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The Club at Diamondhead – A Must-Play on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast

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If someone were to mention “Diamond Head,” any person with any knowledge of geography would instinctively think of Hawaii, and Diamond Head Crater, an extinct volcanic crater and the site of a luakini heiau, and ancient ceremonial structure dedicated to the war god and used by ancient Hawaiians for worship and human sacrifice. It’s one of the most popular hikes on the island of Oahu and happens to be Hawaii’s most recognized landmark.

Diamondhead (notice the difference in spelling) is a city on the Bay St. Louis coastline in Mississippi, located about 35 miles from Biloxi, MS, and 50 miles from New Orleans, LA, making it an easy drive from both markets. The city of Diamondhead was destined to be a resort town, with Hawaii-inspired architecture, landscaping, and road names. even their logo depicts this. Take a look at the country club’s swimming pool and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Within the city, you’ll find The Club at Diamondhead, a semi-private country club where the emphasis is on recreation and enjoying all that a Mississippi Gulf Coast lifestyle has to offer. For some, it’s the ten lighted, hydra-clay tennis courts at The Tennis Club, for others, the dining and social aspects of the club, For the majority of members, it’s the two 18-hole championship golf courses that draw golfers from near and far. The area has some interesting topography with elevations that rise to just over 100 feet. You won’t find many water hazards out here however both courses have a lot of tree-lined fairways, so if you can’t hit it straight off the tee, be prepared to get creative!

The Pine Course

The front nine on the Pine Course has a real resort feel to it with generous fairways and wide-open landing areas. There’s not a lot of trouble to get into and if you keep the ball in play, you can get off to a great start. Water is present on both par 3s but shouldn’t come into play unless you’re having a really bad day.

The first hole on the Pine Course starts with a couple of blind shots. It’s a par 5 that plays 495 yards where both the tee shot, and your layup shot play uphill. You won’t even be able to see the green until your approach shot which plays downhill. The green slopes back to front and is protected on either side with sand. It’s a great starting hole.

According to the scorecard, Number 4 is the number one handicap. It’s a dogleg right that plays 410 yards from the White Tees. Longball hitters need to be wary of the creek that crosses the fairway about 150 yards from the green. Your approach shot plays straight uphill into a green with lots of mounding around it and a large bunker on the right.  According to Chris Altese, PGA Director of Golf, this hole can make or break your front nine.  “Number 4 on the Pine is a critical hole to navigate in order to post a good round.  You typically will need to add one club on the uphill approach.  A par on this hole will usually win you a dollar and a bogey most likely won’t cost you one,” said Altese.

Water comes into play on number 10, which plays 526 yards from the White Tees. The pond in front of the tee box shouldn’t pose a problem, but the creek that crosses the fairway about 300 yards from the White Tees very well may. For most players this is a 3-shot hole; bunkers guard the front of the green which sits at an odd angle to the fairway. It’s a challenging hole to start the back side.

Standing on the 14th tee box, you get a sense of the elevation changes. You start from an elevated tee box and hit downhill to the fairway. Avoid the fairway bunker on the left side and you’ll have a mid to low iron uphill, into the green. It’s at least an extra club – maybe two – to get up the hill.

On most golf courses, the par 3 holes are typically handicapped as the easiest holes however, on the Pine Course, the 484-yard par 5, 17th hole takes the honor. There’s water to carry off the tee and woods and water near the landing area on the right side, where most golfers tend to hit their drives. Your best bet is to play your tee shot just short of the fairway bunkers on the left side. A good drive might give you an opportunity to shoot for the green, otherwise, play your layup shot down the left side as well. This takes the greenside bunker on the right out of play and gives you a clear line into the green.

The Cardinal Course

With tree-lined fairways, extra-long sand bunkers, and no parallel holes, the Cardinal Course makes for a serene, peaceful round of golf. From the White Tees, the course plays 6,128 yards with a course rating of 71.0 and a slope of 128. With 4 sets of tees, there’s a suitable yardage for every golfer, no matter how good – or bad – you are!

The 4th hole is a par 3 that plays 140 yards over water into a large, oceanic-style green that is well-sloped from back to front. The water guards the right side of the green, and bunkers front left and in the back place an emphasis on accuracy off the tee. There’s a bailout area long, and right, however, it leaves most players with a tough up and down.

That same accuracy will come in handy on the par 4, 383-yard 6th hole. You’ll need it to avoid the bunkers, both off the tee and around the green. Off the tee, there’s a lot more room on the right side than you may think, and the fairway bunker on the left side gets a good workout as well! Long, deep bunkers guard either side of this long, narrow green. There may be as much as a two-club difference between a front and back pin placement.  Maury Hodgens, Head Golf Professional, says “Be sure to stay below the hole and favor left of center for a slightly uphill putt. Putts from above the hole on Number 6 of the Cardinal are deceptively fast and can get away from you in a hurry.”

Number 13 is probably the signature hole on the Cardinal course. It’s a 153-yard par 3 that plays downhill over water with woods on either side. The green is a tilted plane and not very deep on the right side. It’s protected by a bunker in the back right. Par is a good score here.

If Number 13 is not the signature hole, then, by all means, Number 15 is. This 510-yard, par 5 will require three well-thought-out and accurate shots to get on the green in regulation. You’ll need to cross the water twice, once from the elevated tee box to an island fairway and a second time on your layup shot. The landing area off the tee to the island fairway is narrow, and trees come into play on the right side. Your layup shot starts your uphill journey to the green, and it’s best to play at least one extra club on your next two shots. Trees come into play on both sides of the fairway on your second and third shots as well. There’s a single bunker short of the green on the right side; the green is not that large and has some good slope to it.

If either of these courses have you doubting your game, maybe a visit to The Golf Academy of Diamondhead is just what you need. Headed up by PGA Director of Instruction and Player Development, Hoppy Smith, a quick lesson might help work out the kinks. They use the latest technologies and can help you out with golf club fittings, ball and club speed analysis, and club distance and gapping measurements. Individual and on-course instruction is available as well as weekly golf clinics, all designed to help you get the most out of your golf game.

In 2020, Hurricane Zeta hit Diamondhead, MS, and according to Food and Beverage Manager Chris Rahaim, there was extensive damage to the clubhouse, in particular, the kitchen and restaurant areas. Management chose to look on the bright side and saw this as an opportunity to do some remodeling. The result is an open-air concept that is multi-functional. Whether it’s just your foursome or you’re part of a larger golf group, the staff can easily accommodate you. The food is incredible, especially the Sunday Brunch, complete with an omelet station and Prime Rib carving station. They also do a lot of special events, including wine and bourbon tastings. Check out the website or their Facebook page for up-to-date information.

These are just a few of the many things going on at The Club at Diamondhead. To book your next round or for information on becoming a member, call them at (228) 255-3910 or visit them online at www.theclub@diamondhead.com.

TPC Tampa Bay – Back and Better Than Ever!

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For years, TPC Tampa Bay has been regarded as one of the best public access facilities in the Tampa market. After all, whenever the letters TPC precede anything to do with golf, expectations are automatically raised, and TPC Tampa Bay delivers.

Recently, the best got better! Originally opened in 1991, TPC Tampa Bay was designed by renowned golf course architect Bobby Weed with a lot of input from PGA TOUR professional Chi Chi Rodriguez and has consistently received a 4.5-star rating from Golf Digest.  Florida Golf Magazine claims it as one of the top 5 courses in the state. For more than twenty years, The Champions Tour held an event here. Some of the greatest players of all time have won at this historic property, including Nicklaus, Watson, Price, Langer, and Irwin.  Yet with all of these accolades, the owners – aka the new Heritage Golf Group -believed there was room for improvement. So shortly after the busy Florida golf season ended in late April, TPC Tampa Bay closed for renovation.

In mid-September 2022, TPC Tampa Bay reopened to rave reviews. For the most part, the outstanding design that Weed and Rodriguez created was left intact. The greens were regrassed with Champion G-12 hybrid Ultradwarf Bermuda, the tees and fairways were regrassed with Bimini Bermuda, and enhancements were made to the practice facility.  Extensive work was done to improve the drainage throughout the course.  For General Manager Steve Ostroff and his staff, it’s all about a “Return to Glory” and bringing the club back to what it once was.

