HOG World Tour
I’m thrilled to continue the Hooked On Golf Blog Product of the Year awards, this time with the Best Golf Course award. To qualify for the Best Golf Course award, a course has to have been reviewed and/or played for the first time in the calendar year (2014 for this year). There were many new courses I played this year, from Greg Norman’s Emerald Reef Golf Club in the Bahamas to the Alister MacKenzie design at the University of Michigan, to Paako Ridge in New Mexico.
Serenity… click to read full review of Shepherd’s Hollow
Factors which go into my decision include course architecture, playing conditions, amenities, vibe, location, staff. In short, the overall experience from when one arrives to the time he/she finishes up the last frosty beverage at the 19th hole.
Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club
The two finalists came down to New Mexico’s Paako Ridge and Michigan’s Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club. Both are amazing tracts of land, and both courses have NO homes on the course; not the center of real estate developments. That scores big points with me. Both courses had fantastic conditions when I played. Based on the serenity, the amazing amenities, clubhouse, and the fact that they offer 27 holes, Shepherd’s edges out Paako Ridge for the Hooked On Golf Blog 2015 Best Golf Course Award.
Shepherd’s Hollow is northwest of Detroit about a 45 minute drive, and well worth it. Tip o’ the hat to Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club for winning this distinguished award. Can’t wait to get back there.
Full Hooked On Golf Blog Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club review.
More Hooked On Golf Blog Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club photos.
Other Michigan golf course review.
Here’s a recap of the highlights of the last two years as part of the Hooked On Golf Blog 10 year anniversary. Many interesting stories, both personal and in the golf world, happened over the last two years.
Dufnering was the biggest story of 2013
Rory McIlory switched to Nike Golf.
Asher Golf’s James Roundy, a local friend, passed. Sad.
The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour traveled to Bogota, Colombia.
I got to play golf with Web.com Tour star Kevin Foley in the Web.com Tour Colombia Championship Pro-Am.
Played golf at La Cima Golf Course, 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes mountains.
Bye bye belly putter! USGA and R&A announced the ban on anchored golf clubs, beginning January 1st, 2016.
Played golf in St. Andrews for the second time. In high winds the Old Lady ate my lunch and crushed my confidence! I gained new respect for the Old Course.
I played Carnoustie, considered the toughest golf course in the world.
Carnoustie Golf Links – click for more images
On a trip to Cabo San Lucas I played the #1 (Diamante Dunes) and #2 (Cabo Del Sol) courses in Mexico.
I played every round from the first week of July to August 8th without losing a golf ball. 199 consecutive holes. Couldn’t make it to 200. Choker!
Latest Hooked On Golf Blog site design adapts to mobile devices.
A skinny female streaker who wasn’t quite naked ran at the Presidents Cup because “golf is boring.”
Jason Dufner won the inaugural “Most Entertaining Golfer of the Year” award with his internet craze, “Duffnering.”
I posted an article in January with thoughts on how to change things up for 2014. I need to evaluate again, and see if I actually did any of that.
In one of the biggest moments in HOG history, I had a great interview with golf legend Gary Player.
A new hobby and passion for me surfaces, aerial photography and video. Perhaps one day it will graduate from hobby to money-maker. See photo below:
Salt Lake Country Club
Visited Washington D.C.
Can’t take the watermarking anymore. Had to post the 10 worst GolfWRX watermarked photos.
Miguel Angel Jimenez IS the most interesting man in the world, and his stretching video proves it.
Best golf photo of 2014: The Gretzky Boys.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant…
Did my first automotive review, the Hyundai Genesis.
I seriously consider quitting golf.
Played Rhodes Ranch in Vegas for the first time.
I post the Top 51 Things Golf Can Do Without.
I card my best finish in the Salt Lake Amateur, 2nd place. Win $500 in prize money.
I visit Michigan, highlighted by many great golf course rounds and a stop at the Henry Ford Museum.
Tried fly-fishing for the first time. Didn’t 3-putt once.
Posted a very information and educational article, “Things Golf Bloggers do to Make Themselves Look Like Idiots.”
Rory McIlory won the Open Championship.
Visited the Beautiful Paako Ridge Golf Course in New Mexico.
Rory McIlory wins the PGA Championship. Kid’s good.
Witnessed a hole-in-one. My opponent won that hole.
