OUR 10th YEAR
THIS MONTH: SweetStuff • Destinations • ChipShots
GOLF VACATIONS OCTOBER 2012
GREAT LAKES GREAT COURSES GREAT EXPERIENCES
A TASTE OF SPAIN Plus: RESORT REPORT: JEKYLL ISLAND, GEORGIA BLACK BUTTE RANCH, OR www.golfvacationsmag.com
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Son Vida Golf, Mallorca, Spain
12 • Mallorca: A Taste of Spain
by Andy Marshall
Ever since the 1950s when the first charter flights began to arrive in Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands has continued to attract millions of visitors every year in search of its sunny climate, vibrant nightlife and some of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the Mediterranean.
18 • Gaylord Golf Mecca
by Fred Robledo
The treasure trove of immaculate golf courses in northern Michigan is no secret to those who already reside in that great state whose northern border glides between the Great Lakes and Canada. Nor is it unknown to the thousands of golfers from surrounding states who make it a regular golf destination.
28 • Resort Report: Jekyll Island
by Merrie Daniel and Andy Reistetter
Walter Hagen once said “I never wanted to be a millionaire. I just wanted to live like one.” The millionaires of the late 19th and early 20th centuries lived on Jekyll Island to escape winter and rejuvenate themselves. Today there is no need to be a millionaire but there are a million reasons to come to Jekyll Island.
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by Terry Ross
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INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR GOLF TOUR RETURNS THIS FALL TO TPC SAWGRASS AND SEA PINES
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) – one of the leading competitive circuits for elite golfers in grades 5-12 – released the fall 2012 schedule, including 16 events in seven U.S. states. Headquartered on Hilton Head Island, S.C., the IJGT offers close to 50 two-and three-day events throughout the U.S. each year. IJGT members represent 45 U.S. states and 43 countries. “The IJGT is the perfect environment for juniors to test their abilities against top-notch competition on premier golf courses,” says Peter Orrell, President and CEO of Junior Sports Corporation, which owns and operates the IJGT. “To complement our three older divisions, we introduced the Discovery Tour last season for golfers as young as eight years old and the response has been very positive.” On Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23-25), more than 100 of the best junior golfers in the world will compete at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Participants will play both the worldrenowned Stadium (host of the PGA TOUR’s Players Championship) and Valley courses. Dec. 8-9, the IJGT will host the 5th annual Hank Haney Invitational at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island. Pete Dye’s iconic
Harbour Town Golf Links is home to the RBC Heritage each April. For the fall season, the IJGT has added several new venues. They include Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va.; past host of the NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship and ranked in Golfweek’s “Top 100 Resort Courses in America.” IJGT alumni include Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Paula Creamer and many other PGA and LPGA Tour players. Graduates of the IJGT’s 2012 class will play at several top NCAA collegiate programs across the country: the University of South Carolina, Wake Forest University, Florida State University and University of Southern California, to name a few. For more information about the IJGT or to become a member: www.IJGT.com, info@IJGT. com, 800.792.9143.
“BUDDY TRIP” GOLF PACKAGES ABOUND THIS FALL IN MYRTLE BEACH Inlet Sports Lodge’s “Spectacular South End Fall Golf Special” – Set in the scenic charm of Murrells Inlet with its marsh walk, waterfront dining and lively nightlife, this stayand-play includes three nights’ in a deluxe studio (double occupancy) and three rounds of golf for $399 a person. Choose one round on TPC Myrtle Beach, Prestwick, River Club, Heritage
and Founders. Two round choices are Tradition Club, Wachesaw East, Litchfield Country Club and Blackmoor. Visit: www.golfholiday.com/packages/ inlets-sports-lodge/#fallAd Anderson Ocean Club’s “Grand Classic Package” – Just steps away from the Atlantic, the Anderson Ocean Club lies in the heart of the Central Strand with easy access to and from Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) as well as numerous options for après golf dining and revelry. The Grand Classic starts at $71 (per person, per night) featuring three nights’ oceanfront accommodations with daily breakfast and three rounds on a choice of Pine Lakes, Prestwick, Farmstead plus eight additional courses. Visit: www.golfholiday.com/packages/ anderson-ocean-club/#fallAd Bay Watch Resort’s “Fall Tour Package” – Amid the picturesque fishing communities and broad beaches of the North Strand, Bay Watch Resort is a full-service facility offering luxurious studios, two-, three- and four-room suites for golf groups of all sizes. For $69 a night per person, enjoy a stay of three nights with three breakfasts and lunches included, and three rounds on a splendid golf menu of The Witch, Prestwick, Arrowhead, Man-O-War and The Wizard. Visit: www.golfholiday.com/packages/baywatch-resort/#fallAd
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CELEBRITIES HIT THE LINKS TO BENEFIT MILITARY VETERANS IN SOUTH WALTON, FL. GOLF CLASSIC SOUTH WALTON, FL. – Golf enthusiasts will have the chance to hit the links with dozens of sports legends and other celebrities in the South Walton Celebrity Golf Classic Nov. 1-3 at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Although this is the tournament’s 16th year, it marks the first time the event is being sponsored by Visit South Walton. Proceeds from this year’s tournament will benefit Working Warriors, which serves the military community by working with corporate America to provide jobs and economic independence to our nation’s heroes. The tournament will be televised on Fox Sports at various times following the event. “We are so excited to have Visit South Walton as our title sponsor,” said tournament chairman Charlie Haje. “Over the past 15 years, this event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy charities. Visit South Walton’s sponsorship will enable us to achieve even greater success in our fundraising goals by increasing awareness of this popular event.”
The event begins Thursday evening with a welcome gala at the Gulf-front Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. At 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday mornings, golfers hit the links in a shotgun start on Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort’s Raven and Baytowne golf courses. Friday night features a celebrity gala and auction at the Hilton Emerald Ballroom. The weekend ends with a post-round cookout and awards ceremony. The deadline for registration is Oct. 1. The format is five-player scramble with one celebrity randomly assigned per team. For the first time this year, a limited number of gallery tickets will be sold, allowing spectators to cheer their favorites along the course. Visit South Walton is giving away a foursome valued at $2,500 to one lucky winner on Facebook. “Charlie Haje and his team have created an exciting golf event that Visit South Walton is proud to sponsor,” said Jon Ervin, director of marketing and communications for Visit South Walton. “The tournament embodies the lifestyle South Walton is known for – great golf in a beautiful coastal setting to benefit a worthy cause, with the added bonus of spending the weekend with
celebrities and sports legends. We invite everyone who enjoys golf to make plans to attend and to enter our foursome giveaway.” Among those committed to participating are baseball legends Bill Mazeroski, Phil Niekro, Frank Howard, Rick Cerone, Mackey Sasser, Von Hayes, Greg McMichael, Elroy Face, Sam McDowell, Chris Hammond, Brett Butler, Juan Bonilla, Greg Litton, Rick Reuschel and David Ross. Football greats Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Jessie Tuggle, Zeke Bratkowski, Bob Brunet, Derrick Brooks and Jackie Burkett are on the roster, along with celebrated SEC basketball coach Wimp Sanderson. Several more well-known names from sports and other fields are expected to be added to the roster, and updates will be provided as commitments are confirmed. To enter the foursome giveaway, go to Visit South Walton’s Facebook page at www. facebook.com/VisitSouthWalton, and click on the Giveaways & Getaways tab. Click on the Photos tab to view an album of this year’s participants and memorable moments from past events. For more information or to register, go to www.swcgc.com.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa.
