It Ziems to Me: Florida’s Historic Coast courses offer variety, affordability

By Len Ziehm PALM COAST, FL. - Our three-month stay in this ocean-side community between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach was much different than our previous three winters, spent in Sarasota, Naples and Port St. Lucie. In this case, "different" means generally better golf-wise with one notable exception. We played lots of golf in cold (50 degrees), windy weather, and that's something we rarely faced in the other, more southerly stops. (more…)

No private golf club in Florida matches up with The Legacy

[caption id="attachment_1390" align="alignnone" width="584"]Bob Foisie's The Legacy Bob Foisie’s The Legacy offers many activities that other Florida golf clubs don’t.[/caption] By Len Ziehm PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – The Legacy may be the most intriguing course in golf-rich Florida. Located in a community that has five 18-holers in close proximity to each other, The Legacy – the only private course among the five — has been around for 32 years and has hosted local qualifiers for many U.S. Opens and other national tournaments. Its designers carry a highly respected name in course architecture circles and its most progressive 82-year old owner has made upgrades that make his club both special and unique. (more…)

Re-opening of Dye Course underscores progress made at PGA Golf Club

[caption id="attachment_1383" align="alignnone" width="584"]PGA Golf Club Pete Dye course Pete Dye’s bunkers were the talk of the day at the re-opening of the Dye Course at PGA Golf Club.[/caption] By Len Ziehm PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida – The PGA Golf Club is the winter home of the PGA of America’s 28,000 members. It’s also one of just two facilities in America that the PGA operates, the other being Valhalla – the organization’s premier tournament venue in Louisville, Ky. PGA Golf Club, with its four 18-hole courses plus a six-hole short course and elaborate learning center, is one of the nation’s top golf resorts. That’s why this week’s re-opening of its Dye Course will have an immediate impact on the game nation-wide. Visitors, both from all parts of the U.S. as well as other countries, will soon be arriving here with a new, most attractive playing option. (more…)

It Ziehms to Me: Ross or Raynor? Lake Wales course has a nice dilemma

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm LAKE WALES, Florida - I can’t think of a much more pleasant golf experience than playing a Donald Ross course on a crisp, sunny day. That’s what we thought we were doing when we visited Lake Wales Country Club, which is about 40 miles from Orlando. Lake Wales is managed by Chicago-based GolfVisions, and we found it a well-conditioned, nicely designed layout that clearly had the feel of a Ross course. [caption id="attachment_1182" align="alignright" width="150"]Lakes Wales’ latest logo honors only one of its designers. Lakes Wales’ latest logo honors only one of its designers.[/caption] The club proclaims it a Ross design in its website and uses a likeness of the legendary architect in its most recent logo. There’s only one problem. Ross was involved in the course’s creation for sure, but recent research suggests he wasn’t the only architect and may not have even been the main one. Another almost-as-famous architect, Seth Raynor, was involved as well. (more…)

It Ziehms to Me: Florida Historic Golf Trail is something special

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm Golf trails are nothing new. Courses and clubs have formed marketing partnerships for years with varying degrees of impact. In the United States alone there are at least 50 trails. Texas has five separate of them. Colorado Golf Trails is one marketing entity, but it promotes 10 different trails within that state, and some of those trails have as many of 12 courses. Go to to check out the various trails out there. [caption id="attachment_891" align="alignright" width="300"]Golfers of all abilities have enjoyed Riviera for 62 years. Golfers of all abilities have enjoyed Riviera for 62 years.[/caption] Most famous is probably the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which unites 11 Alabama golf facilities. It’s been a rousing commercial success, but some of the “trails’’ amount to nothing more than websites. I’ve played all the courses on Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail and some courses on a few of the others, including the Robert Trent Jones. This winter, though, I’ve been introduced to one that is different – and in some ways better – than all the others. (more…)

LPGA’s 66th season is off to a good start at Golden Ocala

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm OCALA, FL. – The first event of the LPGA’s 66th season isn’t being held very far from the site of the circuit’s very first tournament, in 1950. That one was at Palma Cella Country Club in Tampa. It’s not far from the organization’s headquarters, either. The 2015 opener is being played at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, a beautiful facility nestled in the horse country of northwestern Florida. It’s about 100 miles from Palma Cella and it’s not much further to LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach. [caption id="attachment_865" align="alignnone" width="584"]Golden Ocala offered everything the LPGA needed for its season opener. Golden Ocala offered everything the LPGA needed for its season opener.[/caption] This season opener, though, is an indication of how far the LPGA has come, and the inaugural Coates Championship could trigger the biggest year yet for the premier women’s circuit. This LPGA opener represents a departure from recent years, when the circuit usually played its first tournament outside of the U.S. (Four of this year’s first five events, though, will still be beyond U.S. borders – in the Bahamas, Australia, Thailand and Singapore). The Coates Championship at Golden Ocala doesn’t have the traditional Thursday-Sunday run. This one started on Wednesday and will conclude on Saturday to avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl. (more…)

Bay Hill is a reflection of Arnold Palmer’s style

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm ORLANDO, FL. -Roy Schindele, director of sales and marketing for Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, stresses one thing before taking you on a tour of the facilities. "This is not a resort. It's a country club," said Schindele, and that's an important distinction to make from the outset if you’re lucky enough to visit this place. There's a different, very nice feeling about Bay Hill - and why wouldn't there be? After all, it's been at least a winter home for perhaps the most charismatic athlete of all time for nearly 50 years. Bay Hill umbrellaBased on our visit, Bay Hill has become more than just a winter retreat for Palmer, who spends considerable time in the summer months in Latrobe, Pa., the town where he grew up. He's 85 now, and health issues have basically relegated him to hitting practice balls on the Bay Hill range these days. I'm told he rarely gets on the course. Yet, Palmer has an apartment behind the tennis courts and is a frequent visitor to all the club's facilities. Guests see him playing cards, dining with a group of friends or riding around in his golf cart. While he remains one of the most accommodating of all public figures, Palmer doesn't spend much of his time posing for pictures or signing autographs for guests. Bay Hill is just where he enjoys life. (more…)

It Ziehms To Me: International Crown trophy will be impressive

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm DAYTONA BEACH, FL. - I'll let you in on a secret. The trophy that will go to the winner of the LPGA's biggest-ever event will be one of the most impressive in all of sports. I received a sneak preview of the prize that the players in the new International Crown event will play for in July during my first visit to LPGA headquarters here (photo below). No pictures of the trophy or descriptions of it were allowed then, and the trophy won't be officially unveiled until April 1 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. (more…)