It is no secret that I am a golfaholic.
I love playing the game, and while I enjoy covering professional and amateur events it's the playing that has me hooked. The worst golf course in the world - I remember one in Aruba - is better than sitting at home.
Those who know me know I have a goal to play 1,000 golf courses in my golfing career. Given the choice of playing a layout where I've played before, or playing a new course, the new course will win most of the time.
There are courses I want to play and haven't. There are courses I've played an must play again. But variety of playing different challenges just whets my appetite. In the last week I've played two new courses: the fun Royal Manchester Golf Links near York, Pa., and the outstanding Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian facility in Florida.
Royal Manchester was fun. Each hold separated from adjacent ones my mounds, very few trees, and the opportunity to bounce the ball onto the greens similar to the shots one has in Ireland or Scotland. A pleasant course, fun, and while a bit out of the way a special place to play.
It was the 92nd course I'd played in the State of Pennsylvania, which made it special too as I'd like my home state to join New Jersey (107 courses played) on my most played list. I've played 91 courses in South Carolina, 72 in Virginia, 58 and Florida and 50 in both North Carolina and California. All told there are more than 900 courses played, but who is counting?
Golden Ocala was a very special Ron Garl designed private layout in the horse country of Ocala, Florida. What a distinctive, fun, challenging layout. Garl took pages from outstanding holes around the world to construct 8 replica holes and intertwined them with his own classic handiwork. Playable, memorable and simply superb was the experience.
Garl gives the player the opportunity to play as much course as liked, so picking the right tee box makes for a great memorable experience.
I particularly enjoyed the two Augusta National replica holes, although on both I dunked a ball into the pond fronting the greens. Oh well. Golden Ocala's 11th hole mimics Augusta National's 12th hole, while its 6th hole is a replica of Augusta National's 16th holes. Other replica holes used Royal Troon, Muirfield, St. Andrews and Baltusrol as starting points.
Loved both courses, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend!
An old favorite should be played if possible, as while I've played it dozens of times it never gets old: Seaview's Bay Course. This Donald Ross designed gem is different every time its played as the winds off Reeds Bay plays havoc with your precision. Don't miss it.
CHIP SHOTS: Wake Forest University freshman Erica Herr has played 24 rounds this season with a low score of 70 on her way to a 76.46 scoring average...