Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Best Event to See Golf Legends

Fortunately, most of golf's living legends congregate in one place annually at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Orlando.

From Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Hale Irwin to John Daly, Nick Price and Nick Faldo, the fairways are teeming with golf icons at the PNC Father Son Challenge, which is staged every December. The unique tournament joins 20 of golf's legends with their son or daughter in a professional competition.

If you want to see some of golf's biggest and most popular stars up close and personal, I highly suggest you attend this tournament. The stars are very approachable off the course and the crowds are limited so you're often just a few feet away on tee boxes and greens from some of the greatest players who've ever picked up a club. Better still, the tickets are very reasonably priced.

The Ritz Carlton Golf Club, which sits behind The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando and JW Marriott Orlando hotels at Grande Lakes Resort, is fairly flat and an easy walk so you can stroll along with the greats. An excellent resort course, it was designed by Greg Norman.

I've attended the tournament for several years and it's easily become one of my favorites to enjoy and celebrate the great game of golf. No other sport celebrates its great players like golf.

This year the team of John Daly and "Little John" Daly stole the show, so to speak, with their brightly colored pants/shorts, friendly demeanor and long balls off the tee. The tournament winners were David Duval and his stepson Nick Karavites, who out dueled Fred Funk and his son Taylor and Retief Goosen and his son Leo.

Some of the other greats who teed it up at the 2016 PNC Father Son Challenge were Raymond Floyd, Larry Nelson, Vijay Singh, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Lee Janzen, Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Stewart Cink, Steve Elkington and Mark O'Meara. All the participating pros must have won a Major or a Players Championship to be part of the field.

The absence of Arnold Palmer was clearly felt this year. Arnie absolutely loved the tournament and participated seven times. Palmer was instrumental in launching the event more than 20 years ago.

Baseball has its Old-Timers games and football greats gather at the Pro Football Hall of Fame every year, but golf has arguably the best way to see and enjoy its greatest stars--it's called the PNC Father Son Challenge.

See you there next year!

Friday, December 9, 2016

5 Most Common Golf Vacationers

Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand
One question I often get from people who don't know a golf club from a baseball bat is: Why do you travel around the world to play golf when you have several perfectly fine golf courses within 5 minutes of your house?

I don't want to go all philosophical on you, but the reason for travel by golfers can be summed up in this simple phrase: "Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire."

In my three decades of spanning the globe to play golf, I've identified five types of golf travelers:

1. The Vacationer--Most likely the golfer is married to a non-golfer, who prefers a stone massage at the spa rather than roaming the fairways. The couple plans the golf trip with the distinct theme of compromise in the air. Golfer searches for a resort with a highly ranked spa and great golf (or some super tracks nearby) and they enjoy the best of both worlds. It has been my experience (with Mrs. Guru) that the non-golfer's needs come first and the golfer is seemingly happy as long as the fairways are wide, the greens are true and the beer is ice cold at the 19th hole.

2. Trophy Hunter--These are the individuals who more than likely have a large map in their office dotted with tiny flags denoting the Top 100 courses they've played around the world. It's an admirable goal for the golf fanatic and I've known more than a few golfers who pursue playing the most highly ranked courses. When they travel, the goal is to plant flags on their map when they return. From the Old Course at St. Andrews to Royal County Down in Ireland to Pebble Beach Golf Links in California, the trophy hunter wants to play them all during his golf travel career.

3. Buddy Tripper--Typically a group of men who generally want to play golf (up to 36 holes a day), drink beer and single malt scotch at the 19th hole, enjoy a steak, lobster or pasta dinner and repeat that day several times. Scotland and Ireland are great buddy trip destinations because the courses are often close to each other and there's an abundance of 19th holes, whiskey distilleries for tours and pubs where the pints flow freely. In the U.S., top buddy trip destinations include Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

4. Adventure Traveler--I'm seeing more of this type of golf traveler in recent years. In addition to playing great golf courses, they want to incorporate exciting off-the-course activities in their itinerary such as wine tours and tastings, safaris, river rafting, hot air ballooning and bicycling. This traveler often gets just as excited in finding a great Cab or Chardonnay as they do in slamming in a 20 foot birdie putt. Some destinations vying for the adventure traveler include South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

5. Event Traveler--This ultimate multi-tasker likes to attend major golf events and tee it up in the area. They'll select events like the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solheim Cup, Open Championship, The Masters and PGA Tour and European Tour tournaments, then arrange to attend for a few days and play golf at nearby notable courses.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Top 10 Golf Travel Trends for 2017

South Africa
Ladies and gentlemen, start your packing!

I'm predicting 2017 will be a great golf travel year. Last week (November 14-18), the U.S. dollar was at its highest rate in 14 years so American travelers will, no doubt, take advantage of this promising turn of events. Plus, golf travel is easier than ever to plan with new technologies no matter where you are in the world.

