Play the World Am in Myrtle Beach; It will make a Professional out of You!

CLICK HERE for Andy’s PLAY-BY-PLAY on Social Media for the 2019 World Am!

Four rounds means 15 new golfing buddies from around the world but this is my GTWA golfing buddy Tom Gorman!

Four rounds means 15 new golfing buddies from around the world but this is my GTWA golfing buddy Tom Gorman!

Competing in the 35th World Amateur in Myrtle Beach, SC was the best competitive golfing experience of my lifetime! Granted I am an amateur golfer and my game this week certainly is proof of that but I have been up close and personal with golf for my entire lifetime. Club Champion, Member-Guest Winners, and even qualified once for the Illinois State Championship and competed against a bunch of flat-belly college players is my amateur experience. Plus I have followed the PGA TOUR for the last eleven years and worked over 200 professional events. Why am I telling you this? So that you know that when I say ‘Competing in the 35th World Amateur in Myrtle Beach, SC was the best competitive golfing experience of my lifetime!’ that is authentic and true!

2018 World Am Welcome Party at Broadway at the Beach!

2018 World Am Welcome Party at Broadway at the Beach!

IF you want to know what it feels like to compete in a 4-day, 72-hole professional tournament then sign up for next year’s World Am in Pebble Beach! Seriously, we aren’t really professionals, that’s why they call us amateurs, but this golf tournament for 3,200 golfers in 66 flights on 50+ golf courses is run by Professionals! Plus there is an unbelievable, from every perspective, 19th Hole every evening after the golf! Plus Plus you are in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina a world-class tourist destination! What an experience for a lifetime is the World Am in Myrtle Beach!

Oceanfront accommodations at the Caravelle Resort! Sunrise! Nice!

Oceanfront accommodations at the Caravelle Resort! Sunrise! Nice!

This year’s week of competition, entertainment, and FUN started with a Welcome Party at Broadway at the Beach. It was a blast! Festive atmosphere, entertainment, a brief introduction program and lots of raffle giveaways! Don’t miss it next year!

Any professional golfer knows the key to a god week is a good bed. Find your bed as soon as possible and get a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s Round One! My home for the week was a more than comfortable, more than fantastic oceanfront studio room with a efficiency kitchen at The Caravelle Resort! Nice to swim in the ocean after golf. Sunrises (moon rises too) are spectacular! Be comfortable, be rested, and play good golf!

Don't ever call me a sandbagger but I do feel good about my net 290, Plus-4, T4 finish!

Don’t ever call me a sandbagger but I do feel good about my net 290, Plus-4, T4 finish!

For the record my Handicap Index was 9.6 and I received 11 strokes each round of golf. I was in Flight 17 and my division was “Senior Men (50-59).” Start time every day was 9 am as a shotgun. This was always preceded by the Head PGA Golf Professional welcoming us and going over the local rules and orienting us to the club. In your welcoming package is a listing of your course assignments, strokes for the day, and start hole. Know the day, know your course, so you drive to the right one and avoid a DQ (and that is not a drive thru Dairy Queen). The final round starting hole is determined based on your standings within your flight so you get to play face-to-face with your competitors down the stretch!

Did I tell you this is a very well organized golf tournament run by professionals?

With Duke, Barry, and Clay for Round 1 at Wachesaw East!

With Duke, Barry, and Clay for Round 1 at Wachesaw Plantation East!

My first competitive round in the 2018 World Am was at the Wachesaw Plantation East Course. We had a great foursome with Duke, Barry, and Clay. Let me tell you how nervous I was taking back the driver on our first tee, the par-5 17th hole. No, I can’t tell you because it makes me anxious just thinking about it. Of course I yank my first tee shot left into the water hazard. But I recover well and 2-putt from 30 feet for a bogey. Of course my drive on the next hole goes to the right and I have to chip out and drain a 10-footer for bogey. Still nervous a bit I pure a 9-iron to 6 feet and make a birdie on our third hole.

Lots of challenging shots at Wachesaw Plantation East!

Lots of challenging shots at Wachesaw Plantation East!

As the round went on I settled down a bit and added three bogeys to post a 2-over par 38 on the front nine. Then I add three more bogeys finishing up the back nine to go with my two-bogey start and post a 5-over par 41 on the second nine. A double-bogey-free 79 for me is a very good score and I was happy about it! When I got to the 19th Hole later that evening I was ecstatic to see my net 68 leading my flight by 4 strokes!

 

It's not where you start but where you finish. But my name was up there in first place after Round 1 for all the other 3,200 golfers to see at the 19th Hole!

It’s not where you start but where you finish. But my name was up there in first place after Round 1 for all the other 3,200 golfers to see at the 19th Hole!

Did I party that night! You bet I did, after all I am an amateur and a 19th Hole with thousands of golfer guys and gals that fills up the convention center—main musical stage on one side and free food, a mini PGA Show that is open to the public and golf entertainment on the other side—is seductive! Did I mention that they have beverages, i.e. open (free) bars on both sides!

Partying was Mistake No. 1. Mistake No. 2 was knowing that I was the leader by four strokes! It gets to your head. It definitely got to me! Now I was real nervous and not so well-rested for Round 2 which was at the beautiful and challenging Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

Amazing golf courses! I played Wachesaw East, Caledonia, Legends Parkland, and Aberdeen. This is the 18th at Caledonia!

Amazing golf courses! I played Wachesaw East, Caledonia, Legends Parkland, and Aberdeen. This is the 18th at Caledonia!

We started on the 150-yard par-3 11th hole. An Augusta-like No. 12 par-3 if you know what I mean. Not the hole you want to take your first swing on! Water hazard left, a green that angles away from you right to left. I was not prepared to start and quite frankly did not know the exact yardage as I had not set up my trusty Shot Scope V2 GPS watch the night before. Another consequence of Mistake No. 1!

I hit a tentative 8-iron that goes left into the water hazard. I find it and can play it and I did find the courage to play it a little too strong over the green. From there I do an ’85 U.S. Open T.C. Chen double hit chip. Worse yet I don’t make the green. By the way T.C. Chen had a 4-stroke lead over Andy North and needless to say we know who won. I chip onto the green, take two putts and walk away with my own personal quadruple bogey 7. There goes my four stroke lead!

Needless to say we are not going hole-by-hole for all of the 72 holes of Andy’s World Am but I will say I rebounded with a birdie on the very next hole, then two pars, and then another birdie to be back in the zone, not mine, at plus-2 after six holes for the round! After I posted three more bogeys there was a rain delay and by chance we were just finishing on the 18th green when the skies opened! Good omen I thought but silly me sat down for the half hour or so and tightened up. Yep Mistake No. 3 was not staying loose during rain delays. My second nine 45 was not pretty. Neither was the second round score of 88 net 77.

With Dan, Aaron, and Don in Round 2 at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

With Dan, Aaron, and Don in Round 2 at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

We had a great foursome with Aaron, Don, and Dan. Dan my cart mate shot a 79 so we did see some good golf!  I wasn’t so happy at the 19th Hole when I looked up to the projected and rotating through flights scoreboard. I was now T5 nine strokes behind some guy named John that shot a net 63 on the same course I tried to play that day!

Here I will digress to point out two things that make this a professionally run golf tournament. First, there is a room you go to at the 19th Hole to receive a printout of the up-to-date standings of your flight. Pretty nice, very professionally done so everyone knows where they and everyone else in their flight stands. Secondly, the guy that shot the net 63 in Round 2 did not tee it up in Round 3. If your score is too good to believe and statistically way out there on the bell curve well then, being fair to the other competitors, the tournament committee will remove you from the competition. I still hoped he still got to play golf and enjoy the 19th Hole every night like we did.

Need I say it again... Pure Inspiration, Pure Courage, & Pure Determination is Hugh III Royer...

Need I say it again… Pure Inspiration, Pure Courage, & Pure Determination is Hugh III Royer…

As I mentioned the 19th Hole is amazing! Stage musical entertainment, golf entertainment and personalities the likes of Charlie Rymer, Chantel McCabe, Paige Spiranac, Katrek & Maginnes on Tap, and Damon Hack. If you get tired of golf there is the beautiful and talented Ewa Mataya Laurance—The Striking Viking—the most visible superstar in the history of pocket billiards for your entertainment and viewing pleasure. You might even get to play her! Did I mention all the beverages, including alcoholic ones and the food is FREE? There are no hidden costs when it comes to the World Am!

