Central Florida’s Sebring International Golf Resort is the Future of Golf!

Central Florida’s Sebring International Golf Resort is the Future of Golf!

Helmut 'H3' Wyzisk III is demonstrating the Future of Golf at the Sebring International Golf Resort!

Helmut ‘H3’ Wyzisk III is demonstrating the Future of Golf at the Sebring International Golf Resort!

Meet Helmut Wyzisk III, visit Sebring International Golf Resort, and play “The Twelve” and you can see, feel, and start to experience the Future of Golf!

Known as ‘H3,’ Wyzisk is a dynamic personality, the face of the Orlando family and the Signature H Property Group intent on transforming the 352-acre Sebring International property and in so doing be a showcase for where the game of golf is going—in terms of playing grounds, residential communities and golf tourist destinations, and additional amenities!

CLICK HERE for Video Interview with Helmut ‘H3’ Wyzisk.

The vision is all-encompassing—the transformation of a 45-hole property with so much room one can easily get lost—future residential and commercial development to complement the existing community of 4,500 people.—and future new amenities in terms of sports fields such as Boccee Ball, Shuffleboard, Pickleball to complement the new and present golf course called “The Twelve!”

2The Twelve is a short course with front tees ranging from 43 to 101 yards and back tees ranging from 65 to 148 yards. The Twelve reminded me on The Nine at Augusta National Golf Club that hosts the annual Wednesday Par-3 contest to kickoff The Masters competition in most years, hopefully again this year in April 2021!

But The Twelve, unlike the Augusta short course, has some teeth in it courtesy of slopes on and around the greens and runoff areas. Don’t expect every ball hit on the green to come off the back or sideboard and roll into the hole. Bowl-like creampuff hole locations are limited! But as ‘H3’ says in the interview it is a lot of fun to play and there are some hole locations that are surely receptive to an ace! My first shot on the first hole ended up as a gimmie and I have the video and pics to prove it!

CLICK HERE to see Andy nearly ace the first hole on The Twelve!

The Twelve is a course for juniors to learn to play the game or maybe even have a first date on a warm leisurely evening when they crank up the outdoor sound system embedded throughout the course. Seniors will come out swinging to Frank Sinatra too! Play a round in an hour or play around and take a little bit more time between the strokes! This is relaxed, entertaining, and fun golf! Golfer—woman and men or mixed—trips take notice of the onsite lodging and be sure to have a drink with you while playing The Twelve to finish off any unfinished business from an earlier round of 9, 18, or 27 on the remaining Panther and Cougar holes.

So much has been done in such a short period of time since the purchase in 2019!

H3 sharing his vision from the high point of the 'New Nine' which is being reconfigured, changed, and upgraded!

H3 sharing his vision from the high point of the ‘New Nine’ which is being reconfigured, changed, and upgraded!

Next time you Google Sebring Twelve, The Twelve Holes of Golf are as likely to come up as the Twelve Hours of Sebring on the nearby Sebring Raceway!

What is even more intriguing was the safari-like golf cart tour that took us past one particular large alligator as we seemingly went along all 17 miles of canals on the property to a very special ‘H3’ spot. Upon a high ground that surveys most the acreage, H3 pointed here and there to describe the new championship 9 holes that will be emerging from some of the current tees, fairways, and greens. It reminded me of when I toured the Olympic Golf Course with Gil Hanse and his Merry Man in early 2014. At the time it was a well-designed sand box. The new Sebring Nine is already green, already envisioned, and like The Twelve will become a reality sooner-or-later,

Our time at Sebring International was limited. I was intrigued of talk about the repositioning of a second clubhouse and nine holes for large-scale private parties and corporate events. I look forward to returning to see the Future of Golf as it emerges at Sebring International!

Here is some more background information from the Sebring International Golf Resort and Signature H websites:

As the resort enters a new chapter, it is being re-branded as the Sebring International Golf Resort. This new name provides the foundation to become the premier golf resort in Sebring, while attaining prominence through the US and internationally. The new logo reflects the natural property’s abundance of trees, waterways and paths. Additionally, the checkered accent pays homage to the impactful racing history established at the neighboring Sebring International Raceway.

Signature H Property Group formed a strategic partnership with XUDE Hospitality, lead by golf industry veterans Mike Miraglia and Jerry Moore, to manage resort operations. The XUDE team has a proven track record in revenue generation, membership growth, operating efficiency, construction and renovation in properties of all sizes – including golf courses, country clubs, resorts, hotels, and real estate developments.

Our fantastic golf courses – 27 holes of championship and the brand new 12-hole Short Course, The Grille and The Pub for your drinking and dining pleasure, the conveniently located villas where you can stay close to all the action, and our friendly staff all combine to make your experience here a memorable one.

Sebring International Golf Resort offers a wide selection of equipment and apparel to compliment your game. Stop by our fully stocked Pro Shop before or after your round and browse through our name brands.

Our friendly staff will help you make start times, rent golf carts, and register you and your guests before each round of golf. An excellent selection of merchandise is sold in the Pro Shop, and golf lessons are available. Contact the Pro Shop for assistance, or to make an appointment for lessons.

Sebring International Golf Resort offers a putting green and driving range for practicing before your round or honing your skills anytime when you are not on the course.

Sebring International Golf Resort has staff available for lessons. What better way to take your game to the next level this year? Make time to perfect your swing and improve your golf game today. Simply contact our Pro Shop to speak with our professional staff and schedule your lesson with our PGA Professional, Craig Bendall.

Weddings & Banquets–a buffet table is sets up for a banquet at Sebring International Golf Resort

Our team at Sebring International Golf Resort is committed to the success of your event. From the planning, implementation and final wrap-up, we are here to serve you. We offer a variety of complete hassle-free event packages to choose from or we will customize one to fit your specific needs.

Sebring International Golf Resort is a 27-hole (9 holes are under renovation) destination resort also including a 12-hole Short Course centrally located in Sebring, Florida.

We are conveniently located within 3 miles of Sebring International Raceway, Sebring Airport, and Lake Istokpoga; the 5th largest freshwater lake in the State of Florida. We are midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and equally close to Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and the Palm Beaches. We currently feature the 18-hole Cougar Trail Golf Course.

