Sunday, December 30, 2012

Golf News You Need to Know January 2013

Streamsong Resort in Polk County, Florida
New Courses to Watch in 2013 and Beyond

A Look Back at 2012 and Predictions for 2013

The World's Looniest Golf Course in China...

Seven Courses That Made a Difference in 2012 

Cabot Links in Nova Scotia, Canada

New Photos of Rory's Palatial Florida Mansion

Greg Norman AKA The Great White Shark
Greg Norman Says Adios to Medalist Golf Club

The 2013 World Golf Hall of Fame Class  

Should Colin Montgomerie be in the World Golf Hall of Fame? You decide...

Review of Streamsong Resort in Polk County, Florida

5 Emerging Golf Destinations in 2013
Casa de Campo in Dominican Republic

Faldo Course in Vietnam Now Open

Wine and Golf Make a Good Pairing

Major golf development in London slated to open in 2016 

Top 10 Golf Travel Trends for 2013
Golf at Gleneagles

Front entrance to Gleneagles Resort

Who the heck is Gil Hanse? 

The Antidote to Tricked Up Courses

10 Disturbing Trends in Golf

Graeme McDowell's Nona Blue Tavern Opening This Month in Orlando

Why Tom Watson Got The Ryder Cup 2014 Captaincy... 

Golf's Greatest 19th Holes... 

More Great 19th Holes...

2005 Byron Nelson Classic Champion is a Sales Rep for an Amazing Car Company...

2013 Champions Tour Schedule 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Top 10 Golf Travel Trends for 2013

Gleneagles Resort Front Entrance
1. Gleneagles Resort, Site of the 2014 Ryder Cup--This legendary Scottish resort will attract its share of golf tourists in the next couple of years. The Ryder Cup's popularity has soared and golfers want to test their skills at the venue. This isn't links golf, though. Gleneagles is home to quintessential parkland golf so at least you won't lose any balls in the ocean.

2. New World U.S. Golf Destinations--Golfers seeking exceptional designs and golf in its purest form are flocking to innovative destinations that aren't located near major urban centers. Among the more popular are Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast, The Prairie Club in Valentine, Nebraska and the newly opened Streamsong Resort, which is situated in rural Polk County, Florida between Orlando and Tampa.

3. Golf Travel Specialists--Tired of sitting in front of a computer screen trying to piece together a golf trip? It's tedious and frustrating and many golfers are realizing the experts can do it quicker, more efficiently and probably save you a few bucks and lots of headaches in the process. Remember, these guys drink a few pints and single malts with the honchos at the best resorts and courses and are well connected to negotiate great deals and develop itineraries you can only dream about as you point and click your way on the Internet.

4. Dominican Republic-- Selected as the Golf Destination of the Year 2013 for Latin America/Caribbean by the International Association of Golf Travel Operators (IAGTO), the D.R. is on a roll. Expansive, luxury resort complexes like Casa de Campo, Puntacana and Cap Cana feature courses by the biggest names in design, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio and Jack Nicklaus. Besides the adroitly designed layouts, stunning picturesque golf course views and fantastic weather, an added bonus is you can enjoy a fine Dominican cigar during or after a round.

5. Nova Scotia, Canada--It's the biggest thing to originate from Canada since Wayne Gretsky, Michael J. Fox and LaBatts Blue beer. Cabot Links is Canada's answer to Pebble Beach. This phenomenal links layout on the western side of Cape Breton Island in the town of Inverness in Nova Scotia is a wonderland of stunning ocean views, deep pot bunkers and swales. Opened in June, Cabot Links was developed by Mike Keiser, who created Bandon Dunes in Oregon. A second course, Cabot Cliffs, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, is scheduled to open in mid-2014.

6. South America--The announcement of the 2016 Olympic Games to be staged in Rio de Janiero with golf to be included as a sport has put the focus on Brazil as well as other countries appealing to golfers like Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Golf course architect Gil Hanse was chosen over design teams headed by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and others to fashion the Olympic golf course. As the course begins to take shape, the excitement will increase and more golfers will consider South America a viable golf vacation destination.

