Swedish Royalty – Royal Drottningholm Golf Club

Royal Drottningholm Golf Club is just a few kilometers from the home of the Swedish Royal Family. Royal Drottningholms Golf Club’s 18 holes situate on Crown property. Drottningholm is a well known and highly respected golf course in Sweden.

Royal Drottningholm LogoThe noted Swedish golf course architect, Rafael Sundblom, designed Drottningholm. There were many drafts developed before the plan was finally decided. There were lots of suggestions, not the least from contradictory leaseholders.  Unfortunately, Sundblom never saw the finished product. He died in 1958 and, Nils Sköld, a protégé of Sundblom, continued the project.

The new club had great support from King Gustaf VI Adolf.  He opened the course at a banquet on September 26, 1959. There’s a story that the King became psyched for a game at the opening ceremony. So much so that he held up a waiting dinner and disappeared on the golf course with friends.

In October 2010, a major renovation of the course began. The architect, Johan Benestam, captured the essence of Drottningholm. While insuring the course will meet future demands. Players enjoy a golf course with great variety and unique character.

The course has park like character, where the first nine holes play in open landscape. The back nine weaves through a woodland setting. Benestam’s upgrade includes a total redesign of fairways, greens and bunkering. He kept Sundblom’s original layout. Fairways undulate and are well defined. All hazards are visible from the tees, as the classic designs from Mackenzie and Ross. Water is hardly in play save the wonderful finishing hole, #18. Greens are all about the same size and just wavy enough to demand putting control.

Drottningholm hosted The Scandinavian Masters in 1991 and 1994. This tournament continues to be a European Tour stop. To Scandinavians, Drottningholm will always have a place in golf’s history. Jack Nicklaus participated in the first Volvo Open competition here in 1970.  The Volvo Open is the first big international golf competition in Sweden.

Royal Drottningholm has many qualities, including a good spirit and atmosphere. It is a club where golf always takes first place and titles and status have always been of little importance. Royal Drottningholm remains a family club with an excellent golf course and a clubhouse.

The club offers one of the best practice facilities in the country. It is not a rarity to see local professionals using this practice center. Royal Drottningholm offers a full service restaurant with seating that overlooks the 18th green.  Royal Drottningholm Golf Club is a private club. But green fee play and corporate events are welcome.

There are 64 “Royal” golf courses throughout the former British Commonwealth. There is only one in Sweden. The British Royalty designated all the Royal Commonwealth courses with pomp and ceremony. I asked how Drottningholm GK received its Royal designation? “We asked them,” was the response. How quintessential Swedish for this anything but typical golf course.


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From Iceland to Bedminster

We are quickly moving through the summer season. In a few weeks, the third Major (The Open) will happen. Later in July, I’ll be heading to the Jersey Shore to play a few rounds there. Why does summer seem to pass so quickly?

In the meantime, a few items have come across the screen. They caught me eye and I thought they might interest you. From our cousins in Iceland comes an interesting idea.

In a pioneering move to inspire responsible resource use and in a response to changing lifestyles, The Golf Union of Iceland discontinued all reference to hole counts from its championship criteria. Now, 18 holes are no longer a requirement for a golf championships in Iceland. Iceland is a country where around 10% of the population of 330,000 play golf on almost seventy courses, most of which have nine holes.

The original plan was to hold  next year’s event on an existing 12-hole course. But the Golf Union decided to implement the idea this year. A few greens on the Westman Islands GC lagged behind in quality due to a seemingly excessive combination of winter salt spray and wind chill. These “bad” holes were simply omitted from the routing. The remaining holes were re-numbered to form a loop of 13 holes starting and finishing at the clubhouse.

The Iceland National Match Play Championships, the KPMG Cup, took place in the Westman Islands 23-25 June. There Gudrún Brá Björgvinsdóttir celebrated victory in the women’s class, defeating Helgi Kristín Einarsdóttir 3/2. Egill Ragnar Gunnarsson defeated Alfreð Brynjari Kristinsson in the final, 5-3. “There were more holes than usual in the final, 26 holes in total. Certainly, this was more stressful, but I found this tournament to be fun,” said Egill Ragnar after the win. “This tournament was different from other tournaments, strange in many ways, but it was a fun tournament,” said Guðrún Brá.

