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McCabe: Masters mystique is alive and well

Jim McCabe

AUGUSTA, Ga. – What remains the heart and soul of a practice round during Masters week is “the walk.” You needn’t chase down players to pepper them with questions. You needn’t pursue a topic of conversation. You needn’t investigate or interrogate or interview.

You need only listen, watch, and observe to get an understanding as to why there sits off Washington Road down here a mystique that has no equal in the massive sports landscape. So magical a place is Augusta National that a 61-year-old whose excellence in the game has earned her perpetual glory as a World Golf Hall of Fame member, but whose life feels completes now that she has walked upon the hallowed ground.

“First time for me. I’m just here to soak it all in,” Pat Bradley said. “And to be here because of my little nephew, well, it’s heaven.”

Gifted enough to have won three majors in a season and six in all, Pat Bradley would much prefer to talk about the PGA Championship that her nephew, Keegan Bradley, won last August. Stunning and improbable, that Sunday at East Lake some 140 miles east, the emotions from which remain so strong ...

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Florida resort owner wants an LPGA event

Alex Miceli

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Since expanding her Florida resort portfolio last year, Sheila Johnson has had her eye on playing host to an LPGA event.

Last week at Innisbrook Golf Resort, site of the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship, the entrepreneurial Johnson, head of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, upped the ante for the women’s game. After meeting with a potential sponsor, she spoke about parlaying PGA Tour success into similar gains with the LPGA.

“My first baby step or grand step that I want to make is, I want to secure a LPGA event at our properties,” said Johnson, whose Salamander stable also includes Reunion Resort near Orlando and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast.

Salamander has dubbed its three courses that span mid-Florida from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic “The Legends of Golf Trail.” To that end, Innisbrook hosts the ISPS Legends Tour Open Championship, the season-ending event on the LPGA’s version of the Champions Tour.

The LPGA, with only 15 of its 27 tournaments this year in the U.S., could use more domestic events. The season-ending CME Group Titleholders moved from Orlando to Naples this year. Reunion was site of a regular LPGA stop in ...

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What's your 'birdie yardage'?

Bradley S. Klein

It has taken me years to figure out by rigorous calculation what instinct told me all along. I’m most comfortable and having the most fun when I’m playing tees in the 6,200-yard range. 

My bet is that I’m not alone in wanting to enjoy rather than suffer through a round. I’d also bet that most players in my index range (9.4 trending to 12) are starting from tees that are way too long. From what I see, too many golfers think of their games not in terms of what they usually do, but in terms of what they rarely achieve. If they’ve birdied the occasional 440-yard par 4, they think it’s OK to play courses that are 6,800 yards.

It’s like the player who tries to carry the bunker 240 yards because that’s how far he hits his drives – conveniently not calculating how much ground roll goes into those drives, and overlooking the fact that many drives travel only 185 yards in the air.

Kudos to clubmaker Barney Adams for speaking out last year and suggesting that golfers play courses at yardages they actually could handle. His “Tee it ...

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Tait: Let kids play for free, watch the game grow

Alistair Tait

Want a radical solution to grow the game? Let children play for free.

It’s time to own up to an unpleasant truth – golf is not growing in the western world. It’s shrinking. That’s why we should set the kids free.

There’s never been a better time to join a golf club in the British Isles. There was a time, say, 15 years ago when clubs in my area to the north of London had long waiting lists. No more. Those same clubs are openly advertising for membership. Many have dispensed with joining fees. Yet many are struggling to attract new members.

Some clubs are even going to the wall. Lamerwood in Hertfordshire was a lovely course when it opened in 1996. I had the pleasure of playing there with Retief Goosen. Those were heady days, when clubs like Lamerwood had marketing money to spend on a future U.S. Open champion.

Drive past Lamerwood now and sheep graze on what used to be fairways. Only the discerning eye can pick out what were formerly tees, greens and bunkers. Lamerwood was one of many courses in this part of Hertfordshire looking for business that has long since ...