TPC Tampa Bay is extremely diverse – not only has it challenged the best golfers in the world, but every day it is played and enjoyed by golfers with abilities that range from future professionals to those who are simply on vacation.  TPC Tampa Bay offers golfers six sets of tees to choose from; the TPC Tees play 6,898 yards. From back here you can get an idea of what the pros experience.  At 6,008 yards, the White Tees provide a lot of enjoyment and may even let you leave with a little dignity still intact. For those that may feel overwhelmed, try the Forward Tees at 4,990 yards. Pick the set that best suits your game and you’re sure to have an enjoyable round.

TPC Tampa Bay winds its way through an upscale neighborhood in Lutz, FL and as you make your way around the golf course, you can tell from all of the mounds around the greens and on the peripheries of the fairways that this course was built with spectators in mind. Heritage Golf Group is determined to bring professional golf back to TPC Tampa Bay. The 2022 Finals of the PGA TOUR Champions were held here, and the intent is to bring it back in the upcoming years. It is the perfect venue for what many regard as one of golf’s most difficult competitions.

The course is set among natural wetlands with strands of cypress trees and several manmade and natural lagoons. The majority of holes at TPC have generous fairways that leave manageable shots into the green. Miss the fairway off the tee and you can easily find one of many sculpted fairway bunkers that dot the landing areas. Most of the greens are raised, placing a premium on accurate approach shots. Hit a poor approach shot and you can easily find yourself in one of the many grass swales or in the mounding that surrounds many putting surfaces. The greens themselves have a lot of undulation; many have multiple tiers and are usually protected by bleach-white bunkers. The difficulties around the green will give you a new appreciation for a PGA TOUR player’s short game!

There are several risk-reward opportunities and if you ever feel overly challenged on a particular shot, odds are there’s a place where you can bail out and still give yourself a chance to make par. TPC requires you to think your way around the course, for the most part, it’s brains over brawn.

Picking memorable holes at TPC is like trying to pick a favorite child, but the three I remember most are 14, 15, and 16, which are handicapped as three of the toughest holes on the back nine. Number 14 is the beginning of the “Gauntlet.” It’s a monster par 5, dogleg left that plays 588 yards from the TPC Tees. There’s water down the left side and the deep, cavernous bunker between the water and the elevated fairway can spell disaster if you find it off the tee. A tee shot slightly right of center will leave a good angle into the green. You’ll need to hit your second shot over the strategically placed fairway bunkers on the left to have any chance of getting on the green in regulation. Two well-played shots will leave a short iron or wedge into a narrow two-tiered green protected by sand on the right and water on the left.

Number 15 is like Number 14, a dogleg left with wetlands and a lagoon framing the left side. The hole plays 452 yards from the TPC Tees and a good drive short of the fairway bunker on the right will leave a mid-iron into an odd-shaped green, well protected with sand and water left.  It is rated the toughest hole on the inward 9 and the 2nd most difficult hole on the card.

The 16th hole, handicapped number 8 is a beautiful but devilish par 4. You’ll want to favor the right side of the fairway to avoid the two large fairway bunkers that seem to attract most tee shots down the left side. Be careful not to go too far right or you’ll have to deal with the cypress trees on your second shot. Hit a great tee shot and the bunkers short and right should not come into play.TPC features some amazing practice facilities as well. Since they are a daily fee property, those playing the course are welcome to use any part of the practice area before or after their round. If you’re looking for a place where you can work on your game, TPC Tampa Bay offers a Practice Facility Experience pass which provides you with access to the driving range, short game area, and putting green for the entire day. Get there early to get the biggest bang for your buck!

After your round, golfers can dine in the TPC Grill and enjoy a variety of delicious entrees and signature cocktails. General Manager Steve Ostroff and his staff are doing their best to create awareness of TPC Tampa Bay and its relationship with the PGA TOUR Champions. The Club pays tribute to the 2022 PGA TOUR Champion Qualifier winner Rob Labritz who has a wedge salad named after him. The Labritz Wedge is served with ranch dressing because Rob is not a fan of bleu cheese!  The menu also includes the Kuhlman Club, named after Head Golf Professional Donnie Kuhlman.  Feeling thirsty, order the “Krane” and take home the signature cup. The new “Krane” logo appears on a lot of apparel in their well-stocked pro shop.

TPC Tampa Bay is a must-play for all golfers and if you are visiting Tampa, come to the place where many of the greatest players of all time have played.  TPC Tampa Bay…. play it once and you’ll come back for more. For more information or to book your next round, visit their website.

TPC Tampa Bay is owned by Heritage Golf Group, the fastest-growing golf club ownership company in the country. Their attention to detail at their clubs is second to none. To see some of their other courses, visit them online. at www.heritagegolfgroup.com.

Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, Florida – A Treasure Trove of Quality Golf on Florida’s Gulf Coast

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During the winter months, snowbirds flock to Florida to enjoy all that the Sunshine State has to offer. It’s been going on for more than 100 years and increases the state’s population by about 5% each year.

For many, Florida’s main attraction is the ability to play golf during the winter months. Over the years, Florida’s Gulf Coast has been a desirable location for golfers looking to indulge themselves in some spectacular golf courses.  One area of the Gulf Coast that is often overlooked is the area between Venice and Fort Myers.

Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach includes the Charlotte Harbor Gulf Island Coast and includes the towns of Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Englewood Beach. Within this geographical area, there are more than 19 golf courses, including 13 semi-private championship courses and 6 executive courses. The Ron Garl-designed Kingsway Country Club just off of I-75 was recently purchased and closed and will become part of the new Sunseeker Resort in Port Charlotte when it opens for business next year. It will be known as Aileron Golf Club. Here are a few of my favorites.

Riverwood Golf Club

Riverwood Golf Club is located in Port Charlotte, FL, just a few miles from Tamiami Trail, and has received numerous accolades from Golfweek Magazine and Golf Advisor. Golf Digest has rated Riverwood 4 ½ stars and Golf for Women Magazine ranked it in the top 100 “Lady Friendly Courses in the U.S.’’

The front nine winds its way through heavily wooded terrain with a lot of palms, live oaks, and pine trees. You’ll encounter more water hazards on the back side as it meanders around salt marshes and wetlands. The course does play through a residential community however in certain areas, you’ll only see a few houses. Other portions of the course look as though they have been carved from the wild, natural vegetation of Southwest Florida. One area of the course in particular – holes 7 through 9 – has been referred to by Members as the Bermuda Triangle because of the difficulty and precision required to keep the ball in play and get it close to the hole.

Heritage Landing

Heritage Landing in Punta Gorda was redesigned by Gordon Lewis in 2019 who took what was once a so-so 27-hole layout and created an 18-hole masterpiece. Holes were redirected and rerouted, bunkers reshaped, and tee boxes, fairways, and greens were regrassed with Champion Paspalum, one of the nicest golf course grasses and very tolerant to salt water and the Florida climate. The result is a course that is much more player friendly and enjoyable than it used to be. Heritage Landing offers golfers 5 sets of tees as well as a couple of “combo” yardages on the scorecard. The course can play anywhere between 4,363 – 7,122 yards, so there’s something for every golfer, regardless of skill level. Heritage Landing was ranked ninth on Golf Advisor’s 2021 Top Courses in Florida list. Although the course is open to the public year-round, tee times fill up fast so it’s best to schedule one well in advance.

Heritage Landing has some impressive practice facilities that include a driving range, short game and pitching area, and practice putting greens. If you want to take your golf game to the next level, Heritage Landing’s staff of PGA professionals can help and offer daily golf lessons.

Long Marsh Golf Course

The Rotonda West community in Southwest Florida, just outside Punta Gorda is a deed-restricted community that is home to over 15,000. Rotonda has an interesting shape to it; if you look at it from an aerial view, it’s perfectly round, with 8 pizza-wedge-shapes cut into it that are separate communities. Many of these communities have golf courses running through them. Rotonda West is comprised of several distinct neighborhoods including Long Meadow, White Marsh, and Pine Valley.

