Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Golf Trip Junkie Makes Your Golf Vacation Dreams Come True

Booking a golf vacation looks fairly easy, right?

You hit the web, then start surfing for hotels and tee times and you're well on your way to a dream golf vacation...

Uh, no, not really.

You'll quickly find out the confusing nature of hotel, condo and villa accommodations, the difficulty of finding tee times everyone in your group can agree on, and the annoyance of deciphering the driving distances between courses are just a few of the many details that will get you so frustrated you might want to pick-up a 9-iron and launch it skyward.

Guess what, though, someone has already done all hard the work for you. Why not bypass all the anxiety and frustration by contacting Golf Trip Junkie , a golf vacation company that specializes in personal service with the primary goal of exceeding your expectations. You can either click to visit www.golftripjunkie.com or call them at 877-634-0790.

When you call, you'll most likely talk with the company's founder and president, Sean Petersen, who personally answers the phone.

"It's the first step in our heightened personal service," Petersen says. "I want to find out exactly what the client is looking for in their golf vacation. I use my vast travel experience playing at major golf destinations to design the perfect package for them."

The friendly and golf travel knowledgeable Petersen has played hundreds of golf courses in every major golf destination in the U.S. such as Pinehurst, Pebble Beach and Scottsdale as well as Scotland, Ireland and the Dominican Republic. Some of Petersen's personal favorites include Royal Dornoch and North Berwick in Scotland and We-Ko-Pa Saguaro Course (Arizona), Pasatiempo Golf Club (California) and Pinehurst No. 2 in the U.S.

Sean Petersen

"We take care of the details so our clients can relax and not be stressed out worrying about the logistics of the trip," Petersen says. "Our planning and execution process is simple. We offer dedicated hands-on service with obsessive attention to detail from the beginning of the trip till the end through all of the good to any challenges presented along the way. We take absolutely nothing for granted."

You name the golf destination or resort and Golf Trip Junkie can take you there in style. From Palm Springs to Palm Beach and every major golf vacation destination in between, Golf Trip Junkie has the expertise and knowledge to plan and execute a truly memorable experience. Popular U.S. destinations include Pinehurst, Pebble Beach, Destination Kohler, Kiawah Island and Phoenix/Scottsdale to name a few.

Internationally, some of Golf Trip Junkie's more in-demand destinations include Scotland, Ireland and the Dominican Republic. Golf Trip Junkie has access to guaranteed tee times at the Old Course in St. Andrews.

"We can customize our packages to fit the clients individual wants and needs," Petersen says. "Also, even if our access to golf courses and lodging options does not include their destination, we will work to get the best possible price for the client."

For those who want to attend The Masters in Augusta (who doesn't), Golf Trip Junkie has a variety of hotel and private home packages available. Hotel packages include full breakfast, Masters tickets and tournament transfers. To review Masters Packages, click HERE

If your corporate group wants an outing for team bonding, relationship building or customer loyalty appreciation, Petersen and his team are adept at planning the entire itinerary. Golf Trip Junkie has recently coordinated highly successful corporate golf programs in destinations like Pinehurst Resort, Wild Dunes Resort and Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina and Wa-K0-Pa Resort in Arizona.

"With our knowledge and attention to detail, we make it easy for the corporate planner," Petersen says. "We can assist with site selection, accommodations, tee times and so much more to make it stress free for the planner and entire group."

Golf trip planning and execution can actually be a very easy and a non-frustrating experience. That is, of course, if you call Golf Trip Junkie (877-634-0790) or visit the website for quotes at www.golftripjunkie.com

"It just takes one call or click and I'll take it from there," Petersen says. "I'm extremely confident I can deliver the ultimate golf vacation experience."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Australian Golf Club Rental Company Hits the Sweet Spot

What's worse than shanking a drive deep into the woods or three-putting on an easy, flat green?

I'll tell you what. It's lugging your heavy golf travel bag through a crowded airport, checking the bag in while an attendant rings up your hefty luggage surcharge and then having the airline either damage or lose your clubs with little urgency to return them to you soon.

If you're traveling to Australia to play golf, you should take advantage of The Sweet Spot Club Hire, an innovative club rental company that offers the latest premium brand clubs delivered directly to your hotel or resort.

