Day 2 of the Tribute to the South

Drum roll please...............................GOLF. You know I was going there. I probably should have made it Day 1, but for some reason, food caught my fancy yesterday. Did I mention that we are having a Lo Country Boil this weekend as a send off? Doesn't get much more southern than that.

Anyway, back to golf. The people in the south (well, the men in the south) LOVE their golf. And after being on the East Coast for a year now, I can see why. I have played top of the line courses in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Been very lucky, to say the least. But let me tell you why the East closely rivals the West in terms of golf courses and the experience.

First state on the docket: North Carolina. I was able to play 2 awesome courses while I was there - Boone Golf Club and Grove Park Inn (Ashley's birthday present to me!). BGC was a great course, and was my first dose of Donald Ross, one of the most famous golf course designers in history. This course was designed by a protege of his, so it was identical to his style, which is HARD. But it was a great tune up for the real gem of the Asheville area - the Grove Park Inn. This course was unreal. Beautifully green lush course, very hilly, views of the city of Asheville, and set on the property of the historic and top 10 Spas in the World! I played with a great guy (who happened to live in Alpharetta, weird), smoked a great cigar, and had a great round. But aside from the experience, the course was awesome. It was designed by Donald Ross himself in 1919 or something like that. It had his very standard "upside down salad bowl" shaped greens and huge slanting greens. It was quite the test, actually. But I like that. I would go back and play in a heartbeat! Except next time I'd take Ash to the spa afterwards for a post round massage!

Next up: Alabama. I was only able to play a few courses in Gulf Shores (or should I say, Golf Shores?? Ba doom, ching!), but the highlight being Kiva Dunes. And this time, Ashley played with me! Well, actually she just rode around in the cart and had a few beers. . .hit a few shots occasionally. . .but mostly drove the cart, worked on her tan, and put back some Mick Ultras. Annnnnd I had my fair share too. Maybe that's why this course was so fun, I have no idea. But it was very hard, very sand dunes-y, with palm trees and lakes.......needless to say, picturesque. Gulf Shores is a great place to play golf. By the ocean, very warm, lots of sun and beers, and fun courses that for the most part are pretty easy. I played a few others times while there (once with Danny, once with Lee) and both were a great time! But next time you are in Gulf Shores, play Kiva Dunes. It is worth it!

Next up: South Carolina. Or as it says on their license plate, "First in Golf". I thought New York was first in golf, but maybe I am mistaken. SC is first in everything else, given the war history and early settlement history. So that is cool. What is even cooler is Harbour Town Golf Links. Uh-maze-ing. This course is the host of a PGA Tour tournament (the Verizon Heritage Classic), and is worthy of being called an amazing course. I played it last weekend, and it kicked my butt. It was so hard! Designed by Pete Dye (AKA Dye-abolical, for a reason), the fairways are smaller than your local Par 3 course, and the greens were about as big as your kitchen table. I mean, those bad boys were impossible to hit! I actually hit the ball fairly well, but realized how good the PGA tour guys are. It was a humbling experience. But the main reason you go to Harbour Town is for #17 and #18. 17 is a par 3 headed straight for the sound, surrounded by bunkers and hills and water. It is an amazing golf hole (I almost made birdie from the sand trap, but tapped in for par). 18 is all beauty. And all hard. It is 455 yards, with trouble everywhere. You are headed towards a candy cane looking lighthouse, with water all the way down the left side of the hole. The right is out of bounds, which makes it tough as well. But 2 interesting stats on this hole: the fairway is the #1 largest on the PGA tour, and the green is the #3 smallest. Pretty interesting. But, if you are a pro like me, you hit a 295 yard (Tiger what?) right down the middle, followed by a smooth 7 iron right at the flag, followed by 2 easy putts for par. What a great way to end a really great day! This course is worth a trip to South Carolina in itself, it is that good. Every hole you want to take a picture (and then throw your club because it was hard). And the last 2 holes make one of the best courses in the entire country.

Last up: Georgia. Home of Augusta National Golf Club. Or to a guy like me, Heaven. But in North Georgia there are also some gems that I have been lucky enough to play. White Columns, Atlanta National (where our wedding reception will be!), The Georgia Tech Club (aka Echelon), to name a few. White Columns was where I played a national tournament when I was 17 years old, about 3 years before I met Ashley. Extremely ironic - it is about 4 minutes from her house. Fate, anyone? I've written enough about Augusta (if you haven't read it, go to my blog archives and read about Augusta!), so I'll give you some golf history from Georgia. Atlanta was home to Bobby Jones, arguably the most famous golfer of all time. He still holds most amateur records, and designed some of the South's great courses, including Augusta. But if you are rich and have money to blow, you can be a member of his home course in Atlanta, or play some other favorites of his. A few PGA Tour golfers live in Duluth at Sugar Loaf, or at Atlanta Athletic Club, both extremely exclusive and extremely unbelievable. But up in horse country in Alpharetta, the courses are so beautiful. They are set on rolling acreage, with huge Pines deciding the fairways. The greens are all smooth bent grass, and every course I have played here has been so pretty and soothing and again, picturesque. On your next trip to visit the South, you must play some North Georgia courses. They are awesome!

Well that about ends my golf experiences and recaps of the South. The styles and layouts are drastically different from Oregon and California, but in their own right, they are amazing. I can't wait to come back and play some Southern Golf!

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