It could be the first time that an established golf nation staged a national championship on a course with fewer than 18 holes in the modern era.

Explaining this novel move, GUI president Haukur Birgisson said, “People’s needs have changed and will continue to do so. This includes people who already play golf and those interested in taking up a healthy form of outdoor life.”

Recent media coverage and industry discussion have revealed growing concerns that an 18-hole rounds of golf are at risk of becoming irrelevant to growing numbers of existing and potential golfers.

“People need more options. We should not stand in the way of innovation among our member golf clubs. Therefore we are introducing more flexibility. For us, this is appropriate on many levels, because the focused concept of golf’s return to flexible hole counts comes from Iceland,” Haukur added, referring to the Why-18-holes concept developed and advocated by Edwin Roald, an Icelandic golf architect.

I have talked about my friend Edwin Roald on these pages before.
Edwin is a golf course architect from Iceland. Edwin is also the founder of the “Why 18?” concept. In “Why 18?” the question of why does a golf course need 18 holes to be considered “real” or championship is considered. “Why 18?” also says that there should be no set number of holes. Read about the concept here.

 

In other news, they say that if you want to know the true nature of a man, play a round of golf with him. Last week we got a glimpse of the nature of one golfer.

Sure, we can say that because he owns the course, he can do what he wants. I think that if he has so little respect for the course, how much can he have for the game itself?

(This is updated from an earlier edition.)

 


Villaitana Resort-Levante and Poniente Golf Courses

I’ve kept my golfing to the local golf courses since arriving in Alicante. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Melia Villaitana Resort in Benidorm. Benidorm is about 30 minutes north of the Alicante Airport.

Once a sleepy fishing village, Benidorm is now Europe’s biggest holiday resort destination.  Some 5 million visitors arrive each year. Benidorm exploded with high rise housing to  accommodate the surge of tourists. In fact, Benidorm has the most high rise buildings, per capita, than any city in Europe. Its skyline, dominated by the huge “M” of The Tempo building.  From six kilometers away you see it rising on the horizon.

I’m lucky I was not heading for the hustle and bustle of Benidorm’s downtown. A haven from the city’s hoopla, Villaitana is an easy access by car from all points in Spain.

As I drove through the gates, I had an overwhelming feeling that I had been here before. This dèjá vu stayed with me until I played my first round of golf. On the third hole of the Lavante Course, it hit me. I was at Villaitana before.

Remember when the volcano erupted in Iceland? It happened in 2010 and it disrupted air travel for a week in Europe. I was at Villaitana for a conference of club managers (CMAEurope) when it blew. It left dozens of attendees stranded at the resort, scrambling for anyway to get back to their homes. The Swedish contingent hitched a ride on a bus of Swedish golfers returning home from a golf holiday.

Which leads us into the golf courses of Villaitana. Villaitana contains two 18 hole golf courses.  While they share a Nicklaus Design, they couldn’t be  more different.

Starting with the Levante Course, a 18 hole par 72.  I enjoyed a continuous vista of the city’s skyline, the sea and the coastal mountains. While the waters of the Mediterranean are in view, water on the course is hardly in play. Before you sigh in relief, Levante does have 106 bunkers to traverse. While the fairways are wide, almost generous, the bunkers are definitely in play. By the way, if you haven’t played Levante in a while, the bunkers have improved a lot. In fact, the maintenance of the entire course is a priority with the new management. Fairways are Bermuda grass and greens are tricky and in great condition.

Except for the 14th hole, the other par threes are a challenge for all handicaps. Remember, I mentioned the par 3 third hole earlier? It is a real treat hitting the shot from an elevated, and I mean elevated, tee. Watching your ball descend from high on a ridge and hitting the green results in a sigh of relief.  Along with some high fives from your playing partners.

The second Nicklaus Design at Villitana is the Poniente Course. Poniente takes you on a trip through the adjoining pine valley’s hillside. There are no par fives on the Poniente course for a par of 62.