7. Off-the-Beaten Path U.S. Value Destinations--If you've already played Myrtle Beach and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, you're probably looking for some new budget-happy golf frontiers. The value menu, please.  Among the destinations promising affordable golf and well-designed courses are Crossville, Tennessee, Brainerd, Minnesota, Branson, Missouri, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Mesquite, Nevada, St. George, Utah, Brooksville, Florida, Flathead Valley in Montana, Santee, South Carolina and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

8. Ireland--The number one player in the world, Rory McIlroy, hails from Northern Ireland and golfers are increasingly considering Ireland as a golf vacation destination. Ya gotta think, everytime McIlroy hoists a trophy (and that's a lot these days) Northern Ireland gets a public relations boost. Top courses in that part of the country include Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. Other Irish gems favored by visitors include Ballybunion, Lahinch, Portmarnock, Waterville and Doonbeg.

9. Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland--I've read reviews and heard reports about this course that are all over the map. The environmentalists keep railing against it for a variety of reasons and some critics claim the fairways are too tight and the frequent high winds will make it extremely penal for the average bogey players. Moreover, the course has more than 100 different tee boxes, which makes for some long walks and long rounds. That said, the setting is stunning and Donald Trump has spent millions on making it a course golfers will travel long distances to play. Check out this video of Trump International Golf Links and I guarantee, whether you're a Trump fan or not, you'll want to play this course.

10. Experiential Golf Travel on Social Media--More golf travel companies are using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post information and images of trips around the world. If you don't have the time or money to travel to say, Scotland, New Zealand or South Africa, you can experience vicariously the exploits of others enjoying an adventurous golf excursion in different parts of the world.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Golf News You Need to Know December 2012

THE GOLF TRAVEL GURU scours the Web to find golf news you can't afford to miss:

The King at PNC Father/Son Tourney
Top 10 Golf Travel Trends 2013

Donald Trump is bullish on golf...

 Tom Watson and Tiger: No Bromance Here

Top 5 PGA Tour Moments of 2012

"It's not easy being Tiger"--Hank Haney talks...

The Ten Best Walks in Golf

Is Cabot Links the new Scotland?

Streamsong Florida Golf Resort--Best Day Play Golf Packages

2013 British Open Golf Packages (5 nights and tickets) to Muirfield

Great Golf of Scotland's Golf Coast 

Top 10: 2012 Shots of the Year

Rory McIlroy buys $10.9 million in Florida

Tom Watson will be U.S. Ryder Cup Captain in 2014

Golf and Gaming in Florida 

Graeme McDowell's Upcoming Nona Blue Tavern 

World's 17 Best Golf Destinations

Thaw Out, Play Golf: Where to Go 

Best Buddies-Trip Destinations

Caddies Fight at Australian Open...

Book Online: St. Andrews Links Trust 

Michael Jordan and Cargo Pants on the Golf Course

5 Most Annoying Golf Resort Practices

Changes to St. Andrews Old Course  

R & A Chief Executive Peter Dawson is positive about Old Course changes...

Process to Old Course changes feels rotten, Bradley Klein writes...

Are you ready for the new John Daly cocktail? Check this out.... 

 Tom Watson Says Golf Has No Place in the Olympics

Top 25 Newsmakers of 2012  

McIlroy Wins PGA Tour Player of the Year 

Could this 9-year old from Northern Ireland be the next Rory?

10 Disturbing Trends in Golf 

5 Simple Ways to Better Corporate Golf Performance

Jack Nicklaus' Plan to Snag the Kids 

Whatever your reason for visiting Florida, there's an Orlando golf resort for you... 

Bye Bye Mickey, Donald and Goofy: Disney No Longer Part of PGA Tour... 

Phil Mickelson tapped to renovate Torrey Pines North

Dinosaurs on the golf course? Check this out... 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Location: Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida

One of Orlando's best seafood restaurants, a Rees Jones designed championship golf course and a lobby bar that serves a to-die-for Mojito are just a few of the many enticements at the amenity-loaded Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek.

What To Expect

Stretching 14 stories high, the hotel has Mediterranean inspired architecture and 400 guest rooms.

You enter a spacious lobby accented with fashionable furnishings and carpets. On my visit, the front desk person was helpful and friendly, which put me in a great frame of mind to enjoy my three day visit.

My room had numerous appealing amenities such as a 40-inch flat screen, alarm clock with iPod dock, European style bedding and TrueBlue bath products.

