The honeymoon is over, but golfers still love the Country Club of Miami

By Travel ArticlesDecember 21, 2012, 5:00 am

MIAMI -- Some at the Country Club of Miami believe the ghost of Jackie Gleason, the late comedian who moved to Miami back in the 1950s, haunts the clubhouse and the course.

Gleason, of 'The Honeymooners' fame, loved golf and had a home for more than two decades at the Country Club of Miami, a facility that was once private and hosted the area's PGA Tour event.

These days, it's a public venue, one of five run by Miami-Dade Country, and while its glory days are behind it, the club's past is a constant reminder of a different era of golf.

While Gleason's presence -- real or imagined -- is ever present, the golf course has plenty of other claims to fame. It's where Arnold Palmer was once head professional, where Jack Nicklaus played his first pro event and where the likes of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and many other great players entertained golf fans for many years. The club hosted the National Airlines Open, which later moved to Doral and became the Eastern Open. Today, it's the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

And if you hang out on the porch behind the club's Sports Grill, you might run into an old golfer or two who remembers what those days were like. Charlie Mayo has been coming here since the 1960s. He's seen just about everything and knows that Gleason ruled the roost back in his day.

'Jackie [Gleason] certainly had a dominating presence,' said Mayo, who likes to watch a game or two on the back porch of the club on weekends, just as Gleason might have done three decades before him.

Country Club of Miami: A tale of two golf courses

The Country Club of Miami's West Course and East Course -- have been reconfigured a few times since the club opened a half century ago. But one thing has remained constant about these two Robert Trent Jones designs -- they are both good tests of golf, just as they were decades ago for the pros.

The West Course, a par 72 that stretches to nearly 7,000 yards, is the tougher of the two with tighter fairways, water everywhere and more undulating greens. The course record is a mere 66, set by George McNeill in a mini-tour event.

'It's just hard,' said John Miller, the head professional at the Country Club of Miami. 'There's water or out of bounds on every single hole, and a lot of the water is hidden.'

Plus the greens have more undulation and several false fronts. If the Tif-Eagle greens are running fast, it's possible to run putts off the green depending on where the pins are.

The East Course is no slouch either. It's shorter at 6,409 yards, but it's a par 70. While some of the holes -- like the risk-reward 289-yard par-4 eighth -- lack distance, there are others that play long, especially into the wind.

'It's mostly a shot-maker's course,' Miller said. 'You have some holes where you shouldn't hit driver.'

Another difference between the two is the trees. The West is mostly palms; the East has bushy oaks and old Ficus trees. The East also has fairly new Mini-verde greens, which have hardly any grain, Miller said.

Practice makes perfect at the Country Club of Miami

One thing that the Country Club of Miami is known for is its practice facilities. There's a lighted range, a Mini-verde chipping green that's more than 15,000 square feet, and a Tif-Eagle putting green that's similar in size.

There's also a nine-hole pitching course, with holes between 35 and 70 yards, built three years ago with artificial greens.

'It's $7 to play,' Miller said, 'and anybody can play it. We give you a shag bag, and you can have at it all day.'

Country Club of Miami: The verdict

The key words are 'country club' in the title of this golf club. It has that feel with its past and with its loyal following. Hang out there on weekend at the club's popular sports bar and you'll see some of the same old crowd there week after week. The same holds true for players, who have been getting the same tee times for years, even decades.

The club gives golfers a real sense of belonging, and it's anything but pretentious. While the greens are excellent, the rest of the course isn't manicured to the nth degree. It's well marshaled, and the pace of play is reasonable.

As for the golf courses, the homes certainly can come into play if you're spraying it, but if you manage your game, both courses are more than playable. It's also important to select the right set of tees, because even though the yardages aren't overwhelming, it's important to hit approach shots with reasonable clubs.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.