Justin Thomas wins the CJ Cup

Justin Thomas wins the CJ Cup

Justin ThomasJeju Island, South Korea – After an incredible season that saw Justin Thomas win the PGA Championship, Fedex Cup and Player of the Year honors, Thomas has kept the hot hand rolling – wininng again, this time at the CJ Cup – South Korea’s first ever PGA Tour regular season event. The victory in sudden death over Australia’s Marc Leishman is the seventh of his young career.

After his ninth event in the last eleven weeks, an exhausted Thomas is looking forward to getting home to Jupiter, “I’m so excited to not do anything,” Thomas declared. “I officially have nothing left in the tank at this moment.”

Justin Thomas leaped out the gates in round 1 firing a 9 under 63, then shot rounds of 74-70-72 under challenging conditions (with temps in the low 60’s and winds gusting around 25 mph on Jeju Island). Thomas birdied the last to reach the playoff, then won on the 2nd sudden death hole after Leishman missed a very makable birdie putt to win on the first sudden death hole.

Leishman knew that he missed a golden opportunity, “You give one of the best players in the world a chance like that, and he’s probably going to take it.”

Last week’s winner, Pat Perez finished tied for 5th after posting the low round on Sunday with 68 and finishing at 5 under par.

Scores: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com
Harbor Club on Lake Oconee

Harbor Club on Lake Oconee

Harbor ClubHarbor Club on Lake Oconee opened over 25 years ago and is still receiving high praise from golfers, writers and magazines alike. In fact, Harbor Club has been given 4½ out of 5 stars by Golf Digest as a “Best Places to Play” for the past 3 years running. Earlier this year, Golfweek Magazine rated Harbor Club #3 on its State-by-State list of Best Courses You Can Play in the State of Georgia.

With six sets of tees, Harbor Club offers a suitable distance for every caliber of golfer. The course measures 7,048 yards from the tips with a course rating of 73.6 and a slope of 138. Most guys will find the Green Tees (6,223 yards, 70.0/129) to be a challenge that still leaves them with a little bit of dignity intact. The Ladies Tees play 5,169 yards (66.6/111). Remember to choose the set of tees that best suit your game and you’re sure to have a good time.

This Tom Weiskopf – Jay Morrish designed golf course is nestled along the coastline of Lake Oconee and is fun to play for players of all skill levels. From the tees, you’ll find undulating fairways with generous landing areas, although fairway bunkers have been strategically placed to catch some errant tee shots. Almost every hole is tree lined, and, although the trees are not densely packed, if you’re in them, you’ll find yourself having to punch out, thus wasting a shot. For the most part, Lake Oconee provides visual aesthetics and really only comes into play on four holes.

In addition to a fabulous golf course, Harbor Club has some great practice facilities including a full length driving range with targets, where you can hit every club in the bag, along with a short game area and large practice putting green. The pro shop is home to some of the latest golf fashions and logoed apparel.

Memorable Holes (All Yardages are from the Blue Tees)

Number 3: Par 4, 345 yards. Leave driver in the bag on number 3. “Stone Bridge” plays 345 yards and features water all down the right side and out of bounds left of the cart path. An accurate second shot is needed with the water guarding the right side, almost to the edge of the green.

Number 4: Par 4: 430 yards. The par 4 5th hole has an interesting moniker – “Horses Won’t Cross the Creek”. The hole brings into focus Lake Oconee for the first time and creates a wonderful backdrop behind the green on this lengthy par 4. Your second shot plays downhill, giving back some of the overall length, but be sure to hit the right club on approach. The long, narrow green creates a three-club difference between front and back pins. Number 4 is what I would consider to be a true test of golf.

Number 11: Par 5, 553 yards. The dogleg left 11th is nicknamed “The Chimney” and is just flat out long. It’s tree-lined to keep you honest off the tee and the fairway bunkers that flank both sides of the landing area have seen their fair share of action. The green is well protected in the front by bunkers on both sides. A front pin placement can make for an interesting approach shot.

Harbor ClubNumber 14: Par 5, 523 yards. Perhaps the most intriguing risk/reward hole at Harbor Club is the #1 handicap par 5, 14th nicknamed “Wildflower”. For the average player, the hole plays as a dogleg left, around a large oak tree and treed marsh area. However, for the thrill seeker, you can play your drive left of the giant oak off the tee, taking the dogleg out of play and giving yourself a clear, albeit lengthy, shot to the green. A great drive from the Blue Tees will still leave a shot of over 230 yards to the middle of the green, of which about 200 is carry over the marsh. Two good shots back to back and this feat is easily accomplished. Even if you just clear the marsh area, you’ll be looking at a makeable up and down. This has to be one of the most challenging risk/reward opportunities in the state.