Here are the Golf Travel Guru's top 10 travel trends for 2017:

1. Combo Golf Trips--While the buddy/friends trip to Scotland and Ireland will continue its seemingly never ending popularity, golf travelers taking couples or multi-generation trips are increasingly opting for packages that can include everything from wine and whiskey tastings to safaris and luxury cruises. An itinerary packed with 18 to 36 holes a day is still appealing to golf fanatics, however, casual golfers who love to travel and play are enhancing trips with varied activities in between rounds. In addition, planning a golf vacation around a major event like the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Presidents Cup or Major like the Open Championship, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and The Masters is becoming more prevalent.

2. Luxury Golf Cruises--Various golf travel companies are highlighting luxury cruising as the main source of travel to play great golf courses. For instance, Premier Golf is offering an 11-night excursion aboard the the $450 million Regent Seven Seas Explorer, the most expensive luxury liner ever built. The uber-luxurious ship will make stops in golf capitals like Edinburgh, Scotland, Liverpool, England and Dublin and Cork in Ireland. On the play list are world class layouts like Royal County Down and the European Club.

3. Year of The Grape--If you like wine and golf like I do, ya gotta wonder what took destinations so long to put them together in packages. Countries that are heavily promoting incorporating wine experiences like tours and tastings with golf are Australia, South Africa, Italy, France, New Zealand and the U.S. (Napa Valley and Sonoma in California and Oregon). In the past year I've been to Napa/Sonoma, Italy and South Africa and I can fully attest that superb wines and great golf are an excellent pairing. 

4. New Destinations--While I'm probably missing a few, my list of emerging golf destinations includes Bulgaria, Turkey, Sweden, Vietnam, Italy, Malaysia and China. 

5. Pacific Rim Appeal--After obligatory visits to Scotland and Ireland have been made and new frontiers beckon, the Pacific Rim is an increasingly popular option. Destinations like New Zealand and Australia offer scenic and challenging courses as well as great wines and countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and China have lately become very bullish on golf.

6. New Booking Technology--It's getting much easier to book a golf vacation with just a few clicks on your own. Golf Voyager, an Ireland-based company, recently debuted a platform to book fully customizable golf packages in real time with immediate confirmation. The easy-to-use, do-it-yourself design combines golf, hotel and transportation options into packages that can be altered to fit your specific needs with confirmed pricing immediately at check-out. I believe you'll start seeing their widget on on many tourism bureau sites. They offer great rates and Golf Voyager is very simple and user-friendly. The software is up and running for Spain and Portugal and will be followed by Ireland, U.K., U.S.A. and other destinations.

7. Social Media Arrives--Social media is increasingly a huge influencer in golf travel decisions. Instead of a flashy ad or video, travelers are investigating how their peers evaluate particular airlines, hotels and golf courses. More travelers or relying on user-generated reviews at sites like TripAdvisor, GolfAdvisor, Oyster and Yelp to make their decisions. Moreover, travelers are influenced by posts and remarks on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.

8. The Masters--The popularity of the Masters increases every year and more people want to immerse among the azaleas and pines even if it just means a practice round day. Trust me, whether you attend a Tuesday or Wednesday practice day or the entire tournament week, it's  a phenomenal, memorable golf experience. From "The Big Oak Tree' and green and white umbrellas on the patio behind the clubhouse to the amazingly inexpensive 1970s concession prices, there's nothing in the golf universe quite like Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters tournament. Some of the companies offering Masters packages that I recommend include Georgia Sports and Premier Golf Travel.

9. Alternative Accommodations--Multi-amenity golf resorts are still the most desired accommodations, however, experienced, intrepid travelers are increasingly considering private vacation homes and Airbnb as other options, especially for extended stays. Now, it's easier than ever to book a private home, room in a home or an apartment. 

10.Bucket List Adventures--While greens fee prices keep climbing, bucket list courses like Pebble Beach and The Old Course at St. Andrews are actually increasing in popularity. In the U.S., topping the list are Pinehurst, Bandon Dunes, TPC THE PLAYERS Sawgrass, Whistling Straits, Bethpage Black, Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Streamsong Resort. Internationally, courses like Royal Troon and Muirfield in Scotland, Royal County Down and Ballybunion in Ireland, Royal St. George in England, Valderrama in Spain, Fancourt Links in South Africa, Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, Royal Melbourne in Australia, Banff Springs and Cabot Links in Canada and Vale do Lobo in Portugal are Bucket List favorites.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

UPDATE on Streamsong Resort's Upcoming Black Course

Streamsong Black No. 7 (Photo by Larry Lambrecht)
When golfers find out the Guru resides in Central Florida, one of the more frequent questions I get is about the much anticipated new Black Course at Streamsong Resort near Lakeland.

After some intrepid research, here are my answers to that question:

* The Black Course is slated to debut in Fall 2017. It's currently in the grow-in mode.

* It's designed by Gil Hanse, whose impressive resume includes the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, which received rave reviews, as well as Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland and The Vineyard Club in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Streamsong Black No. 15 (Photo by Larry Lambrecht)
* Upon completion of The Black, Streamsong Resort will be the only resort in the world with courses designed by Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore, Tom Doak and Gil Hanse.

* Hanse was essentially given a blank canvas to design The Black. He got his pick of land spanning more than 800 acres and selected a 250-acre parcel dominated by a long sand ridge and natural elevation changes.

