Author: John Gilrain

Payne’s Valley Cup

Payne's Valley-Big Cedar Lodge, Hollister MO
Payne’s Valley-Big Cedar Lodge, Hollister MO

U.S. Open Wrap-Up

Last week concluded the 2020 U.S. Open, and Bryson DeChambeau put on a performance for the ages. With little regard for the nasty, thick rough, he challenged virtually every hole with high booming drives to fire an amazing final round 67 and finish at -6, well clear of runner-up Matthew Wolff who finished at even par. The “Professor” used the off season to add about 30 pounds of muscle, which he turned into an enormous power surge, and combining that with meticulous analysis and calculation on every shot, achieved what none of the experts thought possible. Although he hit only 41% of the fairways for the week (23 out of 56), DeChambeau was still able to reach, and hold, the firm, lightning fast Winged Foot greens even when he missed a fairway, because his huge drives often left him with only wedges and short irons. As Rory McIlroy aptly stated, “I can’t wrap my head around it”. He’s not alone. Before the tournament got under way, DeChambeau said he would play Winged Foot with a “bomb and gouge” approach, and many people (including myself), questioned whether it would be an effective strategy. Obviously, the plan worked to perfection, and Bryson deserves all the credit in the world for redefining how a U.S. Open can be played. DeChambeau is now one of only three players to win the NCAA Championship, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Open–the other two being Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The 21-year-old Matthew Wolff also challenges conventional golf wisdom, with a loopy swing and feet that fly off the ground when he strikes the ball—but incredibly his drives were often even longer than the bombs DeChambeau was hurling. And what a week Matthew had. Although he ended with a disappointing final round 75, finishing a Winged Foot U.S. Open at even par is an extremely impressive performance (and normally more than enough to win). While over the last twenty years power has become an increasing factor for success on tour, there is no doubt that a new era in golf has begun with Bryson DeChambeau and the young PGA stars who kill it off the tee. Can anybody wait to see what they have in store for us at the Masters in November?

Payne’s Valley Cup

Even before you can clear your head from the amazing display put on by Bryson DeChambeau at the U.S. Open, another event that’s sure to knock your socks off is being played today–the Payne’s Valley Cup. The 18-hole charity match will have Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas taking on Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri. The event is to mark the grand opening of the new Tiger Woods’ “Payne’s Valley” course, his first design that is open for public play, with all proceeds going to the Payne Stewart foundation, (2-time U.S. Open winner and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1999). The Payne’s Valley Cup will have three formats: 6 holes of best ball, followed by six with alternate shot, and then then 6 holes of individual stroke play. There will certainly be some questions surrounding the state of Tiger Woods’ game after missing the cut at Winged Foot, but match play is a format that always gets Tiger’s competitive juices flowing, and with this group we are sure to see aggressive play and plenty of fireworks. Thomas and McIlroy are both playing well, finishing tied for 8th place at the Open, and Justin Rose is major champion who is rarely off his game. When Tiger and Phil dueled in the “The Match: Champions for Charity” earlier this year, it provided the most unique and enjoyable golf theater I had ever seen—and I have a feeling that Payne’s Cup will be an equally wonderful day of golf. It’s airing at 3pm eastern time today on Golf Channel—you don’t want to miss it.

The Course

The match will take place on the Payne’s Valley course at Big Cedar Lodge Resort in the Ozark mountains of Hollister, Missouri. As mentioned earlier, Payne’s Valley is the first and only public golf course designed by Tiger Woods. Opening this week, the course is in meticulous condition and offers gorgeous views of the Ozark mountain landscape. With a USGA course rating of 75.6 and 132 slope from the tips, Payne’s Valley will challenge top notch golfers while multiple tee boxes offer everyday players the opportunity to test their game without needing to hit it 325 yards. Big Cedar Lodge Resort also offers two other great layouts, “Buffalo Ridge Springs” (designed by Tom Fazio) and “Ozarks National” (designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw). In addition to 3 wonderful eighteen-hole courses, Big Cedar Lodge also offers the thirteen-hole executive “Mountain Top” course (designed by Ben Crenshaw) and a nine-hole par-3 course (“Top of the Rock” designed by Jack Nicklaus). Big Cedar Lodge is ranked nationally by Golfweek as a Top 200 Resort, by Golf Digest as one of the top 10 in Missouri and is also host to the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, an annual event on the Champions Tour. If you’re looking for a piece of golf heaven, you’ll find it at Big Cedar Lodge.

