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Golfing Scotland with Go Ahead Tours

Oct. 21, 2012     By     Comments (9)

Go Ahead ToursEvery hard-core golfer dreams of playing golf where the sport was born, and as I discovered over a glorious nine-day span in September, 2012, Go Ahead Tours Golf Vacations can make your dreams come true.

On September 22 I traveled from Buffalo, NY to Newark, NJ before leaving on an overnight flight for Glasgow, Scotland. Over the next six days I'd play seven rounds of golf on the links courses at Western Gailes, Turnberry's Ailsa Course, North Berwick, and the Castle, New, Jubilee, and Old Courses at St. Andrews. I'd run on the very beach made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire and tour castles once visited by Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (yes, that's Braveheart).

The trip, dubbed "Highlights of Scotland Golf Vacation" by Go Ahead, certainly lived up to the billing. Join me as I recap my trip, talk of some of my own highlights, and share as many pictures as I can reasonably fit in one article.

Who am I? A long-time avid golfer turned golf instructor. I've got a busy schedule, and though I could have arranged a golf trip myself, I chose Go Ahead's Golf Vacations division because they handled everything and did it at a price that was likely lower than I could have arranged on my own or with another tour company.

A Vacation on Kiawah Island

Aug. 7, 2012     By     Comments (4)

2012 PGA Championship LogoMany people aren't aware of the fact that Kiawah Island's Ocean Course hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup mere months after it opened. Check out Google Earth and go back to aerial photos from 1989 and you won't even see the beginnings of a golf course. Yet less than two years later the site hosted the "War by the Shore" that really set the modern-day Ryder Cup as the most hotly contested, emotional, nationalistic event in golf.

Since 1991, the Ocean Course has played host to several local PGA events, a senior PGA Championship or two, and this week, will host the strongest field in golf in "Glory's Last Shot" - the 2012 PGA Championship will play over the 18 seaside holes off the south-eastern coast of South Carolina, 45 minutes from Charleston.

I was able to spend a few days with my family vacationing on this exclusive, semi-private island. We played some golf, we lounged in the pools, and we boogie-boarded in the ocean.

Atlantic City Country Club (Atlantic City, NJ) Review

Nov. 21, 2011     By     Comments (3)

ACCC Logo"Stay out of the bunkers" is the warning from the starter on the first tee, which also happens to be the putting green at Atlantic City Country Club.

By the end of the day, I'd have said, "stay out of the marsh," as the holes that wound along the coast proved to be exceptionally difficult on a particularly windy October day. With gusts around 35 mph, and blowing directly toward the water in most cases (and this is the prevailing wind, according to a local expert), the teeth of the course are really exposed on the back nine.

Boxgroove.com Review

Dec. 7, 2009     By     Comments (28)

Boxgroove.comWant to play that private course down the road but don't know a member? Now there's a way to test drive private courses across the country without risking the trespassing charge.

A new online service called Boxgroove.com provides access to tee times at private clubs. Boxgroove currently has 70 participating courses and over 650 members, some of whom hold memberships at private clubs and may be willing to host other Boxgroove.com members (more on that later). The company plans to be in 30 states by summer 2010 and eventually to take the service international.

If you're like me, you love those occasions when you get to play a course in excellent condition with great greens. The problem is that I don't belong to a private club, so I play public courses where the maintenance is generally not quite as well applied. While it's less expensive (unless you are really racking up the rounds) to play public courses, being able to play the occasional round on a truly well kept course is a nice change of pace, one I've found to be more and more alluring lately.

Enter Boxgroove.com. I'd been hearing about the service on the radio here in Columbus, my home and Boxgroove's, as it turns out. When Boxgroove.com offered a membership to let me try out the service and write about my experience, I jumped at the opportunity.

Kennsington Golf Club (Canfield, OH) Review

Oct. 10, 2008     By     Comments (4)

The joke Alan and I came up with when arriving at Kennsington Golf Club is that we must have passed through some sort of warp door. We made a right turn off a crowded street, right between a Wendy's and a Panera, then passed some dentist's offices, and bam! We were suddenly in the middle of nowhere with a golf course stretching out for miles ahead of us. The attractive cart girl (is there another kind?) drove out to grab our clubs and we were off.

Kennsington opened in June, 2006 and has the potential to be one of the top courses in the surprisingly crowded Youngstown, Ohio area. The course is lined by construction (though the interior remain free of McMansions or any other houses) as large houses are being built at a good rate, and the entire area seems to be growing rapidly.

Read on to see what we thought of the golf course at Kennsington Golf Club.

Bedford Springs Old Course (Bedford, PA) Review

May. 6, 2008     By     Comments (5)

Bedford SpringsI played my first full round of golf with my (great) Uncle Bud at the Bedford Springs course in Bedford, PA. Bedford Springs was originally designed by Spender Oldham, modified by A.W. Tillinghast, and later revamped and altered by Donald Ross. In the 1890s and 1900s, Pittsburghers wealthy from the thriving steel industry would venture two hours south to Bedford, PA where the natural spring water was said to have rejuvenating, youth-giving qualities. While the women spent their time in the spas, the men entertained themselves with a round on the resort's golf course.

After falling into disrepair, both the hotel, spa, and the golf course have recently seen a massive influx of hundreds of millions of dollars. All three are open once again and receiving guests and golfers.

I played the course in September, 2007. Read on to see what I thought of this revived classic.

Longaberger Golf Club (Nashport, OH) Review

Aug. 24, 2007     By     Comments (12)

Longaberger LogoRegardless of your location in the country or perhaps even around the globe, you may have heard the name Longaberger. The Longaberger company has been turning out world-famous baskets for 70+ years. Their office is even shaped like a basket.

In 1998, Longaberger commissioned a golf course from renowned architect Arthur Hills. The Longaberger Golf Club traverses up and down unusually hilly terrain and offers breathtaking vistas, huge elevation changes, and a challenge to golfers of all skill levels. And from a few locations on the course, you can even see the building shaped like a giant basket!

Longaberger Golf Club is not about the baskets. The owners didn't copy Merion's wicker basket flags nor are the tee markers little baskets. The golf course may have been funded by money earned from making baskets, but the golf course is all about golf.

Avalon Lakes (Warren, OH) Review

Aug. 17, 2007     By     Comments (2)

Avalon LakesAvalon Lakes Golf and Country Club is located in Warren, OH about 40 minutes southeast of Cleveland and 45 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh, PA. Avalon Lakes was created by Pete Dye in the late 1960s and is one of the esteemed architect's earliest creations.

In the late 1990s, Dye came back to rework his diabolical magic. Avalon Lakes underwent massive renovations that cost somewhere between four and six million dollars. The change took the original course from a great Fowler's Mill style Dye course into a modern-era Dye course: target golf along the lines of the famed TPC at Sawgrass.

Avalon Lakes is ranked 67th on Golf Digest's list of Top 100 public courses. Avalon Lakes previously hosted the Giant Eagle LPGA event for four years. The final year - 2000 - was the only time the LPGA players competed on the redesigned course.

Windy Knoll Golf Club (Springfield, OH) Review

Jul. 27, 2007     By     Comments (7)

Windy Knoll LogoIf ever a course name evoked a certain image, well, I suppose "Windy Knoll" does a pretty good job. Set just a touch out of the way and west of Columbus, OH, Windy Knoll lives up to both halves of its name. With flat farmland to the west, the direction from which the prevailing wind blows, the subtly mounded "links-style" course will vex players when the wind is up and offers a stern test even in rare calm conditions.

I played Windy Knoll in early July on a breezy day. Read on to see whether it's worth a visit the next time you're looking for a new course to play.

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