Why Links Golf Courses Are The Best To Play

Why Links Golf Courses are the Best to Play
 

When we think of the British Open we think of history, we think of the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player, and of course the likes of St Andrews, Royal St George’s and Muirfield.

This year the circuit’s oldest major has arrived in Hoylake at Royal Liverpool, but what makes this tournament, and in particularly links golf, so special?

Firstly, it’s unpredictable. US Open Champion Martin Kaymer recently said that “there’s never really a standard gold shot” on the links, and that’s true. The many factors of links, means each day can be different, and knowing the course is key.

Open Contender and current World Number One Adam Scott certainly knows this. Before the tournament he played five full practice rounds on the Wirral course before teeing off on Thursday, and would certainly be worth backing as a British Open champion with a Betdaq free bet, following his intense preparations.

Preparation is vital, but the uncertainty of weather along the coast can make it a nightmare for golfers, but incredibly exciting for fans.

The wind is of course a major problem to overcome, and this is perhaps why the Open is considered the most prestigious major of all, because it requires a heck of a lot of skill. Players need to control ball flight and spin in order to keep it as low as possible and out of the breeze, something of which was typified by Tom Watson in the late 70s and early 80s going on to win five Claret Jugs.

In essence, right across the course links play requires more skill, more understanding, and certainly more patience. Rory McIlroy grew up on links as a youngster, so it’s no surprise to see him lead the pack in the early stages at Hoylake, whilst others who have learnt their trade on the British courses have seen success in the last few years including Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington.

It’s a favourite for those with a solid short game, and for those wanting to improve theirs. Typically built on sand dunes and often very large, it can often leave a tough task when you’ve finally made the green, with run off areas cut very short, making a mountain out of even the tiniest of errors.

Throughout the courses the beauty of playing links golf is the challenges the tiniest errors leave you. It’s difficult to get a pretty round as the wind blazes in from the ocean, but like any sport – you can’t help admire the touch of class, talent, and sheer skill that sees a player through adversity.

 

Why Links Golf Courses are the Best to Play

Top Five Killer Golf Courses in the Algarve for Excellent Golfing

Penina Hotel and Golf Resort

With the new golf season in the Algarve kicking into gear, seasoned veterans and enthusiastic amateurs alike are all on the hunt for some of the most challenging and beautiful golf on the planet. Right now, the hard fought battle of summer improvements, tweaks and changes is coming to an end and every course in the region is set to come out swinging. Which ones are packing the most punch in 2013? Take a look at our top 5:

1. The Sir Henry Thomas Championship Course

The Sir Henry Thomas is the first 18 hole championship course to grace the Algarve, and is recognised as one of the most challenging and satisfying courses in the world. Designed and constructed by its famous namesake, the course is located at the world famous Penina Hotel & Golf Resort and was recently voted Portugal’s Leading Golf Resort by the World Travel Awards. A par 72 that boasts an eclectic array of stunning scenery, subtle slopes and amazing scenery, the course is renowned for being as picturesque as it is unforgiving. Playing frequent host to the Portuguese Open, the Sir Henry Thomas is a delight for professionals and amateurs of all abilities.

2. San Lorenzo Golf Course

Located in the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, the San Lorenzo Golf Course is perhaps the most beautiful course that can be found in the Algarve… and is built within deep pine woods that open out onto a magnificent ocean vista, saltwater marshes and freshwater lagoons. Don’t let all that vibrant nature fool you though, this course was masterminded by two of the finest golf architects in the world, Joseph Lee and Rocky Roquermore… and has been winning awards for its exceptional greens and challenging golf since 1988. You’ll find yourself driving down fairways alongside the Ria Formosa Estuary, chipping over deceptively long lakes and weaving in and out of some of the finest scenery that can be found anywhere in Portugal.

3. Pinheiros Altos

The course has established itself as one of the most prestigious and successful golfing centres in Europe… and features a 27 hole championship course, offering exciting challenges and varying degrees of difficulty. Each of the nine holes; The Pines, The Corks and The Olives is a par 36, all of which have their starting and finishing points close to the impressive clubhouse. The course is located deep in the heart of the Ria Formosa nature reserve… and is just a stone throw away from extensive, unspoilt beaches and the expansive Atlantic ocean.