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In Miami, 36 holes of muni magic

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – The Miami area is well known for its luxury golf resorts, including stalwarts such as Doral, Turnberry Isle and the legendary Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. But the region also has become a bustling scene for public golf, as evidenced by my recent 36-hole day spent on two of the area’s finest municipal tracks: Crandon Golf Course Key Biscayne and Miami Beach Golf Club.

Both courses were packed with golfers, delays between shots weren’t uncommon and I had a hectic 30-minute dash through downtown Miami to get from one to the other in lunch-hour traffic. But I have had few more enjoyable days of golf.

Crandon, located on a barrier island southeast of Miami, is part of a municipal park owned by Miami-Dade County, and once there in its protected natural surroundings, it’s hard to believe you’re just 10 minutes away from downtown Miami.

After eating breakfast in the charming village of Key Biscayne, I teed it up with a pair of friendly Crandon regulars, Alan Raphael and Ed Geller. Our games were similar, I relied heavily on their expertise and we had an absolute blast – despite a wind that gusted to 20-25 ...

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Savoring Mexico's best, one sip at a time

Martin Kaufmann

LOS CABOS, Mexico - After spending a recent morning here playing very bad golf on a very good golf course, I wasn’t averse to the idea of submerging my head in a bottle of some of Mexico’s finest tequila.

Fortunately, Carlos Novelo intervened and provided a more sober introduction to this country’s favorite spirit. Novelo was waiting for me when I arrived at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar, which is only about a 3-wood away from the entrance to Cabo del Sol, home to 36 holes of Nicklaus and Weiskopf goodness.

Novelo was there to give me a CliffsNotes tutelage on the proper way to drink tequila. First lesson: Get a good glass. There’s a time and a place for shot glasses, and this wasn’t it. Novelo brought out fine cognac glasses for our tasting of four tequilas.

“If I want to get drunk, I get tequila and drink shots,” Novelo said. “But if I want to enjoy all of the flavors of tequila, I’ll drink it like this. It’s all about, how do you feel and what are you trying to achieve.”

Second point: Aroma is an important part of the tasting process ...

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Grupo Questro CEO still bullish on Cabo

Martin Kaufmann

Grupo Questro is a major developer in Mexico, and particularly in Los Cabos, where three of its properties – Puerto Los Cabos, Cabo Real and Club Campestre – encompass 5,500 acres. Eduardo Sánchez Navarro, CEO of Grupo Questro, talked with Golfweek about those properties and the outlook for Los Cabos.

Golfweek: How has the Cabo market changed since your company got involved there in the 1980s?

Sánchez Navarro: There used to be nothing in Los Cabos – maybe a couple of hotels, few people traveling there, maybe 5,000 people living in the area. Some of the important things that have happened is that Los Cabos has been developed through integrated developments. At the beginning, you had three really big integrated developments: Cabo del Sol, Cabo Real and Palmilla. When you do integrated developments, the place comes out better because you don’t have segregated parcels. Also, 15 years ago we did the master plan for the whole Los Cabos area. That was very important because it didn’t allow people to come in and do high-rises and allowed us keep it low-density, high-end development. . . .

I think another important point was when we privatized El Dorado. It used to be public, but ...

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Querencia CEO: Baja still has 'tremendous potential'

Martin Kaufmann

LOS CABOS, Mexico – Jorge Carrera was appointed CEO of Querencia, a private golf club and residential community here, in July 2004, just as real estate sales were hitting their peak. Querencia benefited greatly from that, in part because of the quality of its golf course, which was designed by Tom Fazio and is ranked No. 2 on the list of Golfweek’s Best Courses of the Caribbean and Mexico.

More recently Carrera has had to navigate Querencia through recessionary times, which have forced the community to delay development of a second golf course that Gil Hanse has been selected to design. Long term, however, he remains upbeat about prospects for Querencia and the Los Cabos region.

Carrera recently talked with Golfweek about real estate and tourism in Los Cabos.

• • •

Golfweek: What is your assessment of the real estate market here?