"We make golf travel hassle-free for golfers visiting Australia," says Luke Santamaria, co-director of The Sweet Spot Club Hire. "Our process is very simple and easy to use."

Here's how it works: You visit their website www.tssclubhire.com, select the dates and specific clubs you want to hire (rent), your clubs will be delivered to your selected hotel, resort or golf course and be the clubs will be waiting for you upon arrival. Clubs can be rented for as little as $20 a day.

"The longer you hire the clubs, the cheaper the rate per day," says Luke Cerra, co-director of The Sweet Spot Club Hire.

In addition, there are multi-set discounts such as 2 to 3 sets (5%), 4 to 6 sets (10%) and more than 7 sets (15%).

Recognizing that golfers have varying skill levels, Sweet Spot offers club sets for high, mid and low-handicappers as well as ladies sets. For instance, a high-handicapper might opt for a Callaway Big Bertha Fusion set while a single-digit player might select the TaylorMade M2 set.

"We're both golfers so we understand the affection for our own personal clubs," Santamaria says. "That's why we've selected top notch, premium brands to offer our clients the next best thing."

Better still, clients can select from steel or graphite shafts and stiff or regular flex.

For your convenience, Sweet Spot also rents umbrellas to protect against rain and the hot Australian sun and sells TaylorMade golf balls.

If you haven't played in Australia, it should be on your list of golfing frontiers to visit. After all, it has 9 of the Top 100 ranked courses in the world.

"We have some absolutely phenomenal golf courses here in Australia," Cerra says. "On your visit, we invite you to use our great service. We believe it will make your golf vacation much more enjoyable in many ways."

Click to The Sweet Spot Club Hire to hire (rent) clubs for your next visit or learn about all the company has to offer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On Location: Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

For more than 25 years, I've traveled the highways, byways and waterways of Florida. I've devoured conch fritters in America's southernmost city, Key West, and feasted on fresh smoked grouper in the panhandle, so the Guru knows a thing or two about the good life in the Sunshine State.

One of my favorite places to visit is Amelia Island, a 13-mile long barrier island about 35 minutes from Jacksonville. It has a great mix of controlled development and untouched natural surroundings. What I love is you can enjoy a beautiful, walkable beach, numerous bike and nature paths and lots of great resort and public golf, dining and sightseeing without ever leaving the island.

The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, which sits on 1,350 acres, is perfectly positioned oceanside with easy access to the village of Fernandina Beach (about a 15-minute drive).


Two of my favorite course architects, Pete Dye and Tom Fazio, have separately designed the two championship layouts accessible to Omni Amelia Island guests.

Oak Marsh--Appropriately named, the course meanders along saltmarsh creeks through moss-draped oaks. A classic Pete Dye design built in 1972, Oak Marsh has several Dye signature features, including long, contoured fairways and bulkheaded greens. Like all Dye courses, Oak Marsh demands accuracy and shot-making ability from its challengers. If you're a spray hitter off the tee, be prepared for the nature walk of your life as you roam the fairway fringes to locate your ball.

Long Point--A Tom Fazio design, this layout takes you on an amazing trek through a well-preserved wilderness area. Dense forests, fifty-foot high sand dunes and marsh and ocean views dominate the experience. Fazio requires you to hit a wide variety of shots, ranging from those over menacing marshlands to those aimed at narrow, tree-lined fairways and oceanside greens surrounded by dunes.


Taking full advantage of its Atlantic Ocean setting, the resort has 404 oceanfront guest rooms and suites with patios and balconies. With an impressive amenity package, the rooms (as all Omni rooms) are, in the Guru's humble opinion, an exceptional value.

Room Amenities include:

--Ocean views from all 4004 guest rooms

--Furnished balcony or patio

--Serta Pillow Top mattress with 330-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets

--Plush terry cloth robes

--Exclusive skin care products

--Coffee maker with premium coffee

--Work desk with lots of outlets and ports


--3.5 miles private beach

--Infinity edge adult swimming pool

--10,000-square-foot family-friendly pool with a children's splash par and 2 hot tubs

--23 Har-Tru court tennis complex

--Shopping village with 14 boutiques, deli and market

--Nature center

--Hiking and nature trails

--Fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding and surfing

--Guided Segway tours, bicycles and golf carts

--Horseback riding

--Fully equipped fitness center with a 20-yard lap pool, personal trainers and group classes

