We all need to get away. Of course, there are sometimes where that is impossible. Work or family just doesn’t allow you to get to the course or can’t take that golf vacation at that moment.
Well, I have put together a list of some of my favorite golf webcams that you can use to ‘mentally’ get away for a moment before you have to concentrate on your job, the wife or your kids. This is not a complete list, but these are some of the ones I like and visit when I need to escape my day. I tend to lean toward links courses. But you will find some from different parts of the world in this selection. From the Augusta of the UK (Sunningdale) to Iceland, there is a little bit of everything in these selections.
Click on the pictures to be taken to the live webcam pages.
Our hole of the day is sadly one which no longer exists. The old 17th hole at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland (along with the 18th) have just been replaced with two new holes to be played on the front nine in preparation for the 2019 Open Championship.
The old 17th hole at Portrush was a mid-length par 5 that had one of the most defining features in golf…. the Big Bertha bunker. The hole design, by Harry Colt, was masterfully done. The tee set you up pointing right at Bertha. There was mounding that encroached on the left side which hid half of the fairway. The tee shot required a draw (or fade in my case) off Bertha to find the short cut. If you found Bertha, you were basically pitching out of the 20-ft. deep hazard.
Up by the green, there were three cross bunkers which your needed to navigate before you reach the putting surface.
It’s a shame this hole will not be seen by the world in a few years. The new 7th hole on Portrush has a bunker in honor of Bertha. While they have tried to replicate Bertha, there is no way the new bunker is a duplicate of the original Harry Colt designed on old #17.
Often overshadowed by it’s Open Championship rota neighbor Royal Birkdale, Formby Golf Club offers a spectacular layout and challenge for any player. Perhaps a bit different than other links courses, Formby’s layout winds its way through a combination of pine forest and sand dunes along the Merseyside coast It is truly a gem of a golf course and one that you could see yourself playing everyday the rest of your life without getting bored.
The first three holes parallel the Merseyrail Railroad which borders the east side of the property. Hole 2 is a 400 yard Par 4 which requires an accurate tee shot to avoid three bunkers down the right hand side. Avoiding the bunkers is only half the battle on this hole, as your approach miss hold a slightly elevated green, with a deep bunker on the left and a fall-off area to the right and rear of the green.
The first of Formby’s par 3’s, the fifth hole, marks the beginning of a challenging stretch of holes to end the front nine. Typically, playing into the prevailing wind, the 183 yard hole has three deep bunkers to the left of the green and a severely sloping green from back left to right front.
The sixth hole also plays into the prevailing wind and at 428 yards, is all the par 4 you could ask for. Bending slightly from right to left, your drive must avoid the three bunkers down the right and the fescue down the left. From the fairway, the approach will be blind, as some sand dunes block your view of the green. No greenside bunkers around this green…the dunes are all the protection it needs to make this hole difficult.
The seventh hole, a 410 yards Par 4, winds it’s way through the pine forest. The hole, somewhat shaped like an ‘S’ requires and accurate tee shot to put you in position. I chose to hit 4 hybrid the times I have played here, leaving myself a short iron approach. Driving down the right side of the fairway, you will leave yourself a blind second shot because of a large dune at the corner. Your approach shot must be played wisely, as the green slopes severely from back to front…anything above approach left above the hole will leave a testing challenge for a two putt.
#9 nine is my favorite hole at Formby and its most challenging. From an elevated tee, the 450 yard par 4 playing back into the prevailing wind is all right there in front of you. Distance and accuracy are required on the tee shot, with pine forest bordering the left and fairway bunkers on each side of the fairway. With the green nestled up against a grove of pines and among small little hillocks, your long iron or fairway wood approach will need to be solid and straight..no telling the bounce you may get if you miss this green.
To start the back nine, #10 is a long par 3 of 215 yards. From the slightly elevated tee, your shot must navigate two green side bunkers, that because of the terrain, tend to be magnets for just the slightest of off-line shots.
Holes 11-15 begin a stretch of testing Par 4’s and look like what you typically picture when thinking of links golf courses…rolling links land with tall fescue on each side of the fairway. Measuring from 400-433 yards, these holes look like the greens and tee were just placed perfectly among the dunes, with nothing to protect the player from the winds.
