Florida happenings: What's new in the Sunshine State golf scene?

By Jason DeeganNovember 11, 2013, 9:59 pm

Two of Florida’s best golf resorts – one new, one old – will add new bling to the state’s expansive golf scene this winter.

Streamsong Resort, the hot new destination created by Mosaic deep in central Florida between Tampa Bay and Orlando, is scheduled to open its 216-room main lodge Jan. 17, 2014. Meanwhile, the rebranded Trump National Doral Miami remains open in the midst of a massive $250-million makeover, headlined by the modernization of the Blue Monster by Gil Hanse. Not to be overlooked, architectChris Wilczynski of Ann Arbor, Mich., will unveil new private designs in Sarasota and Naples. Here’s what’s coming on the horizon in the Sunshine State this winter:  

New lodge set to open at Streamsong Resort

At the January grand opening of Streamsong’s two highly coveted courses – the Red by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and the Blue by Tom Doak, Mosaic Executive Vice President Richard Mack made Streamsong’s lofty aspirations quite clear.

"For us, great was not good enough," he said moments after cracking a joke about how hard it is to find such a remote place in Polk County south of Lakeland. “Our standard and our ability to attract (people) and to be worthy of your time, this venue needs to be exceptional.”

Streamsong will reach rarified air if the lodge can live up to the inspiring dune-laced courses.

The modern-to-futuristic feel of the clubhouse was applied to the new lodge as well. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls accentuate the luxurious rooms, which range in size from 530 to 1,167 square feet.

Guided bass fishing tours, sporting clays, tennis courts, nature trails and a lakeside infinity pool will showcase the unique mined-out ecosystem that surrounds the resort. A grotto-style spa, home to seven experiential pools, will bring the healing powers of the outdoors in. Four restaurants – from casual to the premier steakhouse in the clubhouse – will feed guests. Interstate Hotels and Resorts is managing the resort component of the resort while Kemper Sports will handle the golf side. For such a rustic retreat, Streamsong's offerings will be quite opulent.

Sparkling new: Trump National Doral Miami

Opulent doesn’t begin to describe the new Doral. Donald Trump purchased the worn, 800-acre resort out of bankruptcy in June 2012 – ironically the year of its 50th anniversary.

Eric Trump, the Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions for The Trump Organization, said returning guests won’t recognize the place. Just about everything is being reimagined - the spa, the main lobby, the 693 guestrooms and 48 luxury suites and villas, the fitness center, the Champions Bar & Grill, the pool complex and several ballrooms. The new BLT Prime steakhouse will open in February.

The main clubhouse was stripped to its steel frame. A new ballroom and terrace are being constructed atop the building overlooking the Blue Monster. "We have built it from the ground up. The transformation is incredible," Eric Trump said.  

The bigger, bolder Blue Monster, now roughly 7,500 yards long, will host its first corporate event Dec. 13 followed by a “soft opening,” according to Darrin Helfrick, the resort’s Golf General Manager. Public play and resort golf packages will be available, although limited, before the PGA TOUR’s WGC Cadillac Championship in March, Helfrick added.

Hanse’s work altered almost every hole. Three of them – the eighth, ninth and 10th – have shifted to make room for the new lighted driving range, which tripled in size and will house a new TaylorMade Performance Lab. Doral went from six holes splashed with water hazards to 14, notably on the par-3 15th hole and the potentially drivable par-4 16th hole. "It’s longer. There is more water on the course. That usually translates to a harder course,” Eric Trump said. “This is a world-class championship course."

C.W. Golf Architecture building two new courses in South Florida

Although The Esplanade Golf & Country Club at Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota and The Esplanade Golf & Country Club in Naples won’t be open to public play, it’s still impressive to note that Arizona-based homebuilder Taylor-Morrison commissioned any work at all, let alone to an unknown commodity like Chris Wilcynski, who worked with Arthur Hills & Associates (now Hills & Forrest) before branching out on his ownThe 6,716-yard Esplanade Golf & Country Club at Lakewood Ranch was built with baby-boomers in mind, where fairways with 350-foot corridors lead to open fronts of large greens, which average 7,000 square feet. It is scheduled to open Jan. 15, 2014.

Wilczynski estimates his Naples course is about 60 percent complete and should be fully ready to play in March.

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.