* The Black is set about a mile from the clubhouse that serves the Streamsong Red and Blue Courses and will be somewhat isolated on the southeast portion of the property.

* The Black is set on rolling terrain with abundant sand, native grasses and panoramas similar to those of Sand Belt courses in Australia.
Streamsong Black No. 5 (Photo by Ben Hillard)
* The Black Course will play to par 73.

* Tee time reservations for The Black became available this month (October, 2016) with  packages available.

* Streamsong officials foresee The Black hosting large Amateur events.

* The resort plans to add a second practice facility, clubhouse and restaurant to serve guests playing Streamsong Black.

Streamsong Resort, situated 27 miles south of Lakeland between Orlando and Tampa, is a multi-amenity resort with championship golf, a 216-room lodge with a spa, infinity pool and casual and fine dining restaurants and activities like bass fishing, sporting clays, tennis and nature trails.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

U.S.A. WILL WIN Ryder Cup 2016

Yeah, I'm going to say it:

The U.S.A. team will win Ryder Cup 2016 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.

Yes, you have my permission to call me delusional, a big-time homer or maybe even an idiot (it won't be the first time) for making this bold prediction.

In the tradition of historic successful predictions made by Joe Namath in the 1969 Super Bowl and Mark Messier in the 1994 N.H.L playoffs, I believe our boys in red, white and blue will bring the Ryder Cup back to American soil.

I can already hear the naysayers out there on the Internet Highway: The Guru's had one too many single-malts, all of the cumulative jet lag has rattled his smallish brain or he's just, well, an idiot.

The Guru understands your skepticism. After all, the Euros have won six out of the last seven and four straight Ryder Cups.

That said, here are my reasons the U.S.A. will be spraying champagne on the final day after the singles matches:

NO IAN POULTER--Due to a foot injury, "Poults" will not be a playing member of the European team, although he'll be a vice captain. Poulter has been the heart and soul of the Euro team with his passion and commitment to Ryder Cup. He rallied his troops at Gleneagles in 2014 with spirited play and timely shots and he was the key player in the amazing European comeback at Medinah in 2012, where he was the top points scorer from either side. Just as impressive is Poulter's incredible run of five birdies in a row to close out his Saturday four ball match with Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson when Europe was trailing 10-4 and seemingly dead in the water. That match pretty much started the miracle comeback.

PATRICK REED IS IN-YOUR-FACE--The pugnacious, irascible Reed is the type of take-no-prisoners player the U.S.A. team has been missing. His famous finger-to-the-lips "shooshing" of the crowd after sinking a putt at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014 is the stuff of legend now. Reed went 3-0-1 at Gleneagles and never once backed down to the crowd or opposing players. Nobody on the American team played better than Reed at Gleneagles. The U.S.A. finally has someone as defiant and passionate as Ballesteros and Poulter and Reed should make a big difference at Hazeltine National.

TEAM U.S.A.WILL FINALLY SINK PUTTS WHEN THEY COUNT--In many ways, Ryder Cup matches evolve into putting contests. The Euros have sunk them in timely moments and the U.S.A. has not. I predict that will change in 2016. This year the U.S.A. is bringing some serious flatsticks to the moss. The U.S.A. team has six players in the top 30 in the PGA Tour's Putting Average (through the weekend ending 9/19/16): Jordan Spieth (T1), Dustin Johnson (3), Phil Mickelson (5), Brooks Koepka (T16), Matt Kuchar (T16) and Brandt Snedeker (26). The top European player is Rory McIlroy at T31, which is where U.S.A Captain's Pick J.B. Holmes is also slotted. I certainly comprehend that several of the European players don't play a full PGA Tour schedule, but the numbers are still impressive for the U.S.A. The putts are gonna drop this year and propel the U.S.A. to victory.

Friday, September 16, 2016

What's New at Golf Resorts

Sand Valley Resort
Another Keiser Beauty

Mike Keiser, the creator/developer of Bandon Dunes in Oregon and Cabot Links in Canada, opened Sand Valley Golf Resort in central Wisconsin on September 1, 2016. Located near the tourist town of Wisconsin Dells, about a two-hour drive north of Madison, the Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design promises to offer Bandon Dunes quality and excitement. Visually stunning, the course is natural looking with exposed sand dunes, ridges and valleys. The front nine is hilly, the back nine plays through valleys and the fescue turf makes it play firm and fast. The 1,700-acre Sand Valley Resort, near the small town of Rome, has a 40-room lodge.

New Davis Love III Design at Sea Pines Resort

Slated to open October 3rd at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island is Love III's newest design, Atlantic Dunes. A 5-time winner of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage Classic on Hilton Head, DLIII knows the island well. Replacing the former Ocean Course at the resort, Atlantic Dunes promises to be very playable for all skill levels with generous landing areas off the tee and huge waste areas. Got a feeling the "Grip It and Rip It" crowd are going to enjoy this one from long hitter DLIII.