--80,000 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor meeting space

10 Little Things I Liked

1. The friendly southern hospitality you receive throughout the resort.

2. The great veranda and fire pit at the golf clubhouse.

3. The packed hard sands on the beach, which are ideal for sunrise and sunset strolls.

4. Blueberry Margaritas at the pool.

5. Plush, comfortable bedding. I always get a good nights sleep at an Omni property.

6. Fire pits and whirlpools in the pool area.

7. Great balcony overlooking the pool and Atlantic Ocean. A phenomenal place to wind down after a good or bad day on the course.

8. Delicious in-room coffee with the Keurig Coffeemaker.

9. Convenient and prompt tram service throughout the resort.

10. Boutique shopping center near the front of the resort.


You don't have to leave the resort premises for great dining. Here's the menu:

--Bob's Steak & Chop House--Prime steaks, great whiskeys and an excellent wine list can be found here.

--Verandah--A contemporary design dining room featuring fresh seafood and varied wine list.

--Oceanside--It's swimsuits, flip-flops and margaritas during the day and later it transforms into an upscale ocean-side dining venue at night where you can hear waves crashing and smell salt air.

--Marsh View Bar & Grill--Features casual fare with stunning panoramas of the marsh and 9th hole of the Oak Marsh Golf Course. (Available only to registered guests and members).

Other options on resort grounds include Falcon's Nest (pub-style menu and build-your-own-burgers), Natural Slice (pizza joint with fresh ingredients and hand tossed dough), Marche Burette (French-style market and deli), Sunrise Cafe (features great breakfast buffet) and Seaglass Lounge (handcrafted cocktails and small plates).


--Shopping, dining and entertainment in Fernandina Beach, a walkable fishing village with a quaint downtown area with lots of great restaurants and local shops. I highly recommend the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill on North Front Street. Get a table on the second floor open-air porch and enjoy the superb seafood. No exaggeration alert: At the Salty P I had the best fried shrimp platter ever in my many years of travel.

--Amelia Island is a bicyclers paradise with excellent trails. You can rent bikes, baby trailers, jogging strollers, tandem bikes ant Island hoppers at the resort.

--Visit Fort Clinch State Park where you can explore a Civil War era fort.

--Ride a horse on the beach (Kelly Seahorse Ranch 904-491-5166 or Amelia Island Horseback Riding 90753-1701)

--Take a fishing charter from Fernandina Beach.


It's situated about a 45 minute drive from downtown Jacksonville and 29 miles from Jacksonville International Airport. If you're traveling on I-95 north or south, take exit 373 (Route A1A East) and it's about 17 miles to the resort entrance. Address: 39 Beach Lagoon Road, Amelia Island, Florida 32034


Call 904-261-6161 or 1-888-444-OMNI. Visit their website by clicking HERE

Monday, November 20, 2017

Top 10 Golf Travel Trends for 2018

Let the good times and dimpled balls roll for golf travel enthusiasts in 2018.

With an American economy revving up with 3 % growth accompanied by meteoric stock market numbers, more people will have a few extra bucks to spend on luxury pursuits like golf vacations in the coming year.

Here are ten golf travel trends the Golf Travel Guru highlights for 2018:

1. Extended Golf Travel Vacations

Referred to as "sojourns" for the baby-boomer generation, these involve two or three month stays in golf rich areas. Typically, these golf travelers rent vacation apartments short-term or utilize services such as Airbnb. Popular locations include Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Ireland. These longer vacations aren't just for retired boomers, either. Many boomers work as consultants or freelancers and all they need is a reliable wi-fi connection and they can travel and play golf for weeks at a time.

2. Over-The-Top Greens Fees at Iconic Golf Courses

You're going to need the few extra dollars from the robust economy because more and more of the world's most famous courses are charging  past $400 for a round of golf during their high season. If you want to play golf's high-profile layouts, be prepared to shell out some serious coin. Some of the priciest include Pebble Beach Golf Links ($525), TPC Sawgrass--PLAYERS Stadium Course ($495) and Pinehurst No. 2 ($420). 

