We’re a couple days into spring and there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground and the temperatures have barely crept above freezing lately. At best, we’ll be on the course by mid-April, likely one of the latest openings in the past ten years.
Over breakfast Saturday morning, Harry commented that he’s jonesing for a three or four day golf vacation to make up for our poor start to the spring. He has no interest in battling any type of in-climate weather so my desire to go somewhere like Bandon Dunes in Oregon is out.
Florida is more his speed.
I’d love to get away as well and will have to consult my trusty daytimer tomorrow at work to see if I can find a four or five day window to get away. I know my old man is going away shortly and there are a couple other things that might keep me here work-wise. However, I’m PRETTY sure either the third weekend or fourth weekend of April will work. Actually, the fourth weekend might be perfect, assuming we get back in town by the Sunday night – Harry and I have our Ontario Better Ball qualifier at Brantford G&CC on Monday the 28th.
The last time I was in Florida was with Harry, his pal Preston and a family friend of mine, Vito. We stayed at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie for four nights in late April of 2006. I documented a portion of the experience in this blog post but for some reason never got around to completing it. Maybe because I didn’t want to relive the experience of losing 8&6 in match play to Harry at the Dye Course, I don’t know.
Regardless, I’m a bit bummed at the fact that almost all of the pictures I took during the vacation have been misplaced.
I would imagine that if we went away, PGA Village would be a great possibility as far as a destination goes once again. It is well-regarded, having recently been named the 57th best resort in the USA by Golf Digest magazine, has three solid courses, fantastic accommodations and most importantly, won’t break the bank.
I’ve done a bit of research on some other possible destinations:
PGA National has five courses on site, the most famous of which is the Tom Fazio-designed Champion Course, recently renovated by Jack Nicklaus. The course annually hosts the Honda Classic and is one of the toughest venues on Tour. It has hosted a couple of major tournaments as well – the 1982 PGA Championship and the 1983 Ryder Cup.
It looks a bit pricey and I think that you’d want to look at a golf vacation specialist to see if there are any deals available, as the stock rates on the website look a bit on the expensive side, especially if you want to include a round or two on the Champion Course.
Now, this one is kind of interesting just for the quality of one of the two courses on site, the Pine Barrens course. It’s ranked as the 39th best public course in the US by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine thinks even better of it, ranking it 80th in the entire US (public or private).
Top-100’s are always fun to play and one of the great things is that the golf is very inexpensive (about $70 per round and only $105 to play 36 a day!). However, there are a couple of things that bring it down a notch. First of all, it’s in Central Florida (50 minutes outside Tampa) so that might not appeal to us and most importantly, there isn’t a hotel onsite. However, accommodations are close by and likely inexpensive as well.
If anything, it’s an interesting option…
Other possibilities include:
– Bay Hill in Orlando, site of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and winter home of the King himself. The conditioning was AWFUL for last week’s PGA event there though and I can only assume that costs will be ridiculous out there.
– Ginn Hammock Beach Resort is in Palm Coast, Florida and has two courses, with the Nicklaus Ocean Course hosting a Champions Tour event every year. In fact, the tournament is this coming weekend so I’m going to have to check out the TV coverage. The PGA Tour is holding the Ginn sur Mer Classic at the Tom Watson-designed course in September.
This place actually looks pretty darned good and it has unlimited golf packages. Harry should check this one out for pricing, as it looks pretty damn solid (two bedroom villas or condos – look incredible, four nights, unlimited golf, about $800 US total, including taxes). It is 90 minutes from Orlando though and might require a flight into Daytona instead. This might be my top choice right now!
Those are just a few of the options available to us. Have any of my readers ever played any of these courses or stayed at the resorts? Are there any courses or resorts that AREN’T listed here that we should check out?