A 12 hole Short Course opened in October 2020, as well as another 9-hole championship course currently under renovation. We offer villas with all the comforts of home, so you can stay where you play! Our travel experts are ready to help you plan an unforgettable golf trip.

Golf Packages can be arranged by contacting the Sebring International Golf Resort Villa Rental office. Our privately owned villas are all fully furnished 2 and 3 bedroom units with screened lanais, full kitchens, living rooms, and laundry facilities.

A variety of bedding configurations are available. Some units are also pet friendly. Our villas are within a half-mile of everything you need, The Grille, The Pub, The Pro Shop, driving range, putting green and the golf course.

 

Play River Greens GC in Avon Park, Florida: The Heart of the Citrus Golf Trail!

Rodney Davis, Owner & Operator of the River Greens GC in Avon Park, Florida.

Rodney Davis, Owner & Operator of the River Greens GC in Avon Park, Florida.

River Greens GC is one of those golf courses that when you play it, for all the right reasons, you know it is family owned and operated! Meticulously groomed, cared for and operated by the husband-wife team of Rodney and Lisa Davis this is one to play on the Citrus Golf Trail in Avon Park, Florida.

I enjoyed interviewing Rodney but have to admit he saved the day! After rolling in a grapefruit gimmie, he whipped out his jack knife to extract the grapefruit from the hole for me! A ‘Jack-of-All Trades,’ Rodney is one of those self-made successful Entrepreneur Extraordinaire!

Lisa Davis manages the golf shop and I am sure lots of other parts of the operation too!

Lisa Davis manages the golf shop and I am sure lots of other parts of the operation too!

Back in West Lafayette, Ohio Rodney and his brother had to convince their farmer father to build the first nine holes by first answering Dad’s first question—”What the hell is a golf course?” After building the first nine holes, it was evident the very next year that it was a success and another nine holes should be built instead of planting corn! A third nine was built up at the brother course in 1994. Enough said about the River Greens golf course in Ohio!

After the on-the-job experience of building 18 golf holes Rodney’s plan was to go to Penn State for Turf Grass. A wise professor assessed that he knew nearly as much as his graduating students and told him to walk out the door and never look back! He did just that and arrived in Florida at age 18!

The inaugural Citrus Golf Trail Open will be played December 2nd through the 5th, 2021! Register now!

The inaugural Citrus Golf Trail Open will be played December 2nd through the 5th, 2021! Register now!

He was wise enough to hire the pretty girl with pigtails to work in the pro shop and then even wiser to marry her! The golfers living 60 miles south of Disney in the Sebring—Avon Park—Lake Placid area and those smart enough to book a trip on the Citrus Golf Trail have benefited even since!

Just thinking how exciting it would be to compete in the inaugural 2021 Citrus Trail Open (December 2nd to the 5th, 2021) playing River Greens where the 3 of the last 4 holes are par-5s!

This is a link to the Rodney Davis River Greens interview.

Enjoy the pics! Go play River Greens as soon as possible!

This is a link to register for the Citrus Golf Trail Open!

Citrus Golf Trail; Fire Up a Sebring 12 Corvette and Hear Her Roar!

1Admittedly I am not a muscle man or a muscle car man! Never been to a professional car race. Always a golf guy that got a thrill out of hitting a drive, iron, or putt on the sweet spot and seeing it fly true and straight on course or rolling true and straight on course before dropping in the hole! Sweet & solid, but rarely straight is what I am trying to say!

But then John Story, Senior Director for Marketing, Business Development & Communication for the Sebring International Raceway, home to the Sebring 12, let me sit in his Corvette and turn of the ignition! WOW! What power! Put me in John and let me race her around the track once or twice! Pretty Please!!!

CLICK HERE to Hear this Baby Get Fired up! Hear her Roar!!!

So I once was a passenger in a Corvette going around the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas (courtesy of a Gino business meeting) and we got her up to 187 miles an hour! The slope on the racetrack was amazing! More severe and gratefully more uniform than the slopes of that buried elephant on the 14th green at Augusta National.

2My second racing story has to do with Watkins Glen International, founded and organized in 1948 by Cameron Argetsinger, not far from my hometown of Binghamton, New York. My high school buddy Mark knew the “Judge,” Mr. Argetsinger’s eldest son, the retired judge J.C. Argetsinger. We spent the day at the International Motor Racing Research Center just talking with J.C. checking out the collections and watching some old videos!

3What is most memorable of the day and the funniest thing to me is that at the end of the day J.C. suggested we take a ride around the old yet original 6.6-mile circuit that wind through the streets of Watkins Glen and out into the country a bit. Judge had a pick up truck and I had driven Mark so as fate would have it there I am driving the son of the founder of Watkins Glenn around the race track in my 2008 Honda Accord!

I took it slow as J.C. pointed out all the famous happenings of the race where so-and-so went off the road here and so-and-so passed so-and-so there! If it was golf it would be like walking by the 16th green at August where Mr. Nicklaus made that putt in the 1986 Masters, then around Pebble Beach where Tiger won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes, then being on the 18th green at Winged Foot when Davis Love III won the 1997 PGA Championship, and finally a quick trip across the pond to see Mr. Palmer, a 2-time Open champion, wave goodbye for the last time on the Swilican Bridge on the Old Course at St. Andrews!

Vivid imagination; yes!

I wish I was on the Sebring Racetrack at Sebring when I was revving up John’s corvette!

PS: Mr. Greg Wise would later win the Closest-to-the Pin on the last at ‘The Twelve’ at Sebring International Golf Resort on the Citrus Golf Trail fam trip. His prize? A ride around the track in a corvette, hopefully driving! A master of hitting fairways, let’s all hope (and pray) that he keeps it on the track!

Florida’s Citrus Golf Trail; When You Go, Experience the Faded Bistro & Beer Garden!

1Florida’s Citrus Golf Trail; When You Go, Experience the Faded Bistro & Beer Garden!

