Tag Archives: golf

Golf, Getting Into the Swing of Things.

Augusta.

Augusta.

This weekend starts the first of the four major championships that revolve around a little dimpled white ball. Cherry blossoms may herald spring but so does The Masters Tournament, held annually at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. It’s the only major tournament held at the same course each year. Why? I have no idea…you’ll just have to ask a golfer. Mark Twain once said that golf is a good walk spoiled and while I tend to agree with him, there are plenty of folks who’d gladly argue that point over 18 holes.

Listening to the Masters on TV, broadcasters speak in hushed tones and a whispered reverence normally reserved for church as they profile everything from a golfer’s background to the state’s iconic magnolia blossoms. From a live perspective, I don’t really see how spectators can glimpse that little ball as it flies through the air but I guess that’s what passion’s all about. And I suppose that after watching the pros go at it for four days, the desire to hit the links and pull out your Big Bertha is just too overwhelming. So if you’re itching to get out there—and get away—here are a few budget friendly destinations to put you in the swing of things:

Mirimichi
Memphis, TN
This southern city may be renowned for its blues and barbecue but the addition of Mirimichi golf course in 2009 provided another reason to visit the land of Elvis. Native son Justin Timberlake did the right thing when he invested $16 million on revamping an existing golf course in his own backyard, turning it into a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly property. He also kept prices low, making this public course user-friendly for locals while encouraging tourism at the same time. Mirimichi was ranked the #1 golf course in the U.S. in 2013 by Golfweek magazine and is also the first golf course in the U.S. to receive official Audubon Classic Sanctuary certification by Audubon International, a non-profit environmental education organization.

Another good reason to go to Memphis.

Another good reason to go to Memphis.

Torrey Pines Golf Course
San Diego, CA
As the song says, it never rains in California and with pretty much perfect weather all year round, San Diego is a traveler’s dream. Its spectacular scenery, nightlife, and dining options make it a hole-in-one destination for most travelers but it’s the municipal greens in La Jolla at Torrey Pines that make this destination a paradise for golfers. Yeah you might blow a bit more cash on this trip but it’ll be worth it for the five diamond experience and panoramic views you’ll get at the Lodge at Torrey Pines when you book a Signature Package that includes two nights and a chance to play on the course that hosted the 2008 US Open and which has been chosen to host it again in 2021.

A captivating course at Torrey Pines.

A captivating course at Torrey Pines.

Salish Cliffs
Shelton, WA
My British friends who live in the US have no problem going to play golf when there’s a chance of rain; they know they’ll have the course all to themselves. If you’re of the same spirit then you may want to consider a flight to Seattle. Most people may not think of The Evergreen State as a golf destination but Salish Cliffs is changing all that. Part of Little Creek Casino Resort, this property offers inviting stay and play package discounts where you’ll golf in a pristine wilderness area of the Pacific Northwest. The hotel’s amenities include Seven Inlets Spa, which has a robust menu of treatments and entertainment at the Skookum Creek Event Center that often includes headline acts. After a few days of golfing, head into the Emerald City and explore all its unique offerings.

The 17th hole at Salish.

The 17th hole at Salish.

Tobacco Road
Sanford, NC
Golfers are spoiled for choice in North Carolina, as anyone who’s ever spent time swinging balls down there knows. Tobacco Road has earned its place as one of the top 100 public golf courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine and it also ranked as one of the top 50 in the world by Golf Course Architecture Magazine. With its gorgeous greens, friendly rates, proximity to 30+ other courses, and southern hospitality, what more could you want from a golfing weekend. Check out Tobacco Road Golf & Travel to see all the options within this destination.

The view above the Road.

The view above the Road.

The Algarve
Portugal
The International Association of Golf Tour Operators voted this southern region of Portugal, Europe’s Best Golf Destination for 2014. The Algarve beat out such heavy hitters as the Scottish Highlands, the French Riviera, and Central Ireland. Portugal is one of the few affordable European countries where you can stretch a dollar, offering yet another reason to consider putting this trip at the top of any vacation plans you may be working on. If golf’s your game then you don’t need me telling you where to go in the Algarve…you’ll figure it out but click here for some sweet recommendations.

Vale do Lobo,

Vale do Lobo, just one of the many courses in the Algarve.

Any good courses in your neck of the woods? Share the wealth and drive some travel there!

For D.H.P

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Toronto—From Good To Great.

