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OUR 10th YEAR

THIS MONTH: SweetStuff • Destinations • ChipShots

GOLF VACATIONS AUGUST 2012

MISSISSIPPI’S FALLEN OAK NW IRISH LINKS MORE BANG FOR BUCKS

VIDANTA

NUEVO VALLARTA Plus: RESORT REPORT: BLACK BUTTE RANCH, OR www.golfvacationsmag.com

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AUGUST 2012

Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

GOLF VACATIONS

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ChipShots

12 • Northwest Irish Links

by James McAfee

Playing golf on a links course is definitely a different game, one that many of us here in the United States want to put on our bucket lists so we can experience the different challenges presented, but sadly most of us—count me among that number-- usually lack the necessary skills to match our play back home.

14 • Playing Mississippi’s Fallen Oak

by Andy Reistetter

Have you ever driven up to a bag drop and had an experience of a lifetime even before you went to the first tee? A time where someone is expecting you to arrive at a golf course, greets and welcomes you as if you are visiting the home of a dear friend.

18 • Resort Report: Black Butte Ranch

by David R. Holland

Those early ranchers, farmers and loggers who settled the area around Black Butte Ranch and its two superlative golf courses – Glaze Meadow and Big Meadow – were blessed with a view that even pioneers must have stopped daily to gaze upon.

22 • Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

by Dave McKibben

The Mexican coastal resort that seemingly had everything is now officially over-the-top. It wasn’t enough that Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta had a lazy river, too many pools and swim up bars to count, 20-plus restaurants, seven resorts totaling over 2,000 deluxe rooms, three miles of pristine beaches and a championship golf course.

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by Terry Ross

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SANDESTIN GOLF AND BEACH RESORT HONORING U.S. SERVICE MEMBERS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

DESTIN, FL. – Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort – the 2,400-acre resort on Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast – salutes service members this Labor Day, offering a special military rate for its “Picture Perfect Labor Day Getaway” and complimentary greens fees Aug. 31 – Sept. 3. The “Picture Perfect Labor Day Getaway” features one free night with the purchase of two, amenities and admission to the Baytowne Art Walk. Active and retired military can also play Raven Golf Club, Baytowne Golf Club and The Links Course for a $20 cart fee. “Members of the military are very important to us at Sandestin,” says Rick Hileman, PGA Director of Golf Operations at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. “With several military bases in our own backyard and surrounding cities, we wanted to show our appreciation and give thanks for all that our military personnel do each and every day.” Sandestin is also asking golfers add $1 to their greens fee Labor Day weekend as part of Patriot Golf Day. The donations benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation, a nonprofit

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organization providing postsecondary educational scholarships for the children and spouses of military men and women disabled or killed while serving the U.S. It all coincides with the Baytowne Art Walk (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2), featuring world-class art and live music in Sandestin’s Village at Baytowne Wharf. The festival showcases the Southeast’s leading artists, many of whom are regularly featured in the region’s top art galleries. More information: 1-866-91-BEACH, www.sandestin.com.

GOLF SUMMERLIN BRINGS IN LABOR DAY WITH A RELAXING 4 DAYS OF UNLIMTED GOLF

LAS VEGAS, NV – Golf Summerlin is celebrating Labor Day with golf devotees by offering their choice of enticing deals on individual rounds and long weekend unlimited golfing specials at its three Summerlin courses. Players may choose to tee off at Highland Falls, Palm Valley or Eagle Crest golf courses for $45 per round or just $85 per person for unlimited golf throughout Labor Day weekend. From Friday, August 31 through Monday, September 3, Las Vegas locals and visitors

are welcome to take advantage of the holiday promotion savings. Tee times will fill up fast so early booking is encouraged. To schedule a tee time at any of the three courses, please call (800) 803-0758. Golf Summerlin’s courses have a reputation for alluring players with their unbeatable combination of service, price and amenities. To schedule a tee time at any of the three courses, please call (702) 254-7010. Golf Summerlin is home to Highland Falls, Palm Valley and Eagle Crest golf courses, all of which are nestled just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip in the master-planned community of Summerlin. Hall-of-Fame inductee Billy Casper and course-planner Greg Nash designed three well-conditioned, diverse and challenging courses, including a hospitable executive course (Eagle Crest). Together, the courses offer a broad variety of golf experiences; whether players seek a full-spectrum round on a challenging par-72 layout or a quick 18 holes on a well-designed executive course. Follow Golf Summerlin on Facebook www. facebook.com/golfsummerlin or Twitter @ GolfSummerlinLV. (702) 254.7010, (800) 803.0758. www. golfsummerlin.com.

