South Florida Escape – Day 4

October 25 (Port St. Lucie, Florida) – When you’re on the road improvisation is standard practice and today’s post from PGA Village is further proof of this.

First there is the scramble for wi-fi, then when technical issues prevent getting access via a laptop or a tablet I moved on to the current combination of iPhone and bluetooth keyboard. It seems to be working so I’ll run with it.

As I mentioned last night, Jeff and I moved an hour up the road from Palm Beach Gardens today. While it remains the home of the PGA of America, several years ago the guiding light of golf in the United States chose to sell the courses at PGA National Resort and build a new facility. That brought them here to Port St. Lucie where the PGA Village now encompasses a massive learning centre, the PGA Museum, and four golf courses.

With the Wannamaker Course in use this week for a PGA Tour Qualifying School 1st stage location we had tee times arranged for the Ryder and Dye courses.

The Dye course was our target today and we fear it may be our last 18 on this trip. Hurricane Sandy is impolitely working her way up the Atlantic Coast and although she will unlikely get within 300 kilometres of us, the rain and wind in her outer bands are set to touchdown here tomorrow. Heavy rain squalls and winds of 80 km/h are predicted.

While we feel bad that we may not be able to play, we feel worse for the players in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament who will likely have to fight their way through the elements.

As for this day, the quick drive up I-95 brought right to the doorstep at PGA Village and immediately we saw why so many Canadian Pros who come here for the PGA of Canada National Club Pro Championship constantly extoll its virtues.

Immediately we noted the short course with greens that are a smaller version of what you might find on any top level course. With holes of 35-60 yards its use is complimentary and by the number of people we spotted playing it, from kids to seniors, it is obviously well received.

The parking lot was a symphony of young flat-bellies preparing to play for their golfing lives. Most were headed directly to the busy range where there were plenty of others cut from the same 6’2 with perfect swings mold.

Gladly we did not have to warm up next to this army of golf zombies and headed to the back of the double ended range where we became live targets for the PGA Tour players in the making. No harm ensued and soon we were off to deal with our own golf demons.

As expected we immediately took a liking to the Dye course. Pete Dye is a master of disguise and he continued that trend here. At 7279 yards the course is burly and was especially so given the immense amount of rain that has fallen here recently.

Numerous bunkers (ok, a crazy amount of bunkers) dotted just about every hole and intimidated with their presence but we soon discovered that they mostly provided camouflage for the ample fairways. Once we discovered this it was much easier to play aggressively and trust that an immense amount of trouble was not waiting to swallow up every shot.

We found the green complexes fair even with an ample amount of movement in their surfaces but a good short game is a necessity if you happen to miss your approach.

As much as we enjoyed our round, we also appreciated the course from a different perspective with Joe and Fred, two Polish-America golf buddies, joining us. Even with higher indexes and not a lot of length in their games they showed us that there were conservative lines by which you could play the Dye course and still not manage to get in too much trouble. It exposed a different side of the design we did not consider and further proved the skill level of Dye in his work.

For now I’ll retreat and see what tomorrow brings.

Hopefully our last day in Florida is somewhat dry and that our early Saturday morning flight is actually able to get off the ground.

Wish us luck.

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