If you are ever driving south of Orlando on Route 98 and are looking for a unique & entertaining restaurant for a good meal then the Faded Bistro & Beer Garden in Sebring, Florida is the place to go!

A great recommendation by Casey Wohl Hartt of Visit Sebring!

 

4WOW! Like eating in the Garden of Eden with all the bells, whistles, and flowers especially around Christmas time! Our table was naturally sequestered and secluded a midst all the greenery and shrubbery! I highly recommend the “Get Faded Margarita,” which is one of four signature cocktails! Three other adult beverages contain vodka, rum, and infused (moon) shine from the local Sugar Sand Distillery, a true farm-to-bottle operation! Check out the flowers in the attached pictures!

3This brainchild of Bob and Tiffany Cadzow was started in September 2017 and you will think it is many decades old! Had to be a nursery to begin with and certainly has grown and flourished with their vision and TLC!

“Caladium Capital of the World” is Sebring and you will find many, many varieties of the “Heart of Jesus” in the gardens of the Faded Bistro!

If I lived in the Triple Cities of Sebring, Lake Placid, and Avon Park this would definitely be my watering hole! All part of the Citrus Golf Trail, the Value Golf Capital of the World! Thanks for the great recommendation Casey Wohl Hartt!

#CitrusGolfTrail #CitrusGolfTrailOpen #VisitSebring

Visit Sebring

Faded Bistro & Beer Garden

(Andy Reistetter; Facebook Post with 29 Pics; 12-23-20)

Florida’s Citrus Golf Trail; Celebrating Christmas at the Jacaranda Hotel in Avon Park!

Christmas started for me a couple of weeks ago the moment I stepped inside the Jacaranda Hotel in Avon Park about an hour south of Orlando! Maybe it was the historic building, maybe it was all the decorations, or maybe it was old-timer Jeff Klein sitting there playing the old grand piano like he has for decades! What ever it was it was a magical experience much like waking up on Christmas morning when I was a kid! What a nostalgic place with an awesome holiday buffet lunch!
All part of the Citrus Golf Trail, the Value Golf Capital of the World! Like my hometown Triple Cities this area includes Sebring and Lake Placid (Florida not New York though there is a Dewey Decimal connection) along with Avon Park! Many great golf courses, hotels and other sites to see! Thanks for the great recommendation Casey Wohl Hartt! Merry Christmas to All!

Heading South to Explore the Citrus Golf Trail in Sebring, Avon Park, & Lake Placid, Florida!

Time to head South and explore the Citrus Golf Trail and the towns of Sebring, Avon Park, and Lake Placid, Florida!

Citrus-Golf-Trail-COLOR-1536x444Yes, you read correctly—Lake Placid, Florida; not Lake Placid, New York! They are Sister Cities and have one very important person in common—Dr. Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging library books. My kind of guy and my kind of town—Loj – the spelling of Lake Placid in Dewey’s simplified spelling approach. Not that I understand that or could find a book in the library if I had to!

VisitSebringLogoFinalLake Placid is also the Caladium Capital of the World! And YES I had to look it up too! With common names such as the Heart of Jesus and Angel Wings this is sure to be another one of my Spiritual Journeys too! Large Murals are present as well I hear!

Avon Park—the City of Charm with the authentic taste of Old Florida and the sweet taste of the area’s vibrant citrus industry.

 

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Sebring—namesake and host city for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Hint it is not a 12-hour round of golf or sleeping in! Sounds like something right up Bill Hughes’s “Alley!” Sebring is also known as “The City on the Circle.” Interested to check that out as I have a sort of Savannah pictured in my mind but with no corners!

I will be staying at the Inn on the Lakes which features stunning views that overlook the lakes and a wonderful gourmet dining experience at Chicanes! I like the address too—Golfview Road…

Other stops include a Distillery and another restaurant called Cowpokes Watering Hole which I know I will love just by the name of it!

Logo - Sun N LakeOpened in April 2018 by founder Don Davies, Sugar Sand Distillery is an estate-grown sugarcane farm distillery. Don Davies’ Distillery is a true Farm-To-Bottle operation which I hope to make a true Farm-To-Bottle-To-Mouth operation!.

But if you know me it is all about the golf, both historically and futuristically! Five courses in two days! Hey is the Masters cane get it done with limited sunlight in November, Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary can make it happen in December too!

sebring logoSebring Municipal GC, a 1925 W. H. ‘Bert’ Way design. Protege from England of Willie Dunn. Love the story where he followed Dunn to Biarritz, France but only lasted through one winter there! Sure to have played Dunn’s Signature Biarritz long par-3, long green hole many times. Then Way finds “his way,” following Dunn to America and introduces John D. Rockefeller to the game of golf, designs Firestone CC, and makes his way South to design Sebring Municipal GC! Way would eventually die in Florida two weeks shy of his 91st birthday. What a life!

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Twelve? Not Race Hours but new Golf Holes! This is Golf Country too!

Futuristically (it is a word, I looked it up), you have Helmut Wyzisk III, President of Signature H Property Group buy the old Spring Lake Golf Resort a year ago. His plan to Revitalize, Rebrand, & Reposition the now Sebring International Golf Resort is impressive! I am excited to see the progress of the transformation of two existing 18-hole golf courses into one 27-hole Steve Smyers designed championship course and to play a newly constructed 12-hole short course!

rg logo 2Also on the rota for thus trip is River Greens Golf Course, a Jack Kidwell 1969 design owned & operated by the Davis Family—Lisa & Rodney! The Sun ‘n Lake Golf Club (love that name!) with its two golf courses—the longer 1976 Don Dyer designed Deer Run GC and the shorter 1999 Charles Ankrom designed Turtle Run GC.

Pinecrest Golf Club-01The Grand-Daddy (not me though I am one!) of them all to play (taking my hickory-shafted golf clubs) will be Pinecrest, a 1926 Donald Ross design! Pinecrest was the original host for the first 5 years of the JCPenney Classic (then called the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome) beginning in 1960 (inaugural won by Jim Turnesa and Gloria Armstrong)

And that is what this Citrus Trail Golf Fam Trip is all about—reviving the golf heritage of the area by re-instituting an amateur version of the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome. Press Conference on Thursday morning! More details about the Citrus Golf Trail Open Tournament coming soon… Save the Date—December 2-5, 2021!

