Casa de Campo- Dominican Republic

Earlier this year, I was invited to the Dominican Republic with 100 other PGA professionals for the PGA Ambassador Conference.  It was a mix of breakout sessions discussing industry standards, golf, networking and viewing the spectacular property that is Casa de Campo. I had previously visited the property in 2008 before it had undergone a $20 million renovation shortly thereafter in 2009.

IMG_2623
dye fore
Flying from Miami International is a very easy 2 hour direct flight to La Romana.  American Airlines has one flight leaving every day at 12:50p, which turns around in La Romana and arrives back in Miami at 6:15p.  Upon arrival to La Romana, we were the only flight.  This provided a very easy and quick transition from the airplane to the transfer.  There is a $10 per traveler charge to enter into the country at immigration.  Part of me wonders if this is pocketed by the workers. (Pessimist, ignorant American?) The next closest airport is Punta Cana.  It is a very busy international airport with many more flight options than La Romana and is a 45 minute drive to the property.  I wouldn’t recommend flying into the capital airport, Santo Domingo.  It is not a very nice airport and it is much further away by transfer.
IMG_2751
Arriving to Casa de Campo, you are greeted by a very natural, minimalist design. I love the use of teak, bamboo and other natural materials.  The staff throughout the visit couldn’t have been more helpful or proficient in English.  Actually, I was quite surprised how living in Miami, I am forced to speak much more Spanish than I needed to in Casa de Campo.  I like to practice my Spanish in Spanish speaking countries, but it seemed the workers in Casa de Campo would prefer to practice their English.  I had a very nice conversation (in Spanish) with my skeet shooting instructor.  He told me that speaking English has a direct relationship with their position at the company.  Casa de Campo has an English school for its workers, but many of them go to school in La Romana.
 casa de campo
The guest rooms were complete with flat screen TVs, modern furnishings, espresso machines, iPod docks, and a bathroom equipped with a private toilet area, and a large walk-in closet attached to the bathroom and an umbrella available for use during your stay.  Smart thinking.  Each guest room comes with a golf cart for touring the property and for ease of travel during your stay.  We went to the Marina for dinner one night, which would have been 20+ minutes by cart, so we opted for the shuttle that runs until 11p everyday.  It is nice to have transportation options.
IMG_2569
IMG_2568
IMG_2566
 IMG_2570
The food at Casa de Campo was particularly good.  My favorite was our group welcome dinner at Beach Club by Le Cirque.  Worldwide food experts rank ‘the’ Le Cirque amongst the top restaurants in the world.  For 38 years, Le Cirque has offered an unparalleled dining experience in New York City and since 2009 the Maccioni family has managed the Beach Club at Casa de Campo.  I also enjoyed the restaurant by the lobby called La Cana.  I had a fabulous dish of spaghetti for lunch on one of our off days.  My only critique about the food would be the breakfast served as a buffet each day.  It is quite a nice variety, but not as healthy as I’d prefer.  I ordered an omelet, which took 15 minutes to wait in line and have the chef prepare, that came out undercooked.  Most of the typical breakfast food was fried: hashbrowns and french toast.  I opted for oatmeal and some fruit.  The most interesting restaurant of all was at Altos de Chavon.  It is the area of Casa de Campo that looks like it has been there for many years.  It is all cobblestone, so it is advised as a woman to wear wedged heels or flats.  There is a small church, some shopping, and a restaurant.  During the month of December, they had Christmas lights strung all over the church and throughout the area.  It was gorgeous.  Another point to make, is this is the area where most weddings take place.  Our dinner was set-up like a wedding reception.  The restaurant was open air, there was a band outside on the veranda, and the entire place was set-up with Chivari chairs.  As a recent bride who got married outside the United States, I was picturing how charming a setting Altos de Chavon would be for a wedding.  It is very difficult to find a location, anywhere, with a cute church near-by a reception venue.