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5th ANNUAL BAJAMAR VENDIMIA OPEN BENEFITS BAJA SCHOLARSHIP

The 5th annual Bajamar Vendimia Open will be held Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Bajamar golf resort, a 27-hole seaside course north of Ensenada, Mexico. The tournament celebrates golf, gastronomy and music and benefits the Baja Scholarship Foundation. Register now as a player or as an event sponsor to be part of one of Baja’s great grape harvest events, the prestigious Vendimia. For a $129-entry fee, participants will get golf, lunch, wine tasting and appetizers on the course and prizes for the top three places in each category. Fiestas de la Vendimia, the two-and-ahalf-week harvest festival held between the first Friday and the third Sunday in August, dates back to 1990. The festival combines visits to state-of-the-art wineries, Italian tenors, alternative-style circuses, Kafkaesque plays, modern dance and performance art. Valle de Guadalupe—the 14-mile region 90 minutes south of San Diego—is Mexico’s premier artisanal wine–growing region, making up 90% of Mexico’s production. The Guadalupe Valley,

located 15 minutes inland from the Ensenada coast, produces 1.2 million cases of wine a year--25% is exported abroad. Last year’s festival activities included an opera concert in the vineyard at Villa Montefiori Winery with Italian dinner and wine tasting, a cheese party with artisan bread, house wine and live music at Viña de Liceaga Winery and a gourmet dinner prepared by renowned Chef Enrique Olvera, pairing with Vena Cava wines and performances by Zirk Ubu at La Villa de Valle Winery, just to name a few. If you are traveling from the U.S. to attend this event, don’t forget you are not usually allowed to bring back more than one liter of wine per person. The festival kicks off Aug 3rd with a 7 p.m. wine show at the ex Hotel Riviera, Civic and Cultural Center. It closes Aug. 19 with the “Ramón García Osejo” Paella Contest, 12 p.m., at the Viña de Liceaga. For more information on the tournament, visit http://www.golfbajamar.com/vendimia2012/# For more information on the wine festival, visit http://www.fiestasdelavendimia.com/ or http://www.bajabound.com/events/vendimiaschedule.php

KAUA’I AWARD WINNING GOLF COURSES OFFER NEW SUMMER SPECIALS

KAUA‘I, HI – The Kaua‘i golf destination – a cooperative of five world-class courses and three award-winning resorts – is offering several summer golf specials including the Kaua‘i Golf Challenge package. Providing players a savings of more than 15% off standard green fees, the Kaua‘i Golf Challenge gives golfers the opportunity to play three rounds at any of the five award-winning courses – Kaua‘i Lagoons Golf Club, Puakea Golf Course, Prince Course at Princeville Golf Club, Makai Golf Club and Poipu Bay Golf Course – for $435. It also includes a 10% discount on regularly-priced merchandise. At Puakea, receive a $50 golf shop credit good for use on merchandise, rental clubs, or green fees. Packages can be purchased at any of the participating courses and there are no restrictions on the day or time of rounds played. Rounds are non-transferable and must be used within 30 days of purchase. For more information about the Kaua‘i Golf Challenge, call any of the courses: Poipu Bay Golf Course, 800.858.6300 Prince Course at Princeville Golf

Bajamar Golf Resort

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Club, 800.826.1105 Kaua‘i Lagoons Golf Club, 800.634.6400 Makai Golf Club, 808.826.1912 Puakea Golf Course, 866.773.5554

Summer Kama‘aina Special at Poipu Bay Golf Course Poipu Bay Golf Course – located adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa on the south shore of Kaua‘i – is offering a summer kama‘aina rate of $55. Valid from July 1 through Sept. 30, this is a savings over the usual rate of $75 for Hawaii residents and $68 for Kauai residents. A valid Hawaii driver’s license is required to qualify for the rate and there are no restrictions on day or time of play. Tee times can be confirmed up to seven days in advance. To book tee times, call the Poipu Bay Golf Shop toll free at 1-800-858-6300 or (808) 7428711. For more information on Poipu Bay, visit www.poipubaygolf.com. Unlimited Golf Package at Makai Golf Club & Family Fore-Some Special at Kaua‘i Lagoons Makai Golf Club at The St. Regis Princeville Resort has introduced a new Three-Day

Unlimited Golf Package and has expanded its popular “Nine, Wine & Dine” program, both available now through the end of the year. The Unlimited Golf Package offers players three days of golf – as many holes as they can play – at the 18-hole Makai and 9-hole Woods courses for $435. The three days do not have to be consecutive but must be used within a seven-day period. The “Nine, Wine & Dine” package at Makai Golf Club is now offering play at any time of day. The package includes nine holes on the course, a $50 gift certificate for use at any of The St. Regis Princeville Resort’s restaurants, lounges, or Halele’a Spa for a price of $110. Kaua‘i Lagoons Golf Club, recently ranked one of golf-rich Hawaii’s best course by Golfweek magazine, is now offering a family golf special. For $99, a family of four can golf nine holes on the inland Kiele Waikahe course. Price includes green fees, cart fees and rental clubs for up to four players. This special is good from now until Dec. 25. Stay at The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and play Prince Course at Princeville Golf Club. The two-night minimum package includes one 18-hole round of golf per person,

per night and a complimentary 9-hole round on either arrival or departure day. Complimentary Titleist rental clubs are available for all package rounds. Visit www.westinprinceville.com or call 866-716-8140 and ask for rate plan LXPKG1 to book your package.

New East Coast Airline Routes to Hawaii Hawaii is welcoming two new non-stop flights from the East Coast to Honolulu. Hawaiian Airlines’ launched daily service from New York’s Kennedy Airport and United Airlines’ launched a daily flight from Washington Dulles Airport at the beginning of June. With the addition of these new routes, Hawaii is projected to receive a surge of tourism from the East Coast. Hawaii has been recovering air seats since 2009 thanks in large part to domestic carriers like Alaska Airlines. There has also been an increase in international flights to Hawaii from places like Japan and South Korea.