Top 10 Nauseatingly Repetitive Questions Golf Publications Keep Asking Over and Over….. and Over… Again… and Over
Craziest Round of Year Features TWO Eagles, Four Birdies
Won my SECOND club championship!
TaylorMade’s First FootGolf Shoe? The R15 FGZLDR Tour 360 SuperMegaOcto.
I used the internal GPS to find my stolen phone, which had traveled to Missouri.
Swam with pigs in the Bahamas. Yeah, you read that right.
Played Greg Norman’s Emerald Bay Golf Club in the Bahamas. Had lunch AND dinner with Greg Norman, then he tried to chop his arm off with a chainsaw then next day.
Shot of the year: I eagled a 470 yard par-4 by holing out from 173 with a 7-iron.
Stayed at the fabulous Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas.
Possibly found a stretch for when my bad back goes out?
This is the second to last look-back post celebrating the DECADE I’ve been blogging about golf here at Hooked On Golf Blog. Below are some quick comments including links to the original golf blog posts, featuring some key nuggets from the years 2010-2012.
I took on a new job as National Sales Manager for the high end golf accessory company Sumi-G.
I handed over the Battle of the Golf Blogs crown to the Orlando Golf Blogger in Orlando at the PGA Merchandise Show.
Tiger Woods publicly apologized for his “transgressions.”
“Speed” is the year’s buzzword for marketing golf clubs. It’s always something.
Acushnet sold Cobra to Puma.
I attend the Puerto Rico Open.
I’m the first to break the news on the new TaylorMade R15 SuperMegaQuad Driver. See image:
TaylorMade R15 SuperMegaQuad
I attend my first Masters practice round. Here are some Masters photos you don’t see on TV.
I was asked to remove my photos of the TPC Sawgrass Yardage Book. Lame.
I got married. Golf babes worldwide go on suicide watch.
I added the “How Not To” category to the blog.
Possibly my most detailed and best review ever was the Potty Putter.
My dad and I win the Father’s Day tournament!
Rumors of Tiger Woods’s divorce start surfacing.
I visit the fabulous Gran Melia resort in Puerto Rico. That did NOT suck.
HOG gets a NEW LOGO! Big doings ’round here.
Tiger Woods divorced Elin Nordegren.
I put a new putter in the bag, Dornoch Putters by Grant Mackay. The Putter is STILL in the bag.
Europe wins the Ryder Cup.
“Cigar Guy” is the biggest rage on the internet for 2010.
Cigar Guy on right…
Tiger Woods starts using Twitter.
Unfortunately in January I separated my shoulder skiing.
The Japan earthquake and tsunami made it hard to think about golf.
June and into July was perhaps the most insane HOG schedule in history. In 1.5 months I played in the Salt Lake City Amateur tournament, went to St. Andrews, played the Mesquite Am, played 72 holes in one day in four states, and traveled out of town to no less than 15 golf courses.
Met Kristen Williams, the world famous and mega cool Golf Chick.
People freak out because Bubba Watson wears a $525K watch which was loaned to him by watch sponsor.
Tiger Woods puts his yacht “Privacy” up for sale for $20 million. My attempts to get 20 million people to each chip in $1 and buy it with me fail.
I interview Fred Funk. What a cool cat.
Rory McIlory blew a huge lead in the Masters, but handled the loss with class.
Rookie Keegan Bradley records first win of PGA Tour career at the HP Byron Nelson and I WAS THERE. Shot the picture below:
Keegan Bradley HP Byron Nelson Championship – © Tony Korologos
HP invites me to cover the HP Byron Nelson Championship as resident blogger and social media expert. What a blast.
Golf world saddened as legend Seve Ballesteros died at the young age of 54. RIP Seve. You will be missed and always remembered.
Rory McIlroy destroys the field at the US OPEN shooting 16 under par and blowing away Tiger Woods previous US OPEN record score of -12. McIlroy set a number of records which may never be broken. I doubt Congressional will hold another major.
Tiger Woods’s caddie Steve Williams moves to Adam Scott’s bag for the US OPEN.
Steve Jobs died.
Me and my son Seve
The biggest news of the YEAR for me was the birth of my son Seve Anthony. Yes, his name was inspired by Seve Ballesteros. Little Seve has been nothing but a joy. SO thankful.
On a sad note, I lost a golf buddy who I’d played 100’s of rounds of golf with. RIP Dave Shields.
