The Traveling Golfer

The Traveling Golfer

The Traveling Golfer Series is an oppurtunity for others and myself to share our playing experiences at different golf courses around the world. This series will also rate and review golf courses that we have played and would recommend.

Want to share your golfing experience? Use the contact form on my website to send in a synopsis of your round and a review of the golf course. Feel free to include your favorite picture from the day as well!

I'm excited to see where The Traveling Golfer Series will find golfers!

The Florida Swing: Jonathan's Landing Golf Club

I was lucky enough to escape the spring blizzard in Boston for a golf trip in Jupiter, Florida with a few of my friends. We had an awesome time playing three different courses at Jonathan's Landing. JL is a private club that features 54-holes on two seperate "campuses" in southern Florida. A storied club with a reputation for great golf courses, a massive clubhouse, and even bigger mansions on the property, playing at JL was a real treat.

Day 1: The Hills Course at Old Trail

The Hills is a challenging 18-holes on the Old Trail campus of JL. Riddled with water and other hazards, you have to be precise off the tee to stay in play. High wind gusts made the round more difficult for our group, with the low round of the day being an 82. My favorite hole on The Hills course, the 400+yard Par 4 17th was playing dead into the wind. With a steep drop off into the water on the left side of the green, you need to have a short iron or wedge in your hand to have a chance of making par on this hole. This course offers some great Par 5's and Par 3's and isn't exceedingly long even from the tips.

Slope: 130

Yardage 6301 (Championship tees)

My Score: 87 (ouch)

Day 2: The Hills Course at Old Trail

We replayed The Hills on day 2 and the conditions were a little more favorable. Less wind and some easier pin placements saw lower scores out of our group. This course is scoreable when the conditions are calm!

My Score: 77

Day 3: The Fazio Course at Old Trail

When talking to members at JL, they will often say that the Fazio course is their favorite course. It is probably the hardest of the three tracks, combining longer holes, lots of water, and tricky approach shots. The crowning jewl of JL did not disappoint our group and we all had a blast. The Par 5 15th hole is a tempting two-shot hole, but be cautious, the green is well protected by bunkers and water. A theme throughout this course is to tediously consider the risk-reward for each shot. Take chances when you can but don't force a difficult shot.

Slope: 139

Yardage: 6904

My Score: 83

Day 4: The Village Course

The Village Course at JL weaves it's way through the condos and houses on the main property. It gets the most play of any of the courses there, but the conditions are impeccable. Although shorter than the Fazio, the Village course is no joke. The last three finishing holes will test your nerves, patience, and accuracy. The Par 5 17th hole has a nearly blind tee shot followed by another blind approach shot. You then take a boat over the Intercoastal waterway to get to the green. A very cool but brutal golf hole! Keeping the ball in play is the major challenge on this course as out of bounds is looming on most holes. Hit fairways and greens and you can score well.

Slope: 131

Yardage: 6701 (Championship)

My Score: 81

Recap: National Golf Expo in Boston

This past weekend, thousands of golfer's flocked to the Seaport in Boston to spend a few hours at the National Golf Expo. In this neck of the woods, the golf expo is the first sign of the spring thaw and means that golf season is just around the corner. I headed to the expo on Saturday and Sunday to check out the excellent speakers presenting and to look for great deals on the hottest equipment. 

The expo featured a number of great speakers with topics ranging from club fitting, golf travel, and fitness for golfers. I was lucky enough to attend a great talk by Kaitlyn Pimentel, a PGA teaching professional, certified strength and conditioning coach, and founder of Felix.Fortis golf performance gym. She presented on both Saturday and Sunday and discussed Golf Fitness for Women and Why You Need to be Lifting For Golf. These topics both hit home for me and it was great to listen to Kaitlyn talk about the importance of optimizing your body to improve your game. I highly suggest following her on social media to learn more about all aspects of golf fitness.

Along with great speakers, the expo had a good variety of golf clubs to demo. It seemed like the TaylorMade stole the show showcasing the new TwistFace M3 and M4 drivers. I had a blast giving these clubs a try, but preferred the M4 over the M3 for my swing. Titleist was oddly absent from the demo floor, although they have a strong presence in New England. 

Overall, the National Golf Expo was a great time for golfers and non-golfers alike. When you check it out next year, make sure to pick a few speakers that peak your interest and learn a thing or two from them. Great deals and long drive contests are great, but I really think these expos are most valuable for people to learn more about their body, golf swing, and equipment fitting!

Side Note: I also won the Long Drive Challenge with a drive measuring 343.5 yards. Sorry... couldn't resist 🙂

Pebble Beach Resort Golf Trip

I was lucky enough to be out on the West Coast for a few days and had a chance to play two awesome golf courses in the Pebble Beach Resort. Although we weren't able to get on to Pebble Beach itself, these other two courses were no let-down. We kicked off the golf portion of the trip with the famed Spyglass Hill Golf Course and followed that up with a round at The Links at Spanish Bay. 

