If Superbowl = Disney & Golf Major = Bermuda….I’ll take Bermuda
Most Americans will agree they are thrilled the NFL is back on track and by the end of the season one talented and successful team will win the Superbowl and be able to say “I’m going to Disney”. The real question is who will be left standing this Sunday saying “I’m going to Bermuda”
The final spot in the foursome for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, October 17-19, at the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda, will go to the winner of the 93rd PGA Championship. Three guys, Darren, Rory and Charl, have already packed their long knee socks, shorts and blazers. The question remains who will be the fourth?
My bet would be on another one of Chubby Chandler’s guys, (Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizer or Lee Westwood) since he seems to have the Midas touch these days. An additional incentive for Els’s would be since he won last year’s Grand Slam, he could reuse his long socks and Bermuda shorts should he win the PGA Championship.
The PGA Grand Slam has a $1.35 million purse with the winner receiving $600,000, second $300,000, third $250,000 and the fourth $200,000. With only four players in the field I like the odds and it reminds me of youth sports today – everyone walks away a winner. While this event has been around since 1979 in various formats; it has grown to a 36 hole annual showdown that matches golf’s best against each other and the breathtaking Port Royal Golf Course.
I decided to do a little due diligence for the guys. A pre-tournament walk through so to speak. Well known for their pink beaches and pink shorts Bermuda is much more than what is exported. A very easy flight from the east coast this island paradise seduces you with varying shades of blue ocean water, pink sand beaches, amazing golf and extremely friendly locals.
This extraordinary island is 22 miles long and 3 miles wide and boasts nine golf courses, the highest concentration per square mile in the world. Two stellar courses I had the opportunity to play were Mid Ocean where the PGA Grand Slam was held in 2007 and Port Royal.
Mid Ocean Golf Club was designed by Charles Blair MacDonald to fit into the natural terrain. It was originally a par-71 layout, over 600 acres of rolling countryside, 6,519 yards from the back tees. MacDonald won the first US Amateur Golf Championship in 1895 and later designed the National Golf Course in the USA. In recent years it was ranked 45th by Golf Digest for courses outside the USA. It was revised in 1953 by Robert Trent Jones. US Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have played here, as well as the Duke of Windsor in 1940, British Prime Ministers Sir Winston Churchill, Harold MacMillan and Edward Heath. Golf professionals Robert Jones, Sam Sneed and many other celebrities also have golfed here including Babe Ruth, who was normally as good with a club as he was with a bat. Playing the 433-yard fifth hole, he once knocked eleven straight balls into Mangrove Lake before finally driving one over the hazard.
Port Royal opened in 1970 as a Robert Trent Jones-designed 18 hole, 6,561 yards par 71 public course. The course re-opened in January 2009 after a $15.9 million renovation, increasing the course yardage by 281 yards to 6,842 yards. More rounds are played here than on any other Bermuda course. The signature hole is the 176-yard, par 3 – 16th hole. The small green which is perched on the edge of the coastal cliffs has become notorious. Drive too far left and the ball ends up in the ocean. It was here I received a full dose of Bermudian hospitality with a lesson as to the best way to play the 16th hole by Kim Swan, former European Touring Pro and now an elected Member of Parliament. When we arrived at the 16th hole I asked Kim if he was going to take off his blazer jacket. His response was one of the most interesting golf tips I have heard in a while. Kim learned to play from his uncle who used to have Kim practice in a blazer as it prevented him from over swinging and helped with his alignment.
Swan was a wonderful guide and now a friend that shared a wealth of information about the history of the island, golf and cricket, the latter a Bermudian passion.
Never one to miss an opportunity to savor the local flavor, the well-known cocktails on the island that are a must try include the “Rum Swizzle” and the “Dark and Stormy”. The Rum Swizzle consists of 8 oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum, 6 dashes Angostura bitters, juice of 2 lemons, crushed ice, 5 oz pineapple juice,5 oz orange juice, 2 oz grenadine syrup. The Dark and Stormy consists of Gosling’s dark rum and ginger beer over ice.
While Disney is fabulous and it would be great to have a Superbowl ring I still prefer a Green jacket and a trip to Bermuda. Charl Schwartzel, pack the green jacket as you will need a blazer and Darren, 16 breaks right to left.