Number 15: Par 4, 281 yards. After the thrill of conquering the course’s toughest hole, it’s on to the shortest par 4 on the course. “Hidden Springs” plays 281 yards from the Blue Tees and from an elevated tee box, you get the idea that driving the green shouldn’t be a problem. Many will try, most will come up short, which isn’t a bad thing (unless your buddies succeed); you’ll have a manageable up and down with a good drive. If you decide to play it as a two-shot hole, be sure to avoid the fairway bunkers on either side off the tee. The water behind the right side of the green shouldn’t come into play.

Number 17: Par 3, 174 yards. If the bunker between the water and the green on “The Marsh” par 3 17th were longer, it would be a carbon copy of number 17 at Bay Hill. From the Blue Tees, it plays about the same length as Bay Hill’s Gold Tees, with the same carry over water to an angular green. It’s a great par 3.

Harbor ClubNumber 18: Par 4, 415 yards. “Double Cross” is a very challenging finishing hole that requires a well-executed tee shot over a creek, which runs parallel to the fairway the entire length of the hole. You’ll need to carry the water a second time in order to reach the green. The green is large and features some significant undulations, making for some interesting pin placements. Take a par and run.

Last Word: After your round, be sure to stop by the clubhouse for your favorite post round libations or a bite to eat. Lunch is served Tuesday – Saturday from 11 am – 5 pm and you can grab dinner Thursday – Saturday from 5 pm – 9 pm.

The lunch menu features some amazing sandwiches and burgers, including a “Build Your Own Burger” where you select from a number of toppings. The French Dip, Reuben and Chicken Sandwiches are also great choices.

The Culinary Team at Harbor Club pulls out all the stops for dinner. Start off with a basket of eggplant French fries and then indulge in entrees such as Salmon Paillard, Shrimp Angel Hair Pasta or Rack of Lamb. After dinner, treat yourself to a Chocolate Martini, made with brownie cubes, chocolate mousse, whipped cream and candied nuts. After all, you deserve it!

If you’re looking to relocate to the Lake Oconee area, look no further than Harbor Club. There’s a lot more here than just an outstanding golf course. There’s a junior Olympic size pool, tennis and pickleball courts, and the 12-acre Grove – a complex that includes a state-of-the-art fitness center, hiking and Fit-Trails, a quarter-mile running track and an event/sports field.

Boat enthusiasts will feel right at home at Harbor Club. The award-winning Lake Oconee Marina (Best Recreational Facility in the Southeast) provides easy access to the lake as well as boat storage and a wide variety of services to help you enjoy life on the lake. This includes a 72-slip dry stack boat (soon to be 300 slip) storage facility, boat ramps, fueling, watercraft rentals and a convenience store. If that’s not enough, there’s always Harbor Club’s Boathouse Restaurant, where you can motor in by boat or by car and enjoy burgers, BBQ, ribs and fried catfish all tastefully presented and served piping hot. During the summer, there’s live music at the Boathouse on Friday and Saturday nights from 11am to 9pm, and Sundays from 11am to 7pm, May through September. It’s also available to host private events.

Harbor Club is also a great venue for weddings. The Stables provide a beautiful, pastoral setting for weddings, receptions and other special events.

As you can see, Harbor Club has a lot to offer. The golf course is one of the few courses on Lake Oconee that the public has access to and I suspect at some time it too will go private. Until then, if you’re in the area and are looking for a great place to play and be treated like you belong, give Harbor Club a try. You can call them at (706) 453-9690 or visit them online at www.harborclub.com. The site also has all kinds of information on the community and surrounding area.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Forest Lake Golf Club – Just You, Nature and That Little White Ball

Forest Lake Golf Club – Just You, Nature and That Little White Ball

Forest Lake GCAs Florida golf courses go, Forest Lake golf club is an anomaly. Oh sure, it has all the trappings of your typical Florida daily fee golf facility: pristine, natural lakes, a wide variety of Florida flora and fauna, gently rolling fairways and large undulating greens. But what sets Forest Lake apart from other courses in the Orlando area is the homes – or in this case, the lack thereof. It is a true Parkland golf experience.