Spyglass Hill Golf Course

Spyglass has been home to numerous professional and amateur tournaments in it's 51 year history. Originally designed in 1956 by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Spyglass has long been known as a very challenging 18-hole track. Let me tell you, it's definitely challenging.

The first five holes were the highlight of the round for me. They offer dramatic views of the Pacific and take place in a dunes-like landscape. These opening five holes offer one par 5, two par 4's, and two par 3's. In order to score well in this stretch, take advantage of the par 4's as they offer the best oppurtunity to make par. The 3rd hole is a stunning downhill par 3 that seemingly drops into the ocean. The green is a postage stamp surrounded by dunes and native brush. Make sure to find the green here or you will be scrambling to save a bogey. 

The rest of the golf course takes on a bit of a different feel as the trees begin to tighten around the fairways and the dunes disappear (and so do the views, sadly). There are still some great holes to be played, however. The par 3 12th hole is reminiscent of number 12 at Augusta National, a shorter par 3 with water and numerous sand traps. Only one member of our foursome was able to find dry land and make par on this hole (me!). The back nine requires precise tee shots and approaches to small, well guarded greens. Overall, this course will wear you down physically and mentally over the course of your round. 

My Score: 84 (+12)

Price: $390 (additional fee for cart or caddy)

The Links at Spanish Bay

I want to start this off by saying that this is most likely my favorite course that I have ever played. For some reason, no one in the Pebble Beach area seems to talk much about it and it gets overshadowed by Pebble, Cypress, and Spyglass. I think you're making a huge mistake if you're in the area and don't play Spanish Bay. Plus, it is the "cheapest" option. 

If Spyglass Hill offered small greens and tight fairways, then Spanish Bay may be the antithesis. The front nine at Spanish Bay weaves up and down a gradual slope right down to the Pacific ocean, each hole offering a unique view of the water. The 8th hole is a dramatic par 3 that is literally right on the beach. It plays between 120-160 yards of forced carry over marsh lands and huge bunkers guarding the green. Tough shot indeed. A par here is a victory. 

The back side starts off with 3 holes that seem to mimic Spyglass; tucked away up in the forest with no ocean views and narrow fairways. Solid stretch of holes, but not spectacular in my opinion. The final stretch returns to the feel of the front nine with stunning views and wide open tee shots. It is actually sometimes difficult to even know where the hole is headed if you havent played there before. Nonetheless, you won't be able to get the smile off your face when you take in the amazing views from these closing holes. 

My Score: 79 (+7)

Price: $290 (additional fee for cart and caddy)

The Golf Club at Middle Bay, Long Island NY

The next guest post for The Traveling Golfer comes from Joe Scaduto, my uncle and golf aficionado. Joe has played countless golf courses over the years and is currently the starter at The Golf Club at Middle Bay in Oceanside, New York. I have been fortunate to play this golf course a few times and can attest to its difficulty and stunning views of Baldwin Harbor. If you are on the south shore of Long Island, this golf course should certainly be on your list of tracks to play!

        

From the Starters perspective: "Good morning gentlemen and welcome to Middle Bay golf course the premier golfing facility on the south shore of Long Island. Today you will experience the true test of links style  golf on our 6400 yard (white tees) facility with a 132 slope rating.  ("Ouch" you say! Yes, you are correct.) This will test all levels of your game.The difficulty lies in 3 areas: 1) Our greens run with an average 9.5 on the stemp meter . 60% of our greens roll with a back to front slope. All approach shots and chips should be left short of the pin for any chance of having a good score. 2) We have 11 water hazards on the golf course, 8 of these come into play on your tee shots. Please refer to your cart installed GPS for those locations. In fact our first four holes have water on them. If you happen to stay dry for those holes consider yourself very fortunate. 3) Last is what I like to call the Middle Bay Breeze! We have eight holes that border Baldwin Bay with weather patterns that change drastically (sometimes, by the hour). Keep in mind that your club selection will change constantly and adjust accordingly. Our golf carts are highly monitored. We ask that you stay in the fairway (yes, I said fairway). If you deviate into the rough, high grass, sand traps, fescue and/or near water hazards, the carts will shut down. If this occurs, put cart in reverse and back out slowly. The cart installed GPS measures to the middle of our greens (white flags). Flags on the green are red, white and blue; which represent front, middle and back (respectively). Our tees, greens and fairways rival any private facility so please show the respect and courtesy that we expect by using the divot-fill supplied on the cart. In addition, repair all ball marks on the greens. Thank you and have a great round. The tee box is yours...."