Don’t dismiss Poniente on account of its length and stroke count, take a closer look.  Poniente, for most of your round will have you hitting tee shots on the par 3s over ravines and small canyons. While the views are spectacular, Poniente lives up to its Executive title. You will have to make the right “executive decisions” to score well. One round at Poniente you will understand the popularity of this captivating golf experience. It’s little wonder that Poniente is almost always booked solid.

The golf courses’ professional shop has everything that you would expect at a top resort. But it does carry something unexpected. After my round I tasted and chose a wine to take home with me. The Prado Rey wine shop, located on the hotel property, sells its own local wines at the golf course. What a concept! Enjoying a bottle of fine local wine will will have you looking forward to the next round at Villaitana.

Between rounds you can stay at the luxurious hotel and spa at Villaitana. Modeled after a traditional Mediterranean village, it has a large plaza with a church on one side.  At Vilaitana the hotel and spa surround the plaza. The conference center replicates the focal point of any Spanish town, the church. The “church” bells mark the time.

While the facade will transport you to Old Spain, inside the walls you will re-enter the modern world. The hotel rooms are elegant with views of the Gran Bahia of the Costa Brava. The resort boasts a huge lagoon swimming pool as well as a variety dining options. Please, take it from me, the breakfast buffet is sensational.

Something to experience is downtown Benidorm and its beaches. Villitana is only about ten minutes from the city center.  A different adventure is a visit to the impressive waterfall of Algar.  The water falls near the town of Callosa d’en Sarrià, a 15 km drive from Benidorm.

The Fuentes del Algar should be on the top of your list for places to visit.  The Algar waterfalls offer a sharp contrast to the normal days at the beach. They show you a different, quiet and cooler Spain. This is not your typical country swimming hole. The Fuentes del Algar are enchanting and unforgetable.

All in all, my weekend stay at the Melia Villaitana offered a lot more than your usual golf holiday. You can enjoy this destination just as I have. Villaitana offers excellent golf and stay packages to meet your specific needs. Contact them at: www.meliavillaitanagolf.com/en/contact-us

or +34 96 681 3013.


Campo de Golf Villamartin

Mother Nature welcomed me back to Stockholm with cold and snow. Looking out the window, it made me think of better days and playing golf in Spain. Lucky for me, I’ll be back swinging at the end of the month.

On our first visit to the Villamartin golf course, it was a breezy and cool day in March . Of course, cool is a relative term. Some vacationing Swedish golfers were wearing shorts and polo shirts. By our tee time, the bright sunshine had warmed the course up to provide us with a gorgeous day for golf.

Villamartin is one of the classic golf courses in the Alicante region. It remains the standard that other local golf courses measure themselves. The golf course, #17 Villamartinthe clubhouse and its location make Villamartin as popular now as it was opening day.

Villamartin Golf Course has a large international family of residents. The residents enjoy a relaxing new way to live. The heart of this new life style is golf at the Villamartin Golf Course.

The club house at Villamartin offers a contemporary restaurant. The menu offers a selection that will please any palate. Enjoy your meal or after-round drink on the spacious terrace overlooking the golf course.

Villamartin remains one of the best golf courses of the Valencian Community. Over forty years of hospitality is the reason for Villamartin’s continued popularity. The excellent golf is just a bonus.

 


Eugene Country Club

Every spring, around Easter time, the start of the golf season begins for the USA in Augusta, Georgia. The  Masters is when we golfers watch our annual trip through Augusta National. With fairways and putting surfaces so green they put St. Patrick’s Day to shame.

A scarce few of us get to play the course. A few more of us visit and watch the tradition like no other in person. The majority of us, though, are happy to watch the event over four days in April on HiDef TV. Brothers and sisters there is hope. Because in Eugene, Oregon, the home of the University of Oregon Ducks, has its own emerald jewel.

Eugene-CC-1st

A classic Pacific Northwest layout framed by towering firs sits the Eugene Country Club. The course offers attractive water features, impressive par 3s, and immaculate conditioning. As for putting, the greens are just a few Stimps short of USGA fast. But dead accurate if you can prejudge the speed and line.