Get in-depth course details at GolfDay.

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2020 U.S. Open

2020 U.S. Open at the Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck NY
Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck NY

Safeway Open Wrap-Up

Last Week concluded the Safeway Open, where Stewart Cink mounted a come from behind victory to take the title. Cink shot a final round 65 (-7), and birdied three of his last four holes to defeat Harry Higgs by two strokes. This was his first tour win in over 11 years, the last victory coming at the 2009 Open Championship where he defeated golfing legend Tom Watson in a playoff (Watson was attempting to become the oldest player ever to win a major at nearly 60 years of age). With the rise of so many young guns on the PGA tour, it was nice to see a 47-year old veteran bring home the title. It was also something of a family affair for Stuart, with son Reagan on his bag and wife Lisa following them closely throughout the day. Cink later said that Lisa’s fortitude in her battle to overcome breast cancer had been a tremendous inspiration as he worked to get his game back to championship caliber.

2020 U.S. Open

This week begins the second major of the year, the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club. The U.S. Open is known for being the toughest test in golf, with the USGA striving each year to assure that their championship is one where shooting even par is an extremely good score. And when Winged Foot is the venue, their efforts are almost always rewarded. The legendary Bobby Jones won the first U.S. Open played at Winged Foot in 1929, shooting a score of 6 over par. In 1959, Billy Casper won at Winged Foot with a score of 2 over and in 1974 Hale Irwin recorded a 7 over total to take the championship. Fuzzy Zoeller is the only player to win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot with a score under par (-4). The last U.S. Open at Winged Foot was won by Geoff Ogilvie in 2006 at 5 over par. The U.S. Open has traditionally been played in mid-June, when the rough is heaviest and most difficult. Due to COVID-19, the USGA was forced to delay the Open until September—but you can be assured that Winged Foot will still present one of the ultimate tests in golf. In addition to the deep, thick rough, Winged Foot will also challenge the players with severe and lightning fast greens, as well as very tight fairways. Regardless of whether the USGA can set up the course for maximum difficulty, this year’s Open at Winged Foot is bound to be one of the best weeks of the year—as it always is.

The Field

As you would imagine, the field for this year’s Open is phenomenal. Dustin Johnson, FedEx Cup Championship trophy in hand, headlines a star-studded group of the elite names in golf. Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, defending U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, and 23-year old PGA champion Collin Morikawa will all be teeing it up. Unfortunately, 2-time Open Champ Brooks Koepka was forced to withdraw due to a lingering knee injury, so we’ll have to wait for next year to see if he can add a third trophy to his mantel. With the depth of talent on tour right now, there are a number of other players to keep an eye on as well. Winged Foot demands ball striking, and Tony Finau can hit it with anybody—so don’t be surprised if this is the week when he breaks through for his first major win. Patrick Reed is another outstanding ball striker, and he certainly has the nerve to stand up under U.S. Open pressure. And then there is Phil, coming off a win in his first Champions Tour event. Though unlikely to contend according to the experts, he has had some success at Winged Foot and if he keeps it in the fairway and his putter heats up—maybe this will be the week that he finally lands an Open after so many runner-up finishes. As for Tiger, he has not had much success on this course (missed the cut at Winged Foot in 2006), but he is still Tiger and anything is possible.