Thank you, Joe! 

The Links at Union Vale, Langrangeville NY

Our next post comes from Dave Axelrod, a long time friend of mine and a passionate golfer who is pursuing his dream of becoming a Medical Doctor. Dave and I have played well over 50 rounds together and know each other's game pretty well. This course is near Dave's childhood home in the Hudson River Valley of New York State. 

Image result for the links at unionvale

"The Links at Union Vale was voted a “Top 15 Courses in New York” in 2014 and 2015 and measures 5740 yards from the gold tees, although can be stretched to nearly 7000 yards from the championship tees. The links-style setup that gave rise to it’s name was designed to reward quality ball striking and proper course management. Play well, play smart, and you will score well. Each hole carries its own risk and reward. The wayward or overly aggressive can find themselves penalized by the rough and strategically placed bunkers. The first nine holes aren’t too lengthy, they were designed to emphasize tactics and course management to allow a player to find their game and rhythm. A sharp iron game will bode well on the opening nine where hitting fairway’s and greens is imperative.

The first four holes on the second nine, including two par 3’s, offers the best scoring opportunities. If you’re looking to be aggressive on this course, take advantage of this stretch of holes. Teeing up on the 14th though, a player realizes that they need to bring one more thing to the Links, a strong long game, and a very accurate approach shot.

The course can be crowded on Saturday mornings so try to head out later in the day or after work on weekdays to ensure a swift round. The rates are reasonable for the quality of the course, ranging from $41-96 depending on time of year and time of the day and week that you play.

 The pub upstairs from the clubhouse serves a variety of great food and is a perfect place to top your round off with an ice cold beer. This is one of my favorite courses to play with a great views of the Hudson Valley that challenges your accuracy off the tee and into the greens."

Cheers, Dave! 

Crandon Golf Course, Key Biscayne, FL

The Traveling Golfers very first guest post comes from Jim Scaduto (my dad)! He will often escape the harsh north east winters with friends and family and go on golf "retreats" along the southern coast. Here is one of his must-play courses in Florida: 

   

Have some negative pre-conceptions about playing a “muni” course?  Well, flush them out of your mind.  None of them applies to the Crandon Golf Course on Key Biscayne, Florida.

Owned and operated by Miami-Dade County, this island gem of a course is a short drive from downtown Miami and Miami Beach.  It is consistently ranked as “one of the best courses you can play” and features fabulous water views, wonderful green complexes, challenging bunkers and, of course, a copious number of water hazards.  Make it a point to play this one.  It will give your accurate measure of the state of your game, regardless of your skill-level.

The course, which was a regular stop on the Senior PGA Tour for 18 years, measures a ridiculous 7,354 yards from the TIPS (76.5 rating; 151 slope) and a more-manageable 6,425 yards from the white tees (72.1 rating; 138 slope).  If the wind is blowing, as it often does on the island, increase those slope numbers by 10, and consider playing the green tees (5,883 yards; 69.7 rating; 131 slope).  Whichever tees you play, hit it straight and you’ll have a fun day.  Scatter your drives and you’ll be buying balls at the turn.

Consistent with the quality of the course, greens fees are pricier than the typical muni rates, and are more reflective of a high-end daily course.  Bargains are gettable by playing in the afternoon.  The course has recently instituted a forecaddie requirement to ensure a favorable pace-of-play.

After golf, whether you’re high fiving or licking your wounds, skip the 19th hole at the course.  Go to the ocean-front bar at the nearby Ritz Carlton.  Taking in the ocean sites, sounds and smells is the ideal way to cap a great day on the links.  And yes, ask America’s friendliest bartender, Geno, to mix you up one of his favorite concoctions.  You’ll not regret it.  And you just may stay for more than one.  Cheers!

Sunday River Golf Club, Newry ME

      

Sunday River Golf Club is a 7,180 yard Robert Trent Jones designed golf course situated on one of the largest ski mountains in Maine. This course is truly a unique golfing experience and a rare find for a course in the Northeast. Sunday River combines breath taking views, solid conditions, and a challenging layout that is sure to please. 

The first hole at Sunday River sets the mood for the entire round: a long par 5 with a severe down hill approach shot to a small green. A big hitter can catch the slope off the tee and end up with a shorter approach into the green. The front 9 also boasts a shorter par 3 that is literally straight downhill. The back 9 starts off with one of the most challenging holes on the course, with a forced carry off the tee of well over 200 yards from the tips. This is a challenging golf course. 

I will warn you: it is tough to put up a good number on this golf course the first time around. Dramatic elevation changes combined with the intimidating mountain backdrop make judging distances difficult. Combine this with a few forced carries and a number of relatively blind shots makes it a tough first go. With such drastic elevation changes, some tee shots look as if they were sent into inter-galactic orbit and will never come down. It's pretty cool. 