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ANNIKA ACADEMY LAUNCHES FREE AND PAID VERSION GOLF LESSON APP FEATURING SWING TIPS
ORLANDO, FL. – The ANNIKA Academy, Hall-of-Fame golfer Annika Sorenstam’s boutique golf instruction and fitness facility, announces the launch of its much-anticipated app for Android smartphones. Already available for the iPhone and iPad, the Android app is filmed in HD video and sound. Free and paid versions feature full-swing, short-game, putting, course strategy and fitness tips from Annika and the rest of the Academy team. The free platform offers five videos from expert academy instructors, and the paid option costs $4.99 and features 59 lessons. This number honors Annika’s achievement as the only woman to ever break 60 in a professional golf tournament. “Whether you’re having trouble with your grip, or losing distance on your driver our app can provide you with tips to improve,” says Annika, an eight-time LPGA Player of the Year. “No matter your skill level, our app will help you to get the most out of your game.” The easy-to-navigate format ensures Academy swing coaches are only a few clicks away. Visit: www.theannikaacademy.com/app to download app. Interactive online lessons are also available. For $59 per swing analysis, instructors will use state-of-the-art V1 Pro software to break down video of a player’s swing and suggest drills to accelerate progress. A $499 annual membership option includes side-by-side comparisons with Annika’s technically sound swing. For more information, visit www.theannikaacademy.com, or contact Pam Kehoe: email@example.com / 888.266.4522
MARRIOTT VACATION CLUB RESORTS NAMED FIRST AUDUBON INTERNATIONAL GREEN RESORTS Marriott’s Grande Vista in Orlando, Fla., and Marriott’s Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert, Calif., are the first resorts to be designated as Green Resorts by Audubon International, an international conservation and environmental education organization. The Green Resorts designation recognizes properties that have been eco-rated by Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program and have achieved certification in at least one other Audubon International program, such as the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. Designation as a Green Resort is the culmination of Marriott Vacation Club’s larger Green Initiative which began at its corporate headquarters with continued roll-out to its resorts worldwide. In addition to these most recent steps, each Marriott Vacation Club resort has established its own “green team”
which manages its environmental efforts. In 2009, the brand demonstrated its continued commitment to green operations by eliminating more waste from landfills through implementing recycled key cards, pens and Forest Stewardship Council certified paper for guest arrival packets worldwide and most recently announced a soap recycling partnership with Clean the World at its resorts in North America. In 2011, Marriott Vacation Club committed to enroll all of its properties in Audubon International’s Green Lodging Program and will achieve full enrollment of its North American properties by the end of this year. “We’re pleased to welcome these two Marriott Vacation Club properties as the first Green Resorts,” said Fredrik Realbuto, Director of the Audubon International Green Lodging Program. “Building on our long standing cooperative agreement, we are excited to continue working together to better protect and sustain our land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources,” said Realbuto. “These two Green Resort designations affirm our long term commitment to green operations at our resorts and we’re thrilled to be recognized as the first recipients,” said Lee Cunningham, executive vice president and chief operating officer – North America and the Caribbean, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation. Marriott’s Grande Vista in Orlando is a two-hundred acre resort with 900 one, two, and three bedroom villas. Owners and guests enjoy luxurious accommodations and amenities as well as the Faldo Golf Institute, a 9-hole course with instructional facilities, and Marriott’s Grande Pines Golf Club, an 18hole championship course. The resort offers a comprehensive staffed activities program for all ages. Marriott’s Grande Vista is a member of the Green Lodging Program, and the Faldo Golf Institute and Marriott’s Grande Pines Golf Club are members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. With the magnificent Santa Rosa Mountains serving as a backdrop, Marriott’s Shadow Ridge offers a one-of-a-kind vacation experience in the heart of California’s Palm Desert. This sprawling, family-friendly resort features Nick Faldo’s first golf course designed in the United States. The resort is located approximately eight miles from Palm Springs and boasts many amenities including outdoor pools, a water slide and a kids splash zone; fitness center with steam room and sauna; grills and picnic areas; tennis courts; and an activities program for all ages. Marriott’s Shadow Ridge is a member of the Green Lodging Program and Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.
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Golf Son Gual
A TASTE OF
ver since the 1950s when the first charter flights began to arrive in Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands has continued to attract millions of visitors every year in search of its sunny climate, vibrant nightlife and some of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the Mediterranean. But there’s much more to the ‘Golden Isle’ than the beach scene. How about the historic capital of Palma, the picturesque mountain village of Deià, ancient castles, fantastic caves, the spectacular Serra de Tramuntana mountain range and a rich local gastronomy. In addition, the good news for golfers is that for its size, Mallorca is well supplied with 24 quality courses and several are within chipping distance of Palma. The first port of call for our spring golf break, teeing it up at Son Muntaner, Alcanada and Son Gual, is the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, an oasis of luxury nestled in the heart of the exclusive villa district of Son Vida, about a 20-minute drive from the airport. Situated high above the Bay of Palma, this gorgeous 13th-century castle hotel exudes a rich Spanish grandeur with its historical architecture, exquisite antiques and collection of valuable paintings. Since opening in 1961, the hotel has attracted a long list of famous
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guests including the Spanish Royal Family and film stars like Brigitte Bardot, David Niven and Steve McQueen. Surrounded by fragrant lush gardens, the view from the hotel’s extensive terrace reaches far over Palma. Distant houses spill down verdant hillsides towards a bustling harbour presided over by the imposing 14th-century Gothic cathedral glistening in the sunshine. It’s 8.30am the following morning outside the caddy master’s office at Son Muntaner; only a few minutes drive from the hotel. Golf bags and carts are neatly lined up in rows and there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. A group of Swedish golfers enjoy pre-round coffees on the clubhouse terrace and a couple of pale Englishmen fine-tune their short stick skills on the practice putting green below. We make up a fourball with a German couple, who like ourselves are looking forward to the warmth of the sun and one of their first rounds of the year. Designed by Kurt Rossknecht in 2000, Son Muntaner meanders lazily through an undulating Mediterranean landscape and features well-conditioned fairways and greens, with numerous water hazards and elevated tees – it’s a solid and enjoyable opener to Mallorcan golf.