Pure Inspiration, Pure Courage, & Pure Determination is Hugh III Royer… he shared his chilling commentary on skin cancer during a break in the golf entertainment schedule. Hugh’s message was to take ownership of your healthcare despite the failings of healthcare professionals. Live and love life to its fullest! I first met Hugh Royer III several years ago when he was inspiring juniors in golf… now he is inspiring adults in life!

With Jeffrey, Anthony, and C.J. in Round 3 at Legends Parkland!

With Jeffrey, Anthony, and C.J. in Round 3 at Legends Parkland!

So now it is Moving Day, Round Three for Flight 17 at The Legends on the Parkland Course. A special place for me as The Legends was my first taste of Myrtle Beach Golf back in the late 80s coming down from New York in the winter with my brother and brothers-in-law. But today was the day to make up for all the mistakes of Round 2. We had a fun foursome with Jeffrey, C.J., and Anthony.

But it turned out to be no moving for me on Moving Day. I shot a disappointing 87 (net 76) still T5, but well back 9 strokes behind the leader Gay William (82-82-83; Net 212)  But as Tiger would look at it there were only four guys in front of me! I still have a chance to win this thing! Another great 19th Hole experience in the evening. It was seafood & karaoke night! There were some real pros up there impersonating professional singers and bringing the house down! The Biggest Party in Golf just goes on and on and on!

Before I knew it the final day of the 2018 Myrtle Beach World Amateur was here. Technically not the final day because if you win your flight you play the next day for the overall World Am Champion title!

With Scott, Richard, and Kevin on the first tee before teeing off in the final round at Aberdeen CC.

With Scott, Richard, and Kevin on the first tee before teeing off in the final round at Aberdeen CC.

As I mentioned the final round starting hole is based on the standings so I was, as they say in golf broadcasting, in the penultimate group starting on No. 1 right behind the lead foursome. Perfect position for our foursome of Scott, Richard, and Kevin to watch and make a move as we played the Highlands/Meadows at Aberdeen CC. With a 4-stroke lead over the field and 9 strokes ahead of me it was Gay’s tournament to win or lose. I wanted to shoot in the 70s and maybe be there to back door a World Am flight championship, who knows maybe still win the whole thing!

I started with six pars but 3-putted the par-3 7th hole and bogeyed the difficult ninth for a first nine 39. A good start but needed some birdies on the second nine. I suffered another 3-putt bogey on the 10th but did manage to birdie short par-4 12th making a nice little left-to-right downhill 6-footer. After a par at the 13th I was only plus-3 through 13 holes. I was hoping for a couple birdies on the way to the clubhouse but it was not meant to be. My short game let me down on the 14th for bogey and a poor drive and another 3-putt on the par-5 16th pretty much ended any of my chances. As it turned out I shot 80 and finished T4 ten strokes behind flight winner Gay William who shot a final round 79 to win by four strokes.

Great entertainment at the world's largest 189th Hole!

Great entertainment at the world’s largest 189th Hole!

The fourth & final night of the 19th Hole was a celebration extraordinaire! WOW, what an amazing experience to play & party my way through this 4-round handicapped competition! Definitely an add to any golfer’s bucket list. Organized, orchestrated, & conducted to the perfection, pleasure, & performance of all the golfers participating! I felt the thrill of being a professional golfer for the week! The World Am was the concluding experience on the 2018 East Coast Golf Journey for Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary! It was time to head home to Ponte Vedra Beach!

Hope to see you next year at the World Am in Pebble Beach!

CLICK here to play in the 2019 World Am in Myrtle Beach!

Here are 183 pictures of golf, the 19th Hole and a whole lot of FUN at the 2018 World Am!

America’s Best Golf Resort: Innisbrook a Salamander Resort near Tampa, FL!

CLICK HERE for Andy’s PLAY-by-PLAY social media of his golf trip to the Innisbrook Resort!

Copperhead+-+Logo+Golf+Ball_1274b7d4-9676-44a4-9a45-acc672a7e02e-prvThere is nothing better than a golf vacation at Innisbrook!

Innisbrook is one of five Salamander Resorts along with Hammock Beach (Palm Coast, FL); The Henderson (Destin, FL); Reunion (Orlando, FL); and Salamander (Middleburg, VA).

Why Innisbrook?

Because it whets your appetite and brings you along wanting more at each turn until you are more than fully satisfied, you are astonished at the good time you experienced with family and friends.

Plus I just experienced a great golfing weekend at Innisbrook!

Whether you are driving in or flying in it all starts with the drive coming up US 19 North from the Clearwater/Tampa area. Florida is flat, right? Not! There is a big dip in US 19 that marks your entry into the beautiful rolling hills of the Innisbrook Resort. Perfect topography for golf courses and for a perfect play-land of nearly 1,000 acres including 70 acres of lakes! The appetizer entry is quick, only 20 miles from Tampa International Airport. On to the main course (actually 4 golf courses) of a resort that has renewed itself in terms of the physical structures yet gone further in terms of its unique spirit, service, and spectacular delight of its guests!

It’s all about the golf, cuisine, and lodging for me. But there is more for non-golfers and families for sure.

No better place for a group golf or spa weekend than at Innisbrook!

No better place for a group golf or spa weekend than at Innisbrook!

The Salamander Spa is all about transformation of mind, body, and soul to our optimal well-being. The art of healing is manifested through various treatment and services. So numerous that I counted them and there are over sixty! For women and men! From the Exotic Frangipani Monoi Salt Glow to the Thai Floor Massage to the mother-to-be Mellow Mama Maternity Massage; the Salamander Spa has them all and they are delivered by the most experienced therapists available in the business!

Besides the four golf courses and eleven har-Tru tennis courts, six heated pools including the Lochness Monster pool, there are numerous seasonal and holiday activities for the kids and families. The Activity Guide I saw was 17 pages long but I did not count the number of activities. I will let you do that as my schedule was full with playing all four golf courses on a Golf Travel Writers Association weekend visit after the PGA Show!

Let’s get onto my favorites—the golf, the cuisine, and the lodging!

Packer 100th Cake 2

Mr. Packer’s 100th birthday cake complete with a replica of his double dogleg par-5 14th hole!

Innisbrook has the perfect and scenic topography for golf courses! Lawrence Packard, the legendary golf course architect who lived to be 101 years old designed all four of the golf courses at Innisbrook— Island, Osprey North, & South (all three in 1970) and Copperhead in 1974. Not only did he do a great job with the overall resort design of the golf courses and lodge clusters, he also invented the double-dogleg par-5. This player loving and challenging golf hole is exemplified by the 14th hole at Innisbrook. Larry’s personal favorite was the par-5 14th at Innisbrook Copperhead. After a somewhat blind tee shot, the golfer plays around the bend with a lake on the right, and then changes direction again to take aim at a green perched up on the hill. Like that drive up US 19 who knows what next to expect while playing this hole? Packard so loved Innisbrook that when he retired in 1986 he moved there to enjoy the atmosphere and his legacy designs!

I will likely be snake bitten next time but for now I am treasuring my back nine 36!

I will likely be snake bitten next time but for now I am treasuring my back nine 36!

My GTWA buddies and I played where the PGA TOUR pros play in the Valspar Championship—the famed Copperhead Course—upon arrival on Saturday! At 7,209 yards from the tips why not start with the hardest course and tee it up from the whites (6,243 yards, Rating 71.1, Slope 137)! Hey 137 slope is no easy walk in the park and I proved that by shooting a 49 on the first nine. The only highlight being a regulation par on the 140-yard par-3 4th hole with a two-putt from thirty feet!

Not sure what happened at the turn but I had my way with the second nine shooting a one-over par 36 with a birdie on the 11th (9-iron to 10-feet) and two bogeys early and then a finish of five straight pars! Snake Pit (Holes 16, 17, & 18)? Not today my Copperhead friend! How many pros improve by twelve strokes in nine holes?

Always an awesome experience to stay right on the golf course!

Always an awesome experience to stay right on the golf course!

After the round it was time to check-in and find my bed for the next two nights. Wow, like the Copperhead Golf Course, nothing but the best here! Our two-bedroom suite in the low-rise lodge had been completely remodeled as will all the guest accommodations at Innisbrook be by the end of the year. All new furniture, furnishings, flooring, stainless-steel appliances, quartz counters, cabinets, lighting, draperies and other decor. With a full kitchen and separate entrance for the master bedroom there is a lot of flexibility with the accommodations at Innisbrook! Another one of those unexpected yet beyond satisfaction turns at Innisbrook!

