LA PAZ, Mexico -- Chuck Kaye and Don Edwards sat side-by-side on the clubhouse patio at CostaBaja Golf Club one afternoon in mid-December, nursing beers and enjoying the view of the Bay of La Paz. They had sailed in from Southern California earlier in the day, and had spent part of the afternoon getting their land legs by beating balls on the club’s hillside practice range, just across the highway from the resort’s marina.
The two men have visited Mexico often over the years, and Kaye said they’ve gravitated toward La Paz – on the east coast of Baja, about 130 miles from Cabo San Lucas – because of its beauty and easy access to the Sea of Cortez. For the immediate future, the marina would be his home away from home.
“I’ll be here for a few months, staying in the harbor, cruising the Sea of Cortez and playing golf,” said Kaye, a prominent record producer whose wife and daughter were flying in to join him.
Edwards planned to return home the next day and rejoin Kaye this month. He’s so enamored with the area and the culture that he intended to take a Spanish language immersion ...
Twenty years ago, the public perception of many American golf courses was that they used too much water, too many chemicals and abused wildlife habitat to maintain their lush playgrounds. Genuine environmental stewardship in the industry often was obscured.
Then along came Audubon International, which offered to educate a golf course’s staff about sound conservation practices and then “certify” the course with a seal of approval that carried one of the world’s most recognizable environmental brands: Audubon.
The program proved successful, especially among upscale daily-fee and real estate-dependent courses that increasingly rely on marketing a green image. Today, more than 2,300 courses in the U.S. and 38 other countries are members of Audubon International, while roughly 900 claim, in the industry shorthand, to be “Audubon certified.”
But appearances can be deceiving.
Even after two decades, there is a widespread misconception – among golfers, the industry, news media and even within some environmental groups – that Audubon International’s certification programs are associated with and approved by the National Audubon Society.
They are not.
The 107-year-old Audubon Society, with some 400,000 members and 500 independent state chapters, disavows any connection to the smaller group, states that it has ...
There’s only one downside to golf travel: lugging 75 to 100 pounds of golf clubs and other luggage through airports. A golf travel case alone can weigh nearly 50 pounds, particularly if you stock it with a couple of pairs of shoes, some outerwear and extra golf balls.
It’s imperative that a travel case protect your golf clubs, and it’s helpful if the sheer weight of the loaded case doesn’t rip your arm out of your shoulder socket as you lug it through parking lots and airports and lift it on and off shuttle buses. Here are five good options on the market.
Bag Boy T-700
The skinny: The top of this bag has high-density expanded polyethylene (EPE) foam and impact-resistant PVC to protect your clubs, and an internal strap to secure your golf bag. Inline skate wheels are attached to a PVC base. The lockable, wrap-around zipper opens entirely for easy access, and there’s an oversized pocket for shoes and garments. The T-700, which weighs 8.42 pounds, is available in three colors and carries a one-year warranty.
Club Glove TRS Ballistic
The skinny: The TRS (Train Reaction System) is the choice ...
Not long ago, I was talking with Brad Klein, Golfweek’s architecture editor and resident intellectual, about some of the best books we’ve read related to golf travel. From that conversation, we put together a list of five of our favorite travel books.
The titles described below hardly represent a definitive list, nor are they listed in any particular order. Taken together, however, they hopefully form a good primer on golf travel through the years.
• • •
The Golf Courses of the British Isles, 1910
By Bernard Darwin
Long before there were tour operators organizing excursions to Britain’s trophy courses, Darwin was touting the wonders of links golf. Most of this classic book is devoted to a detailed account of courses in England and Scotland, though he saves space in the final 35 pages to address Ireland and Wales, the latter being home to his beloved Aberdovey – “the course that my soul loves best of all the courses in the world.”
• • •
Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes
By Stephen Goodwin
Algonquin Books, 2006
By any objective measure, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort seemed destined to fail when its first course opened in 1999. It was remote, had volatile weather, frowned ...
Michael Meldman likes to say, “I don’t want to hear about the labor pains, just show me the baby.” That line – borrowed by Al Pacino for his turn in “Ocean’s Thirteen,” in which Meldman had a bit part – gives some sense of the hard-charging style that has made Discovery Land Co., the real estate development firm that Meldman founded, a leader in luxury golf communities.
Those communities include Mountaintop in Cashiers, N.C., and Gozzer Ranch in Arrowpoint, Idaho, home to top-five layouts on the Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses list. Discovery Land’s amenity-rich properties revolve around the golf courses, typically designed by Meldman’s go-to architect, Tom Fazio. While the courses are highly regarded, they’re perhaps best known for their elaborate “comfort stations,” where guests will find everything from soft-serve ice cream sundaes (Meldman’s favorite) to freshly grilled shrimp tacos at El Dorado in Los Cabos, Mexico, to even more elaborate fare.
Meldman, 52, talked with Golfweek about his company’s expansion plans, his improving golf game and his disdain for wearing suits and going to meetings.
