Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Orlando Named 2010 Top North American Golf Destination by International Golf Association

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando has been voted “North American Golf Destination of the Year 2010” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO), it was announced in Malaga, Spain at the annual international awards ceremony for the golf tourism industry. The event was widely covered by print, online and broadcast media including CNN International, ESPN Star Sports Asia and the Golf Channel.

IAGTO Chief Executive Officer Peter Walton said, “This is outstanding recognition for an aspect of the Orlando experience that is outside of its world-renowned theme parks. This award acknowledges not only the quality of the golf offerings in Orlando but the service provided to golfers and tour operators worldwide. With this award, our members recognize that Orlando has achieved a winning combination for golfers worldwide.”

“Orlando is well-known for its theme park thrills off the course – it’s very exciting to see that we are now becoming known for our thrills on the course,” said Gary C. Sain, president and CEO of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. “With 177 golf courses providing every type and level of golf experience, we like to say that Orlando is golf’s ultimate theme park. We are honored to have this prestigious award from IAGTO and the acknowledgment from its members for the efforts we have put in to developing our vast golf offerings from our award-winning golf courses, to our top golf instructors and the acclaimed professional events we host every year. ”

The selection for winning destinations is made through votes cast by over 300 golf tour operators from 50 countries who consider customer satisfaction; quality of golf courses and accommodation; value for money; support from suppliers, tourist boards and airlines; professional conduct of suppliers; and accessibility to tee times. North American finalist destinations nominated for the award included Hawaii, Miami, Fla. and Palm Beach Fla.

You can contact me at 888.333.6103 or email me at glen@golfzoo.com to discuss golf packages in Orlando, or anywhere else in Florida.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Craig’s “Top Ten” Golf Courses in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Interested in a golf trip to Myrtle Beach but overwhelmed with the number of courses to choose from? Here is my list of the top ten must plays in Myrtle. This does not take into account price point or best values, just my favorite tracks considering layout, scenery, conditioning and service. 

1. The Dunes Golf and Beach Club- My absolute favorite course in town. This is one of the originals in Myrtle designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1948. Great views of the ocean, marshlands, inlet, and the best course conditions around. Just a super facility. 

2. Caledonia- Beautiful! It is a fair test of golf and at the same time one of the most scenic plantation style courses in the country. I just love the huge live oak trees lining the fairways with the Spanish moss draping down. Course conditions are always top notch and could be my favorite in town except for hole #9 is a bit of a disappointment when compared to the other 17 holes. 

3. King’s North- In a word FUN. I love risk reward holes and Arnold Palmer gives you plenty of chances on this course. Par five with an island fairway (always go for it because if it does not stay on the island your still hitting 3 into the green) island green par 3, drivable par 4, oh and number 18 has 100 plus bunkers on that hole alone! 

4. Tigers Eye- “Top 100 Public Courses” by Golf Digest and for good reason. Not your typical beach course, as there are some nice elevation changes and Tim Cate did a great job of carving the course out of the pines. I love the large boulders lining all of the ponds. 

5. Rivers Edge- Best value around if your willing to drive. You have a 45 minute hike even if your staying in North Myrtle but you won’t want to miss this track. Arnold Palmer was lucky to have a gorgeous piece of property to work with, that offers spectacular views overlooking the inlet and bluffs in Shallotte. Numbers 9 and 18 are two of my all time favorite holes. 

6. TPC of Myrtle Beach- One of my good friends best described this course as “the enchanted forest.” The land to start with did not have the wow factor that some of the other area courses offer but this is one of the best layouts around. 18 super holes of golf designed by Mr. Fazio which until recently had zero homes on the course but even with the new construction you still see very few home sites as you travel around. 

7. Tidewater- A North Myrtle Beach gem. Great mix of holes that run between the towering pines and then before you know it, your looking out over the marsh with the ocean in the background. There are so many holes that would be “the signature hole” on almost any other golf course.

8. Barefoot Love- I had a hard time choosing just one course at Barefoot as they are all great. Given my choice though I always go with the Love. The staff keeps the course in fantastic shape, and I just love the old ruins which gives the course great character. Well designed course and a great clubhouse to come back to have a beer and hang out with the guys….or gals. 