To say we had a great time is a bit of an understatement!

To say we had a great time is a bit of an understatement!

After getting cleaned up it was off to experience the last leg of my Top Trifecta of Travel Golf—golf course; lodging; and NOW dining cuisine! The Innisbrook team including Managing Director J. Michael Williams, Director of Instruction Dawn Mercer, and PR Specialist Ramona Herald hosted us in the Market Salamander Grille. With great food and live music by the Backstreet Band featuring Kerry Olivia and Peter Vann in the adjacent Osprey Bar, it was an exceptional evening of camaraderie, entertainment, and satiation of hunger!

Other resort dining includes Packard’s Steakhouse where a Signature Packard’s Salad enhances any entrée; the Turnberry Pub for a friendly, casual family meal; plus several other convenient, recreational-based places to eat.

Momma Osprey protecting the nest and her young ones!

Momma Osprey protecting the nest and her young ones!

We played 36 holes on Saturday taking on the Osprey North Course, a.k.a. Baby Copperhead, in the morning and the Osprey South Course in the afternoon. There is a strikingly beautiful picture of an Osprey behind the check-in desk at Osprey Clubhouse. Early in the round we saw an Osprey nest up high in a pine tree behind the second green. The Momma Osprey came out and did a few laps around the green for us! What a way to start the day off! A lackluster 45 on the first nine but then driver—3-wood to 4 feet and an Eagle-3 on the 10th hole. I mean an Osprey-3 as Eagles are Ospreys at Innisbrook! Two doubles and two bogeys to finish but hey I did post an Osprey 39!

Sparring with my buddy Tom! Must have been after we both made birdie! Always a good match with Tom!

Sparring with my buddy Tom! Must have been after we both made birdie! Always a good match with Tom!

The afternoon round on the Osprey South, a links-style design, was just as much fun but without the excitement of another Osprey-3! The South is scheduled to have its greens upgraded to TifEagle Bermuda Grass before the end of the year to match the other three courses at Innisbrook. While Innisbrook is known worldwide for the Copperhead Course, Larry Packard was consistent in the shot-value quality of design so all four courses are challenging, engaging and rewarding. If you play a good shot you will be rewarded!

Come Monday morning I finished up The Innisbrook weekend with a round on the Island Course with my GTWA buddies Tommy & Jamie! What a picturesque, challenging & fun golf course to play. With a couple more birdies on my scorecard I was definitely smitten with Innisbrook—the golf, the accommodations and the dining cuisine! I was taken by the charming nature of Innisbrook. My only regret is that there was not a fifth golf course, or even sixth, and that it is time to go home!

Innisbrook: Be Charmed Like I Was, Not Bitten, by the Snake Pit!!!

CLICK HERE for Andy’s FEATURE ARTICLE on his golf trip to the Innisbrook Resort!

I will likely be snake bitten next time but for now I am treasuring my back nine 36!

I will likely be snake bitten next time but for now I am treasuring my back nine 36!

WOW, what a visit to Innisbrook Golf Resort! It seems like everything had been redone and upgraded; the golf courses, the accommodations, and the restaurants and entertainment! Played all four courses; Copperhead, North and South, and the Island Club in three days. My only wish? That there was one more golf course to play as I did not want to leave! PS: More will be written about this experience… and I was actually charmed, not bitten, in the Snake Pit with a back nine 37!

Florida is flat….coming up US 19 North from Clearwater… there is a big dip that marks your entry into the beautiful rolling hills of Innisbrook, perfect topography for golf courses! Lawrence Packard designed four of them here! We played Copperhead, the host course for the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour! Snake Pit? Not today! Snake my convoluted golf game… went 49-37! Beautiful accommodations, cuisine & live entertainment with Kerry Olivia and Peter Vann, the Backstreet Band… North & South tomorrow, then the Island Course Monday Morning before heading home to Ponte Vedra Beach… Grateful, life is good… TROML Baby! #Innisbrook #Copperhead #SnakePitSelfie   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 1/27/18).

58Thirty-six holes on North & South today then CBS/GC’s Torrey Pines five-hole playoff… I am pooped! Storyline… picture of Osprey behind check-in desk at Osprey Clubhouse… Osprey nest up high behind North No. 2 green… driver, 3-wood, made four footer for eagle on North No. 10… I mean Osprey! Get it? Eagles are Ospreys at Innisbrook! Morning with Bruce, Dan, & John… Afternoon ‘two tie, all tie’ competition with Greg, Rick, & Tom! Who do you think won with nine skins on the back?Tain came late, last three holes! Hey who won at Torrey Pines? I fell asleep! Island in the morning at sunrise! TROML Baby! #Innisbrook #Copperhead #SnakePitSelfie   (Facebook Post with 28 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 1/28/18)

62Finished up the Innisbrook trip with a round on the Island Course with my GTWA buddies Tommy & Jamie! What a picturesque, challenging & fun golf course to play. The Innisbrook real estate around it is blooming! My only regret is that they don’t have a fifth golf course and that it is time to go home! Thank you Ramona Herald & all the folks at Innisbrook for an exceptional golfing experience & hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary! I can see why Rory (McIlroy) is coming to play in the Valspar Championship! #Innisbrook #Copperhead #SnakePitSelfie   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 1/29/

Rev Up Your Game for Golf in Daytona Beach, Florida!

CLICK HERE for the PLAY-by-PLAY on Social Media of Andy’s Daytona Golf Trip!

_AGTD Featured Image 640 X 420 Daytona BeachYes, we all know Daytona Beach for the Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona 500!

But did you know that Daytona Beach is also a Golf Hotspot in a state that is Golf Heaven?

In fact, the only thing that is the same these days in Daytona Beach is the 23 miles of the world’s most famous beach!

Not even the iconic Daytona International Speedway is the same anymore! Always home to the Daytona 500 and other races year-round, the speedway is no longer standing alone. ONE DAYTONA, a new lifestyle and entertainment center is located right across International Speedway Boulevard. ONE DAYTONA opened in December 2017 and is 70 acres BIG with all the fun, entertainment, culinary, and lodging experiences you could ever want with even more on the way! In fact, ONE DAYTONA is a vision of tomorrow—you can live and work there too!

The GTWA Gang with Nancy Guran in the lobby of the brand spanking new Fairfield Inn & Suites at ONE DAYTONA!

The GTWA Gang with Nancy Guran in the lobby of the brand spanking new Fairfield Inn & Suites at ONE DAYTONA!

My “Speedway to Fairway” visit was quite thrilling as our Golf Travel Writers’ (GTWA) group was part of the official opening of the 105-room Fairfield Inn & Suites. This hotel is an over-the-top Marriott property with its Daytona themed lobby bar plus the comfort, convenience and high-touch service you expect of Marriott. Additionally, The Daytona, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel with 145 rooms will be opening later in 2018.

Enough of the Speedway, let’s get to the Fairway!

Our Daytona Beach visit started with a Friday afternoon round on the signature Arthur Hills ‘Hills Course’ at LPGA International. We’ll save the companion signature Rees Jones ‘Jones Course’ for Sunday at the end of our visit! Bookended with two world-class golf courses at LPGA International is our weekend vacation in Daytona Beach! It doesn’t get much better than that especially when you see where we played in between!

A forced carry on the sporty dog-leg-right par-4 4th hole on the Jones Course!

A forced carry on the sporty dog-leg-right par-4 4th hole on the Jones Course!

The Hills course opened in 1997 three years after the Jones Course and it is spectacular! Classic design, yet modern in playability, like the Jones Course the Hills Course comes equipped with Tift Eagle Bermuda greens. There is a wide range of challenging shots on this Arthur Hills masterpiece as it takes you through natural wetlands and narrow fairways cut through pine forests. The greens are reasonable in size but appear small from the fairway thanks to the genius of Arthur Hills. Strategically located water hazards can be the challenge on this golf course!

My first round of the year played with my GTWA golfing buddies Gregg DeWalt and Danny Scott ended nicely with a 30-footer finding home and a birdie-3 on the 9th hole, our last. No better feeling than to play golf in Florida in mid-January and get to feel that unique golfing spirit within!

'The Riv' awaits and welcomes you!

‘The Riv’ awaits and welcomes you!