#CitrusGolfTrail #VisitSebring #CitrusGolfTrailOpen

PS: All COVID Precautions are being taken and will be in place throughout this road trip!

Citrus Golf TrailOpen_Logo_FINAL

A Winter’s Walk around Charleston, South Carolina with my Grand Puppy Blue Bear!

What better than an early Winter’s Walk around Charleston, South Carolina with my Grand Puppy Blue Bear!

Nice afternoon walking around Charleston with Blue Bear! He is such a good travel companion! Interested in everybody & everything just like me! TROML Baby (An Exclamation of Joy and Gratitude)!!! 🙂❤🐶👍   (Facebook Post, Andy Reistetter, 11-29-20, with 30 Pics

 

 

Did some ‘Golf Bathing’ at Ron Tyre’s Laurel Island Links in Kingsland, Georgia!

Did some ‘Golf Bathing’ at Ron Tyre’s Laurel Island Links in Kingsland, Georgia!

I did some ‘Golf Bathing’ yesterday Sunday afternoon at Laurel Island Links Golf Club, my course away from home! I love walking 9 holes especially when the cost is only $10! A great 1996 Davis Love III signature design! Expertly owned, managed, & operated by the legendary Georgian Boy Wonder Ron Tyre! What value, what great exercise! Absolutely spectacular salt marsh views in two places on the first nine- holes 2/3 and then again at 6/7! I think they are the best salt marsh views in all of the Southeast! My biggest and only complaint about playing golf these days! The littering of golf balls! C’mon people pick up your darn golf balls, why are you leaving them behind? I have to pick them up, clean them up, & then take them to the First Tee of Jacksonville! Heard about ‘Hiking Bathing on my favorite TV show

CBS Sunday Morning yesterday, sounded interesting but ‘Golf Bathing’ is the BEST! Play well! 😃😎🏌️‍♂️🏌️🏌️‍♀️⛳️⛳️⛳️👍👍👍
(Facebook Post, Andy Reistetter, 10-26-20, with 30 Pics)

Here’s Your Invitation to Come, Stay & Play at the Newly Renovated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club!

20200922_073646In Northeast Florida, on what local folks call the First Coast of Florida, there lies on the Atlantic Ocean an enchanted destination called the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. One who has come to Ponte Vedra Beach before knows that there is the Old Ponte Vedra and then there is New Ponte Vedra. Both have transformed themselves in ways related to golf.

The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club sits in the center of the Old Ponte Vedra. Discovered in the early 20th Century, Ponte Vedra Beach was once called Mineral City because of the titanium and other mineral gems found here. Ironically, in the 1970s titanium would transform the performance of driving clubs in the game of golf. Boosted by the growth of the game, the PGA TOUR would seek a new permanent place to call home and find that home in the New Ponte Vedra.

20200923_195354The Heart of Ponte Vedra Beach is the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. This AAA Five-Diamond rated resort kept on beating since its birth in 1928 and is stronger than ever with its latest transformations. As it nears its centennial celebration, the Ocean and Peyton Houses—oceanfront accommodations—have been torn down and rebuilt to include 41 ultra-modern and extremely comfortable rooms and suites. Just across the street the Southeast’s favorite driving dream destination has now completed its renovation of the Ocean Golf Course. Remember that this historic links was the first golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach with the very first par-3 island green in the entire world!

20200923_200840The Ocean Course was renovated by famed golf course architect Bobby Weed, who incidentally renovated the sister, shorter yet as sporty, Lagoon Course in 2007. Though a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, its favored architect son is known throughout the world through his work at the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s. The ‘architect of architects’ Weed built from scratch the design and construction force which would became known as the TPC Network of golf courses. Now numbering 32 golf courses, the PGA TOUR branded clubs host 20 PGA TOUR events over its six tours! None of them more major than THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach!

CLICK HERE for VIDEO Interview with Bobby Weed!

With Bobby Weed at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club,

With Bobby Weed at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club,

Since Weed left the PGA TOUR in the mid 1980s he has designed four additional TPC courses. He left to rejoin the legendary Peter Dye after first working with him as an apprentice. Now a Dye collaborator, Weed’s relationship with Dye would number 45 years until Pete’s passing earlier this year. Since being on his own, Bobby has designed over a dozen new courses, most notably Michael Jordan’s course—The Grove XXIII, and renovated another twenty or so including the two at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

While the modern pedigree of the Ocean and Lagoon Courses is unquestionable, so too is it’s ancestry. In fact, the design of the Ocean Course has roots in the very Coming of Golf to America. The man who laid out the golf course in 1931 was the Englishman Herbert Strong who was a charter member of the PGA of America in 1917 and its first treasurer. In 1961 the first nine holes of the Lagoon Course were designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr., the second nine in 1977 by the prolific Joe Lee who mentored under the tutelage of the legendary Dick Wilson.

Photo Credit: Society of Golf Historians (Twitter).

Photo Credit: Society of Golf Historians (Twitter).

The Ocean Course was poised to host the 7th Ryder Cup, the first time that it was to be contested in Florida, in November 1939. The captains—Walter Hagen for the United States and Henry Cotton for Great Britain (pre-European Ryder Cup days)—had already selected most of their players before it was canceled on September 3rd by the British PGA because of the Declaration of War with Germany. Rumor has it that Captain Hagen vowed for the Ryder Cup to return to Ponte Vedra but it never did. Restarted in 1947 in Oregon with the financing of a Portland businessman, the Ryder Cup eventually came to Florida in 1983 at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens.

On a personal note, the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club was the focus of my attention when I first arrived in Ponte Vedra Beach in 2008. I went there first to watch high school golf and later in 2012 to report on a World Junior Golf Series event being hosted personally by Herb Peyton—the local philanthropist, owner, and patriarch of the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. At the evening banquet, while Mr. Peyton welcomed and entertained the young amateur golfers from around the world by proudly whistling for them without moving his lips, Ty Votaw from the PGA TOUR wondered out loud and asked the assembled princesses and princes of golf a poignant question: How many of you will compete in the 2016 Golf Olympics in Rio de Janeiro or more likely, because of their age, in the 2020 Golf Olympics in Tokyo?

