Fabulous Golf in New Zealand

Terri and I have just returned from an incredible two weeks in New Zealand. I must say that when we departed on the trip I was expecting the golf to be good, but not much more. How wrong I was! I was truly blown away with not only the quality of the golf courses (design and shot-making), but also the scenery and conditioning.

Coronet at Millbrook

Coronet at Millbrook

We started on the South Island at Millbrook. Here we played the Coronet and Remarkable nines as there are 27 holes available. Conditioning and scenery was superb and the consensus was that everybody preferred the Coronet nine. A good idea here is to tee it up relatively early and then drive 5 minutes up the road for a fantastic lunch at Amisfield Winery.

Our second course on the South Island was Jack's Point. This is the most beautiful golf course I've ever played. Not only is it beautiful, but it's a top notch layout too. A true 360º course - look in any direction, on any hole, and you'll see incredible beauty. Our group literally couldn't get enough of Jack's Point and this was the course of the trip for me. 

Jacks Point

Jacks Point

We then moved to the North Island where the next round we played was at the mighty Kinloch Club. Our weather was perfect and we just about had the course to ourselves. A Jack Nicklaus design with a definite linksy feel to it - Kinloch delivered the goods and more. I loved how the fairways incorporated the humps and bumps and the whole look and feel of the course was interesting. The golf course is fantastic, but the Lodge at Kinloch might even be better. Contemporary accommodations along with world-class cuisine is tough to beat. 

Kinloch Club

Kinloch Club

The day after Kinloch we ventured to Wairakei Golf Club. While the weather was a little dreary during our time there, I was pleased to see how many of the golfers in our group enjoyed the course. Wairakei is a "proper" golf course as I like to say and there was not a single hole out there that I wouldn't want on my home course. I did feel it was a little too big for the ladies as the ladies tees were not forward enough. Fabulous golf course that I could play everyday.

The course our group was most excited to play was definitely Cape Kidnapper's. Unfortunately we had horrible weather for our round there, but we all gained a sense of how much fun this course could be on a pleasant day. We caught glimpses of the stunning scenery and it seemed to whet our appetite to return one day and appreciate all this beautiful site has to offer. Beautifully designed by Tom Doak, Cape Kidnapper's allows for the influence of weather and wind without becoming too challenging. I wrote in the guest book, "A very enjoyable and wise design!" Cannot wait to get back.

The back nine at Cape Kidnappers

The back nine at Cape Kidnappers

Each of the courses we played had exceptional practice and warm-up facilities and the staff were always friendly and accommodating. In fact at Kinloch, our lead group finished early and Paul, one of the pros, invited them to go out and play a few extra holes. This spirit of hospitality was everywhere in New Zealand and as a result we cannot wait to get back. Here are a few details regarding our trip next year...

Click the image above to view

Click the image above to view

For information on our trip to New Zealand in February 2018 please email Terri at terri(at)syncexcursions.com

South Africa or New Zealand in 2017?

What's it going to be? Once again Terri and I will be headed to South Africa this coming January for our 11th trip and as per usual we cannot wait to get back. We have changed things up slightly from years gone by in that we now start our trip in Cape Town and close things out at the world renowned Makanyane Safari Lodge.

We will spend five luxurious nights at the Cape Grace Hotel which was recently ranked in the top 100 hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure. Of course there is golf at three of South Africa's best, but so many traveler's overlook the country's incredible food and wine scene. We complement the Cape's stunning scenery with private wine tastings at Hamilton Russell and Fairview and our final dinner at Delaire Graf will definitely be one to remember.

We then head to the northern part of the country for the safari leg of our trip. Here are private air charter lands at the Madikwe Eastern Airstrip and our 5 day bush adventure kicks off. Your life will never be the same again after your time here! The staff, food, accommodations and customer service are all simply world class. And then there's the game viewing! We have often seen the magnificent seven (lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, buffalo, wild dog and cheetah) on our previous trips and almost expect to see all the members of the Big 5.

We currently have space for four additional couples on this incredible life-changing trip. Please contact Terri at terri(at)andrewricegolf.com should you have any questions. Also visit www.syncexcursions.com for a detailed itinerary.

In February we head to the southern hemisphere again - this time to New Zealand! It is kinda nice to trade two weeks of winter for some summer sunshine. We will spend time in all the best spots on both the north and south island visiting Auckland, Queenstown and Millford Sound, Napier and Lake Taupo. You will have the option to play five spectacular rounds of golf at courses that include Cape Kidnapper's and the top-rated Kinloch Club.

