Readers of The First Call create golf itineraries to some of the world's finest venues, ranging from Canada to Down Under
Question of the week [August 14-20]: If budget was not a concern and you had a week, what would be your ideal golf buddy trip outside of the United States?
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Well, if we’re going to dream, then we would fly first class to Melbourne and from there hop down to King Island to play Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes, and add a third day to repeat our favorite of those two or maybe play the King Island Golf and Bowling Club. Then hop over to Barnbougle to play Dunes, Lost Farm and Run. And then down to Seven Mile Beach, which will hopefully be open.
Or you could spend a quality week on the Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas of Melbourne too.
If traveling outside of the U.S., Scotland would be the most logical for me. Although I have never visited, the accessibility to top courses and hidden gems, along with the history of the game, make it most attractive. I can still hope.
How could anything go wrong? Spectacular golf courses, great weather, good wine and food — not to leave out friendly welcoming people. The only caveat being flights would have to be in first class.
Cos Cob, Connecticut
A super cool trip would be to do a combo of New Zealand and Australia. Stay and play at Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers, and throw in Tara Iti and Te Arai. Then go to Melbourne and play Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath. Off to King Island to do Cape Wickham and Ocean Dunes, and top it off with Tasmania’s best of Lost Farm, Barnbougle and Seven Mile Beach.
A long 2-1/2 week trip, but hard to beat that list.
The ideal buddy golf trip outside the United States is a visit to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. A golf vacation along the Cabot Trail would involve stops at Cabot Links, Cabot Cliffs and the iconic Stanley Thompson gem, Highland Links.
The natural beauty and oceanside setting of these three championship golf courses is hard to surpass. Beyond the incredible golf and stunning vistas, the Celtic culture found on Cape Breton Island provides a unique and fun opportunity to experience something "totally different." Visitors will love the “maritime culture” as much as the incredible golf. You will not be disappointed.
I would spend the week with Dornoch, Scotland, as our base. From there, the amazing choices of easily reached courses include Royal Dornoch's two fantastic courses — the Championship and the Struie — Brora, Golspie, The Carnegie Club at Skibo and Castle Stuart.
The ancient village of Dornoch is, in itself, worth a week's visit, regardless of the world-class golfing opportunities. It truly is a gateway to the Highlands.
My first choice would be four courses in Alberta and British Columbia, followed by four courses in eastern Canada — Ontario and Nova Scotia.
I would be inclined to say the ultimate buddy trip outside the USA would have to be Scotland, the birthplace of the game.
My buddies and I just took a golf trip to Scotland. Budget was not a concern, but our physical health should have been. We played 11 rounds in 10 days, which was a lot for a bunch of sixtysomethings.
My back and my golf were suffering by the end. But it was still a memorable tour of great golf courses — Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Kingsbarns, Muirfield, North Berwick, Gullane, Prestwick, and Royal Troon.
Next time, we will focus on a specific area like the North — Castle Stuart/Cabot Highlands, Dornoch, Nairn, Cruden Bay, Royal Aberdeen, etc. — or Fife.
Culver City, California
FIXING THE FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS
I have no problem with the current 70, 50, 30 format. However, after the cut from 70 to 50, all players should start from scratch and the top 30 get to East Lake. At East Lake, each of the 30 players should begin from scratch. The placings at the end should dictate the bonus payout.
In no other sport do the playoffs spot any one team over another. After the season, the teams that make the playoffs start from zero.
Have a prize for the player who finishes on top during the regular season, but not the big prize.
A PLAN FOR PGA TOUR FALL GOLF
I'm all for adding back four to six of regular-season events into October. Here are three options:
1. Once the NFL regular season starts, move PGA Tour tournaments to Wednesday through Saturday, which the Farmers Insurance Open already does. It is opposite NFL Conference Championship Sunday at the end of January. Set up a meeting comprised of three or four current Tour card players, three to four tournament sponsor representatives (Deere, 3M, Valero, etc.), and three to four of the biggest TV time buyers (Charles Schwab, Rolex, Fidelity, Lexus) to discuss the revenue if moving to Saturdays finale for four to six more regular-season tournaments once the NFL starts.
2. A sub-option would be if they don't want to start on Wednesday due to lower advertising revenue, the PGA Tour can continue to start on Thursday and cut after Friday. Have an early start on Saturday morning, then cut the field to 30 or 36 and play the final round on Saturday afternoon. The final round will move faster and be more exciting, especially if they play in groups of three. A final round that takes three hours instead of four or five hours makes advertising minutes more valuable. It also pushes against the slow-play, dead-air dullness.
The current format — 72 holes, four days of stroke play, Thursday through Sunday — is not sacred. I looked and couldn't find it in my Hebrew Torah with the 10 Commandments from Mt. Sinai. It can evolve. Events used to end on Saturday.
3. Add the late-season "NFL" events all in the Eastern time zone. Start at 8 a.m., so the game is over by 1 p.m. NFL kickoff time. All NFL games start at 12:30 or 1 p.m. or later.
Run this by your contacts. I am just a casual golfer, fan. I don't know anybody inside.
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