9. Grande Dunes- Come test that new driver! Just a mere 7,600 yards from the tips….strongly suggest avoiding playing it all the way back on windy days. Driver then three-wood gets old after a while…… I will say they have several tee boxes to choose from which make this a far less demanding golf course. Grande Dunes has the most upscale feel of all the area courses from the second you pull up to the bag drop and its in a great location.

10. Pawleys Plantation- I love what Jack Nicholas did with this golf course…well all except for the little 100 yard par three out over the marsh….that hole gets me every time. He too had a great piece of property to work with offering fantastic inlet views….my wife and I loved it so much we even had our wedding there. No doubt it is a challenging golf course but what a great place to spend a day. 

If you have questions on these or any other courses in town give me a call at 888.333.6079. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Winter Golf Packages in Florida II - Orlando


Here is the follow up to my first post on Winter Golf Packages in Florida. I will mention more details on resorts and courses in the different areas

Orlando, Florida:

This is the best and biggest bang for your buck, when planning winter golf packages. As I mentioned earlier, the lodging (Villa's, Condo's and Homes) are inexpensive. Here are a couple of my recommendations for lodging choices - Magical Memories, followed by Grand Beach ResortSheraton Vistana Villages, and Sheraton Vistana Resort. Finally the high end resorts with Villa's and lodging on site - Reunion Resort (villa's and homes), Grand Cypress (villa's), Champions Gate (hotel rooms and villa's) and Orange County National (hotel rooms). Reunion Resort is the only one of these resorts that require you to stay on property in order to play there.

Here are my thoughts and recommendations of the courses:

Multiple course facilities:

Disney - 72 holes. Palm/Magnolia (PGA Tour event), out of same club house. Lake Buena Vista and Osprey Ridge have their own clubhouse.
Reunion Resort - 54 holes, upscale (Palmer, Watson and Nicklaus design)
Grand Cypress - 45 holes, upscale (Nicklaus design)
Champions Gate - 36 holes, upscale (Greg Norman design)
Orange County National - 36 holes, upscale (PGA Tour final stage of qualifying school)
Orange Lake Resort - 36 holes, less expensive (Legends course designed by Arnold Palmer).
Mission Inn - 36 holes, less expensive (30 minutes north of Orlando, lodging on site)
Stonegate at Solivita - 36 holes, less expensive

Other top end courses:

Bella Collina, 50 million $ clubhouse, Nick Faldo design
Shingle Creek - Close to airport
Harmony Golf Preserve - Great bang for buck, little bit of a drive
Celebration
Falcons Fire
Southern Dunes - Rated high in state of Florida
Metrowest
Eagle Creek - Close to airport
Sugarloaf Mtn. - Not typical Florida course, elevation changes
Victoria Hills - Great bang for buck, 1 hour drive
Providence GC - Well priced

Next level courses:

Legends Golf and CC
Diamondback
North Shore
Forest Lake
Hunters Creek
Royal St. Cloud
Ridgewood Lakes


To keep from having too long of a post, I will limit each one to a specific area in Florida. In the meantime, please feel free to email me - glen@golfzoo.com or call me with any questions or help - 888.333.6103.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Winter Golf Packages in Florida

It's the time of year to start thinking about getting out of the Snow and Cold, and playing golf in Florida - SUNSHINE AND WARMTH. I will try and break down our destinations individually, and give suggestions on where to go.

By far, Orlando is one of Golf Zoo's top destination in the Winter. A couple of the reasons for this are lodging and quality golf. The most reasonable lodging choices area Villa's, Condo's and Homes. These are all very inexpensive, and you can have it so each guy has his own room. Most all these properties are located in the SW Orlando, within 30 minutes of all the top courses. As far as the golf - there are at least 30 courses in the area that are all rated 4 - 4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest and all ranked high in the state. Most guys that come in on golf packages from the North; love to get as much golf in as possible, during their stay. Orlando definitely can handle the multiple day rounds for the guys. There are 8 multiple course facilities in the area and all very good. Winter packages for Orlando as the rest of Florida are considered peak season. Golf can range from $75 a round to $175, and some of the lower priced courses are as good as the higher priced ones - discuss this with you Golf Vacation Specialist.

I will break down the other popular areas of Florida and offer advice and insight.