Surrounded by magnificent pines and silvery green olive trees that dot the fairways, the course boasts one special tree in particular. After playing our tee shots at the par-5 15th, we stop to admire the fantastically gnarled and twisted thousand-year-old olive tree known as Sa Capitana, one of the oldest on the island. Son Muntaner is one of four golf courses linked to the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, which is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Mallorca. Designed by F.W Hawtree in 1964, Son Vida is Mallorca’s most time-honored course, and the original home of golf in the Balearics. The hilly and challenging layout of Son Quint with marvellous views over the Bay of Palma from several of its tees and greens, and the Executive 9-hole course, adds up to 63-holes of excellent golf, and one of the best golf complexes in Europe. A Taste of Mallorca After a shower, a siesta and a cold beer on the hotel terrace, we head into Palma to meet one of Mallorca’s star chefs, Marc Fosh, who has recently opened his third restaurant on the island, called Misa Braseria + Bar, featuring dishes such as Catalan fish soup with monkfish and mussels and slow-cooked beef in hay and mountain herbs. “Business is going well so far and the restaurant is attracting a varied clientele. Each of my three restaurants has its own character and style; Misa is casual and accessible, Tasca de Blanquerna offers Mallorcan cuisine with a twist and Simply Fosh is upmarket gastronomic,” says Marc. “We are very lucky here, the island’s benign climate, fertile soil and sea provides a great variety of produce to work with.”
From the land comes pork, in particular from the indigenous black pig, bred in the wild in forest groves and scrubland. For centuries the pig has been the great benefactor of Mallorcan gastronomy and supplied embutits (sausage type products) such as the island’s calling card sobrassada. The island also has delicious wild lamb that lends itself to being cooked whole and smaller game such as rabbit and partridge that provide the ingredients for traditional stews and soups. There’s excellent virgin olive oil, succulent oranges, honey, almonds, desserts such as ensaïmada made from coiled sweet pastry, liquors like palo or hierbas and fine wines that have been awarded a Designation of Origin. The sea provides fish species such as dolphin fish, grouper, red mullet and scorpion fish that’s highly appreciated for its consistent firm white flesh and unique taste. Amongst the island’s other seafood and shellfish are pink prawns, octopus, cuttlefish and the red lobster, the main ingredient in some memorable dishes such as seafood stew or caldera. The following day we drive across the island to the north coast for our second round at Club de Golf Alcanada. Set to the stunning backdrop of the Bay of Alcudia, this top-notch Robert Trent Jrdesigned track will take your breath away, offering fabulous sea views from 16 of its 18 holes. The 458-metre, par-5 1st is an excellent strategic opening hole of the risk-reward variety and a taste of things to come. Several holes feature ‘open-up-your-shoulders’ shots from elevated tee blocks that see you driving high above sea level into the watery horizon. While waiting to tee off at the par-3 4th, we get chatting to course Marshall and fellow Yorkshireman Tim Meadows. “The fourth largest Castillo Hotel Son Vida
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amateur golf tournament in the world, The King’s Cup is being held here in March 2012,” he tells us. “You are playing Son Gual during your trip aren’t you? It’s so close to the airport that you can almost board your plane home after walking off the final green.” Alcanada is a real test for higher handicap golfers and we are both well over par walking off the final green. If you can keep your ball in play, it’s the challenging greens with concealed breaks that are the course’s main defence. But it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable, the quality of the layout and the scenery make certain of that. Be sure to savour the views of the Alcanada Lighthouse Island from holes 11 and 13 in particular. Doing the tapas crawl It’s around 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night in Palma’s Plaça d’en Coll, and we are joining the locals on the Ruta Martiana or tapas crawl - an excellent and authentic way to get into the island’s eating and drinking swing. Strictly speaking tapas are appetizers to be enjoyed with a glass of beer or wine followed by a main meal, but for many people they can be enjoyed as the main focus by going from bar to bar. Tapas are basically a generic name for small portions of anything edible and can vary from simple to gourmet. It could be a bowl of olives or deep-fried squid, tortilla española (potato omelette on bread), pimientos de padrón (green peppers grilled with olive oil and salt), or more sophisticated offerings such as angulas (baby eels on toast). Some of the bars on the Ruta Martiana include the Tapas Club, Bar Boya, La Gran Taberna and Bar Cerveceria, but just keep an eye out for where the action is. At Jamón & Jamón (specialising in
aged hams), an open window reveals a scene of lively chatter and customers waiting to be served at a wooden bar bulging with a variety of colourful tapas. Along with the tapas, small glasses called zuritos (that look like a couple of inches have been cut off the bottom of a pint glass) are used to serve the beer, allowing Mallorcans to visit several bars during an evening. A worthy place to end the night is Bodega Bellver, hidden away up a side street around the corner from the theatre. Featuring rickety old wooden tables and shelves lined with dusty bottles, this intimate place is the exact opposite of Palma’s gleaming 21st- century tapas bars and offers a slice of Mallorcan life unchanged since the 1920s. For a while now, Palma’s harbour area has been one of the best alternatives in the city for eating out or nibbling on tapas, and well recommended is Aquiara specialising in gourmet tapas. For nearly two years, 52-year-old Koldo Royo originally from San Sebastian Son Muntaner
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in the Basque country, and one of Spain’s best places for authentic tapas, has been the charistmatic figurehead of Aquiara. Koldo is a jack-of-all-trades in the world of Mallorcan cuisine and is well known all over the island. His CV includes running the Michelin-starred Restaurante Koldo Royo for 25 years, writing several food books and starring in his own cooking show. “The idea is to offer the same quality in a variety of price brackets. The King of Spain who is a regular visitor can come and so can a worker and they can all enjoy the tapas,” he says. “The king I treat as a plumber and the plumber I treat as a king.” Some of Aquiara’s other famous customers include Julio Iglesias and keen golfers Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones who have a home on the island. In addition to tapas, other delicious dishes are available for example Especial paella del senyoret ciega (containing pork, chicken, lamb, fish and seafood), and desserts such as flan, made from dry bread rolls. On our last evening we visit Sa Torre, a typical Mallorcan country farmhouse located in a winegrowing area near the village of Santa Eugenia some 20-minutes drive north-west of Palma. Built in 1560, Sa Torre has been in the same family for centuries and is now run as a restaurant and rural retreat by brothers Pedro and Victoriano López-Pinto Ivars. Sa Torre’s old wine cellar with its impressive 8-metre high ceilings is now a restaurant where aged rustic barrels form an impressive backdrop. “We specialise in Mediterranean food mixed with a Mallorcan influence and use locally sourced produce as much as possible,” says Pedro as he serves our appetiser. “Once a week, Victoriano and myself visit Palma’s Olivar market and base the coming
week’s menu on what’s available and affordable.” Sa Torre’s 5-course menu consists of: cava and appetiser, starter, fish course, meat course and dessert all for €39.50. It’s excellent value and the setting Jamon y Jamon and service adds immensely to the unique dining experience. Several local wines are also available including Sa Torre’s own labels made from grapes in the surrounding vineyards. The Final Round On the last morning before flying out, we tee it up at our final course. Since opening in 2007, Son Gual has quickly gained a reputation as not only a Mallorca ‘must play’ but also one of Europe’s top golf destinations. What was once 156 hectares of flat non-descript agricultural land on the outskirts of Palma, has been transformed by three-time German Amateur Champion and course designer Thomas Himmel, into a polished layout that winds its way through a landscape of gently rolling hills, 1000 mature olive trees, fields of wild flowers, pockets of vineyards and water features all overlooked by an early 20th- century Mallorcan manor house. Adding to the club’s growing reputation is the fact that Son Gual Son Quint
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Sa Torre de Santa Eugenia