Saturday was a spectacular day! Instead of revving up my golf game I ‘Riv’d’ it up a bit by playing ‘The Riv,’ the historic Riviera Country Club! Playing ‘The Riv’ is a must-do if you find yourself anywhere near Daytona Beach.

This golf course is golfing history, a golfing tradition that cannot be duplicated anywhere in the world. There is golfing challenge, nostalgia, and fun lining these fairways and the golfers and staff that you meet will make it a special day without a doubt!

Originally opened as a nine-hole golf course in the late 1930’s, the Riviera Country Club has been owned since 1953  by four generations of the Meyers family—Franklin—Bill—Eric—and now Ryan with his Mom Charlotte! Seeing the future of golf Franklin Meyers immediately expanded the golf course to 18 holes in 1954. Architects Mark Mahana, Dave Wallace, and most recently Lloyd Clifton have all contributed over half a century to make ‘The Riv’ what it is today—an engaging golfing experience!

With Charlotte and Ryan Meyers in the well stocked pro shop at 'The Riv!'

With Charlotte and Ryan Meyers in the well stocked pro shop at ‘The Riv!’

Ryan Meyers was an exceptional junior golf as was his friend Matt Every. Every went on to play golf at the University of Florida, the Nationwide Tour (now Web.com), and ultimately the PGA TOUR. His back-to-back wins in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill being his greatest golfing accomplishment to date. Palmer memorabilia and the Matt & Ryan friendship add to the allure of playing golf at ‘The Riv,’ if for only one time as a tourist! Here is a golf course with no tee sheets and a place you can call home if only for one day!

Playing with the GTWA Captain Bruce Vittner and fellow member Greg Wise is always an experience and this round was no different! I managed to shoot a 79 as I did on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland way back when. Playing ‘The Riv’ with these guys was a beautiful experience!

Daytona Beach has been home to the Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona 500 since 1959, the most prestigious race in NASCAR. After enjoying the atmosphere of ONE DAYTONA for a night it was back to the LPGA International to play the Jones Course on Sunday morning.

The opening par-5 1st hole on the Hills Course at LPGA International.

The opening par-5 1st hole on the Hills Course at LPGA International.

A traditional links-style course, the Jones is a great complement and contrast to the Hills Course. Playing with GTWA associates John Dyson, Alice Scott, and Greg Wise, we teed off in a brief downpour. It was one of those disorienting starts on a well-designed dis-orienting golf course! After double-bogeying the wet first, I settled down with two birdies on the 7th and 9th holes, a 9-iron to gimmie range (though I putted the golf ball into the cup as I always do!) and another 9-iron that hit the flagstick stopping 10 feet away; respectively. With no birdies on the second nine. the strategic mounding, expanses of sand bunkers, natural marsh areas, beautiful lakes and undulating greens that is the Jones Course had its way with me.  I ended up posting a disappointing but promising 82.

But isn’t that life and golf? Start off in the rain, end in the sunshine, with a few birdies along the way!

From “fairway to speedway” this GTWA golf trip was an amazing experience!

Daytona Beach, Florida: Golf Destination or ONE DAYTONA?

Both and plenty more!

CLICK HERE for real-time posts from my visit to Daytona Beach!

The beautiful & luxurious Fairfield Inn & Suites at ONE DAYTONA!

The beautiful & luxurious Fairfield Inn & Suites at ONE DAYTONA!

Our threesome at 'The Riv!'

Our threesome at ‘The Riv!’

Walking along and playing some golf at 'The Riv!'

Walking along and playing some golf at ‘The Riv!’

 

 

Daytona Beach, Golf & ONE DAYTONA: “From Fairway to Speedway”

 

CLICK HERE for Andy’s FEATURE ARTICLE on his golf trip to Daytona!

Walking along and playing some golf at 'The Riv!'

Walking along and playing some golf at ‘The Riv!’

I enjoyed a great weekend of golf in Daytona Beach with an introduction to ONE DAYTONA! Here are the highlights via my social media posts and pictures! More will be written, stay tuned and keep those engines revving!

Enjoying Daytona Beach! Left Binghamton, NY on Wednesday at 4 pm… drove 17 of next 26 hours… 16 hours turnaround at home in Ponte Vedra Beach… teed it up at 1:12 pm today Friday on the Hills Course at LPGA International… Golf Travel Writers Association fam trip courtesy of Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau… staying at brand spanking new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott at One Daytona across from the Speedway… nice 30-footer for birdie on the last! TROML Baby! #DaytonaBeach   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 1/19/18)

32Played ‘The Riv,’ a must experience if ever near Daytona Beach… a golf course of challenge, nostalgia, & fun! Four Meyers generations since 1953- Franklin-Bill-Eric-and now Ryan! Home of Ryan and Matt Every junior golf… Every & his Bay Hill triumphs & Arnold Palmer have a strong presence here. Great place, no tee sheets just PGA professional Mike Boss, pic with kids on practice putting green a tribute to the Myers legacy. My competitive benchmark for Ely Park GC, if given the opportunity…   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 1/20/18)

1Great Sunday round on the Jones Course at LPGA International to wrap up the GTWA Daytona Beach “fairway to speedway” golf trip! Great golf & super accommodations at the Fairfield Inn & Suites at ONE DAYTONA! Started off in the rain, ended in the sunshine, with a few birdies along the way! Onward to the PGA Show in Orlando!   (Facebook Post with 30 pics, Andy Reistetter, 1/21/18)

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort: A Magnificent Restoration!!!

Not only did I survive but I thrived playing the Ocean Course in the wind!

Not only did I survive but I thrived playing the Ocean Course in the wind!

Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Andy Reistetter now says: “The two most important days in a golf travel writer’s life is the day a golf course re-opens after a restoration project and the day I get to play it.”

For the fabulous Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort those days were November 2nd, 2017 and November 15th, 2017.

This is the 174-yard par-3 17th, part of the famed closing stretch named “The Bear!"

This is the 174-yard par-3 17th, part of the famed closing stretch named “The Bear!” Claw,”

On the afternoon of Friday, October 7th, 2016 the eye of Hurricane Matthew passed by Palm Coast churning at 120 mph, which is designated as a Category 3 hurricane.

Amazingly this tragic event with its devastation to the golf course was not only reversed but improved upon over a 13-month period.

As detailed in the press release below, “the Hammock Beach Resort owners and resort managers—Salamander Hotels & Resorts—  took a long-term view regarding conditioning (of the golf course) and opted to conduct a complete course restoration in conjunction with Nicklaus Design.”

'Joey' Burch is the kind of guy you want to meet (and interview if you are a writer) when you visit the Hammock Beach Resort... Joey said something simple, profound, and heartfelt to me- "It's good to see golfers on the golf course again!" I could not agree more!

‘Joey’ Burch is the kind of guy you want to meet (and interview if you are a writer) when you visit the Hammock Beach Resort… Joey said something simple, profound, and heartfelt to me- “It’s good to see golfers on the golf course again!” I could not agree more!

“Staying true to Nicklaus’ masterful design, the Ocean Course restoration has included the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, as well as the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green complex.”

Having played the golf course before and after the restoration it is my opinion that they took a great golf course and made it even greater with subtle design changes and the best grass that money can buy and grow next to an ocean!

Scoring 46-37 as I transitioned from a somewhat sheltered (and shattered)  first nine to a wide open second nine in a 25-30 mile Nor’easter wind I would have to say “let her blow!”

Perfect day for clam chowder which kicked in to enable me to start the second nine with two birdies!

Perfect day for clam chowder which kicked in to enable me to start the second nine with two birdies!

The greens were ultra-pure and ultra-fast both uphill and downhill and into the wind and downwind too!

I say bring back the PGA TOUR or invite the LPGA and let those men and women give it a go too! Actually the PGA TOUR Champions played on the second more inland resort course designed by Tom Watson—the Conservatory Course. Watson did not win but Bernard Langer did in 2008 while Keith Fergus won the inaugural event the year before.

The Salmon Burger with House Made Chips!

The Salmon Burger with House Made Chips!

Besides playing the magnificent Ocean Course I was treated to a delicious lunch in the signature restaurant of the Hammock Beach Resort—The Atlantic Grille. I went with a bowl of the New England Clam Chowder and the Salmon Burger on a Brioche Bun. The tasty, the sweet, and the meat sustained me throughout the afternoon round of sunshine and challenging winds!