Tampa, Florida:

This area is 70 miles SW of Orlando and located on the Gulf of Mexico. This area has numerous courses, that include 5 multiple course facilities. One of the things about Tampa, is that driving to courses may take some time - due to the fact that they are spread out. Some of the best facilities in the area are anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes from Tampa. There are some lodging choices that offer villa's, but most of the choices will be hotel rooms. A lot of guys going on these golf trips, like to have some nightlife options, especially adult entertainment. Tampa has some of the best adult entertainment in the state.

Jacksonville, Florida:

This area is located in the NE part of the state. During the winter months, Jacksonville can be a little cooler than the rest of the state - but still a lot warmer than the NE United States. Jacksonville has 4 major resort type properties, all offering multiple courses and multiple lodging choices. These all are very good, but can be a little pricey. There are probably another 10 - 12 good public courses in the area. Jacksonville's other lodging, not resorts will be hotel rooms. The area is also located on the ocean. The pace in Jacksonville is a little slower than the other areas and a little more laid back.

Port St. Lucie, Florida:

This area is located 45 minutes north of W. Palm and about 90 minutes SE of Orlando. There are not a lot of courses in the area, about a half dozen. One facility they have is PGA Village - lodging and 54 holes on site. This is a very nice facility. This is more a golf only type trip, not a lot of nightlife in the area - but very good golf. Closest airport is 45 minutes away, in W. Palm Beach.

Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, Florida:

I put these two areas together, because they are basically 30 - 45 minutes apart. The lodging in these areas will mainly be hotels. Of the two areas, Ft. Lauderdale has more golf courses to choose from. There are 4 multiple course facilities Ft. Lauderdale area and 2 in the Miami area. One of the most famous multiple course facilities in Miami, is Doral Resort and Spa. The resort has 5 golf courses on site. The stay and play packages are not cheap, but it's a nice resort. There are only another 4- 6 courses in the Miami area. Getting around in South Florida can be tough, a lot of traffic. I don't consider South Florida on of the top destinations in the state, for a couple of reasons - not a lot of course choices, especially quality and more expensive than what you pay for. The weather in South Florida can be warmer than the rest of the state. There is great night life in both Ft. Lauderdale and Miami (South Beach). If you want to be able to play good golf, enjoy the nightlife and spend more money - then South Florida is a good choice.

W. Palm Beach, Florida:

Palm Beach area is very nice and upscale. There are only a few top public courses in the area. The main draw is PGA Resort and Spa. This is a very nice resort and you have to stay there in order to play there. There are 5 courses on site - 2 of the courses are very good, the other 3 are average. If you want to be able to go somewhere and enjoy a resort and have all the golf - this is a good choice. Keep in mind, it is again not cheap.

Naples/Ft. Myers, Florida:

This area is located about 2 hours south of Tampa. This is located on the West Coast and has very nice weather. Majority of lodging choices are resorts and hotels, not very many condos or villas. The golf in this area, especially Naples - is very good and quite expensive. The Naples area is also know as Gods waiting room. You will enjoy going here for nice lodging a very good golf - again, you will pay top $$$ for these packages.


I hope this brief synopsis offers some insight on putting together a golf package in Florida, during the winter months. Your best bet is to discuss this with your golf vacation specialist (www.golfzoo.com). We just don't live here in Florida, we have been to the resorts or played most all the courses we sell. The best thing about using a golf package company to plan your trip is ease of planning. We do everything for you - your group just comes down and enjoy. Check out our website - www.golfzoo.com, and all the hot deals we have for the winter months. Feel free to call me anytime - 888.333.6103 to discuss your needs.

I will follow up with another post with some more details on the areas - mainly the courses and resorts. Until then...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cowboy Steak Rub

More all star sizzlers from Lori's kitchen.
Here's a great Tex-Mex inspired rub, excellent on Ribeye Steaks:

Ingredients:

1/4 C Ancho chili powder or chili powder
2 T Paprika
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
1 t coarsely ground black pepper
2 T olive oil
4 10-12 oz. beef ribeye steaks, cut 1" thick
Snipped fresh parsley

Preparation:
For spice rub, combine in a small bowl chili powder, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in olive oil to make a paste which will cling to meat.( I added a bit more oil to get the right consistency)
Trim fat from meat and coat both sides of steak with spice rub.
Wrap steaks tightly with spice rub and refrigerate for at least 1 hour

Grill to your hearts desire and sprinkle with parsley

YEEHAW

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Scientific Way to Determine the Best Golf Ball for You

Nearly a year ago, we told you about GolfBallSelector.com, which will, in less than 15 minutes and for less than you’ll pay for a sleeve of premium golf balls, identify the best golf ball for your game.