Kaua‘i Lagoons Golf Club

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More Bang For

By Terr

P

laying golf on a links course is definitely a different game, one that many of us here in the United States want to put on our bucket lists so we can experience the different challenges presented, but sadly most of us—count me among that number-- usually lack the necessary skills to match our play back home. The British Isles have a majority of the 246 true links courses –that’s the number George Pepper and Malcolm Campbell came up with in their book “True Links.” To qualify, a course first must be near the sea with its swirling winds, feature sandy dune-like terrain and have fastrunning fairways and greens. Ireland definitely has a lion’s share of these courses where architects like Old Tom Morris, Eddie Hackett and Pat Ruddy just had to discover holes already formed by nature itself instead of using bulldozers. The good news for golfers in the U.S. is that the exchange rate of our dollar to the Euro has changed dramatically in the last few years, making it less expensive to play in Ireland. It will still cost more than $200 to play some of the trophy courses in the southwest part of Ireland like Ballybunion, Tralee, Waterville and Lahinch. However, those willing to taking a little longer ride through the green Irish countryside to the northwest part of the island can get more bang for their bucks at some courses that used to be considered hidden gems. Along with five other writers from the U.S., I got the chance to return to Ireland after an 18-year absence and can see why this part of the island won the European Golf Destination of the Year award in 2011 from the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. The links courses here are definitely world class and just as good as the previous ones I played in other parts of Ireland and Scotland.

Our first stop after a three-hour coach ride from the airport in Dublin was County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point, a Harry S. Colt design amid crumpled dunes on a sandy peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Forgetting that I was 71 with a knee replacement, I decided to walk and take a trolley. That was a mistake, especially considering the long ride with little sleep on a crowded Delta flight and only a short nap on a three-hour coach ride. A local teeing off with his daughter informed me to “stay out of the rough” as he walked off the first tee. I didn’t, losing two balls on the first hole. I lost a few more in the high grass before I finished, but did play the par 3s in level par, including a birdie on the 16th where my 8-iron bounced off the pin. Most of the links here unfolded before you as you teed off on the third hole along with views of the Atlantic Ocean beaches and Benbulben Mountain, made famous by the poet W.B. Yates. Out second stop was at the Hackett-designed Donegal Golf Links, called Murvagh by locals. It was located on the Murvegh Peninsula in Dongel Bay. Isolated from the rest of the mainland by a thick woodland, the course designed by Hackett with renovations by Ruddy has a fresher look, perhaps because it has been around only 36 years.. The greens were on natural sites, except for a temporary on the par 3 16th, and I had more success on them than any others. It played to a par of 73, but I actually had my best score of 84. We then had time for an emergency 9 on the Old Tom Morris Links at the Roapenna Golf Club before a late dinner. Now called the Valley Nine, the holes run along Tramore Beach overlooking Sheephaven Bay and were part of the front 9 in the past. A new front 9 called the Strand 9 was added in 2009 to make for an 18-hole course, but we didn’t have

Ballylliffin

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Bucks On

ryRoss

time to play it. The original back 9 of the Old Links is now played separately. With 72 rooms and suites equipped with all the modern comforts, this might be the place that some golfers want to set up shop and stay longer than we did to sample all 45 holes. The resort’s Sandy Hills Links, designed by Pat Ruddy and opened in 2003, was our assignment the next day. We finally got a taste of Irish rain for about 25 minutes. It is definitely of championship caliber as it can be stretched to 7,255 yards with narrow fairways winding through the dunes, putting a premium on accurate drives. I did find it easier to find yellow balls when I did find the rough. The greens were harder than any others we played, making it difficult to judge approach shots. While others went off to the Irish Open Pro-Am, three of us ventured over to Ballyliffin, the most northerly courses in all of Ireland, to play the Old Course. Hackett worked in collaboration with several others for the original 18 back in 1973. Ruddy re-routed four holes and Nick Faldo re-did the par 5 14th to form the present layout. The rippling fairways with all kinds of undulations were like riding the waves for me as I drove my buggie. I birdied Faldo’s favorite, hitting 4-iron approach into the wind to 10 feet and making the putt. Following a day at the Irish Open, we all finished our Irish golfing adventure by playing the Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin, designed by Ruddy along with Tom Craddock, It was longer than its sister course, stretching to 7,200 yards from the tips. The fairways seemed narrower, but it was the fairway bunkers that caused us the most problems--you could not actually try to hit your approach shot to the green, but instead had to just play out of them, losing a stroke. If I had to rank the courses played, here’s my choices in order—Ballyliffin Old Links, Dongel Links, Ballyliffin Glashedy Links, Sligo, Old Tom Morris and Sandy Hills. A bonus for coming this far north is that golfers can get over to also challenge such Northern Ireland trophy courses as Portstewart and Royal County Down, which I played on the previous trip to Ireland.

Donegal Links

NW Irish Links By James McAfee www.jamesamcafee.com

County Sligo Golf Club

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COUPLES RETREAT Playing Fallen Oak in Mississippi

Golf Writer Andy Reistetter continues his exclusive “Play-Write” series returning to Fallen Oak, Mississippi’s premier resort golf course. Weather interrupted his first date with Fallen Oak, canceling a March pro-am round with Nick Price during the 2012 Mississippi Gulf Coast Resort Classic. Merri Daniel, golf’s newest voice for women, joined Reistetter for the rescheduled round and also teamed up with Reistetter for the writing of this article. Their visit included a stay at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino with a thrilling evening of Fata Morgana, a brand-new Cirque-style extravaganza. Join Merri and Andy as they share an intimate “stay and play” golfing experience.

