Tour the PGA TOUR's best public golf courses in 2013
The PGA TOUR just released its 2013 schedule. Almost all of the venues are familiar. Many are private courses. For the first time ever, all the majors (Muirfield, Merion, Augusta, Oak Hill) and the FedEx Cup playoff tournaments will be held at ultra-private clubs, a real bummer for Joe Public.
But there are some public courses that are ripe for the picking to see how your game stacks up to the pros. Just don’t visit right before or after tournament week. Chances are things will be a bit chaotic and the courses might even be closed, putting up or tearing down luxury boxes and other tournament infrastructure.
You’ll notice public stalwarts like the Magnolia Course and the Palm Course at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando aren’t on the schedule. That’s merely a formality due to a structural change on the schedule. The 2013 season officially ends at the Tour Championship in late September. The new fall playoff series – where the annual Disney tournament will likely end up – will officially be considered part of the 2014 PGA TOUR schedule.
If you secure a tee time on any of these TOUR venues next year consider yourself one of the fortunate few.
* The Hyundai Tournament of Champions visits the Plantation course at Kapalua Resort on Maui the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 7. I fell in love with the course when I played it in 2011. I can’t wait to go back one day during whale season to see what those TV cameras show off during the telecast. My photos (see above) don’t have whales breaching out in the Pacific Ocean.
* The Farmers Insurance Open once again will hold court on the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines outside of San Diego, Jan. 21-27. I played Torrey Pines South so long ago, it was before Rees Jones’ redesign leading into the 2008 U.S. Open.
* Sadly, it looks like I won’t be returning to the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the Stadium Course at the TPC Scottsdale in Arizona Jan. 28-Feb. 3. I had a blast watching the tournament last year (click here). Unfortunately, I’ve never played the course, instead settling for the Champions course next door.
* The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am returns to northern California Feb. 4-10 to showcase the beauty of Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill. I played those two on a buddies trip I’ll never forget in 2003. Getting on the third course, the private Shore course of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club, will require some inside connections I probably don’t have.
* I’m not sure how much longer the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain will host the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, set for Feb. 18-24 in Marana, Ariz. It’s a fine Jack Nicklaus course next to an even better hotel, but this tournament seems to bounce around every four years or so.
* The Honda Classic, set for Feb. 25-March 3, seems to have found a permanent home on the Champions Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens in southeast Florida. I haven’t checked the “Bear Trap” off the bucket list yet.
* The TPC Blue Monster at Doral – which I’ve played multiple times – should look completely different after the WGC-Cadillac Championship on March 4-10. Donald Trump, the new owner of Doral Golf Resort in Miami, has hired Gil Hanse to make changes to the iconic course.
* Ironically, Trump is also involved with the secondary tournament the same week, the Puerto Rico Open, held at on the Championship Course at Trump International Puerto Rico, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. I’ve driven by the property but never seen the site.
* One of my first adventures as a golf writer was a round on the Copperhead at Innisbrook Resort, site of the Tampa Bay Championship, held March 11-17 in Palm Harbor, Fla. Back then I took few notes and no photos. Those were the days of carefree golf with little in the way of work being done. My how times have changed.
* The TPC San Antonio doesn’t get much love from the pros during the Valero Texas Open, set for April 1-7, but I hear the course delivers a good time for everyday hackers. The nearby JW Marriott is the real star of the show.
* The beat goes on for the RBC Heritage April 15-21 on Hilton Head Island off the South Carolina coastline. The tournament was once on its death bed, which is a shame considering how good the Harbour Town Golf Links is.
* The Zurich Classic of New Orleans visits The Big Easy April 22-28. The TPC Louisiana marks the second straight week of Pete Dye golf for the pros.
* The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass hosts The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., May 6-12. I’ve played it twice and got my $%$ handed to me both rounds. I’m hoping the third time is the charm.
* I have a buddy who is a member at the Four Seasons Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, home of the HP Byron Nelson Championship May 13-19. I’ve yet to cash in my invitation.
* The Greenbrier Classic’s date over the July fourth holiday (this year it’s July 1-7) has been a boon for the resort and the tournament. I’ve never played the Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
* The RBC Canadian Open moves from an ultra-private Hamilton Golf & Country Club to the ultra-public Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, for the tournament July 22-28. I’ve never played a single round near Toronto, a glaring hole in my golf writer resume.