The Deuce at Pinehurst Resort

Recently opened is The Deuce, a bar and restaurant overlooking the 18th green of the famed No. 2 course. Featuring a bar with large custom-made windows that open up onto the veranda, the setting is an ideal place to watch all the exciting happenings on the finishing hole. The Deuce serves lunch every day and appetizers throughout the afternoon and evening. An eclectic men features unique items like Crab Hushpuppy Beignets and Loaded Tater Tots. The bar offers a variety of cocktails and local craft beers.

Coming Attractions in Branson, Missouri

Two new courses are set to open in 2017 at this popular, live entertainment capital in the Show-Me state. The Ridge Course, an 18-hole championship layout, is being designed by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and a family-friendly, 12-hole course designed by Gary Player will focus on newcomers to the game and novice players.

New Gil Hanse Course

Hanse, who got rave reviews for his design of the Olympics 2016 course in Rio, is designing Streamsong Black at Streamsong Resort in central Florida. Scheduled to open in Fall 2017, the course will be the third at this resort near Lakeland.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

10 Emerging Millennials Golf and Travel Trends

Remember Tiger Woods? While golf's injured supernova has been sitting on the sidelines, Millennials like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson have moved to the forefront of the game signaling an upcoming seismic shift in the sport on and off the course.

Millennials, who range in age 16 to 34 years of age, are just beginning to make their impact on golf and travel. If you're involved in either one of these industries, or both, I highly suggest you start preparing for the onslaught of the Snapchat and smoothies generation. There are 79 million of them in the U.S. and they spend $600 billion dollars a year. In five years, the oldest of the generation will be pushing 40.

Here are 10 top Millennial trends important to the golf and travel industries:

1. Social Media is an amazing Millennial influencer--Whether it's viewing a dramatic picture on Instagram or reading a favorable tweet about a hotel or golf course on Twitter, Millennials are heavily influenced by reviews and comments on social media. Quite simply, if you want to reach Millennials and impact their golf and travel decisions, a strong presence on social media is absolutely imperative. 
 It's estimated that 75% of Millennials post while they're on vacation. If you want to reach Millennials, you can forget about old school paper brochures, newspaper travel articles and cheesy magazine ads. 

2. Why Millennials travel--Millennials love to travel with a purpose. They want to experience new cultures, cuisine and activities. Moreover, they want to visit interesting destinations where they can post pictures that get lots of attention and "likes". Millennial golfers want to play on courses that are both challenging and photogenic so their buddies back home can see what they're missing via social media.

3. Millennial golf trends--While the Baby Boomers cry was "Let's Play 36!", Millennials are more prone to saying "Let's Play Golf in Many Different Ways." Increasingly popular are playing nine holes or less, pay-by-hole, night golf and golf simulator competitions. Many Millennial golfers don't want to be locked into the traditional 18-hole golf experience. A hugely popular
 off-site golf activity, Topgolf entertainment complexes appeal to tech-addicted Millennials with point-scored electronic golf games that anyone, regardless of skill level, can play. In a plush sports-bar-style environment, players hit a golf ball containing a personalized microchip into a series of targets ranging from 20 to 240 yards away. Topgolf, which has an upscale food and beverage menu and can host group events, has locations that include Scottsdale, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Houston and Austin, Texas, and Alexandria, Va. A new, expansive Topgolf is under construction in Orlando, Florida.

4. What Millennials LIKE at resorts and hotels--There are an increasing number of hotel chains such as Aloft, W, Kimpton and Hyatt Centric that cater directly to Millennial needs.  Millennials desire large spacious lobbies where they can spread out and lounge with their electronic devices, coffee bars, lounges with big selections of craft beers, sports bars teeming with large screen televisions, lawn games like corn hole and bocce ball, a large number of charging stations in the lobby and hotel common areas, outdoor lounging spaces with comfy chairs, couches and connectivity and healthy food choices.

5. What Millennials don't like at resorts and hotels--They DISLIKE hotels that charge for Wifi, don't have mobile check-in and don't have texting communication with guests. Millennials also could care less about a mini-bar, pillow chocolates, old school coffee makers, overpriced room service, iPod docking stations and a newspaper in front of the door.

6. How Millennials select destinations, hotels and restaurants--This is HUGE. Traditional advertisements aren't nearly as effective with Millennials. Millennials rely on each other's opinions on social media to make travel decisions. Instead of a flashy ad or video, Millennials are more likely to access user-generated recommendations on popular review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Airbnb and Oyster to help make their travel decisions.

7. New Millennial amenities at golf resorts--The traditional golf cart is evolving to appeal to Millennials. In Scottsdale, Ariz., the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers specially designed Segways to ride and transport clubs on their golf courses. Resorts such as Tetherow in Bend, Ore., Boyne Highlands in Michigan and Princeville at Hanalei on the island of Lanai in Hawaii feature Golfboards, an easy-to-ride electric board equipped to carry clubs that allows golfers to surf the fairways and feels similar to snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding. Millennials love food trucks and you'll increasingly see them at resorts. The PGA National Resort in Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and Ocean Reef Club and Resort in the Florida Keys now have food trucks.

