From Miami to Fort Lauderdale, diverse designs dominate south Florida golf menu

By Travel ArticlesNovember 20, 2012, 5:57 pm

Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Joe Lee, Bobby Weed -- south Florida has attracted superb golf architects to its subtropical environs for decades.

These and other architects designed a wide array of courses that have stood the test of time. Distinguishing south Florida layouts from ones in other parts of the peninsula are the mature trees, towering palms, tropical foliage and lakes that give the courses a sense of place and history.

The menu in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area is an eclectic one offering golfers of all skill levels great places to tee up.

High-profile gems

Host to a Champions Tour tournament for 18 years, the Bruce Devlin/Robert von Hagge-designed Crandon Park Golf Course, built in 1972, is an island paradise just 10 minutes from downtown Miami. Situated on a barrier island surrounded by turquoise and deep blue waters, Crandon is engulfed by mangrove thickets and lush, tropical foliage.

For Donald Ross design fans, the Biltmore Golf Course, which sits directly behind the opulent and ornate Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, is a testament to the Scotsman's design genius.

Designed by Ross in 1925 and later restored by architect Brian Silva, the 6,800-yard, par-71 championship layout captures the essence of Ross designs with its strategically positioned bunkers and challenging greens with subtle dips and contours that demand well-thought-out approach shots and confidently struck putts.

In Miami Lakes, the Senator Course at Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club is a must play for those who enjoy non-gimmicky, traditional style golf courses. Originally designed by Bill Watts in 1962 and updated in 1990 by Kipp Schulties, the course has some of the most impressive mature tree growth in south Florida. The first few holes on the 6,982-yard, par-72 layout are rather benign; however, the challenge mounts as you proceed to the back nine, which is tighter with water coming into play on almost every hole.

Mature palms and hardwoods also line the fairways at the Bonaventure Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, where 36 holes of Joe Lee designed golf is the draw. Bonaventure's East Course, with its famous No. 3 Waterfall Hole, the longer of the two, measures 7,158 yards from the back tees. Much shorter at 6,128 yards, the West Course is a mixture of six par 3s and challenging par 5s that stretch to 531, 545, 561 and 575 yards. No matter your choice, you'll see lots of bird life, such as wild parrots, blue herons and snowy egrets.

In Plantation, Bobby Weed, a Ponte Vedra Beach architect who designed TPC Tampa Bay and Golf Club, has fashioned two 18-hole layouts at the Jacaranda Golf Club. Jacaranda's East Course has hosted a variety of qualifiers for USGA tournaments as well as a PGA Tour Q-School. Jacaranda's West Course is a shot maker's layout with lagoons, doglegs and bunkers that tighten landing areas.

Quintessential Florida designs

Designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1961, the Country Club of Miami -- where comedians Jackie Gleason and Bob Hope and crooner Bing Crosby often played back in the day -- has 36 holes of golf with recently re-grassed greens.

The 7,017-yard, par-72 West Course with a slope of 132 is the more challenging of the duo. For shorter hitters, the 6,353-yard, par-70 East Course, with a slope of 124, is a shot maker's course that requires less brawn off the tee and acute strategy on every hole.

In Tamarac near Fort Lauderdale, Woodmont Country Club's Cypress Course, designed by Bruce Devlin, has been a staple in the area since its opening in 1978. Once a private layout that opened to the public in 2007, the Woodmont Cypress Course, which has hosted a Nike Tour Event (now the Tour), stretches 7,043 yards from the back tees. The experience incorporates mature trees and lakes, water views, elevated tees and contoured greens.

Short and fun

One of the region's more popular shorter courses is the 5,900-yard Flamingo Lakes Country Club in Pembroke Pines, which was designed by relative unknown John Condon in 1984. Dominant features include occasional hilly terrain, narrow fairways and smooth, consistent greens.

If you don't have time to play 18 but still want a challenging nine-hole experience, head to Greynolds Golf Course in North Miami Beach. Measuring 3,100 yards, this par-36 course was designed in 1964 by Mark Mahannah, who fashioned other Florida layouts such as Rio Pinar Country Club in Orlando. Greynolds features oak tree-lined fairways in a park-like setting.

Another nine-hole possibility, situated eight blocks west of US 1 in Miami, is the par-31, 1,869-yard Briar Bay Golf Course, designed by Bruce Devlin and Robert Von Hagge in 1975. The palm-dotted layout features four par 4s and five par 3s. The longest hole is the 305-yard No. 4.

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.