The golf course of Pebble Beach was first opened in 1919, and today is regarded to be one of the finest golf courses in the United States. As such, it has staged a number of top golf championships including the US Open four times, with great players such as Nicklaus, Watson, Kite, and Woods all winning at Pebble Beach. Once again, the US Open returns to Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2010, putting Pebble Beach firmly on the golfing map this season.
Overall, the golf course of Pebble Beach has a pretty unique setting. Located in southern California Pebble Beach plays alongside the Pacific Ocean. The course layout brings a good number of the holes out towards the rocky coastline, with holes such as the third, fourth, and fifth running along the coast. As such, coastal wind can always be a factor in a round at Pebble Beach.
The course includes a number of tricky holes. As such, naming a signature hole is not especially obvious at Pebble Beach. However, the 8th hole is considered to be one of the hardest on the course. Although the hole has a generously wide fairway, the ocean can become something of an unwelcome companion along the entire right side of the hole with the potential for balls to fall in the sea. The hole also includes a landing area elevated on a cliff above the green, which gives a good view of the small landing target.
Other notable holes of the golf course include the short, but much loved no 7. This hole plays out from an elevated tee where players strike towards the Pacific Ocean, which surrounds the green and hole generally. Distance can be deceptive on this hole, for missing the green can come at some cost.
With the 2010 US Open scheduled to be played at Pebble Beach the course has also had some minor changes to further enhance it. Essentially, changes have been made to the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, and 12th holes by adding new bunkers to each fairway. Along with this, a couple of hundred yards were also added which has extended the course length to 7, 014 yards in total.
So now the Pebble Beach golf course is all set for the 2010 US Open. Overall, the course modifications should make the US Open more spectacular, and have made a great golf course all the better!
Pebble Beach Resorts, a collection of legendary hotels, golf courses and world-class attractions on California’s Monterey Peninsula welcomes golf’s greatest players and guests from around the globe to the 2011 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Visitors are invited to watch the game’s legends up close and then tee it up for themselves on The Links at Spanish Bay or Spyglass Hill Golf Course—both included in GolfDigest’s 2011 “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” list—with a limited-time offer.
Taking place July 6–10 on the world-famous Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Course, the eighth annual event pairs Champions Tour players with 78 of the game’s brightest junior players and 156 amateurs from around the world. The event serves as an international showcase for The First Tee, an initiative to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
Featuring new title sponsor Nature Valley, the three-day tournament will be televised internationally on the Golf Channel as promising future golf stars drive, chip and putt with previous First Tee Open winners including Craig Stadler, Scott Simpson and Jeff Sluman as well as crowd favorites Mark O’Meara, Ben Crenshaw, Mark Calcavecchia and former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite.
While admission is complimentary for spectators, Pebble Beach Resorts is also extending a special invitation to guests to spend an evening at the Resort and a day on the golf course with THE 2011 FIRST TEE OPEN STAY & PLAY PACKAGE, including:
One Night at The Inn at Spanish Bay
One Round of golf on The Links at Spanish Bay or Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Additional nights and/or golf rounds are available upon request
Packages start at $600.* Offer valid July 4, 2011 through July 9, 2011. Availability is limited.
To make reservations for this exclusive offer, visit PebbleBeach more information or call # and mention promo code “FTO2011”.
*Package is valid July 4, 2011 through July 9, 2011. To receive package rate, all golf must be secured at time of booking. Offer is subject to availability and includes Garden View room at The Inn at Spanish Bay, occupancy tax, County tourism assessment and service charge. Golf package price quoted above is for one round on The Links at Spanish Bay, for one player. Package price for one round on Spyglass Hill Golf Course, for one player, starts at $700. Please inquire about other room types which may be available. Valid for new bookings only, and parties of 8 rooms or less. Not valid in conjunction with other offers. Some blackout dates apply. Rates are subject to change. Pebble Beach Company reserves the right to modify or discontinue these offers at any time.
About General Mills
One of the world’s leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Yoplait, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2010 global net sales of US$16 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.