Winged Foot

Winged Foot Golf Club has two eighteen-hole major championship caliber courses, the East and the West. The West course has traditionally been chosen to host big events, and it will be again for the 2020 U.S. Open. Founded in 1923, Winged Foot is one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world. Both courses were originally designed by A.W. Tillinghast, and the West course has been updated over the years by legendary architects including Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Dick Wilson, George Fazio, and Tom Fazio. In recent years, the architectural integrity of both courses has been maintained under the guidance of Gil Hanse, renowned for his work with classic designs. Winged Foot gained immediate notoriety for both its beauty and toughness, with narrow fairways, heavy rough, and severely undulating greens that could test the greatest golfers in the world, and was chosen by the USGA to host the 1929 U.S. Open only 6 years after opening. Since then, Winged Foot has hosted 5 additional U.S. Opens (1959, 1974, 1984, and 2006), as well as the PGA Championship (1997), 2 U.S. Amateurs (1940, 2004), 2 U.S. Women’s Opens (1957, 1972), and a U.S. Senior Open (1980). Winged Foot is also known for its iconic clubhouse, which was designed by world renowned architect, Clifford Wendehack. The West course is currently ranked 11 and the East is number 52 among the Golf Digest top 100 courses in the U.S. Listed in the 2019 edition of the National Register of Historic Places, with peerless tradition and excellence, Winged Foot Golf Club stands at the top of what American golf and the USGA represent. What a week we have in store—enjoy it.

Get detailed course information on the Winged Foot Golf Club at GolfDay.

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The Safeway Championship

Picture of the Silverado Golf Resort stands for fans at the Safeway Championship
Silverado Resort, Napa CA

Tour Championship Wrap-Up

Last week concluded the Tour Championship, and with it the 2019-20 PGA Tour Season. Dustin Johnson came away with the victory, finishing at -21, 3 strokes ahead of the runner-ups, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele. Johnson was also crowned the FedEx Cup Champion, as well as remaining the number 1 player in the World Golf Rankings. Due to the format change in the Tour Championship, Johnson was at the top of the Leaderboard from the start and never gave it up.  It was a dominating performance, and quite a way to capture his third win of the year in a remarkable season (keep in mind that U.S. Open and Masters are yet to come before we can totally close out the 2020, so we still have a lot of great golf to watch). It has been a difficult year for both the players and fans, but there was a lot of great golf and of thrills. The players who made the biggest impact this season were obviously Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, and the PGA Champion, Collin Morikawa. It was a relatively lackluster year for Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth—but the U.S. Open and Masters are yet to come, so there is still a chance for one of them to make his mark on the 2020 season.

The Safeway Open

This week begins the Safeway Open played on the North Course at Silverado Country Club, part of Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, California. Following the FedEx cup playoffs and the Tour Championship, the field for the Safeway has traditionally not been quite as deep as some of the other Tour venues, but there are still some very big names teeing it up. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, and Shane Lowery (the reigning Open Champion) will all be in attendance. Unfortunately, Cameron Champ, one of the young guns on tour, has decided not to defend his championship, opting to rest instead after competing in all three FedEx Cup playoff events. Normally played in October as part of the fall event series, the Safeway was moved up in the schedule this year due to Covid-19.

Silverado’s History

Silverado Country Club is a 36-hole public facility, part of the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley California. The North course was originally designed by Ben Harmon and John Dawson in 1955, and remodeled by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in 1967. RTJ also designed the South course, and both courses have been modified and updated over the years by two-time U.S. Open Champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, Johnny Miller. Silverado hosted The Kaiser International Invitational from 1968 to 1980, a PGA Tour event with champions who included the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, and Johnny Miller himself. Silverado offers two great tracks, wonderful accommodations, spectacular views of Napa Valley, as well as the Johnny Miller Golf Academy. When you are planning your next golf getaway, take a good look at Silverado—you will be happy you did.

Get in-depth course information about the Silverado Country Club from GolfDay.

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2020 U.S. Amateur Championship

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort was the site of the 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, OR

The 2020 U.S Amateur, one of the most memorable in history, was staged at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. Twenty-two-year old Tyler Strafaci, a senior at Georgia Tech narrowly defeated nineteen-year-old Charles “Ollie” Osborne, a sophomore at Southern Methodist University. Although I consider myself a golf fanatic (I follow both the PGA Tour as well as the Champions Tour pretty closely), the Amateur events never really piqued my interest—until now. In fact, I had never even watched a U.S. Amateur before, other than a highlight or two on golf channel. I know what you must be thinking–how can I call this one of the most memorable U.S. Amateurs in history, if it was the first one I’ve ever seen. Well, that would be a fair point, but I’ve watched the final round of nearly every major professional golf championship, whether it be live or on tape, and the final match of this U.S. Amateur was one of the most exciting displays of quality golf I have ever seen. My dad, who has seen many U.S. Amateurs, shared the same view. With the exception of perhaps the Stenson/Mickelson duel at Troon during the 2016 Open Championship, I’d say the final match at this year’s U.S. Amateur would be hard to beat.