For those seeking adventure we have included a charter flight and cruise on the Millford Sound and jetboating on the Shotover river. Everybody loves great food and wine and New Zealand has plenty to offer. We will enjoy private tastings and culinary delights at Amisfield, Craggy Range and Mission and Church Road wineries.

We currently have space for three additional couples on this Kiwi excursion. Please contact Terri at terri(at)andrewricegolf.com should you have any questions. Also visit www.syncexcursions.com for a detailed itinerary.

Thanks for reading and if you cannot join us in 2017 we hope to have you come along in 2018!

2015 South Africa Golf & Safari

Each year my wife and I have the pleasure of escorting a group of travelers to my home country of South Africa for an amazing twelve day luxury experience that includes golf, safari, premier wineries and sightseeing. If Africa is on your bucket list you may want to 'Keep Calm and Carry On' reading....

Main Lodge at Makanyane

Main Lodge at Makanyane

Our group departs the USA on January 4th bound for Johannesburg and on to the majestic city of Cape Town.  Here we will stay at the luxurious Cape Grace Hotel located in the heart of the V&A Waterfront.  Rooms all have a view of the harbor and stunning Table Mountain. While in the Cape we will play three rounds of golf at: Arabella Golf Club, Steenberg Golf Club and Pearl Valley. Following golf each day, we will tour and taste at some of South Africa's top wineries: Fairview, Hamilton Russell, Ernie Els and Boekenhoutskloof are all on our list. We will also spend a glorious morning touring Table Mountain, where you will get a panoramic view of one of the world's most beautiful cities. 

Cape Grace Hotel

Cape Grace Hotel

Following our stay in Cape Town we depart for the bush and what has always been the most popular portion of the trip. The upcoming adventure will take you to the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, where you will spend five luxurious nights at the world renowned Makanyane Safari Lodge. Previous travellers have experienced up close and personal encounters with lions on the doorstep of their suite and elephants grazing in the camp! Don't worry though, you are completely safe. Our guests have often had the honor of seeing the complete "Big Five" - Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Cape Buffalo and Rhino. We have even, on a few occasions, seen the "Magnificent Seven" which also includes African Wild Dog and Cheetah.

The setting, local cuisine and attention to detail from the staff are as epic as the game viewing.

Dominant Linyala Male

Dominant Linyala Male

This is certain to be the trip of a lifetime - so much so that we have had numerous couples come on two trips with us and we have even had a couple return for a third visit.

Ernie Els Winery

Ernie Els Winery

If you would like to experience all that luxurious Africa has to offer without multiple location changes then this is the trip not to miss. From stunning Cape Town to the awe inspiring drama of the African bush - you will do it all while only sleeping in two beds. And we have always felt that the downside to travel is the travel itself.

White Rhino and Calf

White Rhino and Calf

The cost for the trip is $9950 per person for golfers and the dates are January 4-17, which include travel days.  We currently have space available for 3 additional couples and are open to customized itineraries for your group to South Africa. Please feel free to visit our website for more details syncexcursions.com.

Here is a video collage from our 2014 trip:

Should you have any questions please contact Andrew at andrew@andrewricegolf.com or Terri at terri@syncevents.com 

Next Up: The Ocean Course at Kiawah

Next up for the 2012 major championships is the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah.

I played the course during the summer of 2009 on a perfect day and still left feeling like it was a 'two sleeve' golf course - and that's only if you're a fairly accomplished golfer.

Take a look and see what the PGATour's best are in for...

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For the best possible viewing please take a minute to download PicLens here.

Have you ever played the Ocean Course? Thoughts.....?

The Open Championship 2011 Royal St. Georges

My favorite tournament of the year is finally here.  If I had one event I could win it would be the Open Championship - I just love the effects of the weather and the truly brilliant golf courses on the Open rota.  

Last time at St. Georges Ben Curtis was the grateful recipient of Thomas Bjorn's untimely demise in a greenside bunker.  By the way - has anybody seen or heard from Mr. Bjorn since that fateful day?

This year I really like the chances of the young guns and were I a betting man I would have a hard time going against these five:

Rory McIlroy - Golf's new golden boy.  He simply must be on everybody's shortlist of champion golfer candidates.  After the dominant showing at Congressional and last years showing at St. Andrews and this year at Augusta...you get the picture.