High-profile entertainment and recreation at the resort includes a lagoon-style, zero entry, outdoor pool with cabanas and spas, fitness center, full-service spa, billiards room, arcade room and several dining options (three signature restaurants, two lounges and a coffee bar). 

Location, Location, Location

The hotel is situated in the Bonnet Creek Resorts area, a 70-acre development that also includes the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek resorts. What makes this area special is that it's the closet thing to staying on Disney property without actually staying at a Disney owned hotel.

Here's why: Bonnet Creek Resorts is bordered on three sides by Disney-owned land and surrounded by the Bonnet Creek nature preserve. While you enjoy easy, minutes away access to all of Disney's theme parks, restaurants and entertainment offerings, you're not deluged with the Disney marketing machine while staying in the Bonnet Creek Resorts area. According to rumors and legend, the foreign owners of the land refused to sell the parcel for many years before relenting about five years ago.

The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek is located about a 20 minute drive from Orlando International and downtown Orlando. 
Here’s my Top 10 random thoughts and observations of things I liked on my visit:
1. The fire pit at the swimming pool.
2. The unique, easy-to-pull out reading lights on the headboard above the bed.
3. Lots of plugs everywhere in the room for computers, battery chargers and other gadgets.
4. The colorful, fashionable carpeting throughout the hotel in the guestrooms and common areas.
5. The interesting, engaging and tasteful furniture in the lobby, bar and common areas.
6. The Back Bay Pool Bar & Grill has a different and exciting menu that includes a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger, Fried Pickles with Chipotle Dressing and a Floridian Salad with Orange Honey Blossom Dressing.
7. The phenomenal Jerk Chicken Sandwich I had at the Back Bay was seasoned perfectly with Pepper Jack cheese, toasted Coco Bread and Mojo Mayo.
8. The mini refrigerator in every guest room.
9. Bar 1521, a sophisticated bar with luxury furnishings near the lobby. Mojito or Sangria, anyone?
10.The oh-so-convenient Barista Coffee Bar near the lobby where you can get your Starbucks Coffee fix, Gelato and Panini sandwiches.

Golf Options

The on-site Waldorf Astoria Golf Club designed by Rees Jones is the primary golf option at Wyndham Grand Orlando. Other nearby possibilities include the four courses at Walt Disney World and 45 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus at the Grand Cypress Resort (both are within a 10-minute drive from the resort).

The Jones course, which opened in 2009, snakes through a large wetland preserve and bunkers are carved to be reminiscent of the hazards designed on courses a century ago. Tall pines and cypress trees line the fairways on the 7,108 yard layout (slope 139 and 74.6 rating from the back tees).

It's very impressive visually with its high impact features and Jones' creative ways to use water and sand as hazards, either in play or perceived to be in play.

I've played it several times and it's an enjoyable resort layout, especially if you don't spray the ball too much. It's not target golf, but pretty close to it.

 Spa Overview

The on-site 5,700 square-foot Blue Harmony Spa has six massage rooms, two outdoor treatment rooms and a 1,900 square-foot fitness center. After a grueling day on the links, try the Signature Blue Bliss Massage, a treatment incorporating marine oil, salt, Lavender buds and steamed, fragrant linen bundles.

Dining Overview

When it's time to dine, you don't have to leave the resort for a great meal. There are three main dining possibilities at the hotel: deep blu Seafood Grille, a fine dining experience; Tesoro Cafe, a family-oriented eatery and Back Bay Pool Bar & Grill, which features al fresco dining, a divergent menu and cocktails.

On the lobby level, deep blu Seafood Grille has instantly become a hit on Orlando's dining scene. It was voted the Best New Restaurant for 2012 by Orlando Magazine and it's chef, Cory York, was voted Best Chef in Orlando.

While I was extremely busy and did not dine at deep blu on my visit, I was told by numerous reliable sources that it's a dining experience not to be missed. Among the popular menu selections are entrees like Grilled Swordfish and the 22 oz. Black Angus T-Bone and side dishes such as Tempura Broccolini with Thai pepper sauce and blu Crab Mac N' Cheese.

The deep blu dining room has an open kitchen, a sushi bar and an excellent wine selection with a "Sommelier's Pick of the Week". A quick perusal of the wine list reveals a wide variety of California, Chilean and New Zealand wines as well as many others.

You'll feel comfortable and at ease with an ambiance dominated by furnishings in soft beige and cream tones and solid wood tables.

