• On International Women's Day Sheila Johnson Is An Inspiration

    Sheila Johnson - Image Courtesy YouTube/Salamander Hotels and Resorts

    With today being International Women's Day, it seemed appropriate to direct people to the inspiring story of Sheila Johnson, the owner of the Innisbrook Resort where the Valspar Championship - with Adam Hadwin from Abbotsford, BC as the defending champion - is being held this week.

    In an article and inteview entitled the Accidental Owner,  PGATOUR.COM contributor Helen Ross tells the story of how an African American Woman became a self-made millionaire and came to be the owner of a resort that hosts one of the premiere events on the PGA TOUR.

    The Accidental Owner

    by Helen Ross / PGATOUR.COM

    When Sheila Johnson bought a floundering Innisbrook Resort for a reported $35 million in 2007, she became what she calls an "accidental hospitality owner in the golf business."

    Not for long, though.

    Johnson is a savvy businesswoman who recognized the value of the resort and its four 18-hole courses, including the signature Copperhead, which hosts the Valspar Championship this week. She green-lighted the necessary enhancements, and the property in Palm Harbor, Florida, now forms the cornerstone of her portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts across the southeastern United States.

    But Johnson, who was named to Forbes Magazine's 2015 list of America's richest self-made women, is so much more than her Salamander brand.

  • 2018 Women's Golf Day Happens June 5th - Here's How To Get Involved

    Fast approaching year 3, Women’s Golf Day is a one-day event celebrating girls and women playing golf and learning the skills that last a lifetime. 

    In less than three years, one woman’s idea has blossomed into a global movement that is quickly becoming the next big thing in golf. The organizers at WGD are excited to bring you better technology, advanced features, new events, and more as #wgdinspires on June 5, 2018!

    As part of this valuable and exciting venture, it is all-important to have as many golf facilities as possible on board and assist with hosting women of all ages for this event as the game continues to grow and welcome everyone who has an interest in 'golf, a sport for life'.

  • The R&A And USGA Release 2017 Distance Study

    Image Courtesy Golf Canada

    For Immediate Publication

    (5 March 2018, St Andrews, Scotland and Liberty Corner, NJ, USA) - The R&A and the USGA have completed the annual review of driving distance in golf, producing a research report that documents and evaluates important findings from the 2017 season.

    Introduced in 2015, the annual report examines driving distance data from seven of the major worldwide professional golf tours, based on nearly 300,000 drives per year. The data from studies of male and female amateur golfers is also included.

  • Optimist Golf Offers $1,000 Scholarship Opportunity

    Optimist Golf is offering two special awards recognizing the academic accomplishments and/or community service of five junior golfers, the 2018 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD For Boys and Girls Ages 16-18 as of August 1, 2018.

  • New Research Outlines Potential To Grow Women’s, Girls’ And Family Golf

    Image Courtesy Golf Canada

    For Immediate Publication

    (February 27, 2018 - St Andrews, Scotland): A significant growth opportunity exists for golf if it can attract more women, girls and families into playing the sport more often according to a new research report published by The R&A.

    Many countries are seeing a fall in the number of both males and females playing golf and the research report analyzes the factors which affect whole family participation in the sport, including women and girls, and details a number of useful practical recommendations for national golf bodies and golf clubs to help them encourage more women and girls to play.

  • Golf’s New World Handicap System Designed To Welcome More Golfers

    USGA and The R&A Release Key Features

    Golf Canada To Adopt All Features Of The Proposed New World Handicap System

    For Immediate Release

    February 20, 2018

    Liberty Corner, N.J., USA and St Andrews, Scotland – The R&A and the USGA announce key features of the proposed new World Handicap System (WHS), designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability globally.

    The idea for a new, unified system was conceived by the USGA and The R&A and developed following an extensive review of systems administered by six existing handicapping authorities - Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the United States Golf Association (USGA).