8. Popular Millennial golf and sports activities at resorts--It's becoming increasingly clear that Millennials will consume the game of golf much differently than Boomers. Fitness is an integral part of the Millennial lifestyle so it's not surprising that pursuits like Footgolf, a hybrid game of soccer and golf on the course, has caught on.  Resorts like Crystal Springs in New Jersey, French Lick Resort in Indiana and TreeTops Resort in Michigan offer Footgolf. You also see an increasing number of Millennials jogging on golf cart paths early in the morning before the course opens.

9. Millennials love to validate their experiences on social media-The "If you didn't post it, it didn't happen" generation love to tell their friends and family about their travel experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare and other platforms.

10. Millennials want more connectivity everywhere--It's a no brainer that hotels better have great connectivity, but Millennials also want to be connected on the golf course, too. While many Boomers find it annoying, Millennials don't want to turn off their cell phones on the golf course. Some golf resorts are responding with charging stations on golf carts, increased Wifi access and golf apps. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You Must Play Mexico!

Mexico is a popular spring break haven and an all-inclusive resort capital where the rum runners and margaritas never stop flowing. However, it's often overlooked as a great golf destination.

Golf vacationers are missing a lot. Courses with designer tags like Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf, Tiger Woods and Rees Jones dot the terrain in the main vacation areas and you're never far away from a swim-up bar, spa,  beach or marina.

Most golfers gravitate to the major tourist destinations along the coast such as Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta/Nayarit, Los Cabos in Baja, Acapulco and Mazatlan. The diverse settings range from the spectacular beaches on the Riviera Maya to the desert overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez in Los Cabos to the lush tropical jungle in Puerto Vallarta

"Mexico golf is still relatively unknown to most golfers, but they're making great progress," says Dave Simmonds, president of Mexigolf, a full-service golf travel company specializing in customized golf packages to Mexico. "Top golf architects have designed courses in the past twenty years, the weather is excellent for golf and Mexico is fairly inexpensive for first class lodging and phenomenal food and drinks."

Simmonds has decades of experience playing golf and planning golf-centric excursions to Mexico. He's lived in Mexico and played in every part of the country. He knows the resorts, hotels, courses, culture and cuisine better than anyone I've ever met.

"I enjoy telling people all I know about Mexico and what it has to offer," Simmonds says.

He continues, "Mexico has an amazing, rich culture, a diverse and beautiful landscape with some of the best prices in the world. The proximity to the U.S. makes it an easy transition for a getaway when you can catch a plane in the morning and tee it up later that afternoon."

If you want to play Mexico, visit his site Mexigolf and enter some basic information about your trip. Dave quickly replies and assists you in making the planning and coordination process easy and hassle-free.

"Working with clients I find out the courses they want to play, the make-up of the group and what they like to do when they're not playing golf," Simmonds says. "Adventure/eco travel is huge in Mexico and there are many opportunities to participate when not on the course, from zip-lining and day trips to scuba and deep sea fishing."

Now is a great time to play golf in Mexico. 

Simmonds says Mexico tourism took a big hit during the worldwide recession in 2008 and it had to improve it's infrastructure to compete for the travel dollar. 

"Mexico's resorts, hotels, golf courses and restaurants have greatly improved in the past five years and it offers a tremendous travel value," he says. "Safety for guests is a high priority, the people are very friendly and accommodating and they truly live up to their reputation as 'The Amigo Country'."

There are more than 225 golf courses in Mexico. Highlighting the menu are layouts like Cabo del Sol Ocean Course in Cabo, a Jack Nicklaus design framed by craggy rock outcropping and a stunning shoreline;  El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba on Riviera Maya, a Greg Norman masterpiece that weaves with mangrove jungles, limestone canals and    magnificent oceanfront stretches; and the Vista Vallarta Club de in Puerto Vallarta, home to two 18-hole championship layouts by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf.

Simmonds says he can customize a trip for any age group.

"It doesn't matter if you're a Baby Boomer, Millennial or Generation X  or whether you want to play 36 holes or 18 holes a day, we'll customize the trip to have a full balance of golf and fun activities in between," he says. "Every group has different needs and desires and I design each package individually."

It's time to tee up in Mexico and a quick click to Mexigolf is the best way to start your journey to this fun-filled golf destination. You can also email Dave Simmonds at Dave@mexigolf.com or call him at 858-699-0613

Thursday, August 11, 2016

5 Great Adventure Travel Golf Destinations

Are you looking for new golf vacation frontiers?

Here are five destinations where the golf road is a little less traveled. Places where you'll find superb golf and activities and attractions that'll enhance your visit and create lasting memories: 

South Africa--Situated at the tip of the African continent, South Africa has the perfect blend of luxury, soft adventure, championship golf courses, the finest wines in the Southern Hemisphere and the opportunity to see the Big Five (elephant, leopard, buffalo, lion and rhino) in the their natural habitat on safari. You'll test your skills on fairways where Zebras are likely to roam alongside or tee off from cliffs offering stunning panoramas. Accommodations in South Africa encompass beautiful lodges, boutique hotels and upscale, amenity-rich resorts. For wine lovers, South Africa has been producing wine for more than 350 years and has some of the most picturesque wineries on the planet.