Forest Lake is located in Ocoee, FL, and sits on over 218 acres of Central Florida’s ridge area, which provided the golf course design firm of Clifton, Ezell and Clifton tons of superb sandy loam. The course also sits atop the City’s effluent disposal field, giving them adequate access to water for irrigation, a precious commodity in the Florida golf industry. Also, the course drains very well, so you just might find yourself being able to get out and play a round of golf here, while other courses remain closed after inclement weather.

The course opened in 1994 and has been rated 4-Stars by Golf Digest in their Places to Play. Forest Lake features five sets of tees, setting up a playable yardage for all golfers, from seasoned professionals to beginners. From the back tees, the course measures 7,221 yards with a slope of 133. Most golfers will find that the Blue Tees (6387 yards/126 slope) will provide all the golf course they can handle and still leave with a little dignity. Ladies will be challenged from the Red Tees which measure 5065 yards with a slope rating of 117.

Forest Lake boasts a pretty impressive practice facility. There’s a full length driving range where you can hit every club in the bag, a chipping area with “blast” bunker and a large practice putting green. On our visit, the range was packed with players of all ages and abilities.

Lush, rolling fairways are generous off the tees and give way to large, undulating greens that can be hard to read for a first-time player, as I experienced. They may not be the quickest in the area, but they roll true and are consistent from hole to hole. The more you play them, the better you’re going to do.

The front side has some modest roll to it and the first hole demands an accurate tee shot between a couple of lakes, but from there the hole opens up. For most players it’s a three-shot par 5, however with a great tee shot, the green is reachable. Sand guards the front left side of the green with large mounding protecting the right front.

Forest Lake Golf ClubThe par 3 holes out here are very challenging; from the back tees: you won’t find one less than 210 yards. The second hole is the only one without water and features a very long and deceptive tiered green. Anyone who feels that par 3s are the easiest holes on a golf course needs to book a round on Forest Lake!

Holes 3-7 are situated on the western side of the 429 Expressway; you get there by taking the tunnel underneath the road. Like most of the holes they are tree lined; you better have control of your irons if you’re going to score well over here. The seventh hole is the shortest par 4 and, depending on the tee placement could be in reach for big hitters. The green is protected by a deep greenside bunker.

If your tendency is to hit the ball left, number 9 could prove to be a bit of a problem. It’s a 405-yard (Blue Tees) par 4, with a large fairway bunker on the left side in the landing area and another large bunker that guards the entire left side. Keep it right and your problems will be limited.

For me, the back nine had a lot of character and featured more subtle elevation changes from hole to hole. The final six holes were all memorable, especially the par 3 holes. Number 13 is a long double dogleg par 5 that demands an accurate tee shot to avoid the massive waste bunker on the right and fairway bunker on the left, and then an accurate layup shot that makes it to the second dogleg, yet avoids the fairway bunker in the landing area. Success to this point will leave a short pitch shot to a small, softly undulating green. Three well executed shots from tee to green can result in a low number.

Number 14 is a par 3 and is undoubtedly the course’s signature hole. From the Blue Tees, it plays 170 yards and is not only the most photographed on the course, it’s one of the toughest par 3s in the area. It’s all carry over water with expansive bunkers front left and back right. The green features some deceptive undulations.

The 15th hole plays 342 yards (Blue Tees) and is very photogenic, with a creek crossing the middle of the fairway. If you’re playing either of the back two sets of tees, the creek can easily come into play, however from all other tee boxes it’s easy to carry and the hole becomes a relatively short dogleg right. If you want to cut the corner of the dogleg, go for it. Just be wary of the trees that can impair your approach shot to a long but narrow green that’s well protected by bunkers. Believe it or not, this hole is handicapped the toughest on the back side. From the back tees, I can see why.

If the first par 3 on the back side didn’t get your attention, Number 16 certainly will. It plays about the same length – 163 yards from the Blue Tees – but offers a little bit of relief with a bailout area left of the green. Anything right will find the water or foliage and anything long will find the sand. This is another par 3 where par is good.

Number 17 is a dogleg left par 4 that plays 342 yards and, if you haven’t played the course before, you might think it goes right. The landing area is framed by bunkers and there is a fair amount of sand to the right of the green. Two well struck shots can set up a makeable birdie opportunity.

Forest Lake finishes strong with a 425 yard, par 4 dogleg left that requires an accurate tee shot between two bunkers. This leaves a long to mid iron slightly uphill into a small green surrounded by sand. A challenging end to a challenging golf course.