  • British Columbia Golf Wishes All From The Chinese Community A Happy New Year

    The 2018 Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 16. Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year, because it is based on the lunar calendar.

    New Year's Day normally falls between January 21 and February 20.

    The global celebrations are an explosion of light and sound, involving bell ringing, lighting firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances. Chinese families gather together for a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve, and clean their houses to sweep away bad fortune on New Year's Day.

    Traditionally, kids would be given red envelopes stuffed with 'lucky money' and positive wishes on New Year's Day.

    2018 is a Year of the Dog. In Chinese astrology, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to the 12-year cycle. 2018 is an Earth Dog Year.

    Years of the Dog include 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, and 2030... The Dog occupies the eleventh position in the Chinese zodiac, after the Rooster, and before the Pig.

    For more information on Chinese New Year please CLICK HERE

  • Canada To Compete At Inaugural Women’s PGA Cup

    Courtesy PGA of Canada

    The following countries are tentatively committed to play in the 2019 Women’s PGA Cup: Australia, Canada, Great Britain & Ireland, Sweden and the United States.

    The PGA of America announced recently the formation of an international event, the Women’s PGA Cup – a first-of-its-kind team competition for Women PGA members from around the world.

    The PGA of Canada is pleased to be taking part in this landmark event. The inaugural competition will be played October 21-26, 2019 in the United States.

  • More Than 30 Courses Celebrating Anniversaries In 2018

    The Venerable Victoria Golf Club, The Oldest 18-Hole Golf Course In Canada Still On Its Original Site, Celebrates Its 125th Anniversary This Year - Images Courtesy Victoria GC

    It's the 'Year of the Anniversary' in the Pacific Northwest with no fewer than 30 golf facilities recognizing significant milestone anniversaries in 2018. 

    Courtesy of the hard work and dedication of curator Mike Riste, The BC Golf House Society has identified more than 30 PNGA courses celebrating an anniversary this year.

  • Are Golf Courses Too Short?

    Image credit (Michael Schroeder/ Golf Canada)

    By John Gordon/Courtesy Golf Canada

    “Bifurcation” is a word we’re hearing more and more in the world of golf. It means to divide into two parts. But don’t let that simple definition fool you. It’s an increasingly controversial concept that strikes at the heart of the game as we know it.

    The first area of the current bifurcation debate relates to the Rules of Golf. Should there be one set of guidelines for recreational golfers and another for elite amateurs and professionals?

    The second bone of contention, which has set off near panic among many of my colleagues in the golf media and some golf administrators, is this: Are golf courses too short? Do we need to stretch them to 8,000 yards? Do we need to rein in the ever-advancing ball and club technology?

    No. And no.

  • Three Canadians, Two From BC, Crack Top 10 At Panama Championship

    Merritt, BC's Roger Sloan, Seen Here Getting Set To Tee Off At Bear Mountain GC In Victoria, Finished 4th In The Web.com Tour's Panama Championship - Image Credit Alfie Lau/British Columbia Golf

    Courtesy Golf Canada

    PANAMA CITY, Panama – The Canadian trio of Roger Sloan, Ryan Yip and Adam Svensson all finished inside the top 10 on Sunday at Web.com Tour’s Panama Championship.

    Sloan, from Merritt B.C., paced the Canadians with a final-round 66 to climb into sole possession of 4th place at 4-under par for the tournament. The finish marks his first top-10 finish early into the 2018 season (he collected four in 2017).

  • BC's Chris Crisologo Wins South American Amateur Title

    Richmond's Chris Crisologo Became The First Canadian Male To Win The South American Amateur With His 4 Stroke Victory In Buenos Aires - Image Courtesy Argentina Golf Association

    By Golf Canada

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – National Amateur Squad member Chris Crisologo hoisted the South American Amateur trophy on Tuesday following a four-stroke victory at the Martindale Country Club.

