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)    

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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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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JTOG Day 94: Staying at Atlantico Buzios Resort & Convention!

There are some resorts and good times that don't need to be remembered as they seem to immediately and eternally become a part of your life journey and story! Taking the bus from Rio to Buzios, a scenic and exciting two-hour bus ride, and staying two nights at the Atlantico Buzios Resort & Convention was certainly one of those life experiences for me! Just look at these pictures of the Atlantico! Literally right on the beach, a beautiful beach and in the heart of the quaint, historic, and scenic Buzios itself! I love all the statues and remember the nightlife and having fun meeting people from all over Brazil and taking a long walk and exploring the beach and meeting more interesting people. Plus there is a Pete and Perry Dye-designed golf course of the same namesake not very far away! If you are ever in Rio de Janeiro you must visit Buzios and stay at the Atlantico! Please tell them all I said hello!

Cordoba Golf Club, Home of El Gato & El Plato

Argentina, without a doubt is the "home" of golf in South America! No different than St. Andrews, Scotland is the "home" of golf for the world. After all the Golf Channel Latin America has their studios in Buenos Aires. The only World Golf Hall of Fame member south of the US border is the great Argentine golfer Roberto De Vicenzo who lives near Ranelagh Golf Club south of country's capital. If Argentina is the "home" golf in South America then it follows that in the modern era, Cordoba Golf Club is the "home" of golf in Argentina. When you arrive at Cordoba Golf Club you quickly realize it is the "home" of El Gato, Eduardo Romero and El Plato, Angel Cabrera. Being invited to play Cordoba Golf Club through El Plato, Angel Cabrera's charity foundation and having the opportunity to meet and interview El Gato, Eduardo Romero was quite an honor and privilege. On top of that I staying at the quaint five-guest room La Casa Grande literally across the street from the tenth green. For now this amazing experience is captured in the following pictures, broken up into three albums- the golf course, El Gato & El Plato and the great amateurs to play out of Cordoba Golf Club like Roberto Monguzzi. More words and videos (interviews and beauty shots) to come! Enjoy! The golf course of Cordoba Golf Club:

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El Gato & El Plato:

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Great amateurs of Cordoba Golf Club:      

Hotel & Spa Golf Los Incas in Lima, Peru

Simply a beautiful and exquisite place to stay while visiting Lima, Peru. Centrally located in Lima for golf, shopping, entertainment and sightseeing! CLICK here to learn about Nikkei and a Taste Of Peru Culinary Culture.

Los Inkas Golf Club in Lima, Peru

What a treat to play Los Inkas Golf Club in Lima, Peru! Founded in 1945 by Peruvians with a mission to learn, enjoy and grow the game of golf in their native land. Having played there and attended a junior golf clinic there I would have to say "mission accomplished" and still going almost 70 years later. With the ruins of ancient Inka civilizations on site and exposed for all to see, playing Los Inkas Golf Club not only has a historic golf feel but a historic world civilization feel too. Special thanks go out to my hosts Golf Instructor Pablo Dupliex, Golf Superintendent John McGee and Member Jocy Robio. I had so much fun meeting them and others, especially the junior golfers and Rocio, Vicky and Debbie! CLICK here for website of Los Incas Golf Club.