GW: What is your assessment of the state of the luxury real estate market?
MM: It depends ...
Golf architecture is unique in the artistic realm, a subtle mixture of skill and imagination, intuition and science.
Whether the architect is a minimalist who shuns major earth-moving projects or a true modernist who prefers aggressive shaping of the land, you’ll typically find he shares a reverence for the classic verities of the masters who preceded him.
“We all study the courses left by such talented individuals as Donald Ross, C.B. Macdonald and Alister MacKenzie, just to name a few,” Ben Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw and his counterparts borrow liberally from the past while adding their own signatures. Some of those signatures carry more of a flourish than others, as architects avail themselves of modern technology to reshape landscapes that might otherwise be seen as nondescript. Perhaps the most famous in that genre is Tom Fazio, whose works are prevalent on various Golfweek’s Best lists.
Fazio grew up carrying his father’s bag at Jeffersonville Golf Club, a Ross design near Philadelphia. In 1963, he began working with his uncle, George Fazio, who lost a playoff with Ben Hogan at the 1950 U.S. Open. Despite that brush with history, George Fazio was better known for his architectural ...
“I have a proposition for you,” Johnny Crawford says to Luke Chisolm, a talented but troubled young Tour pro. “Spend seven days with me in Utopia, we’ll find your game.”
Utopia, population 373, is the remote Texas outpost where Luke has arrived – actually, crash-landed – after the sort of course-management meltdown that would make Jean Van de Velde look like a Faldo-esque tactician. Johnny is the old Tour pro who came to Utopia many years ago to battle his own demons. Their relationship forms the basis of “Seven Days in Utopia,” the movie adaption of sports psychologist David L. Cook’s 2006 book, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia.” The movie opens nationwide in theaters Sept. 2.
A dichotomoy is established between the paternal figures in Luke’s life: his domineering, results-oriented father, who is “counting on” Luke to bring home Tour trophies; and Johnny, who is more interested in the process that leads not just to great golf, but a fulfilling life.
“It’s my brother Johnny that you’re going to get the most from – if you pay attention,” Mabel, Johnny’s sister, tells Luke on his first day in Utopia.
Herbert X. “Tree” Tremont is a multiethnic golf superstar with 14 major championships, a signature apparel line (named Tree Trunk, naturally), a $61 million yacht, several private planes, a swimsuit model for a wife, two adorable children and an overbearing agent.
Tree, the subject of the thoroughly entertaining new book “The Swinger,” seemingly had the perfect life. But for Tree, that wasn’t enough.
“Tree wanted everything,” writes Josh Dutra, the narrator, who plays O.B. Keeler to Tree’s decidedly flawed Bobby Jones. “He wanted the hot nightlife and the kiddie-soccer home life and the glamorous wife and the get-rich-now corporate life that was the foundation of the PGA Tour. To keep it all going, he had to wallpaper his life with lies.”
“The Swinger” serves as evidence that truth sometimes is stranger than fiction. Had it been released two years ago, readers would have laughed at its absurdity.
But “The Swinger” feels more allegorical, with the fictional pretense providing cover for the authors, a pair of Sports Illustrated veterans, to speculate and pontificate on the Woods affair.
The driving force in Tree’s life is his father, Herb, a domineering Vietnam vet who sees his uber-gifted ...
Editor’s note: The Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge will air at noon EDT Saturday, Aug. 6 on ESPN2. The event was played May 3.
• • •
GREENSBORO, Ga. – It’s 8 a.m. on a cloudless spring morning in Georgia’s Lake Country, and the nation’s most grizzled football men are about to get roughed up. Spring ball ended two weeks ago, so for three days, at least, 12 NCAA Division I college football coaches could forget about breaking down game film, they could forget about recruits, they could forget about upcoming two-a-days . . . and focus on reviving their dormant golf games.
The fifth annual Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge may have been just a three-day, one-round, hit-and-giggle at Reynolds Plantation, and the stakes may have been not a conference title but $425,000 in scholarship money, but you wouldn’t know it looking down the practice tee. Frank Beamer is taping his fingers; Houston Nutt is trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep the ball on the 150-yard-wide range; and Sterling Sharpe is working meticulously through his bag, wedge through driver, while his partner, Steve Spurrier, the Ol’ Ball Coach, toils on the opposite end, a white sleeve over his balky right knee. After a few ...
It’s during these warmest days of summer – the Dog Days, as named by the Romans or Egyptians or the French, or maybe even the Amish – that golf seemingly is at its most placid pace. To tee it up with the sun’s arrival is a delight, but so, too, is the game a priceless joy in a warm twilight.
Actually, 18 in the morning and nine to close things out hours later is not a bad way to bookend a warm summer’s day. Certainly, the casual start and peaceful finish would provide plenty of time to consider aspects to the game that deserve thought.