    The Richmond, B.C., native struggled early in the final round, going 4-over par through his first five holes before recovering on the back nine with four birdies. Crisologo, 23, recorded the tournament’s two lowest rounds (64-66) to hold a lead as large as seven.

    He went on to close the event at 13-under par, four strokes clear of runner-up Alejandro Tosti of Argentina.

  • British Columbians Macdonald, Harlingten Survive Q-School Pressure-Cooker To Earn Web.com Tour Status For 2018

    BCer's Stuart Macdonald (L) And Seann Harlingten (R) Both Survived The Pressure Of Q-School To Obtain Solid Status On The Web.com Tour For 2018 - Images Courtesy PGA TOUR Mackenzie-Tour Canada

    Calgary's Ryan Yip And Toronto's Albin Choi Also Earned Status As All Four Canadians In The Final Stage Of Web.com Q-School Finished Inside The Top 45 

    By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

    If there were any doubts about whether he could make birdies when it mattered most, Stuart Macdonald erased them on the back nine of the fourth and final round of the Web.com Tour qualifying school.

    With the butterflies in his stomach in full flight, the 23-year-old rookie pro from Vancouver’s Point Grey Golf & Country Club, calmly made six birdies on his final nine holes to earn Web.com Tour status for 2018.

    No sweat? Not really.

  • BC's Macdonald Looking To Make More Q-School Magic

    Vancouver's Stuart Macdonad, Shown Here Competing In The Pacific Coast Amateur, Will Be Looking To Punch His Ticket To The Web.com Tour On A Full-Time Basis This Coming Week - Image Courtesy PCGA

    By Brad Ziemer/British Columbia Golf

    Qualifying schools are supposed to be golf’s ultimate pressure-cookers, but so far they haven’t fazed Stuart Macdonald. The 23-year-old rookie pro from Vancouver has sailed through the first and second stages of the Web.com Tour qualifying school to earn a spot in the finals.

    “Getting through first and second stage isn’t exactly the easiest thing to accomplish,” Macdonald said in an interview. “So to get to the finals and have a chance to play on the Web.com Tour is good. I am excited to get there and see what I can do.”

  • BC’s Eugene Wong On The Comeback Trail With 3rd Place In Hong Kong

    North Vancouver, BC's Eugene Wong Made Good Use Of His Recent Trip To Hong Kong With A Solid 3rd Place Finish In The Clearwater Bay Open - Image Credit: PGA TOUR-China/Zhuang Liu

    Courtesy Laury Livsey (PGA TOUR-China)

    HONG KONG—Vancouver’s Eugene Wong has not had a memorable last two seasons on the golf course. Playing primarily in China in 2017, Wong, the University of Oregon product, missed three of five cuts and had a tie for 45th at the Beijing Classic for his best finish.

  • BC's Goodfellow And Anjarwalla Among Five To Sign With NCAA's SFU Golf Squads

    Vancouver Islanders Aidan Goodfellow (L) And Shirin Anjarwalla (R) Are Set To Join The Simon Fraser University Golf Program Next Season - Images Credit British Columbia Golf

    BURNABY, BC – Matthew Steinbach has signed five student-athletes during the NCAA early signing period in his second recruiting class as head coach of the Simon Fraser University golf programs.

    Shirin Anjarwalla of Nanaimo is set to join the women’s golf program in September 2018, while Aidan Goodfellow (Parksville), Sylvain Ruest (Winnipeg), Jordan Bean (Canmore), and Isaac Lee (Seoul, South Korea) have signed their National Letters of Intent to compete for Canada’s NCAA men’s golf team next season.

  • BC’s Susan Xiao Picks Up PNGA Player Of The Year Honours

    Surrey, BC's Susan Xiao Added The Junior Girls PNGA Player Of The Year Award To Her 2017 Trophy Case Which Includes The Hardware Shown Here From The Canadian Junior And Juvenile Girls Titles - Image Courtesy Golf Canada

    Federal Way, Wash. – The Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) announced its 2017 Players of the Year for the region and among those winners is Susan Xiao of Surrey, B.C., who topped the Junior Girl’s category.

