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:

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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Great Golf Deals at Georgia State Parks

Wallace Adams Golf Course at Little Ocmulgee State Park
Are you looking for golf deals in all the wrong places?

While cost conscious golf travelers, understandably, flock to golf trails and budget resorts, there are also money-saving deals and great golf to be found at state parks, especially in Georgia.

If you like excellent golf with greens fees in the $25 to $50 price range, I highly suggest you head to Georgia.

Georgia State Parks offer special packages that include lodging and golf.  For example, The Creek at Hard Labor Creek State Park has two day/two night stays in a cabin and two days of golf, starting at $105 per night. To review the packages, click to: Georgia State Parks Golf Packages

Here's the superb menu of courses if you've got "Georgia On Your Mind":

Arrowhead Pointe at Richard B. Russell State Park near Elberton--Bring your camera along with your "A" game to this picturesque 6,800-yard layout that's situated on a peninsula within the state park offering spectacular water panoramas on 10 of the 18 holes skirting the lake. In 2014, Golfweek selected Arrowhead Pointe as the "Sixth Best Municipal Course in the Nation."

Brazell's Creek Golf Course at Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park near Reidsville--Playing to par 71 at 6,821 yards, this unique course has a 1,500-yard winding bridge that connects the two decidedly different nines. The first nine is dominated by tree-lined fairways while the other nine is links-style set on a windswept open landscape.

Georgia Veterans Memorial Golf Course at Lake Blackshear Resort near Cordele--Ranked by Golf Digest as a four-star course, this 6,869-yard Denis Griffiths design on the shores of Lake Blackshear has fairways that wind through mounds and stands of towering loblolly pines.
Lake Blackshear Resort
Highland Walk at Victoria Bryant State Park near Royston--Built on steep rolling hills with wide open, crowned Bermuda fairways, the 6,503-yard Highland Walk is fun and challenging. It has some great deals such as the "All You Can Play" for $50 per day and the twilight rate (after 2 p.m.) for $26 on weekdays and $28 on weekends.

The Creek Golf Course at Hard Labor Creek State Park near Social Circle--While only 6,437-yards long, The Creek offers lots of challenge with narrow tree-lined fairways and Champion Bermuda greens. The first hole, a 434-yard, par 4, is considered by many as one of the toughest opening holes in the state.

The Lakes Golf Course at Laura S. Walker State Park near Waycross--Situated near the Okefenokee Swamp, this 6,596-yard course has three lakes and bunkers and waste areas with native sand. Monday to Friday rates are $27 for 18 holes with cart at The Lakes and an amazing $18 twilight rate for those teeing up after 2 p.m.
The Lakes Golf Course at Laura S. Walker State Park
Meadow Links Golf Course at George T. Bagby State Park near Fort Gaines--Opened in 1998, this affordable 7,007-yard Willard Byrd design is seamlessly woven into beautiful rolling countryside. It has large greens with subtle undulations and fairways rimmed with Bahia rough.

Wallace Adams Golf Course at Little Ocmulgee State Park near Helena--This 6,625-yard layout immerses you in a wonderland of loblolly pines, willows and magnolias with Bermuda fairways and Tif  Eagle Bermuda greens.

For reservations or tee times, call 770-389-7419 or 800-434-0982. For more golf information, click to Georgia State Parks Golf. To access information on accommodations, recreation options, historic sites, special passes, traveling with pets and things to do at Georgia State Parks, click HERE.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Go To the Masters: The Ultimate Spectator Experience

I don't care if you can't break 120. If you're passionate about golf on any level, you absolutely must go to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Amazingly, in more than two decades of writing about golf travel, I had never been to the Masters. Suffice it to say, it was a glaring void in my resume.

Oh, I've had several opportunities through the years, but I was always coaching my kids' soccer games or caddying for them in junior golf tournaments in April. Believe me, I have no regrets at choosing family time over everything else.

I finally made it to the Masters this year, though, thanks to Jim Robustelli, president of  Georgia Sports & Event Marketing Corporation , Inc., who graciously set up my visit to Tuesday's practice round.

The experience amid the magnolias, azaleas, dogwoods and carpet-like fairways far exceeded my expectations. While I could pile on the hyperbole for several sentences, I really don't need to because almost everybody knows (either by watching on television or talking with friends who've attended) about the magical charms of the Masters.

If you want to go, Georgia Sports & Event Marketing can take you there with a variety of Masters packages. Jim and his travel experts have deep ties to the tournament and the city of Augusta with more than 30 years experience and, most importantly, they provide a 100% guarantee of your Masters tickets and badges.

Whether you want a package to attend tournament rounds, a practice round package or a combination of both, Georgia Sports' packages are loaded with great amenities like valet parking across the street form Augusta National, full day hospitality at the Magnolia Manor, shuttle to and from the tournament (from hotels and Magnolia Manor), and on-site program coordination by Georgia Sports Masters Golf Travel experts.
Magnolia Manor
Through the years I've seen lots of travel packages and I think Georgia Sports' are very reasonably priced and value-oriented with lots of extras. Best of all, Jim and his staff take great care of you in all phases of your visit.

Some of the featured hotels in their packages include Comfort Suites Augusta, Jameson Suites Augusta and Home2 Suites by Hilton in Augusta. Georgia Sports also has exclusive rental rights to many homes in the Augusta area. The beautiful, amenity-loaded homes range in size from 3 to 6 bedroom and are located a 5 to 15 minute ride from Augusta National.

The private home packages are a great value if you've got a group of four. Prices are per person based on four guests. For example, at this year's Masters (2016), the 2 Night Early Round Package (which included Masters Tournament Badges on Thursday and Friday and lots of amenities) was priced at $3,382 per person (based on 4 guests). 

Georgia Sports offers a variety of multi-night Masters packages. They also have watch & play and extension packages. 

In addition, Georgia Sports has packages to the U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, Players Championship, Memorial Tournament, Tour Championship and Walker Cup as well as a host of other big time sports events.

For more information, click to Georgia Sports & Event Marketing Corporation or call 770-518-5558 or 888-704-3140.