offer “Thrill Rides” with a Petty instructor for $99.  Plans call for the Exotic Driving Experience to all be offered in the future at Daytona International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Golf Travel Is Back


Just when you thought the last shovels of dirt were being thrown on the golf travel industry, along comes some great news about international golf tourism.

In a recent speech addressing the members of Thailand’s Golf In A Kingdom destination marketing program, Peter Walton, chief executive of the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators (IAGTO), said golf is one of the few international tourism sectors continuing to grow despite global economic uncertainty.

He said international golf tourism was expected to exceed 50 million travelers in 2011, and perhaps reach 55 million, which is equivalent to the level in 2007 before the global financial crisis.

“Golf tourism bounces back more quickly than other sectors,” he added. “In established markets, one in three golfers plan to travel in the next 12 months. That is a lot more than in other sectors like skiing. We also know that golfers spend 120 percent more per person per day when staying in a resort than other travelers.”

Regarding U.S. golf travel, Walton cited that while only 12 percent of the U.S. population plays golf, golfers were responsible for 27 percent of U.S. travel expenditures.

Walton highlighted Spain, the U.S. and Thailand as currently three popular international golf destinations, with Turkey and Portugal among countries that are rapidly increasing golf tourism sectors.

The IAGTO, with 1700 members in 94 countries, is a powerful voice in the golf travel industry. It claims that its members are responsible for 80 percent of golf packages sold worldwide.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Play Royal Porthcawl for the Ultimate British Isles Golf Experience



One of my all-time favorite golf experiences was playing Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales. My son and I played this magnificent seaside layout on a brutal March day with 30 mph winds and rain blowing in our faces. 

Despite the torturous weather conditions, our round was an enjoyable one because the course and its setting are as good as it gets in the British Isles. Though it has hosted numerous important tournaments such as the 1995 Walker Cup, Royal Porthcawl is often overlooked for some reason.

You can see the sea from every hole and there are inspiring views south to Somerset and Exmoor, and northwest across Swansea Bay to the Gower Peninsula. The holes are designed facing every direction and you’ll never know when the wind will blow directly in your face.

Though it’s a private club, the members are very welcoming to visitors and you don’t feel like an interloper. Royal Porthcawl opened in 1895 and you’ll experience its 19th century character at every turn.

After a round, the quaint, cozy bar has a wide range of whiskies for a bit of a warmer as you try to defrost from a chilly day and an excellent selection of draft beers. The clubhouse is perched some 40 feet above the sea affording stunning views as you enjoy your drink. It’s a great place whether you’re celebrating a round or drowning your sorrows.

You can stay at the on-site Dormy Lodge, which offers six single and three twin rooms. Each room is furnished with an en-suite bathroom, remote control TV, DVD player, wireless Internet and tea and coffee making facilities.  Twin rooms/double occupancy cost about $80 a night.

We stayed about a mile away from the course at the Atlantic Hotel in the village of Porthcawl, a friendly bed and breakfast with 25 rooms. In addition to a fantastic full English breakfast each morning, the property has an excellent bar and restaurant, tastefully decorated rooms, complimentary parking, and views of the Bristol Channel to North Devon and Somerset. Room rates for a standard double room are in the $100 to $150 range, depending on the season and other factors.

If you’re looking for an undiscovered gem that’s welcoming to visitors, Royal Porthcawl is a must play on your next visit to England.