IMG_2591
IMG_2709
IMG_2712
IMG_2713
Much of the 4 days was spent in the conference center.  I liked the layout of the facility.  It was positioned with one wall lined with doors to exit.  As a woman, I always search for an easy exit to a nearby restroom during long morning conference sessions.  Did I mention how happy I was about that?  The first day the air conditioning was too cold, but I was ecstatic to see that it worked.  There is nothing worse than listening to speakers while sweating.  The conference area continues across the main road to a building that includes 5 rooms that our group was able to use for group breakout sessions.  Again, great layout!
IMG_2575
IMG_2577
IMG_2594
Casa de Campo has an impressive array of activities for those not interested in golf.  During a free afternoon, I went to the skeet shooting area.  I had never shot a gun before, so they arranged for an instructor.  The range is amidst a heavily bushed, private area.  It was quite pleasant.  The clubhouse is very comfortable.  I was very nervous because it was my first time shooting a gun.  As I write this review, I am feeling the nervous butterflies in my stomach thinking about my experience.  The instructor did a nice job of calming me down.  The gun was a 20 gauge and it was heavy.  Two bullets was plenty before I needed a break.  I learned that being right handed and left eye dominant is not a great combination for shooting a gun.  We tried shooting lefty and covering my left eye.  Once I shot right-handed, with both eyes open, I shot two clay pigeons.  At the end of the day, I was happy to have shot for the first time and can appreciate how terrifying a gun really is.  Casa de Campo also offers horseback riding, donkey polo, kayaking, yoga, a beach club, fishing charters, and a state-of-the-art fitness facility.
IMG_2678
IMG_2656
IMG_2707
IMG_2637
The most important part of our trip as PGA Ambassadors was the golf!  Boy, is Teeth of the Dog spectacular.  The stretch of holes 5,6 and 7 terrify a golfer to hit the ball left.  I started on hole 5 during the shotgun, and sure enough I was in the bunker on the right of the Par 3 green.  After winding inland for a few more holes, you pass by Oscar de la Renta’s old home, to discover the next stretch of water holes.  Teeth of the Dog is a good course to train for fear.  Most holes have trouble opposite the water, so you can choose to go for an aggressive line down the middle or you will face a penalty.  I love that type of golf course.  The other course we played was Dye Fore.  Creative name!  The course doesn’t have the same spectacular ocean holes as Teeth of the Dog, but it has views of the cliffs of Chavon River, Altos de Chavon, and some McMansions. The course is positioned on top of a mountain with little to protect golfers from the force of nature.  The first time I ever played Dye Fore, there was a 4 club wind.  It is hard to fathom hitting a 5 wood when you’d otherwise be hitting an iron.  I played well both times I have played the course, perhaps part of my good review.  Joking aside, I like the diversity of the two courses.  Casa de Campo has two other courses- the Links and La Romana Country Club, which is private.  We didn’t play Links on this trip, but as I recall from 2008, it is a hilly course that runs through the private residences of Casa de Campo.  To me, it is very similar to many other courses in the United States.  It is a true plantation course.  There aren’t any views of the ocean.
teeth of the dog
 IMG_2748
IMG_2611
IMG_2608
Casa de Campo is a great destination for a golf trip.  Rooms are plentiful.  The service and food are great.  The Director of Golf, Gilles Gagnon, is one of the most hospitable guys you’ll meet.  And there is plenty of activities for everyone.  I would recommend playing Dye Fore, Teeth of the Dog and I would drive to Punta Cana (1 or 2 days) for Corales and Punta Espada.
IMG_2603