About Monterey Peninsula Foundation
Monterey Peninsula Foundation (MPF) is a charitable foundation which disburses funds from the proceeds of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA TOUR and the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach on the Champions Tour. MPF focuses on improving the quality of life in Monterey County and surrounding areas. Since the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am came to the Monterey Peninsula in 1947, over $86 million has been raised for charity. In 2004 the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach was introduced to serve as a showcase for The First Tee whose global mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
About Pebble Beach Company
Pebble Beach Company, headquartered in Pebble Beach, Calif., owns and operates the world-famous Pebble Beach Resorts, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero. The company also operates four world-renowned golf courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay and Del Monte Golf Course. Its other famed properties include the scenic 17-Mile Drive and The Spa at Pebble Beach, and it annually hosts premier events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the Callaway Golf Pebble Beach Invitational, the Pebble Beach Food & Wine event and the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Site of the 2019 U.S. Open, Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted five U.S. Opens, four U.S. Amateurs, one PGA Championship, and numerous other tournaments.
If you call yourself an avid golfer then there are few great places in America that you should know about and visit them at least once in life. Though some of them are really difficult but still all are beautiful and well deserve your trip. If you planned a vacation to any of the destinations nearby these golf courses, then try to stay there for some extra time and play at a golf course to spend the most wonderful time of your life.
Here are few courses which well worth your visit.
Pebble Beach (California) – Your list could never complete without iconic course of Pebble Beach situated in California with rating of 74.3. It was designed by Jack Neville and set for play in 1919. Pebble Beach took little time to achieve instant status as one of the best golf playing courses of United States. It should be visited at least once.
Best Private Course: Augusta National Golf Club - It is as popular as Pebble Beach course, if not more so. The Augusta National Golf Club celebrates hosting of the Masters each year in the most sought after tournament of professional gaming. It was designed by Booby Jones who is remembered as a golf legend in history. The course presents some of the toughest holes of the world. The most famous ones known for their difficulty include 11.12, and 13. The club is not open for all and is ultra exclusive. You can play only if invited by a club member.
San Francisco Golf Course – This is a 18 hole regulation size championship golf course with PGA rating of 73. The course has some of the longest tees for par in United States. If you are looking for a challenge, that’s great.
Ahwatukee Golf Course, Phoenix – This Phoenix situated golf course also got in the top 25 venues in US with many good reasons. Its design shows aesthetic thoughts of John Boulla. The course was first opened in 1973. It got PGA rating of 71.5 and it is great place for all type of golfers.
The Lakes at Ahwatukee, Phoenix – Gary Panks was its designer. This is a beautiful course and first opened in 1977. PGA gave it a rating of 62.6. It doesn’t intimidate novice players yet it is a challenging place to all skill levels.
Northern California is home to some of the best golf courses in the world. This is more the case than anything in the Monterey Peninsula, which happens to boast four of the top seven golf courses in the upper part of the state. While some of the courses can be fairly expensive, like Pebble Beach and Spyglass, others are extremely affordable for the average golfer. All-in-all, the courses listed in this article are places that you have to get out to at some point in your life.
While making this decision is not set in stone and will vary depending on personal preference, I believe the selection below encompasses what every golfer deems “the perfect course.” So, without further ado, here is my selection of the best golf courses in northern California:
1. Pebble Beach Golf Links
The iconic Pebble Beach is not only considered to be one of the best places to golf in all of California, but as one of the best courses to play in the world. In fact, it was the first public course selected as the #1 course in the world by Golf Digest. The majestic course sits right on the coast and gives spectacular views of Carmel Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Picture a land where golf runs to the very heart of society, where there’s brilliant sunshine, a guaranteed friendly welcome and some outstanding courses. You’ve just pictured California’s golf scene – and with its varied and stunning environments and excellent food and wine, it’s no wonder that the region is quickly becoming a must on any discerning golfer’s holiday plans. The trouble is that California’s golf clubs are numerous as well as fine so it can be an overwhelming choice…Just exactly where should you stay and where should you play? Quite a pleasant dilemma, but nonetheless, you want to make sure you get it right. Here’s my top three golf resorts in California.
Four Seasons Resort Aviara
Okay, so the Four Seasons Resort only has one course in its grounds – but what a round of golf! California’s Aviara golf club has been named as one of the best resort golf courses in America by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine and offers a memorable coastal layout with a part 72, punctuated by colourful flora and fauna and stunning scenery. This Californian golf club really must be played to be believed!