The Format

The U.S. Amateur begins with 36 holes of stoke play on Monday and Tuesday and then moves to match play from Wednesday through Sunday. Normally, non-professionals with a handicap index of 2.4 or better qualify for the tournament at a variety of venues around the country to fill out a field of 312 players, but this year COVID-19 forced the USGA to cancel qualifying and instead use the World Amateur Golf Rankings to determine a field of 264 players. The stroke play portion is similar to what you see every week on the PGA tour, where players tee it up and try to make the lowest score they can. Once the stroke play portion of the tournament is completed, the 64 players with lowest score are seeded based on score and advance to match play. Match play is where the excitement begins to build, with players going head to head in a format where if you lose your match, you go home. In match play, each hole stands alone and you either win it or lose it, regardless of the score you make. The first day includes 32 matches with the winners moving on to the next round on Thursday. The field is cut in half each day until two players remain to compete in the final on Sunday, a 36-hole pressure packed head to head battle of wills where grit and determination is more important than talent alone.

The Highlights

There were plenty of high points throughout the tournament, but one particular moment stands out, demonstrating the pressure of the U.S. Amateur and the heartbreak that it can include. It came during the third round between Tyler Strafaci and Segundo Oliva Pinto, in a match that was closely contested throughout. They came to the par 5 eighteenth hole with the match all square, and Pinto put his third shot into the green side bunker. Strafaci was just short of the green, looking at a lengthy birdy opportunity, so it was critical that Pinto make a good bunker shot and save his par—no easy task with many of the damp, windswept bunkers at Bandon Dunes. Caught up in the moment, and in an effort to go the extra mile for his player, Pinto’s caddie jumped down into the bunker and tested the sand with his fingers so he could give him an idea of how firm it was. Unfortunately, touching the sand is a rules infraction and the penalty is loss of hole, and in this case loss of match as well because it was the last hole of an even match.

Another memorable moment came in Tyler Strafaci’s semi-final match against Aman Gupta. Entering the field as an alternate, Gupta came into the week as a long shot–but boy did he put on a helluva show. After qualifying for the match play portion as the number 5 seed and knocking off three opponents to reach the semi-final, he found himself 4 down to Strafaci through 12 holes and it appeared the match was over. Refusing to quit, Gupta proceeded to win 4 out of the next 5 holes and clawed himself back to even going to the par 5 eighteenth hole. Bandon Dunes is a tricky, links style course, where an aggressive play and unlucky bounce can land you in a world of trouble—which is exactly what happened to Gupta when his tee shot found a fairway bunker. Strafaci was in good shape with a solid chance to reach the par 5 in two, and Gupta chose an aggressive play over the steep face of the bunker in an effort to get as close to the green as possible. Unfortunately, his week ended when the shot failed to clear the face of the bunker and ended up back at his feet (as did his next attempt). It was a tough way to lose, but he can certainly hold his head high after displaying so much grit and determination (not to mention a great many quality golf shots).

After so many great matches, I wondered if the final between Strafaci and Charles (“Ollie”) Osborne could possibly measure up, and to my amazement, it certainly did—and then some. The long-hitting, and quite imposing, Osborne took a big early lead over Strafaci at 5 up through 12 holes. And even though the final is a 36-hole match, that’s a big deficit to overcome. Strafaci fought hard though, as he did in every match throughout the week, winning 4 of the next 5 holes to get within one, and then squaring it with a win on the 20th hole. The match remained even until Stafaci took a one up lead by winning the 25th hole, and held it for the next five. Osborne squared the match with a win on the 31st hole, and the final 5 holes included some of the best golf you could ever see as each player traded shot for shot. Strafaci won the 32nd and 33rd holes to go 2 up, and then Osborne won the 34th and 35th holes to square it up again. It all came down to the par 5 final hole, where Osborne pounded his drive right down the middle and Strefaci responded with a beauty of his own. Strefaci was away, as he had been many times throughout the match, and promptly striped a laser-like 3 iron to 15 feet, putting the pressure right back on Osborne. Ollie finally cracked when he pushed his approach to the right of the green, and was unable to get up and down for birdie. Strafaci two putted for the victory, capping off a terrific final match.