4. The North Course at Monte Rei

One of the few Jack Nicklaus ‘Signature’ courses to be located in Europe – and the first to make an appearance in Portugal – the North Course at Monte Rei is fast becoming one of the places to play in the Algarve. Located up in the hills northeast of Tavira, and tantalisingly close to the Spanish border, the course is an abundance of luscious greens, challenging water hazards and unbelievable views. From the downhill view at the 1st… to the wide open stadium feel of the 18th, Monte Rei truly is a top 100 course that you won’t want to play just once.

5. The Oceanico Old Course

Designed by Frank Pennink, the Old Course cut its first divot back in 1969 and has been topping the rankings of European golf courses ever since. Located in the coastal town of Vilamoura, this unusual par 73 is near perfect for all year round golf. Great, but dangerous, for long hitters of the ball, the unforgiving greens and fairways are lined with an abundance of umbrella pines that have claimed many a stray ball with aplomb. And whilst this magnificent old gent of a course may transport you back to the great old days of championship golf, with its old-style clubhouse and slow greens… it sure isn’t in need of a makeover and guarantees round after round of superb entertainment.

Wanna Play A New Course But Scared It’ll Suck?

ForelinkstersIf you need another resource for public golf courses that you can play, stop by and see Jay and the gang over at Forelinksters.com.

All of the courses on the site have been published and rated by the members. So, at any given time, you’re able to search a city, state or country to find the top rated courses, as determined by the golfers who’ve played the courses.

You’re also able to establish a list of your favorite courses, and be advised of any updates or ratings to your course.

Additionally, you can contact other members who have published courses
to inquire further on their posting or for suggestions in other course they’ve played in their area.

The website’s only been live 120 days or so, and already there’s 2400 courses posted.

Give ‘em a try and tell ‘em Mike sent you!

General Burnside State Park Golf Course Video

The day after I played Dale Hollow’s golf course and made a video for them, I got the chance to do the same for the friendly people at General Burnside Island State Park’s golf course.

I have now found another must play golf course in the Kentucky State Park system.

This is what hilly, mountain golf is supposed to feel like.

Tremendously manicured fairways, silky smooth greens, mower tracks, playable rough, etc, etc.

Mountain vista’s, more color in the trees that ought to be legal, friendly people in the Pro Shop and on the course and Sonny’s BBQ in Somerset just a few minutes away!

We got there about 7:30 or 8 AM and the sun had not even gotten over the hills yet, the fairways were wet with dew and the air was a perfect temperature.

The fairways are generous and the greens are big. The whole setup is designed to be playable, enjoyable and memorable … and it was!

You really need to head over to the Somerset area of Kentucky and play this jewel. Brian Ault redesigned it and the State of Kentucky spent their dollars wisely, as this is a golf course that will draw golfers from far, far away.

The people of Somerset are very friendly, the lodging is very reasonable and the area lends itself to being a traveller’s delight.

I’m not word worthy of this fine golf course, so hopefully the video I made for you will entice you to coming’ by … and tell ‘em Mike sent you!

Dale Hollow State Park Golf Course Video

Recently, I had the pleasure to re-visit one of my favorite golf courses in the whole world at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park.

Bruce and his staff are some of the friendliest people in the world and always make you feel like an old friend.

Speaking of old friends, while I was waiting for my playing partner to arrive, I ran into another old friend, Roger, from Louisville. Small world ;-)

We got started around12:30 or so, which we hoped would get us finished in time to beat the rush for dinner at the Mary Ray Oaken Lodge, where the food’s always pretty good and the service is usually not very good. History repeated itself, as my buddy Mike’s Hot Brown was good, as was my plate of Kentucky Fare, but our waitress was a dud and the other waitstaff was oblivious as well.

Karma was pretty thick that night because the door to my room would not open and after two trips back to the front desk, they finally gave me another room.