Soothing motorcycle rides down Ponte Vedra Beach Boulevard during the pandemic...

Soothing motorcycle rides down Ponte Vedra Beach Boulevard during the pandemic…

Of course I was the youngest-at-heart person in the room and a seed was planted that would germinate in me the following spring when the idea came to me at The Masters to take a ‘Journey to Olympic Golf.’ The thought of a golf writer to visit previous Olympic cities to extract the Olympic Spirit, then combine it with the history and tradition of golf, to define the Spirit of Olympic Golf, something no one on earth had experience in over one century of time. So in October of 2013 I embarked on a 100-day, 14-country, 18,471-mile odyssey that culminated in walking the new Olympic Golf Course with architect Gil Hanse and his team. In 2016, I would return to Rio for a month to envelop myself in the Summer Olympics to experience every moment of the men and women’s Olympic Golf competitions!

The 18th hole in mid April during the renovation...

The 18th hole in mid April during the renovation…

More recently, in this year of pandemic with social distancing and isolation setting in, a sun-setting motorcycle ride down the mansion-lined Ponte Vedra Boulevard through the graceful and palm tree-lined Inn & Club property brought stability, warmth, and hope into my life. I watched as the sandy dunes of the three finishing holes were again transformed into lush green fairways! While riding along I would envision how I would play the tricky par-3 16th hole, the difficult par-4 17th with its mountain of a green, perhaps the highest point in St, Johns County, certainly east of the Intracoastal Waterway, and the straight-away par-18th, a welcoming home hole felt like no other. The Heart of Ponte Vedra Beach kept my heart beating too!

So when I was asked to join in on a media day to play and experience the Bobby Weed newly renovated Ocean Course of the famed Ponte Vedra Inn and Club I was not only delighted but overjoyed too!

 CLICK HERE for a VIDEO of the famed Island Green par-3 9th Hole on the Ocean Course!

The new 178-yard par-3 13th hole!

The new 178-yard par-3 13th hole!

As for the actual renovation of the Ocean Course it is rather simple to state: it is glorious and extremely well done! I will defer to the glory to the pictures taken and shared below and your own future playing experience. I will simplify the layout changes made—the 10th hole was replaced by a world-class practice facility and a magnificent 178-yard par 3 13th hole was added on the north end of the property between the now split up to-and-from par-5 holes. Pristine land was consumed to make a better golf course in the wealthiest county in all of the state of Florida. I hope Mr. Peyton gets credit for this as one of his continuing philanthropic endeavors. The now 88-year old heck-of-a-regular guy unlike you and me commented after hammering his ceremonial course-opening first tee shot that he would no longer need to address any questions of an inferior practice range associated with a world-class golf course.

Make no mistake, this renovation was a complete renovation both above ground and below ground. In fact the renovation including moving ground as several greens were lowered. Most notably the island green on the par-3 9th hole has been visually enhanced making it easier to focus in on the target and then, if the ultimate success presents itself, to witness one’s ace of a lifetime!

All par shooters on the new 13th green (from Left to Right: Andy Reistetter, Mike Carroa, Rick Coffey, and Adam Schupak)!!!!

All par shooters on the new 13th green (from Left to Right: Andy Reistetter, Mike Carroa, Rick Coffey, and Adam Schupak)!!!!

I took note of one of Weed’s subtle design features as I prepared for my pitch into the par-5 12th green. There is a ridge that traverses the fairway about 15-20 yards short of the putting surface. The ridge appeared to me to be similar in shape to the ones created when the receding waters of the ocean hit the incoming waves on the glistening beach. Mesmerized a bit, I realized that it was the fairway equivalent of a false front of a green—hidden fairway that makes a shot appear shorter than it is in reality. Now thinking that I would not be deceived by the optics, I swung with grace but muffed my pitch eventually making a bogey instead of birdie. Golf is a game of instinct and minimal reaction. The beauty of golf course architecture is to be consumed yet not thought upon prior to the playing a stroke!

The pictures included speak of the beauty of this course renovation and the words of the video interview with Bobby Weed afterwards reveals some of his genius and perspectives of the two courses he has renovated at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. When I noted that everyone in our foursome—golf writer and biographer Adam Schupak, radio personality ‘Caddie Mike’ Corrao, Golf Channel National Sales Manager & Ringer Rick Coffey, and Yours Truly—had parred the new par-3 13th hole he responded in a Dye-less manner something like ‘Good Job.’

A heartfelt welcome from Michael Gordon, Vice-President and Resort General Manager. I am sure he will do the same for you!

A heartfelt welcome from Michael Gordon, Vice-President and Resort General Manager. I am sure he will do the same for you!

Come, stay, and play golf with your titanium driver at the Gem of Ponte Vedra Beach—at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its beautiful Ocean and Lagoon Golf Courses! Then when you go home you will take the memories of wonderful family times, romantic couple getaways, and magnificent golf in your mind and heart!

I would like to thank Michael Gordon, Vice-President and Resort General Manager and Jim Howard. Director of Golf for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary; Barbara Karasek of Paradise Advertising and James Cramer of CBJ for arranging! What a notable day in the history of the Ponte Vedra Beach Inn and Club!

 

Pictures from the renovated Ocean Course! Check out the wildlife!

Below the pictures are posts and selected comments from Facebook!

 

(Facebook Post with 30 Pics; 9-23-20; Andy Reistetter; 63 Likes; 24 Comments; 6 Shares):

Magical day at the AAA Five-Diamond rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club playing the newly Bobby Weed renovated Ocean Course. The course always was a test of golf and fun to play; more so now even in a brutal 2-club Nor’easter cross wind! Only par on the first nine was a par on the par-5 3rd hole courtesy of a Rahm/DJ-like 30-footer! My injured right heal loosen up for the second none as I managed 5 pars and a respectable Phil Lago-like score of 40. The greens run true and the fairways are well-grassed so it is hard to believe the course just opened up last Friday after a one-year renovation!

