The Florida Swing
Earlier this summer, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced the 2007 Tour schedule. It was a moment many golf fans were anticipating, as the details of the long-awaited FedEx Cup, a NASCAR-like season-long point race, were revealed.
The schedule is dramatically different than what we’re accustomed to, at times. The Ford Championship at Doral will be called the WGC-CA Championships, the Chrysler Classic normally held in Tucson in October will move to March with a new name, Tampa Bay Championship, and even the Bay Hill Invitational underwent some altering, taking on the moniker of its legendary host, Arnold Palmer.
Amid all this reshuffling and renaming, one constant remains. The PGA Tour (not to mention the LPGA and Champions’ Tours) play at some excellent, accessible venues.
Of course, location and timing contribute to the abundance of tour events in the Sunshine State. Most tourneys are played in winter and spring, thereby avoiding the steamy summers and early autumn hurricane season. Another factor is that each tour has its headquarters here, making scheduling and course selection more convenient.
Still, we believe the greatest feature of these courses is that anyone can play them. It’s always a great feeling to turn on the TV and see holes that you’ve brought to their knees. (It’s even better if you can brag that you trumped a pro on one of them.) So if you’re planning to vacation in Florida this fall or winter, stop by one of these tracks and break it in before the pros get their chance.
PGA Tour Stops
Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando
The Tournament: Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard
Defending Champion: Rod Pampling (274, 14-under)
2007 Dates: March 12-18
(888) 422-9445 | www.bayhill.com | www.bayhillinvitational.com
Did you know? Bay Hill has been Palmer’s winter home since 1976. Three nines make up Bay Hill Golf Course with the Challenger and Champion hosting Arnie’s annual tournament. The Dick Wilson-designed tracks have been slightly altered over the years by Palmer and his design partner, Ed Seay.
PGA National Resort And Spa, Palm Beach Gardens
The Tournament: The Honda Classic
Defending Champion: Luke Donald (276, 12-under at Mirasol)
2007 Dates: February 26-March 4
(800) 633-9150 | www.pga-resorts.com | www.hondaclassic.com
Did you know? PGA National is home to the PGA of America. Five courses make PGA National one of the country’s largest golf resorts. The Champion course, designed by Tom Fazio, plays to 7,022 yards and, in addition to hosting next year’s Honda, hosted the 1983 Ryder Cup.
Doral Golf Resort And Spa, Miami
The Tournament: WGC-CA Championships (formerly Ford Championship)
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods (268, 20-under)
2007 Dates: March 19-25
(800) 713-6725 | www.doralgolf.com | www.worldgolfchampionships.com
Did you know? Tiger has averaged 3.69 strokes per hole his last two years at Doral. Doral, one of the premier destinations in the country, boasts five championship golf courses, including the fierce Blue Monster (scheduled to reopen September 17 after a $1.4 million renovation).