Rotonda Golf and Country Club offers 99 holes of golf on the Cape Haze Peninsula, designed by 5 renowned architects: Pete Dye, Ted McAnlis, John LaFoy, D.J. DeVictor, and Jim Petrides. The Long Marsh has 27 holes and is considered Rotonda’s premier course. It’s also rated its toughest. Long Marsh was designed by Ted McAnlis.

The Long Marsh Golf Course winds its way through 450 acres of natural Florida scrub. Each of the 27 holes has a distinctive character, making it unlike any other course in the area.  Many of the gently rolling fairways are framed by native pine, oak, and palm trees with natural waste bunkers, lakes, and marshes that add to the intrigue. What you see is what you get; there are no blind shots or hidden hazards. Four sets of tee boxes provide distances ranging from 5,257 from the forward tee yards to 7,120 yards from the back tees.

For those visiting that don’t play golf, there is plenty to do here, most of it on the water. You can go fishing, boating, swimming, and scuba diving. There are 35 parks in the area, perfect for bike riding, birdwatching or just strolling about.  Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach has some good nightlife too; restaurants that feature everything from beachfront and tiki bar dining to gourmet meals. There are bars, microbreweries, wineries, and distilleries where you can let your inhibitions run wild.

Just down the street from Riverwood Golf Club, you’ll find the Twisted Fork, a fun eatery located next door to Black Widow Harley Davidson! They offer chef-inspired, down-home Florida cuisine with a twist. It’s one of Southwest Florida’s most unique venues with lots to do for all ages. They put on a lot of fun events on the Back Porch, a 24,000 square foot covered entertainment pavilion that is connected directly to the restaurant; everything from car shows and bike nights to bands and drive-in movie nights.

As their name implies, they have put their twist on several signature sandwiches. For example, the Twisted Meat Loaf Sandwich features the Fork’s homemade meatloaf on a brioche bun grilled and topped with apple cider bacon slices, aged cheddar, and fried onions. The Monte Cristo sandwich is the traditional ham, turkey, cheddar, and Swiss, batter dipped and deep fried, but then it’s dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry preserves. Whatever you order, you won’t be disappointed!

Farlow’s on the Water is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. It’s where Southern cooking meets the Caribbean. Owners Laurie and Keith Farlow are from Kentucky and St. Croix, USVI, respectively. It reflects the best of two worlds: the seafood and spices of the Caribbean and southern specialties like fried green tomatoes, corn pudding, and Kentucky Hot Browns. All food is prepared daily, and the majority of herbs used in their delectable dishes are grown in the garden at the restaurant. You are welcome to tour the garden on your visit and smell the fresh basil, rosemary, and parsley. The fresh catch menu includes Black Grouper, Chilean Sea Bass, Hogfish, and Mangrove Snapper to name just a few. The menu also includes a vast array of Caribbean seafood specialties, hand-cut steaks, and pork, chicken, and turkey specialties. The have an exceptionally good wine list and a full liquor bar.

There are a large number of hotels in the area, and the boutique, Wyvern Hotel is a great choice. It’s independently owned and a member of the Choice Ascend Hotel Collection. The hotel is located in downtown Punta Gorda and its walls are filled with artwork from local artists that hotel guests are welcome to purchase. The Wyvern’s 63 rooms feature an upscale décor with designer touches like marble bathroom floors and imported Italian linens. The most unique feature of the Wyvern Is the rooftop which seems to be the hub. Up here you can take a dip in the heated pool that overlooks the Harbor and enjoy poolside service from Perch 360, the rooftop restaurant. Perch 360 offers dishes crafted from the freshest, high-quality ingredients sourced from local suppliers including their rooftop garden. In addition to a Tapas menu with unique dishes like shrimp and sweet potato tacos, Perch 360 has a drink menu that includes signature cocktails, local craft beers, and boutique wines. Perch 360 is a great place to cap off the night and enjoy the views.

Located off the lobby is Wyvern’s other restaurant, 88 Keys Florida. Fittingly enough, 88 Keys is a piano bar and features contemporary Global cuisine created with locally farm-sourced ingredients to create healthy options for even the most discerning palette. They have a full liquor bar and offer several craft beers on tap as well as a wine list that features a diverse collection of award-winning wines from global winemakers. Choose from several boutique wines or select a bottle from the proprietor’s list of signature high-end wines.

This is a small sample of what Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach has to offer golfers. For more information and to see a list of courses in the area, visit them online at www.pureflorida.com.

Avalon Country Club – Forging a New Path on the Knoxville Golf Scene

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Opening in 1997, The Medalist at Avalon as it was known, opened to rave reviews and was the talk of East Tennessee. Nestled on 166 acres in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Avalon incorporates some of the most breathtaking countryside in the area. Golf Course architect Joe Lee designed Avalon and because of its significant elevation changes, varying terrain, and profound slopes and elevations in the greens, Avalon was awarded a “4-Star” Rating by Golf Digest. This 18-hole championship layout played 6,764 yards from the longest tees.

As the years went by, the economy took a significant downturn and membership started to wane. The Medalist at Avalon was on the verge of collapse and the golf course and its amenities went on the auction block in 2015.

That’s when Tony Hollin, chairman, president, and CEO of Knoxville-based EdFinancial Services stepped in and got involved. Hollin has been active in several community and professional organizations. He placed the winning bid and immediately let the crowd – mainly Avalon homeowners – know that he planned to keep the golf course open and that it was “business as usual.”  His goal he said, “was to make the golf course more successful than ever.”

New ownership usually brings about change and this was to be no exception. For starters, the club’s name was changed to Avalon Country Club. The clubhouse also underwent some renovations and is home to a well-stocked pro shop and two restaurants including an A-list steakhouse. Vast improvements were made to the golf course too. All of the bunkers were redone and are currently a joy to play out of. Recently, the greens have been redone with Primo Zoysia grass, making Avalon the only club in Tennessee with these types of greens. All of these changes have caused Golf Advisor to recognize Avalon as one of the “Top 25 Most Improved Golf Courses” in 2015 and the #15 top course in Tennessee in 2016.

Avalon Country Club is an outstanding layout that will challenge all golfers regardless of abilities. Avalon plays 6,765 yards from the Back Tees with a rating of 72.0 and a slope of 128. The White Tees (6,300/69.6/126) and the Gold Tees (5,841/67.2/124) offer a fair and enjoyable round for most golfers and allow you to leave with your dignity intact. Ladies will enjoy the Red Tees (5,260/70.0/119).

Number 1 starts you out with a challenging par 4 that plays 393 yards from the White tees. It’s downhill from tee to green with a bunker and the driving range framing the right side and a lot of mounding on the left. There are a few trees and a lot of long straggly rough on the right if you hit it long too. A good drive that favors the left side of the fairway leaves the best angle into a large, well-undulated green surrounded on the left side and middle front by bunkers.

The 3rd hole is a par 3 that plays downhill and is a little shorter than the 145 yards listed on the scorecard. The green is well-undulated and slopes back to front. Two bunkers front the green and sit well below it. Find one of them off the tee and you’re looking at a tough up and down for par.

Number 4 is one of the toughest holes on the course – it’s handicapped #3. It’s a big sweeping dogleg left and you can shave some yardage off the hole by hitting over the trees on the left side. Hit it too far left and you’ll be in someone’s backyard. A good drive will still leave a long uphill approach shot into a large green with a small bunker on the right. Miss your approach shot to the right and you may never see that ball again.

On Number 5, you could very well hit the longest drive of your life. It’s a 364-yard par 4 dogleg left that plays downhill once you get to the dogleg. If you can carry your drive over the left side of the bunker and catch the downslope you will at least end up at the bottom of the hill and if you get lucky, find the green. There’s also a good chance you’ll find the lone trap right of the green. Par is a good score here.

Number 9 is the best test of golf on the entire layout. At 534 yards, it’s the longest hole on the golf course and the #1 handicap; it also has the most challenging approach shot of any hole on the course. For most players, it’s a 3-shot hole and 3 good shots at that. A good drive out to the right of the fairway bunker on the left will leave a choice to either layup or carry the creek that sits about 120 yards short of the green. The smart play is to lay up short of the creek as the fairway gets narrow on the other side and slopes towards the water. Your approach shot is over water to a long narrow green that slopes back to front and is protected on the left side by a large bunker.

