Friday, 7 February 2014

Back in Blighty

Two weeks in Florida - some may think this was a holiday - well think again!

Week one at the PGA Show, working in the morning to coincide with UK work hours and at the show mid-morning onwards - not to mention the nights.  So holiday it wasn't!

The PGA Show 2014 was in my opinion better than previously -that might be because I knew more people but still had time to meet new people and connect with old friends and colleagues.

A few days R&R in Orlando playing a couple of golf courses; Kissimmee Bay and the Palmer Course at Reunion with a couple of SMGA Wounded Warriors - wow what great chaps they are. Despite all they have been through, they are happy, well-adjusted men of the world.  Probably seen too much of the world for one person’s lifetime though.  Ever a charity is more deserving it is one which supports our men and women of the services - on both sides of the Atlantic.

Week two bought different challenges- renting a car in a different country means massive insurance bills, despite my clean driving license of many years!
Armed with a second hand sat nav GPS system I tootle out of the airport safe in the knowledge that I was insured up to the hilt through the extortionate premium.
GPS in hand, well stuck to the windscreen, navigating around the back streets of Orlando airport - I hadn’t yet figured out how to turn off the 'no highway' option, and it went! That’s it kerputt-  blank screen driving in a country I didn’t know, on the wrong side of the road and no idea where to go or how to get there.  The lesson learned here is to never fully rely on technology without at least having an insight as to the alternatives.
Resourceful as ever, I pulled off the main road and into a business park where I located a logistics company -surely they must know where they are going?  My best damsel in distress act worked a treat and I was given a printout with a blow by blow account showing which way to go. Thank you so much man from Logistics company – I’m not normally that disorganised or weird!

I hadn't realised how busy Orlando was until I drove North to Jacksonville where the traffic was left behind with Mickey, Donald and crew and I was able to trap along at a steady pace. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many police pulling people over for speeding before… and no, I wasn’t one of them!

Sawgrass- wow - and that’s only the hotel, thank you Patrick for your time and for liking the chip into the boat idea!  I hope you do it, it'll be fun and much more achievable and therefore rewarding.  Looking forward to the next visit. 

Lunch at the Caddyshack - yes the one from the movies at the World Golf Village with John from Florida's First Coast of Golf.  Thanks for the introduction to quesadillas - yum...

Then golf at St Johns Golf and Country Club - a wonderful privately owned golf course offering the visitor more choices.  Apologies to Daniel the chef from Windsor GC who I played with - I can only put my poor play down to the massive lunch and the big belly!  Thank you Ryan for allowing me to play St Johns.

Staying at The Renaissance Resort Hotel at the world Golf village for a comfortable night’s sleep in a relaxing hotel. Thank you Josh and William for making me feel welcome and for you time showing me around your hotel – remember the golf tees for conference delegates!
Next day dawned and I met with Dave from Florida’s first coast of golf to play the Conservatory Course at Hammock Beach – well we met and we did play 3 holes of golf but even me as a visitor from colder climes had to admit it was freezing.  Too cold to play, or rather too cold to play and enjoy. Consolation prize was a massage at the Hammock Beach hotel followed by a big lunch at their lovely restaurant overlooking the ocean.  I’m not sure we earned such a big lunch after only 3 holes of blustery golf in that cold weather?
Staying at the Hammock Beach Resort was a treat, with views overlooking the ocean it was such a shame it wasn’t bright sunshine.  For a big hotel it didn’t feel impersonal.
A tour of the World Golf Hall of Fame is a must if you visit this area, with a simulation green from bygone days in Scotland reading 4 on the stint with unexpected borrows, to the slicker simulation greens reading 11 -using a variety of old style and new style ‘putters’ – not to mention a golf simulator  par 3 hole, lockers showing hall of famers contents which range from a leaflet to being crammed full of their golf bags, shoes, clothes –you name it, plus lots more to see for the avid golfer.  Very interesting and worth having a guide – thanks Hal for your time and patience and for loosing at putting.  In fact, I think Hal is my new best friend as he declared that British golfers are good putters – who am I to shatter his thoughts.
Slammer and Squire in the afternoon – what a funny name for a golf course but when you consider golf legends Sam ‘The Slammer’ Sneed and Gene ‘The Squire’ Sarazen worked with architect Bobby Weed to design the course, all is clear.  What a truly lovely course, and being on site to the World Golf Village makes it a good day out not to be missed.

Good play Dave- but I’m afraid you need to pull your socks up next time!

Friday dawned and it was sunny…. finally ...... and typically on the day I leave. I get some warmth and sunshine in Jacksonville, as I head South to Daytona Beach
Playing the Hills Course at LPGA International.  Thank you Mike for allowing me an insight to one of the courses at your establishment, and what a treat it was - definitely a thinking golfers course, and one which can be conquered if played without being too greedy.

GPS, phone back up and hand written directions I reluctantly head south to Orlando airport and home to the UK (where I slept for 13 hours catching up!)

Thank you to all who invited me and made me feel so welcome and I look forward to representing your great golfing area in the future and visiting again in the future – when its warmer!