Louis Oosthuizen - Not sure why I like him as he hasn't done much in the year since holding the Claret Jug (top 10 at the US Open), but I just feel he'll be inspired to be playing major championship links golf.

Rickie Fowler - a stellar showing at last years Open Championship after a horrible opening round.  He is due for something good to happen...

Dustin Johnson - he's got to show up at some point this year in a major right?  I believe he'll come from out of nowhere to challenge this week.

Charl Schwartzel - okay I know I have two young South Africans on my list, maybe I'm biased, but who can argue with this pick.  A win and a top 10 in majors thus far this year.....I look for the bantamweight to be there come Sunday!

We can only hope for similar weather to last year - firm, fast and a stiff breeze off the Dover coast.  I love it!

Tee Times and Pairings

What fabulous terrain for a golf course! Just watching the Open Championship inspires me to take a golf break and get out and play some links golf. There is no better style of golf to play.  Enjoy!

If you are interested in playing a few of the Open Championship courses check out - Golf Breaks UK

Read more about the Open Championship....

National Golf Links of America - Wow!

CB Macdonald is a genius. If golf is to be played for the purpose of enjoyment then surely the course a golfer plays should elevate the potential for that enjoyment.  The National Golf Links of America is beyond question, the most fun and interesting golf course I have ever played.  Having not played the course before I have heard numerous reviews from fellow golfers fortunate enough to have played the course that there are too many blind shots, it's too short, the greens have too much movement, essentially it's just okay.  What?  If I could only play one golf course for the rest of my life it would unquestionably be this one.

The course was designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and opened in 1911.  Many of the holes were patterned from famous golf courses in Britain and adapted to fit the lay of the land:

  • The 2nd hole, named Sahara, is a par four modeled after the 3rd hole at Royal St. Georges.
  • The 3rd hole, named Alps, is a par four that requires a blind approach shot to the green, similar to the 17th hole at Prestwick.
  • The 4th hole, named Redan, is a par three that copied the 15th hole at North Berwick, the site of the original Redan hole.
  • The 7th hole, named St. Andrews, is a par five that was designed based on the 17th hole (Road Hole) at St. Andrews.
  • The 8th hole, named Bottle, is a par four that resembles the 12th hole at Sunningdale Golf Club.
  • The 13th hole, named Eden, is a par three that replicates the 11th hole at St. Andrews.

Some of the other holes were original designs, the most notable of which is the par four 14th hole. It was named Cape because the green was located on a small peninsula that jutted into a bay. The green was later moved during construction of Sebonac Inlet Road but is now surrounded on three sides by a large bunker.  A unique feature on the golf course is a windmill located between the 2nd and 16th holes.  A member once remarked that a windmill would make a nice addition to the course so Macdonald purchased one when he was in Europe and sent the member the bill.

The golf course is a perfect site for a matchplay event and when it playes host to the 2013 Walker Cup there are bound to be some thrilling matches. The reason for this is due to the fact that there are so many holes that play either a half stroke lower or higher than par. For example the 1st and 2nd holes are driveable to the long hitter and birdie is a real possibility, yet the 3rd, Alps, is a long and blind par four where there's a real chance for bogey.  The course now plays to a par 72 as the 5th Hog's Back has been converted into a long par four....and a half.

There is no hole on the entire golf course that is not memorable or interesting to play and with the size and movement of the greens there is an endless array of variation to every hole.  If you are ever granted the opportunity to play here do yourself a favor, clear your schedule and get there.  The amazing thing to me is that the best course in the world, Shinnecock Hills,  and the most enjoyable course in the world are next door neighbors.
View my photos from the day HERE

If you are ever in Ottawa, Canada and are looking for another excellent course to play try Loch March Golf and Country Club - you will not be disappointed!

Maintain Body Angles for Consistency

Have you ever struggled with shots that just don't seem to go where they should? The ball always seems to leak right or hook left. Today's post strives to get at the root cause of why your golf swing is so reliant on timing.

One of the more frequent mistakes I see golfers make is to stand up or lose their body angles through impact - the "stand and deliver" move! The loss of body angles or posture causes the body to stop rotating and as a result the hands now assume the responsibility of squaring the clubface. Remember - if the body does not rotate to clubface square, then the hands will help out. This move is very difficult to time, especially under pressure, and often leads to the hands overworking or flipping through impact. If the hands rotate the clubface too early the shot misses left and if they're a touch late, then the shot misses right.