Designed originally by PGA of America charter member Herbert Strong, once redesigned by Robert Trent Sr, and now twice by famed architect Bobby Weed. If you know the TPC golf course network then you know Bobby Weed who started up and managed both the design and construction business for the PGA TOUR in the early 1980s. He just finished Michael Jordan’s golf course in Hobe Sound called The Grove XXIII. This course is posed to be a classic for another century!

The culinary experience under Chef de Cuisine Erik Osol were as exceptional as the golf! The blackened Mahi-Mahi sandwich was outstanding and of course the Arnold Palmer refreshing after a morning of swinging, wind, and sunshine!

Much more will be written about this ‘Play-Write’ golfing and dining experience. Obviously from the score you can tell I missed the warm-up at the new Practice Facility! Everyone in our foursome parred the new par-3 13th! What a day!

Many thanks to Vice President and Resort General Manager Michael Gordon; Head PGA Golf Professional Jim Howard and James Cramer of CBJ Communications and Barbara Emener Karasek of Paradise Advertising for hosting Andy’ Golf & Travel Diary!

Selected Comments:

Phil Lago: Andy, great article and pictures! You have captured the excitement we have experienced since Friday. The course is a true gem… I feel blessed to be able to play this course at least three times a week. I am looking forward to playing it without the northeaster wind that has been around this past week. 🙂 I second your kudos to Bobby Weed and wish to thank Jim Howard and his amazing staff. As good as the course his is, the men and women take such good care of us… I only hope they know how much we appreciate it.

Stan Lisk: I think I played there in the 70’s. Had the first Island green?

Mitch Laurance: Great stuff, Andy. Bobby is the real deal. 👍

 

(Facebook Post with 1 Video; 9-23-20; Andy Reistetter; 50 Likes; 12 Comments; 2 Shares):

CLICK HERE for VIDEO Interview with Bobby Weed!

Great interview with famed golf course architect Bobby Weed about one of the best golf & vacation destinations in the world right here in our back yard!🙋

Selected Comments:

Ann Dye: Bobby is a family favorite, Andy!

Phil Lago: Good interview. The ocean course had become old and tired. Bobby breathed new life into it and gave it some modern lines and a health that will carry it for a long time to come.

Pate Clarson: Great work!

 

(Facebook Post with 1 Video; 9-23-20; Andy Reistetter; 51 Likes; 25 Comments; 0 Shares):

 CLICK HERE for a VIDEO of the famed Island Green par-3 9th Hole on the Ocean Course!

Island Green Par-3 9th Hole… Ponte Vedra Inn & Club… Bobby Weed Renovation… deceptive… fake news… listen for the ‘kaplunk

Selected Comments:

Steve Johnson: Ya need more club ! LOL Andy, love PVI&C…two fun tracks…!

Gary Denman: I play an 8 iron on that hole . I like the new funnel in the middle of the green

Michael J. Corrao: It was at least a 3-club wind Andy! Great day my friend!

 

(Facebook Post with 1 Link; 10-7-20; Andy Reistetter; 5 Likes; 2 Comments; 0 Shares):

CLICK HERE for the LINK to the Bobby Weed Interview on the Bobby Weed Golf Design website!

Nice to be credited by Bobby Weed Golf Design @weed_golf

Ocean Course Media Day – Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary

Long-time area resident Bobby Weed spoke with golf writer Andy Reistetter at the @pontevedrainnclub’s Ocean Course.

Weed shared his insights on this fun, year-long capital improvement project.

Video credit: Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary

 

(Facebook Post with 7 Pictures; 9-21-20; Andy Reistetter; 85 Likes; 20 Comments; 3 Shares):

Selected Comments:

Michael Kaufmann: If God said, “Mike, you can only play one golf course for the rest of your life,” it would be hands down the Ocean Course.

Phil Lago: Andy, you are going to enjoy it. Bobby Weed did a nice job updating this grand old course. Besides the comments you made about the old 10th hole and the new par 3 on the back… Bobby lowered the greens… which is good for right now. As you know new greens are quite firm and at the moment they are very difficult landing a ball on the greens. But the new grass is spectacular and will get even better as they age. I love it! I have played it twice and will play it again almost every day this week. What time are you playing tomorrow?

Michael J. Corrao: Need a fourth Andy Reistetter? I am media after all

Very excited to play the newly renovated Ocean Course tomorrow at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club as part of a Media Day!

Home of the original Island Green circa 1931!

Sounds like Bobby Weed has made some big changes to the practice area and adding a new par-3 13th hole/eliminating the short par-4 10th!

I know member Phil Lago has already played it and there was a Ponte Vedra Inn & Club/Bobby Weed Design Company Grand Reopening last Friday with Herb Peyton hitting the ceremonial first drive! Who else has played it already over the weekend?

I love Bobby Weed’s work at the Slammer & Squire in St. Augustine and his renovation at the Medalist Club in Hobe Sound… I need to get out and play more golf as I am embarrassed to say I haven’t played any of his other 16 golf courses or 16 renovations listed on his website!

FORE, Now Driving, Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!

PRESS RELEASE below. Note ALL Pics credited to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club!

https://www.pontevedra.com/

https://www.bobbyweed.com/

http://www.andygolftraveldiary.com/

PONTE VEDRA INN & CLUB FAMED OCEAN COURSE OPENS AFTER
YEAR-LONG RENOVATION PROJECT
New Par-3, 13th Hole Among Changes to Golf Course and Infrastructure

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (September 21, 2020) — Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Ocean Course, one of Florida’s oldest and most iconic golf courses, has reopened after being closed for renovations over the past year.

The project, which was the third major renovation to the Ocean Course in its history, since 1928, was overseen by celebrated golf course architect Bobby Weed and included significant enhancements to the golf course and the practice facilities.