Professional golfers getting hitched?

2013 proved to be a year that the stars of both the PGA and LPGA tours prioritized their relationships first.  See below for a list of who’s “going to the chapel…”

Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki, a professional tennis player, haven’t been able to enjoy their relationship without the press scrutinizing their every move.  For the past two years of their courtship, when either of them didn’t perform well, it has always been because of the distraction of a relationship.  Twice in the past year, it was reported they were splitting.  He had a year of turmoil on and off the course.  Rory has said that his recent New Year’s eve engagement in Sydney, Australia to Caroline “has given him stability. I am in a great place and I’m happy. It’s shaping up to be a great year.”

Image

Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of arguably the worlds greatest hockey player, were engaged this past August and are planning to wed in the fall of 2014.  As a very heterosexual woman, even I look at Paulina, 24, and think “wow.” No wonder Dustin put a rock on her finger, and when I mean rock, I mean it is in the category of a Kardashian, Gabrielle Union rock.

Image

Paula Creamer gets engaged to her 33 year old boyfriend, Derek Heath.  Paula is 27 years old and is currently ranked 13th in the world.  She and Derek were introduced by their fathers, who flew together in the Navy and still remain friends.  Derek is a pilot in the Air Force.  This is the most adventurous proposals of this year- he did it while skydiving.

Image

G-Mac is officially a married man.  Graeme McDowell married his longtime girlfriend, Kristin Stape, in the Bahamas in October.  He proposed the year before atop a helideck at the luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

Image

Brittany Lang and Kevin Spann were engaged and married.  Lang, 27, said the two met in the parking lot of TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.  She was raised in McKinney and still calls it home. After putting out for par at the North Texas LPGA Shootout, she was met by Spann where he got down on one knee with the Golf Channel cameras rolling.  He asked her if he could watch her play golf the rest of their lives.  The two were married on 1/11/2014.

Image

Eye Dominance and Your Golf Game

Image

Are you left or right-eyed?

Make a circle with your thumb and first finger.

With both eyes open look at an object on the wall or in the distance, and center it inside the circle.

Now close one eye, and then the other.

What’s happening?

When you closed your left or right eye you should have found that the object jumps outside the circle.

If the object seemed to move when you closed your left eye – then you have left eye dominance.

If the object moved more when your right eye was closed, then your right eye is the dominant one.

Your brain builds up an image of the world around you using slightly different views from your right or left eye. Most people tend to have a dominant eye so that even when both eyes are open, one is giving priority information.
The object you chose was lined up to be in the circle using information from your dominant eye. When you close this one you can see that the object was not lined up for your other eye.
About 80% of the population are right-eyed, and a very small percentage seem to have no eye-dominance at all.

What it means and how it effects your golf game

Golfers who are right-eye dominant tend to see the hole to the right of its true location. The reason is that they set up with their right eye too far inside the ball and the target line when they putt. Initially, they push their putts to the right. Then they adjust their stroke accordingly (outside to in) and then pull their putts to the left.  The opposite is true for those who are left-eye dominant if the left eye is out of position. Initially, they pull their putts to the left.  Then they adjust their stroke accordingly (inside to out) and push their putts to the right.  You can read your putt’s break and hit a perfect stroke, but still end up missing it because your eyes deceived you. Learn which of your eyes is dominant to account for this optical illusion.

About 70 percent of the population is right-eye dominant, which puts the trailing eye (that’s the one farthest from the hole) in the driver’s seat when putting. If this eye is not positioned properly, your view of the hole becomes distorted, lessening your chances of holing out.

To set up correctly for eye dominance, follow this routine

Read your putt from behind the ball, crouching down so that your eyes are at the same height they’ll be during the actual putt. This way, you don’t confuse your brain and your initial read when you set up over the putt. The taller you stand, the farther away the hole appears.
Walk into the ball, aim the club face and then take your stance, making sure to place your dominant eye directly over the ball and your target line. Your body should be parallel, or square, to the putt’s starting line.
Once your eyes are over the target line, swivel your head to take one last look at the hole (with both eyes) and then stroke away.

golfer-putting

Thank you to golf.com and sciencymadesimple.co.uk for some info in this post!

Are All of the Newest Courses in Mexico?

There must be something in the water! Last post we told you about a Jack Nicklaus course in Mexico, this post is about a new course designed by Tiger Woods in Cabo San Lucas.

He says it will be similar to the courses in California he grew up on.

To read more about the course, click here: http://web.tigerwoods.com/design/diamante.html

Image

The World’s Only Natural Island Golf Green

If you are a sucker for golf courses on the ocean, like me, here is one to look at: Punta Mita, Mexico. It is a Jack Nicklaus signature course located 25 miles outside Puerto Vallarta, MX.

The course contains the world’s only natural island green. It is open to members, and guests staying at the Four Seasons or St. Regis resorts.  The course has 8 holes that directly face the ocean or play alongside it.  The Pacifico course is ranked #1 in Latin America.

The optimal season is November through May.  The average temperate is 73 degrees with very little rain.

Image

http://www.puntamita.com/jack-nicklaus-golf/

Millions of Reasons To Encourage Your Kids to Play Golf!

Image

image from golfstinks, which of course, we don’t believe!

Of course, golf is good for your kids to learn. It teaches discipline, rules, etiquette, and gets them outside and away from the computer.