Overlooking a lake, the Back Bay Pool Bar and Grill is a great place to unwind after a round of golf or a sojourn to the spa. The cocktail menu is a good one with selections like the Back Bay Blueberry Lemonade (Blueberry infused Bacardi Superior Rum, fresh lemon Sour and simple Syrup) and Oakheart Pina Colada (Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum, Pina Colada and banana puree).  

Meetings Overview

For meetings and conferences, the resort has 25,000 square feet of meeting space encompassing multi-function ballrooms and a Grand Foyer with 19-foot high ceilings, a luxurious 14th floor boardroom and small event area with natural lighting overlooking a private 10-acre lake, a private dining room that can accommodate up to 30 guests and outdoor function areas along the pool deck and resort grounds.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Graeme McDowell's Upcoming Nona Blue Tavern


Graeme McDowell is known to enjoy a pint or two after a successful tournament performance. The popular, amiable Irishman will open an upscale pub/restaurant in Orlando in March, which will have a great selection of beers and a lot more. Click here for sneak preview via The Golf Travel Guru T.V.

I’ve done some intrepid research and here’s the scoop: 

Partnering with Bistro Concepts LLC, the 5,618 square-foot Nona Blue Tavern, slated for a grand opening on Friday March 15th, is located at the Lake Nona Village shopping complex at the corner of Narcoossee Road and Boggy Creek Road near the gates of Lake Nona, a luxury master-planned community near Orlando International Airport, where McDowell resides.

The display kitchen is complemented with exposed brickwork and rich, dark mahogany, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The indoor dining area offers a number of options, including a 40-seat bar, two captain’s tables, wrap-around booth seating throughout and a seating area with drawn curtains for private events. An outdoor patio features a fireplace, intimate bar and al fresco dining.

Light fare on Nona Blue’s menu will include deviled eggs with apple wood smoked bacon, lightly fried oysters and blue cheese kettle chips. Among the “Handwiches” Nona Blue will offer is a decadent twist on the BLT. Order the BLT Grilled Cheese and dive into a pile of lobster salad, apple wood smoked bacon, diced tomato and havarti cheese, served on generous slices of Texas Toast.

Steaks and fresh fish off the hardwood grill are joined by a cider-brined, double cut pork rib chop served with mashed potato and braised apple chutney. The Nona Blue Bar Chefs will be mixing up the freshest seasonal cocktails, along with pouring off plenty of the 49 different wines and 16 craft beers on tap.

McDowell inadvertently gave the concept its name after a victory at the 2012 Tavistock Cup, staged at Lake Nona. Clad in Team Nona’s iconic blue and celebrating another victory in the annual team competition for touring professionals, McDowell shouted, “Nona Blue!” to a gathering of supporters, which included his business partner, Bill Bona.

Other big name golfers who own homes in Lake Nona and reside there full or part-time, include Annika Sorenstam, Retief Goosen, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Yani Tseng. 

Lake Nona Golf & Country Club has an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Tom Fazio and a 40,000 square-foot clubhouse.

Bistro Concepts are the managing partner of the Celebration Town Tavern, a successful restaurant in Celebration, the Disney conceived urban village near Kissimmee.

McDowell talked about the new bar/restaurant recently in a post tournament interview:

“Yeah. The bar's called Nona Blue. It's a tavern restaurant. It's just outside the gates of Lake Nona. Free bars are with PGA TOUR media credentials only.

Traditionally when I win an event I call home to my home golf club. Lake Nona has kind of become my second home golf club, and I typically have a free bar for the members for a defined period of time, obviously.

I always call Rathmore (in Northern Ireland), my home golf course. It's a bit late there now. What is it, 11:35. I was going to say it's not too early for those boys, believe me. Hopefully my dad will make a phone call and we'll shed the boys a few drinks and shed the boys a few drinks at Lake Nona. But I think traditionally it may be drinks on the house at Nona Blue when I win a tournament.

So thankfully it's not open yet. So I'll save a few dollars this time around. I'll be working on it obviously my next ten weeks. We're hoping for mid to late January. So I'll be putting my January dad on hold for the opening. But looking forward to it.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hoist a few at Nona Blue, rub shoulders with a few of his Lake Nona celebrity neighbors and maybe even have a Rory and Carol sighting.