The course was designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 1991, providing 7,007 yards of rolling fairways and challenging bunker and water features. The biggest water ‘feature’ of all, of course, is the ocean view hole which provides an image you won’t forget – just make sure it doesn’t put you off your shot.
Although the golf resort at Pelican Hill opens in January next year, we already know it’s going to be very special. It’s a $1.3bn investment by one of the wealthiest men in the world. He’s recruited some of the finest hoteliers and spent fortunes on the facilities and bedrooms. We were very, very impressed during our pre-opening visit. The “perfected” two courses and superb clubhouse have been open for a year and the service, scenery and experience are remarkable.
Pelican Hill will definitely be a memorable addition to the best golf holidays in California. Pacific views, massive bedrooms, beyond state-of-the art facilities and gracious service…It’s a must.
As well as the qualities of the resort, what makes Pelican Hill golf club in California so great? There are two courses which instantly makes it twice as enjoyable and the classic Newport and Laguna Beaches are just down the road. Plus, Los Angeles is only 45 minutes away. Variety, quality, ease of access and very pretty golf…That’s great!
The Ocean North golf course is famous for the visual treat it presents golfers with. Not only is it set within 400 acres of stunning reserve but several of the holes run alongside the cliffs. The Ocean South matches the beauty of its ‘north cousin’ but is a more subtle challenge with
with tricky bunkers, deceptive elevations and canyons all vying for your ball. Sensational USA golf.
Pebble Beach Resorts
In terms of sheer golfing brilliance in such a confined space, you can’t beat a stay at Pebble Beach. With three hotels and three world-class courses, it’s been rated at USA No.1 for many years and you can’t fault it. Spyglass is my favourite course, just beating the more famous Pebble Beach but Spanish Bay is also a beautiful links course…It’s a tremendous trio.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: opened in 1919, has hosted numerous competitions, including the US Open several times and is consistently voted No. 1 Public course in America by Golf Digest.
Another Californian golf course honoured by Golf Digest is Spyglass Hill. The unusual name of the course is matched by the names of some of the holes – all based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’ – “Black Dog” and “Billy Bones” being two examples. Opened in 1966, this difficult course changes its terrain at the drop of a hat. While the first five holes are characterised by sandy seaside dunes, the remaining 14 suddenly require you to cut through pines and elevated greens. Although it is rated as a Par 72, the stroke average during the 1999 US Amateur competition was over 79 so be ready to play Stableford and swallow your pride. Finally, the Links at Spanish Bay is a course that could almost be in Scotland (were it not for the outstanding weather!) – even with sandy wasteland, bristly grasses and a strong ocean breeze, it’s an enjoyable challenge that rarely becomes frustrating.
And if you want even more, there’s Poppy Hills, Cordevalle and Pasatiempo (all in the US Top 100) within an hour. Simply beyond world-class golfing breaks.
Pebble Beach also wins thanks to the charms of Carmel and the easy-going beaches and great, great weather. The food is delicious and very, very fresh. All in all, a golf holiday in California offers a quality change from the European game. Next time you’re considering a golfing break abroad, you have to consider America’s sunshine coast…And why not go for a couple of weeks and tour all three or my recommendations?
Last updated: 13th January 2012 PGA Catalunya stadium course
PGA Catalunya Resort was celebrating this week after finding themselves on the ‘Today’s Golfer Travel Awards’ short lists for both of Europe’s ‘Best Course’ and ‘Best Hotel’.
Readers of the UK’s top-selling golf magazine placed the Catalunya venue, near Barcelona on Spain’s scenic north east coast, among their top three nominees in both categories.
The awards also recognised the Costa Brava region as being the ‘Best Value Golf Destination’ in Spain and third overall in Europe.
Commenting on the achievement, Julio Delgado, PGA Catalunya Resort Chief Executive, said: “Since its opening, PGA Catalunya Resort has focused on providing a world-class golf experience, raising the bar at every opportunity and setting the standards for others to follow.
“Having both our Stadium and Tour Courses as well as the Melia Golf Vichy Catalan Hotel, recognised in these awards categories is testament to our ethos of offering the best for our customers.
“Praise must go to all the team at PGA Catalunya Resort for striving to deliver this at every opportunity, every day.”
PGA Catalunya Resort, one of only two World Top 100 Courses in Spain, hosted the European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage for the fourth successive year, in December last year.