3. Merging Fitness and Golf 

In addition to great golf, many golf vacationers want top notch wellness facilities at their resort or hotel. Especially attractive to linksters are spas with numerous treatments and services, well-equipped fitness centers, walking and jogging trails, nature paths, yoga and exercise classes. From losing weight and getting in shape to improving mental health, the goal is to improve your life beyond the fairways. 

4. Making Safety and Security a Priority

Savvy travelers are increasingly more cognizant of political turmoil, terrorism, inclement weather patterns and they want to play golf at destinations that are safe and secure. Travel agents and golf tour operators are paying closer attention to political happenings, hurricane seasons and other troubling weather situations in planning vacations. 

5. Exciting New Courses to Play

Several impressive golf courses debuted in 2017. For those seeking new golfing frontiers, the menu is enticing. Heading the list are:  Hogs Head Golf Club in Waterville, Ireland, Streamsong Black in Bowling Green, Florida, Sand Valley Golf Resort in Rome Wisconsin, Norman Signature Course in Nayarit, Mexico, Panorama Golf Resort near Praque, Czech Republic and Danzante Bay Golf Club in Mexico.

6. Viva Italia

Italy, the sumptuous oasis of great wine, pasta and gelato, has increased its tee time bookings by 40% in the past three years. The momentum is expected to continue as Italy will host the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2022. Italy has 142 18-hole golf courses and several exceptional golf resorts. The Guru's favorite destination, the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region in the northeast corner of the country, has a good menu of courses like Golf Club Trieste, Golf Club Udine, Golf Club Lignano, Golf Club Grado, Golf & Country Club Castello Di Spessa, Golf Club Castel D'Aviano and Golf Club Tarviso. Other great choices throughout Italy include Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort in Manciano, Argentario Golf Resort & Spa in Monte Argentario and Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa in Ragusa, Sicily. It doesn't get any better than a chilled glass of pinot grigio after a round of golf.

7. Emerging Destinations

For those seeking new golf travel frontiers, countries increasingly bullish on golf as a lure for tourists include South Africa, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Korea, Vietnam, Mauritius, St. Kitts/Nevis and Malaysia.

8. Shipping Your Sticks

An increasing number of golf travelers are opting to ship their golf clubs. Who can blame them? Long baggage security check-in lines, lugging a heavy bag around the airport and searching in vain for the oversized bag drop-off are just some of the reasons traveling with your clubs is a major pain in the posterior. Oh yeah, the airlines could lose your clubs and you're really screwed. It's really not surprising that shipping golf clubs is increasing in popularity. Top companies include Shipsticks.com, Luggageforward.com and Golfbagshipping.com

9. Ryder Cup 2018

The Ryder Cup has evolved into one of the sporting world's (not just golf's) biggest events. Ryder Cup 2018 will put the spotlight on golf in France and attract golf travelers from around the world. The matches will be staged September 28-30 at the Albatross Course of Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a suburb of southwest Paris.  For those who want to attend, your best bet is to go through an authorized golf travel tour operator. There are a variety of options, including Ryder Cup cruises and various pre- and post-trips to popular French regions like Bordeaux, Normandy and Brittany.

10. Food and Wine Lovers

Golfers love great food and fine wines. Hey, just about everybody is a foodie and wine lover these days. Destinations with superb, interesting cuisine and great wines are becoming even more attractive to golfers who want to enhance their vacation experience. Some of my favorite wine/golf destinations include South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Italy, France and Napa Valley in California. For dining, the Guru particularly likes Australia, which has awesome outdoor (al fresco) dining options and Italy, with its fantastic family-owned trattorias and wine estates.

Friday, November 10, 2017

On Location: Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate

The Guru travels around the world to play golf, but, ironically, I really don't have to venture beyond my hometown, Orlando, to tee up at phenomenal resorts. O-Town has an amazing inventory of resorts with courses designed by a Who's Who list of architects like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Tom Fazio and Tom Watson.

Just a few miles from my house is one of my favorites, Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate. I absolutely love the resort plan with all of the golf elements situated directly behind the hotel. Everything from the two championship golf courses, the world headquarters of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and par 3 chip and putt course are just a few steps from the hotel back door. Oh yeah, if you've got kids in tow, they've even got a highly entertaining miniature golf course.

Better still, it's a great time to visit because the resort just completed a multi-year, extensive $40 million enhancement and expansion project.