You may recall how this works: the researchers at GolfBallSelector.com test and measure the performance characteristics of virtually every ball on the market, then compare this data with information you supply about your game via a 15-question “fitting session.”

The result is a scientific (i.e. objective) list of the five best golf balls for you, those that will likely improve your distance, accuracy, feel…or all three.

Today’s tip is merely a follow up to let you know about two very cool developments.

First, the guys in the lab have gone out and tested about a dozen more golf balls; new ones from 2008 and 2009, bringing their database up to more than 60 models from all the major manufacturers. The list, which I saw over at mygolfspy.com, now includes:
continued...


by Craig Better of golfvacationinsider.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

GOLFERS ONLY- NO ONE ELSE WILL UNDERSTAND

Don't buy a putter until you've had a chance to throw it.

Never try to keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your mind during your swing.

When your shot has to carry over a water hazard, you can either hit one more club or two more balls.

If you're afraid a full shot might reach the green while the foursome ahead of you is still putting out, you have two options: you can immediately shank a lay-up or you can wait until the green is clear and top a ball halfway there..

The less skilled the player, the more likely he is to share his ideas about the golf swing.

No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

The inevitable result of any golf lesson is the instant elimination of the one critical unconscious motion that allowed you to compensate for all of your many other errors

Everyone replaces his divot after a perfect approach shot.

A golf match is a test of your skill against your opponents' luck.

It is surprisingly easy to hole a fifty foot putt....For a 10.

Counting on your opponent to inform you when he breaks a rule is like expecting him to make fun of his own haircut.

Nonchalant putts count the same as chalant putts

It's not a gimme if you're still away.

The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the center of a very large tree.

You can hit a two acre fairway 10% of the time and a two inch branch 90% of the time.

If you really want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.

Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

When you look up, causing an awful shot, you will always look down again at exactly the moment when you ought to start watching the ball if you ever want to see it again.

Every time a golfer makes a birdie, he must subsequently make two triple bogeys to restore the fundamental equilibrium of the universe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working on a Golf Package with the Golf Vacation Specialist

I know there are a lot of individuals out there, that didn't do an annual golf trip last winter. The economy has affected everyone in some shape or form. Even Greg Norman mentioned at the Open Championship, having to lay off employees for the first time in his business career. There are and will be a lot of great packages out there for all the areas we cover. This is where the Golf Vacation Specialist comes in. We live and play in the areas we are responsible for. We understand the need for golfers to get the biggest bang for their buck - most golfers want everything, but don't want to pay for it.

There are a lot of things that golfers can do to get a great golf package. The first and most important thing you can do, is talk to your Golf Vacation Specialist. We can offer a lot of insight and less expensive alternatives, that most golfers may not be aware of. Golfers need to have some kind of budget in mind for their trip. These budgets need to be realistic; based on your choices of location, lodging and golf courses. If you have a lower budget in mind, please understand that you cannot play all high end courses and stay within your budget. There are certain times of year and certain areas that this is possible. Most all golf course rates are based on seasons. Winter packages in Florida for example, will be higher priced than Myrtle Beach - mainly due to weather conditions.

The individual person putting the golf package together, needs to be right up front and honest on the budget for the group. If you discuss this with your individual Specialist, he or she can get you everything you need within your budget. Keep in mind; that you may have to scale down lodging expectations and golf courses, to stay within your budget - especially during peak seasons in each specific area. Each Golf Vacation Specialist can do this very quickly and get you that "Biggest Bang for your Buck". You can go online and do numerous quotes on areas that you may not be that familiar with. This can be very time consuming and not get you what you may need or want. Do that initial quote, which will have the name of your representative on it. Next step would be to contact that particular representative via phone or email. Once the specialist has an idea of what type of package your looking to put together - Dates, # of players, # of rounds and most important - BUDGET PER PLAYER. It becomes a very simple process to get from point A to point B.