And it was noticeable that both European Tour officials and the Tour players had high praise the new short game academy and the upgraded driving range that opened in November 2011. There was general agreement that they were now among the best practice facilities in Europe.
The new complex includes a 2,000 square-metre putting green and chipping area, with five bunkers each containing different sand types (Augusta, St Andrews, Hawaii volcanic, PGA Catalunya Stadium Course and Pebble Beach).
PGA Catalunya Resort’s residential development is also progressing well, with its luxury villas and semi-detached homes attracting 14 confirmed sales and eight reservations so far.
Work has also started on new leisure facilities with an anticipated summer opening for the Residents Club.
Latest packages at PGA Catalunya Resort
Golfers wishing to experience this award-winning venue can book a Golf Escape package for €105 per person + VAT per night, based on two people sharing a room.
Flights are not included, and bookings are subject to availability, valid until 31/05/2012. The package includes a one-night stay at the on-site Melia Golf Vichy Catalan hotel, breakfast, the green fee for the Tour Course and access to the resort’s spa and fitness facilities.
For more information about PGA Catalunya Resort please visit pgacatalunya.com.
I traveled a lot in 2011. According to my main air carrier, United, it was more than 75,000 miles in a year when I saw some fresh – maybe even baby – faces win on the PGA Tour and wondered where the big guns of yesteryear were.
Covering 20-plus golf tournaments in five countries, I saw a lot in 2011, but as I look back, the year seems more like a prelude than a defining moment.
My usual schedule starts in Kapalua, and after a week in Honolulu, I make trips to Pebble Beach, Los Angeles and then the four Tour stops in Florida.
The best part of that early stretch was seeing Jhonattan Vegas doing everything possible to lose the Hope and then improbably winning one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour after hitting his ball into a hazard, plus Nick Watney posting an impressive victory in the year’s biggest event pre-Masters, at Doral.
Watney, newly married, was excited like a schoolkid winning a big match in high school. He also was the gracious winner on that Sunday in Miami, doing what was necessary and not trying to rush to catch a plane for home, as so many pros do. His coach, Butch Harmon, also was excited by the result. Seeing Harmon with Watney was like watching a father gloat over his son who had just won a big tournament.
Few relationships on a professional level seem to be as close as Watney-Harmon, maybe because it’s such a big business. On that Sunday evening in March, in one of the Doral ballrooms that served as the interview room, I was genuinely happy for both “father” and “son.”
The Masters is always a highlight of the season, and this year’s didn’t disappoint.
I had met Rory McIlroy when he was playing Walker Cup at Royal County Down in 2007, and though he didn’t have a great tournament, the pressure of 25,000 fans was on the Northern Irish lad from the beginning, so if you add that into the equation, he played pretty well.
Since then, I have spent more time with him and his parents, and you will not find a nicer couple than Gerry and Rosie.
Their son in just 22 years was turning heads. After three rounds at Augusta National, it seemed like the McIlroys would have their first green jacket.
I didn’t cover Greg Norman’s collapse to Nick Faldo in the final round in 1996, but I had a good feeling of what it must have been like.
I didn’t follow much of McIlroy’s final round, but spent most of the day down by the 18th green talking with players as they came off the course. Most of the questions were not about their play that Sunday but about their reaction to a 22-year-old’s expectant victory in a major. Then, the questions concerned Tiger Woods’ fast start to move into contention before coming full circle to McIlroy, who by then was faltering.
Of course, while talking with players who had finished, others who completed the front nine are walking to the 10th tee, past the scoring hut as players are being interviewed. McIlroy, walking from the ninth green to the 10th tee, looked like he had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. A triple-bogey 7 on that 10th hole ultimately would spell his doom and eventually loosen his grip on the green jacket.
Unfortunately for Charl Schwartzel, his four consecutive birdies to finish the Masters never got their due, even though the South African walked away with the his first major championship and the green jacket.
McIlroy would do his obligatory post-round news conference and then went to the locker room to pack up. It’s that scene that I will remember forever, when the young Ulsterman, gutted after his final-round 80, stood there and took every question from the 20 or so journalists before packing up and flying home.
Since Lucas Glover’s victory in the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage, the South Carolinian has dropped from the public eye, some of it because of his sluggish game and some of it due to marital problems that led to his divorce.