has hosted a European Seniors Tour event, the 2009 Mallorca PGA Seniors Open, when former Ryder Cup captain Mark James defeated Irishman Eamonn Darcy in a playoff to claim the title. The 66 bunkers of Augusta-like sand are a major feature of Son Gual and some are so extensive, they make the ones on most others look like children’s sand pits. ‘If’ or more likely ‘when’ you go in one it’s easy to clean up your tracks -there’s more rakes in the bunkers than at your local garden centre. Many other things will stick in the memory long after playing this fantastically manicured course – the resident greenkeeper and falconer with his eagle, one of the finest collection of par-3s to be found anywhere and the par-5 18th - a serious contender for the best finishing hole in Spain. “Many golfers like yourselves come and play their final 18 holes here before flying out since its so close to the airport,” says Andreas Pamer, Son Gual’s likable director and marketing manager, as we enjoy lunch on the clubhouse patio after our round. “We even produce our own olive oil from the olive trees on the course. The olives are picked and then sent to a neigbouring village for pressing and bottling,” he says, giving us both a bottle to take back home – a fitting gift and great memory of our Mallorca ‘Golf and Gastronomy’ trip…
WHERE TO PLAY Son Muntaner: www.sonmuntanergolf.com Son Vida: www.sonvidagolf.com Son Quint: www.sonquintgolf.com Club De Golf: www.golf-alcanada.com Golf Son Gual: www.son-gual.com WHERE TO STAY Castillo Hotel Son Vida: (Top End/ 5-star) One of the most renowned hotels in the Mediterranean region. The Castillo Hotel Son Vida combines a distinguished interior with 21st luxury and comfort. www.luxurycollection.com/castillo Sa Torre de Santa Eugenia: (Agritourism country hotel) 5 self-contained apartments, 2 swimming pools with solarium, golf nearby. www.sa-torre.com Hotel Horizonte: (On a budget / 2-star) Offers fabulous views of Palma. www.amic-hotels.com
WHERE TO EAT Sa Torre de Santa Eugenia www.sa-torre.com Misa Braseria www.misabraseria.com www.marcfosh.com Aquiara Paseo Marítimo www.aquiara.es GETTING AROUND Sixt Car Hire: www.sixt.co.uk FURTHER INFORMATION Balearic Tourism Agency: www.illesbalears.es Balearic Golf Course Association: www.mallorcagolfisland.com Golf&Go! Magazine is distributed throughout Europe at select golf courses. For the discriminating traveler to Mallorca, Golf&Go! offers gourmet, wine and shopping tours and golf travel packages. www.mallorcagolfandgo.com
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GREAT LAK By Fred
G Barefoot Golf Course
Club Tribute Course Hole #52012 Par 4 18 Otsego Golf Vacations â€˘ October
GREAT EXPERIENCES www.golfvacationsmag.com
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he treasure trove of immaculate golf courses in northern Michigan is no secret to those who already reside in that great state whose northern border glides between the Great Lakes and Canada. Nor is it unknown to the thousands of golfers from surrounding states who make it a regular golf destination. But to those who have never had the pleasure to experience golf in that part of the country, I would urge you to find a way to make it one of your future destinations. You won’t be disappointed. You will be as exulted as many of the world’s most prominent golf course designers must have been when they discovered the lush landscape of the alpine area. Before them was a canvas of rolling terrain, thick forests, lakes, streams and natural vegetation, just waiting for creative minds to carve out green jewels that would present golf as it was meant to be: a contest between players and the challenges of Mother Nature with few distractions from the outside world. The locals refer to it as the Gaylord Golf Mecca, an area that encompasses 17 golf courses and 20 lodging facilities. In the winter the area is a world-class ski resort destination. The rest of the year it’s a golf haven. During my recent visit, I played six of the golf courses and stayed at two of the resorts. Before going into detail about the courses, I will tell you something about the general nature of the golf courses in the area. The greens are smooth, quick, but in some cases, a little tricky to read. The fairways are tree-lined, well-bunkered and all of the courses offer enough sets of tees to test the games of players of all abilities. My suggestion would be to play from a set of tees that matches your ability and not necessarily one that corresponds with your length off the tee. All of them were immaculately conditioned. For those of you who like to bump the ball occasionally because of bare lies, you don’t need to do it on these courses. I never encountered a single bad lie on balls that found the fairway. If you miss the fairway, however, beware. You could lose your ball in some of the thick vegetation on some courses or find yourself trying to thread the ball back to the fairway from between a thicket of trees.
Some of the courses had over-sized greens with a lot of undulation that seemed unfair in the beginning, but once you reached the green you would have realized the target area was just a small portion of the green and you had to play the ball to land below the hole. The courses listed below are in the order I played them: Black Forest at Wilderness Valley 6500 Nicklaus Drive, Gaylord, MI 40735 Black Tees: 7,044 yards, par 73, rating 74.3, slope 147 Blue Tees: 6,688 yards, par 73, rating 72.8, slope 143 White Tees: 6,097 yards, par 73, rating 70.1, slope 127 Forest Tees: 5,298 yards, par 73, rating 66.0, slope 111 Red Tees: 4,556 yards, par 73, rating 67.2, slope 119 Phone: 866-585-7090 Website: www.Blackforestgolf.com This course was one of the first for Tom Doak, a Michigan native who studied course design under the tutelage of Pete Dye. Doak considers himself a “minimalist” golf course designer, which, simply put, focuses on using the natural features of the land as much as possible. At Black Forest, the natural features included 400 acres of pine, oak and maple trees over a rolling terrain. When carving out the course, he allowed for long cart rides from greens to tees so that one could appreciate the thickness of the forest. Every hole is well-framed and well-bunkered and there are five sets of tees ranging from 7,044 yards to 4,556 yards so no player should ever feel the course is too long or unfair. It is so important to select the right set of tees because for most players, it is no fun to struggle and lose balls trying to play a course from the tips that has a slope of 147. Our group, from 12 to 20 handicappers, elected to play from the white tees at 6,097 yards and all of us found the course to be fun and challenging. One of the first things you notice is the change in elevation of many
Black Forest Golf Club Hole # 8 Par 3
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of the holes. From the higher elevations, you can see all of the bunkering, the contours in the fairways and also the places you want to avoid. The fairways make look narrow because of the trees, but the landing areas are actually generous. The real fun begins when you try to hit the right iron to the small, undulating greens, which can be a nightmare because of their speed. The greens have slopes, swales and mounds, but even on some of the relative flat spots there are subtle breaks that aren’t easily detectable. It’s all part of the Doak philosophy which places an emphasis on hitting the correct area of the green as opposed to just being happy to be on it. My favorite holes were the par 5s, especially the 10th (460 yards) and 18th (455 yards). Both were downhill and reachable for the long hitters. Even with my relative short length off the tee, I was able nearly reach the last hole with my second shot. Salivating at a chance for a chip and a putt for birdie, I chipped long, then misread the tricky green and three-putted for a bogey. There are also several short par-4s on the course but what makes them difficult is the need for accuracy off the tee. The long hitters in our group were constantly lulled into fooling attempts to carry bunkers and cut doglegs. The shorter hitters found the fairways most of the time and had short irons into the greens. After the round we found the split-level Bavarian-style clubhouse and sports bar the perfect place to unwind. Threetops at Treetops 3962 Wilkinson Road, Gaylord, MI 49735 Back Tees: 1,435 yards, par 27, no course rating or slope. Middle Tees: 1,291 yards, par 27, no course rating or slope. Front Tees: 978 yards, par 27, no course rating or slope. Phone: 855-616-2444 Website: www.treetops.com
This little course is a gem among the 81 holes at the renowned Treetops Resort. If you were paying attention during the days of the so-called Silly Season of Golf, you might recall ESPN’s Par-3 Shootout at Threetops, a made-for-TV event that featured the top regular and senior tour players competing in a Skins Game on a magnificent Par-3 course. Lee Trevino made history during that event in 2001 when he aced the seventh hole and earned $1.09 million for the richest single hole in the history of golf. Every single hole is spectacular and uniquely named for its features. Most of the tees are elevated and the greens are mounded and sloped in such a way as to give players a chance to make a hole-in-one. The second hole, a 161-yard beauty named Double Cross, features a pair of teeing areas that offer different angles from an elevated tee. Guessing which club to hit is part of the fun. Devil’s Drop is the third hole and measures 219 from the back tees, but with a postage stamp of a green 145-feet below, it’s not easy to grab the right club. We played the seventh hole at 150 yards, but it plays three clubs less because of the extreme elevation. The pin was in the back, in the same spot as when Trevino made his ace. I remember his shot landing in the collar behind the green, then spinning back just enough to catch the slope which fed the ball into the cup. I tried my best to land the ball behind the pin and was even rehearsing my Trevino dancing celebration, but my ball landed in the rough above the green and stayed there. This course just begs you to play it again because once you know where the slopes are and which clubs to hit, you will hit some shots that have a chance of going it from the tee.