There are also a lot of individuals out there that like to book everything on their own for the group. This is OK, but having someone in the area you're looking to do a package in - can make the process much easier and less phone calls for the group leader - calling hotels, golf, etc... Yes, an individual can put a good package together, doing everything on his own. The major difference working with a Golf Vacation Specialist - we will be honest and up front about specific lodging and golf courses. You will never have someone at hotel or golf course tell you that their lodging property is so so, or the same for a golf course. We, as Golf Vacation Specialist's, will tell you right up front, our honest opinion on lodging and golf. We as a company do a lot of repeat business. We are the so-called 'experts' in the areas we cover, and our repeat clients trust us every year to set up their package for them.

You will see on our website, that we offer a lot of hot deals for each specific area. These are great ways to do an inexpensive golf package with great courses and resorts. We put these hot deals together due to the fact that our vendors have gotten very aggressive with us in pricing, or we know some very specific lodging and golf courses, that we have great deals with. If you see a hot deal, chances are - this is a great package for the money.

Please try and be flexible with the areas you may want to do a golf package. Your specialist may know of some other areas that you've never thought of, and may be a great golf destination. You may have been to a specific area the last couple years, but have never heard of or played other courses in that area. Also, the farther south you go in the winter - the higher the price goes. But each area can have an inexpensive alternative to keep the cost down, and make it still enjoyable. Some of the new areas we have added as a company, can get very aggressive with their pricing, due to the fact of trying to draw more golfers to that area.

In a nutshell - your Golf Vacation Specialist is here to help, and can be your best resource in putting a golf package together. Take some time to contact us and discuss your needs and budget - we can make the process very easy for you. Try and be flexible with your destinations, courses and so on - we have something out there that's fantastic and you may have never thought about it. In these tough economic times - let us help bail you out of the work that goes behind putting a great golf package together. We, as a company, have a lot of great golf areas and will work our hardest to satisfy your every need. Please take some time to get to know us and you will have a Golf Vacation Specialist for life. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Biloxi Revived

A short time ago, I took a familiarization trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. Not only was I pleasantly surprised, but completed impressed. The quality of the courses and accommodations were top notch. Starting with the golf, I would have to describe the overall service and quality of conditions as nothing short of world class. The accommodations from the hotels to the condominiums were luxurious. 

We are all aware of the hurricane devastation in New Orleans because of our national media, but that same devastation was delivered to Biloxi as well. In the Southern tradition, Biloxi rallied and rebuilt a new and better community. Foremost, what stands out in my memory is the sense of community and fellowship. Biloxi is also a perfect example of Southern Hospitality.

When considering your next golf vacation, with the added excitement of casino gambling, look no further than Biloxi - The Gem of the Gulf Coast.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club - 2009 Golf Course Of The Year in MB


MYRTLE BEACH AREA GOLF COURSE OWNERS NAME SHAFTESBURY GLEN GOLF & FISH CLUB - 2009 GOLF COURSE OF THE YEAR

Grand Strand Association Says The Clyde Johnston Designed Course Is Tops Among All Others In The Area

July 17, 2009, Myrtle Beach, S.C. — The Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owner’s Association (MBAGCOA) has named Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club the 2009 Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year.

Inspired by celebrated courses like Winged Foot and Augusta National, architect Clyde Johnston designed a traditional British Isles course at Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club. Tucked into the forest and farmlands along South Carolina’s beautiful Waccamaw River, the course features wide fairways and elevated greens. The Shaftesbury Glen Clubhouse overlooks the Waccamaw River and offers tranquil views tailor-made for post-round relaxation.

In addition to this most recent honor, last year, Shaftesbury Glen was voted one of the Top 50 Golf Resorts in the United States in Golf World's first-ever ranking of the best public, private and resort facilities in the country. Shaftesbury Glen was on Golf Digest’s list of nominations for best new course of 2001. It was rated at 4 stars (Outstanding) in Golf Digest’s Places To Play (2005), which notes that the course’s greens “may be the best on The [Grand] Strand.”

The MGAGCOA evaluates courses on conditions, quality of ownership and management, contributions to the community and efforts to improve the growth of the game.