The longest hole on the course is followed by a short par 4. Number 10 plays 337 yards and the smart money is on hitting something less than driver off the tees to avoid the myriad of bunkers. A mid-iron off the tee and over the first bunker will leave a short uphill chip shot into an elevated green. It’s a great opportunity to put up a low number and get the back nine off to a great start.

The 17th hole is one of the most picturesque holes on the golf course. It’s a dogleg left par 4 over a lake that plays 360yards and is a big risk/reward opportunity. A good line over the water requires about a 210-yard carry which will leave a short pitch shot into an elevated green surrounded by sand.

Number 18 is a great finishing hole and one of the toughest tee shots on the course. This 525-yard dogleg left par 5 requires an accurate tee shot that avoids the water on the left and the bunker on the right in the landing area. There’s a lot of mounding on the right as well as out of bounds if you try to play it too safe out to the right. Choose your layup club carefully as you’ll be challenged by that water on the left and a creek that crosses about 60 yards in front of the green. Success thus far will leave a short pitch shot over water into a shallow green that slopes back to front towards the water. There’s a bunker behind it to keep you honest.

Before your round, warm up on Avalon’s full-length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag until your heart’s content. There’s also a practice putting green to warm up with the flat stick. After your round, step into Avalon Country Club’s clubhouse for a bite to eat. You’ll have two venues to choose from. The Grille offers primarily traditional clubhouse food with a good wine and alcoholic beverage menu. The real treat is the all-new T-Prime Steak and Seafood Restaurant. T-Prime is destined to become one of the most popular restaurants in the area. One look at their menu and you’ll see why. Appetizers such as a Seafood Platter and Crispy Artichoke Hearts and entrees that include all of the top cuts of steak and seafood: Filet Mignon, Shrimp Fra Diavolo, and Cedar Plank Red Grouper. It’s not what you’d find at your average golf course.

Avalon Country Club is currently accepting new memberships and according to General Manager Beau Hollin, numbers are rapidly increasing. “When we took over the course, membership was down to around 60 golf members when we bought the course 6 years ago,” Hollin said. “Now, with the improvements we’ve made to the course and clubhouse area, we are already up to 300 full golf members and 400 total members.”

Avalon Country Club is located a mere 20 minutes away from downtown Knoxville and just 7 minutes from The Turkey Creek Shopping Center. Access to I-40 is just seconds and McGhee Tyson Airport is 20 minutes away. For more information on Avalon Country Club or to become a member, visit their website at www.avalongolf.com. Click on the Membership tab to see their incredibly priced membership specials.

Ford Field and River Club – Living the Lifestyle You Deserve

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The Ford Field and River Club in Savannah, Georgia offers a lifestyle that most people are not familiar with. This extremely upscale and private 1,800-acre vacation home community is built along Georgia’s Ogeechee River and is located minutes from downtown Savannah. The Ford – as it is better known – has a tremendous history dating back to 1917, when world-renowned automaker Henry Ford first encountered the Savannah, Georgia area.  Ford purchased over 70,000 acres – equivalent to 120 square miles – of land in the Savannah area.

In 1936, Ford broke ground on an incredible mansion that sat on 55 acres of manicured lawns and flowering gardens on the banks of the Ogeechee River. He and his wife Clara soon made this their winter home and hosted many elite social gatherings with visits from the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and the DuPonts.  The Main House – which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places – now serves as the clubhouse and is the centerpiece of the community with its swimming pool, gardens, formal living, and dining rooms, and well-appointed guest suites.

The Ford is a recreational oasis with a myriad of sports and recreational opportunities at your disposal to keep you busy and active. Equestrian enthusiasts can explore more than 10 miles of bridle trails. The state-of-the-art Equestrian Center is a 7-acre facility comprised of 22 stalls, multiple arenas, and a members’ lounge. Water lovers can choose from several activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or boating. If fishing is your thing, the waterways around the community are teeming with bass, trout, blue crab, and shrimp or you can book an expert-guided fishing excursion through the Deepwater Marina. The nearby 5,000-acre Dorchester Shooting Preserve offers sporting clays and upland wing shooting. Other activities include archery, running, hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, water skiing, tennis, and pickleball.

For the majority of residents, the main attraction at The Ford is its award-winning golf course. The original course opened in 1986 at a reported cost of $11 million. It was the brainchild of Saudi businessman Ghaith Pharaon and was owned by his holding company, InterRedec. In 1991 Pharaon had to flee the US as he was wanted by the FBI on fraud and racketeering charges related to the collapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The property changed hands after his downfall and became known as the Ogeechee Golf Club and then subsequently became Ford Plantation.

This exciting Pete Dye design winds its way throughout 250 acres and is shaped by freshwater lakes, meadows, and coastline. This Audubon-certified Pete Dye signature golf course offers five sets of tees on each hole and can play anywhere from 7,409 yards from the Black to 5,002 yards from the Reds. I found The Dye (Blue) Tees 6,148/70/128) a fair test and they still let me leave with a little dignity!

Over the years, the golf course has received its fair share of accolades including Golf Digest’s and Golf Magazine’s Best New Courses 2014, LINKS Magazine’s Best Renovation (Private) 2014, and Golfweek’s Top 100 Best Residential Courses 2016. At The Ford, tee times are never required and players of all ages and abilities can enjoy an unhurried game.

Pete Dye’s main objective was to create a course that was playable for the members, one they could enjoy and have fun on. And, with its two different design styles, this course does not disappoint. The front nine is traditional, Lowcountry, parkland-style golf with a lot of doglegs, and winds its way along the lakes and through groves of oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

The back nine was built on rice paddies and as you would expect, was relatively flat. A lot of dirt was brought in to create what became an overabundance of artificial mounding. When the members took ownership of the course and put it through a complete redesign in 2014, a lot of the mounding was removed. The back nine is reminiscent of a Scottish links course, especially when the wind is blowing. There are few trees, good undulation in the fairways and on the greens, and wide-open spaces. In his own words, Dye proudly proclaimed The Ford his “finest Southern links.”

Compared to other Pete Dye courses I have experienced, The Ford is quite playable. That being said, in no way do I mean it is easy. As you make your way around the course, you’ll encounter tricky pin placements and strategically placed bunkers. Getting off the tee is the easy part, many of the fairways are wide and generous and everything slopes toward the middle. With each hole played, the course gets a little tougher, primarily the approach shots. Better golfers that try to take a more direct route to the green had best be on their A-game, otherwise, the course will eat you up! You’ll have the most fun if you keep the ball in the fairway and minimize risk-taking. Ladies will appreciate the attention given to the placement of the forward tees, which typically eliminate the need to carry water or larger hazards. Women have Pete’s wife Alice to thank for that!

The Ford is full of memorable holes, but here are three that stick out in my mind. Hitting the green in regulation is critical on the short, par 4, 10th hole. Playing a mere 310 yards, the hole presents a good birdie opportunity for many players. However, the green has a lot of slope and undulation to it and if you miss your approach shot, getting up and down is not easy, making it a tough par.

If the rough on the left side were heather and gorse on the 16th hole, you’d swear you were in Scotland. This 588-yard par 5 doglegs left features rough down the left side and a large bunker on the right that needs to be carried off the tee to score well on this hole. Play your tee shot out to the right to give yourself the best angle into the green.

Many members feel that par 3, 17th is the signature hole at Ford Plantation and is probably the most photographed hole on the course. At a mere 146 yards from the Dye Tees, it looks to be straightforward as you’re standing on the tee, however, looks can be deceiving. Specifically, the pot bunker behind the green; find it and you can all but kiss your par goodbye. Deep bunkers guard the front right and left. Par is a good score here.

The Ford also has some pristine practice facilities with a full-length driving range, putting green, and a short game area. If you’re having trouble with any facet of your game, the talented professional staff can help.

To help keep you in shape physically and mentally The Ford’s Sports Barn & Pool offers 7,000 square feet of fitness equipment including a squash court, cardio and strength-training equipment, personal training, and more. There are three Har-Tru tennis courts nearby as well as croquet, bocce, lawn tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts. There are several pools including The Lake Dye Pool which offers lap swim lanes, a kiddie pool, and a hot tub; the pool at the Main House is more adult-friendly and is the perfect place to lounge around in the sun.