For instance, if there were a chance to be golf czar even for one day, here would be some of the decisions made:
• A moratorium on the Tiger Woods front, to all this tiresome speculation on what he’s been doing and how he’s going to play, who will carry his bag and what color shirt he wears and how his practice drives fly. Empty the pens of all this venom. We get it; you don’t like him and how he lived his life, but enough. Let him play and judgment will ...
Near the end of “Four Days in July,” Jim Huber recalls a point in his career when he was being nudged out of an anchor job at CNN. His boss at the time asked him what he wanted to do “when you grow up.”
Huber’s response: “I wanted to tell stories. . . . I wanted to sit in front of a roaring fire, gather my friends at my feet, and tell them stories that would make them both smile and cry.” That conversation gave rise to a CNN feature called “The Sporting Life,” which, aside from profiling athletes, gave rise to a new adjective at the news channel. When a story required perspective or pathos, the call would go out: “Let’s Huber-ize it.”
In “Four Days,” he attempts the Huber-ization of Tom Watson’s glorious, if unrequited, bid for the 2009 British Open. With reservations, Huber is up to the task, which is tougher than it might seem; in the end, we all know, Watson is going to bogey the 72nd hole and collapse in the playoff.
The avuncular Huber writes the way he talks, or talks the way he writes – I’m not sure which it is. I almost ...
DEAL, England – The only clues as to the time of year are three layers, waterproof trousers and a bobble hat to keep out the cold. Otherwise, Royal Cinque Ports plays as if it’s the middle of summer rather than mid-December.
You have to experience links golf in wintertime to realize why the game began at the seaside. Our forebears weren’t so daft. They knew links turf is good year-round, not just when the summer sun is shining.
With a freeze having wrapped itself around the British Isles like deep rough enveloping a lost ball, Royal Cinque Ports was fast and running, the greens slick, the wind blowing. Just the sort of elements that marked it as a two-time British Open venue.
These classic links form part of a trio of courses the equal of any other threesome in the British Isles. Just east of Sandwich, in a five-mile stretch south toward the seaside town of Deal, three courses – Royal St. George’s, Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s – sit near one another along the North Sea.
Royal St. George’s, this week’s Open venue, is the jewel in the middle of that three-pronged crown. Yet while St ...
In the introduction to “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” the authors make a point of saying the book is “not the history but the story of ESPN.” In truth, it’s neither, owing to a tactical mistake the authors made early on.
The book, a chronological account of the cultural phenomenon that is ESPN, is told through a seemingly endless series of quotes from various personnel, with the authors interjecting occasionally to offer context. The authors interviewed more than 500 people, and some of the self-indulgent quotes drone on for more than a page.
In accompanying press materials, the authors say that they used this oral-history approach because it enhanced “verisimilitude.” In reality, it just enhanced the page count; the book weighs in at an untenable 763 pages – at least twice as long as necessary or desirable. The thought briefly flitted through the cynical region of my brain that James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales opted for this approach because it was easier than developing a historical narrative.
Suffice it to say, this book is long enough, and often tedious enough, that I’m not even going to try to pretend that I’ve read every word, nor do ...
The Rules of Golf today are as much about golf equipment as they are playing the game, with regulations surrounding clubs and balls dominating rules discussions in recent years.
For 26 years, Frank Thomas was in the middle of this rules storm as technical director of the U.S. Golf Association. He knows as much about equipment rules as any golfer on the planet.
This book is full of inside stories. Thomas was there when Karsten Solheim invented square grooves and sued the USGA and PGA Tour after those grooves were declared nonconforming. He was there for the fine-tuning process in the measurement of golf-ball performance. He was there for the modern-metalwood saga.
Thomas was no fan of the 1998 rule that permitted a limited, measurable amount of springlike effect (coefficient of restitution) in metalwoods. However, the USGA, having been through the square-grooves battle, didn’t want another legal confrontation with manufacturers.
“I believe this is an example of how science . . . has been misused in the rule-making process,” he writes of titanium metalwoods and the COR compromise.
At a practice round for the 1976 U.S. Open, Thomas was following Arnold Palmer in what became the genesis of the one-ball ...
SCIACCA, Italy – Rocco Forte sits down to a late lunch – it’s just after 3 p.m. – at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily, and looks very much at home, as he should. Forte built the sprawling seaside resort that opened in 2009, just outside of the town of Sciacca.
It’s a light lunch, just a bit of prosciutto and mozzarella and a glass of white wine, which seems to fit with Forte’s trim, athletic build.
Despite the Italian invasion in pro golf, led by the Molinari brothers and Matteo Manassero, Sicily didn’t get its first real golf course until 1993. And if the island finally has become an attractive golf destination, much of the credit goes to Forte.
“If I didn’t have a passion for golf, I would have never done this,” he said as he recounts some of the difficulties he ran into, including fierce opposition from the Green Party in Sicily and having to buy property from 72 owners to finally get the nearly 600 acres he needed.
“This is by far the most luxurious resort that exists in Sicily, and it’s one of the ...