“The Glens Group is truly honored to have Shaftesbury Glen named Golf Course of the year,” said Jason Himmelsbach, marketing manager for the Glens Golf Group. “The MBAGCOA judged our course using strict criteria and to be recognized as the best, when there are so many great courses along the Grand Strand really showcases the hard work and dedication of everyone here at the Glens Group and Shaftesbury Glen.” 

The Golf Course of the Year award has been given out since 1996. Shaftesbury Glen will now be judged statewide. Statewide winners move on for the chance to be named National Golf Course Of The Year.

About The Glens Golf Group

The flagship of The Glens Golf Group is Heather Glen, which is located in Little River, S.C. on a magnificent, 400-acre historic site. Designed by Willard Byrd and Clyde Johnston, the course opened in 1987.
Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links, often referred to as “Myrtle Beach’s Most Talked About Course,” was designed by Clyde Johnston in a tribute to legendary course architect Donald Ross. Glen Dornoch is a traditional course and each hole flows with the natural terrain of lakes, live oaks and spectacular marsh and river views.
Known as the “Friendliest Course On The Beach,” Possum Trot has an honored place in the history of Myrtle Beach golf. One of the first ten championship courses built along Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand, which now has more than 100 golf courses, Possum Trot has stood the test of time. The course’s Old English design features spacious fairways, challenging par 5’s, as well as flawlessly manicured greens and spectacular flower displays.
Inspired by world-famous courses like Winged Foot and Augusta National, architect Clyde Johnston designed a traditional British Isles course at Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, located on the banks of South Carolina’s beautiful Waccamaw River. 
###

Something's Cookin at Golf Zoo

I've decided to take a break from the golf blogs and start publishing some of my favorite recipes.  I'm not only a golf vacation diva, I'm also a great cook!

Here's a quick and simple chicken recipe that's heart healthy and tasty:

Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potato Salad.

2 sweet potatoes (about 1 lb) peeled and cut into thin wedges
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
4 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bunch spinach, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
2 t fresh lime juice


Heat oven to 425. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, onion, 2 T oil, 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper. Roast until tender, 20-25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.
Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts, season with 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper, I use a little more of each.
Spray grill with PAM.
Grill chicken approx 5-6 minutes on each side.
In a large bowl, toss the warm potato mixture with spinach, lime juice and 1/4 t salt (I doubled the dressing)

Serve with the chicken. Enjoy!



Thursday, April 02, 2009

Why Off-Resort Dining is Usually the Better Option for Golf Vacations

Golf Odyssey readers know that my editors and I work hard to identify the best places to dine at each golf vacation destination we visit. Before you roll your eyes, know that we have to endure plenty of bad restaurants in order to find the standouts, and we have the Pepto supply to prove it.

What we've found is that, save for a few exceptions (the Tap Room at Pebble Beach immediately comes to mind), the best dining choices are almost always located off resort grounds. As I recently learned from the CEO of a major hospitality company, the reason for this is pretty simple.

If you run a restaurant (and it doesn't matter if you are a single proprietor or part of a chain), you come to work every day focused on one thing: the restaurant business.

Now, contrast that mindset with that of the hotel manager. He or she needs to worry about filling hotel rooms and booking meetings and events. The accompanying food and beverage operation may consist of several restaurants, plus banquets and room service. And we haven't even touched upon other aspects at larger resorts, such as the golf courses, spas and other amenities that take care, feeding and attention.

So, if you find yourself on a golf vacation and have to make a choice between dining on- or off a resort property, the rule-of-thumb above should prove useful. There are exceptions, of course, and we applaud the recent trend of established restaurateurs setting up shop inside hotels. Continued...

By David Baum of golfvacationinsider.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Local Knowledge on Myrtle Beach Flights

Having Trouble Finding a Cheap Flight into Myrtle Beach?

Everyone knows Myrtle Beach is one of the top golf destinations in the World but finding reasonable airfare can be a challenge.

If you are staying in central Myrtle or in the south end of town you will want to fly directly into Myrtle Beach International (MYR).  I suggest checking out Spirit Air and Myrtle Beach Direct Air as they typically offer the best prices. 

If you are staying in the north end of the Grand Strand still look at using MYR but also consider Wilmington International (ILM).  It is about an hour drive but many times is less expensive the flying directly into MYR.