The Eugene Country Club began in 1899. It is the second oldest country club in Oregon.. The Club’s first golf course was a nine hole layout with sand greens.

Robert Trent Jones redesigned the original 1925 H. Chandler Egan layout in 1967. Jones widened the playing corridors, expanded the greens, and added bunkers.  Jones reversed the original Egan routing by placing the first tee near Egan’s 18th green, and so on. He routed just two holes from the Egan design (#7 and #12). Jones built up the green complexes and teeing areas, doing little to the original 16 fairways. The reversal of the routing allowed him to add lakes and waterways to the course of play. There are soft undulations in the property help make the course a comfortable walk. Carts are also available.

Eugene-CC-5th-greenThe signature hole for me is the par three #5. Although the hole plays downhill from all but one tee box, a breeze can often knock down shots. A pond guards the front and right side of the green. Going after hole positions in the front part of the green can be risky.  Hitting over the green will leave you with a difficult downhill chip or bunker shot. Bunkers dot the entire rear hillside.  Also, note that the markings on the water hazard. Both yellow and red stakes, depending on the location, are along the waterway.

The club has hosted many USGA and NCAA championships. A few weeks before my game they played the 2016 NCAA Championship there. The ECC will again be on stage for the 2018 U.S. Senior Amateur. If you enjoy magnificent tree lined courses the Eugene Country Club is to be one of your favorites.


Hole By Hole Tour
   Hole 1
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   Hole 5
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   Hole 14
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   Hole 18

Hole By Hole Tour



“I have always been rather better treated in San Francisco than I actually deserved.”~Mark Twain

Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge being enwrapped with a cape of fog, riding up to the top of the Coit Tower, the Sutra Baths at Ocean Beach or Golden Gate Park on a Sunday when cars are prohibited are at the top of every vacationer’s list. San Francisco is one of the great destinations to enjoy. For some, it could be recalling one’s youth on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, where the clock is always at 4:20. Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 for the sea lions and Ghirardelli’s for chocolate and ice cream, City Lights, well, the City offers more to do than you’ll have days to see it all.

Another thing that San Francisco offers is some wonderful golf. Like St. Andrew’s in Scotland, prices for the local player are reasonable due to city’s reduced resident’s fees. Prices to the visitor are not inexpensive but well within reason for the quality of play. In the city, Presidio was the choice. About 40 minutes north in Marin County, Peacock Gap gets a nod. 10 minutes south of downtown, in Pacifica, lies a great public golf course designed by Alister MacKenzie, the designer of Augusta National.

Peacock Gap

The attraction to Peacock Gap was the thought that it would be walkable. Let’s face it, they don’t talk about the hills of San Francisco for nothing. Peacock Gap is not only walkable, it had to be the most laid back golf club I’ve ever played. The staff is friendly, helpful and has none of that stuck up ‘I work at a golf club’ attitude anywhere.

Peacock_Gap_Golf_Club_-_Peacock_Gap_363132Established in 1960, Peacock Gap was  originally designed by William F. Bell—the same designer behind Torrey Pines. Bell took over the business from his father, William P. and their handiwork is prevalent throughout California and the West Coast, especially after WWII to the 60s. Updated with a host of state-of-the-art features and practice facilities in 2011—including Marin County’s only all-grass driving range, a brand-new Clubhouse, and renovated greens and fairways.

There’s a drought going on in California so there are plenty of brown grass spots. The playability of the course was excellent. Fairways and greens were well maintained and the clubhouse provided large cups of ice water for all players. The course architecture invites, challenges, and intrigues—in the spirit of vintage courses. Inviting because of the wide fairways, challenges from bunkering and water guarding greens and I guess the intrigue comes from the directions from Hwy. 101. Check out the views from Point San Pedro Road.

Remember Pelican Gap if the Bay and city are foggy. Once through the Waldo  the Rainbow the Robin Williams tunnel the mist and fog are behind you. Enjoy yourself.