You can almost feel Greg Norman's presence on the Championsgate fairways. Norman, aka The Great White Shark, designed both of the resort's 18-hole championship layouts. Both courses have undergone recent refurbishments and enhancements.

--International Course-If you've never been to Australia to play golf, this layout will give you a good idea of what a "down under" coastal links course looks and plays like. Ranked in most "Top 10" rankings of courses in Florida, this rustic design features firm, fast fairways, wind-swept dunes and sprawling greens. Opened in 2000, it's a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit very challenging at times, links-style golf experience. If you've got serious game, try the Black tees at 7,363 yards and a 143 slope. Most golfers play the blues at 6,792 yards (137 slope) or Whites at 6,239 yards (132 slope).

--National Course-It's a traditional, parklike course carved from 200 acres of citrus groves, wetlands and natural Florida forest. There are 80 sculpted bunkers and a variety of engaging holes with interesting doglegs and water coming into play on several holes. The greens are fairly small so shotmaking and distance control are important if you want to score well. The Black tees play 7,128 yards. For higher handicappers, the blues at 6,427 yards and whites at 5,937 yards are the best choices.

--David Leadbetter Academy--If you need instruction, help is not far away at Championsgate. The world headquarters of the David Leadbetter Academy is at the opposite end of the resort's expansive practice range. Amenities at the complex include spacious classrooms, student relaxation areas, video and computer analysis area, short game practice area, 65,000 square-foot lesson tee and more.


Overview: There are 862 guestrooms and suites as well as two-and-three bedroom villas and a new lodge.

--The standard guestrooms are superbly designed with an executive desk, leather chair, triple sheeting on beds, foam and feather pillows, mini-refrigerator and plush robes to name some of the amenities. The design scheme is soft, muted beige, brown and yellow colors.

--Some of the amenities at the villas include 24-hour room service, open kitchen, dining and living room floor plans, built-in wet bar in the dining rooms area, queen-size sleeper sofa bed in each living room, 42 inch plasma television or 35 inch LCD television with DVD play in living room, washer/dryer stackable units and daily housekeeping.

--Recently opened is the new Sunset Lodge and Suites, a 3-story building with 93 units, including 23 four-bedroom unites and 50 studio suites with double Queen beds and kitchenettes.


--European-style spa

--Kids pool, slides and private cabanas

--Quiet pool with private cabanas

--Family pool

--850-foot Lazy River

--Wave pool and private cabanas

--Lighted 9-hole par 3 course and miniature golf

--Complimentary scheduled shuttle transportation to Walt Disney World theme parks

--Guided bass fishing excursions and seminars

--Eco-adventure excursions

10 Little Things I Liked

1. The amazing French Toast coated with crumbled corn flakes and coconut I had for breakfast at Trevi's.

2. The mini-fridge in my guest room, which was perfect for chilling white wine and water.

3. The free valet parking at the golf clubhouse and the convenient self-parking at the hotel.

4. The scrumptious club sandwich I had after my round at Piper's Grille at the golf clubhouse.

5. The fun-to-play (and oh so convenient) Champions Lighted Golf 9-hole, par 3 course right behind the hotel.

6. The Lazy River and Wave Pool.  The Guru never, I mean never, misses a chance to float down a Lazy River with a cool libation in hand.

7. The phenomenal Orange Sesame Beef with Steamed Broccoli I had at the on-site restaurant Zen.

8. My meeting with golf director Patrick Dill, who directs a staff that makes every golfer guest feel welcome.

9. The multiple, rapid elevators in the hotel that allow you quick access to the lobby and pool area.

10. The scenic walking, jogging path that weaves through the resort grounds.


Zen Restaurant--An upscale Chinese setting with a sushi and sake bar.

David's Club--A high-end sports bar ambiance with everything from nachos and burgers to steaks. For your sports viewing pleasure, there is video wall and 90" flat screen TV.

Trevi's Restaurant--Available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Italian fare dominates the menu in the evenings.

Croc's Pool Bar & Grille--Lots of burgers, salads and cocktails you can enjoy while in your bathing suit.

Piper's Bar and Grille at Championsgate Clubhouse--Really delicious pub style food. Better than most clubhouse grills.