Spirit Air is constantly changing out their specials and it is not uncommon to find a flight for $9 each way.  If you need any other local knowledge on Myrtle Beach give one of our Golf Vacation Specialists a call at 888.765.0809.    

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

East Coast vs. West Coast - 2 Unbeatable deals

Whether you're heading to either coast, you won't beat these two Stay and Play deals. Period. End o story.

The first is the Stay and Play at TPC Sawgrass. Admit it. We have all watched for years, and wonder how we would fare coming down the stretch on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass. Would we hit a "hard nine" or a "smooth 8" at the infamous, dreaded, and fantastic 17th hole? I think you'll have to do a $20.00 closest to the pin contest with your buddies to do it right. Double money for birdies, and double money for 3 putt bogeys. Quit stalling and hit it.

Anyway, you can travel between May 22nd through September 11th for $199 per person per day for lodging right there at the Sawgrass Marriott, 2 rounds on the Valley course, and a round on the TPC Stadium course. This one's a no-brainer. (It's typically over $200 for the round at TPC Stadium ALONE.)
Call Glen or Tom in our Florida office to book this gem.


If Scottsdale is on the menu, then look no further than the Arizona Grand Stay and Play. This is a four star full service resort in a great location with great amenities, and golf that's second to none.

From now until June 1st (and even less expensive after 6/1) you can stay at the Arizona Grand and play early afternoon rounds (with PLENTY OF TIME TO FINISH) at:


all for $159.95 per person per day. That includes everything. All Suite rooms, resort fees, green fees, cart fees, taxes - you're "all in" for $159.95. Again, a total no-brainer. Call Chris or Lori in our Phoenix/Scottsdale office!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Market Common Rocks!!!

The Market Common opened in April 2008. It has stylish shops and fabulous eateries, such as PF Changs and Tommy Bahama with outdoor seating - great for people watching.  With luxury apartments above all the shops, it's like an Urban Wonderland right here in Myrtle Beach! 

On my most recent visit, I dined at Travinia Italian Kitchen.  As soon as you walk through the door, the aroma knocks your socks off.  All the walls are lined with wine racks, so naturally they have a very extensive wine list. We started with the Prince Edward Island Mussels, and I have to tell you, being a mussel snob, they were the best I have had here. I had the Vesuvio Marsala, and the veal was so tender it melts in your mouth.  Oh and I have to mention the bread - awesome.  

I grew up in New York and was taught at a very young age, if the bread is good the meal will be as well. The desserts looked amazing too, I just did not have any room left. I will try again next time. So please, on your next visit to the beach, check out this fabulous eatery so you can savor the fare.

Ciao,
Linda

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So Many Courses in Scottsdale...What to do, What to do?

Today's feature is the Boulders Golf Course.

This public, resort course highlighted by huge boulder formations was designed by Jay Morrish.
Vital Stats: Par 71, five sets of tees ranging from 6,726 to 4,684 yards has a slope rating of 140 from the back tees. There are 75 bunkers and has water which comes into play on three holes.

Amenities: Driving range, bunker and chipping areas, practice putting green and a full service restaurant.
There's a golf academy headed by Donald Crawley, who is ranked as a top 100 instructor by
Golf magazine.

Why play here: Both boulders courses (North and South) are well known for their stunning views, with giant boulder formations and rock outcroppings framing the holes. Structures are well hidden providing a pure golf feel. Fairways blend with the natural terrain, and greens are small but true with subtle breaks. Course conditions are immaculate.  The South course has been ranked numerous times by national magazines, including the No. 1 ranking by Golf for Women for womens facilities.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Golf World 2009 Readers' Choice Top 50 Public Courses

Golf World Magazine recently came out with its 2009 Readers' Choice Awards Top 50 - Public*Private*Resort. There are two areas I handle for Golf Zoo - Florida and the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama.

I will talk about the
Public "Top 10 List", for my area. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, two facilities - Grand National (Rank #1), Opelika, Alabama. This facility has two great championship layouts - Lake and Links courses. The other facility is Capitol Hill (Rank #2). Prattville, Alabama. This facility has 3 championship layouts - Judge, Legislator and Senator. Both these facilities have a Marriott property on site, but other lodging options are also available. The next facility on the "Top 10 List" is Orange County National (Rank #8) in Winter Garden, Florida. This facility has 36 holes on site and a fantastic practice facility. Both courses (Panther Lake and Crooked Cat) are host to final stage of PGA Tour final stage of Q'School every two years. There are hotel rooms on property, but there are many options for lodging in Orlando.

