GolfNow’s Spring Training Golf Guide
“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” —Rogers Hornsby
For some, trekking to Florida or Arizona for Major League Baseball’s Spring Training in February and March is an annual tradition. For others, its a monumental check mark off their sports bucket list.
Regardless of whether it’s a ritual or a just a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you can’t beat enjoying America’s pastime on a mild, sunny day. Unless of course you add great golf to the mix and then it truly is the stuff dreams are made of. So, if you’re taking in some Grapefruit and Cactus League action this year, bring the clubs and play one of these great GolfNow courses.
PGA National Resort & Spa (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) — This Champion course is home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and also features the General, Haig and, Squire courses. All of the courses have been updated with new turf, rebuilt bunkers, and expanded tee and green complexes, and all require advance booking, so plan ahead. The Haig was updated with a modernized layout and renamed the Fazio. Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter is just about a 15-minute commute from PGA National and is the Spring Training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins.
Talking Stick Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.) — Rated as a Top 100 Resort Course by Golfweek Magazine in 2012 and 2013, Talking Stick has a pair of courses designed by famed golf course architects, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. The links-style North Course winds through grassland and challenges players with its bunkering while the traditional tree-lined South Course features water hazards and smaller, sloped greens. It’s a perfect challenge for baseball-loving golfers of all levels, especially fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies with their Spring Training home, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, about a five-minute drive away.
San Francisco Giants fans taking in a game in Scottsdale are about a 12 minute drive away and Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland A’s fans flocking to Phoenix should also make the trip over for some great golf.
ASU Karsten Golf Course (Tempe, Ariz.) — Nestled in the shadows of Sun Devil Stadium is the ASU Karsten Golf Course. The par-70, Pete Dye links-style course has been awarded 4 1/2 stars by the Golf Digest Rating Panel and challenges players with Dye’s signature mounding and creative bunkering. Los Angeles Angels fans catching games at Diablo Stadium are close by as are sun-seeking Chicago Cubs fans. Cubs fans not only get a chance at great golf but the team is debuting its new Spring Training home, the 15,000-seat Cubs Park which replaces Hohokam Park.
Old Corkscrew Golf Club (Estero, Fla.) — Old Corkscrew has been rated Southwest Florida’s No. 1 course by Golf Magazine and the Jack Nicklaus design is as beautiful as it is challenging. Fans of the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox should not miss a chance to visit this Golden Bear gem while in nearby Fort Myers watching the Sox prep for another run at the title.
Cove Cay Golf Club (Clearwater, Fla.) Once considered one of the Tampa Bay areas best kept secrets, Cove Cay is a great golf destination especially after significant renovations in the summer of 2010. Located on the shores of Tampa Bay, the David Stewart layout places accuracy at a premium with water coming in to play on 13 holes. The course offers spectacular views of the water and a variety of wildlife while challenging all levels of golfers with four tees to fit your skills.
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies, who play in Clearwater at Bright House Field, as well as the New York Yankees (Tampa) and Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton) are all close enough to enjoy this water side gem.
Featured image of the newly renovated Tempe Diablo Stadium courtesy of TempeTourism.com