Summing Up

This win was particularly emotional for Strafaci, as his family has deep ties to amateur golf. His late grandfather, Frank Strafaci, was something of a legend among serious amateur golfers, having won the 1935 U.S. Amateur Public Links championship as well as winning the North and South Amateur twice (an accomplishment that Tyler matched in 2019.) It was also fitting that Tyler’s father; Frank Jr. was on his bag to share the moment as the family legacy was carried forward. It will be interesting to see if Tyler will try his hand on the PGA tour, or maintain his amateur status and add to his accomplishments (either way, it is certain we have not seen the last of Tyler Stefaci). Ollie Osborne, at nineteen years old, looks like a shoe-in for the Tour at some point—but the field at 2021 U. S. Amateur will have to play some serious golf if anyone hopes to stop him again.

Learn more about the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort with GolfDay.

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The Travelers at TPC River Highlands

Beautiful landscape at TPC River Highlands
TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, CT
June 25, 2020

The Travelers Championship starts today at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. and while the previous three tournaments provided plenty of thrills, I have a feeling the Travelers may be the best yet.

The Field

First some unfortunate news–Brooks Koepka announced yesterday that he was withdrawing from the tournament because his caddie, Ricky Elliot, had tested positive for Covid-19. Web Simpson, Cameron Champ and Chase Koepka (Brook’s younger brother) also announced that they would withdraw. Although none of the players have tested positive, they each had been in close proximity to Brooks and his caddie, so felt that caution was the most prudent course—hopefully they will be returning soon. The field, however, will still be packed with big stars like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed. Now that Phil has joined the 50+ club, it will be interesting to see how he fares. A two-time winner at the Travelers, Phil is comfortable with the layout at River Highlands and with his window of opportunity closing a little bit more in a star-studded field, don’t be surprised if we see the hyper-aggressive Phil of years past. The Travelers will be the third tournament in a row for Thomas, Spieth, Rose, Johnson, Rahm, and McIlroy, so fatigue may start to become a factor—although they may also be super sharp after playing so much competitive golf. And with the exception of Johnson and McIlroy, all of them were in the hunt at the previous two events, but came up just short. Meanwhile, we are still eagerly awaiting the debut of Tiger Woods. While no official date has been set, Tiger was seen playing golf with his son Charlie on St. Simon’s Island, so perhaps he is starting to tune up for a return in the near future (The Memorial is a good bet, since Tiger has rarely missed Jack’s event).

The Course

The Travelers Championship is held at TPC River Highlands, a private club in Cromwell CT. The course, originally name Edgewood Country Club, was designed in 1928 by Robert R. Ross. Pete Dye did a redesign in 1982, modernizing and stiffening the course to stand up to current equipment as a TPC course, while maintaining the natural beauty of the landscape and layout. In 1989, the course underwent further remodeling and updating by Bobby Weed. As a par 70 measuring 6,841 yards from the tips, the softness of the course makes it play significantly longer, and tight fairways with small greens will present a challenge to the players. Still, River Highlands is considered one of the less demanding courses on the Tour schedule (USGA course rating of 73/Slope rating of 131). The course record of 58 was set by Jim Furyk in 2016, but the fact that he did not go on to win is evidence that River Highlands has teeth and can bite back.

History

Past champions at the Travelers include bombers like Bubba Watson (twice), Phil Mickelson (twice), and Greg Norman, as well as great putters like Jordan Spieth and Brad Faxon. Illustrious ball strikes including Nick Price, Paul Azinger and Lanny Wadkins have also claimed this championship, but precision and grit can carry the day—as seen with the reigning champion, Chez Reavie. Other past winners here include David Frost, Curtis Strange and Peter Jacobsen (twice).