Treetops Smith Course #18 Par 4
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Treetops – Rich Smith Signature 3962 Wilkinson Road, Gaylord, MI 49735 Black Tees: 6,653 yards, par 70, rating 72.6, slope 136 Blue Tees: 6,285 yards, par 70, rating 71.1, slope 133 White Tees: 5,863 yards, par 70, rating 68.9, slope 129 Red Tees: 4,604 yards, par 70, rating 66.9, slope 125 Phone: 888-873-8677 Website: www.treetops.com After a quick lunch, we moved from the Par-3 Course to Rick Smith’s Signature Course, arguably the finest of the four championship courses on the property. That’s quite a statement when one considers Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones Sr., designed the two original courses at Treetops. Golf for Women agreed with that assessment in 2007 when it named the Signature among its list of Top 50 courses because of its beauty and playability. Like most of the courses of the Gaylord Golf Mecca, the Signature features an abundance of elevated tees that provide dramatic panoramic views from high above the Pigeon River Valley. It’s not only the views from the high perches that are stunning; the holes themselves feature impressive contouring, mounding and bunkering and, depending on the tees you play, bring a multitude of decisions into play. We decided to tackle the course from the White Tees at a modest 6,285 yards because we felt a 133 slope from that yardage was manageable. And it was – if you played smart and paid attention to the trouble on the course. This is a risk/reward course which explains why it is one of the favorites of Phil Mickelson. One of my favorite holes was the 167-yard 4th hole with two bunkers protecting the front and two more on each side. There is no bail out area because the area in front of the tee box is designated as a protected area. That means you have to carry the green and hit the right tier of the multi-layered green. Because of the angle, the green doesn’t look large from the tee, so it’s an intimidating shot. Once you reach the green, you realize it’s bigger than it looks. Another outstanding hole is the relatively short par-5 15th hole at 461 yards that actually plays longer because it is uphill. Although bunkers line both sides of the fairway, the landing area is wide. It’s the approach to the green that makes this hole difficult. You are hitting uphill to a deep green that features a false front. Although some long hitters can reach it in two, they are more likely to find some of the bunkers protecting the narrow opening to the false front. The closing hole is only 343 yards and is tempting for the long hitters. But there is a series of bunkers on the left waiting to catch shots that don’t reach the green. When asked why the course was called the Signature, Rick Smith said it was because he considered every hole a signature hole. He was right on the money. Treetops – Tom Fazio Premier 3962 Wilkinson Road, Gaylord, MI 49735 Black Tees: 6,832 yards, par 72, rating 73.6, slope 134 Blue Tees: 6,287 yards, par 72, rating 70.9, slope 128 White Tees: 5,857 yards, par 72, rating 68.8, slope 125 Red Tees: 5,039 yards, par 72, rating 69.8, slope 122 Phone: 855-616-2444 Website: www.treetops.com There was no let-up on quality as we moved from one spectacular course to another. This time it was Tom Fazio’s turn to impress us and he didn’t disappoint with his Premier Course, which is ranked among Golfweek’s Top 100 Resort Courses. The Premier Course, the only Fazio-designed course in Michigan, is known for its collection of outstanding short par-4 holes on a course that winds its way through a maze of tree-lined fairways and
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features gentle-sloped greens which are quick and true. We opted for the Blue Tees at 6,287 yards with a semi-friendly slope of 128. What I particularly liked about this course were the wide, bowlshaped fairways that present themselves as easy targets, which they would be if they weren’t so strategically bunkered. Fazio, like so many of the golf architects in northern Michigan took advantage of the elevation on many tees and greens. The views from many of the tees are simply overwhelming -- and that doesn’t even include the beauty of the courses. I have always enjoyed scenic and strategic par-3 holes and this course has a couple of great ones beginning with the 167-yard 8th hole that is played from an elevated tee 80-feet above the green, which itself is perched upon a hill. The hole plays about two clubs shorter than the distance, but you better hit it solid or you will find yourself on an embankment of thick grass below the green. The other jaw-dropping par-3 hole is the 168-yard 11th that has a lake running along the entire right side of the hole. You are actually hitting at an angle from an elevated tee. If you aim at the hole and miss on the right by just a little, you will find the lake. The play here is to hit a shot up the left side and let the ball catch the contoured fairway which will bring it back towards the green. This is a course that tantalizes you with its variety of short par-4s and leave you with a feeling of wanting to come back to try it again. They are strategic holes which tempt the long hitters and even gives shorter hitters some options. Black Lake Golf Club 2800 Maxon Rd., Onaway, MI 49765 Gold Tees: 7,030 yards, par 72, rating 74.3, slope 140 Blue Tees: 6,275 yards, par 72, rating 72.9, slope 137 White Tees: 6,381 yards, par 72, rating 71.2, slope 134 Silver Tees: 5,844 yards, par 72, rating 68.7, slope 129 Phone: 517-733-4653 Website: www.blacklakegolf.com Located about an hour’s drive north of Gaylord, this Rees Jonesdesigned course is well worth the trek to one of the most northern areas of the state. Situated on over 1,000 acres of heavily wooded acres along the southeast side of Black Lake, this course has received many national awards. In 2009, Golf Digest named it No 34 on the prestigious “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.” The magazine also ranked it as the 9th Best Value from the Top 100 list. Designed as an environmentally-friendly course, Black Lake has been certified by the Michigan State Stewardship Program and by the Audubon International as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. “As soon as I saw the property, I knew the holes were here,” Jones said about his course design. “We just had to find them. We strive for holes blending with the natural terrain. There is nothing artificial about Black Lake. With those kinds of accolades, we were anxious to try it and decided the White Tees, at 6,381 yards with a slope of 134, was our best option. Wrong. Bad decision. We later realized the course actually plays longer than the yardage and we would have had a better time playing from the Silver Tees. No matter. We didn’t score well, but it was an eye-popping course in pristine condition and we were more than satisfied with the experience. We played the nines in reverse because in the future, the 10th will be the opening hole. For purposes of this review, I will refer to the holes as they were when we played them. The first hole that caught my attention was the 197-yard par-3 14th that had a bunker running down the entire right side of the fairway. Poor bunker players will bail to the left and likely wind up
