Travel


HOG World Tour visits Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain, Paradise Valley Arizona

Written by: Tony Korologos | Sunday, April 6th, 2014
Categories: Golf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourSite NewsTravel
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The Hooked on Golf Blog World Tour is currently in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a few minutes from downtown Phoenix.  Current stop on the tour is the wonderful Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain.

Sanctuary_04

The suites here are very open and airy, quite a nice vibe.  The property is very nice, with all the amenities, services, and great food one might need when looking for… a sanctuary.

I’ll be posting a full golf travel review of Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain soon, but for now you can click the photos or this link to the Sanctuary photo gallery.


Experiencing Scotland’s Carnoustie Golf Links

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
Categories: Course ReviewsGolf Course ArchitectureGolf CoursesGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
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Two days ago I had intended to write a great blog post and course review featuring Carnoustie Golf Links in Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland. At that point in time writing a single word became as difficult as this legendary golf links is to play. Where would I start? How could I possibly convey how special of place it is? I felt like my limited blogging/writing skills could not do justice to this golf course which is known by many as the toughest test of golf in the world, a place which has hosted seven Open Championships, a senior Open Championship, the British Amateur Championship, and Women’s British Open.

Carnoustie Golf Links - click for larger image

Carnoustie Golf Links – click for larger image

I’ve decided to do two articles about Carnoustie. One will be a standard course review and one, this one, a recollection of what it was like for me to play the course and what my thoughts and impressions were. (more…)


2013 Year in Review – Part Uno

2013 was quite a year for Hooked On Golf Blog and me, Tony Korologos. This article is part one of two (part two tomorrow), looking back at 2013 from at HOG viewpoint.

Rory McIlroy NikeJanuary

Ah the beginning of a new year and the hopes that my short game would improve. There’s always 2014…

Rory McIlory switched to Nike Golf. Personal issues, business issues, and perhaps the equipment switch would contribute to a less-than-satisfying year on the course for Rory.

Attended the PGA Show for the billionth time. Orlando hates me and my body. Had a great time seeing the new gear, meeting old golf friends and battling in the Battle of the Golf Blogs.

Mike and Kevin Foley & MeFebruary

February I posted a bunch of golf videos from the PGA Merchandise Show.

Asher Golf’s James Roundy, a local friend, passed. Sad.

The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour traveled to Bogota, Colombia. What a fantastic trip! I got to play golf with Web.com Tour star Kevin Foley in the Web.com Tour Colombia Championship Pro-Am. Kevin would later gain his PGA Tour card for 2014! He must have learned from my dual chicken wing granny over the top swing.

La Cima Club de Golf - Click to enlarge

March

While in Colombia I played golf at La Cima Golf Course, 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Wow. Ball go far.

Met Web.com Tour player Dusty Fielding. Nice kid.

A fun blog post was “Filtering Out the Noise: Golf Social Networking’s Top 10 Overused Status Updates.

I reviewed the Cobra Amp Cell driver.

Cobra Amp Cell Irons - click for more

April

Bubba’s Hover was the video rage. Bubba Watson released a golf cart hovercraft!

Of course, April is Masters month. Not a month is busier for me or HOG. Lots of Masters related articles. Adam Scott won the Masters in dramatic fashion. Angel Cabrera hit what I consider the shot of the year with his approach on the final hole to about two feet. That shot resulted in a birdie to tie Adam Scott and force a playoff.

I reviewed the Cobra Amp Cell irons.

Ecco Tour Hybrid Wingtip Golf Shoes - click to see more

May

Ecco Golf came out with hybrid wingtip shoes. Some of the coolest crossover shoes ever.

Tiger Woods won THE PLAYERS (always write “The Players” in ALL CAPS, it is what they do). Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods had a little tiff which the media went into a feeding frenzy over. Sergio eventually apologized for some not-so-nice comments.

HOG poll results told us that Delta Airlines is the worst airline for golf travel.

Good thing Adam Scott won the Masters when he did. The USGA and R&A announced the ban on anchored golf clubs, beginning January 1st, 2016. Bye bye belly.

Eric/Tom sent in some great fan mail, calling me an “asshole who sucks at golf and couldn’t break 100” all because of a golf bag I reviewed. Thanks Eric/Tom!

I fell down a volcano and suffered volcanic road rash. Thankfully my Nikon survived.

Sand BagJune

I played in the Salt Lake Amateur golf tournament. I was right in the mix through 27 holes until my back went out on the 10th tee.  I finished, but the last nine was not pretty. Bugger. Kill me.

HOG readers voted Southwest Airlines as the best airline for golf travel by a landslide.

I reviewed a very cool book: An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course.

Posted an article on golf CHEATERS. That’s what sandbaggers are.