Wrap up

With this field, on a course that allows so many different styles of play the opportunity to win, we should be in for a treat. Be sure to tune in, you will be glad you did.

Get the course details on the TPC River Highlands

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Trump National Los Angeles

A Dye Design

Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles

Trump National Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to a great many world-renowned golf courses. Although many are private, there are a number of notable tracks that are open to the public. Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, designed by Pete and Perry Dye, has been consistently ranked among the top public courses in California since opening in 2006 (currently ranked number 30 by Golfweek).

History

Located about a half-hour drive south of Los Angeles International Airport on the Palos Altos Peninsula near San Pedro, Trump National got off to a rocky start (literally). Originally named Ocean Trails Golf Club and built in 1999, the course sits on high bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean with beautiful views of Catalina Island in the distance. Unfortunately, the location and features that contribute to the extraordinary beauty of the property also make it highly susceptible to landslides. Before the course could open, a slide heavily damaged the 16th and 17th holes while the 18th hole completely disappeared into ocean. The expense to stabilize the property and rebuild the closing holes was so high (approximately $20 Million) that the original owner was forced into bankruptcy. In 2002 the Trump Organization purchased the property, finalized reconstruction, and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles opened for play in 2006.

The Course

The unique location of Trump National makes it one of the most scenic cThe unique location of Trump National make it one of the most scenic courses in the state, with gorgeous views from almost every hole. Although not known as one of Pete Dye’s most difficult layouts (USGA Rating of 74.6 with a slope of 144), at over 7,000 yards from the tips with strategically placed bunkers and gusty coastal breezes coming off of the Pacific just a stone’s throw away on so many holes, Trump National Los Angeles is a stiff test of golf for players of any level. While there are few dog legs and very wide fairways, there is not a great deal of rough, so shots that are not well placed run the risk of rolling out into a hazard. And the greens, while perfect, are highly undulated, so strong putting is at a premium. All in all, this course was definitely built for the low-handicapper, but multiple tee boxes and wide fairways also give novice golfers the chance to have a fun day while enjoying the stunning views and classic Pete Dye layout.

Trump National offers quality practice facilities as well, with a manicured grass driving range featuring multiple targets as well as putting and chipping greens.

Rick Smith Golf Academy

Trump National Los Angeles is also home to the highly acclaimed Rick Smith Golf Academy, offering private lessons, multi-day schools, clinics, video analysis and junior golf programs. Rick has worked with some of the towering figures in golf, including Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson—so your game is guaranteed to improve with one of the programs the Academy has to offer.

Accommodations

The South Bay area offers a variety of wonderful hotels only minutes from Trump National,  including the Terranea Resort, the Doubletree Hotel San Pedro, the Crowne Plaza Hotel San Pedro and the Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club at Redondo Beach.

Rates

The greens fees at Trump National Los Angeles are a bit high (averaging between $200. and $300.), but they come down quite a bit in the late afternoon. There are also a variety of “VIP” programs that make the course more affordable (the standard program is $795 per year and locks your rate at $160 throughout the day with unlimited use of the practice facilities.)

The GolfDay Rating

GolfDay gives Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles a rating of 90.6, number 12 among all public courses in California.

For more details: Trump National Los Angeles

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7 Tips for Planning Your First Golf Trip

Plan Ahead for your golf trip

It’s true that over 80% of golf in the USA takes place near home. Yet, at least 8.2 million golfers enjoyed the sport as part of business or leisure travel at the last count.

So, if you’d like to try something new when it comes to golf, you’re in good company. What’s more, your first golf trip could lead to many in the future if you follow these planning tips.

1. Get a Group Together

Golfing with friends is always better than going it alone. Get your golfing companions on board and get their input and ideas to help you plan your getaway.

The magic number for any trip is always a number that’s divisible by four. Most golf tour organizers swear that eight is the magic number of players for any trip.

It’s a manageable number for arranging flights, tee times, accommodation, and meals. You’ll also manage to play a variety of combinations when it comes to arranging your golf outings.

Arranging the Invitations

Start your planning at least 6 months in advance, as few people will have prior engagements that far ahead.