New Zealand--Active volcanoes, spectacular glaciers, rugged mountains, gorgeous beaches, vast plains and lush forests make New Zealand a photogenic paradise. World-class golf architects like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Doak andRobert Trent Jones Jr. have capitalized on New Zealand's amazing topography by designing courses at incredible, awe-inspiring locations. Set near either snow capped mountains or isolated coastal stretches, these courses, provide inspirational natural backdrops with breathtaking scenery. Better still, the courses are uncrowded and fun-to-play. To compliment your golf excursion, New Zealand has tours of its fabulous wineries in 12 wine regions and other activities like whale watching, helicopter tours, scenic train trips and boat cruises, diving, surfing and tours of "The Lord of the Rings" film locations.

Canada--From the dramatic Cabot Cliffs and Cabot Links courses in Nova Scotia (created by Bandon Dunes developer Mike Keiser) to Western Canada's courses set against backdrops of soaring mountains and lush pine forests, this country has lots to offer golfers. While golf is often overshadowed by hockey and winter sports, the spring, summer and early fall are great times to tee up. You can stay and play at legendary resorts like the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, which is styled after a Scottish Baronial castle, and Jasper Lodge, an iconic luxury mountain resort on the shores of Lac Beauvert.

Australia--Aussies absolutely love golf. It's the country's number one participant sport. For golf vacationers, the combination of world-class golf, fine wines, unique cuisine, beautiful coastlines, a relaxed lifestyle and a welcoming, golf knowledgeable citizenry makes Australia a fantastic choice, especially for couples. There are more than 1,800 courses to choose from in Australia. The best courses are in a small area of Melbourne known as the Sand Belt, where legendary layouts like Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and Commonwealth are located.  Wine tours are popular with more than 60 wine regions. Australia has an outstanding outdoor dining lifestyle so you'll enjoy some of the world's best food and wine amid magnificent surroundings.

Italy--One of the great ways to "work-off" all the sumptuous pastas and delicious wines in Italy is to play golf. There are more than 250 golf courses in the country. Most of the courses are located in the Lake District north of Milan, in the Tuscany region around Florence and near Rome. Italy has become bullish on golf and attracting golf vacationers in recent years. It will host the Ryder Cup matches in 2022 at Marco Simone Golf Club near Rome. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Observations From the Guru's Italian Adventure

The Guru recently returned from a month in Italy. I've traveled to Europe two or three times a year  for over twenty years and I thoroughly enjoy the lifestyle and pace of life there. I'm a huge fan of "La Dolce Vita".

Here are some observations from my trip:

Unbelievably Overpriced Airport Food--During my wait before departure at Orlando International Airport, I dined at an on-site Outback Restaurant. While this airport version looks like the same Outback chain I enjoy, it's not even close. I gotta a feeling they have dozens of microwave ovens humming away in the kitchen at this place. While the menu had some of my favorites, the translation was pretty sad. I assume the food was nuked into tastelessness by a microwave. I'm always amazed at the prices these airport vendors charge for absolutely substandard fare.

Flying Woes--Hey, fellow passenger:Is it really that hard to put your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment and get your fat ass out of the aisle when you're boarding a plane? It seems like every flight now, you've got people camped out in the aisle trying to stuff their oversized bag into a too-small compartment. Annoyingly, everyone must wait in line while this inconsiderate oaf tries to find a place for all his or her carry-ons. It's the same thing when you're getting off the plane as well.

Smokers Everywhere--I don't smoke and it generally doesn't bug me to be around someone sucking on a heater. In the U.S., smokers are typically hard to find these days. In Europe though, especially in Italy, people are smoking as if they've never heard of emphysema, cancer or heart disease. You see all sorts of teens and old-timers inhaling hard and fast. What ruins it for non-smokers is that many of the sidewalk cafes in Italy let them puff away while you're dining al fresco. Let's just say, I'm not a big fan of second-hand smoke wafting into my Pasta Carbonara.

AirB&B a Winner--This trip was the first time I used AirB&B and I was impressed on many levels. First, the online communication and coordination between AirB&B and the apartment owner with me was exceptional. Second, the owner, Samuele, was a super Italian guy, who helped with the luggage (nothing says they have to) and left a basket full of breakfast goodies. Add to that, a stunning view of the port of Trieste, a safe and convenient neighborhood and Mrs. Guru and I had a great week for a very reasonable price.

Staying in a Villa--About five years ago, I decided to eschew hotels in Europe and try to find alternative places to stay like villas and apartments. I got tired of the tiny bathrooms and the saggy beds you get at many hotels that bill themselves as 3-star properties. Let's face it, these dumps wouldn't stay in business two weeks competing against value-priced American chains like Hyatt Place, Hilton Home2 and Holiday Inn Express. You'd be amazed at the type of phenomenal places you can stay at in Europe for very reasonable rates if you just put in a good online search. I stayed at the Villa Bottacin in Trieste, which has a swimming pool, beautifully landscaped lawn and garden, terrace for dining at breakfast and an apartment with a balcony offering a city view. All for less than 100 bucks a night. La Dolce Vita, indeed.