Consistently straight shots are achievable only when the clubface is being squared via the rotation of the body through impact.

An indicator that you are losing your body angles through impact is that your divots (if you are even taking any) are always deeper on the outside than the inside. They are toe deep. (A big reason why an "active" fitting is not always the best way to go!)

A good method to ensure that the body continues it's rotation through the hit is to work on maintaining your posture or spine angle that is established at address. Hit little pitch type shots with an eight iron trying to feel that your torso stays down over the ball while clearing through the strike. A good feel is to try and sense that the hands are low through impact - they should feel like they are actually lower at impact than they were at address. You may even have the sense that the toe of the club is higher at impact than the heel. Try this DRILL

This is something that all of golf's greatest ball strikers have in common - Nick Price, Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan all did a fantastic job of maintaining their posture through impact. This allowed them to take the hands, and timing, out of the equation - a recipe for consistently good golf shots.

Body Angles | Andrew Rice Golf

Golf in Orlando, Florida

Look, we both know it's been a long cold winter and that you are ready to feel the sun on your skin and get out and play some enjoyable golf. Why not head south and experience some great golf in Orlando.

Early spring is a fantastic time of year in O-town - no major summer crowds yet, the NBA's Orlando Magic are playing and the heat (80's just about every day) and humidity are perfect.

Orlando has two of the finest golf resorts in the entire USA; namely Grand Cypress and Champion's Gate. Both resorts have multiple courses and are located on the Disney(west) side of the city.

Grand Cypress has three separate Jack Nicklaus nines along with the highly recommended Nicklaus designed New Course - which is based after the Old Course at St. Andrews. It even has a "burn" running through the course.

Champion's Gate sports two Greg Norman designed courses - one a links themed International course and the other a more traditional National course. While the linksy International can be great fun on a calm day, beware when the winds pick up as it can certainly be quite formidable.

Whether it be with the family or a golf specific trip, there are few locations that can match the fun you will have in Orlando. Give it a try!

Shinnecock Hills - None Better!

After being priviliged to play Shinnecock Hills recently for the second time I now firmly believe it to be the finest golf course I have ever played. And I've been fortunate to play most of the best in the world.

Since its original design by Willie Dunn in 1891, updates by Charles B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, Howard C. Toomey and William S. Flynn have transformed a fairly treeless, sandy landscape into a golf utopia. Shinnecock Hills has hosted U.S. Open championships in 1896, 1986, 1994, and 2004.

The thing I found so appealing about the golf course was it's simplicity; the greens almost seemed like 'magic carpets' that the designer had unfurled and laid down at the end of each fairway. Nothing overly complex or tricked up, just simple and subtle elevation changes that all seemed to fit.

The bunkering was decidedly plain too - and I mean that in the most positive light possible. Golfers of just about every skill  level would be able to extricate their golf ball from every bunker on the property. What a breath of fresh air - no trickery!

The whole golf course played that way - nothing overdone, just good old fashioned golf. In fact, it may have the finest par four (#14) and par three (#11) in all of golf!  Strike the ball correctly and you should have an excellent opportunity to shoot your handicap. The golf course could not have been more different than the way it appeared on Sunday in the carnage of the 2004 US Open when Goosen defeated Mickelson.

I absolutely love this golf course - so much so that I have a new favorite.

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Atlantic Golf Club

Situated in the Bridgehampton on Long Island in New York, the Atlantic Golf Club is a special place. And it's not only the golf course that makes it special.

The Director of Golf is Rick Hartmann and I could not think of a better personality to provide New York's financial and entertainment elite an exceptional all-around golf and membership experience. An excellent player in his own right, Rick oversees a well-seasoned staff that seems able to anticipate every golfer's need.

The caddy program is second to none! I have never seen a caddy yard as deep as the one they have at Atlantic - I don't believe it is possible to get even a mediocre "loop" there. Rocco Casero, the caddie master, seems to have the magic touch when selecting his team.

The Golf ShopThe course is beautifully maintained by longtime superintendent Bob Ranum. Bob always seems to be trying to find a way to improve the course and it's playability. From reshaping the traps to altering the cut on the fairways, nothing seems to be too much for Bob and his crew to provide a fun, playable and spectacularly well maintained golf course.