Black Lake Golf Club Hole # 14 Par 3
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Treetops Resort - Jones Course Hole # 6 Par 3
24 Golf Vacations â€˘ October 2012
in the forest. The 15th hole is only 335 yards, but your drive has to carry 190 yards to carry a ravine. Once, you find an elevated green that feeds into another ravine on the left. A safe option is to play your second shot just short of the green to the right and hope to chip and putt to save a par. Our closing hole, the 9th, was a monstrous 540-yard hole playing into the wind. I know, monstrous is relative, but when your big drives go about 220 yards, a 540-yard hole is monstrous. For those playing from the tips, it’s a 590-yard hole. Because it’s so long, the driving area is wide, but a lot of bunkering awaits you the closer you get to the green. This is a course I will play from the Silver Tees the next time I play it. Otsego Golf Club – The Tribute 696 M-32 East Main Street, Gaylord, MI 49734 Black Tees: 7,347 yards, par 72, rating 74.1, slope 134 Blue Tees: 6,733 yards, par 72, rating 71.9, slope 130 White Tees: 6,305 yards, par 72, rating 69.0, slope 115 Phone: 800-752-5510 Website: www.Otsegoclub.com This was by far the most pleasant surprise of the trip. During the two days we stayed at the Otsego Club & Resort, the only course vis-
ible was a wide, flat course known as the Classic. We had the Tribute on our schedule to play on our last day in Michigan and we envisioned a similar flat course. What we found when we drove our golf carts out to the first hole was a shock, and a pleasant one at that. We didn’t actually play all 18 holes. We only had time for 9, so we took a ride through the majestic hills and valleys of the front 9 and saw an incredible golf course that ranked right up there with the others we had played. Designed by Rick Robbins and NBC golf analyst Gary Koch, the Tribute is all about beauty, serenity and 20-mile vista views. The greens are spacious and fast, the bunkering is strategic and there are multiple tee locations for different looks. The course is routed like a links course that wraps around the forest in a counter-clock direction. You will never play alongside a parallel fairway. Once you leave the first tee, you won’t come close to it again until you leave the 18th green. Although the fairways are wide, there is heavy natural fern and foliage that will grab and forever render your ball lost. Even if you find it by accidentally stepping on it, it’s next to impossible to advance it very far. Most of the greens are gently undulating, others have several tiers, all of them are quick. There is a nice mix of short and long par 4s and ravines that demand your attention. I am just sorry we were only able to play 9 holes. This is another course you will want to play multiple times. And don’t forget your camera because this hole, like all the others we played, have a lot of Kodak moments.
Black Forest Golf Club Hole # 17 Par 4
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Otsego Club Tribute course Hole #3 Par 4
26 Golf Vacations â€˘ October 2012
WHERE TO STAY The summer nights are warm and the days are long in Gaylord, Michigan, located in the heart of the Northern Lower Peninsula off Interstate 75. With planning, it is easy to play two courses in the same day and still have time left to enjoy some of the finer restaurants or enjoy some of the many recreational activities in the area. Gaylord is known as Michigan’s Alpine Village and there are a variety of events, experiences and entertainment to keep you busy when you’re not playing golf. During a recent stay in the area, we found two resorts that were comfortable, offered a variety of amenities and were within driving distances of all of the top courses in the area. Treetops Resort 696 M-32 East, P.O. Box 556, Gaylord, MI 49734 Phone: 800-752-5510 • Website: www.ostegoclub.com One of the first things you will notice while dining at the Legends on the Hill Restaurant are the ski lifts right next to the parking lot. It’s a reminder that you are on top of a mountain at a place that is a ski resort in the winter. During the fall, summer and spring, the Treetops Resort is home to 81 holes of championship golf and features five distinctively different courses designed by owner Rick Smith, Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Tom Fazio. Some people have been known to stay at Treetops during their entire stay in Gaylord. The resort features 238 guest rooms which include standard, deluxe and two and three bedroom condos. Nearly every room takes advantage of the sweeping vistas of ski hills, golf courses and wetlands. There are three restaurants at the resort – the Legends on the Hill, the Hunter’s Tapas and Tini Bar and the Sports Bar. The Legends features breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual atmosphere. Hunter’s is the place to be on weekends with entertainment in a contemporary club setting. The Sports Bar is great for a quick burger or to pick up a pizza. After a long day on the course, there is no better way to relax than with a massage. The full-service Spa at the resort offers a full range of massage therapies, body treatments, skin care, facials, manicures and pedicures. There is also a Nautilus fitness room, hot tub, steam room and sauna available during your stay. Otsego Club & Resort 696 M-32 East, P.O. Box 556, Gaylord, MI 49734 Phone: 800-752-5510 • Website: www.otsegoclub.com The Otsego Club & Resort is one of the oldest and most prestigious destinations in the Gaylord area. The view of the Sturgeon River Valley from a restaurant patio behind the Hilltop Lodge is breathtaking whether you are there during the golf or ski season. Originally a private ski resort known as Hidden Valley Resort when it opened in 1939, it became a year-round playground in 1955 when Alan L. Gornick purchased the property and commissioned William H. Diddle to design a championship golf course which was called the Classic. Gornick’s son, Keith, took over in 1981 and since that time, the Otsego Club & Resort has added another golf course, the Tribute in 2002, and has grown from 60 rooms on 500 acres to 117 rooms (cabins, chalets, condos, suites, guestrooms) on 4,000 sprawling acres. For your dining pleasure there are a variety of restaurants for all occasions. There is the highly acclaimed Pontresina Steakhouse which provides an elegant atmosphere and recently received the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, one of only eight restaurants in Michigan to receive it. For less formal dining, there is the Headwaters Grille and the Duck Blind Grille, or, for light snacks and drinks, a variety of hot and cold sandwiches in the restaurant/bar in the pro shop. There are swimming pools, a volleyball court, a horseshoe pit, a shuffleboard court, putting greens and chipping areas throughout the grounds. And, of course, there are two magnificent golf courses waiting to test you.