Glover had never talked about his marital problems, so I waited for the right opportunity to ask about how the breakup affected his game.
Glover is always friendly, regardless of his play. After finding his game through three rounds at Quail Hollow, he sat three shots back of another Clemson product, Jonathan Byrd. Glover had his first real chance to win in 2011.
Glover eventually would catch Byrd and beat his friend in a playoff.
At the post-round news conference, Glover talked about his first victory since Bethpage and then deflected a carefully crafted question about how his personal problems might have affected his recent play.
The Quail Hollow victory would be Glover’s only top-10 finish in 2011.
Attending a U.S. Open qualifier is an experience unlike any other in golf, including this enticement for fans: it’s free.
After Steve Stricker’s victory at Muirfield Village the day before, most pros either caught flights to Memphis on Sunday night or stayed in Columbus for Monday’s 36-hole Open qualifier.
Brandt Jobe, my darkhorse pick coming into the Memorial, finished second at Muirfield Village for one of the biggest checks in his career. Come Monday morning, he was among 116 starters trying to qualify for 16 spots into the U.S. Open.
Jobe shot an opening-round 62 and cruised to co-medalist with Chez Reavie to extend the hot run out of Memorial.
Other notables – major winners Steve Jones, Mike Weir and David Duval among them, plus future major champion Keegan Bradley – would not be as fortunate that day.
As players walk in after the long day, they tend to sit or stand around the scoring board, depending on their position, grabbing a cold drink and waiting.
In the end, three spots were up for grabs via a six-man playoff. Oddly, there were no birdies – hence, no blood – on the first playoff hole, the drivable par-4 10th at Brookside Country Club, despite the approaches being played from within 100 yards.
I remember walking down the fairway of the next hole, marveling at the pressure, before Kyle Stanley missed a putt for par and dropped out. The fivesome returned to the drivable par-4, where Webb Simpson, Tim Petrovic and Scott Hend made birdie putts to secure spots at Congressional, with J.J. Henry and Brett Wetterich alternates.
Wetterich was an uninterested participant in the playoff for the alternate spot and hit his drive into the trees and was done. Not a good move, because Henry eventually would get in as first alternate.
For Hend, he walked from the green to the clubhouse complaining about how much money it was going to cost him to play in the U.S. Open. He was on his way to Milan, Italy, to play in the Italian Open that week and then would have to fly back to the U.S., rent a house for his family and find a babysitter, all costing about $5,000.
As I listened, I wondered why he tried to begin with.
The Open Championship is my favorite event. I had never covered an event at Royal St. George’s, but had played the course; it was not my favorite links venue.
The best part of covering the Open Championship is that you can play golf in the morning at some really nice courses, usually qualifying courses and basically not miss any of the championship.
Coming in, many names were bandied about as contenders, but Darren Clarke’s was not one of them.
I was asked to sit in on the BBC broadcast that last hour on Saturday, more to provide insight into the Americans on the leaderboard.
Eventually, the question was raised regarding Clarke’s ability to hold the lead, with Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson in his sights.
Of course, I didn’t think so and said as much, to the ire of the other commentators.
As it turned out, they were right and I was wrong.
Later Sunday night, I was invited over to one of the houses that the ISM agency, Clarke’s business representatives, rented for the week. It was the second consecutive year that I was invited to the champion’s celebration, and I thought about my comments Saturday as I walked into the house.
Clarke was in the kitchen, with the Claret Jug and a beer never far away, enjoying being a major winner.
Considering what many would read days and weeks later, the party was very calm and, though not subdued, it was not out of hand.
Either way, to be in the same room with the Claret Jug and the 2011 Champion Golfer with a beer in hand is pretty special.
I would be remiss in not talking about some of the best experiences I had not covering golf in 2011, but playing the game.
As you may have guessed, playing golf is a big perk for those of us who cover the game. We get to play some of the best places in the world. My year included many of the top 20 on any list available, but the experiences and whom you play with is really what it’s about.
Before going to the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen, I made the trip to St. Andrews, one of my favorite places in the world.
My first round was at Kingsbarns, but a friend and fellow journalist who was to have played with me could not make it. So when I arrived, I told the starter that I was in fact a single and he suggested putting me with a threesome 30 minutes after my time.