It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the reopening of the Ocean Course,” said Michael Gordon, Vice President and General Manager of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. “Today marks a culmination of hard work and tireless efforts to provide our members and resort guests the finest of golf experiences. The Ocean Course has long been a jewel of golf in the area and these enhancements will ensure that this continues for years to come.”

The upgrades included the expansion of the practice area into a full-service facility to hone all aspects of a player’s game, and the updating and modernization of golf course infrastructure. Notable is the addition of an exciting new hole on the back nine, the par-3, 13th.

Improvements to the practice areas include the teeing ground on the existing south tee being tripled in size and the addition of a teeing ground on the north end for PGA professional lessons with access to double-sided target greens and short-game precision greens. Just off the new 10th tee is a state-of-the-art short-game practice facility.

The updates to the practice facilities allowed for changes to the routing of and realignment of the golf holes on the golf course’s back 9. Along with the other changes, the former par-4, 10th hole was eliminated allowing for the construction of the new par-3, 13th hole on the north end of the property. With this change, the Ocean Course will now play to a challenging par of 71.

Other design changes to the golf course include lower green complexes and additional screening areas. The green at the 2nd hole was moved closer to the surrounding lagoon. The 9th hole, with its historic Island Green, has been visually enhanced to provide a better view of the putting surface, while the 14th hole offers players a completely new look from the tees making this hole a longer and more challenging par-5. The 17th hole now features an enlarged lagoon bordering the right side of the hole.

Enhancements to the infrastructure of the golf course included having all 18 greens rebuilt to meet current USGA standards and grassed with TifEagle Ultradwarf bermudagrass. The project saw all tee boxes rebuilt and grassed with TifGrand bermuda grass and all in-play areas were re-grassed with Celebration bermudagrass.

Additionally, golf course bunkers were rebuilt and reconfigured with an emphasis on strategy, overall aesthetics, and maintainability. Expansive swaths of non-turf screening areas were introduced, reducing irrigated and maintained rough grasses while adding a striking visual contrast and strategic value to the design of the Ocean Course. The renovation also included the rebuilding and refurbishment of bridges and bulkheads and a complete overhaul of the irrigation system.

The Ocean Course, which was designed by British golf course architect Herbert Strong, opened in 1931 and had subsequent major renovations in 1947 by Robert Trent Jones and in 1998 by Weed. The course was selected as host of the 1939 Ryder Cup Matches, but the competition was cancelled due to the start of World War II. The Ocean Course has also served as the site of the U.S. Open qualifying five times and has been the host of the Gate Invitational since 1985.

In addition to debuting the renovations at the Ocean Course, the resort also unveiled two new beachfront buildings as part of its repertoire of 262 rooms. Modern beachside luxury is now the ultimate lure for guests at the Ocean House and Peyton House. Steps away from the Ocean Course and The Racquet Club, the new 41 guest rooms and suites provide guests the luxury indulgence of an ocean-front boutique destination. These well-appointed accommodations, some featuring room connectors, are designed in a chic, southern coastal fashion that honors the spirit and heritage of this memorable resort. Each room and suite seamlessly extends to generous private terraces or patios that lead directly to our world-renowned beach.

Images available here: GOLF / FULL RESORT

ABOUT PONTE VEDRA INN & CLUB
Opened in 1928, the historic AAA Five-Diamond Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is the paramount Northeast Florida luxury escape. For over 90 years, the resort has set world-class standards as the picture of quiet grandeur, grace and story. Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club Ponte Vedra Beach bookend a stunning 1.5 mile stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean, providing a picturesque oceanside setting that is at once elegant and approachable.

Ponte Vedra Inn & Club boasts 262 lavishly-appointed guest rooms and suites, inclusive of the new Ocean House and Peyton House. Resort beachfront rooms open directly onto the beach, allowing guests the delight of stepping right onto the sand with only a short walk to the surf. Featuring elegant, coastal-inspired décor, each room seamlessly blends sophistication and comfort, complete with striking views of the ocean, natural lagoons and famous island green. A sanctuary for adults and a playground for children, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club is an ideal destination for family vacations, romantic excursions, golf getaways, weddings, corporate meetings, and group retreats alike.

Celebrated for its year-round recreation and world-class amenities, the resort features two championship golf courses – the iconic Ocean Course, newly renovated in 2020, and the water-lined Lagoon Course – a sprawling 30,000 sq ft spa, The Racquet Club tennis facilities, three pools, an 8,000 square foot fitness center with direct ocean views, the Surf Club and its endless beach and outdoor activities, as well as a wide range of culinary options by Erik Osol, celebrated Chef de Cuisine.

Conveniently situated 20 miles southeast of downtown Jacksonville, a 35-minute drive from Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), less than two hours north of Orlando, and six hours by car or one hour by air from Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport (ATL).

Additional information can be found at www.pontevedra.com.

An Honor to Play with Veterans & Patriots at the CC of Gwinnett outside of Atlanta!

1Even though our scores don’t always reflect it, things usually work out in golf!

Whenever Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary travels to Atlanta a great golf outing at a great golf course always seems to present itself!

Definitely so on the people side of golf if you know a guy like Bob Thibodeau! Bob is well established in the Atlanta golf community as the Veterans Outreach Director at the Adaptive Golf Association with ties to the Georgia State Golf Association. A Vietnam Veteran himself it was an honor to play with him and a Veterans Play Group on Patriot Golf Day—Labor Day Monday—at the Country Club of Gwinnett just outside of Atlanta!

Most golfers are aware of Patriot Golf Day. A fundraising day of golf to support the FOLDS of HONOR scholarships and PGA HOPE.

What an honor to tee it up with these Veterans on Patriot Golf Day!

What an honor to tee it up with these Veterans on Patriot Golf Day!

Those FOLDS of HONOR scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled members of the Military Service number 3,802 this year and total 28,000 since 2007 when Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney started the charitable organization. One fateful day he was on a commercial flight that landed with the pilot requesting all passengers to remain seated until they first removed the casket of a fallen soldier. Dan watched as the deceased’s twin brother walked somberly alongside the flag-covered casket to meet his family including a young son. Over half the passengers could not be bothered and disrespectfully got up and walked off the plane without acknowledging the tribute. The Folds of Honor Foundation; a 501C-3 nonprofit organization, was born that day and their motto says it best—“Honor Their Sacrifice. Educate Their Legacy.”

