Don't miss the great golf between Orlando and Daytona Beach on the I-4 corridor

By Travel ArticlesDecember 4, 2012, 4:15 pm

Interstate-4 between Orlando and Daytona Beach is one of the most traveled thoroughfares in Florida. Visitors and residents in their cars packed with coolers, surfboards and beach toys head to one of Central Florida's most popular beaches, Daytona Beach, in droves.

What these beach lovers and some golfers may not realize are the significant number of excellent courses they're missing along the way. Best of all, if you decide to hit the links, you don't have to stray more than a few minutes off I-4 to tee off.

Here's a menu of places to play:

Walt Disney World tourist corridor

This area about a 20-minute drive southwest of downtown Orlando has a tourism infrastructure second to none with theme parks, attractions, restaurants, hotels and golf courses. Just off I-4 is a wide selection of courses that are easily accessible.

If you like the ambiance and amenities prevalent at resort courses, you're in luck. Among the high-profile resort golf complexes a couple of minutes or so off the exit ramps are:

ChampionsGate, a sprawling complex with two Greg Norman-designed layouts, the International Course and National Course, a world-class practice facility and David Leadbetter's Golf Academy.

Hawk's Landing Golf Club is a lush, well maintained layout designed by Robert Cupp Jr. that surrounds the towering Orlando World Center Marriott Resort hotel. Falcons Fire Golf Club is a Rees Jones Signature Design with lots of white sand bunkers, creative mounding and natural water hazards. Marriott's Grande Pines Golf Club is a course Steve Smyers designed in partnership with Sir Nick Faldo that features contoured fairways and several multi-tiered greens.

Downtown Orlando

Three miles north of downtown in the College Park neighborhood, which is peppered with mature oak trees, Dubsdread Golf Course has been a popular, affordable place to tee up since its opening in 1924. Three years ago, Dubsdread underwent an extensive enhancement program that dramatically modernized and elevated the entire facility.

About a 10-minute drive away is Lake Orlando Golf Club, an economically priced layout designed by Lloyd Clifton in 1971 just off Lee Road. Dominated by tall cypress trees, dense native foliage and lakes, Lake Orlando has a defined Central Florida character.

Suburbs north of Orlando

Farther north, about a 15-minute drive, are some of the Orlando area's most popular suburb towns, such as Longwood, which has lots of restaurant and shopping options once the last putt has been holed for the day.

The upscale Longwood -- with its tree-lined streets, landscaped yards and palm-dotted golf course communities -- is home to the RDV Sportsplex, where the NBA's Orlando Magic practices.

The community has an excellent selection of golf courses for one its size, including: Sweetwater Golf & Country Club, a Lloyd Clifton design with beautiful oak trees and fairly tight fairways. Watch out for the 'Loch Ness Monster.' No, not that one. Sweetwater's, which has the same name, comes in the form of a mammoth, 625-yard par 5 that double-doglegs around a picturesque lake.

Wekiva Golf Club is a Ward Northrup design with moss-draped oaks and lakes that has the feel of a nature preserve with golf holes.

For a private club experience, the Gary Player/Karl Litten-designed Alaqua Country Club has some spectacular elevated tees, towering trees, wildlife such as deer and wild turkeys, and exceptional maintenance standards.

Lake Mary to Deltona

Located 18 miles north of Orlando, Lake Mary, with its many high-tech and communications companies, is one of Florida's fastest growing suburban areas. Among the celebrities who live in Lake Mary are PGA Tour golfer Chris DiMarco, ESPN sports broadcaster Lee Corso and former head coach of the Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy.

You might see the celebs on local popular layouts such as Timacuan Golf Club -- a Ron Garl/Bobby Weed design that opened in 1987 with impressive mounding and innovative bunkering -- and Magnolia Plantation Golf Club, a lush course designed by Dave Harmon bordering the Wekiva River wilderness area.

Back on I-4 driving north, don't miss the Debary Golf and Country Club in the small town of Debary. Often chosen as a U.S. Open Qualifying site, this Lloyd Clifton layout has just one water hazard, rolling fairways and most of the holes are set away from homes by a buffer of woods and vegetation.

Five miles away in Deltona, the Deltona Club, which opened in 2008, is a Bobby Weed design with sweeping waste areas and strategic mounding throughout the layout.

In Deland, the tree-laden college town that's home to Stetson University, Victoria Hills Golf Club, designed by Ron Garl, is aptly named. It's un-Florida-like elevation changes and rolling hills set it apart from most other courses in the central part of the state, and the hundreds of Augusta pines and oak hammocks and lakes give it beauty and challenge.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.