I got to tour Golf Channel’s facilities, and even get a shot of myself behind the Golf Central desk. Fun stuff.
Sadly, the great golf announcer Jim Huber died.
TaylorMade bought Adams Golf.
I attended two practice rounds of the 2012 Masters Tournament. My comments and some photos of the 2012 Masters can be found here.
Golf architect Gil Hanse was named the designer for the Rio 2016 golf course.
I played 112 consecutive holes with one Callaway Hex Black golf ball. The people at Callaway thought that feat was so cool they sent me a whole box of them, or the equivalent of 1,344 holes.
Suzanne Pettersen, blonde Scandinavian golf babe, posed nude for ESPN’s Bodies magazine. That didn’t suck. Golf media trending toward link bait.
Suzanne Pettersen nude – Golf is awesome
Rory McIlory won the PGA Championship by EIGHT shots. Amazing performance.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, the wine drinking-cigar smoking golfer from the European Tour, broke a leg skiing. Fortunately the cigar made it unscathed.
The last and final Q-School EVER, graduated to the PGA Tour.
Ardgowan Hotel St Andrews
In the previous post I announced the gallery of images of the biggest hotel in St Andrews, the Fairmont. The Fairmont is a short drive from downtown St Andrews and from the Old Course. It is a very posh place with large rooms/suites.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Ardgowan Hotel, built in 1847.
Location Location Location
The key feature to the Ardgowan is its location along with a more affordable price as compared to the Fairmont or other more fancy places in the “Auld Grey Toon.” The Ardgowan is located about a 30 second walk from the 18th green and 1st tee of the Old Course, and a 20 second walk from the most famous pub in town, the Dunvegan. I’ve made that 20 second walk home from the Dunvegan at 2 a.m. on many a night. I’m guessing it was a little longer than 20 seconds, but then again I don’t really remember.
The Ardgowan’s 29 rooms are quite small but clean. They’re so small and the stairway to get to them so tight that most golfers store their clubs in the locker behind the hotel’s front desk.
There are a few different room options which feature single or double beds.
The Ardgowan features the minimum I need as a traveling golfer and nothing more: a place to store my clubs, a bed, a bathroom, a desk with wireless internet connection (for emailing pictures of the Old Course back home to my jealous friends), and a pub/restaurant in the basement (see first image).
I have to share a slightly embarrassing and funny story. One of my stays at the Ardgowan was in the top floor in a single-bed room. The architecture of the building is that of a Georgian townhouse, and most buildings on North Street share the same slanted roof style. The top floor room is basically in the attic, so part of the room “features” a slanted ceiling (see image below).
Ardgowan Hotel Room – St Andrews, Scotland
In the wee hours of the morning and after a few too many wee pints at the Dunvegan, I had the sudden need to get to the bathroom and quick. An urgent need, if you catch my drift. One or two too many wee pints I suppose. When I very quickly got up from bed in the dark I didn’t realize the ceiling was slanted. I hit my head so hard getting up fast that I nearly knocked myself out.
That morning I had to cancel my tee time at the New Course and sleep off the wee pints and the cranial impact. I did however enjoy the rest of the morning exploring the St Andrews castle while my pals were off golfing.
The Ardgowan serves purpose and does it well. It provides a perfect lodging location within walking distance of the Old Course, New Course, Jubilee Course. Strathtyrum Course, and Eden Course. No car required and that’s a good thing. Parking in the Auld Grey Toon can be tough.
This is not the Ritz Carlton. If that’s your fancy, perhaps consider the Old Course Hotel or the Fairmont. If location is important, the Ardgowan is one of the best lodging options in St Andrews.
I’ll be posting a full review of the Fairmont Hotel in St. Andrews, Scotland soon. In preparation for that review, I’ve processed a gallery of Fairmont Hotel Scotland photos and posted in the Hooked On Golf Blog photo gallery. Click the photo below to see the full gallery.
Fairmont Hotel – St. Andrews, Scotland – As seen from the Torrance Course – click to see full gallery
The Fairmont is quite a place. Very large. The rooms are so much bigger at the Fairmont than the tiny rooms at the hotels close to the Old Course. In fact, I’d guess that my room at the Ardgowan last time was the same square footage as the bathroom in my suite at the Fairmont.
Stay tuned for my Fairmont Hotel St. Andrews review coming soon.