PGA ‘HOPE’ which stands for “Helping Our Patriots Everywhere,” is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. PGA HOPE introduces golf to Veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.

According to the PGA of America’s website, the program introduces the game of golf through a developmental 6-to-8 week curriculum, taught by PGA Professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency. All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations, so the cost of programming is free to all Veterans.

Don was and is our rock!

Don was and is our rock!

But what happens after a veteran completes the PGA of America programs? Once introduced to the game of golf, where do veterans with disabilities play the game in a way that maintains or improves their health? That’s where Bob Thibodeau comes into the picture. Bob T. or Mr. T as I like to say, worked with lots of folks earlier in the year to make the Veterans’ Play Group a reality at the CC of Gwinnett. This group included L&J Acquisitions, the owners of the CC of Gwinnett; the club’s General Manager Doug Cartin and Heidi Mitchell, LPGA /Adaptive Golf Instructor. Bob also teamed up with the veterans themselves including Tony the leader of the Veterans’ Play Group at Gwinnett and Don, a fully disabled veteran who we teed it up with on Patriot Golf Day.

The informal outing, spirited scramble format, and par-3 proximity competitions were all pretty normal except some of the guys had pieces of titanium where I have flesh. There was definitely a patriotic spirit present, lots of camaraderie and some good golf too!

The CC of Gwinnett was the first Steve Melnyk design I have ever played and I liked it very much. The first nine meanders upward from the clubhouse out-and-back in a clockwise manner on beautiful slightly sloping golf land! On the first, a short risk-reward par-4, I took the risk with no reward while Don layed up short of the creek and pitched a nice one onto the green. I was fortunate to make the 30-footer and we were off to a great start!

Beautiful lake! Beautiful vistas! Has the East Lake flair about it in terms of beauty, history, & golfing traditions!

Beautiful lake! Beautiful vistas! Has the East Lake flair about it in terms of beauty, history, & golfing traditions!

There are many memorable holes on Melnyk’s Masterpiece; as memorable as his United States and British Amateur Championships! Though he played in 19 Majors and 335 PGA TOUR events, Melnyk never won on tour though he parlayed that experience into a notable golf broadcaster for 22 years with CBS Sports, ABC Sports and ESPN. He even had the nickname of Jim Furyk’s caddie Mike Cowan before he did. The memorable holes to me are the short downhill par-4 4th hole (they can’t all be uphill) with a distinctive hedge behind the green and the uphill par-3 6th hole which has Georgia rock outcroppings short and long of the green. Especially challenging with a left hole location as it was on the day we labored on holiday around the CC of Gwinnett! I also found the intact stone fireplace with missing house an interesting curiosity on the left side of the 7th fairway.

With Doug Cartin and Bob Thobodeau (center)!

With Doug Cartin and Bob Thobodeau (center)!

A large lake divides the first and second nine. I am curious if the lake was part of the golf course design or created previously though I was unable to reach Steve for comment. While within 10 miles of Stone Mountain and with rock outcroppings to prove it, the lake and Melnyk’s counterclockwise routing around it with the 13th, 14th, and 15th holes stacked on the far side reminded me of East Lake Golf Club which is another 10 miles past Stone Mountain to the West.

While it is the type of golf course where you remember all the holes, the memorable ones to me on the second nine include the par-4 12th where the tee shot needs to be layed up short of an inlet from the lake and the par-3 16th hole with an elevated tee shot to the green defined short, left, and beyond by lake water! Great design throughout and in great condition too!

Heidi is a LPGA world class teaching phenomenon!

Heidi is a LPGA world class teaching phenomenon!

I love, respect, and honor all women and men that serve in our military. My older brother David was a Navy ROTC officer and served during the Vietnam War. It wasn’t until later in his life that my father shared the details of his military service during World War II. He lost his brother Paul in the war and suffered like so many even after he returned home victoriously. We all know a veteran and that patriotic feeling if not oneself a veteran then from someone close to you. Veterans are memorialized by war while at times also immobilized spiritually, emotionally, mentally and/or physically. The reality is that most wounds of war are unseen. That is why it is good for veterans to get up and get out with other veterans. Also why it is good for us nonmilitary to be around veterans disabled or not to show our gratitude for their service to us and our country and to share some good times in a country that they protect and preserve!

During my ongoing 13 years on tour the single most impactful moment to me happened on Saturday, July 4th at the Congressional CC during the 2009 AT&T National. I was working the last group as David Feherty’s cart driver. It is an easy job since he walks most of the time and drinks little water during the round. But on the 17th hole he told me to go up to the 18th tee and make sure ‘the guy in the wheelchair was ready to go.” The guy was Army Spc. Brendan Marrocco, who less than four months earlier had lost all four of his limbs to an Improvised Explosive Device in Iraq, was “ready to go.” After the players teed off, Tiger Woods came over and gave him a “fist bump” and then David Feherty wheeled the disabled veteran down the 18th fairway ahead of the golfers. There was tremendous applause from the gallery. Marricci had come home to an appreciative country!

Good day. Inspirational day! Thank you Bob & Don for making it so special! Thank you to Doug Cartin & the CC of Gwinnett for hosting Ansy's Golf & Travel Diary!

Good day. Inspirational day! Thank you Bob & Don for making it so special! Thank you to Doug Cartin & the CC of Gwinnett for hosting Ansy’s Golf & Travel Diary!

People, all people, including disabled veterans just want to be treated same as we like to be treated; as a human being, different yet no different; diverse, yet the same on the golf course and with camaraderie… drives, irons and putts… the ball does not know who swings the club; why should we care? Let’s enjoy the game and the camaraderie especially on Patriot Golf Day!

Oh by the way, Steve Melnyk’s nickname is ‘Fluff,’ We closed with a 6-under 65 and Yours Truly won proximity on the rock outcropping hole!

Good day. Inspirational day!

Thank you to ALL our veterans! We salute you!