So after a bacon-and-egg bap and a few relaxing minutes in the comfortable clubhouse, I met my threesome. It turns out that one of the players was the chief executive officer of Jersey Mike’s Subs, Pete Cancro, with his brother and a childhood friend.
It was a great time, and the discussion during the round was all over the place, including how Pete bought the first Jersey Mike’s and expanded the company into 500 locations.
The next day, I was getting ready to play the Old Course. When I came down to the lobby, I saw Pete, who invited me to dinner that night with the group.
Because I have come to St. Andrews many times, I use the same caddie, Heather, who was a former Curtis Cupper, and we usually grab lunch or dinner. I had invited Heather, her boyfriend, who also is a caddie, my friend Dave and another Peter, this one a retired executive from the Links Trust and friend.
So I asked Pete if he wanted instead to join us.
The setting was a small restaurant in Cupar, about 15 miles from St. Andrews. It was one of the best times of the year as we all sat around and talked about everything over a three-hour dinner.
You don’t get those experiences with other sports.
One last thing: I played 49 holes one day, walking. I would love to tell you that I was feeling fine afterwards, but that would be a pretty big fabrication.
Before the Presidents Cup, I flew from Shanghai after covering the HSBC Champions to Tasmania. I had heard about the two courses, Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm, both off the northern coast of island.
When I was in China, I had mentioned to caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan that I was going to Tasmania. Fluff was off the next week because his player, Jim Furyk, got into Shanghai and was going to skip Singapore the following week and return home.
Lost Farm is 20 holes, with the front side nine holes and the back side 11 holes. We started on the front nine, and after playing in a quick pace we would have had to wait to play the back, so Fluff suggested playing the front again. So after 18 holes, we played the back side for 29 holes.
Now let me just say at this point if the course wasn’t one of the better golf courses in the world, I would not have gone any further, but after a lunch out of the refrig, a drink and a candy bar, Fluff wanted to keep going. So we were back on the first tee played 20 more holes, for a total of 49.
I think Fluff was willing to keep going if I had been up to it, but I waved the white flag.
I did beat Fluff on the first 20 holes, but he got me not only on the remaining 29, but the 36 holes we played the next day at Barnbougle Dunes.
As I said at the beginning, 2011 seems like a prelude for 2012. The reason? Woods was a non-factor, but after his win in a limited-field event, everyone thinks his 2012 will be dynamite.
McIlroy’s implosion at the Masters and his win at the U.S. Open sets up for a interesting 2012.
Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Webb Simpson, to name a few, had interesting 2011 seasons. Will Donald continue to stay World No. 1? Will he win a major? Is Simpson a flash in the pan or will he be the next hot American? And will Westwood, who won his last event of 2011 and jumped back to World No. 2, finally win a major using his new putting stroke?
That’s what I have to look forward to in 2012, but I have to say 2011 was an exciting and interesting year.
As the weather turns colder, the number of SouthwestMississippians participating in the sport typically dwindles.
GolfUSA, which opened its doors six months ago, may have a tool inits store to reverse that trend this year.
Video gamers are familiar with the Tiger Woods PGA Tour seriesavailable across several platforms. However, GolfUSA’s versionrequires a little more skill and offers more variety.
Golfers manually hit golf balls with clubs at a video wallfeaturing one of several well-known courses, including St. Andrewsin Scotland, Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach and others.
“It’s a very good way to stay out of the cold and out of theweather,” GolfUSA owner Todd Fortenberry said. “You can be insideand play a full round. You’re hitting a real golf ball into thescreen.”
The simulator is available for players hoping to improve their gamethrough range time or lessons. Customers can also play a full roundof golf for $25.
Beginning Monday, customers who spend more than $100 will earn afree round of golf on the simulator.
And just in time for Christmas, TaylorMade Burners and R11 driversare priced at $199. The company’s Tourwrecker 400 and 300 modelsare priced at $299.
The simulator is also an invaluable tool that allows customers totest golf clubs before purchasing them.
“For most people, if they’re spending $300 on a club, before theybuy it, they want to hit it,” Fortenberry said. “Instead of thembuying it and not liking it, they can hit in the shop before makinga purchase.”
The shop offers a wide array of clubs to suit just about anyexperience level and carries the premier line from topmanufacturers Ping, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno and TourEdge.