The Ford Field and River Plantation is a mandatory membership community meaning that when you purchase a home in this private, gated community, you must join the club at some level.  Memberships are unique at The Ford; a single membership covers multiple generations. Full privileges are extended to parents, children, and grandchildren. As a member, you’ll enjoy all the trappings of Southern hospitality combined with tons of modern amenities and year-round outdoor pursuits, all in an ever-agreeable coastal climate.

Everything discussed in this article doesn’t even scratch the surface of what the Ford Field and River Plantation has to offer members and residents. One of the best ways to experience all that the Ford Field and River Plantation has to offer is one of their Discovery Experience packages. As their guest, you will have the opportunity to enjoy three days and two nights at The Main House, Henry, and Clara Ford’s prized estate, and indulge in all the activities you so desire. For more information or to arrange a visit to The Ford Plantation, you can call them at 912.756.5666 or visit them online at www.fordfieldandriverclub.com.

Lucas Oil Golf Course – A Hidden Gem in Southern Indiana That’s Reachable from Four States

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The Lucas Oil Golf Course has a very interesting history. During the 1930s, English was a thriving town nestled in the rolling hills and fertile valley of southern Indiana, 38 miles west of Louisville, KY. About 1000 residents called English home.

The area was prone to severe flooding, often causing the town to virtually shut down. On June 7th, 1990, the area once again flooded, this time leaving the downtown area under almost 10 feet of water. The town decided that enough was enough and applied to F.E.M.A. for assistance to move the town to higher ground and out of the floodplain. Over the next five years, many businesses were relocated to the “New English” location about a mile east along Hwy 64. The fertile valley along the Three Forks of Little Blue was once again empty.

According to government guidelines, uses for this flood-prone land were going to be limited to something either agricultural or recreational in nature. As part of his course study at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, local resident Cary Hammond put forth a business plan with the idea of transforming the former town into Crawford County’s first and only golf course. He and his friend Mark Megenity began raising money; they recruited friends, neighbors, and just anyone who would listen in hopes that they could scrape together the funds needed to buy enough land for an 18-hole golf course. Their salesmanship paid off and they were able to raise the capital and move forward with their dream. Through leases and purchases, they were able to come up with 300 acres of land, however, they didn’t have any money left over for the construction of the course.

Award-winning golf course architect, Dr. Michael Hurdzan was familiar with the story of English, Indiana, and was intrigued by the idea of transforming an abandoned town in the middle of the Hoosier National Forest, into a championship golf course. The topography of the land was unique and Hurdzan decided to give back to the sport he loves by donating the design services of his Columbus, Ohio, firm. When local businesses found out that Hurdzan was on board, an avalanche of “donations” came pouring in. A local construction company moved the earth at a low cost when they were between jobs. As luck would have it, the company got so caught up in the excitement of building Old English Golf Course that they decided to donate one crew on a full-time basis. A couple of local golf course shapers signed on at a reduced rate, and rental equipment was placed on-site by operators who would donate their time to help build the course. Suppliers of materials and equipment supported the effort by providing their excess inventory at a discounted price.

With virtually no budget for building the course, Hurdzan and his design team used available U.S. Geological Survey maps as a guide and subsequently put together a plan to use the existing bridges as much as possible, and work around the wetlands and creeks. They moved the tees and greens above the major flood areas and put in ponds and drainage areas. In fact, drainage was so good at Old English Golf Course that they were open for business when other courses in the area were closed.

Unfortunately, underfunding and poor management of the facility in its early years led to a lot less play and the course fell into a state of disrepair. As a result, the golf course fell behind on its mortgage and was on the verge of shutting down. Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, founders of Luas Oil Products and Crawford County residents, were two of the original investors and were approached about picking up the mortgage. For the good of the community, they generously agreed and in January 2012, they acquired ownership of Old English and subsequently changed the name to Lucas Oil Golf Course in August of 2012.

The golf course offers golfers five sets of tees and can play anywhere from 6,617 yards from the tips to 4,652 yards from the forward tees. I found that the Blue Tees at 6,031 yards offered a good challenge and still let me leave with my dignity intact.

Lucas Oil Golf Course takes advantage of the dramatic drops in elevation and features two distinctively different nines. The front nine has two lakes and flowing creeks that come into play on 8 of 9 holes. The back nine is primarily carved from the hills and ridge tops that overlook Dog Creek and Brownstown Creek. As you make your way around the layout, you’ll see that there is not an overabundance of bunkers. There are only 23 scattered throughout the golf course. Be warned, they are strategically placed and come into play more often than you’d like! Be sure to view Number 4 and 7 from the back tees. These Astroturf tee boxes have been built into the side of the mountain to create extra distance and drama. They add over 100 yards to each hole with a drop in elevation from tee to fairway of 100 feet.

Lucas Oil Golf Course starts you out with a par 5 dogleg right around a lake. The hole plays 476 yards from the Blue Tees and is most likely a 3-shot hole. Bite off as much of the lake as you dare with your tee shot and then play your layup shot out to the left as the slope of the fairway will bring it back towards the middle. Good execution thus far will leave a pitch shot of around 100 yards into a green with a lot of slope on the right side and is guarded by a single bunker on the left.

Standing on the tee box on Number 8, you can see that the hole is designed to be a dogleg left.  Given the fact that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and the hole only plays 303 yards from the White tees, most of the guys I play with are going to take dead aim at the green. Be sure not to go too far left or you risk hitting into the creek.

Numbers 16 and 17 are two holes that in the words of GM Ron Schitter are “tricked up,” with plans to redesign them in the next few years to enhance the overall golf experience. Sixteen is a short, 295-yard par 4 from the Blue Tees. It’s a dogleg right, but if you hit driver off the tee, you will likely be in the trees. Of course, if you can hit a controlled fade with your driver go ahead; otherwise, hit something less. Even though there are trees all down the right side, you need to keep the ball on the right side of the fairway because the fairway slopes to the left and just gets steeper as you go. A well-positioned tee shot will leave a short iron or wedge into a small green that slopes front to back and is crowned in the middle.

Number 17 is a short, 319-yard dogleg right par 4 that was carved into the side of the hill. It requires accuracy off the tee to a very narrow landing area, and then an approach shot over an unforgiving ravine to a shallow, well-sloped green. It’s the course’s #1 handicap hole for a reason.

For golfers who want to experience the course more than once, consider one of Lucas Oil’s Stay and Play packages or a season pass. They have two houses available for rent; one that sleeps up to 10 people and one that sleeps up to 12. Each house has 4 bedrooms with two beds in each room as well as queen and twin sleeper sofas. Both have complete and fully equipped kitchens, free WiFi, and satellite TVs in all bedrooms as well as large screen TV’s outside that are under roof for your enjoyment. Once you’ve checked in, you’ll be assigned a golf cart that you can park at the house and use throughout your stay. If you don’t feel like cooking, Lucas Oil Restaurant located at the golf course offers a full-service restaurant and bar.

Season passes are available; choose from unlimited play any day any time or, if you’re not a morning person, select a pass that lets you play Mon – Fri any time after 1 PM on weekends and Holidays. There’s also something available for Junior as well!

The clubhouse has been updated over the past few years and now has a large party deck. The restaurant is one of the facilities’ best features and is often full. Once you receive your order, you’ll understand why.  It’s reasonably priced, it’s plentiful, and it is absolutely delicious! I highly recommend the tenderloin sandwich, just be sure you’re hungry enough to finish it!

If you’re in the area, Lucas Oil Golf Course is well worth the visit. It’s a scenic 30-minute drive from French Lick and a whole lot cheaper! For more information, visit their website at www.lucasoilgolfcourse.com.

Seminole Legacy – A Nicklaus Legacy Design That’s Tops in the State

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There are a growing number of golfers who feel that Florida is the Golf Capital of the US. Golfers from up north flock to the Sunshine State every winter to bask in the warmth and keep their golf game alive for when they return home. It’s home to some of the best courses, they are open year-round, and their colleges have produced quite a few PGA TOUR players. Lee Janzen and Rocco Mediate went to Florida Southern University. Andy Bean and Chris DiMarco attended the University of Florida. Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Hank Lebioda, Chase Seiffert, George McNeill, and Jonas Blixt all played at Florida State. And just last week, proud FSU alum Vincent Norrman punched his ticket to the PGA TOUR for 2023.  Not to be outdone, the Women’s golf team had six players added to the ACC Academic Honor Roll, including Amelia Williamson, who was named the 2022 Women’s Golf Student-Athlete of the Year.