Peacock Gap Golf Club
333 Biscayne Drive
San Rafael

 

Presidio

Inside a former military garrison lies one of the oldest golf courses on the West coast. The Presidio Golf Course has a storied history. It was built in 1895 when Colonel William M. Graham, the Presidio’s commander at the time, allowed a group of businessmen known as the San Francisco Golf and Country Club to create a nine-hole course within the post. The course was ultimately expanded to a full 18 holes in 1910. Sometimes the course was called into service for non-recreational purposes. President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the troops on the links in May 1903. Three years later, the course was used as a refugee camp for survivors of the 1906 earthquake. When the Presidio became a national park site, the course was opened to the public, and a new clubhouse, open to the public, was built in 1999.

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As we said, San Francisco’s Presidio Golf Course is located within a national park, and is as renowned for its spectacular forest setting as it is for challenging play. John Lawson, designer of the first course at Presidio said, “God shaped this land to be a golf course. I simply followed nature.”

The early Presidio Golf Course was short, but challenging. Players are surprised by the course’s level of difficulty and its natural obstacles. Thirteen holes are uphill, some go uphill and the next hole goes up higher. Presidio, is designed with tight fairways and strategically placed bunkers. This 18-hole big time hilly golf course offers a unique challenge for golfers of all abilities. Presidio, sitting on a large hill, has great vistas of the city of San Francisco. Though it sits at the foot of the Golden Gate, it has no view of the bridge. The elements definitely come into play at Presidio. It can offer powerful winds, rain, fog, sudden gusts, and sometimes all four on any given round. Fortunately for me it was sunny and mild but later in the round it got kite flying breezy.

Unless you are in Triathlon shape or named Edmond Hillary, this is not a walking course, though I saw many golfers doing so. One golfer I was paired with started walking but retired after nine. Part of the difficulty is just the physical work needed to walk the course. What did I do? I chose discretion over valor, enjoyment over struggle, and used a cart. Nonetheless, Presidio checks all the boxes and it would be a shame if you passed on the opportunity to play on this special and historic golf course.

Presidio Golf Course
300 Finley Road @ Arguello Gate
San Francisco

Stark Park

Fresh off the design and building of Cypress Point and in the early stages of building Augusta National, Alister Mackenzie, at the time, a Bay Area resident, was hired to design Sharp Park. Sharp Park achieved Mackenzie’s dream of using cheap municipal golf to “help enormously in increasing the health, the virility and the prosperity of nations.” While today’s design features 12 of the original green complexes in deteriorated form, Mackenzie would surely embrace Sharp Park’s continued affordability, accessibility and friendly atmosphere.

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The course, which opened for play in 1932, displays many of MacKenzie’s design tenants  — multiple tees, dual fairways, cloud shaped bunkers, heaving greens and MacKenize’s favorite tool: camouflage. Sharp Park is special for another reason: it is MacKenzie’s only seaside public links. When he introduced his original routing to San Francisco golfers in 1930, MacKenzie proclaimed: “The proposed municipal seaside golf course at Sharp’s Park will be as sporty as the old course at St. Andrews, and as picturesque a golf course as any in the world.”

Modern architectural scholars have come to regard MacKenzie’s design at Sharp Park as one of America’s greatest public courses.  Daniel Wexler, America’s leading exponent of lost courses, has lauded Sharp Park as a marvelous golf course, featuring seaside holes, two double fairways, a large lake, and a cypress-dotted setting fairly reminiscent of Monterey.  It was, in short, a municipal masterpiece. In a call for restoration, Wexler observed, after surveying hundreds of public and private courses from coast to coast, “…that the original Sharp Park would have to stand well out in front as America’s finest municipal golf links.” Tom Doak, perhaps the country’s most noted authority on golf course renovation, has cited Sharp Park as a milestone, showing an evolution in Dr. MacKenzie’s style even as the country’s most sought-after golf architect. Geoff Shackelford, a designer in his own right, echoes these themes, saying: “Certainly no municipal-course design has ever come close to matching the overall package of beauty and affordable links-style golf.”

