Georgias Sea Island Resort is mystical respite for all types

By Rex HoggardApril 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
sea island

A man steps to the tee at his local club and notices a funeral precession passing on a nearby road. He pauses and removes his hat in silence.
Wow, a playing partner says, that is really respectful.
Its the least I could do, the man says. We were married for 20 years.
-Unknown jokester

SEA ISLAND, Ga. ' The golf widow is dead, and Sea Island Resort killed her.
No, its not the seaside resorts posh accommodations or legendary spa that cured the greatest threat to domestic bliss since the invent of Monday Night Football. Sea Islands tonic is much more banal than that.
The fix is an intoxicating mix of flora and fauna, and some of the best seaside scenery east of the Mississippi. If better halves are uninterested in golf, the swaying moss and sweeping views are formidable stand-ins.
Check out Sea Island's Restaurants
Since the ancient game started elbowing in on family ' probably right about the time Old Tom Morris put a hickory shaft in boy Toms hands ' husbands have eschewed quality time for a quick nine. At Sea Island, the menu ingeniously delivers both by way of a welcoming aura and wondrous diversions.
On this spit of Georgia coast, the ride begins at the sprawling clubhouse estate, a modern remake of a southern classic ' Gone with the Wind meets Waldorf Astoria. The 40-room Lodge at Sea Island features 24-hour butler service and whiplash views of the Atlantic and St. Simons Sound, while the Cloister redo is a Bucket List special, that is to say a must-stay at least once in a lucky lifetime. But for pure atmosphere, and views, the newly opened Beach Club, located just across the textured street from Cloister, is a one-stop shop for relaxation.
However, it is the Sea Island practice range, with unfettered views of the Atlantic Ocean and St. Simons Sound, where the experience for the golf obsessed begins. They call it The Hang, a sprawling practice area thats at the heart of the golf experience.
On a cool, windy March afternoon the unhurried warm-up begins. Mac Barnhardt, CEO of Crown Sports Managements and unofficial tour guide, eases his way through a pile of practice balls. In the next stall, PGA Tour regular Paul Claxton chips away at the mysteries of the game, while perennial top-100 teacher Todd Anderson pauses between lessons to say hello. In order they stop to offer advice, swing tips and punch lines. They cant help themselves.
You need to drive your legs into the shot, offers Claxton.
Barnhardts advice is simpler, almost spiritual by comparison: Just feel it. After you coil, just let it go. And Anderson, simply offers a quick once over and amused nod.
It is the Sea Island way, not directed at a particular visitor, simply anyone who is lucky enough to wander out.
Its one of the few places someone can come and get a lesson and have an established Tour player just down a few stalls from you hitting balls and have the player come over and suggest to the teacher to do this or do that, Barnhardt says.
If the thought seems overwhelming, consider the scene when Sea Islands Hang is overrun with Tour types. Davis Love III ' the 20-time Tour winner whose father, Davis Jr., was the long-time director of instruction at Sea Island ' is a regular, as is Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson. Its a cast that reads like a weekly Tour tee sheet, and a regular happening in this corner of coastal Georgia.
The convergence is not by chance, but a well-orchestrated dream of Bill Jones III, the CEO of Sea Island Company and the grandson of Sea Island co-founder A.W. Jones Sr. The plan was simple: combine the best of golf instruction, fitness and sports psychology in an idyllic setting and wait for something special to happen.
It was kind of organic, but there was always a plan to create the best golfing experience. Not many places can you go out and learn golf, Barnhardt says. Not many places can you start with an hour with (director of fitness) Randy Myers and then an hour with Todd Anderson and then an hour with Dr. Mo (sports psychologist Morris Pickens) and than an hour with Mike Taylor to work on your short game.
Each spring, Jones vision is taken to the extreme when a handful of Tour types begin their run-up to the Masters at nearby Frederica Golf Club. In 2007, Johnson did his Augusta National prep work on Fredericas juiced-up putting surfaces ' officials dial up the layouts greens to 14 on the Stimpmeter to simulate those at the Masters ' and honed his short game on the sprawling practice range. A green jacket followed.
Last year, Snedeker joined the Frederica fateful and took eventual champion Trevor Immelman to the wire.
I remember (2007) the greens were like 14 at Frederica and Davis (Love) couldnt get a putt to the hole the first two days at Augusta National, Barnhardt says.
Tour types tend to gravitate to the private Frederica layout, but it creates an interesting question. Which of Sea Islands three layouts ' an embarrassment of golf riches that includes Seaside, Frederica and storied Ocean Forest, perhaps the best American trifecta not named Bandon ' would pass the if you could only play one before you died test?
If I was going to play every day, Frederica, Snedeker says after an extended pause. But if I could only play once, it would be Seaside. Every hole is cool, but the wind can come up and it can be brutal, whereas Frederica is a little more protected.
Luckily, with a kind request and an accommodating member one doesnt have to make that decision. That, to, may be the genius behind Jones plan. Whats not as clear is whether Jones vision was designed to entertain the golf widow, as well as the golfer, or if the diversions are simply beneficial happenstance.
Eighteen holes and an extended session on the practice range into an uninterrupted day, it doesnt really matter.
Where else can you take your wife and not have her call and ask, Where are you? Barnhardt said. She will forget you.
The golf widow is dead, and Sea Island killed her.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose shot a 7-under 65 Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for an overall 15-under 201. The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is chasing his second Race to Dubai title but leading rival Tommy Fleetwood is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit crown, is tied for 13th on 10 under.

Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”