Justin Rose won the U.S. Open in amazing fashion. That was one of the best ball striking displays I’ve ever seen.

On June 30, I boarded an airplane bound for St. Andrews, Scotland.


Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour Visits Coral Cliffs Golf Course in Kanab, Utah

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Categories: Golf CoursesHOG World TourMiscellaneousSite NewsTravel
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The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour was rolling this past few days in northern Arizona and southern Utah, with stops at Bryce Canyon National Park, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Kanab, Utah.

Coral Cliffs Golf Course - Kanab, Utah

Coral Cliffs Golf Course – Kanab, Utah

Home base this week was at a pal’s place in Kanab, Utah. Kanab is just on the Arizona/Utah border, about 1.5 hours north of the north rim of the Grand Canyon,  This small town of about 5,000 is in a fantastic location with the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park all from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours away.

Kanab has a small and relatively unknown 9-hole golf course called Coral Cliffs.  Of course, the name comes from the red rock cliffs which serve as a beautiful backdrop.  The fine managment at Coral Cliffs allowed me to ride the course on a cart and bring my photo gear, including my aerial imagery rig (toy helicopter).  Here’s one shot of the 5th, 6th and 7th holes from above.  I’m still working on processing the rest of my images, but for now enjoy this one.

For more on Coral Cliffs, visit the Kahab page at Utah Golf Guru, a Hooked On Golf Blog sister site.  Utah Golf Guru provides a list of every course in the state of Utah with photos, course details and even playing tips from yours truly!


Review: Diamante Dunes Course, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Categories: Course ReviewsGolf CoursesGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTiger WoodsTravel
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For close to 10 years I’ve been blogging about golf. One of the greatest benefits of this blog has been the opportunity to travel and visit some amazing places. There are a few very “special” places I’ve visited which are head and shoulders above the rest. Some of those special places include Black Mesa Golf Club, Ballyneal Golf Club, The Old Course, Kingsbarns and Sand Hollow.

Add another special place to the list.

Diamante - Dunes Course

Diamante – Dunes Course – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

On my last trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico I had the pleasure of playing the Diamante Dunes Course. Diamante Dunes opened in 2009 and quickly attained the ranking of #1 golf course in Mexico and #52 in the world. The Dunes course is the first course on the property at Diamante. The 2nd course is under construction right now, a Tiger Woods design.

Designed By Davis Love III

Speaking of design, I was intrigued and excited to learn that the course designer at the Dunes course was none other than Davis Love III. I’m not completely immersed in the golf architecture genre like some golf writers, so this is the first DLIII design I’ve heard of.

The course measures out at 7,300 yards from the tips, a.k.a. “Tee I.” Course rating from Tee I is 75.4 with a slope of 146. At sea level that’s as much golf course as any player on the planet needs. I played from a more reasonable tee, you guessed it, “Tee II.” In all there are five sets of tees, “Tee V” measuring out at 5,151 yards.

Location Location Location

Cabo San Lucas may have the best overall weather on the planet. The average temperature year-round is 78 degrees. There are 350 days of sunshine per year and very little rain. Perfect golf weather 24/7/365.

Diamante is located six miles from downtown Cabo and occupies 1.5 miles of beachfront property overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The area is comprised of fantastic pure white sand dunes and natural desert vegetation.

The Course

Diamante Dunes is routed through some of the most stunning topography I’ve ever seen. The beachside views along with the massive sand dunes provide a canvas which Davis Love III brilliantly painted with perfectly green grass, pure white sand and an occasional red or yellow accent from the native desert vegetation. In the distance are the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean along with the thunderous sound of waves pounding the shoreline.

Paspalum

That perfectly green grass I mentioned? Its a rare breed of grass which is salt and warm-weather resistant, perfect for a seaside course. The paspalum at Diamante is so perfect and trimmed to such precision, that it almost doesn’t seem real.

The strength of paspalum is astounding. In trying to pull up some blades to throw up into the wind for club selection, I almost fell over. The grass is so strong that it takes quite an effort to pull out some blades.

Tee

Tee shots at Diamante set up perfectly for not only great golf shots, but great photos. I spent more time shooting pictures than I did hitting my golf shots. Multiple teeing areas are located at different elevations and angles to provide a multitude of options from day to day or from handicap level to handicap level.

Golf pro Rodrigo about to let it fly... click to zoom

Golf pro Rodrigo about to let it fly… click to zoom

Tee shots at Diamante can be quite dramatic, featuring large elevation changes.

Fairway

The fairways at Diamante Dunes run through, over, between, or around massive sand dunes. What fun DLIII must have had envisioning hole routings and shots. The fairways are fairly wide and not terribly penal.

