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.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.