The Rees Jones design was opened in 1992 by Lowell Schulman and was greeted with rave reviews. The course has been softened (made more player friendly) in certain areas over the years and I really like the direction it seems to be headed. A more enjoyable and pleasing experience for golfers of every level. The fairways are generous enough, but make sure you don't misfire as the infamous Atlantic fescue awaits your wayward Titleist. There are enough difficult holes to keep you paying attention (2, 4, 5, 10, 18) but they are nicely balanced by a handful of interesting and imminently playable holes (6, 8, 11, 12, 17). My favorite holes are the 4th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th. The 4th is an almost exact replica of the famous 13th hole at Royal Portrush and at over 200 yards into the prevailing wind it is just as brutish. It really is thrilling to be able to strike the correct type of shot that finds this green.

This month a few fortunate golfers will have the privilege of competing in the US Mid Amateur Championship at Atlantic Golf Club - they are in for a treat, and a stern challenge. I know Rick and Bob and Rocco are looking forward to playing host - something they do so well.

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The 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits

Here are a few of my thoughts after witnessing the PGA Championship:

  • Martin Kaymer played like a champion and he thoroughly deserved the title. Don't forget the up and down on the 72nd hole he had, not to mention the stunning two he made at 17 in the playoff. I love to see talented, hard working youngsters breaking through. Well done Martin, Louis and Graeme!
  • You would think the PGA of America could have one of their 28,000 members to follow the final group so as to avoid what happened on the 72nd hole. I do not blame anybody for the incident and it is certainly Dustin Johnson's responsibility to know where he is playing from, but let's have a little foresight here....

  • Whistling Straits has more bunkers than all the courses in Africa (not a true statement, but it just might!) and it needs to get pushed off the edge of Wisconsin and into the lake! In fact while they're at it they can push another future PGA site, The Ocean Course at Kiawah into the ocean too. The last time I checked golf was meant to be fun and you couldn't pay me enough to play those two courses in particular. They are both horrible!

  • How about this picture posted at PGA.com of some kids building sand castles in a bunker! How many majors will this ever happen at? I guess that's what happens when you have 1000 too many bunkers.

  • Poor Nick Watney - what started as such a promising day turned into a demoralizing experience. I hope he can come back from this.
  • Dustin Johnson is a tough kid and I believe his 72nd hole nightmare will only steel his attitude towards greater heights. I firmly believe he will come back better than ever from this.
  • I like the way Bubba played the playoff, but he simply must opt to miss long on the final hole versus a shot that has the potential to be short - especially since Kaymer had a poor lie in the rough.
  • For all the focus on Tiger I don't believe he seems to be swinging any better YET. Every time I saw him on day 4 he finished with his right shoulder high from the clubhead being trapped behind him and seemed as wild as ever. I do think his change to Sean Foley is an excellent choice and he will get better under his guidance. And no Sean Foley is not a Stack and Tilter, just an instructor who understands that all swings are unique unto the individual and everything in the swing should be directed around impact.

  • A little insider info is that Tiger called up Foley right after he and Hank parted ways and asked Foley to drop all his other students (notably Mahan and O'Hair) and start teaching only him. Foley said, "Thanks, but no thanks!"
  • I'm sure it's just me, but the PGA Championship is really starting to feel like the fifth major - and there are only four! It just does not appeal to me in the unique manner each of the other three majors do. Anybody up for starting a petition for only three majors?

Hilton Head Golf

The Famous Lighthouse at Harbourtown Golf Links  Every summer the tiny island of Hilton Head in South Carolina hosts over 1 million visitors who invariably come to spend a week enjoying the beach, relaxing, fishing and a round or two of great golf. If you plan to play some Hilton Head golf this summer, or any time of the year for that matter, here is a quick run down of the top courses:

Resort/Public:

  • Harbourtown Golf Links - If you have saved your golf dedicated dollars and want to treat yourself there is nothing better on the island than this gem. Don't forget to take your camera and collect a sample of the reeds that led to Brian Davis' demise
  • Palmetto Dunes - this resort features three courses and is known for quality conditioning and good value. The courses are designed by Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio and Arthur Hills.

There are also numerous solid courses open to visitors just off the island in Bluffton. I would recommend Crescent Point (designed by Palmer), which has perhaps the most visually stunning (and difficult) hole in the area - the 215 yard par three 9th hole (pictured below). I would also recommend the Gary Player designed Hilton Head National for its interesting holes and consistent conditioning.

The Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course

If you know the right people or have an inside connection then you might be able to gain access to one of the many stellar private tracks in the area. Here is my line up of the top five:

Private:

  • Chechessee Creek (Coore/Crenshaw)
  • May River Golf Club (Nicklaus)
  • Berkeley Hall - North (Fazio)
  • Colleton River - Nicklaus (Nicklaus)
  • Long Cove (Dye)

The 9th at Crescent Point

 Click for Hilton Head tee times

Spectacular Portugal!

San Lorenzo Golf Club If you are like me then the only thing that turns your attention to Portugal is it's most famous product - Port! And I really do enjoy a glass of aged vintage port, but I enjoy a sun drenched day on a stunning golf course a lot more. Portugal is very often overlooked as a golf destination but there is so much that it has to offer over just about every other golf destination in Europe.

The two primary golf destinations in Portugal are the Algarve in the south and the Lisbon coast in the central part of the country.

Definitely one of  Europe's best destinations when it comes to planning the ultimate golf vacation, the Algarve is home to over 30 golf courses and offers an extensive array of accommodation, ranging from vacation homes to golf resorts and hotels.

Algarve Golf

Long known as a beach destination, it was the legendary Sir Henry Cotton who started golf in the Algarve in 1966 when he transformed a rice field into a beautiful course - the first of three at the Penina Golf Resort. While in the Algarve be sure to visit Portimao and Vilamoura, which is regarded as the crown jewel of the region. Temperatures are mild here and peak season is actually during the winter months.

The Lisbon coast appears to be the emerging star of Portuguese golf! The Atlantic shoreline provides a breathtaking backdrop at the stunning resorts of Quinta Da Marinha and Praia D'el Rey.

Praia D'el Rey

Portugal seems to be more popular than it has ever been and why not? With the food, wine, weather and now golf that it has to offer who would not want to visit.
If you are looking for a European golf vacation in the sun, you simply must play

Riviera: Design As it Should Be

Riviera'a Timeless Tenth (Shackelford) Having had the opportunity to watch the majority of the NBC broadcast over the weekend I was very impressed with the diversity and interest that Riviera seemed to possess in just about each of her holes.  I have never had the good fortune to play or visit Riviera Country Club, but the images of the course on television forced me to make a mental note to get there at my first opportunity. And I certainly don't need Jack or Sly or Arnold to complete my experience - the course itself appears to be more than enough thank you!

Of the holes that caught my eye none was more exciting or interesting than the 315 yard 10th.  Designed in 1926 by George Thomas Jr. this could be my new favorite hole in golf. A well thought out hole that rewards just the right amount of bravery one day and just the right amount of caution the next - just be sure to get your days matched up.

From therivieracountryclub.com:

Arguably Riviera’s finest hole, the 10th ranks among the world’s great short par fours, its timeless strategic challenge having perplexed golfers for more than eight decades. The key is the putting surface, an angled, extremely narrow target with a dangerous right-to-left slope. Though reachable from the tee, only a perfect drive will hold this green – and a tee ball missed even slightly right will generally result in a bogey, or worse. The smart play is a fairway metal down the left side, but the temptation to go for the green remains eternally tantalizing…

Steve Stricker's Approach on Saturday (Shackelford)

As you study the picture above taken by Geoff Shackelford (who did a fantastic job covering the event in person) on Saturday you'll notice many of the subtle design features.  As Steve Stricker plays this approach into the green (which is the perfect position to play from!) keep in mind that the green slopes quite aggressively from right to left. This means that if you have a go and happen to miss right, you now have a shortish pitch from the rough to an extremely narrow green that runs away from you. No bargain even from close range.

Should you have a go and happen to hit the low, left quacker (we all know it!) then you're only faced with a 50-60 yard sand shot. No bargain either.

Jack Nicklaus on the 10th at Riviera:

I love option holes and this one has more than any short Par 4 I know.

Looking Back from Behind the Tenth Green (Shackelford)

My question is this: Where have all the golf courses like Riviera and holes like the 10th gone? Can it possibly be that difficult to build a golf course that incorporated a little thought and planning? Golfers are pleading for interest over torture.

Give me a golf course filled with interest and I'll play it over a long, torturous monster anyday. I'll start with the 10th at Riviera, then play the 9th at Harbourtown, then the 4th at Spyglass and follow that with the 6th at Ballybunion......

Golf should be fun and Riviera looked exactly that!