You will hear about Royal Troon’s #8 Postage Stamp Par 3 during the upcoming Open Championship as the best short par three in the world. However, Formby has one that may be just as good. The 16th hole measures only 139 yards from the back tee and hitting the green could be one of your more challenging shots all round. The green complex is almost like an upside-down bowl, with three deep bunkers and fall-off areas all around. I have been fortunate that the times I have played Formby, I have had to hit no more than 8 iron…some members have told me there are instances where the wind forces you to hit a long iron or hybrid to reach the green.
A good finishing hole should be more than just a challenging well-designed hole. It should leave you with a nice image of the club in your mind. Formby accomplishes this with its 18th hole. At 440 yards, you tee off from a chute of pine trees. The drive must thread fairway bunkers lining both sides of the fairway. As you walk up to your drive, off to the right you will notice Formby’s charming clubhouse and it’s Clock Tower just to the right of the green emerging out from behind the treeline. Having played here three times, the walk up the 18th has been more enjoyable each time. The success of your second shot will depend largely on appropriate club selection…the green is 55 yards deep and can be a challenge to judge where the flag is located.
A stop in the Formby clubhouse is a must. As you enter the bar area, you will immediately notice the Formby Hippo. The Hippo was shot by one of the early members at Formby and given to the club upon his death in 1909. If you are looking for accommodations, the club also has a Dormy House for overnight visitors. When you stop in at the Golf Shop, Head Professional Andrew Witherup and his staff will give you a warm welcome and offers a fine selection of apparel and items to remember your visit. There is also a separate 18 hole Ladies Club and Clubhouse.
When I am in the Merseyside, Formby is a must-play. It offers everything you could be looking for in a round of golf.
Also, right down the street, you will find a restaurant that is perfect for the post-round meal and pint. The Freshfield is a neighborhood pub with delicious food and a selection of ales that is unmatched. They even produce 14 of their own ales. Family friendly (and dog friendly), I never visit Formby without stopping by the Freshfield.
Believe it or not, there is already some absurdity being mentioned (usually on Twitter) when it comes to how the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union will affect the game of golf. So, I thought I would list some things on how the Brexit will (or will not) affect the golf industry.
1. The US will still play Europe in the Ryder Cup--Even though the UK is leaving the European Union, the Ryder Cup will still be staged between players from the two continents. Technically, the UK is on the European continent...they are just leaving the economic and governing structure known as the EU. So, for all of those people hoping the US could go back to dominating the Ryder Cup by just playing English/UK players....think again.
2. In the foreseeable short term, the cost of playing golf and traveling to the UK will decrease--The British Pound fell to a 30-year low against the US Dollar immediately this morning upon the UK referendum results. The cost for golf trips, greens fees, hotels...really anything in the UK will immediately decrease in cost for US travelers because of the exchange rates. Likewise, any products you like t purchase from the UK (Twining's Tea, HP Sauce, etc.) will also take less out of your pocket. Donald Trump already said Brexit will bring more people to his renovated Turnberry...you may not like him, but he is right on this issue.
3. Travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland MAY be affected--Ireland is part of the European Union and there has not been a border check between there and Northern Ireland since the Troubles. With the UK (which Northern Ireland is a part of) out of the European Union, there is talk of adding a border check at the IRE/NI border. Now, you can stay in Dublin and drive straight up to play courses like Royal County Down or Ardglass in about 2 hours. With a border crossing and customs check...you better add at least a 1/2 hour to this trip...making your golf day-trip just a bit longer and bothersome. Stay tuned on this issue.
The 18th Hole at Magnolia Green in Moseley, Virginia is a great finishing hole and caps off your round at a course which has garnered great reviews and captured awards since its opening last year. As one of Golf Digest’s Top New Golf Courses in 2015, Magnolia Green is definitely a welcome addition to the public golf scene in Virginia and probably the best public course in the the Richmond area. As the course matures, it will only get better. You will find a challenging, but fun layout, with a great mix of short and long holes. Plans are also in place for a new clubhouse and golf learning center, all of which should open next year.