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H

ave you ever driven up to a bag drop and had an experience of a lifetime even before you went to the first tee?

A time where someone is expecting you to arrive at a golf course, greets and welcomes you as if you are visiting the home of a dear friend. If so, then you have played Fallen Oak, the private though accessible golf course one can play when staying at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. “Hello Miss Daniel, welcome to Fallen Oak,” smiled Steve Berger, golf professional.

Yes, Fallen Oak has less than 9,000 rounds a year, most days less than 30 so they have the staff and opportunity to go above and beyond. The fact is they do and they do it quite naturally. What is remembered is the warm smile accompanied a genuine happiness to see you at Fallen Oak, a sort of Beauty and the Beast “Be My Guest” castle reception. An engraved nameplate greets you as you are escorted to your locker in the lounge. Though separate for women and men they are nearby so that one doesn’t lose track of their partner as they get ready for their round. This is a nice touch for couples wanting to share the complete golfing experience together.

“Hi Mr. Reistetter, please leave the keys in the car, we’ll take care of everything, “ invited Greg “Tex” Gallup, a former professional caddie.

Our experience is enhanced by the company of Dr. Bill Bridges and later on the 7th green by our new friend Steve. We continue to be amazed in our travel golf journeys by the people we meet on a golf course.

The bag drop was the porte-cochere of a traditional Southern, yet modern clubhouse. Seriously, greeted by name without a reference sheet? Valet parking and our shoes on the way to the locker room for a bit of a touch up and new spikes without asking?

Merri and Andy like to engage in a match. A friendly couple, the recently minted relationship was characterized quickly by Bill as “competitively compatible.” We took that as a compliment as we like our playing partners to have as good a time as we are.

Merri, a product of the Golf Academy of America with experience on course working for Arnold Palmer, Kemper Sports and Troon Golf, commented that “I have never seen that kind of service before.” As a proponent and writer for Women on Course she has seen various levels of service at all types of facilities.

A babbling brook on the first tee announces our threesome and keeps us company as it meanders down the left side of the first hole. As we look out over the gentle terrain of the par-5 first hole Merri exclaims her typical warning: “Best to get our bet straight on the first tee.” Bill deflects to me and I acknowledge I am giving her 6 strokes total, one less than last time.

By Andy Reistetter and Merri Daniel www.golfvacationsmag.com

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As we find ourselves in the fairway closer to the bunkers we see their magnificence. This is a “difficult looking but easier to play than it looks” type of golf course. The numerous bunkers along with stately trees are target points off the tee, but become hidden when looking back from the green. What was visible becomes hidden, the opposite of links golf. This is parkland golf at its best. Merri, the analyst proclaims “this bunkering is incredible, it looks pretty difficult and something to stay away from.” Interestingly she doesn’t take her own advice. Losing the first and tying the second sinking a 15-foot chip-putt with a stroke to match my bogey. “The course is beautiful and Andy is playing some of the best golf I have ever seen him play, I however, am not yet on my game,” were Merri’s playful words as we headed to the third tee. We finally see another person, a maintenance worker watering the fairway by hand on the fourth hole. Andy’s peace and tranquility vanish as he takes lost ball and water penalty strokes on the next two holes. Now Merri confidently assesses that she is “just starting to feel my game coming back and look forward to beating you.” Not on the next hole as Andy’s regulation par trumps her bogey with no stroke and he regains a one hole advantage in a match that is likely to go the distance. We love that there are no houses at Fallen Oak. No houses mean that there is nobody living on the course. No civilization to look at, we like to get away from civilization. “Merri’s got a hell of a game,” shares Bill just before Steve joins us on the 7th green, “and you do too.” “I enjoy playing with you. It is fun

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to play with people who love the game… it is my salvation.” We agreed that it was ours too as we smiled at each other. Merri made a bomb on the par 3 8th hole sharing with us afterwards, “I saw the line (of the putt) when I stepped up to the ball and I knew it was going in.” The golf school graduate typically impresses newcomers to the group with an amazing shot or two. Sort of Tigeresque at times but not intimidating to Andy since the deuce only squared the match. Andy knew he was in trouble after a stroke on the 9th hole earned Merri a point even though they tied with a pair of bogeys and Merri acquired a little energy boost at the turn. “Some of the best chicken salad I have ever had, a little cranberry, celery, egg and spicy mayonnaise, really good!” After Andy lost a ball off the tee on the 10th, his Big Miss being characteristically left, he took the dreaded “X” after surveying two of the amazing Fazio bunkers. Suddenly he had lost three straight holes and was now two down in the match. Andy was in trouble left off the tee on the 11th but recovered to match Merri’s bogey. He made a 10-footer to save a regulation par on the 12th for a point. The par-5 13th was a pivotal hole where the momentum swung in Andy’s favor as he drained a 24-footer for birdie. Merri three putted for a bogey six and her stroke was meaningless. All she could mumble was “that was a difficult hole location” as she stumbled off the green. Not only had the momentum swung to Andy’s side but Merri questioned Steve’s alliance and noted he had “switched teams” and now seemed to be rooting for Andy to play well. After a solid par on 14 and a 3-hole win streak, Andy had taken the lead with four holes to go.