MacKenzie himself, in his comprehensive manuscript,The Spirit of St. Andrews,” praised Sharp Park and San Francisco’s public golf facilities in general: “The municipal courses in San Francisco are far superior to most municipal courses. The newest, which we constructed at Sharp Park, was made on land reclaimed from the sea. The course now has a great resemblance to real links land.”

Stark Park, while located in Pacifica, is operated by the San Francisco Parks Department. The course is located 10 miles south of San Francisco at the intersection of Sharp Park Road and the Coast Highway. Often called “The Poor Man’s Pebble Beach,” the par 72 course is 6,300 yards long and offers fabulous views of the surrounding headlands and mountains.  Built as a seaside course, the golf course has been denied its position on the beach of the Pacific Ocean. Terrific storms have caused sea water flooding, so a massive dike was built to prevent storm water from coming in. Unfortunately it has also cut off any views of the ocean. You can walk off the #16 green, climb up a huge driftwood log and stretch over the chain link fence to see the Pacifica pier and a fabulous Pacific Ocean vista.

In 2014, Golfweek Magazine named Sharp Park among America’s 50 Greatest Municipal Courses. Sharp Park is a walkable seaside and inland course, with several holes that wrap around Laguna Salada, a natural lake. Generously wide fairways ( a MacKenzie trait) are watered by the Laguna Salada, a marshy lake inhabited by gangs of birds and waterfowl. Greens are in pretty darned good shape for a muni. Despite the drought, plenty of moisture in the sea air translates into a greener than usual look on the course compared to the area’s other golf courses.

There is one caveat. For nearly a decade, Sharp Park was embroiled in a legal contest between the park and environmentalists. Finally the courts ruled in favor of the golf course and San Francisco is investing money to give the park a needed face lift. Holes 4, 5, 6 and 7 greens are being restored with new drainage installed to prevent the annual flooding of the low lying ground.

The Works Progress Administration provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. The Spanish hacienda clubhouse at Sharp Park was a WPA construction project. Adding to the vintage feel are vivid Depression-era paintings, beamed ceilings and an old-fashioned starter’s booth and tiny pro shop. Stark Park has the look of a run down facility but don’t let the looks deter your playing this exceptional golf course. Like a dignified elderly woman whose tasteful and elegant clothing is a bit frayed from age and use, Stark Park is also tattered and worn. However, the old girl still has a twinkle in her eye that will leave an impression like no other.

Stark Park Golf Club
2600 Francisco Blvd.
Pacifica


Making an Offer You Can’t Refuse

Verdura-18West-Aiden-BradleyOver the centuries, many visitors, welcome or not, have traveled to Sicily for rest, relaxation and the occasional occupation.

Sicilians are known for their great pizza; expressive conversation and their unique look at family values and organizational skills. What has never been mentioned has been Sicilian golf, until now.

What happens when you take one of the world’s foremost luxury hotel visionaries and a modern golf course designer dedicated to creating golf courses inspired from the classic courses of Great Britain and continental Europe? You create a remarkable resort called Verdura.

Verdura is located on the southwest coast of Sicily near the fishing village of Sciacca. The resort is the latest in the Rocco Forte Collection of highly individual and luxurious hotels and resorts.

Verdura is set over the stunning landscape of Sicily’s coastline giving a true sense of space and privacy. All rooms have private terraces with undisturbed Mediterranian views and interiors that combine every modern luxury with authentic Sicilian motifs. The care and attention to detail is manifest in every aspect of the resort. From the spacious and comfortable living areas to the opulent spa, every wish that a guest may dream seems to be already thought of. In addition, the staff genuinely cares for your comfort. There is always a friendly acknowledgement and quick response to your requests.

Sir Rocco Forte has found a beautiful piece of seafront ground where he’s developing this five star hotel, 36 holes of championship golf, plus a nine-hole par three course and full practice facility.

Kyle Phillips designs the golf course. Phillips is familiar to Swedish golf as the designer of the PGA of Sweden National Golf Course outside of Malmö. Verdura is a shoreline property utilizing a low-impact environmental concept, where only electric vehicles will be allowed inside the resort. Golf purists will love it!