It was a great day playing the renovated and newly improved Ocean Course! Though I missed Opening Day the press release and great pictures below, including Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner and Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl, make me feel like I was there!

Bravo Salamander, as this type of commitment and dedication is unparalleled!

Ocean Golf at its finest, at least on the second nine for Andy Reistetter!

Ocean Golf at its finest, at least on the second nine for Andy Reistetter!

The Florida Golf Collection of Sheila Johnson, the founder of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, goes west from Palm Coast through Orlando via the elegant Reunion Resort which is embellished with Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson Signature Course designs and then a bit south to the famed Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which has four golf courses and hosts the a PGA TOUR event on its Copperhead Course.

Playing any one of the nine Salamander golf courses is a treat but why not start at the Ocean and Conservatory Courses in Palm Harbor and play them all?

 

Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort Re-opens after 13-month Restoration Project

Jack Nicklaus Signature Design now features new salt-tolerant greens, fairways and rough

11 / 02 / 2017

PALM COAST, FL – The famed Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, today re-opened after a 13-month restoration project.

The ceremonial first foursome at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach comprised (from left to right): Paul Propis, the resort’s golf committee chairman; Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Brad Hauer, Hammock Beach Resort’s director of golf; and Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

The ceremonial first foursome at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach comprised (from left to right): Paul Propis, the resort’s golf committee chairman; Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Brad Hauer, Hammock Beach Resort’s director of golf; and Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl
Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

A ceremonial event, attended by golf, tourism and elected officials, featured a first tee foursome consisting of Lee Elder, the barrier-breaking, four-time PGA TOUR winner; Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl; Brad Hauer, the resort’s director of golf; and Paul Propis, vice president of the resort’s board of governors and golf committee chairman.

The Palm Coast, FL, resort is managed by Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel company founded by Sheila Johnson, and is part of the Salamander Golf Collection.

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course has been closed since October 2016 after high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Matthew caused damage across the majority of its holes. The resort’s owners and Salamander took a long-term view regarding conditioning and opted to conduct a complete course restoration in conjunction with Nicklaus Design.

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, re-opens after a 13- month restoration project. Photo Credit: Ryder Haske

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and closing stretch named “The Bear Claw,” the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, re-opens after a 13- month restoration project. Photo Credit: Ryder Haske

Staying true to Nicklaus’ masterful design, the Ocean Course restoration has included the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, as well as the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green complex.

The new salt-tolerant grass was tested by high winds and storm surge caused by Hurricane Irma in September, but the turf stood up well and the restoration project completion was only pushed back a few weeks.

“Today, the Ocean Course reclaims its position as one of the finest golf courses in the country,” said Salamander Founder & CEO Sheila Johnson, who also serves as an executive committee member of the United States Golf Association. “The location is unique, the views are exquisite and the conditioning now matches the spectacular locale. We thank Lubert-Adler, the resort’s owners, for its commitment to the game of golf, and are honored that the Ocean Course rejoins the rotation within our Salamander Golf Collection.”

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach re-opened on November 2 after a 13- month restoration project. Photographed, from left to right, are: Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Terry Bechtold, managing director of Hammock Beach Resort; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Amy Wilde, president of ACP Communities; Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort; and Neill Faucett, managing principal of Lubert-Adler. Credit: Gregory Heck

The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach re-opened on November 2 after a 13- month restoration project. Photographed, from left to right, are: Prem Devadas, president of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, Terry Bechtold, managing director of Hammock Beach Resort; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Amy Wilde, president of ACP Communities; Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort; and Neill Faucett, managing principal of Lubert-Adler.
Credit: Gregory Heck

In addition to the Ocean Course, Salamander is also re-opening its North Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa Bay on November 3 – just 24 hours later. The course, designed by Larry Packard, had been closed for four months for a renovation of its greens.

As one of only a handful of courses in the Southeast to feature Platinum Paspalum, the Ocean Course’s new surface features thick, short grass blades. Tolerant of all seasons, the grass is able to withstand seasonal temperature changes yet maintain a beautiful verdant year-round look. The addition of new and bright white Angle-G sand has also significantly brightened the already visually appealing course.

The course’s dune line, which is over a mile long, continues to be carefully restored ­to state conservational specifications. Newer and stronger dunes are forming, which offer greater environmental protection while also offering golfers some of the most stunning ocean views on the East Coast.

“By replacing Bermuda grass with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, we now offer golfers one of the purest surfaces in the game,” said Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort. “And, in addition to improved playing conditions for golfers of all levels, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are simply incredible.”

Hammock Beach Director of Golf Brad Hauer hits a ceremonial first tee shot at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. The course re- opened on November 2, 2017 after a 13- month restoration. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

Hammock Beach Director of Golf Brad Hauer hits a ceremonial first tee shot at the re-opening of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort. The course re- opened on November 2, 2017 after a 13- month restoration. Photo Credit: Gregory Heck

The Ocean Course originally opened in April 2000. And, while the integrity of the original design has been retained through the recent restoration, new forward tees have been added to each hole, making six on each. This allows the par 72 course to play as short as 4,100 yards, but retain a challenging overall length of 7,201 yards from its back tees.

Throughout the Ocean Course’s restoration project, Hammock Beach’s other championship layout, the highly-rated Conservatory Course (Tom Watson), has continued to accommodate guest and member play.

The restoration of the Ocean Course follows a number of previous enhancements at Hammock Beach Resort. The resort has recently renovated its grand lobby, refurbished all 15,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event spaces, and re-opened its signature restaurant, The Atlantic Grille.

In mid-November, it will launch its boutique accommodation option: The Lodge at Hammock Beach, which offers an intimate accommodation option overlooking the Ocean Course. It features 20 guest rooms, direct beach access and provides guests with the unique “Lodge Experience” – a VIP service including amenities and daily breakfast. With spectacular ocean views, the Atlantic Grille, led by new Executive Chef Kevin Luque, is serving “Shore to Table” cuisine, highlighting local, freshly caught seafood.

Just south of historic St. Augustine, Hammock Beach Resort presents true luxury nestled among nature and offers an upscale escape surrounded by scenes of Old Florida, with more than 300 luxurious and spacious accommodations. There are numerous golf and social membership options available at the coastal oasis, which operates as both a private club and resort. It offers storybook experiences with two highly renowned and ranked golf courses designed by legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, a 10,000-square-foot ocean-inspired spa and fitness center, multiple restaurants and bars, a multi-level pool complex with adult and children’s areas, oceanfront meeting space, a marina and tennis center, and miles of coquina-laden coastline.

For more information, call Hammock Beach Resort at 866-841-0287 or visit www.hammockbeach.com. Hammock Beach Resort is located at 200 Ocean Crest Drive, Palm Coast, FL 32137.

 

About Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Salamander Hotels & Resorts is a privately owned and operated company based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, the company has a luxury portfolio featuring two distinct collections. The Signature Collection includes the stunning Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; The Henderson, a 170-room grand beach resort in Destin, FL; NOPSI New Orleans, a new 217-room luxury historic hotel re-imagined which opened in July 2017; and Hotel Bennett, a 179-room luxury hotel in Charleston, SC, opening in summer 2018. The Golf Collection includes the famed Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which hosts an annual PGA TOUR on its Copperhead Course; the elegant Reunion Resort in Orlando, which includes Signature Course designs from Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson; and the recently renovated oceanfront Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL, home to layouts by Nicklaus and Watson. All Salamander properties are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. For additional information, visit www.SalamanderHotels.com.

 

 

The Omni Grove Park Inn, An Unmatched American Treasure in Asheville, NC!

I am thinking you will have a wonderful and eye-opening experience at the Omni Grove Park Inn, same as I did!

I am thinking you will have a wonderful and eye-opening experience at the Omni Grove Park Inn, same as I did!

The Omni Grove Park Inn is a fascinating destination and a true adventure! A place where you cannot stay and visit without taking with you an experience to share for many years to come! Of course, this was perfect for a self-proclaimed golf and life voyager and documentarian such as me!

The magnitude of the Omni Grove Park Inn is massive yet it seems every little corner is intriguing and is a story in of itself! Chimneys, so big that Santa Claus and his sleigh could fit down through, have hidden elevators inside in addition to massive fires. Another lesser known unadvertised secret is a window on the outside of a regular-sized chimney that you will have a hard time finding without a tip (see picture caption below).