Carrera: We had three wonderful years – 2005, ’06 and ’07 were magnificent years. We more than doubled the membership from when we acquired it. We were able to design and build the clubhouse, design and build the infrastructure, utilities, and fiber-optic throughout the whole development for communications, put some product in places like the condominiums and the villas that were ...

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Possible savior for Woods' N.C. design emerges

Golfweek Staff

The Cliffs, the financially troubled network of high-end communities in North and South Carolina that includes Tiger Woods' stalled mountain course, will be under new ownership.

As for the future of High Carolina, the Blue Ridge design south of Asheville that would be Woods' first U.S. creation, that remains uncertain.

Buyers Steve and Penny Carlile, a Marshall, Texas, couple whose Carlile Group intends to buy The Cliffs out of bankruptcy, told the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times that they will inject more money into the clubhouses and golf courses and oversee sales efforts in The Cliffs' eight communities. The Carliles already had a vested interest in the success of the project, which stalled amid the recent economic recession, as property owners at High Carolina. However, fewer than 50 of 1,100 planed lots have been sold there, and only two homes stand in the 3,000-acre development, according to the Citizen-Times.

Steve Carlile called High Carolina "a remarkable property that needs a remarkable solution."

Work on Woods' design was stopped last year, with only about one-fourth of the rough grading reportedly completed.

Tim Cherry, the chief financial officer of The Cliffs, said that ClubCo, the subsidiary that owns the golf ...

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Haversham chief: Travelers ‘tired of putting it off’

Martin Kaufmann

Sam Baker founded Cincinnati-based Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions in 1991, and in the past 21 years has sent more than 10,000 golfers on trips to Great Britain and Ireland. Much of his business is built through relationships formed with club professionals. Ninety-seven percent of Haversham’s customers are members of private clubs, and the company has provided travel services for more than 1,200 golf clubs.

Baker sat down with Golfweek during the PGA Merchandise Show to discuss the state of golf travel.

Golfweek: How was business in 2011?

Sam Baker: We got back last year pretty close to what we were doing before the recession. We finished December with the biggest pre-sell (for 2012) that we’ve ever had, by a lot. The high end of the travel market is back, just like high-end retail is back. The people who shop at Tiffany’s, the people who buy at Burberry’s, those people are back buying. And those are the same people who travel with us.

Golfweek: Did you find that customers who put off taking golf trips the past few years are now coming back?

Baker: The old political science term was slack in the system. Economists ...

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PerryGolf founder sees golf travelers 'resurfacing'

Martin Kaufmann

Gordon Dalgleish and his brother, Colin, co-founded PerryGolf in August 1984. Since then, their company has organized overseas golf trips for nearly 50,000 travelers – mostly to Scotland and Ireland, but also to more far-flung destinations such as New Zealand and South Africa.

During the PGA Merchandise Show, Gordon Dalgleish discussed the golf travel market with Golfweek.

Golfweek: How is 2012 shaping up in the golf travel category?

Dalgleish: 2010 was a bad year, 2011 was slightly disappointing because it started stronger but finished off weaker. 2012 is shaping up with some level of optimism. My sense is that we’re going to have a good improvement over ’11. One trend that we’re seeing is that a lot of repeat customers from 2005, ’06, ’07 – guys who were maybe two- or three-year-cycle travelers – missed a cycle. They’re now resurfacing. They’re thinking, “OK, the world isn’t perfect, we’re not getting any younger, we want to get back to doing things we enjoy as a group.” It’s a fairly noticeable trend when I see bookings come through. 

Golfweek: What’s the state of golf travel to Scotland and Ireland?

Dalgleish: Scotland continues to come back faster ...

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Seventh heaven: Cabo's Ocean rises with new par 3

Martin Kaufmann

As director of golf at Cabo del Sol, a 36-hole facility in Los Cabos, Mexico, Greg Tallman has overseen changes to the resort's signature Ocean Course, a Jack Nicklaus design that is ranked No. 6 among Golfweek's Best Courses of the Caribbean and Mexico. Tallman, who has been at Cabo del Sol for eight years, also has worked through the boom years and the downturn of recent years. 