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A Golfer’s Paradise for a Million Rea
28 Golf Vacations • October 2012
JEKYLL ISLAND, GEORGIA
by Merri Daniel and Andy Reistetter
Golf Writer Andy Reistetter is joined by Merri Daniel, golf’s newest voice for women, as they share another intimate “stay & play” golfing experience. This exclusive “Play-Write” article encompasses a weekend visit to Jekyll Island, the State of Georgia’s “Landmark Experience.” Much has been written about its aesthetic, cultural and historical significance. These were the homes for millionaires dating back to the late 1800’s. But what sense of being is found today on the island? Why does it attract so many visitors? Join Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Daniel and Reistetter, yes Merri Daniel and Andy Reistetter, as they share their perspective of why Jekyll Island is today’s destination of choice.
alter Hagen once said “I never wanted to be a millionaire. I just wanted to live like one.” The millionaires of the late 19th and early 20th centuries lived on Jekyll Island to escape winter and rejuvenate themselves. Today there is no need to be a millionaire but there are a million reasons to come to Jekyll Island. “It’s different, it’s just different,” was what the man said to us when I asked him to describe Jekyll Island. After only a few hours on the island we knew that what he said is true. Jekyll Island is different. After a fabulous dinner in the Grand Dining Room of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel Merri and I set out to stroll down the many sidewalks of the Historic District. We came upon the Sans Souci rumored to be the first condominium project in the world- a segue between the rooms of the hotel and the opulence of the “cottages” of the millionaires. The man was sitting on the front porch rocking away with his 16-year old son. Rocking as in a rocking chair on the covered verandas, not as in musical gyrations though the beat of their father-son conversation was noteworthy. It was the peaceful tone of that conversation which attracted us to mosey over their way. As simple as being happy and fulfilled, we joined in with the rhapsodists. What we conversed about, whether it was the weather, the activities of the day or the splendor of experiencing Jekyll Island is forgotten. But the charm of Jekyll Island is not. Where else can you meet a stranger, share a moment and depart friends celebrating such a tranquil experience? Well of course that can also happen on a golf course. Jack Lemmon, who told us the story of Bagger Vance, said “If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try playing the wrong golf ball.” Opportunities to play into other fairways are minimal due to the spatial world class design of the golf courses. Jekyll Island is “the World’s first golf course designed with suitable tee locations for the entire family to enjoy the game of golf together.” Perhaps a game of alternate shot is a course of design for fun and making more friends in the family? Golf has been on Jekyll Island since 1898 and today boasts 63 holes and is the largest public golf resort in the state. That’s three 18-hole courses and one 9-hole keepsake from the 1926 Walter Travis creation of “American Ocean Links” called the Great Dunes course. Oleander is a 1917 Donald Ross masterpiece redesigned in 1964 by Dick Wilson. Indian Mound was designed by Joe Lee in 1975. Pine Lakes is a 1968 Dick Wilson/Joe Lee design renovated in 2002 by Clyde Johnston. So if one is into name dropping, the golf architects of Jekyll Island are right up there in the world of golf as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Morgan are in the world of finance. Like the quiet conversations on the front porch you will find a great deal of humbleness and dedication behind the scenes on Jekyll Island. If you look into the concept of family tees on a golf course you will learn it was done under the direction of Johnny Paulk. A living legend of Georgia golf, Paulk started as an Assistant Professional at East Lake Golf Club, home club of the legend in golf, Bobby Jones. On the wall outside his office hangs the letter Bobby Jones wrote on his behalf recognizing Johnny as a personable, competent and industrious person and recommending him for a job. Of course Jones started the Masters Tournament a long time ago. Paulk announces the golfers as they approach the 18th green and is only the third person to do so. When you bring your family to golf on Jekyll Island, seek out Johnny Paulk for a story or two and learn something about the true essence of the game.
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I said there were a million reasons to come to Jekyll Island. Here are Merri’s Marvelous Moments of Jekyll Island. Ten of those million reasons to visit Jekyll Island: 10. Staying at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. “The room was capacious, the bed extra comfortable and the bathroom even had a window that opened to the flowery courtyard below.” 9. Golfing, it was fantastic. “Sorry I know it was mentioned before but from a women’s perspective these golf courses are a lot of fun to play. Plus I love seeing up close the deer with their fawns.” 8. Riding bicycles around the island. “At the Club Hotel you can literally valet your car, walk a few steps and rent a bicycle to tour the island and get some exercise. I liked when we rode out to Driftwood Beach, what an interesting and beautiful place with fantastic views.” 7. Visiting the Commissary on Pier Road which was the General Store back in the 1920s. “Juliana, the owner has a private label of Georgia based food products. Georgia Peaches and Vidalia Onions and Pecans are used to make delicious barbecue sauces, salad dressing, preserves, hot sauces, relishes, salsas and much more, which is quite extraordinary” 6. Working on Jekyll Island. “Oops, we are not supposed to use that word but if you have to do that the new Jekyll Island Convention Center is the place to do it. It is oceanfront and there is an automatic positivity that comes to any event. A Beach Village retail center and three new hotels
are planned.” 5. Visiting Faith Chapel. “Wow, the chapel is home to a treasured rarity- a signed stained glass windows by the famed artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. I am so excited that my daughter recently became engaged to be married to a wonderful guy. This would be a wonderful place for an intimate wedding celebration.” 4. Walking down to the Café Solterra at the Club Hotel to get some coffee. “Andy knows I need my coffee early in the morning. I love to pop down to the café to get some Starbucks coffee and bring Andy back a treat from the bakery.” 3. Taking the Historical District Tour starting at the Island History Center. “Talk about going back in time, the only thing missing are the people. What gorgeous homes. It was as though we were joining the Rockefellers for the 1917 season. The antique Red Bug car they had was cool but I love driving the modern electric Red Bug around the island.” 2. Visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. “Turtles are so cute in their hard shells. The ones in rehabilitation seem to have such personality. Not only are there sea turtles but diamondback terrapins too from the brackish water between the island and the main land. Since one of two turtles sited on the causeway are killed by motorists please drive slower and more carefully coming onto the island.” 1. Having dinner in the Grand Dining Room. “Especially on a Saturday night, date night! The food was extraordinary, the people nicely
accommodating and the desserts richly chocolate the way I like them. My best tip is to have dinner early and take a leisurely romantic walk afterwards. Don’t miss Sunday brunch as it is to die for. But eat late as you can before it ends at 2 p.m.” In reality maybe the reasons folks come to Jekyll Island today are very similar to the reasons the millionaires started coming 125 years ago. Sure we are curious about how they lived and what the insides of their homes looked like. Exploring the island and connecting with its natural beauty is a big part of the experience. Probably a bigger part, like that father and son rocking on the porch is connecting with ourselves and the people important to us in our lives whether friends or family. You don’t have to be a millionaire. On Jekyll Island today it does not take long to decompress, relax and enjoy the ambiance of a special place. “It’s different, it’s just different.” The tag line in the Bagger Vance movie was “Some Things Can’t Be Learned. They Must Be Remembered.” Remembering things and creating new memories is easy to do when you spend a few nights on Jekyll Island. At least a million good thoughts and feelings will come your way. Enjoy! P.S. Jekyll Island is “Celebrating 125 Years of History with a Year to Remember at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.” Dinner for two for $125 is available through the end of the year in the Grand Dining Room. In December any night in a Clubhouse or Traditional Room is $125 in the Club Hotel.