Phillips is trying to give it a links land feel, with a rugged seaside look, transitioning to large, rolling, natural features as it moves back away from the sea. It is gratifying that you can be at the most inland part of the site, but still feel connected to the sea. The feel is similar to the feeling at Kingsbarns, in Scotland. The goal is to create a firm fast surface; with greens and bunkering that have a links style feeling to them. Both courses have roughly equal amounts of seaside and inland parts, and so it is possible a composite course that features the ocean holes could be created.

While there seem to be no “signature” holes, the overall design seems to blend effortlessly into the landscape it occupies. As they mature, the golf courses at Verdura will take on a “timeless” spirit, as if they have been played on for decades. Phillips has accomplished a design feat. Verdura is a golf course where no hole stands out from another, but the overall impression after a round is not just satisfying, but leaves you wanting to play more.

Another unusual feature of Verdura is that Phillips was also the project planner. This allows the hotel, restaurants, spa and golf course and clubhouse to seamlessly flow through the property. None of the resort attractions requires alternative transportation. All are just a stretch of the leg from one to another.

The golf courses at Verdura are young, but Phillips’ history is that his designs grow up very well. When the native grasses take hold, Verdura will successfully fulfill the Forte Collection’s dream for an outstanding luxury golf destination for continental Europe.

For more information on Verdura:

Telephone +39 0925 99 81 80
Email: reservations.verdura@roccofortecollection.com


Streamsong, Florida

Golfers in Sweden are already making plans for destinations to play winter golf. If Florida is under consideration, I’ve added a video overview to this piece we published earlier this year. Yes, it really is THAT spectacular…

As Unexpected as it is Unprecedented

“If familiarity breeds contempt, then non-familiarity breeds mystique. The more isolated you become, the more you buy into it. People going that far for golf focus only on the golf and leave their cellphones and e-mails behind. They’re also usually playing spectacular golf courses.”

That was Mike Hughes of the National Golf Course Owners Association. Hughes points out that remote and excellent golf courses golf courses are the movement in golf today. He cites the successes of golf courses like Bandon Dunes, Cabot Lakes and Barnbougle Dunes.

StreamsongA remote stretch of land between Tampa and Orlando changed every expectation about Florida golf. The Mosaic Company, a phosphate mining company and the design teams of Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore and Tom Doak did that.

The two design teams build of golf courses that reward strategic golf. Using holes of classic design, the design teams create golf courses with great artistry.

They shared visions at Bandon Dunes on Oregon’s Pacific coast and at Barnbougle in Tasmania. The press has given these courses exceptional rankings in the annual “best of” golf course polls. These courses share a similar philosophy but Coore/Crenshaw and Tom Doak never worked together.

The back story of the Streamsong Resort is almost as amazing as the golf course itself.

The owner is the Mosaic Company. They are the world’s leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate. The site for the Streamsong Resort is on land recovered by Mosaic from a former phosphate mine operation.

Mining phosphate disrupts the environment. Reclamation efforts developed over the past 30 years have been successful. Mosaic donates thousands of acres of reclaimed land to local governments. Many species of animals on land reclaimed for recreation parks and habitats for wildlife. Threatened animals and plants including the threatened scrub jay are returning. Much of this restoration is on Mosaic property.

Rick Mack is a Mosaic Vice President. Rick is also a golfer and thought the property in Florida would be ideal for a resort golf course. The property’s reclaimed sand would be a perfect base to establish fairways and greens. The native and man-made terrain would provide a spectacular stage for playing world class golf. His idea was so vivid he convinced a board of mining executives to share his vision.

“My goal is to give this property instant recognition,” said Mack. “It’s going to put you in a place that’s on par with some of the best destinations in the United States.”

The mining activities have created dramatic landforms that make for great golf holes. Streamsong’s site is unlike any other golf course in Florida.

“The property is conducive to uncovering great golf holes,” said Ben Crenshaw. “It is spectacular having its own inherent character that translated into two memorable courses.”