Golfweek recently spoke with Tallman about the Ocean Course and the golf business in Los Cabos.

Golfweek: What prompted the changes to holes 5, 6 and 7 on the Ocean Course, and what were you hoping to accomplish?

Greg Tallman: When we were re-grassing the greens in 2004 – we took them from TifDwarf to TifEagle – Jack was here and spent two days riding (the course). We basically said, ‘Pretend you have a blank check. Give us every idea of what you would like to do.’ We got a hole-by-hole report on what he would do. (Nos.) 6 and 7 were the major things, and 16 green, which was done immediately because we were replacing the greens at that time, so we went ahead and pushed that back about 25 yards ...

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Amateur hour: A slow warm-up for the Phoenix Open

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – File this one in the Tour Pro Wannabe Department: the inaugural Waste Management’s Scottsdale Open, held Jan. 13-15, served as a civilian-hacker lead-up to the big dance Feb. 2-5 when the PGA boys come to town for the Phoenix Open – arguably the wildest week in golf. If you’re planning to attend that shootout, bring a hard hat, preferably the kind with the handy beer-can holder and plastic hose. Very chic, indeed.

More than 100 polo-shirted bruisers ponied up nearly $2,000 per two-man team to compete for trophies, prizes, the odd snifter of cold lager and copious trays of tasty finger food. That and three rounds of high-quality desert golf on a succession of cold mornings made for a nippy if collegial outing. And yes, I confess to telling my group that we were 15 minutes behind schedule due to someone reciting poetry on the first tee: a Robert Frost delay, I called it. Cymbal crash, if you please, and don’t forget to tip your waiter.

There were three flights in the Scottsdale Open (organized in partnership with the genial folks at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau): gross score; net score and senior-net handicap. Round ...

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Trump goes with his gut on Ferry Point

Bradley S. Klein

NEW YORK - Donald Trump’s proposed management contract of the Ferry Point Golf Course here has met plenty of scrutiny lately. The developer is being scorned as the beneficiary of what critics call a sweetheart deal that would come at the expense of city taxpayers. But the opposition, while enjoying a certain tabloid plausibility, also is misplaced and overlooks some key aspects of the proposal. Meanwhile, the substantive questions that need to be asked concern not Trump but the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation that’s behind the development.

Ferry Point is a 222-acre parcel on the southern tip of Bronx County, N.Y. It sits under the northern side of the Whitestone Bridge and includes shoreline along the East River. For decades, it was an open dump, used in the 1960s for household trash and in the ’70s and ’80s as a dumping ground for construction debris. Plans for a capped landfill to include a golf course have circulated in city planning offices since the early 1990s.

The project finally went to public bid in 2008, with the design contract awarded to the team of Jack Nicklaus and John Sanford. Both are golf course designers, with Nicklaus, the ...

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Baldry: Scotland trip a must for avid golfers

Beth Ann Nichols

The concierge in Edinburgh scoffed at our 6:40 a.m. tee time. Only “naked lady caddies” would get him on a golf course that early in the morning.

But this, we tried to tell him, was the Old Course at St. Andrews, and well worth the sacrifice. Besides, we’d literally won the lottery to secure the tee time.

By 4 a.m., my friend Jenny Kellams and I were on the road, eating Cadbury chocolate and watching the sun rise as we made our way to the "Home of Golf." It was Day 7 of our summer Scottish adventure, and our fifth round of golf.

As we start the New Year, now might be a good time to start planning a wish list. Every serious golfer needs to make at least one trek across the pond. A few pointers from our girls’ trip:

First stop: Kilspindie Golf Club, a delightful little par-69 track (par 70 for the ladies) in Aberlady that serves as an excellent warm-up round for those feeling jet-lagged. (I told my tired friend that if we were men, we’d be playing 36 holes a day! They generally don’t shop.)

Random warning: The Brits ...

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