One of the reasons the FSU program is so successful has a lot to do with where they practice and play, and that facility just got exponentially better! The golf course at Florida State was originally built by William Amick and opened for play in 1962. The course was renovated by Bob Walker in 2004 and remained virtually untouched until a few years ago. When it was time for another renovation, legendary PGA TOUR golfer and course designer Jack Nicklaus threw his hat into the ring. His pitch to the FSU board was that he was now a Florida resident and had several family members that had attended the school. For these reasons, he should be given the contract. Oh, and he said that instead of his usual $2 million design and consultation fee, he wanted to win this bid so he would do it for $1. Apparently, there were no lower bids, and the Nicklaus Design Company was awarded the contract. The Don Veller Seminole Golf Course was getting a makeover…and a slightly new name.

The Don Veller Seminole Legacy Golf Course is a Nicklaus Legacy Design, meaning it’s a collaboration between Jack Nicklaus and his son Jack II. General Manager Jaxon Hardy said, “Jack II spent quite a bit of time on site, guiding the design and construction process. The Golden Bear himself was out many times as well.”

The original golf course sat on about 210 acres, including two driving ranges, a short game area, and a 7,147-yard par-73 golf course. The new golf course plays over 7,800 yards with a par 72 and sits on a lot less land – 174 acres. That includes two ranges and a new 12-hole par 3 course.

Strap yourself in; Seminole Legacy is a roller coaster ride up and down fairways to meticulously maintained greens. Along the way, you’ll encounter the usual hazards like sand and water and the occasional stand of trees. That’s not to say it’s not fun, it’s both fun and challenging. I’ve played Nicklaus courses where it seems that, as Robin Williams once said, “They put a flag in, to give you hope.”

The golf course is meticulously maintained. Green surrounds are mowed very closely, so unless you’re a proficient short gamer, you’ll find yourself taking the putter out of the bag and putting your ball from well off the green. Greens seem to be Nicklaus’ bread and butter, especially on his signature courses, and having played several Nicklaus designs around the country, I bet that Jack had a lot of input into the designs and contours of these greens. Like many Nicklaus courses, it takes a few rounds to get the feel of the course, where to aim your tee shots, and where to hit your ball on the green and get it close to the pin. A case in point is the green on Number 18; it’s undoubtedly the most memorable green on the golf course and easily a two or three club difference between a front and back pin placement.

Unlike most courses in Florida, Seminole Legacy has enough elevation change to it that there are several blind shots, This is especially true on the par 5s which debunk the myth that there are “no elevation changes in Florida.” Tee shots on the first three par 5s are blind and play uphill, so it helps to know the course.

Seminole Legacy has several that you’ll remember long after your ride home. Number 2 is short par 4, which I will call “Decision” because of the large live oak tree in the middle of the landing area off the tee. You need to decide if you’re going to play your tee shot left or right of it. Hit a good drive and you’ll leave a short chip shot into the green on this 335-yard hole (Gold Tees).

Number 3 is 160-yard, par 3 that plays downhill and is well-bunkered with deep bunkers left and one back right. The green is long and narrow with a lot of undulation and slopes back to front. It’s very quick with a downhill putt.

The par 5, 4th hole at Seminole Legacy was so much fun, I had to play it twice! It’s a slight dogleg left with a blind tee shot up a hill. If you can hit it over the trap on the left, you can cut off a significant portion of this hole and give yourself a good chance to get on in two.  If getting on in two is out of your range, your best bet is to lay up short of the fairway bunkers. This will leave a short pitch shot into a very tricky green that slopes right to left.

Nicklaus throws in a great risk/reward opportunity on the short par 4, 8th hole. From the Gold Tees, the hole plays 260 yards with water down the entire left side up to the green. Nasty little pot bunkers dot the landscape in the area that would make for an easy layup and pitch shot. Instead, the bailout area

to the left presents a challenge as you’ll be pitching uphill towards the lake. It’s a short hole that can make or break a good round.

The last three holes will define your round at the Seminole Legacy Golf Club. Number 16 is a 400-yard test of golf. This daunting par 4 starts with a blind tee shot to a downhill landing zone that slopes to the right. Favoring the left side of the fairway will leave the best angle into the green. A good drive will leave a mid to long-iron into a green that slopes front to back and is guarded by water on the left. It’s also one of the smallest greens on the course. Take a par and be happy.

Number 17 is a 370-yard par 4 with trees framing both sides of the fairway off the tee. The fairway is narrow and plays entirely uphill. Success off the tee will reward you with a mid to short iron uphill over sand traps into a well-undulated green with a severe false front on the left and several tiers. Being on the right tier is essential to scoring well.

Even from the Gold Tees, Number 18 is a long, 435-yard par 4. This slight dogleg left plays downhill off the tee and then back uphill. Avoiding the fairway bunkers in the landing area on the left side off the tee makes par – or better – a lot more realistic. The green is one of the largest and most interesting greens I have ever played. It’s protected by a bunker on the right unless it’s a back point, then the bunker’s in front. The back right portion of the green sits at least two feet below the rest of the green. Jaxon Hardy says this is one of the easiest pin placements. Maybe, if you’ve played here before. For more information on Seminole Legacy or to book your next round, visit them online at www.seminolelegacygolfclub.com.

Hunter’s Green Country Club – Where It’s All About You!

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The Hunter’s Green community in New Tampa is a gated development with a lot to offer; It’s where city life meets nature. Within the guarded gates are 23 unique neighborhood enclaves with 43 lakes on 65 acres of protected wetlands. The community is a recreational oasis with designated bike lanes, playgrounds, lighted tennis, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and baseball facilities, a jogging trail with a 15-station exercise circuit, and an off-leash dog park. The Flatwoods Nature Park and its 7-mile loop of hiking, biking, and bird-watching trails are located next to the community.

At the center of the community is Hunter’s Green Country Club, home to an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course, private tennis courts, a fitness center, and a resort-style pool. Surprisingly, Hunter’s Green is not a bundled community; membership to the Country Club is optional.

Hunter’s Green Country Club is a scenic, Tom Fazio design that showcases his imagination without compromising environmental integrity. This unique and picturesque track was carved from native wetlands and pine forests and takes full advantage of the lush Florida landscape. Manicured tees and fairways lead to challenging, gently sloping TifEagle greens, creating a golf experience that is unparalleled in the Tampa area.

The crown jewel of the club is its golf course. The course is challenging, but not brutal or intimidating. From the Gold Tees, Hunter’s Green measures 7,059 yards with a course rating of 73.3 and a slope of 133. Move up to the Blue Tees and the course plays 6,622 yards (69.9/129). In all, 5 sets of tee boxes provide suitable yardages for golfers of all ages and abilities. As you play your way around the layout, you’ll see a set of Green Tee markers. This represents The Future’s Course at Hunter’s Green, a 2,674-yard, par 63 golf course designed for both juniors and players looking to hone their short shot or shot game skills.

Unlike most Florida courses, there isn’t a lot of water out here, but what there is comes into play in a big way. Sand is the more prevalent hazard with strategically placed bunkers along the fairways and around the greens. A case in point is the par-4 18th hole which incorporates both elements and is probably the most demanding hole on the entire layout. More on Number 18 later.

The golf course has several memorable holes. The 4th hole at Hunters Green is the first par 3 you encounter on the layout with a lot of trouble around the green. There’s water on either side, and bunkers front right and in back. The large kidney-shaped green that is a lot wider than it is deep and a right pin placement requires an accurate tee shot. It’s a fair but challenging hole.

Number 6 is the course’s number one handicapped hole. it’s a dead straight par 4 that plays 394 yards from the White Tees. The rough infringes on either side into the landing area which can make it a tough driving hole. There are many trees on either side of the fairway and green is tucked into the right side along the wetlands. To make things a little more interesting, the green slopes left to right toward the hazard.