Here are some other courses in Florida that round out the "
Top 50 Public Courses": Southern Dunes (Rank #17), Haines City, Florida. TPC Tampa Bay (Rank #18), Lutz, Florida (Home to Sr. PGA Tour event). Celebration GC (Rank #24), Celebration, Florida.  PGA Village (Rank #30) (54 holes), Port St. Lucie, Florida. RTJ Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove (Rank #32) (36 holes), Mobile, Alabama.

Now for the some of the "
Top 50 Resort Courses" in my area: Walt Disney World Resort (Rank #13) (72 holes and home to PGA Tour event), Lake Buena Vista, Florida. World Golf Village (Rank #15) (36 holes), St. Augustine, Florida. TPC Sawgrass (Rank #21) ( Home to the Players Championship, 5 golf courses to choose from at this facility, must stay on site), Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. PGA National GC (Rank #42) (Home to PGA Tour Event, 5 golf courses on site, must stay on site), Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Innisbrook Resort and GC (Rank #45) (Home to PGA Tour Event, 4 course on site, must stay on site), Palm Harbor, Florida. Lely Resort G&CC (Rank #48) (36 holes on site), Naples, Florida.

If any of these courses are of interest, please call me at
888.333.6103, or email me at glen@golfzoo.com. As I mentioned; I handle Florida, along with the RTJ Golf Trail in Alabama. I can set up packages for all these areas and we have numerous other courses to choose from, check out www.golfzoo.com and see what we're all about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ross Bridge - The Best of the Trail

This last summer Glen, myself and our wives had the opportunity to play Ross Bridge Golf Course in Birmingham, Alabama . This course is definitely one of the best courses I have ever played in my life. From tee to green the beauty is unrivaled. The quality of the design - unmatched. This is without a doubt the Jones Family's crowning jewel.

Though the price may seem a bit steep, it is worth every dime you spend. Not only was the course the nicest we played on the Trail, but the Renaissance accommodations were over the top. From the doorman to the cart boy - they treat you like royalty. The little things sometimes make a trip so much better and their attention to detail was precise. The concierge, Lisa, suggested that we try a little local food so we got reservations to The Bright Star. We were treated to a fantastic seafood dinner while seating in the Bear Bryan booth. If you are ever considering a trip to the RTJ Trail, Ross Bridge would be a perfect way to finish any trip. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Myrtle Beach Dream 18

Local Sports writers and golf professionals composed a list in their opinion the best 18 holes on the Grand Strand. Arranged in ascending order, they call it the Dream 18.

#18  DeBordieu Colony Club No. 17-441 yards | Par 4
#17  
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club No. 11-430 yards | Par 4
#16  
Rivers Edge Golf Club No. 9-570 yards | Par 5
#15  
Prestwick Country Club No. 9-537 yards | Par 5
#14  
Farmstead Golf Links No. 18-767 yards | Par 6
#12  
Tidewater Golf Club No. 4-414 yards | Par 4
#11  
Pawleys Plantation No. 13-145 yards | Par 3
#10  
TPC of Myrtle Beach No. 17-193 yards | Par 3
#9   
Wachesaw Plantation No. 18-565 yards | Par 5
#8   
Oyster Bay Golf Links No. 13-330 yards | Par 4
#7   
Tidewater Golf Club No. 12-198 yards | Par 3
#6   Surf Golf and Beach Club No. 18-217 yards | Par 3
#5   
Myrtle Beach National King's North No. 6-568 yards | Par 5
#4   
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club No. 18-383 yards I Par 4
#3   
Grande Dunes Resort Golf Course No. 14-216 yards | Par 3
#2   
Tidewater Golf Club No. 3-157 yards | Par 3
#1   
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club No. 13-590 yards | Par 5

The complete write-up is located here
. All of these courses are challenging and scenic.

OK fellow golfers, what would be your Dream 18? Personally, out of all 18 - Caledonia would be my pick, but that's just me since it
is my favorite Home Town Track.  Please let me know what your favorites are and we can compose our own Dream 18.  Hey - why not?