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.

Spectacular AGTD Experience: Reunion Vacation Homes at the Reunion Resort Orlando!

4This part of our Golf Experience weekend was definitely a bit over the top! If you love the staying at the Reunion Resort Orlando, you will love staying in the Reunion Vacation Homes! We stayed in a 10-bedroom beautiful home on the 12th hole of the Nicklaus Golf Course! With a home theater, hot tub and ten bathrooms too; it was the whole deal! Catered dinner the first night and dinner atop the Reunion Resort at the Eleven at Reunion Resort Restaurant! Wow, what a view and cuisine to match! Chauffeured limousine-like shuttles and the whole nine yards! There are Reunion Vacation Homes and then there are Official Reunion Vacation Homes with complete access to all the amenities like the water park. With a $700- 1,000 daily rate depending on season this is a cost-competitive alternative to hotels and resorts; plus lots more intimate! I have always been close to my GTWA peeps but now we are family! Maybe we should tee it up in the Kissimmee Family Golf Classic in June? Or maybe you should too!

A BIG thank you to George McNeilly & McNeilly Communications for organizing this weekend with Experience Kissimmee, FloridaReunion ResortReunion Vacation HomesMystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club, and Celebration Golf Club! It was an amazing experience!   (Andy Reistetter; 1/27/19; Facebook Post with 40 Pics)

Celebration Golf Club to Host Kissimmee Family Golf Classic!

1After a great round of golf at Celebration Golf Club, we were introduced to the Experience Kissimmee, Florida organization and learned about the inaugural Kissimmee Family Golf Classic!

The Kissimmee Family Golf Classic June 20-23, 2019 at a lineup of star-studded golf courses including Reunion Resort Orlando’s Nicklaus and Watson courses as well as Celebration Golf Club. The 54-hole team scramble event is open to any combination of family members and will be a celebration of the bonds the game helps create. This is a great deal with substantial savings on greens fees alone! Plus I can tell you that Chris King is part of these so expect a family version of his over-the-top successful
World Am! For more information on the tournament and to register click on this link: 
http://www.kissimmeefamilygolfclassic.com/

3PLUS a BIG thank you to George McNeilly & McNeilly Communications for organizing this weekend with Experience Kissimmee, FloridaReunion ResortReunion Vacation HomesMystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club, and Celebration Golf Club! It was an amazing experience!   (Andy Reistetter; January 27, 2019; Facebook Post with 8 Pics)

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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).

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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)

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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)