GolfUSA offers clubs from Tour Eagle and Tour Edge for beginners,and Tour Edge and Cleveland for juniors. Starter club sets begin at$200.
For experienced golfers, iron sets range between $400 and $1,400,wood sets go for $140 to $450, putters are $60 to $360 and driversmax out at $450.
GolfUSA also offers a wide variety of accessories and golfballs.
In clothing, the store offers golf shirts from Bermuda Sands, Ping,Adidas and Nike. In footwear, GolfUSA carries Etonic, Nike andAdidas golf shoes.
The store also carries most top golf balls, with Titleist Pro V1balls topping the price list at $45.99 per dozen.
“It’s the No. 1 golf ball today,” Fortenberry said.
The ball, Fortenberry said, is intended for golfers with a swingabove 105 mph, but golfers with slower swings also choose them toget a “soft feel” off the green.
Those hoping to increase their driving distance may be betterserved by a harder golf ball.
The product advice Fortenberry dispenses comes from experience. Heplayed golf at Sumrall High School and Jones County Junior College,and remains an avid golfer.
His passion for the game and desire to own a business were keyreasons he opened the business in June.
“That’s basically been a passion of my life, to own a business,”Fortenberry said. “I wanted to do what I enjoy, so I calledGolfUSA. “Their representatives) believed that within a year, itcould be a prosperous business in McComb.”
The business was very successful in the summer — typically golf’sbiggest season. After a slight dropoff in the fall, Fortenberrysaid business has boomed during the holiday season.
“Business-wise, we’ve learned the community actually will supportme, which I’m very grateful for,” Fortenberry said. “Withoutcommunity support, you cannot make it with today’s online shoppingas well. It will kill small business.”
GolfUSA has a built-in advantage over the online market and big boxstores: face-to-face customer service.
“We do 100 percent club-fitting, where we want the club to fit thegolfer and can change the lie and the loft and the shaft to theirspecifications,” Fortenberry said. “We also do 100 percent serviceon club repair.
“We try to make everybody feel welcome coming in the shop We liketo give our personality to them as a home-warming place to be ableto come in and shop.”
GolfUSA is located at 1450 Delaware Ave., in Southwest Mall. Hoursare 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.Saturday.
And that’s why he can appreciate how difficult it was this year for Graeme McDowell to follow up on a blockbuster season.
“I was winding down in my career, so it was a little different,” O’Meara said Monday. “But I know Graeme a little bit. Look, it’s hard to live up to the hype. All of a sudden, you feel like every major you should be in contention. You’re thrust into the limelight. It heightens the expectations that people place on you.
“And sometimes, there’s a little bit of a letdown.”
O’Meara scooped up a career’s worth of magic in 1998 when he birdied the last two holes to win the Masters, and at age 41, became the oldest man to win two majors in one season when he captured the British Open in a playoff at Royal Birkdale. If that wasn’t enough, he went to Wentworth for the World Match Play Championship and wound up facing Woods in the 36-hole final. All square with seven holes remaining — three of them par 5s — O’Meara beat him with a birdie on the last hole.
McDowell’s season in 2010 was eerily similar.
He won his first major in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and then topped that with a week in Wales that felt better than a major. The Ryder Cup came down to the final match, and McDowell hit a 6-iron to 15 feet for a birdie on the 16th hole to take the lead and go on to win the cup for Europe.
Wrapping up his season in an 18-man field at Sherwood, he rallied from a four-shot deficit and made a pair of 20-foot birdie putts on the 18th hole to beat Woods in a playoff. No one had ever come from more than two shots behind to beat Woods in any pro tournament.
The encore proved more difficult than McDowell realized.
“No doubt the expectation levels were cranked up,” he said last week at Lake Nona during a corporate day for Ecco golf shoes. “I played like a man who wanted it really, really badly. And you can’t want it so badly that you get in your own way.”
As he looks back on a year in which he had as many top 10s as missed cuts — seven each — McDowell wishes he would have taken more time off. He spent the holidays with his family in Northern Ireland, and then flew across two oceans to Kapalua to start the new season. He shot 62 the last day and missed a playoff by one shot, and then he flew halfway around the world to Abu Dhabi and tied for third.