Super Toronto's Supermoon. (Photo credit: R. Gottardo)

Super Toronto’s Supermoon. (Photo credit: R. Gottardo)

Travel is discovery and it’s a delight when you stumble upon a new favorite thing. Whether it’s music, dance, food, a cocktail, beach, park, campsite, a person, exceptional experience or an intimate moment. Large or small—it doesn’t have to work for anyone else—it just has to rock your world. I discovered my new favorite thing recently in Toronto. It’s Coco Café—coconut water with a kick of espresso, a hint of sugar, and dash of low-fat milk. I popped into a café for an iced coffee but walked out with an obsession. Crazy for anything coconut, the coffee buzz was a bonus. So there you have it, that’s my new favorite thing.cococafe

But obviously Canada’s largest city has lots more to discover than my new favorite drink. As it’s grown over the years, Toronto’s sprouted neighborhoods with a fantastic mix of ethnic cultures, food, arts and entertainment. Leslieville is a working and middle-class area, celebrated for its artistic vibe, retro shops and good eats. Chinatown and Kensington are the most multi-cultural hoods in Toronto. If you’re not adverse to a group tour, you may want to check out Urban Adventures. They offer small (no more than 12 people) guided tours. You’ll learn some history and get to experience some of what makes these heritage neighborhoods standout. Looking for another angle? The Planet D offers photography tours.

Kensington rickshaw. (Photo credit: ThePlanetD)

Kensington rickshaw. (Photo credit: ThePlanetD)

If you prefer not to run with a pack, the subway and streetcar system make navigating the city a breeze. Toronto’s easy to get around and you’ll be able to cover good ground, on foot as well, depending on the amount of time you have. From eating to exercising, here are some local, popular, and touristy things to see and do around the city.

Arts & Entertainment

Art Gallery of Toronto (AGO) – Culture vultures can get their art fix here at the one of the largest museums in North America. The AGO holds over 80,000 works in its collection and will soon premier the Ai WeiWei According To What? exhibit from August 17-October 27. The excitement this artist generates is drawing locals, and visitors from across the country and the border.

CN Tower – What would a visit to Toronto be without a peek inside of what the American Society of Engineers classified as One Of The Seven Wonders Of The Modern World? With a 360-degree view of city, the Tower also features a restaurant, entertainment, exhibitions and events.

The Toronto Islands – One of the city’s top attractions, these islands are just a 10-minute ferry ride from the city. Beaches, biking, canoeing, kayaking, festivals, picnicking—depending on how you like to hang, there’s something for you on one these islands. If you’ve got kids, there’s an amusement park and a petting zoo, too.

Distillery District, Toronto, Canada

Distillery District, Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Distillery – formerly a derelict zone of Victorian industrial buildings, in 2003 a group of creative developers transformed the area into an atmosphere that’s now heralded as one of Canada’s premier arts, culture and entertainment destinations. With one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, galleries, theatres, and cafes, it’s a great place to hang out—day or night.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – this town is overflowing with film festivals but it’s this one, held annually for ten days in September, that set’s the city on fire.  TIFF has established itself as the premier event in the industry and built up Toronto’s city cred. Cannes and Tribeca have nothing on it, and it’s the world’s largest public film festival.  If you have any plans to visit Toronto during September 5-15, act fast—get some tix, see some flicks and don’t forget the camera.
Yummy Stuff

St. Lawrence Market – one of my favorite, previously mentioned, haunts in Toronto, I’m hungry just thinking about it. Bring an empty stomach and leave very happy and probably with lots of good stuff. The quality and variety of fresh food offered at this market from fruits, veggies, fish, meat, spices, herbs—you name it—is nuts, so go there and go crazy.

Good stuff awaits you at the Rooster Coffee Shop.

Good stuff awaits you at the Rooster Coffee Shop.

With no shortage of bars, cafes and restaurants, it’s challenging to list all the faves but here are a few standouts. For quality Italian fare, check out Buca. If you’re in The Danforth, pop into Mezes for authentic Greek cuisine served family style. Need a java jump? The Rooster Coffee House was voted one the best cafes by Toronto Life. With two locations, they make it easy for you to get your fix.

Exercise

Flemingdon Park Golf Club – This 9-hole public course is located in the Don Valley, just minutes from the city center. They rent clubs, carts, bags, and have a practice driving net.

Sunnybrook Stables – Like to ride? I do. These stables are in midtown Toronto but you’ll feel miles away. From beginner to advanced riders, the instructors—and the horses— are excellent.Horse play at Sunnybrook Stables. (Photo credit: Sunnybrook Stables.)

Sundara Yoga – When you stay in a hotel, it’s easy to just plod down to the gym. Break form, be adventurous and check out where the locals do it. Located in historic Cabbagetown, Angela Jervis-Read runs a yoga studio that’ll welcome you with open arms. Her specialty is Yin yoga and her instruction is encouraging without the woo-woo weirdness that can sometimes turn folks off to its benefits.

Sleepytime

There are loads of hotels all over the town. Depending on your budget, and the area you want to stay, here’s where a travel agent can cut your work in half. A few recs off the top of my head are The InterContinental on Bloor Street, which is well located; The Omni King Edward, in the financial district, and The Drake in the Queen Street West area.

Getting There

Depending on where you hail from, Toronto is easily accessed by rail, bus, or car, and of course…air.  If you’re flying, check out Porter Airlines. With this carrier’s excellent service, they’re at the top my list. The biggest plus is that they fly directly into Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport, which will put you right smack in the city so you can hit the ground running.

Toronto is all grown up but its evolution is nowhere near over.  Been there? Share your story…and your new favorite thing.