_1 Stanton QuoteThe inspirational quotes in the granite stones of the Omni Grove Park Inn guide us on our way to a peaceful rest—from Thoreau (‘Be not simply good—be good for something’); Emerson (in part, ‘every man is a quotation from all his ancestors’); and Thomas Jefferson (‘How much pain have cost us the evil that have never happened.’) There are many more inspirational aspects to be enjoyed by you as so many other souls have enjoyed, for the last hundred years and counting.

A visit to the Omni Grove Park Inn is unique, ultimately comfortable, and certainly a soul-searching experience; and we have not even teed it up on the historical Donald Ross championship golf course!

Fore, let’s do that now!

The presence of Donald Ross permeates the Grove Park Country Club!

The presence of Donald Ross permeates the Grove Park Country Club!

First a bit of the golf course history which predates the 1926 Donald Ross design by twenty six years! In 1894 a group of Asheville residents created the Swannanoa Country Club. Their course of five holes was laid out the next year by a member and located in West Asheville. Remember the timing of this from a historical perspective. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island, formed in 1891, claims to be the oldest formal organized golf club in the United States. In that same year of 1894 the United States Golfing Association was created in New York City by delegates from the Newport Country Club (RI), the Saint Andrew’s Golf Club (Yonkers, NY), The Country Club (Brookline, MA), Chicago Golf Club (IL), and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Talk about having deep roots in American golf lore, this golf club has it!

The golf course, original Grove Park Inn (C), Vanderbilt Wing (L), and the Sammons Wing (R) are all nestled together on the slope of Sunset Mountain. Photo Credit: Frontier Group Inc.

The golf course, original Grove Park Inn (C), Vanderbilt Wing (L), and the Sammons Wing (R) are all nestled together on the slope of Sunset Mountain. Photo Credit: Frontier Group Inc.

In 1899, the golf course relocated to the end of Charlotte Street nearby the present-day Omni Park Grove Inn. In 1910 the Grove family chipped in to hire Musselburgh, Scotland’s Willie Park Jr., who combined with his father won a total of six Open Championships. The Park’s were rivals of Old Tom Morris and his son Tommy Junior who together won a total of eight Opens. Fellow Scot Donald Ross first appeared on the scene in Asheville in 1913 to redesign Willie’s work. Ross then went on to design a whole new layout in 1926 for what would then be known as the Country Club of Asheville. Elaine and Charles Sammons, the prior owners of the Omni Grove Park Inn, went from partial to full ownership in 1976. Known as “The Big Swap,” the Grove Park Inn received the now Grove Park Country Club in its very own  front yard whereas the private country club took a golf course at Beaver Lake. But for the golf-loving owners at the time, that was not enough so they renovated the golf course in 1984, nearly ninety years after its inception. The famed links were completely restored in 2001 to recapture the spirit and form of the original 1926 Donald Roses design masterpiece. Golf, below Sunset Mountain, at the Grove Park Inn was launched into its second century of existence.

No better sight outside your hotel window or feeling knowing that you will be teeing it up come morning!

No better sight outside your hotel window or feeling knowing that you will be teeing it up come morning!

The golf course at the Omni Grove Park Inn has hosted the world’s best players over the years. Soon after the original 1926 Ross design grew in, the likes of Harry Vardon and Ted Ray competed in an exhibition. The PGA’s Asheville Land of Sky Open ran for eighteen years through 1951 with the legendary Ben Hogan winning three consecutive years from 1940 to 1942! Some of the Hogan Hawk legend evolved here as one day he had a tap-in birdie on the par-3 7th hole and the next posted an eleven trying and eventually escaping from a ravine. His playing partners noted that the expression on the face of Hogan, the Hawk, never changed from one day to the next! Even the great Bobby Jones came to Asheville and the Grove Park Inn to play the lower mountain golf course that he so enjoyed!

Nice touch with the old entrance to the CC of Asheville being preserved and respected!

Nice touch with the old entrance to the CC of Asheville being preserved and respected!

But that was then and now is now and let me tell you that this is a great, not-to-be-missed golfing experience! The first nine is the lower nine and can jump up to bite you big time same as it did Hogan. The second nine, closer to the Inn, especially the Sammons Wing, takes you on a challenging and picturesque journey up the gradual slopes of Sunset Mountain.

I particularly liked the par-5 12th hole, not because I birdied it with a nice little pitch and 10-foot putt,  but because it is a series of rolling hills and valleys that need to be navigated a certain way in order to have visibility as to where you are going—classic, pure and strategic Donald Ross! The 12th hole eventually meanders by the old entrance and stone wall of the original Country Club of Asheville. Give me a beautiful golf course with great shot values and a touch of history and I am a happy golfer!

The Bynum House with the back 17th tee alongside up to the right in this picture!

The Bynum House with the back 17th tee alongside up to the right in this picture!

At the far high point of the golf course, near the par-3 17th tee, stands the stately stone Bynum House. It was the first piece of property to be sold outside the Grove family in 1920 and it took seventy-nine years to return to the Grove Park Inn in 1999. Enticingly, there is a historical picture of an elaborate party inside the house yet the sign warns one not to get too close. The back tee is situated right next to the house so you can sort of get a glimpse inside. There wasn’t any party or function the day I played, hence no invitation. Perhaps you will be luckier both with an invitation and your tee shot on the 17th!

The narrow tee shot from the back tee on the par-3 17th alongside the Bynum House! Golf Shot, which I unfortunately did not execute well that day!

The narrow tee shot from the back tee on the par-3 17th alongside the Bynum House! Golf Shot, which I unfortunately did not execute well that day!

Distracted by history and the need to voyage and document, I found myself unprepared when faced with the 171-yard tee shot. Literally in the shadows of the modern Sammons Wing, yet matching the historic part of the Omni Grove Park Inn, the 17th, while one of Ross’ short holes, is eternally narrow. On that hole on that day I was wholesome entertainment for anybody gazing out their window. The eighteenth is a great finishing hole, nearly all downhill with a dog-leg left fairway that bottoms out and then rises up to another ingeniously elevated and inverted-saucer-sloped green.

Like your visit to the Inn, playing the Omni Grove Park Country Club will be memorable, exhilarating, and fun. A lifetime memory with alternating views of the distant mountains and the majestic red-clay-tile roofed Grove Park Inn. I find it hard to believe, but true, that the Inn was designed from a sketch by Fred Seely, the son-in-law of Edwin Grove, the successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur and namesake of one of America’s true treasures. The sketch and the Inn are remarkably similar.

Seely sketch of the original Grove Park Inn, uncannily similar to what was built!

Seely sketch of the original Grove Park Inn, uncannily similar to what was built!

Basically you need a week, or minimally four nights to get a thorough feeling of the Omni Grove Park Inn! Be sure to take the tour offered on Wednesday mornings at 9 am. Mine was done by a very knowledgeable young lady named Becky from Sales and Marketing. Not surprisingly I also learned that she had a minor in history. One of the best tours I have ever taken. She brought Grove, Seely, and the Sammons to life! The story of the resurrection of the hotel and its transformation into a world-class destination resort for post WWII presidents, movie stars and we the coming and going multitudes is well documented! Don’t miss the elevator ride inside the chimney, the third-floor Palm Court with its skylight, and of course the secluded window in a chimney!

The view up from the entrance of the hidden underground spa... You can see the red clay tile of the roof of the main inn!

The view up from the entrance of the hidden underground spa… You can see the red clay tile of the roof of the main inn!

And the spa, the spa, the spa—constructed underground so as not to obstruct the room views of Asheville and the opposing mountains, at a cost of 42 million dollars when it opened in 2001.

And the cuisine, the cuisine, the cuisine—I so enjoyed the Edison, an innovative and artistic restaurant in design and  food, so much I went back there every night of my stay! Discover Edison for yourself or enjoy the Sunset Terrace of the Blue Ridge dining room known for its Friday night Seafood Buffet, Saturday night Prime Rib Buffet, and  Sunday Champagne Brunch.

The city of Asheville is literally at your doorstep. The Omni Grove Park Inn is featured Stop No. 6 on the 10-stop Grayline Hop-On, Hop-Off historic tour of Asheville. With no hopping, you can make it around in less than two hours. It’s a great way to see Asheville!

 

Nothing beats witnessing a sunset from the terrace of the Omni Grove Park Inn! This is the one I had the pleasure to enjoy!

Nothing beats witnessing a sunset from the terrace of the Omni Grove Park Inn! This is the one I had the pleasure to enjoy!