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The match is tied on the next as Andy’s erratic tee ball goes predictably left and he manages to find another Fazio bunker on the way to the green. Merri plays the magnificent par-5 flawlessly with a tap-in par on the most difficult hole of the second nine. A 15-footer by Andy for another regulation par regains the lead that is only surrendered again on the 17th where Merri’s near ace and tap-in deuce evens the match for the last time. Merri comments that “we really like to go at each other.” Andy is upset that the scorecard gave Merri a 100-yard advantage. It seemed as though he was giving her another stroke that he had not agreed to on the first tee. Still it was an awesome 9-iron from 100 yards. On the way to the 18th tee Merri notes that she has “put myself in a position to win,” confident that the last of six official strokes will be a strategic advantage on the home hole. The aim point off the tee is the namesake Fallen Oak. Only partially fallen, with about a third of the massive tree lying horizontally, this is a century old landmark of the golfing landscape. Though serenely quiet the tall oaks sway in the wind as if to wave and say hello. Andy sees a monarch butterfly, a favorite of his father who brought him to the game and feels a warm sense of belonging here in the nature of Fallen Oak. Perhaps it distracts him from the matter at hand and Merri’s short game prevails with a nice one-putt bogey to secure a 1-Up victory. “Don’t you just love Fallen Oak?” she whispers in my ear as we compatibly embrace on the 18th green. I do and think of our golfing motto.

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While the PGA of America promotes “Play it Forward,” we say “Play it Together!” We thanked Bill and Steve for making our round extraordinary as we headed up to the Clubhouse and the 19th Hole. With a floor-to-ceiling view past the sunken bar to the 18th green and the Fallen Oak tree, we sit and talk and relive an incredible golfing experience. When Andy thinks of overall beauty, “there is nothing else like Fallen Oak, what an exceptional experience for the mind, body and soul.” Merri commented, “I am going to remember the chicken salad for a long time.” Merri Daniel is a Women’s Golf Advocate and emerging Golf Writer and Broadcast Assistant in addition to being a Spokes Model for Vivacity Sportswear http://www.vivacitysportswear.com/ Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer as well as a Spotter, Research and Broadcast Assistant for The Golf Channel, NBC and CBS Sports. A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame and THE PLAYERS while pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it. Residing within two miles of the PGA TOUR headquarters and the home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, this golfing couple is focused on a number of entrepreneurial golf pursuits within the realm of “Outside the Ropes Entertainment.” Friend Andy Reistetter on Facebook to enjoy daily updates on the GolfWriter59 page, go to GolfWriter59.com or contact Reistetter by e-mail at Andy@GolfWriter59.com

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RESORTREPORT

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BLACK BUTTE RANCH, OREGON by David R. Holland

B

LACK BUTTE RANCH, Ore. – Those early ranchers, farmers and loggers who settled the area around Black Butte Ranch and its two superlative golf courses – Glaze Meadow and Big Meadow – were blessed with a view that even pioneers must have stopped daily to gaze upon.

This Central Oregon panorama includes the Cascade Mountain range with sweeping views of Black Butte, Three Sisters, Mount Washington, Broken Top, Three Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson. Even Lewis and Clark stopped by and enjoyed the views and Paullina Springs which can be seen from the fairways of Big Meadow Golf Course. Closer up, Black Butte Ranch, a 1,800-acre family vacation destination, is blessed with 300-year old Ponderosa pines, lodgepole pines and aspens towering into the blue sky with trout-filled lakes beckoning outdoorsmen of all ages. The trees, however, had grown so much in the decades since Glaze Meadow Golf Course was designed in 1982 by Pacific Northwest legend, Gene “Bunny” Mason, that many mountain views were blocked, fairways had narrowed and greens had gotten smaller over the years. Enter John Fought, a native of Portland, Ore., 1977 U.S. Amateur Champion and two-time PGA Tour winner. Fought, who began his golfcourse architecture career with Bob Cupp, was tasked to take the existing fairway corridors and build a classic experience, complete with a new irrigation system, all new grasses and bunkers moved to match today’s long hitters. “When I first walked the golf course I knew it could be so much better,” said Fought, whose younger brother Jeff is Black Butte Ranch’s director of golf. “One of the key decisions was to select a logging company that could thin out the trees. More than 765,000 board feet of timber was removed – it was like rediscovering the mountain views.” And the amazing thing is a first-time visitor could never tell so much timber had been erased from the landscape after the $3.75-million renovation. The thousands of trees were logged, stumps pulled out of the ground and their holes filled in – thus creating a buffer of grass between fairways and the remaining trees. Then Fought drew upon his love of classic golf course design to create an experience any golfer can enjoy. “I believe in the more classical architectural values as opposed to the modern movement of millions of yards of dirt,” said Fought. “There are very good designers who create artistic landforms. It’s easier to do that than it is to take land that is natural and find those places and embrace them into the design moving as little as possible to make a natural course.” One of Fought’s most recent restorations was to transform prestigious Dallas Country Club, designed by Tom Bendelow, into a layout with many Donald Ross characteristics. The New Glaze Meadow Golf Course Fought’s major challenge at Glaze Meadow, now 7,007 yards, par 72, was just remolding a layout that had become quirky and had declining number of rounds played. Mason originally routed the course using the trees sometimes in the middle of the fairways, or behind greens – like hole No. 1. It was a dogleg par-5 with Ponderosa pines and an outcropping of rock in the middle of the fairway. Imagine standing on the first tee and seeing that in