My recommendation: get away from your flat course for a day and give this mountain course a try. The breath taking views are reason enough to check it out, but hopefully you'll have the added bonus of hitting a few good shots. 

Butterbrook Golf Club, Westford MA

Butterbrook Golf Club is a great New England golfing gem nestled in the town of Westford, MA. I stumbled upon this golf course early this spring season with my buddy Kiefer Lammi. We played in late April, but the course was in great condition even though it was about 45 degrees outside. We fought through the frostbite and put together some decent scores on this challenging course.

Butterbrook is one of the few New England public courses that offers consistently challenging distance, superb conditions tee to green, and a unique and treacherous layout. Of the note, the par 5 9th hole measures just over 630 yards from the tips…good luck reaching in two. Combine that with the 260+ yard  par 3 11th hole and well… let’s hope you’re a long hitter. There are a bunch of different sets of tees though, just in case you aren’t.

I would describe Butterbrook as the “Tale of Two Cities,” with the front nine being more of target golf with tree lined fairways and the back nine being relatively wide open in more of a links fashion. Butterbrook is a must play for the golfer looking for a challenge. The rates are reasonable, topping out at about $100 bucks. Highly recommend.

Granite Links, Quincy MA

Granite Links Golf Club is an all-time favorite of mine. Located in the footprint of an old Boston landfill, Granite Links is a 27-hole semi-private golf course that has something for all golfers. The course itself is extemely challenging, especially when the winds start whipping across the links-style course. But you won't pay too much mind to the fact that you just made a quadruple-bogey because you will be fixated on the awesome views of the Boston skyline and the nearby Blue Hills.

From the tips, Granite Links measures a whopping 6,873 yards with a slope of 134. Like I said, not an easy course. The price tag for a round is almost equally as difficult to swallow with in-season rates topping out at $150 per round. The course is always in pristine conditions with speedy greens and sharpely-mown fairways. In the case of Granite Links, you get what you pay for.

For me, playing Granite Links is definitely a "treat yourself" round of golf. It's above my typical public-round budget, but absolutely worth the price to play with my buddies once or twice a year. If you're visiting the Boston area, I highly recommend playing a round at this gem.

Webhannet Golf Club, Kennebunk ME

I figured I would kick off The Traveler Golfer Series with a golf course that is near and dear to my heart... and to my house. I will admit that I am a member of WGC and my family lives on the 13th hole.

Webhannet Golf Club is a small, private golf club in the quaint beach town of Kennebunk, Maine. Webhannet was established in 1901, originally a 9-hole course situated in the towns cow pasture, but has since expanded to a full 18-hole golf course playing at just over 6,000 yards from the blue tees.

Don't let Web's distance and slope of 120 from the tips fool you, you can easily put up a big number on this course. For what Web lacks in distance, it makes up in treacherous green complexes that have had almost 100 years to settle and mature, leading to nuainces in break that only the locals know.

Although technically a private club, Webhannet does offer public tee times to cater to the large number of tourists that visit the Kennebunks each summer. If you're in the southern coastal Maine area, I would recommend giving this track a play. Maybe the best attribute is its proximity to the beach: a big hitter could find the ocean with a solid drive. So worst comes to worst, you can stagger off the 18th green and meet the rest of vacation party at the beach in less than 5 minutes.

Pitch and Putt Edition

Live in New England and don't have the time to play a full 18 hole golf course this fall? Pitch and putt golf courses offer the ability to practice your scoring shots while also have fun with golfers of all ability levels. I've been crunched for time between work and my social life, but have still been able to enjoy the game we love by playing at pitch and putt courses. 

Kimball Farms, Westford MA

Kimball Farms has something for everyone. Whether you enjoy hitting the batting cages, bumper boats, or enjoying an ice cream sundae this place has something to offer for everyone. 

Situated in the rolling hills of Westford, MA, Kimball Farms has a great 9 hole pitch and putt course on the property. Holes range from 45 yards to just over 100 yards and offer a unique layout on each hole. The conditions of the greens are certainly not up to Augusta National standards but they are more than suffiecent for this pitch and putt courses. The cost of a round is very reasonable, usually about $10-15 per person depending on the time of year. 

Merriland Farms, Wells ME

Merriland Farms is a solid pitch and putt course with 9 holes ranging from 60-125 yards. The course is relatively wide open, but still offers a challenge to golfers of any ability level. Maybe the biggest draw of this par 3 course is the restaurant on the property. Nothing beats a generously portioned brunch after a care-free round. 

If you are looking for family fun that will keep a golfer of any ability level entertained, try playing your local pitch and putt course.