I played some of the greatest golf courses in the United States if not the world and Teed Up’s Presidents Cup golf tour culminated with attendance at the Presidents Cup tournament at Muirfield Village (Jacks Place) where I was able to renew acquaintances with Jack Nicklaus. We arrived into LA and then the next day we met up with our group and travelled by bus to the Island Hotel Newport Beach Orange County southern California. Nice hotel in a beautifully maintained district especially along the beach front. It was the area where all the old Bruce Brown surfing movies were first made but has gone up market in a big way, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, the Wedge etc all the old names. From our base here we were able to play three excellent golf courses in the area and it was a short distance to Disneyland and Jo (as a non-golfer) was able to do that as well as bike around the small quiet streets of Balboa Island. Torrey Pines Golf Course situated on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California, there are magnificent views of the coastline, deep ravines, and classic championship golf holes. Hang gliders hover over the course and US air force jets streak past up and down the coast. If you don’t get too distracted there are some magnificent golf holes. I was lining up a putt on one occasion and as I looked down at my ball it was suddenly in dark shadow where only momentarily before there had been bright sunshine. I turned and looked up and there within about 20 feet above me blocking out the sun was a hang glider. I quickly told the bloke to move off in no uncertain terms.
Torrey Pines is a public course and one can see that when prepared for a US open championship it becomes one of the world’s great golfing challenges and was the site of one of the most memorable battles in recent golfing history the 2008 U.S. Open.
Trump National Golf Course, perched upon the jagged California cliffs taking advantage of one of the most incredible views in the world from every hole. Noted as the most expensive golf course ever built, over US$250M has been spent to ensure its prominence. Gleaming white sand lines the walls of the massive bunkers, expansive lakes protect tucked away greens, and waterfalls cascade down at the back of some of the greens. The Pete Dye designed course tempts golfers to take risks and rewards well-placed shots. But despite all Donald Trump’s money he still wears that road kill on his head. I can’t understand that.
Pelican Hill is a flow of contrasts: from brush gardens framed by eucalyptus trees to the greens dropped at every side by deep chasms. The sheer variety of vegetation makes an experience. Several holes permit 270 degree views of the vast Pacific, with the sight of seabirds and sailboats gliding on the fresh ocean breeze. As enjoyable to play as it is beautiful.
We then moved onto to Kohler Village in the state of Wisconsin where we stayed at a guest house style hotel called the Inn on Woodlake. Very comfortable with a tree lined lake and walking track at our front door they also had a practice putting green for late afternoon putting practice whilst sipping in a cool beer. Kohler is a village in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin along the Sheboygan River. The town is home to the Kohler plumbing and bath ware business. Walter Kohler first envisioned the community of Kohler more than 75 years ago when he travelled to Europe to study garden cities. Working with the Olmsted Brothers, the designers of New York’s Central Park and the Harvard University campus, he applied what he learned and created of one of the first planned communities in the USA. His concepts formed the framework for the village whose purpose was to enrich the lives of all its residents. A second 50-year master plan, initiated in 1976, continues to enhance village life. Long-term environmental sensitivity actively addresses the need for “green space”, tree planting, woodland and wetland preservation and clean air and water. In the midst of all this natural beauty, residents create their own active lifestyles as they enjoy a health and racquet club, nature preserve, nationally acclaimed championship golf courses, a luxurious full service spa, a shopping centre and restaurants. The plan ensures that the Village will remain attractive and uncluttered. The words of Walter Kohler when he first envisioned the Village of Kohler: “It is a place where simple things, done well, will never be out of style.” It is without doubt the most pristine place I have ever been to. There is no graffiti, the manners and friendliness of the people was something to behold and for a destination from where you can play 4 outstanding golf courses it would be hard to surpass. There is also a multitude of activities for non-golfers including horseback riding along river trails, cycling, fishing, hiking, tennis and canoeing and there is a shuttle service that takes you wherever you want to go in the village and operates to all the golf courses in the area.
Whistling Straits Golf Links Open, rugged and windswept terrain defines the walking-only, links-style Straits Course sculpted along two and a half kilometres of Lake Michigan shoreline; a masterpiece in the world of golf created by Pete Dye. With a flock of sheep roaming the links it has the appearance of being a thousand years old yet it was man made only 15 years ago. Whistling Straits has already been home to a US PGA and a US senior open and will be the site for the 2020 Ryder Cup. It is truly an incredible golf links and the mandatory caddies add to a wonderful golfing experience.
Black Wolf Run – River Golf Course Nestled into a river basin formed by the flows of glacial runoff, Blackwolf Run opened for play in June of 1988. Blackwolf Run has hosted a number of professional championships. The Andersen Consulting World Golf Championships in 1995, 1996 and 1997 as well as the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 and 2012.The river meanders through the course and magnificent trees line the river banks. Anglers can be seen catching huge salmon that abound in the streams and rivers. The lushness of the fairways has to be seen to be believed. It’s hard to concentrate on the golf and it easy to be swept away by the magnificence of the place
Next Stop was Columbus Ohio our base for the Presidents Cup and we checked in to the Renaissance Hotel which was very comfortable and a short walk to a couple of pubs and restaurants and not far from the centre of town and the original German village which was interesting to see. Whilst not exactly America’s most volatile city compared to Kohler it was far more realistic, with traffic and a few rowdy pubs.
President Cup – Muirfield Village. Muirfield Village is an amazing golf complex. What struck me the most was when we first arrived and walked through a tunnel that goes under the clubhouse and when we came out the other side the amphitheatric nature of the course and the massive galleries was breathtaking. The most impressive aspect from my perspective was how the course design has incorporated large embankments along the sides of most fairways and at the rear of greens to allow for very large galleries and excellent viewing for all attendees no matter how short of stature one might be there was always ample opportunity to view the golf. There were large screens around the course placed strategically so that all exciting turning points in the matches could be seen live by all the galleries. There was also a shot by shot radio broadcast available on course by purchasing a very low cost ear piece. The US team was too strong. Unfortunately the rain made the course very soft and it suited the US players. In addition, due to weather delays the foursome leg had to be carried over until the morning of the final day and following the interruption the International team failed to capitalize on some good early leads in the foursome matches. This meant that they had to hope for a miracle in the single matches and whilst they came back strongly and gave a good account of themselves the lead by that stage was just a little too big. My favourite player to watch was Angel Cabrera his power is immense and he regularly out hit all the American players he played against by 20 to 30 metres. The crowds were fantastic, the Ohio State band in their navy and white was in full swing with the drum major doing his back breaking routine and touching the top of his hat on the grass behind him. Despite some bad weather the event was a sell out every day and the crowds were out in full force. They dressed up in the red white and blue, they were very vocal and volatile especially the girl who decided to do a nudie run up the 18th fairway just ahead of the Tiger Woods match. I’ll say no more about that one! Jack Nicklaus was most accommodating and invited us into the club house for a chat. He sends his regards to all the members at The Australian and he asked how the new course was settling in. I told him that the members had found the course difficult through the winter months but were looking forward to the growing season. I told him that already the signs were there that the course would become softer and somewhat more playable with the new growth that was coming through. Jack’s emphatic words to me were “make sure the superintendent does not put a flag within three paces of a slope. There are more than enough pin positions on those greens without making it more difficult. Your second putt should be a flat putt.”
All in all a most amazing golfing experience travelling to parts of the US that I had not been to before. We travelled thousands of miles across the USA during our visit. The golf courses we played on were all magnificent. But the most memorable feature was the people. Everywhere we went the people were so friendly and made us feel so welcome.
Regards, Michael Nethery – 2013 President’s Cup golf tour attendee