--Walt Disney World Theme Parks--Located less than a 15 minute drive from the resort.

--Warbird Adventures--Kissimmee-based company featuring flying in vintage military aircraft.

--Boggy Creek Air Boat Rides

--Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park


Situated 25 minutes from Orlando International Airport 3 miles past the Walt Disney World exits on Interstate 4. Take exit 58 off I-4 and bear right. Address; 1500 Masters Boulevard, Championsgate, Florida 33896


For more information, click to Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate or call 1-888-444-OMNI

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bird Golf Schools Personalize the Experience

Turnberry Isle Miami Resort, Bird Golf Schools Site
In my many years as a golf writer, I've been to numerous group clinics and golf schools around the world. What I've learned--other than I have a lousy grip, a short, too-quick back swing and poor tempo-- is I don't enjoy group sessions. I thrive, like most golfers, with personal instruction and lots of give-and-take with my teacher.

A strong proponent of this personalizing philosophy is Bird Golf Schools, which was rated as one of the nation's best golf schools by Golf Tips Magazine.

While Bird Golf Schools might not have the immediate brand recognition like other golf  schools, its philosophy of personalized instruction at some of America's great resorts is tailor made for the golf traveler who wants to enjoy his/her vacation and sharpen their golf skills. 

Everything Bird Golf Schools does is customized and personalized for the student. Essentially, you pick the time and place (and, believe me, there are some beautiful places) and the area of your game you want to work on or, for those struggling mightily, a complete overhaul.
Sedona Golf Resort in Arizona, Bird Golf Schools Site
Offering the antithesis of the group teaching approach, at Bird Golf Schools the instruction is one/two students with your own PGA/LPGA Bird Golf professional. Their philosophy is a simple one emphasizing that every golfer is unique with different body types, movement dynamics and states of mind. Consequently, they don't teach a single swing methodology. Bird's highly qualified teachers are well versed in several methods and styles and can teach each person accordingly.

Before you get started, you'll complete a Player Profile that tells your instructor about your game, objectives and goals and the best way you learn (visually, kinetically, verbally etc...) so you can achieve the highest level of retention. They don't forget about you once you leave, either. You can follow up with your pro on a regular basis for reinforcement of everything you learned.

Bird Golf teachers are exceptionally experienced and have worked with just about every golfer imaginable. All of the Bird Golf Professionals have been PGA or LPGA Professionals for a minimum of 20 years. Some have been Tour winners and the staff includes an LPGA National Teacher of the Year, PGA Master Professionals as well as six members of various Golf Halls of Fame.

Each package includes video and digital analysis, daily on course playing lessons, mental game instruction, course management instruction, unlimited practice and play at the host course, lunch each day and unlimited coaching follow-up after the completion of the school. There are several three-four-and five-day packages with six to eight hours of instruction each day.

Aside from improving your golf game another appealing aspect of Bird Golf Schools are the amazing resort sites around the nation in 11 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee). A cursory review of their line-up features impressive venues such as Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass near Phoenix, Paiute Golf Resort near Las Vegas, Seaview Resort & Spa in Atlantic City and Foxfire Golf Resort & Club in Pinehurst. 

I'm especially impressed with the superb sites in Florida, my home state.

The Florida Bird Golf Schools menu, please:

Turnberry Isle Miami (North Miami)--Named one of "World's Best Resorts" by Travel + Leisure Magazine, this 300-acre resort is dripping with amenities in setting with beautiful palms, waterfalls and spectacular flora. It has two 18-hole courses originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and later re-designed by Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd and a state-of-the-art, private practice area.

Mission Inn Resort & Club (Near Orlando)--This Central Florida resort, a Golf Magazine Silver Medal Resort, is set on beautiful rolling countryside dotted with mature oak trees, tall pine trees and lakes. Located about a 30-minute drive from Orlando, it's situated with easy access to the area's big name theme parks. The golf facilities-- which encompass 36-holes of golf and superb practice areas--are highlighted by the iconic El Campeon Course.

The Club at Boca Pointe (Boca Raton)--Combining a private 18-hole Jack Nicklaus designed course with the uber-luxurious Boca Raton Resort, a Waldorf Astoria property, this venue allows you to fully immerse in the enviable South Florida lifestyle. For a nominal upgrade, Bird Golf Students can also choose to stay at the resort's sister property, the Boca Beach Club.