Tom Doak concurred, saying: “This is such a good piece of land for golf. The variety of contours created by the mining process is unique for a project in Florida, or anywhere in the Southeast.” Both teams have enjoyed the collaboration.

The former phosphate mine sits 20 miles from the nearest city, Lakeland. Both teams have enjoyed the collaboration.
That’s what the forward thinkers at The Mosaic Company hoped would happen on.

The former phosphate mine sits 20 miles from the nearest city. Lakeland is about halfway between Orlando and Tampa. Remote is an understatement for this remarkable golf site. The only sounds heard are the wind and the cutting machines. It’s a shock to the senses to play golf in this kind of peace and quiet.

The Streamsong site is 16,000 acres large. 4,000 acres is the initial size of the resort. Along with the golf courses are a clubhouse and a hotel with conference center, restaurant and retail area. Streamsong’s main resort building includes 140 guest rooms, bars, restaurants and a spa. For groups there are five four-bedroom villas. The clubhouse also offers 12 guest rooms, a steakhouse and bar along with a professional shop.

The golf designers use the available space with elevations, natural bunkering and water hazards. The walks from green to tee are not extreme, fairways are wide and accepting with mowed and irrigated rough. is Not only can you walk the courses , except for a few holes, you could play the course on the ground.

Site lines and backdrops are nothing less than dazzling. Massive dunes and elevations from the reclamation are jaw dropping.

There will be no memberships at Streamsong. It will only be a resort format, setting the bar of hospitality at the highest standards. Hosting competitions at Streamsong will not be a motivating factor. A refreshing change from the “Championship” yardage behemoths that are overtaking golf’s mindset.

There are questions about the remoteness of the location. Streamsong intends to make this an ideal retreat for vacationers and conference attendees alike. Streamsong offers a view of natural Florida not found at the high-rise coastal hotels and theme park resorts.

Streamsong also helps boost the local economy. It added hundreds of jobs during construction. There will be more than 200 permanent positions for the operating resort. Streamsong will generate extensive property and hotel bed taxes. The potential for future business and residential investments in the area are likely. This “multiplier effect” will boost the county’s tax base and tourist revenue.

The real significance of this project is what it may say about golf’s future. Streamsong is demonstrates how environmental sustainability and economic growth can work together.

For the many Swedish golfers who visit Florida every year to not put Streamsong on your list of places to play would be, in a sense, their loss. Luckily, you can start making your plans to visit now.


The Golf Club St. Leon-Rot – Germany

Aerial view of hole #8 on St. Leon.

Not far from Heidelberg lies the Golf Club St. Leon-Rot, one of the most interesting golf clubs in Germany. The club, founded in 1996, is the brainchild of SAP founder Dietmar Hopp. The Golf Club St Leon-Rot is a high-end private facility with two 18-hole championship courses, St. Leon and Rot. It hosted the Deutsche Bank – SAP Open, a professional golf tournament on the PGA European Tour, four times. The world’s best players have played St. Leon-Rot. Tiger Woods has won the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open three times. The Golf Club St. Leon-Rot is not only one of the best golf courses in Germany but has established itself as a top European destination.

As proof, this stunning complex will host The Solheim Cup in 2015. For the first time in Solheim Cup history both tournaments, the Solheim Cup and the PING Junior Solheim Cup, will play at the same club. In 2015, the Solheim Cup will be the largest sports event in Germany.

St. Leon, with many water hazards, requires length and precision. St Leon has undulating fairways, abundant deep bunkering and well built greens. Some traps look more difficult than they are. They feature huge faces but flat surfaces making it easy to escape from unless right underneath the lip. Kept in immaculate condition with greens that roll well and can pick up speed when prepared for tournaments.

Did you know?

Almost every golfer has played to an island green somewhere. But what golfer has mastered an island fairway? The rather short 308 yard par 4 # 8 on the St. Leon course is not only scenic but is one of the most dramatic holes in Germany. You need two shots over water, a precise drive and a well-placed shot to the green here are necessary to secure a chance to par. The hole design is ​​more difficult still by placing fairway bunkers in the landing area of the tee shot. Furthermore, a green side bunker protects almost the entire green.

 


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