You want to avoid both hurt feelings by forgetting someone as well as disasters due to people pulling out at the last-minute cancellations. So, it’s best to send out one bulk invitation.

Write up an email with the main details of your trip such as the date and possible destination. Send it to at least 20 people, stating that the first seven people to respond get the spots.

That way you don’t have to choose who goes and who stays. If you end up with more than eight players, you can always put a couple of them on standby in case of cancellations.

2. Getting Organized

Once you’ve got a bunch of like minded people together, figure out between yourselves who’s going to be responsible for which details of the trip.

It’s difficult to get everyone to agree, so set up some ground rules from the start. If you find yourself in charge of this band of brothers, take charge and delegate when needed. Your enthusiasm will soon wane if you’re left doing all the work.

3. Pick a Destination

Fabulous Golf Destinations

There are hundreds of excellent golfing hot spots all over the USA. All of these have their merits, but for starters, you should choose one that’s closest to home.

Some of the country’s most popular golfing destinations include:

  • Myrtle Beach
  • Alabama (Robert Trent Jones golf trail)
  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Florida
  • Wisconsin
  • Oregon

If you’re traveling during the wintertime, be sure to choose a place where you’re likely to enjoy the best golfing temperature instead of freezing cold conditions, wind, or rain.

Florida or California are better choices for winter golfing. Many golf courses in snowy parts of the USA close during the colder months anyway.

4. Choose Your Courses

Choosing golf courses should be easy with so many fantastic ones available, but often this mind-boggling variety is what makes it so difficult.

While it’s always nice to tick the major signature courses off your bucket list, you can still have a lot of fun at lesser-known golf clubs. Getting into the top courses is sometimes difficult due to high demand.

You’ll have a better time if you choose courses that are in line with the skills and experience of the players in your group. That way everyone gets to enjoy a successful round or two.

Following one of the established golf trails makes planning a lot easier, especially for first-timers.

5. Go First Class on Your First Golf Trip

As soon as you’ve decided on a few courses that you’d like to play, book your accommodation. During busy periods you could end up having to travel miles to your chosen course if you don’t book early.

Stick within your golf trip budget but avoid cheap choices. Often you’ll get better value by booking everything through a golf tour agent.

Research your accommodation just as thoroughly as you did your golf courses. You’re bound to come across some hotels that offer group packages for golfers at a discount.

While it’s common to share rooms during a golf trip, everyone will enjoy themselves a lot more if they have their own. When you’re playing, eating, and socializing together all day, it’s good to have somewhere to escape for a little peace and quiet. Having your own space means you won’t get tired of each other’s company by the end of the trip.

Plan your meals carefully so you can afford at least one splurge at a fancy restaurant or a night out on the town during your golf trip.

Another option is to rent a house close to the courses you want to play and take turns cooking. A house offers a lot of freedoms that don’t come with a hotel or B&B accommodation.

6. Plan as Much in Advance as You Can

Apart from your accommodation, you should book your golfing experiences well in advance too. Traveling during the week will make it easier to get a slot on the busier courses, but you should still book ahead to guarantee yourself a game on the day.

You may need to reserve a golf cart or a caddy in advance at some courses. There’s no harm in arranging your meals at the halfway house beforehand either, if possible.

If you’re going to be eating out, call the restaurant long before you arrive so they can set up one table for your whole party. Many restaurants can’t accommodate large groups at short notice.

7. Packing for Your Golf Trip

You don’t want to worry about laundry during your golfing getaway, so pack one golfing outfit for each day.

Be sure to check the dress code of each course beforehand and pack accordingly. Don’t forget to let your teammates know if you come across any important information about how to dress appropriately for each course.

You’ll also need some casual outfits for relaxed times as well as some smarter gear for meals or evenings out.

Above all, make sure your golf bag’s packed with everything you need for your games. You can never have too many extra balls and tees. Most golf courses have a store onsite which stocks the basics as well as the latest clubs, shoes, and golf bag designs.

Get More From Your Golf

You need all the help you can get when planning a golfing adventure away from home. You’ll find our website is full of useful information to help you plan your first golf trip or even your next game.

You can read more of our blog for extra tips, or look up golf courses, golf ratings, and golf routes on our site.

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