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your line of sight to the green. Other holes had sharp doglegs with trees to negotiate. Talk about pace of play trying to figure out what to do. The project, which began in the fall of 2010, and finished with reopening in May 2012, included new irrigation and drainage, new bentgrass greens and a bluegrass fairway and rough mixture. Greens are sometimes perched with edges that drop off into grass-faced bunkers. The feel is open, the views spectacular, and the course is a pleasure to play with hole after hole a memorable experience. Probably the biggest changes came on holes two through five which takes a flat meadow with natural wetlands and creates a journey where placement is paramount and distance is secondary. Towering Black Butte, all 6,436-feet in elevation, and colorful growth amongst the wetlands also creates an area made for the photographer. Big Meadow Golf Course So the question on most travel golfers mind concerns Glaze Meadow’s sister course, Big Meadow, a 7,002-yard, par 72, designed in 1970 by Robert Muir Graves and updated in 2008 by Damian Pascuzzo. Can Big Meadow measure up? Absolutely. After all Big Meadow has been the more popular of the two, hosting numerous Oregon golf championships, and presenting another classic mountain experience that requires precision and also flows through huge trees, presents meadow holes and some with lakes to negotiate. The highlight of the round, however, might be No. 14, one of the most photographed holes in Central Oregon. This downhill 401-yard, par four requires the golfer to avoid three bunkers that guard the left landing area. But the view of Three Finger Jack in the background is spectacular and in the fall aspens behind the green will show a golden glow to distract you. Black Butte Ranch: The Verdict Outstanding golf, friendly employees, vacation rentals, superb dining and countless outdoors sports make Black Butte Ranch a destination family resort. The practice facilities are top notch along with expert golf instruction. But the ranch is much more – fly fishing, tennis, boating, four swimming pools, spa, 18 miles of walking or biking paths, horse stables and trail rides, paddle boats and more. Don’t miss dining at The New Lodge Restaurant. Here you will find farm-to-table organic herbs and vegetables geared to a Pacific Northwest menu and flavors.

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Pristine Bay Resort Roatan, Honduras

(Previous Page)

Pristine Bay Resort – located on the idyllic Caribbean island of Roatan – is offering an innovative, stay-and-play opportunity combining golf on its Pete and Perry Dye-designed Black Pearl course and scuba. The “Black Pearl Package” features the concept of “Interchangeable Days.” Each day guests have the option of one, 18-hole round of golf or three, single-tank dives. For example, select the seven-night / five “Interchangeable Day” package and spend three days playing the acclaimed Black Pearl and two exploring the world’s second-largest barrier reef. A five-night / three “Interchangeable Day” itinerary is also available. More information: www.pristinebayresort.com, stay@pristinebayresort.com, (713) 489-2554.

Saddle Creek Resort Copperopolis, Calif. Nestled in the rolling Sierra foothills, just two hours from the Bay Area and 1.5 hours from Sacramento, Saddle Creek offers a premier golf experience in the heart of California’s “Gold Country.” Golfers will discover stunning vistas of the towering Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east, while an ethereal collection of shimmering lakes, native trees, indigenous grasses and 100 bunkers provides a challenging, thought-provoking experience from tee to green. Guests at Saddle Creek Resort stay in luxurious, course-side cabins, located along the 1st and 9th holes. The bungalows include one or two-bedrooms with a full kitchen, dining area, and a living room with a cozy fireplace. For more information: www.saddlecreek.com, (800) 611-7722.

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Golf Vacations • August 2012 21


Free Your Mind Revamp

Barefoot Golf Course

Vidanta Nue Nu

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By Dave

McKibben

and Your Golf Swing

evo Vallarta uevo www.golfvacationsmag.com

Golf Vacations • August 2012 23


N

UEVO VALLARTA—The Mexican coastal resort that seemingly had everything is now officially over-the-top. It wasn’t enough that Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta had a lazy river, too many pools and swim up bars to count, 20-plus restaurants, seven resorts totaling over 2,000 deluxe rooms, three miles of pristine beaches and a championship golf course. Now there is an added bonus for spending a relaxing vacation in paradise: you can free your mind---and revamp your golf swing. In late June, the Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy opened an instruction and training facility on the grounds of the sprawling Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta complex, which includes the Grand Luxxe, Grand Mayan and five more resorts. The academy has barely been open a month, but it is already receiving dazzling reviews from PGA pros, avid golfers and weekend players whose games stand to benefit most from an elite instruction and training program. “I think I have found heaven... and in Nuevo Vallarta of all places,” said Leon Shwetz, a visiting golfer from Las Vegas by way of Canada. “The new Nicklaus Academy is unbelievable. I now have a place to come to get out of the cold or the heat, and just work on my golf game as much as I can stand.”