Enough about the lodge and it’s trials and travails, let’s get back to the golf course which was as beautiful as ever. The Zoysia had the ball sitting up lik it was on a tee and the bentgrass tee’s were in perfect shape, as usual.

The greens were a bit shaggy, which was to protect them from the heat and humidity, but once you got the speed, they rolled very nicely.

The whole golf course experience is always top-notch at Dale Hollow and the lodge experience is just something you have to live with.

Words can hardly do the golf course justice, so I made a video to try and entice you into going out there and enjoying some good ol’ Kentucky mountain golf!

Mineral Mound Golf Course Is Hot!

Robbo at Mineral Mound State Park Golf Course

Once again, the Travelling Golfer got a chance to stop by and play a late day round at Mineral Mound State Park’s golf course.

As usual, it was my buddy Frank’s day off!

I had a friend, Rob, from Louisville (pictured above) with me and it was his first time to play one of my favorite golf courses.

The weather was humid and there wasn’t even a hint of a breeze, but we enjoyed the heat and the serenity of one of Kentucky’s most scenic golf courses and that saying a lot!

The back nine, which happens to have a view of Lake Barkley on every hole, from every directions it seems, was a sheer delight as my buddy rob lit it up for a 33 and finished with a smooth 73, I think.

My putting sucked, as usual, and my short game kinda went with it, but it was so dang quiet, scenic and serene, I didn’t care.

One thing that didn’t suck was my driving. All year I’ve been hitting more fairways and as long, or longer, than ever, even as my age creeps up the scale.

My secret?

Martini Golf Tees. Simply the best thing to happen to my drives…ever.

I’m a skeptic and I would not have believed it, but now my playing partners are asking, “What kind of tee is that dawg?” Some of them I tell, some of them I hide it from and some of them get one or two from me.

Find ‘em, try ‘em, feel the fairway grass for a change.

The staff and the people who hang around are so dang friendly that you wanna just sit out there with them and enjoy the place.

The rates are friendly, too. It’s like your own little stimulus package when you play after 2:00 PM!

Stop by and see Frank and the fine folks at mineral Mound’s golf course and tell ‘em Mike sent you!

And here’s a little slideshow video of Mineral Mound State Park’s Golf Course.

Have You Played Cambridge Golf Club Lately?

Three Amigos

As usual, when the Travelling Golfer and his friends travel to Evansville, we play at Cambridge Golf Club… and we enjoy ourselves immensely!

We recently stopped by to see Matt and his staff and were treated like royalty, as is usual.

Tony had the greens in good shape and the area around the greens was in fantastic for the few greens we didn’t hit in regulation.

The zoysia fairways and tee boxes make golf easy, but they take away a few of my usual excuses ;-)

The wind was fairly calm for the exposed nature of the course, which is laid out amongst 170 acres of rolling farmland.

The views from up top make it worth the short drive and the big, undulated greens are a real treat, even though my putter kept me out of the 70′s.

I hit the ball long, thanks in part to my Martini Golf Tees, which I truly love. Did I mention that I’ve only lost one this year?

They are indestructible, too. My current pink one’s been in play for lotsa rounds and I’m able to tee it low or high and I’ve never hit more fairways than since I started using them.

My boys in the photo above, Phillip, Mike and Steve, were all playing well and it was one big laugh track, along with some serious golf.

Speaking of playing well, my EIDOLON wedges seem to be getting better with age. I’m pitching, chipping and hittin’ more greens than ever before.

Tony, the Master of The Greens and Grounds, has the place in great shape and you need to make the trip over to play Cambridge ASAP!

The best part is, the place will be in great shape until at least Thanksgiving or after, so I’ve got time to play it a bunch more before winter!

Stop by Cambridge today and tell ‘em Mike sent you!

This Cambridge isn’t in England, but if you happen to head over the pond, be sure to stay in London Hotels.

Houston+Golf+Weekends=Amazing!

la-torretta-del-lagoHow often is it that we get to play a round of golf and a newly redesigned course?

Especially one that can play well for the strongest golfer in your party as well as the weakest?

The new look golf course at La Torretta Del Lago just outside of Houston, Texas encompasses all of that and more.