Monday, June 20, 2016

On Location: Inn at Bay Harbor

I've been dreaming of playing Northern Michigan for years. I finally made it and for my delay I deserve a solid plunk in the head with a nine-iron. Wow! What a great destination to play golf.

A wonderland of Lake Michigan views, superbly designed golf courses, quaint lakeside villages and wonderfully prepared Midwestern cuisine, Michigan has all of these things and a lot more. The relatively short golf season runs from April to October. After that, it's time to break out the ski poles and snowboards.

One of the highlights of my visit was staying and playing at the Inn at Bay Harbor, one of America's treasured, classically styled, luxury hotels.

Situated on the Lake Michigan shoreline, the stunning, Victorian-style hotel oozes with timeless charm, yet pampers its guests with a wealth of desired upscale amenities. The Inn at Bay Harbor is part of the prestigious Marriott International's Autograph Collection Hotels, a portfolio of independent hotels recognized for celebrating individuality.

If you're looking for the quintessential Lake Michigan vacation experience, the Inn at Bay Harbor is a Guru approved.


I'm a devoted Arthur Hills design fan so I was excited to tee up at Bay Harbor Golf Club, one of his high-profile designs. While some get carried away with hyperbole, I can't disagree with those writers who refer to the course as "the Pebble Beach of the Midwest". 

You're treated to three distinct nines at the 27-hole complex. The Links weaves alongside Lake Michigan and has the feel and look of a great Irish seaside course. The Quarry winds through a shale quarry with 40-foot rock walls, ponds and a waterfall. The Preserve is cut through a hardwood forest with wildflowers and wetlands.

Hills did a masterful job of enhancing the existing terrain and features to create truly inspiring golf that'll have you talking about your round months and perhaps years after playing Bay Harbor. Quite honestly, if I had focused on my game instead of taking so many pictures with my iPhone I might have scored a little better. Some of the holes on the Links and Quarry are among the most photogenic you'll find in the U.S.

My most memorable shots at Bay Harbor came on elevated tees with Lake Michigan in the foreground. I got the same feeling of awe and inspiration I've received at oceanside gems like the Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and Kingsbarns in Scotland. 

Guests can also play the Crooked Tree Golf Club located nearby. Set on bluffs above Bay Harbor, the course highlights include fairways lined by centuries-old hardwood trees, panoramas of Little Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan and innovative bunkering. 


A variety of options are available. A standard 440 square-foot guest room has two queen beds, a balcony and in-room coffee maker.

The Master Suite is 770 square feet with a fireplace and kitchenette.

For those traveling with multiple family members or for buddy golf trips, the additional suite selections include: The Grand (880 square feet/3 beds), The Quarry (950 square feet/3 beds), The Specialty (1,200 square feet/3 beds), The Tower (2,000 square feet/4 beds) and The Penthouse (3,000 square feet/5 beds).

10 Little Things I Liked

1. The complimentary crisp, luscious apples available in the lobby.

2. The fire pit and chairs just a few feet from Lake Michigan directly behind the Inn.

3. The amazing Schonbek chandelier in the lobby with 34,000 gem-cut crystals and nearly 2,000 lights.

4. The delicious Horny Monk craft beer by Petoskey Brewery that I had at the Vintage Chophouse/Bar.

5. The perfectly prepared N.Y. Strip steak and to-die-for Mac & Cheese Gratin I had at Vintage Chophouse.

6. The life-size chess board near the pool.

7. The stunning lake views and bountiful breakfast buffet at the Sagamore Room.

8. The plush bedding with multiple pillows in my guest room.

9. The friendly and accommodating staff exuding great Midwestern hospitality.

10. The walk on the beach located directly behind the Inn.


Vintage Chophouse/Wine Bar--A classic American steakhouse with rich wood appointments, leather chairs, superb wine list and a good selection of craft beers. Dinner menu highlights include Seafood Linguini, Cowboy Ribeye with Smoked Blue Cheese Au Gratin and Herbed Free Range Chicken.

The Sagamore Room--If you think the views on the golf course are great, wait'll you have breakfast at the Sagamore. Expansive windows afford spectacular views of Lake Michigan while you enjoy an impressive breakfast buffet.

Inn Cafe--Great little spot for a cup of coffee, cappuccino, espresso or ice cream and light snacks.  

Cabana Bar--Magnificent views of Lake Michigan, casual dining fare, tropical drinks and daily Happy Hour specials are the draw here.


--Boutique shopping and dining at Village at Bay Harbor adjacent to the Inn.

--A variety of spa services available at the Inn's full-service spa and salon.

--Shopping, dining and sightseeing in historic Petoskey.

--Biking on paths alongside Lake Michigan.

--Swimming in the outdoor pool.

--Enjoying a glass of wine or making S'Mores at the fire pit.

--Sunset watching from the shoreline just a few steps away from the Inn.

--Wine tours at nearby wineries.

