Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

Golf is a Hazardous Game

Giant ‘dinosaur-looking’ gator found on Florida golf course shocks natives 

When I went to Florida last spring, I came back somewhat disappointed. Despite three rounds of golf in three different cities of the Sunshine State, I only saw one alligator, a baby one at Bay Hill. Now that I know some courses (this one being Myakka Pines Golf Club) out there have actual monstrous dinosaurs prowling the grounds, maybe I should consider myself lucky I didn’t see anything else. Though who knows what might’ve been lurking in all those ponds…




World Woods Golf Club

World Woods Golf Club Rolling Oaks Course in Brooksville, FL

world woods golf club rolling oaks course

John, me and Craig

The Stats

Tee Time: April 19, 2014, 9:39, 69F, scattered showers

Designer: Tom Fazio (1993)

Playing Partners: Craig and John

Tees: Black, Par 72 (72.3 rating/129 slope/6,873 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.5 index)

Stats: 81 (39-42); 34 putts; 8/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

My weeklong Florida journey ended with a third round of golf. (Don’t worry, I did put in a full work week, for those who would be interested). This time I drove north from St. Petersburg and my hotel right next to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball warehouse known as the Tropicana Dome. I continued to drive north, and then north a little more. Google has it as a 74-mile drive, but I swear it never ended. I got close to the panhandle I’m pretty sure. And then I took an exit off the toll road in the middle of nowhere. I thought the Garmin was taking me to a rest stop. I finally saw a sign poking out of the grass and made my way to World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville. I’m glad I found it, because the Rolling Oaks course here is actually my favorite of the trio of courses I visited while in the Sunshine State.

world woods golf club rolling oaks course hole 8

The picturesque par-3 8th

What makes this golf course so special is that it’s all about the golf. Being out in the sticks probably doesn’t make it too much of a tourist attraction compared to other sites, but the true golfers will sniff it out. And they won’t be disappointed. There are two 18-hole layouts to choose from. The Rolling Oaks, which I played, and Pine Barrens, which I would’ve played if I had a few extra hours before my flight. Maybe it’s also because after spending half the week in all the bright primary art deco colors of Miami, it was nice to be back in an atmosphere that’s a little easier on the senses, watching hockey and baseball with some passionate Lightning and Rays fans and then golfing with some hardcore players like John and Craig. Even the weather this lazy Saturday morning was more in line with my idea of Florida. Warm, tropical sunshine for ten minutes and then, like clockwork, ten minutes of steady sheets of rain. It literally did this the entire round, so that just about every hole was in one or the other.

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Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge

Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL

arnold palmers bay hill and lodge club


The Stats

Tee Time: April 18, 2014, 10:10, 81 F, overcast

Designer: Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay (1961)

Playing Partners: Brad, Tyler

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (73.7 rating/139 slope/6,895 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.5 index)

Stats: 96 (53-43); 32 putts; 6/14 fairways; 2/18 greens; 6 penalty strokes

The Course

According to the United States Geological Survey, the state of Florida is 18.5% water. And according to my personal research, 50% of that area can be found at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Trust me. Some form of water is in play on 10 of the 18 holes, and you will find it. There is greenside water, long carries over water, water to the left, water to the right. There is nowhere to hide, it will get you. Fortunately only the water is dangerous, as I only saw one baby alligator patrolling one of the 8 or so lakes.

arnold palmers bay hill club and lodge hole 13

The pond at #13 is just a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of water on some holes

That’s the first thing I took away from my round at Bay Hill. The second is that this course is difficult. The 73.7/139 rating from the Blue tees should’ve given me a hint, but it plays even tougher than that. The wind can pick up and send balls sailing all over. Your mind has no choice but to keep that threat of water at its forefront. It’s long. Whatever your handicap is, you will shoot worse than it here. Just accept that and have fun. What this course really teaches you is that golf isn’t a game of straight lines. Obviously some holes are extreme examples of this, but the safest way around here is with accurate draws and fades. Any straight line you draw on the course will bring you near an obstacle. If you can work the ball, you’ll have fun here. I suck at that, but once I started thinking in curves and arcs, the course felt less intimidating. I think that’s why the pros have fun here and why the top-ranked names in the game tend to do so well.

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The Biltmore Miami-Coral Gables

The Biltmore in Coral Gables, FL

biltmore miami graig mantle

Me and Tyler, dressed in appropriate Miami colors

The Stats

Tee Time: April 13, 2014, 11:39, 84F, breezy

Designer: Donald Ross (1925)

Playing Partners: Tyler

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (69.7 rating/119 slope/6,286 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.6 index)

Stats: 86 (40-46); 38 putts; 7/14 fairways; 8/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

The list of golf courses in Miami always begins with Doral, and deservedly so. But since the thought of giving any of my hard-earned dollars to Donald Trump makes me want to puke, I looked elsewhere. Turns out there are a lot of interesting golf courses in this area, but who am I to resist a Donald Ross design? I actually had never played any of his many masterpieces so it worked out perfectly. I showed up at The Biltmore an hour before my tee time on two hours of sleep after a red-eye flight out of the desert, so I was a little out of it before the round. I’m surprised I even found the course. But I’m glad I did. It’s actually not too hard to spot. The resort features a soaring, Spanish-looking tower that is visible for miles around. I could see it from our Miami office a few miles north when I was working a couple days later.

biltmore coral gables miami hole 18

A classic finishing hole, a dogleg-left par 5

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