The finishing hole #18 is a brute of a Par 4, measuring 474 yards from the back tee. Your tee shot must navigate its way between the trees and fescue which line the fairway. A pesky fairway bunker sits on the right at about 285 yards off the tee (from the back). Should you get in trouble off the tee, you will need to lay up short of the creek which crosses in front of the green at about 100 yards out. If not, you have a mid-to-long iron (or hybrid) approach to a multi-tiered green, fronted by two large bunkers. Like many of the holes at Magnolia Green, you also have some closely mown chipping areas around the green. Just hitting the green here is a challenge, but your job is not over. Depending upon the hole location, you could be faced with a difficult two putt if you are not on the correct level where the hole lies.
Visit www.magnoliagreengolfclub.com for more information or click on the link above for up to as much as 25% off greens fees and tee times!
One the north side of the Peninsula lies a hidden gem in links golf courses that I been fortunate to play several times. Dooks Golf Club is often overshadowed by its neighbor to the southwest, Waterville. However, after playing Dooks, you will find a wonderful layout that can stand up to any other course in Ireland.
The first thing you will notice about Dooks is their club logo. Perhaps one of the most unique club logos you will find, it features the Natterjack Toad. The Natterjack is native to this area in Ireland and gives Dooks its own brand identity that the moment you see it, you know the exact course it is associated with.
While only 6586 yards from the back tees, Dooks offers a great mix of holes to test your skills. After playing the first hole with the mountains to the southwest in the background, the second hole is a short par 4 that is no pushover. Two bunkers sit to the right of the fairway about 250 yards off the tee. Should you choose to hit driver in an effort to get close to the green, you will then be faced with a pitch shot to a raised, undulating green, with a fall-off short and left and a huge ridge to the right…similar to one you would find at Pinehurst #2. It may be only 318 yards, but birdie is definitely not a given on this hole.
The par 3’s at Dooks are very good also…and the fourth hole is a perfect example. Measuring 174 yards from an elevated tee and Cromane Bay on the left, you hit to a green nestled perfectly amongst sand dunes. On a blustery day with the wind off the left, you will have to start your shot over the dunes to have any shot in hitting the green. One great aspect about the design of Dooks is that all of the green complexes look like they fit naturally in the landscape.
The 7th hole is perhaps my favorite on the course. At 470 yards, it is without a doubt the most difficult hole on the course. Your tee shot must thread the needle of two large dunes guarding each side of the fairway. Your long-iron approach shot is to a green set at an angle to the fairway, making it a challenging target to hit.
The par 5 10th hole is the second of back-to-back par 5’s. Running the right along the Bay, two precise shots are required to put yourself in position for your approach to the elevated undulating green. Look to your left as you play and you will probably see the next line of weather approaching from the coast. As they say, ‘if you don’t like the Irish weather, wait five minutes and it will change.’
Right after the par 5 comes a unique hole. The par 3 11th actually requires you to hit uphill over OB to get to the green. The target is guarded by a pesky bunker in front. Just another one of the fun par 3’s at Dooks.
The 15th is another example of one of the quality holes at Dooks. Two bunkers guard the corner on this 90-degree dogleg right 357 yard hole. You can choose to hit a long iron/hybrid left of the bunkers and have a short iron approach. You could also choose the aggressive route and hit driver over the corner to get close to the green. Beware though, rough/brush and gorse line both side of the fairway on the approach to the green.
The 426 yard finishing hole is also a challenge. After your tee shot, your approach must thread dunes guarding the entrance to the green complex. When I have played here, I have had mid-irons on approach and sometimes because of the wind, I have hit as much as 3 wood. Once again, you find a green that is perfectly set amongst the mounds and dunes. The hole is a perfect finish to this enjoyable layout.
Once you have finished your round, there is no better place to visit than the Dooks clubhouse and restaurant. While you are having a pint, the members are extremely welcoming and love to talk to visitors about their rounds and impressions of their club. Once you have played the course, you will understand why the members are so proud of their club and layout. Dooks is must play if you plan a golf trip to the SW of Ireland.