The 12th hole is a very scenic par 5 dog leg right with a risk/reward opportunity. The safe play is to play short of the large bunker straight in front of the tee, which is going to make it a three-shot hole for most players. A more aggressive line over the pot bunker near the edge of the lake will leave a makeable distance into the green and the chance to get on in two.  Once you make the dogleg, you’ll find the fairway sloes gently toward the water towards a multi-tiered green. There is a fair amount of mounding in the fairways which can lead to some interesting lies.

The finishing hole is one of the best in the area, and undoubtedly Hunter’s Green’s signature hole!  It’s a challenging, 376-yard, par 4 with water all down the right side of the fairway that forms a lake in front of the green. You can be conservative and play down the left side, virtually taking the water out of play, or you can be aggressive, and challenge the lake. If you decide on the conservative approach, beware of the dense trees left of the cart path. Your approach shot is going to be over water into the green which slopes left to right and is surrounded by both water and sand. After your putt out on the final hole. Check out the beautiful view of the clubhouse from the 18th green. Par is a great way to end your round at Hunter’s Green.

Hunter’s Green has developed a special program for junior golfers to experience firsthand the special relationships that the game of golf can help build. Their Crush It! program is a fun and simple way for kids and teens to learn new skills and attain a deeper understanding of the sportsmanship and camaraderie that golfers of all ages share.

The clubhouse at Hunter’s Green Country Club is best described as inviting, plush, and full of excitement and is where members meet up and enjoy each other’s company. Inside, you’ll find the pro shop which is well-stocked with the latest logoed apparel, and two chef-inspired restaurants, each with incredible views and mouth-watering cuisine. As a member, you can participate in themed dinners, quick bites to refuel after a workout, and delicious drinks to sip by the pool. Samples of their menus are available on the website.

Hunter’s Green offers a variety of Membership programs. As a Full Golf Member, you, your spouse, and dependent children under the age of 23 will have full access to the golf course and practice facilities, tennis complex, fitness center, swimming pool, and restaurants. Members also enjoy 7-day advance tee times, access to the USGA handicap system, and the opportunity to compete in men’s and ladies’ golf tournaments hosted by the Club.

A Tennis Membership includes everything above that is not golf-related as well as tennis leagues, lessons, and clinics while a Social Membership gets you full access to all fitness, swimming, dining, and social facilities at the Club.

Regardless of which membership you choose, they all include XLife benefits in Tampa Bay and nationwide. As an Invited Club member, you’ll enjoy XLife benefits in Tampa Bay and nationwide. In addition to their vast portfolio of owned and/or operated golf clubs, country clubs, city clubs, and stadium clubs, Invited Club’s network includes special offerings at more than 1,000 hotels, resorts, and entertainment venues. Together, these alliances provide Members with unprecedented access to a world of private clubs and premium benefits. And, if you’re the competitive type, you can participate in annual national ClubLife golf, tennis, and pickleball tournaments.

Hunter’s Green Country Club strives to enrich the lifestyle of each member in a traditional private club environment. Here you’re bound to meet people that share the same interests and make friendships that will stand the test of time. If you’re looking for an active country club with the quiet beauty of open spaces and nature preserves, you owe it to yourself to visit Hunter’s Green. Visit them online at www.invitedclubs.com/clubs/hunter-s-green-country-club.

Adidas Golf Apparel and Footwear: Doing Their Part To Help The Environment

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Adidas continues to lead the way when it comes to recycled golf apparel and footwear that seeks to eliminate plastic waste. Three models of men’s and women’s golf shoes are a good example. The Men’s S2G Recycled Polyester Mid-Cut Golf Shoes are made with recycled content in the company’s never-ending quest to end plastic waste. It’s a mid-cut golf shoe that is perfect for wet weather. These shoes have a wide fit with a lace closure and RAIN.RDY technology keeps water out so that your feet stay dry the entire round. The Bounce midsole and four-cleat rubber Adiwear outsole offer comfort, grip, and stability. The Rubber V-Traxion outsole is fitted with Thintech cleats.

My favorite golf shoes are the Tour 360 line. The new Tour 360 22 (2022, I assume) is available in sizes 7 – 15. They are available in several different colors including White, Black, Blue, Red, and Green. The adidas BOOST midsole delivers energy return and extreme comfort and the 360Wrap design locks your foot in for added stability and support. The INSITE sockliner provides cushioning for fit and balance, and the SPIKEMORE traction outsole keeps your feet connected to the ground with no slippage. These shoes are very responsive and made in part from recycled materials.

The Women’s Code Chaos Spikeless Golf Shoes are the epitome of everything a spikeless golf shoe should be. The wraparound outsole provides stability for your golf stance while the Twist Grip sole keeps you firmly in contact with the ground. The full-length BOOST midsole delivers uncompromised comfort and TOUR-level performance. These women’s shoes are available in sizes 5 – 11 and in a variety of colors.

It may feel like fall up north but down here in the Southeast, it’s still shorts weather. Unfortunately, long pants and sweaters have a short lifecycle in this region each season. adidas’ Ultimate 365 line of men’s and women’s polos and bottoms have a year-round appeal and for my money, they are the go-to apparel line regardless of the weather. The ladies’ Ultimate 365 solid short is available in sizes XS-XL and in three basic colors, Grey, Black, and White. The wide power-mesh waist helps to create a slimming effect and the moisture-absorbing AEROREADY fabric is soft to the touch and keeps you dry and odor-free throughout your round. This skort is sewn from 100% recycled polyester twill and the attached undershorts have grip tape at the hem on the leg to keep everything where it should be. Two front and two back pockets provide enough room for all of your essential golf accessories. The Ultimate 365 skort is just another example of adidas’ commitment to finding a solution for ending plastic waste.

Short sleeve polos will always be in style deep into the year and adidas has great new polos for men and women. The Men’s Statement Print Polo is available in sizes S – 2XL and in a Shadow Green/Mineral Green color. This lightweight fabric lets you move freely through your golf swing and HEAT.DY technology helps to maximize airflow. The subliminal striped print is good looking too!

For cooler weather golfers, adidas’ Go-To Five Pocket Golf Pants are great both on and off the course. The nylon twill fabric gives them a cool, dry feel, and the stretchy fabric lets you move and flex with ease. The classic five-pocket design gives you plenty of room for tees, ball markers, and a scorecard. They are available in a variety of waist sizes and lengths and in five colors: Gray Three, Black, Crew Navy, Bliss, or Shadow Green.

A good pair of pants needs a stylish belt and adidas’ Braided Stretch Belt brings added function too. Not only is it a good-looking accessory, but it also keeps your pants in place while flexing and adapts as you bend and move on the course. It’s available in four colors, Navy, Gray, Black, and Hemp.

Ladies will find that the Essentials Mock Neck Sleeveless Polo combines both comfort and style. The lightweight fabric has stretch to move with you and AEROREADY technology wicks away moisture to keep you dry. The mock neck design features moss stitching for a modern, textured look and the scooped hem finishes the look.  The Essentials Mock Neck Sleeveless Polo is available for ladies in sizes XS-XXL and in either Indigo Navy/White or Black/White.

If you like to play regardless of the weather, adidas has something for both men and women. For ladies, the Embossed ¼ zip Snap Pullover is a golf shirt with a water-repellent coating to help get you through those blustery days on the course with no distractions. The adjustable drawcord at the hem lets you cinch up to keep the elements out so you stay warm. The large side pockets are big enough to store your keys, wallet, and even a phone, but no one has one of those on the golf course! It’s available in sizes XS-XL and in either White or Navy.

Guys will keep warm with adidas’ Adicross Anorak which is made from a stretchy fabric for full mobility and features a large kangaroo packet that you can use to keep your hands warm between shots and a drawcord adjustable hood with a face covering just in case. It’s perfect for playing golf…or shoveling snow! The Adicross Anorak is available in sizes S – XXL and in Trace Blue, Natural Green, or Savannah.

Whether it’s hot and windy or you’re just having a bad hair day, there’s nothing better than a good-fitting and stylish hat. The Ladies’ I’m Not The Cart Girl hat is all of that with a bit of added humor. The pre-curved brim shades your eyes and the adjustable back strap lets you find the perfect fit. It’s available in White, Black, or Semi Turbo.

