Falcons Fire ups Orlando golf ante

By Erik PetersonMarch 9, 2010, 12:47 am
falcons fire hole 13
No. 13 at Falcon's Fire Golf Club (photo courtesy Falcon's Fire)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – When Falcon’s Fire Golf Club opened in 1993, the Orlando golf scene looked a lot different than it does today – behemoths Reunion Resort, ChampionsGate and Orange County National simply didn’t exist yet.

Fast-forward to today and there are about 75 golf courses in Orlando.

For more golf in Orlando, or to plan your next trip, visit OrlandoGolf.com
Recognizing the old adage, if you’re standing still you’re falling behind, Falcon’s Fire completed a renovation in Oct. 2009 that included new greens, which were resurfaced with TifEagle turf. Bunkers also were reworked to make the course more visually intimidating. The result is Falcon’s Fire’s reemergence as one of Orlando’s elite daily-fee golf courses.

Utilize the run-up shot

Designed by Rees Jones, the course features plenty of water – particularly on the back nine – but most holes don’t have any short of the green. This design characteristic gives the course flexibility by allowing the weekend hacker to enjoy the course without losing a million golf balls, while still challenging the better ball-striker by making him or her consider trajectory on approach shots.

About the only holes where the run-up shot cannot be used is on the par-3s, which are diverse in distance but require an aerial attack.

Creating virtual movement

If you look at Falcon’s Fire on a scorecard it appears as though most holes are straight, but fairway bunkers frame the holes in such a way that careful thought should go into the placement of your tee shot.

No. 2, for example, is a simple short par-4 but a drive down the right side flirts with a bunker, and gives players a tough angle into the green even if he or she is in the fairway. The proper play is a left-to-right shot down the left side of the fairway.

No. 12 has the opposite effect, where tee shots left feed toward a bunker and leave you with a narrow angle into the green.

Nos. 2 and 12 appear straight but require a dogleg-type tee shot. If you miss it on the wrong side of the fairway, be prepared to hit your approach shot into the skinny part of the green.

New greens are faster, more undulating

Just like a steak knife, green contours get duller over time, so the renovation at Falcon’s Fire included a fresh sharpening. While the increase in undulation isn’t drastic from a visual standpoint, when you add fast greens to the mix it’s a tricky combination.

And while we’re on the subject of green speed, you’ll want to pay attention to the new TifEagle surfaces. Speed and smoothness of greens is arguably the most important characteristic in determining the overall quality of a golf course, and the new surfaces at Falcon’s Fire are some of the purest in town.

With the combination of speed and undulation at Falcon’s Fire, putts from above the hole require a surgeon’s touch.

Factor the wind

If you’ve played golf in Florida you know that the terrain is flat and exposed, and it’s not uncommon for the wind to blow 20-25 mph on any given day, no matter the season. Falcon’s Fire is no exception to this rule, and if the greens are running fast the wind can play an even larger role.

The green at No. 13 is particularly tricky because of its tiered design and position along a lake that sits exposed to the elements.

The verdict

With the recent renovation at Falcon’s Fire you can bet that conditions are some of the best in the area, and its close proximity to Disney (3 miles) means it’s convenient for the Mickey-goers.

With a rack rate of $129 Falcon’s Fire is right on par with the area’s other high-end daily-fee courses. One aspect that makes it stand out amongst some of the resort courses in its price range is that it’s a stand-alone golf course with no hotel, so you don’t have to book a stay-and-play to get the best rate – all golfers are treated equally.

If you’re considering a trip to Central Florida for MLB spring training, check out Falcon’s Fire’s “Hat’s Off” promotion, which offers golfers $30 off green fees between March 4 and April 3, 2010 if you play in your favorite baseball team’s hat.

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Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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Gustafson shares stuttering success video

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

She did so without stuttering.

And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

“I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

“If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

Make way for Jin Young Ko.

The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

Ko finished at 14 under overall.

It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.