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.