But there could be another even more important reason.  Maybe they should learn how to play golf so you can retire!

Check out the chart below and what the top earners bring in annually!

Golf Statistics

Impressive, isn’t it?

The holidays are coming soon, and it might be wise to get them their own set of clubs!

And yes, I can help teach them the game!

Jim Furyk and the Magical 59!

Last week’s BMW Championship gave the golfing community something exciting to watch when Jim Furyk shot an elusive 59.
All of the recorded 59’s have had birdies and eagles, but his was the only one to have occurred, despite making a bogey.

Have there been lower scores recorded? Yes, according to this post about the lowest 18-hole golf scores, there have been four rounds of 55 recorded, so many 56 and 57s that they can’t keep track of them, and only a few 58s: 

http://golf.about.com/od/faqs/f/lowestscore.htm 

 

Image

Photo Credit: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
As for the best scores on tour rounds, that stands at 59, and it’s only happened six times in the history of the PGA!
Here’s a list of all of the 59s scored in professional golf:

Lowest scores in professional golf

In official golf tournaments on major tours:

Player Score To par Rnd Finish Year Tour Tournament Ref
Ryo Ishikawa 58 –12 4/4 1 2010 Japan Golf Tour The Crowns [1]
Al Geiberger 59 –13 2/4 1 1977 PGA Tour Danny Thomas Memphis Classic [2][3]
Chip Beck 59 –13 3/5 T3 1991 PGA Tour Las Vegas Invitational [2][4]
Notah Begay III 59 –13 2/4 T6 1998 Nike Tour Dominion Open [2][5]
Doug Dunakey 59 –11 2/4 T2 1998 Nike Tour Miami Valley Open [2][6]
David Duval 59 –13 5/5 1 1999 PGA Tour Bob Hope Chrysler Classic [2][7]
Annika Sörenstam 59 –13 2/4 1 2001 LPGA Tour Standard Register PING [8]
Masahiro Kuramoto 59 –12 1/4 1 2003 Japan Golf Tour Acom International [1][9]
Jason Gore 59 –12 2/4 1 2005 Nationwide Tour Cox Classic [10]
Adrien Mörk 59 –12 2/4 1 2006 Challenge Tour Tikida Hotels Agadir Moroccan Classic [11]
Paul Goydos 59 –12 1/4 2 2010 PGA Tour John Deere Classic [12]
Stuart Appleby 59 –11 4/4 1 2010 PGA Tour Greenbrier Classic [13]
Will Wilcox 59 –12 4/4 T3 2013 Web.com Tour Utah Championship [14]
Russell Knox 59 –12 2/4 T12 2013 Web.com Tour Albertsons Boise Open [15]
Jim Furyk 59 –12 2/4 TBA 2013 PGA Tour BMW Championship [16]
Want to learn more about the “Perfect Round?” read on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_round
http://golf.about.com/od/progolftours/qt/lowest18score.htm

 

Anchored Putters

Anchored Putters

With all this discussion about the new rule in effect, do you understand what it means?  This link explains exactly what is going into effect January 2016.  The rule is going to be 14-1B stating that “a golfer in making a stroke must not anchor the club, either ‘directly’ or by the use of an anchor point.

More importantly for the discussion of golf, the decision was made without any statistical data.  Surprising?  Not really.  Particularly because of the lack of authority in golf.  Next up for discussion- why TV viewers can influence a ruling in golf?

How to practice hitting better chip shots with two clubs

On a good chip shot, the hands lead the clubhead through impact.  However, many golfers try to add loft by letting the clubhead lead the hands through impact causing the arms and wrists to collapse at the finish.  Here is a drill to practice making the correct motion:

  1.   When going to practice, take the club that you are practicing with and one extra iron.  
  2.   With your second iron, turn it around and place the narrowest part of the shaft (nearest to the clubhead) behind the grip on your current practice club.
  3.   For right-handed golfers, place the elongated shaft under your left arm.
  4.   Swing at the chip shot with a putt-like motion.  Your wrists should be firm, lower body steady and the swing length short and controlled.   The second club is in place to give you instant feedback if you are executing incorrectly.

 

It may feel uncomfortable at first, but once you take the second club away, be happy with your new chipping technique.