Par-5 14th Hole From The Tee - click to zoom

Par-5 14th Hole From The Tee – click to zoom

Errant shots which miss the fairways find the soft sand which is far more penal and difficult to navigate. Missing the fairways for the sand doesn’t mean a guaranteed bogey or worse, but making par or better from the sand is an accomplishment.

Green

The greens at Diamante may be the most perfect putting surfaces I’ve ever putted. I could not find one dry spot, one ball mark, one inconsistency. Putting on surfaces like this is almost a religious experience.

#2 Green - click to zoom

Diamante Dunes #2 Green – click to zoom

The green complexes at Diamante are brilliantly laid out, with rugged bunkering guarding them and natural sandy areas surrounding. The challenging undulations and slopes require solid putting for good scores, but are definitely fair.

Bunkers

Diamante Dunes is built on perhaps the world’s largest bunker. 1,500 acres of light beach sand line all the holes. Many of the natural bunkers are simply filled with the native sand.

Playing The Course

Playing the course is an amazing experience. From the sand dunes, routing, the sound of the ocean waves pounding the shore, to the perfectly manicured greens, this is a golf experience like no other.

I’m damn proud of my 86 as a two handicap. Hear me out. I almost never play well on media trips due to not knowing the course, focusing on photos, taking notes, being a little tired from the late nights schmoozing and probably having one to many adult beverages. This 86 was more special because of the conditions. I experienced Diamante during a full dose of Baja Peninsula winds. The sand was flying sideways as were the golf balls. Following the round I was cleaning sand out of places on my body I didn’t know existed. I managed that round in those conditions with one golf ball. ONE GOLF BALL.

Amenities

Diamante is a private facility. Members can enjoy one of the best golf courses in the world of course.

Diamante Clubhouse

Diamante Clubhouse

Along with golf the facility offers plush lodging, golf villas and estates, restaurants, spas, a 10 acre crystal lagoon, horseback riding and of course, 1.5 miles of beach to enjoy.

Relief Shacks

At a few strategic locations on the course there are what I will call “relief shacks.” In these shacks are all a golfer needs: restrooms, tequilla bottles, a bar, fully stocked fridge and snacks. Grab a tequila bottle and take it with you. When you reach the next shack, pull another full tequila bottle out and put your empty one in.

Relief Shack

Relief Shack

I particularly loved the hard boiled eggs, available in the shacks. The egg goes in a small plastic cup and there are salsas to dress the egg with. Those eggs saved my life. The tequila helped quite a bit too.  Much better than the aspirin.

My Favorite Holes

A friend and “golf journalist” (I consider myself a blogger, not necessarily a journalist) gave me grief for using the term “signature hole.” I suppose he’s right. The term is overused for sure. So I’ll post my “favorite” holes from Diamante.

Island in the Sand 16th

Hole #16 is a fantastic par-3, which is right next to the shore. The green is what I like to call an “island in the sand.” 16 is a prime example showing that a great par-3 need not be long.

Diamante Dunes 16 Green

Diamante Dunes 16 Green

From the back tees this par-3 is only 154 yards but a small group of dark green desert foliage guards the front, looking quite like gorse in St. Andrews. The green slopes front to back and has a large tier dissecting it perpendicular to the tee.

Par-5 17th

My next favorite hole comes up right after 16. The 17th is a fantastic par-5 which measures at 588 yards, uphill. The tee shot is challenging, with gorse-like bushes dictating that shots come up strategically short. Long hitters can take on the challenge of flying it over.

Diamante golf

Diamante Dunes 17th Hole – click to zoom

The approach to 17 is severely uphill to a large green with two levels. I happily hit my 3rd shot, a sand wedge, to the correct tier and left myself with a 15 footer for birdie. Unfortunately the bird did not drop, but the tap-in par was rewarding, especially as I looked out from the elevated green to miles of virgin Mexico shoreline. That was a “stop and soak it in” moment. I stood there and took some deep breaths. I can still smell the ocean.

In the video below, I pan from the 16th green through the 17th tee.  You can hear how windy it was that day, which also makes the video quality a little rough because of the sand flying through the air.

Critiques

As I played golf on this fantastic layout I was saddened a bit. The serenity, purity and remoteness of these golf holes in the dunes will soon be tarnished by residences. Lots are already being excavated for course-side estates. In a way I feel even more privileged to have played the course in its original pure form with no real estate development.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against high end golf real estate per se. If I could sell about 12 million more ads this year on this blog, I’d happily be one of the first to call Diamante home. I’ll take the lot between 16 green and 17 tee please.

Conclusion

Though it is private, Diamante can be experienced if you’re not a member. There are ways to get on. If you can swing it (so to speak) when you’re in Cabo next time, do it.

Bring your A game and bring your camera.  I’d bring more than one golf ball, just in case.

Related Links

Diamante Website

Diamante photo gallery


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