Andy Reistetter with Johnny Paulk at Jekyll Island Golf Club
30 Golf Vacations • October 2012
Golf Vacations â€˘ October 2012 31
edicus Golf has been known for its unique but very effective training clubs and accessories. But Bob Koch, the former PGA Tour professional who founded the company 25 years ago, always felt that a comprehensive training series was needed to tie all of this experience and teachings together. In his newly released five-disc DVD set, entitled Pure Strike: 5 Simple Keys to Consistency, Koch and Medicus Golf identified the five basic elements that every great golfer from Bobby Jones to Tiger Woods has in common. These common traits are explained and demonstrated in great detail in a very easy to understand, conversational-approach series of video lessons that just about every golfer can learn from. Koch, and fellow Medicus Master Instructors Chuck Evans and Dave Wedzik provide an in-depth look at each of the Five Simple Keys
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and discuss in detail why certain swing tendencies cause different shots. The Pure Strike principals, says Koch, can help any golfer to hit the ball pure, with repeated accuracy and steady distance. Although Ben Hogan’s swing was sweetly controlled, Arnold Palmer lashed at drives with powerful fury and Jim Furyk famously kills snakes in a phone booth, there are profound similarities between all three players. And it’s why their “secrets” so to speak, or commonalities, can help most golfers. “One reason teaching is so complicated is that a student can’t focus on 10 different parts of the swing at once,” said Koch. “But while those champions had different grips, stances and swing planes, all mastered five essentials that are obvious on film and in photos. It’s the common traits that enabled the greats to strike balls with consistent purity.”
Koch’s now widely-used hinged club that helps golfers address swing flaws--the Medicus club--has become one of the most successful golf training tools in the business. As Koch suggests, the basics are, well, fairly basic. The first Pure Strike Key is keeping a Steady Head, which means the old noggin atop one’s shoulders remains centered between the feet from address, at least until follow-through. Data shows that the average PGA Tour player moves his head only one inch during the swing. While some downward motion is normal—because the body compresses during the backswing—the fixed point of the head without side-to-side motion promotes balance, an initial step toward consistency. The second key is called Weight Forward, which means that 80 percent of a right-handed golfer’s weight should be on the left foot at impact. In fact, the average PGA Tour player arrives at impact with up to 95 percent of their weight on their forward leg. “One hundred percent of the best ball strikers have their weight forward at impact, while 100 percent of the worst have the weight on their back foot,” says Evans. “There is a direct correlation between forward weight and handicap.” Indeed, the average amateur only gets 55 percent of their weight forward at impact. Incorporating The Flat Left Wrist, which prevents the golfer from “flipping” the ball, follows the first two keys. There are no flippers on the PGA Tour. The local practice range is overrun with them. Flat left wrist keeps the shaft of the club from passing the left arm prior to impact. If the shaft does get past prematurely, it virtually assures fat and skulled shots. On this DVD, Evans and Wedzik demonstrate drills to engrain the right motions that prevent flipping. Key number four is called The Diagonal Sweet Spot Path of a swing, which helps bring the clubface’s sweet spot to the golf ball, followed by Club Face Control, the final key, involving the movement of the clubface from takeaway to follow-through. While the first three keys ensure a pure, compressed strike on the golf ball, these last two control its flight. Flightscope technology and high-speed cameras have proven that the golf ball starts generally in the direction the clubface is pointing at impact and curves away from the path. If the face is open to the path, the ball will fade, and if it’s closed, the ball will draw. A proper fade is hit with a clubface aiming left of the target at impact, and a proper draw with one aiming right of the target at impact.
SWEETSTUFF by TerryRoss
By understanding Club Face Control, both of these shots can be perfectly playable, depending on the target. According to Evans and Wedzik, knowing the true ball flight laws and how to achieve them is the fifth and final Key to great scoring and incredible golf. For more information: www.purestrike.com
robably the hardest elements to the art of putting are setting up correctly in a stance and keeping a steady head. Although it may look easier than many aspects of the game, it is something that confounds the best players in the world. Being able to gain feedback on these aspects while practicing can be invaluable in developing the skills to improve. SKLZ, the flagship brand of Pro Performance Sports of San Diego, has developed some innovative athletic performance and skill development training products over the past few years, but two of its newest releases, the 21i and 12i Putting Mirror optimal path and alignment trainers are simple yet effective tools
in practicing a sound putting stroke. Designed to allow golfers to effectively train the putting stroke that is best suited to their personal style, the Putting Mirror is placed on the ground and gives golfers the ability to position their head and shoulders in proper alignment over the ball. Guide pegs can be used to mark path lines, exit gate and backstroke distance. Arcing and straight path lines guide the club for the optimal putting stroke, while the exit gate encourages a square putter face at impact. Backstroke peg holes make it easy to practice for two different putting distances. The 21i Putting Mirror measures 21” x 8” and includes 10 putting pegs and a protective carry bag. A more compact 12i Putting Mirror is also available. It measures 12” x 8” and includes 8 putting pegs and a protective carry bag. Both mirrors can be used for right-handed or left-handed training. Depending on how you set the pegs, you can practice a square or arcing putting path for left or right handed use. For more information: www.sklz.com
ootJoy has added a new and improved product to its golf glove line with the introduction this fall of the GTxtreme™ that promises greater gripping ability and durability in all kinds of weather conditions. The GTxtreme™ uses proprietary digital APL™ leather technology combined with a digital FiberSof™ material that results in a glove that is FootJoy’s best glove yet in terms of grip and durability performance. The soft FiberSof™ material along the back of
the glove along with the PowerNet™ mesh and Power-Locking closure promotes a consistent fit, enhances comfort and creates an optimal fit. Exclusively tanned Advance Performance Digital leather targeted in the palm and thumb optimizes durability. The QMark™ magnetic ball marker gives quick and easy access to mark your ball. “GTxtreme™ provides the best of all worlds; exceptional grip performance in all-conditions, maximum durability, comfort, superb flexibility and breathability with a precision fit,” said Maria Bonzagni, Senior Director of Worldwide Marketing for FootJoy Golf Gloves and Accessories. As the leader in the glove category, PGA Tour leadership and validation plays a significant role in the launch of new products for FootJoy. Bubba Watson is using this new glove and it is expected that more players in the professional ranks will put it in play before long. The GTxtreme™ comes in these sizes: Men’s Regular Left S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL; Men’s Cadet Left S, M, ML, L, XL; Men’s Regular Right S, M, ML, L, XL For more info: www.footjoy.com/gtxtreme
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34 Golf Vacations â€˘ October 2012
Published on Oct 10, 2012