Golfer Mark DeWald took a two-hour flight from Phoenix for the grand opening and he wasn’t disappointed. “I came here with the expectation of seeing another driving range with some teaching aids and the standard stuff,” he said. “That wasn’t the case. The range is huge with all sorts of targets and trees to hit at or around. The short game area was one of the largest I have seen. But the really cool part was the climate-controlled coaching studios that allow you to escape the heat, sun or rain while taking a lesson.” The academy experience includes tactical evaluation, on-course instruc-

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tion and mental and physical evaluation and training programs. The lit driving range is designed with seven strategically placed target greens complete with bunkers and palm trees, creating a realistic visual for the golfer working to shave strokes off their score. But even before the Nicklaus Academy took shape, Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta had more than enough activities to keep San Diego resident Mike Branon busy for a week. “Vidanta has done a great job at making the resort a destination where there’s enough variety to keep it fresh,” he said. “If I’m at one pool too long, I’m stagnating. So I’ll just go to the lazy river, play beach volleyball or get a massage at the Brio Spa.” And if there is a lull at the resort, there is always the balmy Pacific Ocean lurking a few steps away. “With some resorts on the Pacific, the water is too rough,” Branon said. “But the warm water in Nuevo Vallarta is soothing.” Branon has already made half a dozen trips to Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. “The staff at the resort makes it extremely pleasant to stay there and never leave,” he said. “I’ve known some guests that stay there for four, five weeks at a time. They make it part of their life and consider it their second home.” On his last visit, Branon played Nayar Vidanta golf course, recently redesigned by Jack Nicklaus Designs. From the black tees, the par-70 course plays every bit of its 6,809 yards. From the whites, it covers 5,909 yards. The first eight holes were tweaked slightly; the remaining 10 were completely reworked in typical Nicklaus fashion. The new layout features more

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bunkers, deeper bunkers and much more undulation in the fairways and on the greens, but wider fairways and adjacent holes give the resort golfer a fighting chance. “Visually, the course is pleasing to the eye,” Branon said. “It’s a good test of golf from the back tees. You really want to keep your ball in the fairway because the lies are impeccable. For a resort course, I thought it was awesome.” The Nicklaus Academy, located just off the Nayar course, has practice areas that create a realistic visual for the golfer looking to shave strokes off their score. “You feel like you are on a course,” said Mike Malaska, PGA of America’s 2011 National Teacher of the Year and the Nicklaus Academies’ Worldwide Director of Instruction. “The backdrop from the tee is the [Sierra Madre} mountains. Not the golf course, buildings or houses, but a mountain. This is the perfect setting to work on your full swing, your short irons, and your complete game.” Ted Simons, Executive VP / COO of Nicklaus Academies, called the new facility “one of the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world.” “The short game training and practice area is a dream come true,” Simons said. “The oversized putting green, and the oversized chipping, pitching and bunker areas provide the opportunity to practice virtually any shot you might come across during a round of golf. The practice areas are complete with a variety of uphill, downhill and side hill lies. Anyone interested in developing a solid and consistent short game area does not have to go anywhere but here.” The facility’s director of instruction is Bruce Summerhays, Jr., a PGA professional from Utah whose father Bruce played on the PGA and Senior PGA tours.

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“This academy is really more of a golf experience than a practice area,” Summerhays said. “The beginner can not only enjoy the incredible atmosphere, but can feel confident that they are receiving the best quality instruction.” Summerhays said the early feedback from guests has been encouraging. One visitor from California emailed Summerhays to thank him for changing his family’s attitude toward golf. “I have been trying to get the rest of my family involved in golf. A lesson with you has everyone excited about playing.” The Nicklaus Academy is open to members and guests of Vidanta Resorts as well as residents and visitors to Puerto Vallarta. Customized lesson packages for individuals, groups and juniors are available for all ability levels. For additional information on the academy and golf at the Nayar course, please visit www.vidantagolf.com. About Vidanta Golf The largest golf course operator in Mexico, Vidanta’s award winning courses are located in the most beautiful beaches of Mexico including Acapulco, Los Cabos, Nuevo Vallarta, Riviera Maya and Puerto Peñasco in Sonora. To learn more about the resort destinations such as The Grand Mayan, visit www.vidavacations.com. About Nicklaus Academies The leading golf instruction brand in the world has locations in Mexico, United States, Spain, Denmark, China, Korea, Japan and Brazil. The Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf instruction system is based on the philosophy of the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus. For additional information, visit www.nicklausacademies.com

Golf Vacations • August 2012 25


SWEETSTUFF O W ne of the most renowned custom golf club makers—Muira Golf—which has established its reputation with top-quality forged irons, has introduced its latest mallet design to add to the company’s collection of quality forged putters. The KM-007, fourth in the KM line (for Katsuhiro Miura, the company’s founder and chief designer) begins as all Miura putters do: with a billet of the finest quality low-carbon steel. Once forged into the proper raw shape, the KM-007 mallet is CNC (computer-numeric controlled) milled into an elegant mallet shape designed to please the eye of players looking for some heft behind the ball. “Mr. Miura was looking at our putters, and felt we needed to take care of mallet players too,” said Adam Barr, president of Miura. “He came up with this design as a way to fit their eye while offering a soft, authoritative feel in a non-glare, milled finish. Miurasan understands that putting is very personal, and that a handsome look is as important as a solid feel. He didn’t release this design until he was sure he had met both high standards.”

The KM-007 offers a more face-balanced option within the Miura KM putter line. The KM-350, a heel-shafted model that is relatively short heel-to-toe, appeals to players with more of a fan-shaped putting stroke. The KM-005 (350g head weight) and KM006 (370g), whose shaft intersection point is closer to the center of the putter face, are “quarter-hang” models balanced mostly for back-and-through swingers. The 007 will work well for that kind of stroke too. Miura Golf’s corporate office is located in Vancouver, British Columbia and Miura Golf clubs are sold at the finest custom-fitting shops in North America. The Miura brand is marketed exclusively by Miura Golf Inc., in the United States and North America. More information on Miura products can be found at www.miuragolf.com.