--Lake fishing and fly fishing at nearby streams.

--Resort activities such as croquet, bocce ball and a life-size chess board.


Situated just off Highway 31 about 4 miles from downtown Petoskey, Michigan.


For more information, call 855-688-7023 or click to Inn at Bay Harbor. Address: 3600 Village Harbor Drive, Bay Harbor, Michigan 49770-8577

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

TPC Network Adding New Course in Colorado

If you like TPC courses, you’re gonna love the next addition to the TPC Network that's scheduled to debut in the spring of 2018.

The PGATour’s TPC Network just announced the groundbreaking of  TPC Colorado, which will offer phenomenal panoramas of the Rocky Mountains. It’s located in the northern region of the state on Highway 287 in Berthoud, just north of Longmont and south of Loveland about a 20-minute drive to Fort Collins, a 30-minute drive to Boulder and one hour drive to Denver.

“We’re excited to announce the construction of TPC Colorado, which has been a highly anticipated project from everyone involved and will feature the first TPC course to be built from the ground up since we opened TPC San Antonio in 2010,” says PGA TOUR Chairman of Golf Course Properties Charlie Zink.

Set along the banks of Lonetree, McNeil and Welch Reservoirs, the par-72, 18-hole, championship layout will have elevated ridges with stunning views of Long’s Peak and the entire Front Range and holes along the shorelines of the large reservoirs. Stacked-sod pot bunkers and fescue-lined fairways will give the course a Scottish-style feel.

Designed by Arthur Schaupeter, the course will be built into the natural terrain providing numerous play options and different lines of play for all skill levels. Other courses by Schaupeter include The Republic Golf Club in San Antonio and The Club at Old Hawthorne, the home course for the University of Missouri golf teams.

The golf course will be the centerpiece amenity at an 800-acre master-planned residential community with a clubhouse, community center, pool, fitness facility and a Marina Club with lake access, recreation, waterfront bar and grill, pier and outdoor seating. In addition, there will be more than eight miles of walking trails and other recreation options such as boating, biking, hiking and fishing.

Developed by Heron Lakes Investments, LLC, this will be Colorado’s first ground-up golf course development in nearly 10 years.

Residential offerings at the development will range from multi-million dollar custom estates to a diverse mix of luxurious townhomes and condos. The mixed-use master plan is also zoned for a 30-acre commercial component, allowing small businesses to provide products and services in what has been dubbed “Heron LakesGolf Community.”
Known for hosting PGA TOUR-sponsored golf tournaments, the TPC Network is comprised of 34 premier private, resort and daily fee golf properties designed by some of golf’s most elite architects. It’s resort locations include TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, TPC San Antonio, TPC Scottsdale and TPC Las Vegas.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tee Up in New Jersey

Atlantic City Country Club
As a Florida resident, I'm constantly meeting golfers from New Jersey on the courses down here. They retreat to the Sunshine State for the great winter weather, beaches and countless golf courses. 

Uh, the Key Lime Pie, grilled Red Snapper, Funky Buddha craft beer and Pomperdale New York Deli in Fort Lauderdale are also a few other important enticements.

Fact is, though, during the spring, summer and fall, New Jersey is a darn good place to play golf. The state has a great golf legacy and a plethora of exceptional places to play. I visited the Atlantic City area several months ago and was impressed with the variety and quality of course selections.

New Jersey is a favorite spot for the pros. The 2016 PGA Championship will be played at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield July 25-31 and Liberty National will be the site for The Barclays, one of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs, in 2019 and 2022. The LPGA plays its ShopRite Classic every June at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway and they'll contest they're national championship in 2017 when the U.S. Women's Open is played at Trump National Bedminster.
Twisted Dune Golf Club

Hey, fuggedabout the pros, right? 

To find a list of public and daily-fee courses you can play, click to: http://www.visitnj.org/nj/attractions/golfing

For further guidance, here's Golfweek Magazine's list of the Top 10 courses in New Jersey:

Atlantic City CC, North field

Crystal Springs Resort (Ballyowen and Wild Turkey), Hamburg

Twisted Dune, Egg Harbor Township

Shore Gate, Ocean View

Neshanic Valley, Neshanic Station

Ballamor GC, Lopatcong

Stockton Seaview Hotel & GC, Absecon

Sand Barrens GC, Swainton
Seaview Hotel & Golf Club

Here are some notable facts about New Jersey golf:

   The consensus number-one course in the country (and on some lists, the world) is Pine Valley, located in Clementon

   Other top-ranked courses in the state, as rated by the leading golf publications, include both the Upper and Lower Courses at Baltusrol, Plainfield Country Club, Somerset Hills Golf Club, Trump National, Ridgewood, Galloway National, Bayonne Golf Club, Hidden Creek, and Hollywood.

   The United States Golf Association (USGA), which oversees 13 national championships and helps set the rules of golf, is based in Far Hills (Somerset County) in the center of the state.

•   The USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Centerfor Golf History houses one of the world’s premier collections of golf artifacts and memorabilia. Its exhibits tell the 100-plus-year story of golf in America. The Museum is open to the public.