Old Corkscrew Golf Club (Fort Myers)--Bird Golf students stay at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, a luxury hotel overlooking the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. Instruction takes place at Old Corkscrew, a lush, spectacular Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course that weaves through oak, pine and cypress trees. In addition, there's an incredible clubhouse and top-notch practice facilities.

The Shores Resort and Spa (Daytona Beach)--You can take a dip in the ocean each day after a full day of golf instruction at this amenity-loaded, beachside property, the only AAA 4-Diamond hotel in Daytona Beach. Bird Golf School is at the Club at Pelican Bay, a beautifully maintained 36-hole complex with private teaching areas and multiple greens and chipping areas.

So, if you want real, sustainable improvement in your golf game, I suggest a Bird Golf Schools experience with a highly experienced teacher in a luxury resort environment. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Reasons You Should Visit Topgolf

Oh yes, I've heard my share of whining traditionalists who say Topgolf is overrated and won't help grow the game of golf. Hey Doug Downers, I don't care what you say, I love the place and I think it's a fantastic way to showcase the great game of golf.

Will Topgolf translate to more millennials playing golf in the future? 

Only time will tell, however, everytime I visit Topgolf I see people of all ages (and lots of millennials) smiling and having fun with a game that many people think is just too difficult to enjoy.

Here are 10 reasons you must visit Topgolf:

1. Everybody Is Welcome--Arguably, the biggest reason why people don't play golf is the intimidation factor. For those who've played the game for decades, it's difficult to to comprehend the anxiety non-golfers feel when they arrive at a golf course for the first time. Quite frankly, at Topgolf these neophytes don't have to worry about "serious" golfers smirking or making fun of them (whether those behaviors are real or imagined).

2. Even Non-Golfers and The Clueless Have Fun--People who don't know a golf ball from a croquet ball can have fun at Topgolf without all the angst and pressure. So what, if it takes a few Margaritas, Moscow Mules or Blue Moons and some chicken and waffle sliders to get people swinging a golf club. In many cases, these are the same people who would never even go near a golf course. Geez, about 40% of Topgolf customers have never played golf. You can drum up all the "Let's Play Golf" programs by all sorts of well-intentioned golf organizations, and they still won't get non-golfers excited about the game like Topgolf.

3. Easy way to Play Games--Each 6-person hitting bay has an easy-to-use touchscreen that allows you to play seven different point-scoring golf games. Everything from driving to chipping. One of the best games for groups that have both beginning and experienced golfers is the "Top Scramble", where players split into teams and the best score on each ball is used as the score for the team.  "TopDrive" is popular with the grip it and rip crowd who want to see who's longest off the tee.

4. Terrific Technology--Players hit golf balls containing computer microchips that track each shot's accuracy and distance while also awarding points for hitting large, medium and small targets set on a giant outfield. It's like playing some come-to-life video game, but much more fun and interactive with other players. In Orlando, which opened October 20, 2017, they have Topgolf Toptracer technology, which allows you to trace the track of your shots just like you see on television network golf coverage.

5. Light Shows and Colorful Targets Create a Positive Vibe--The targets are bright and colorfully lit and you get that same sense of fun and frivolity you experience at a state fair or theme park. I don't care if you're a two-year old tagging along with the folks or an 82-year old who just wanted to finally see what this golf thing was all about, the colors at Topgolf will excite you. At night, they have fun and dynamic light shows that are inspiring.

6. Fab Food--While golf is certainly a big draw, I think one of the secrets to Topgolf's overall appeal is its well-prepared, innovative food. The magnet is a chef-driven,  full-service restaurant and all sorts of interesting and delicious apps and entrees. While the Guru is  shanking balls off the tee, some of my favorite things to nosh on are the Bacon Mac "N" Cheese Spring Rolls, Pepperoni Flatbread and the Sunrise Burger (with a fresh egg on top). Make no mistake, food is not an afterthought at Topgolf, but an integral part of the overall experience.