Brought on in the spring of 2007 to begin the redesign, local golf course architect Jeffrey D. Blume began the huge task of redesigning the course into the landscape of the surrounding resort and spa. Although the redesign left the course at a par 71 instead of 72, Blume was able to add over 100 yards to the overall play of the course by adding some length to tee boxes and shifting greens around where possible.

All of the main assets of a golf course you would expect come into play: bunkers, water hazards, hills, natural hazards, and the play of light to give you a very memorable playing experience. The hazards on each hole are set up to challenge even the most experienced golfer, while giving those who wish to lay up and play the hole a bit easier. The greens are large to allow good opportunity to make the green in regulation, yet contoured in a way to challenge everyone when it comes time to truly test your short game.

The course is constructed of Tifdwarf Bermudagrass, with native Texas grass and wildflowers in the roughs. The course clocks in at right around 7,000 yards, and each hole is unique and memorable in it’s own way. When you’re finished with your round, you can relax in the spa area, or even spend the night in one of the golf cottages on property that provide you with a view of the course.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this Houston golf course, there is a play-by-play available.

Evansville’s Finest: Cambridge Golf Club

A few days ago the Travelling Golfer and 3 friends had the extreme privilege to play a round of golf just outside of the metro part of Evansville, Indiana, at Cambridge Golf Club.

It’s always been one of my favorite places to play and this round was no different.

The new Pro over there, Matt Scheessele and his #1 staffer, Alisha, took such good care of us that I knew if the World’s Best Golf Course Owner, Mr. Wright was there, he’d have been very proud of them!

I’ve never had a bad sandwich in their grillroom and the Black and Bleu Burger was great as always!

The wind was howling, but we enjoyed the heck out of the round, because the Keeper of The Greens, Tony, has everything in top notch shape, as always.

The carts are always fully charged and the place is made even better by the great people who play there on a regular basis.

The range, with it’s zoysia, is always in great shape and gets you ready for the fine fairways and tough, but well groomed, greens.

If I could live and play there for the rest of my days, I’d be a happy Travelling Golfer!

The only bad part of playing at Cambridge is trying to decide where to eat dinner afterwards ;-)

You have to choose to go back to their grillroom or go to Stoll’s or go to The Log Inn or the The Haub or to …er, well, you see my dilemma.

If you’re heading over there, tell ‘em the Travelling Golfer sent you, or send me an email and I’ll join you!

South Carolina and Golf Love Each Other

south-carolina-golfMy buddy Pete, from Columbia, SC, say’s to tell y’all that The Palmetto State placed 11 courses in the new Golf Digest rankings, followed by California with nine.

Florida and North Carolina had five each. The rankings are based on extensive criteria established by Golf Digest and used by hundreds of expert golfers to assess each course. They appear in the May 2009 issue of the magazine now on the stands.

I’m not an expert golfer, I guess, ’cause they didn’t ask me ;-)

The highest ranked South Carolina course on the list was The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, ranked number four. Kiawah Island Golf Resort also had another course on the list, Turtle Point at No. 48.

Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island was ranked No. 13, while the May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff was ranked No. 22.

Six of the eleven courses are on the Grand Strand, home to more than 100 courses and one of the world’s most popular golf destinations. They are The Heritage Club at Pawleys Island (No. 33), the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach (No. 38), Tidewater Golf Course & Plantation at North Myrtle Beach (No. 41), Caledonia Golf & Fish Club at Pawleys Island (No. 66), the Resort Club at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach (No. 77) and a pair of courses at Barefoot Resort & Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach – the Fazio layout at No. 96 and the Dye course at No. 99.

There are more than 380 golf courses in South Carolina. The S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism maintains a Web site specifically targeted to golfers at www.SouthCarolinaGolf.com, along with the state’s
official general tourism site at www.DiscoverSouthCarolina.com.

Personally, I trained in Fort Jackson, SC, in June, July and August, with a small Ranger Battallion and I would advise you not to do the same.

Instead, Play Golf America!

If you’d like to search for particular golf courses, The Golf Channel has a golf course finder available.