26 Golf Vacations • August 2012

ithout a full-time instructor watching your every stroke on the practice tee, making sure you are executing the right things during the swing can be hit and miss. But a cleaver new device called SwingPerfect that attaches to a golf club can now take a lot of the guesswork out of practice and keep you on plane during those sessions on the range. Instead of spending hours guessing how to correct your swing you can attach this compact and innovative swing trainer to your club that provides immediate vibration feedback, teaching you how to develop the perfect golf swing and club head position. Endorsed by perennial Top-50 PGA Teaching Pro and host of the Golf Channel’s “School of Golf” Martin Hall, SwingPerfect lets you step inside the sensation of a professional swing, and discover the proper building blocks from small swing to a full swing. SwingPerfect uses advanced micro-circuitry technology backed by five US Patents through a miniature swing analyzing gyroscope that provides immediate vibration feedback and a unique four-position switch aligning your swing properly. Five aspects of your swing are measured by SwingPerfect, including club face, rotation position, swing plane angle, vertical and horizontal axis, tempo, and direction. Incredibly precise, SwingPerfect vibrates if your swing mechanics deviate from the ideal swing path. And, at a mere 2.3 ounces, SwingPerfect is lightweight and will not affect the weight of the club head. “SwingPerfect is an amazing example of how technology can be used to help beginners and even seasoned golfers improve their swing and their overall game,” said Hall. “Typically, we will video tape a swing and instructors will use that tape to show a golfer the corrections that need to be made in their swing. Now you can take your lessons with an instructor a step further and use SwingPerfect to alert you every time your swing deviates. You will be able to improve your swing faster than ever with SwingPerfect, or as I like to call if, the pro in your pocket.” SwingPerfect is compatible with all left and right-handed golf clubs and comes with an instructional DVD that is very concise and gives some great instruction on building a sound golf swing. SwingPerfect can be purchased online at locations including Amazon. com, GolfSmith.com, through SkyMall or at www.swingperfect.com

T

he latest in a line of outstanding books on the psychology of playing golf by one of the most acclaimed sports psychologists practicing—Dr. Rob Rotella—is now available and is an excellent guide into the intricacies of two areas of golf that don’t get as much attention as they probably should—the short game where all of the scoring is done-and the mental process behind it. Dr. Rotella, the author of Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect and Golf Is a Game of Confidence, now has his latest work: THE UNSTOPPABLE GOLFER: Trusting Your Mind and Your Short Game to Achieve Greatness (Free Press), a 224-page book to help golfers of all levels master the increasingly challenging elements of the short game – chips, pitches, bunker shots, and putts – through mental focus. It’s no secret that more than two-thirds of the shots a golfer makes are short ones: putts, chips, and pitches. Long drives may garner applause, but whether a golfer wants to win the Masters or just five bucks from his buddies on Saturday morning, it’s the little shots that make the difference. Every game has its unglamorous and overlooked skills. In basketball, if you don’t rebound and play defense, you lose. In football, you have to

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SWEETSTUFF by TerryRoss

block and tackle. In golf, it’s chipping, pitching, and putting. But, because golf course architects have made greens ever more complicated and challenging, chipping, pitching, and playing bunker shots cause great anxiety for both professional and amateurs. Overcoming this fear has never been more essential to getting the most out of your game. In The Unstoppable Golfer, Dr. Rotella, who has worked with a roster of major champions, including hall of famers like Pat Bradley and Tom Kite, and stars of the present like Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, teaches readers how to use their minds to master the short game by achieving a calm state of mind in which the focus is only one thing—the target. In addition to preparing players mentally, Rotella also explains the science of memory, and how knowledge of the brain’s workings—in particular how it masters physical tasks—can improve a golf game, particularly the short game. Many of the mental skills taught in this book are really life skills that carry over to personal success and business, even outside of the realm of sport—such as a firm in a belief in yourself and what you are doing. These are some of the thoughts and techniques that you also hear from the current crop of Olympians in discussing their success in their chosen sport. For older players, the short game becomes even more critical because of the loss of strength and ability to hit the ball as far— so you need to make up for these deficiencies with a better scoring ability by being able to save strokes around the hole. This book is an easy and interesting read with some great antidotes from Dr. Rotella’s many years of tutoring tour pros like Davis Love, III, Brad Faxon, Nick Price, Paul Azinger, Trevor Immelman, Clarke, Harrington, David Toms, Scott Verplank, McDowell, Fred Funk Sean O’Hair, and Kite. His clients have had unprecedented success in golf, and since 1984, golfers coached by Dr. Bob Rotella have won a total of 74 major professional titles. He has also worked as a personal consultant to the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, U.S. Olympic Ski team, U.S. Olympic Equestrian team, New York Yankees, San Francisco 49ers, New Jersey Nets, and Texas Rangers. Outside of the sports world, Dr. Rotella has also been a

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performance enhancement consultant to numerous corporations, including Merrill Lynch and Pepsico. As a teacher, Dr. Rotella has been selected as one of the top 10 golf teachers of the 20th Century and for 20 years directed the leading sports psychology graduate program in the country at the University of Virginia. From one end of the golf spectrum to another, The Unstoppable Golfer can be of benefit to just about every player. The seri-

ous, competitive golfer will find counsel that will help him/her chart a course that will make them the best player he can be. The casual, weekend player will find thoughts and ideas that will be immediately useful on the course. More information on The Unstoppable Golfer and Dr. Rotella can be found at www. drbobrotella.com

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28 Golf Vacations • August 2012

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