7. Epic Bar and Drinks--The Guru is known to hoist a few, especially after playing a great round of golf. I've also visited my share of pubs, bars and lounges around the world and I'm a big "Happy Hour" guy. That said, hopefully I've established some sort of credibility when it comes to great bars and libations. I love Topgolf's upscale, rectangular shaped, full-service bar. It has sort of an upscale "Cheers" feel to it as well as good craft beer list, a wine list (you can order by the glass, bottle or even can) and some creative cocktails. While my go-to drink is a Ginger Ale and Jameson, a couple of my fave Topgolf Original Cocktails are the Topgolf Tea (Tito's Vodka, Superior Rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin and fresh lemon) and the Tipsy Palmer (Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, Absolut Citron, freshly brewed iced tea and fresh lemon). 

8. Employee Enthusiasm--With all the luxury appointments and smiling and laughing people enjoying golf, it's no wonder the employees always seem to be in a good mood. Gotta feeling they've got a pretty good training program, too.  

9. Topgolf U Lessons--They'll even teach you-- in an non-intimidating way-- how to play golf if you get the bug and want to give the game a go and eventually tee it up at an authentic green grass course. There are excellent classes for beginners, junior and ladies. For intermediate and advanced golfers, there's a 60-minute skills class focusing on proper swing technique and mechanics.

10. The Topgolf Crush Series--This is where they bring the Topgolf concept to major stadiums and arenas around the nation. There are giant targets on the field or court and players hit from elevated tee bays. It's a high-energy, festival-style experience with excellent music, food and drink. Among the previous Crush locations are Austin, Kansas City, Nashville, Orlando and Seattle. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

5 Reasons Tiger Won't Be Tiger Again

Ya gotta wonder when Tiger Woods will start introducing himself as Eldrick. 

After all, it's starting to look highly doubtful that he'll mount a serious comeback and return to any semblance of the ultimate dominator he used to be on the PGA TOUR. These days, he's less of a Tiger and more like that graceful but aging house cat that saunters slowly around the house when he used to leap aggressively and effortlessly up onto the couch.

There are lots of reasons why Tiger won't be Tiger again. Here are the Guru's top 5:

1. Multiple Back Surgeries--Uh, you kinda need a good back to play golf. Tiger has undergone four back surgeries and, realistically, he just can't swing with the same force and balance. Add to that a series of knee injuries and Tiger has a body that resembles an 80-year old, not a forty-something. Fact is, Woods might be able to go out and shoot an occasional round in the 60s, but, I just don't see him doing it four days in row in competition against young guys who have no back problems and the flexibility of yoga instructors.

2. Young Guns are Too Darn Good--Dustin, Jordan, Rory, Justin and Rickie are just a few of the phenomenal players on Tour these days. Others Tiger would have to beat are long bombers like Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. These guys all grew up watching and emulating Tiger and there's just no way he can stay with them for four days in a Major or any other tournament.

3. Training Time is Limited--Because of his questionable back, balky knee, family and business obligations, Woods can only put in a fraction of the work he used to when he was No. 1 in the world. Nowadays, he has to be cautious and limit his time so another injury doesn't crop up. While he understandably has cut back on practice time, other pros are hitting thousands of balls and grinding on the putting green.

4. He Doesn't Have Harmon, Haney or Williams--Let's face it, Tiger had the majority of his success when he was coached by Butch Harmon and Hank Haney and Steve Williams was on the bag. All three are not in Tiger's life these days and it doesn't look like he'll have a reunion with any of them. 

5. His Off-The-Course Life is Expanding--It'll be interesting to see how Tiger does in his post-competition phase.  Fellow icons like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman achieved amazing success after their PGA TOUR careers. Under his "TGR" brand, Woods is seemingly looking to follow a similar path. His golf design firm has several projects in development around the world and his sports bar/restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, in Jupiter, Florida is doing well. He also has plans for several new business projects under the brand.

Rest assured, Tiger Woods won't just fade into obscurity. The media and public were enamored with his meteoric success on the course and just as fascinated with his missteps and foibles away from the fairways. He means way too many clicks to the media and, to be honest, Americans can't get enough of celebrities who stumble and fall.

Let's hope there are no more back surgeries and mug shots in Tiger's future.  Golf needs him whether he wins another tournament or not. You don't just cast a 14-time Major winner aside, either. 

Woods-- love him or hate him-- is too much a part of modern golf history to just casually disregard as a broken down golfer who'll never again approach his amazing wizardry on the links.