Forest Lake Golf ClubLast Word: Forest Lake is a Take-Your-Clubs-Out-Of-The-Trunk-Throw-Them-on-A-Cart-And -Head-To-The-First-Tee kind of place. The bag drop is easily accessible and the carts are right there. Greens fees are some of the lowest in the area, year-round! The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and leaves you feeling welcome and wanting to return. The beverage cart runs every day! In fact, the guys who designed the course years ago – George Clifton and Ken Ezell – still own and operate it; that’s how much they think of Forest Lake.

All carts are equipped with the Pro Shot GPS system which provides accurate yardage to the front, center and middle of the green as well as distance to and over hazards. No maps, everything is displayed in text format. Simple is definitely better.

Water comes into play on about 8 holes and with the exception of the two par 3s on the back, there are no unmanageable forced caries. For the most part, the wet stuff can be found on the peripheries of the fairways, forcing you to hit it straight or pay the price.

The day we played, the pace of play was fantastic. We played as a twosome and had a threesome in front of us. I felt like we were constantly being held up, yet we finished the round in a little more than 4 hours including a short brake at their Rusty Niblick Grill. And, in case you’re wondering, they did end up letting us play through!

Forest Lakes offers an annual membership that includes year-round discounts on greens and cart fees, 8-day advanced tee times, USGA handicap service, discounted range balls and a 10% discount on pro shop merchandise. You’ll also be eligible for Forest Lake’s annual tournaments including the Club Championship.

For more information or directions to the course, visit www.forestlakegolf.com.

Golf Life Contributor
David Theoret

Pat Perez wins the CIMB Classic

Pat Perez wins the CIMB Classic

Pat Perez

Malaysia – 41 year old California native Pat Perez just keeps getting better despite the tour trend of young gun dominance. Perez blitzed the field at the CIMB Classic firing rounds of 66-65-64-69 for a 24 under par total at TPC Kuala Lumpur, for a four shot victory over Keegan Bradley, (who notched his best finish since the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational). After just one victory in his first 378 starts, he now has two wins in his last 25 starts.

After a torn labrum and surgery threatened to end his career 18 months ago, Perez has taken his self proclaimed late to mature mantra to new heights.

Coming off of his finest season on the PGA Tour (Perez played in his first Tour Championship – finishing 15th on the money list) it’s highly unlikely to have your best years on tour after age 40, and Perez is aware but not sure of exactly why it’s happening now. “I can’t really explain it, it’s been a lot of work and dedication,” Perez said. “I knew I had to stay on the gas here (today) because these guys are playing so good, I was expecting someone to shoot 63 . . . I’m just such a different person than I was seventeen years ago, even like five years ago. I’m learning how to play the game and play my own game, staying within myself. I’m a late bloomer. I’m not gonna change anything. I’m still not going to work out, I’m still gonna have a bad diet and enjoy myself.”

Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele finished tied for third with Sung Kang seven shots back at 17 under par.

Scores: https://www.pgatour.com/competition/2018/cimb- classic/leaderboard.html

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com
Brendan Steele defends title at Safeway Open

Brendan Steele defends title at Safeway Open

Brendan Steele

Napa, California – They often say “Horses for Courses” when discussing a certain players knack for winning on certain venues. This past week in the global game of golf, that phrase held true. Earlier in the day, Tyrell Hatton defended his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a blistering 24 under par total in chilly conditions at the home of golf in St.Andrews. In the Golden State, it was Brendan Steele that turned the trick half a world away at Johnny Miller’s Silverado Resort in Napa.

With Phil Mickelson and Tony Finau pushing the pedal down on the back nine, Steele finished off his challengers with a combination of superb ball striking and a soft touch down the stretch birdieing both the 16th & 18th holes coming in. After starting the day two shots back, Steele had one of only seven rounds in the 60’s on Sunday, his final round 69 was good enough for 15 under par and a two stroke victory over Tony Finau. Mickelson, who was determined in his quest to win for the first time since the 2013 Open at Muirfield, bogeyed the par 4 seventeenth to finish another back at 12 under par in a tie with Chesson Hadley for third.

Afterward, Steele reflected on his lackluster finish to last season, entering the playoffs in the 16th position he failed to make it to East Lake, finishing 33rd in points, “I wasn’t trying to win. I wasn’t trying to play my best. I was just trying to get whatever points I could . . . and I played right to that level where you could barely miss.

As for Phil, who seems to be trending in the right direction but is still searching for the elusive next victory – “I’m going to keep giving myself good chances, and it will happen,” Lefty said. “I get on a course like Sheshan (referring to his next start in China) where I’m very comfortable, I know the greens. I know the course well. I think I’ll have a good week there.”

Scores: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

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