YGT Rory, Mark Crossfield, Coach Lockey & Mr Llewellyn’s Epic Florida Golf Tour
With the PGA Tour swinging around in Florida at the moment, it got us thinking back to our EPIC Florida Golf Tour in 2018. In total we played five of Florida’s best courses. Plus many adventures away from the fairways too. We wanted to show you exactly what is on offer for golfers looking to head to the Sunshine State for a holiday.
Week in week out we watch the likes of Lee Westwood and Bryson DeChambeau, as well as former champs like Tiger, take on America’s best courses. One great thing about being a golfer is being able to travel to those same courses and play the same fairways as our golfing heroes. On our Florida Golf Tour, we did just that.
Mark Crossfield, Coach Lockey, YGT’s Mr Llewellyn and I reminisce about our favourite moments in Florida.
5 Courses on our Florida Golf Tour
Blue Monster, Trump National Doral, Miami, Florida
“Blue Monster had the reputation of being long, tough, full of water and heavily bunkered ever since it opened in 1962. These features became even more prominent when the course was revamped in 2012.
I was so nervous stepping onto the first tee with the boys here, knowing that every shot was going to be filmed. It was definitely something I’d never experienced before. It was an added pressure when I already get first tee nerves as it is!
Doral is a relatively flat course that was once swampland with gentle undulations, and plays over 7500 yards from the back tees.
I have to say, the course conditions were incredible and whilst it wasn’t my favourite of the tour, it was a cracking place to kick things off. It also has the benefit of being in Miami, just a short drive from the airport. Plus, what’s a holiday without nipping to the beach and enjoying some lively bars ’til the break of dawn’? Doral and Miami are ideal for that.”
YGT’s Mr Llewellyn
The Champion Course, PGA National Resort, Miami, Florida
“Each year I watch the Honda Classic on the Florida Swing at PGA National. I’ve always thought it looked like a really good test of golf.
I was excited to hear from the boys that this course was on our itinerary for our Florida Tour. The course itself is pretty flat, with a few basic bunkers dotted around. It’s the water hazards here that will get you and the wind absolutely comes into play.
The closing set of holes on the course known as the ‘Bear Trap’ intrigued me knowing that you’d need good precision to get around and ideally a bit of power too. The 15th is a Par 3 ‘do or die’ where you’ll be faced with water and a large bunker to the front and right, but if you bail out to the left, it can be a little tricky to get up and down. It was one of my favourite holes on the course.”
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Florida
“What a place. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill was my favourite golf course on our Florida Tour. Partly because of the layout by the legend himself, partly because of the history that exudes from every inch of the course. The Arnold Palmer Invitational has played host to many iconic golf moments over the years. The best players in the world battling to win at Arnie’s place.
Here you find 27 holes of pure beauty. The Invitational tournament is played on the Champion and Challenger loops of 9. The course is tight, plays long and 100% requires a warm-up before you step foot on the first tee.
One hole that stood out for me was the Par 5 16th. The one that Bryson DeChambeau sent his tee shot on recently, right over the huge expanse of water. It’s risk-reward for sure and fun to take it on!
YGT Rory and Coach were absolutely in their element on this course too, following in the footsteps of their hero Tiger Woods. They were trying to recreate some of the glorious moments he had around this track.”
Streamsong Black, Streamsong Resort, Tampa, Florida
“When you step foot onto Streamsong Resort, you instantly get a different feel than all the other courses in the area. It doesn’t even feel like you are in Florida. Typically, courses in the area are flat. Streamsong is undulating, with ridges and rolls. Instead of swampland, it feels almost links-like: firm and fast, sandy soil and very windy.
The Black course is the third championship course at the resort. It sits on a huge area of land and unlike the other courses on our Florida Tour, has less water hazards to contend with. However, this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook – plenty of blind shots await, which combined with the infamous wind, makes for a very interesting round.”
Nicklaus Course, Reunion Resort, Orlando, Florida
“The reunion resort consists of three championship courses, each designed by a famous golf legend: Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
For the last course on our Florida Golf Tour, we played the Nicklaus Course. It’s a great parkland layout, with small greens to test your accuracy. I wouldn’t put this course on the same par as PGA National Resort, another Nicklaus design, as perhaps in comparison it felt less challenging. However, when you have spent the week getting your butt kicked this was probably a blessing in disguise!
The location of this resort is ideal for those who are also planning to visit the theme parks during their trip. Disney, Epcot, Animal Kingdom to name a few are less than a 30-minute drive from Reunion Resort. This makes it a winner in my book.”
This really was an EPIC Florida Golf Tour, with plenty of courses that I’d recommend playing. But a golf tour isn’t a golf tour unless you have a random, slightly ridiculous story to tell on your return. Every time I think back to this golf holiday, I get flashbacks to our last day before we hopped on the plane.
We decided to check out some off-course activities that everyone had been recommending to us. Exploring the swamp on a fan-boat came top of all our lists. You get to see so much wildlife, including alligators, that you just don’t get in the UK.
It was a hot day, around the 30-degree Celsius mark. We were soaking up the sunshine on the boat, in awe of our surroundings. We were racking up an impressive alligator count. Suddenly, we came to a stop as our driver grounded the boat on a mudbank (which is quite common apparently and nothing to worry about). However, while our captain used his legs to push us away, he asked Mr Llewellyn to rev the engine for him as he tried to get us unstuck. Next thing you know: BOOM! The engine blew up.
We all know making sure you’re at the airport ready to go home at the end of your holiday can be a stressful experience. So spare a thought for us, as we sat (essentially on a tin can) with the sun beating down on us, surrounded by gators. We were helpless with nowhere to go as we waited to be rescued…thankfully we made it to the airport in the nick of time!