For every season there is a reason to visit the Omni Grove Park Inn.  My season was the 25th Anniversary of the National Gingerbread House Competition but if you miss the actual competition, no worries, as there is an exhibit highlighting it year-round. In a way that is the story of the Omni Grove Park Inn—you will experience its history, all the way back to its founding in 1913 while enjoying the modern luxury that no other resort can match!

 

Oh, I almost forgot, here is the picture of the window on the outside of a chimney down around the golf clubhouse!

Oh, I almost forgot, here is the picture of the window on the outside of a chimney down around the golf clubhouse!

 

 

 

Below is a picture gallery from my visit and below the pictures are my real-time social media posts:

Can you tell I was excited to be at the Omni Grove Park Inn?

_640 Hotel

Arrival!

I am here, it is The Omni Grove Park Inn, and it IS Spectacular! OMG, the history (since 1913), the architecture, & their five–star service! Unbelievable beautiful sunset tonight. Room overlooking the golf course, a 1924 Donald Ross design that actually goes back to the 1890s & Willie Park. How am I supposed to sleep tonight? Too excited to play this historic venue in the morning! TROML Baby!   (Facebook Post with 30 pics, Andy Reistetter, 11/6/17).

0

Paired up with a turkey!

I have had to play golf with some turkeys in my life but this was ridiculous!!! Not to name names…   (Facebook Post with 1 Pic, Andy Reistetter, 11/8/17)

Great round of golf on this vintage 1926 Donald Ross golf course! With roots back to Willie Park in the 1890s, host of the PGA TOUR in the 1940s & 50s, an expert renovation back to pure Donald Ross was done in 200! Love the Donald Ross quotes & the ‘Hawk’ story too! Here is a great golf course that has stood the test of time & is a thrill, historic & modern, to play! More to be written on this experience! A BIG thank you to Head PGA Golf Professional Simon Andres & direct from Cork, Ireland Assistant Frank Holly for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 11/8/17)

3

Ms. Becky, Tour Guide Extraordinaire!

Sad to check out this morning… but a great way to end my stay with the Wednesday 9 am group tour of the Omni Grove Park Inn. Tour guide Becky, a.k.a. Marketing Expert & Historian was terrific! Oreos, pig babies, & thermometers in the walls! More to be written about my visit… Bye Bye Asheville for now…   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 11/8/17)

 

 

The Waterfall Club in Clayton, Georgia; Even More Spectacular in the Fall…

The colors are brilliant at The Waterfall Club especially when the sun peaks out late on a Sunday afternoon!

The colors are brilliant at The Waterfall Club especially when the sun peaks out late on a Sunday afternoon!

So came a Fall 2017 visit on top of the initial Summer 2016 visit to The Waterfall Club in Clayton, Georgia! Hoping for a Trifecta with a Spring 2018 visit to cover all seasons except winter! First time stayed in a private residence, this time in the Walnut Lodge Suite which came with an unbelievable view of  Lake Burton! David Feherty may have stayed in Coach Saban’s place on the lake but nothing really beats staying on-course with all the comforts of home and more, fine dining, lake access and the club’s own pontoon boat, a spectacular view and all the fresh air that you can breathe in! This is a private residential country club with lots for sale and a brilliant lodge for the members and their guests. Blessed to be a guest now for two visits and to be able to experience The Waterfall Club and Lake Burton! See the link to the article below!

Summer view of Signature Hole No. 2 with Doc Daryl Wiley.

Summer view of Signature Hole No. 2 with Doc Daryl Wiley.

Heading back to The Waterfall Club in Clayton, Georgia on the way to Asheville on the Reprise of the 2017 Fall East Coast Golf Journey! Had a great time there last year and will see the fall colors in peak season this weekend! Amazing place with amazing people, amazing views, and amazing golf! See you soon Chris Schindler! (Facebook Post with 1 Link; Andy Reistetter, 11/3/17)

The Waterfall Club in the N. Georgia Mountains- Beyond Expectations (Summer 2016)!

Fall view of the Signature Hole, the par-3 2nd hole with a 210 feet drop in elevation from tee-to-green!

Fall view of the Signature Hole, the par-3 2nd hole with a 210 feet drop in elevation from tee-to-green!

I can’t tell you how beautiful The Waterfall Club is! Words & pics don’t do it justice! Mountain autumn golf at its best, actually Super Best with bent grass greens! Velvet like greens but still FAST with lots of slope! Shooting 77 with three birdies makes it special too! Super special staying onsite in the Lodge in the walnut suite! Played here last summer, autumn now, hoping for a spring round in the future! Chris Schindler, thanks for hosting Andy’s Golf & Travel Diary!   (Facebook Post with 30 Pics, Andy Reistetter, 11/5/17)

Jason LeBlanc You picked a stellar time. Sorry I missed you Andy!

Morning view from the Walnut Lodge Suite!

Morning view from the Walnut Lodge Suite!

Andy Reistetter I did Jason! Sorry to miss you too! I also missed the Daryl C Wiley clan this time too! But I did see Chris and all 18 glorious golf holes, they really could all be signature holes!

Andy Reistetter Seriously Jason LeBlanc, you have me at Goodbye! With a view like this to awake to from the Walnut Lodge Suite I don’t ever want to say goodbye to the Waterfall Club! If invited, I will be back! Lifetime TROML Experience for sure!

Jason LeBlanc I hope you know you are always welcome.

Here are the pictures from the Fall 2017 visit:

 

The Waterfall Club in the North Georgia Mountains- Beyond Expectations!

At The Waterfall Club, overlooking Lake Burton, beyond expectations, way beyond expectations!

At The Waterfall Club, overlooking Lake Burton, beyond expectations, way beyond expectations!

If there ever is truth in advertising in the golf business, I would have to say you will find it at The Waterfall Club in Clayton, Georgia—above Lake Burton and beyond your expectations!

You may recall The Waterfall Club as the host club for Feherty’s interview with Alabama football coach Nick Saban on The Golf Channel. Coach Saban lives on Lake Burton and is an avid golfer and member at Waterfall. I remember watching that show and thinking what a beautiful place that is and wanting to visit and play the golf course someday soon.

Feherty interviewing Coach Saban at The Waterfall Club. Photo Credit: SECRant.com

Feherty interviewing Coach Saban at The Waterfall Club. Photo Credit: SECRant.com

That little planted seed came to fruition when Head PGA Head Golf Professional Chris Schindler contacted me on Facebook and invited me to come and experience The Waterfall Club. Maybe I should do a show called Following Feherty? My experience, and hopefully yours too (if you are not already a member), at The Waterfall Club will be beyond expectations. I mean way beyond and my standards are high having visited a good deal of the best golf resorts around the world!

We had a boat full of people and a boat full of fun too out on Lake Burton!

We had a boat full of people and a boat full of fun too out on Lake Burton!

First and foremost are the people of The Waterfall Club. I expect to meet and have wonderful people come into my life. I think that way  especially around the game of golf because it acts as a good filter whether on a public municipal golf course or a prestigious private club like this one in the North Georgia Mountains. To play and enjoy golf one has to get honest with themselves and the challenges being confronted. Ego and power and prestige mean little on the golf course. Golf just seems to bring out and embrace people with genuinely good hearts. Every one I encountered, from the wait staff, to the golf staff, to the supportive members were people I would love to see more of for the rest of my life!

CLICK here for a Highlight Video that emphasizes a special spirit for family golf at Waterfall.

With Doc Wiley on the tee at the signature par-3 second hole.

With Doc Wiley on the tee at the signature par-3 second hole.

The heart of The Waterfall Club is the 18-hole championship golf course designed by Scott Pool. The course features bent grass fairways and greens with Zeon zoysia tees. It’s a green environment unlike any other unless you have played Augusta National in the springtime. It’s mountain golf at its best on strategically leveled out terrain of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Mostly though the terrain is natural. The well designed and memorable holes appear natural to all fortunate enough to put a tee in the ground at The Waterfall Club.

The name of the club comes from the signature par-3 second hole which plays much shorter than the scorecard distance of 185 yards. The tee sits atop a natural waterfall that cascades 70-some yards down to the green. There are many other gorgeous mountain and Lake Burton views, including the 15th tee where the mountain tops seem to be infinite in number and beauty as far as the eye can see. This club could have just as easily been called The Most Beautiful and Natural Golf Club in the World!

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Ian Murphy, GCSAA Golf Course Superintendent

With Chris Schindler, Ian Murphy and Jason LeBlanc (L to R).

