Georgias Sea Island Resort is mystical respite for all types

By Rex HoggardApril 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
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A man steps to the tee at his local club and notices a funeral precession passing on a nearby road. He pauses and removes his hat in silence.
Wow, a playing partner says, that is really respectful.
Its the least I could do, the man says. We were married for 20 years.
-Unknown jokester

SEA ISLAND, Ga. ' The golf widow is dead, and Sea Island Resort killed her.
No, its not the seaside resorts posh accommodations or legendary spa that cured the greatest threat to domestic bliss since the invent of Monday Night Football. Sea Islands tonic is much more banal than that.
The fix is an intoxicating mix of flora and fauna, and some of the best seaside scenery east of the Mississippi. If better halves are uninterested in golf, the swaying moss and sweeping views are formidable stand-ins.
Check out Sea Island's Restaurants
Since the ancient game started elbowing in on family ' probably right about the time Old Tom Morris put a hickory shaft in boy Toms hands ' husbands have eschewed quality time for a quick nine. At Sea Island, the menu ingeniously delivers both by way of a welcoming aura and wondrous diversions.
On this spit of Georgia coast, the ride begins at the sprawling clubhouse estate, a modern remake of a southern classic ' Gone with the Wind meets Waldorf Astoria. The 40-room Lodge at Sea Island features 24-hour butler service and whiplash views of the Atlantic and St. Simons Sound, while the Cloister redo is a Bucket List special, that is to say a must-stay at least once in a lucky lifetime. But for pure atmosphere, and views, the newly opened Beach Club, located just across the textured street from Cloister, is a one-stop shop for relaxation.
However, it is the Sea Island practice range, with unfettered views of the Atlantic Ocean and St. Simons Sound, where the experience for the golf obsessed begins. They call it The Hang, a sprawling practice area thats at the heart of the golf experience.
On a cool, windy March afternoon the unhurried warm-up begins. Mac Barnhardt, CEO of Crown Sports Managements and unofficial tour guide, eases his way through a pile of practice balls. In the next stall, PGA Tour regular Paul Claxton chips away at the mysteries of the game, while perennial top-100 teacher Todd Anderson pauses between lessons to say hello. In order they stop to offer advice, swing tips and punch lines. They cant help themselves.
You need to drive your legs into the shot, offers Claxton.
Barnhardts advice is simpler, almost spiritual by comparison: Just feel it. After you coil, just let it go. And Anderson, simply offers a quick once over and amused nod.
It is the Sea Island way, not directed at a particular visitor, simply anyone who is lucky enough to wander out.
Its one of the few places someone can come and get a lesson and have an established Tour player just down a few stalls from you hitting balls and have the player come over and suggest to the teacher to do this or do that, Barnhardt says.
If the thought seems overwhelming, consider the scene when Sea Islands Hang is overrun with Tour types. Davis Love III ' the 20-time Tour winner whose father, Davis Jr., was the long-time director of instruction at Sea Island ' is a regular, as is Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson. Its a cast that reads like a weekly Tour tee sheet, and a regular happening in this corner of coastal Georgia.
The convergence is not by chance, but a well-orchestrated dream of Bill Jones III, the CEO of Sea Island Company and the grandson of Sea Island co-founder A.W. Jones Sr. The plan was simple: combine the best of golf instruction, fitness and sports psychology in an idyllic setting and wait for something special to happen.
It was kind of organic, but there was always a plan to create the best golfing experience. Not many places can you go out and learn golf, Barnhardt says. Not many places can you start with an hour with (director of fitness) Randy Myers and then an hour with Todd Anderson and then an hour with Dr. Mo (sports psychologist Morris Pickens) and than an hour with Mike Taylor to work on your short game.
Each spring, Jones vision is taken to the extreme when a handful of Tour types begin their run-up to the Masters at nearby Frederica Golf Club. In 2007, Johnson did his Augusta National prep work on Fredericas juiced-up putting surfaces ' officials dial up the layouts greens to 14 on the Stimpmeter to simulate those at the Masters ' and honed his short game on the sprawling practice range. A green jacket followed.
Last year, Snedeker joined the Frederica fateful and took eventual champion Trevor Immelman to the wire.
I remember (2007) the greens were like 14 at Frederica and Davis (Love) couldnt get a putt to the hole the first two days at Augusta National, Barnhardt says.
Tour types tend to gravitate to the private Frederica layout, but it creates an interesting question. Which of Sea Islands three layouts ' an embarrassment of golf riches that includes Seaside, Frederica and storied Ocean Forest, perhaps the best American trifecta not named Bandon ' would pass the if you could only play one before you died test?
If I was going to play every day, Frederica, Snedeker says after an extended pause. But if I could only play once, it would be Seaside. Every hole is cool, but the wind can come up and it can be brutal, whereas Frederica is a little more protected.
Luckily, with a kind request and an accommodating member one doesnt have to make that decision. That, to, may be the genius behind Jones plan. Whats not as clear is whether Jones vision was designed to entertain the golf widow, as well as the golfer, or if the diversions are simply beneficial happenstance.
Eighteen holes and an extended session on the practice range into an uninterrupted day, it doesnt really matter.
Where else can you take your wife and not have her call and ask, Where are you? Barnhardt said. She will forget you.
The golf widow is dead, and Sea Island killed her.
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DJ triples last hole, opens with 76 at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 6:18 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Dustin Johnson’s chances of winning The Open are likely already over.

The world No. 1 hit his tee shot out of bounds on 18 on his way to a triple bogey, capping a miserable day that left him with a 5-over 76, 10 shots off the lead and in danger of missing the cut.

Johnson didn’t talk to reporters afterward, but there wasn’t much to discuss.

He didn’t make a birdie until the par-5 14th, bogeyed 16 and then made 7 on Carnoustie's home hole when his tee shot caromed out of bounds left.

Johnson has missed the cut only once in nine previous appearances at The Open – in his first try in 2009.

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”