Nearly all of these adidas products have one thing in common. They are all made in part from recycled material and show the company’s commitment to reducing plastic waste. The I’m Not the Cart Girl Hat is 100% cotton and supports more sustainable cotton farming.

Adidas has you covered regardless of the weather where you live. My advice to golfers up north: Find an indoor Trackman facility where you can wear shorts year-round and look good! To see the entire adidas lineup, visit their website at www.adidas.com and shop by sport.

Vineyard Vines Golf Apparel Helps You Light Up the Fairways

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Another golf season has come and gone up north and you probably noticed several of your playing partners sporting new golf apparel from Vineyard Vines. Here are a few Vineyards Vines pieces that caught our eye this year. Solid Pique Polo is quickly becoming a go-to piece for the ladies. The soft pique fabric is moisture- Want a little more sun? The Short Sleeve Solid Jersey Polo is sewn from Vineyard Vines’ soft performance jersey fabric and features a self-collar with a 4-button placket, and an open hem. It’s moisture-wicking, so you’ll stay dry and cool and the whale logo on the chest helps identify the brand the Sleeveless Solid Jersey Polo is available in sizes XXS- XL and in several colors including Papaya Passion, White Cap, and Deep Bay.

Want a little more sun? The Sleeveless Solid Jersey Polo is sewn from Vineyard Vines’ soft performance jersey fabric and features a self-collar with a 4-button placket, and an open hem. It’s moisture-wicking, so you’ll stay dry and cool and the whale logo on the chest helps identify the brand the Sleeveless Solid Jersey Polo is available in sizes XXS- XL and in several colors including Papaya Passion, White Cap, and Deep Bay.

The Striped Sankaty Polo is a short-sleeve, high-performance polo that blends spandex into the fabric for added comfort, flexibility, and a flattering, feminine fit.  It has a self-collar, a four-button placket with VV logoed buttons, and a smilin’ whale on the chest. The Striped Sankaty Polo is available in sizes XXS – XL and in Crystal Blue. This polo pairs well with a number of Vineyard Vines’ performance skorts.

My favorite ladies’ piece from the new Vineyard Vines 2022 collection is the 17 Inch Scallop Skort. The performance fit gives great mobility and the skort’s moisture-wicking keeps you cool and dry. The undershorts have a silicone gripper at the hem and the two back pockets with seam zippers provide a lot of room for all your golf goodies. The scalloped hem and pocket details look great and there’s a smilin’ whale embroidered above the back pocket. The new 17” Scallop Skort is available in sizes 00 – 18 and in several colors including Stone, White Cap, Deep Bay, and Calm Waters.

If you’re a lady who just feels more comfortable in a golf dress, Vineyard Vines Sleeveless Performance Golf Dress is a perfect choice. It’s sewn from a stretchy performance fabric that moves with you for swing comfort and a full range of motion. It’s moisture-wicking and quick drying so you’ll stay dry your entire round. The back pleating on the skirt adds a nice touch  of style and the zipped collar lets you decide the look. The 5” inseam bike shorts have a secret pocket for balls and tees. The Sleeveless Performance Golf Dress is available in sizes XXS – 3XL and in either Pink Cloud Frost Geo or White Cap.

They may not be acceptable golf attire at some clubs, but the Corded White Jamie Jean Shorts sure look good! Handcrafted from premium Italian denim with a stretch & recovery fabric that creates the perfect fit with subtle cording detail down the side seam. Special wrap-around stretch pocket bags are sewn into the fly for a flattering “holds-you-in” feel and Vineyard Vines’ signature metal hardware gives these denim shorts an authentic feel. There’s also a signature “V” belt loop at the center back waistband and traditional 5-point pockets on the back. The Corded White Jamie Jean Shorts are available in sizes 24 – 33 and in White Cap.

Vineyard Vines’ Sankaty Midi Margo Shirtdress goes from work to play, it’s that comfortable! It’s sewn from their 90% Poly 10% Signature Sankaty fabric with UPF 50+ sun protection and a little Spandex for added stretch. This mid-length garment features side slits at the hemline and is lightweight and airy. There’s a 5-button front placket with a self-collar and the sleeves are elbow-length. The Sankaty Midi Margo Shirtdress is available in sizes XXS – XL and in a Palm/Calm Water Print.

There’s nothing better on a cool fall morning than a good sweater. Vineyard Vines’ Cotton Cashmere Crew Sweater. This great-looking sweater is sewn from an ultra-soft 85 % cotton and 15% cashmere blended fabric and features ribbing at the collar, bottom hem, and sleeve cuffs. The Pink silhouette is garment-washed for a natural worn-in look, with extra detailing at the seams. It’s where luxurious meets laid back! The Cotton Cashmere Crew Sweater is available in sizes XXS – XL and in Knockout Pink

The Americana Relaxed Shep Shirt is a lighter-weight version of their classic Shep Shirt. It’s sewn from their quick-drying performance fabric and the built-in stretch created a comfortable fit. It’s well-branded with a signature Vineyard Vines logo box on the left chest and a Vineyard Vines Patch at the center back neck. This Relaxed Shep Shirt is available in sizes XXS – 3X and in White Cap.

The Stripe Block Terry Shorts from Vineyard Vines take comfort to a whole new level. They are sewn from a comfortable terry cloth fabric in a blocked stripe print with a drawstring at the waistband for the perfect fit. There are two side pockets on the front and one back pocket for ample storage. The embroidered smilin’ whale logo on the back pocket tells your friends your favorite brands. These great-looking Terry Shorts are available in sizes XXS – XL.

Vineyard Vines has been the official style of the Kentucky Derby for the past 10 years. The women’s hat they introduced this year is the Natural Kentucky Derby Floppy Bow Sun Hat. It’s a woven straw hat with a wide floppy brim with a woven seersucker bow. Visit the website and get them at a reduced price while they last!

When the fall weather hits, the On-The-Go 5-Pocket Pants will keep you warm. The cotton-like hand feel is undeniably technical, with a water-repellent finish, and a stretchy, functional fabric that moves with you. The stretch interior waistband provides additional comfort. The fit is straight through the thigh with a slight taper at the ankle and the Rubber coated faux horn buttons add a nice touch. The On-The-Go 5-Pocket Pants are available in sizes 28 – 42 and in a few colors including Blue Blazer, Khaki, Surplus Green, and Seacliff Blue.

You’ll need to keep your upper body warm as well, and the Cashmere Linen Crewneck Sweater from the Jim Nantz Collection pairs well with the 5-Pocket Pants. This great-looking sweater is sewn from a 50% Cashmere and 50% Linen fabric and features a double-knit ribbed neckline, linked seams, and armholes with two rows of fisherman’s rib.

Another great piece from the Jim Nantz Collection is the Palmero Polo, which is available in both long and short sleeves. It’s sewn from the company’s brrr fabric which offers immediate and continuous cooling, moisture-wicking, and rapid drying. The anti-microbial properties will keep you smelling fresh and the UPF 50 fabric finish will keep the sun’s harmful rays at bay. The short has a classic, relaxed fit with built-in stretch and a reinforced collar stand for a cleaner look, and small side vents tailored for movement. There’s a whale dot on the back neck yoke to identify the brand. The Palmero Polo is available in sizes XS – XXL and in 26 different colors & patterns.

The Carmel Polo – also from the Jim Nantz Collection – is sewn from soft-knit jersey fabric and has all of the same features as the Palmero Polo. It’s available in XS – XXL and in Blue Blazer, Pink Cloud, Blue Bay, Cloud, and White Cap.

The 9-inch Stillwater golf shorts are about as technically sound as you can get in a garment. For starters, they have built-in stretch and a flexible waistband for comfort. The fabric is water-resistant and the UPF 30+ sun protection finish keeps you safe from the sun. There’s a hidden zipper and a media pocket that offers extra security when you’re on the move. The 9-Inch Stillwater Shorts are available in sizes 28 – 46 and in several colors including Bayside Blue, Tropical Peach, Stone Blue Blazer, Sharkskin, and Asphalt.

These are just a few pieces from Vineyard Vines’ golf apparel collections for 2022. You can see everything they have at www.vineyardvines.com.