With my hosts Chris Schindler, Ian Murphy and Jason LeBlanc (L to R).

A big part of the heart of The Waterfall Club is the big guy named Ian Murphy, the Golf Course Superintendent, who likes to be outside. He likes challenges too—like growing bent grass at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level in a temperate rain forest where day and night temperatures can vary widely. Ian who doesn’t play golf puts it simply—”I went to school, got into turf and now am up here in the North Georgia Mountains growing grass.” With a supportive greens committee he is thrilled to be at The Waterfall Club and makes one heck of a boat captain too!

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Chris Schindler, Head PGA Golf Professional.

My host for the Waterfall visit was Chris Schindler, who along with General Manager Jason LeBlanc, made my time in the North Georgia Mountains, both on land and on water (even in the sand too) quite extraordinary. If you know Bill Hughes, PGA Master Professional and General Manager at TPC Sawgrass then you know Chris Schindler. They worked together back in the early days of TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas and are two of the nicest, most professional people in golf. Chris, a product of the acclaimed Ferris State PGM program lists Lake Burton, the lifestyle and the golf course as his ever expanding membership’s Top 3 reasons for loving The Waterfall Club.

CLICK here for the Full Video of Fun on Lake Burton with the Doc Wiley Family!

Although it was the 4th of July weekend it sure felt like Thanksgiving to me!

Although it was the 4th of July weekend it sure felt like Thanksgiving to me!

As the ultimate host Chris set me up to play golf with Dr. Daryl Wiley, his son Carson, and his son-in-law Sam. It was an extraordinary time golfing with more fun to come afterwards. You can’t miss the dramatic views of Lake Burton while on property at The Waterfall Club unless you are mesmerized by the dramatic views of the mountains. The Lake, the Lake, the Lake was on my mind throughout the morning round while crisscrossing a gorgeous piece of property that use to be a horse farm.

As fate would have it I ordered the Birdie Burger for lunch in the clubhouse as I had no birdies on the golf course. I think Carson had five, his Dad a couple and Sam one. Me no birdies, but I love how they treat guests at The Waterfall Club. After lunch we headed for the lake and a pontoon boat captained by Superintendent Ian Murphy. Watch the video, what a fun afternoon with a wonderful family!

It's all about the golf with me but The Waterfall Club is so much more! Here is our golfing foursome- Sam, Carson & Doc Wiley and me (L to R).

It’s all about the golf with me but The Waterfall Club is so much more! Here is our golfing foursome- Sam, Carson & Doc Wiley and me (L to R).

I could go on and on about The Waterfall Club but let me just mention that they have a mountain lodge with luxury accommodations for guests of the members. I stayed in a beautiful and comfortable private residence but would love to come back and stay in the lodge with all its conveniences and magnificent views. The dining at the club is exceptional as well. I had dinner in the dining room and it was an amazing experience. Culinary delights and The View, The View, and The View!

The Waterfall Club—above Lake Burton and beyond your expectations!

On the green at No. 2 with the signature waterfall and tee above behind me.

On the green at No. 2 with the signature waterfall and tee above behind me.

The BIG Georgia Peach with the little one!

The BIG Georgia Peach with the little one!

Doc Wiley's favorite vista on the way to the 18th tee. I agree wholeheartedly!

Doc Wiley’s favorite vista on the way to the 18th tee. I agree wholeheartedly!

 

 

Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at TPC Las Colinas

The statue of Byron Nelson looks normal size from 30 yards but up close his story is so inspirational it is bigger than life.

The statue of Byron Nelson looks normal size from 30 yards but up close his story is so inspirational it is bigger than life.

I went to Dallas to capture the Spirit of Byron Nelson. I spent three nights at the Four Seasons Resort & Spa in a villa overlooking the 18th green of the TPC Four Seasons Resort/Las Colinas Course. The HP Byron Nelson Championship has been in existence since 1944 when Byron Nelson won the inaugural event. Since 1983, when Ben Crenshaw won, it has been played on the TPC Las Colinas Course. There is golf history everywhere on this resort property but especially on the Byron Nelson Plaza where, in the watchful eye of a clock tower (Byron loved clocks), there is a nine foot statue of the Legend of Golf. What I realized is that when you are 30-40 yards away from Mr. Nelson’s statue he looks almost mortal, no bigger than any of the golfers that pass by, even another charter member of The Sports Club, also named Byron Nelson (true fact, no relation). But when you come closer, talk to folks who knew him personally and absorb the memorabilia in Champions Hall you get a sense of the Spirit of Byron Nelson.

CLICK here for Part 1 of a Video Interview with Tim Cusick, Director of Golf Instruction, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

CLICK here for Part 2 of a Video Interview with Tim Cusick, Director of Golf Instruction, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

Andy Reistetter with Vail Tolbert, Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas.

Andy Reistetter with Vail Tolbert, Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas.

I received an awesome tour of the property from Vail Tolbert, the Director of Public Relations. Then  I interviewed Tim Cusick, the Director of Golf Instruction and Rob Cowan, The Sports Club Manager along with the other Byron Nelson, an amateur member of the Sports Club.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Rob Cowan, Manager of the Sports Club, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Byron Nelson, an amateur member of the Sports Club with a familiar name.

The highlight, of course, was playing the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course (no pun intended). My playing partners were Tom Horan, host of the popular Golf Talk America radio program “Speaking of Golf,” and a delightful father Steve & son Joey duo from Denver, Colorado. We surely felt the presence of Byron on his golf course at his home club.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Tom Horan, host of “Speaking of Golf” on the 17th tee at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

I had the pleasure of corresponding with Mrs. Peggy Nelson who I met at the 2010 BNC when she released her book, Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance, and Lessons Learned from Golf’s Greatest Gentleman. Here is a Q&A with Mrs. Nelson:Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:   What are your personal thoughts about the Olympics? What is your favorite event, favorite Olympian, most memorable moment and why? Did you and Byron watch them on TV or ever attend in person? Do you have any recollection of conversations you had with Byron about the Olympics in general?

Mrs. Nelson:     Byron and I always admired Olympic athletes and the dedication and sacrifice it takes for both them and their families to reach that highest point of endeavor, no matter which sport it is.  My favorite event would be figure skating, and Peggy Fleming was quite a heroine for me–I was honored to meet her one day many years ago and she was so lovely and gracious–every inch the champion still.  Of course, her Olympic victory was before the event became so prodigiously athletic with all the requirements for multiple jumps, so grace and fluidity were more important.

Byron and I never attended an Olympic event  but watched quite a bit on TV, and were always amazed at the talent and determination the athletes displayed.  We didn’t talk about it a lot nor do I recall Byron saying anything specific about the events, though he enjoyed watching.  I think he liked the summer sports more, because he was never a fan of cold and snow!

Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:     Byron played on two Ryder Cups and captained a third team. What did it mean to him to play for his country? What emotion would characterize it best? What thought or story was his favorite about the Ryder Cup?

Mrs. Nelson:     Byron loved playing and captaining in the Ryder Cup–he said being selected captain by the team was the greatest honor he ever received in golf.  Of course, he loved America and so was very proud to play for the USA; at the same time, when the Ryder Cup was held in Portland, Oregon in ’47 and the British team’s expenses were provided by an American. Byron was very pleased to be part of that team as well as being glad the competition could resume.  As for stories, you might check his autobiography How I Played the Game, because there are several in there.

Andy Reistetter with Mrs. Peggy Nelson at the 2010 BNC.

Andy Reistetter with Mrs. Peggy Nelson at the 2010 BNC.

Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:     Golf will be played in the Olympics for the first time in 112 years in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In your opinion, what would it have meant to Byron to be an Olympic Golfer? How do you think he would have defined the “Olympic Spirit for Golfers?” How would it have differed, if in any way, from his Ryder Cup experience?

Mrs. Nelson:     One of the things Byron admired about both the Ryder Cup and the Olympics was the spirit of good sportsmanship that pervades both types of competition.  I don’t know that he ever realized there had been golf in the Olympics so long before he was even born, but he surely would have loved to be on the American team–well, if he could maybe have qualified ….!

Good luck with your Olympic Story!

Peggy Nelson

Thank you Mrs. Peggy Nelson for your wonderful insight and sharing Byron with his admiring golf fans through your book and theses responses.   Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf

Here are my pictures and comments from this inspirational visit to the professional home of Byron Nelson:  

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