Capital Conundrum: Which destination is the golf capital of the United States?

By Jason DeeganJune 28, 2012, 11:45 am

The PGA Tour is in our nation's capital this week for the AT&T National, which begs the question: Which destination is our country's golf capital?

A handful of golf destinations claim to be the golf capital of America - or even the world - and plenty more can throw their hat in the ring as contenders.

It’s hard not to recognize established golf resorts like Kohler, Kiawah Island or Bandon Dunes, while other golf-rich destinations like Hilton Head Island, San Diego, Orlando all have strong cases. 

So which destination is in fact America’s Golf Capital? Here are seven finalists: 

The Monterey Peninsula: I’ve long trumpeted this special spot in northern California as the best golf destination in the world, not just America. Pebble Beach Golf Links alone has the scenery, history and swagger to carry the moniker, but Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, Quail Lodge and ultra-private clubs like Cypress Point and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club make up a deep roster of places to play. Those to say the place is too pricey have never played Pacific Grove, Del Monte (the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River), Poppy Hills and the Bayonet and Blackhorse courses in Seaside. 

Pinehurst: The Sandhills of North Carolina are another place filled with history and charm, especially the village of Pinehurst. All the destination lacks is the ocean. The recent redesign of Donald Ross’ Pinehurst No. 2 has rejuvenated Pinehurst Resort. The No. 4, No. 7 and No. 8 courses are just as good as No. 2 in my opinion. Smaller resorts like Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club and Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club – and the wild look of Tobacco Road by Mike Strantz – can keep golfers busy for a week or more.

Myrtle Beach: The “Grand Strand” – a stretch of roughly 90 miles from Pawley’s Plantation, S.C., up into North Carolina – once boasted more than 115 courses. That number has been trimmed to around 90, but that’s still enough inventory to be the self-proclaimed “Golf Capital of the World,” a slogan trotted out by Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. I call this place an “everyman” kind of golf destination. It’s affordable and loaded with convenience, making it ideal for buddy trips of all sizes. Resorts, restaurants, bars, entertainment and courses can be found seemingly on every block.

Phoenix-Scottsdale.: The Valley of the Sun could probably proclaim itself America’s “Winter Golf Capital.” Outside of southern California and southern Florida, it’s probably got the best golf weather in the country from October through April. Heavyweight clubs – think Troon North, Grayhawk, Talking Stick, TPC Scottsdale, We-Ko-Pa, The Boulders – compete every day to impress customers with great service and awesome desert courses in prime condition. In summer, the rates drop significantly for value-hunters still looking to bag a trophy course.

Northern Michigan: The Gaylord Golf Mecca calls itself “America’s Summer Golf Capital,” but we’ll lump in northern Michigan as a whole for this piece. Maybe I’m biased because I live in Michigan, but this is my second favorite golf destination in the States. What it lacks in high-end restaurants and nightlife, it makes up for with comfortable summer temperatures, a rustic backwoods vibe, cool beach towns like Traverse City, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix and plenty of great golf resorts (Boyne Mountain and Highlands, Bay Harbor, Treetops, Crystal Mountain, Shanty Creek Resorts, Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, Arcadia Bluffs, The Homestead) and standalone courses (Forest Dunes, Black Lake, True North).

Naples: Naples also proclaims to be the “Golf Capital of the World.” This ritzy, sleepy southwest Florida enclave does boast the second-most golf holes per capita than any other community in the country. I’m not a fan of Florida’s flat terrain and how developers constantly use all the best beachfront property for real estate and resorts instead of golf holes, but there’s no arguing there’s plenty of strong golf at Tiburon, TPC Treviso Bay and Old Corkscrew, along with wonderful restaurants up and down Tamiami Trail and a vibrant art and shopping scene.

Palm Springs: I hesitate to put Palm Springs here, because this desert oasis might be past its prime. It’s not as much of a Hollywood hangout anymore and the bursting of the real estate bubble has decimated Coachella Valley, putting many of the golf courses in financial limbo. But there’s just too much history and too many fine resorts, restaurants and courses – Indian Wells, PGA West’s TPC Stadium course, La Quinta, etc. – to ignore another vacation hideaway known for great winter weather.

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 Web.com Tour finals.

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