Finally, he gave himself a four-week break to recharge and reflect. He’s not sure he accomplished either.
“It was a switched-on break, not a switched-off break, and I think there’s a difference,” he said. “There’s a huge difference between taking two, three, four weeks off in the middle of the season because you never really switch off. And when I did switch back on, things felt different. My swing wasn’t there. My head wasn’t there.”
Dr. George Fava cuts loose at the Fairview Golf Simulator
Golf is a game best played outdoors. In winter, when temperatures have dropped below normally acceptable playing levels, the clubs go into storage and the game goes into hibernation. But if you to scratch that golf itch when it’s so cold outside that breathing hurts, throw the clubs in the car and head to Fairview Golf Course, south of Lebanon for a little indoor golf. The Fairview Golf Simulator has been around for a couple years now. Housed in a small building at the end of Fairview’s parking lot, it’s a pretty non-descript setting on the outside. But step inside, and you set foot in another world altogether. The model at Fairview — the aboutGolf PGA Tour Simulator — recently underwent some upgrades. To explain the technology being used would require a post-doctoral degree. Probably in physics. Let’s just say the bells and whistles are off the charts. “It does things no other simulator can do,” said local pro Ben Witter, who started the simulator in 2004. “The possibilities for instruction are endless.” And playing. The simulator, after all, simulates the game, so a player can choose from up to 40 different courses for a round. That’s nothing necessarily new, since simulators have been around for a long time. But those technology upgrades make simulators in general almost as good as the real thing. “The good news is that it’s accurate,” Witter said. “But the bad news is that it’s accurate. If you play courses like Pebble Beach or Harbor Town, they really are hard, just like the real thing.” The putting in particular is more life-like than simulators of old, which had a difficult time replicating short putts. Not a problem here. Players report that length and line both play true. The only problem for the Fairview simulator is weather. It’s a reverse shift from the real golf world. “It’s amazing how sensitive business is to weather,” Witter said. “If there’s snow on the ground we’ll be turning people away.” For more information on Fairview’s simulator, which can be rented by the hour, call 717-274-8648.
BLAINE PEFFLEY UPDATE
Witter, who’s been battling cancer, recently handed over day-to-day operations of the simulator to another local pro, Blaine Peffley. The 2002 Cedar Crest grad and 2001 PIAA champ has played on the Nationwide, Hooters and eGolf tours. But he’s currently rehabbing from back surgery that kept him out of action in 2011. Peffley signed a one-year lease with Witter to run the simulator, which has allowed him to ease back into a playing routine. The back issues flared up in May 2010, inconveniently for Peffley since he was making his way through qualifying for the U.S. Open at the time. It didn’t bother him too much, since he advanced to a dream berth at Pebble Beach. He hasn’t played competitively since the fall of 2010, and had spinal fusion surgery in April. His back is in good shape, but now he’s battling a nagging hip condition. Regardless, Peffley’s itching to get back out on tour. “I still need to get stronger, but I’m going to practice all winter and hope to be back out there by spring,” he said. The Nationwide Tour, where Peffley had conditional status, gave him a medical exemption for 2011. But without an allowance for 2012, Peffley figures to play mostly on the Hooters and eGolf circuits. He’s won a pair of Hooters titles previously, in 2007 and 2009, and he knows how tough the “minor league” competition can be. “The quality (of play) is really good,” he said. “It’s the real thing. The tournaments model their weeks just like a PGA Tour event. And fewer guys make the cut than on the PGA, so a lot of people think it’s tougher than the PGA.” Peffley noted that he’s played with some future PGA Tour winners over the years. The most notable? Current titleholder of the PGA Championship, Keegan Bradley. “He referred me to a sports psychiatrist,” said Peffley with a laugh. “I went to the guy but it wasn’t quite for me.”
NO FUTURE FOR FUTURES
The Futures Tour, which made a stop at Felicita Mountain Resort the last three years, is no more. The tour got a new title sponsor recently, so it’s now known as the Symetra Tour. It’s also got a host of new events, but none scheduled nearby. Sources close to the tour have indicated the LPGA’s chief developmental circuit is not looking at any sites in Pennsylvania. The 2012 schedule has not yet been made official, but an event has been announced for Frederick, Md with a late-August date. That would appear to be the closest logical replacement for the Felicita event.