Scotland's Links Sleepers

It's not hard to find the best things in life - with a bag of money and a few of the right connections you can have it all. For me, the joy lies in finding hidden gems; things that are every bit as enjoyable as the best might be, but for one reason or another are not as mainstream or popular as the main attraction. A little secret or discovery that is all your own. These experiences very often are more memorable than experiencing, and paying handsomely for, the finest in life. Golf in Scotland can be the same way. We all know the Open rota courses of St. Andrews, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Troon and Turnberry; they are like Pebble Beach, Pine Valley and Winged Foot in the US; they are like Ruth's Chris, Del Frisco's or Shula's in steakhouse terms; or in wine terms like Caymus, Silver Oak or Far Niente. You don't need to be a golf, food or wine geek to know or experience these instituions, just connected or rich, or preferably both. The art is in being able to duplicate or upgrade the experience for way less money and with way more satisfaction.

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An African Gem - Durban Country Club

I have recently returned from a visit to South Africa where I had the opportunity to play the only course on the African continent rated in the Top 100 - Durban Country Club. And what a pleasure the old course is!

The course was constructed in 1922 and has hosted 16 South African Opens, with all of South Africa's greatest, from Locke to Player to Els, winning on her hallowed ground. The club will host the 100th South African Open, the second oldest championship in golf behind the British Open, in December this year.

During the round I came to learn that the course had not ever had it's greens replaced. In the courses almost 90 year history, the greens had never been redone! The greens, while being adequate, showed signs of being tired and the word is they will be resurfaced with a light redesign being done David McLay Kidd (An excellent choice I might add!) after the Centennial SA Open.

The 2nd at Durban Country ClubThis is an old school golf course that has everything I love. It places a premium on accuracy and ball striking - someting similar to Harbourtown Golf Links in the US. It is not long; there are birdies to be made; just don't make a mistake. All the holes are good here with my favorites being Nos. 1-5, 8, 12 and 17 & 18. Even the halfway house is exceptional, with some of the finest meat pies and curry gravy on the continent.

The 12th is a short par 3 that is called the Prince of Wales. It is so named because when the prince played the course he could not find the green and kept hitting from one side to the other eventually finishing with a 12! Looking at the picture, I think you can tell he was not the first or the last golfer to score in the double digits on the hole.

The Prince of Wales at Durban Country ClubThe 18th hole is unusual in that is an easily driveable par four of only 285 yards, but it had better be a straight 285 yards! Tony Johnstone came to this final tee box in the 1993 SA Open leading by 3 over Ernie Els. He convinced himself that he needed to hit driver and found the back of the green while Els hit two balls out of bounds and Johnstone won by seven! The type of finishing hole I would like to see more of.

The Final Swing....? Do all you can to play this African gem - a truly classic golf course that can easily be enjoyed by golfers of every caliber

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Golf's Best Betting Games

There are very few things in life better to me than a great day on a fun golf course with my closest friends. The camaraderie is truly what this game of golf is all about. The only thing that can make the day much better is a really good betting game, and of course collecting the $$$ and earning bragging rights!

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The Wildest Course on Earth...

The Hans Merensky Golf Course in South Africa could well be the wildest course on earth. It is not unusual for a hole to be closed for the afternoon due to a pride of lions shading themselves under one of the many Acacia trees that line the fairways here. They even have a local rule that you can take free relief from animal droppings! The wildlife is always a part of the golf experience at Hans Merensky, but particularly during the drier, winter months, where elephants, several species of antelope, giraffe, warthogs and even the big cats can be spotted.

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An Invitation to Africa

If you havealways dreamt about a first-class safari in Africa then this is not an opportunity to be missed.

The upcoming adventure will take you to the Madikwe Game Reserve, where you will spend five luxurious nights at the renowned Makanyane Safari Lodge.

Past travellers have experienced up close and personal encounters with lions on the doorstep of their suite and elephants grazing in the camp! Don't worry though, you are completely safe. Our guests have even had the rare honor of seeing the complete "Big Five" - lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhino.

The setting, local cuisine and attention to detail from the staff are as epic as the game viewing.

Following these five memorable days we travel to what is arguably the world's most beautiful city - Cape Town! Here we stay at the five-star Table Bay Hotel located on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

During your Cape Town stay you have the option to play three rounds of golf interspersed with shopping, sightseeing and a majestic trip up Table Mountain. Your travels will also include dining and wine-tasting at Ernie Els Winery and Boekenhoutskloof Winery - two of South Africa's premier wine estates.

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