    In 2017, Xiao captured the Canadian Junior Girls Championship, the AJGA UA Canadian Championship and the MJT Vancouver Season Opener. She had top-5 finishes in four other events.

  • Joey Savoie Powers Team Canada To Tailhade Cup Victory

    Team Canada's Joey Savoie (L) And Josh Whalen Pose With The Tailhade Cup - Image Courtesy (Argentina Golf Association)

    Courtesy Golf Canada

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – National Amateur Squad duo of Joey Savoie and Josh Whalen marched to an emphatic 16-stroke victory on Sunday to win the Tailhade Cup at the Los Lagartos Country Club.

    The Canadians were led by Savoie of La Prairie, Que., who fired his lowest round of the tournament with a 5-under 66 en route to capturing medallist honours. The 23-year-old finished at 8 under par (69-73-68-66), two strokes ahead of runner-up Machado Herik of Brazil.

  • Canada, USA & Mexico Team Championship Set For April 2018 In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    For those who like the intrigue and challenge of international golf, welcome to the Canada, USA & Mexico Team Championship, where you can represent your state and compete against other states from the two countries. The Ryder Cup/Solheim Cup-styled event is set for April 27-29 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort.

    Just as cool are the two signature courses where the competition will take place. Architect supreme Jack Nicklaus designed the rst course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, and another architectural legend, Greg Norman, just unveiled the second course at the resort. Both will be in tip-top condition for the competition, according to tournament coordinators Brian Foster and Vito Berlingeri, who are putting together Team USA.

    “For this first year, we’d like to get a team of about 20 players,” Foster said. “But it’s a three-year commitment, so it will be an annual event.

    “The goal is to eventually fill up both courses, but over time I think we can do that.”

    Winners From 2017 Riviera Maya
    Winners From 2017 Riviera Maya

    The inaugural event will feature two-person teams from Arizona, Texas, Colorado and New York, and Mexico has seven states, so we expect that they also will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 teams, too.”

    The three days of play will feature two- person teams competing in foursomes (best ball), four ball (modi ed alternate shot) and a two-person scramble. Each state can enter as many two-person male or female teams that they wish. You can play with your buddy or bring your family. Each player must have a veri able handicap index.

    Competitors are encouraged to book for ve days and four nights with packages starting at $1,854 per player. For more information, visit www.uncseries.com. Or contact Foster at bfoster@azgolf.org or (602) 909-7799.

    Click HERE to find out more about the Cancun area golf courses.


    About the Writer
    Joe Passov, aka Travelin’ Joe, rates golf courses and travel destinations for Golf Magazine. He lives in Scottsdale. 

  • Viva, Vallarta!

    Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta

    Puerto Vallarta Sizzles With Sand, Surf, Mayan Ruins, And Awesome Golf Courses! Pictured Here: Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort

    By Joe Passov

    Mexico’s Pacific Coast is justifiably famous for its superb beaches, its native jungle and its world-renowned national beverage, tequila, 95 percent of which is produced in the regional state of Jalisco. Today, Jalisco and its legendary resort area, Puerto Vallarta, have achieved world- class status—especially among golfers—while the state directly to the north, Nayarit, also has emerged as a compelling draw, with a resort-rich coastal stretch known as Riviera Nayarit.

    Superb championship golf tracts have peppered the Puerto Vallarta landscape over the past two decades, but the most buzz-worthy layout of all is the brand new Greg Norman- designed spread at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, 20 miles north of the Puerto Vallarta Airport. Interestingly, that new Norman tract will be part of the host course rotation next year for the Arizona Golf Association’s 2018 Canada, USA & Mexico Team Championship at Vidanta Nuevo, which takes place April 27-29.

    Uniting Nations Cup
    Click Image Above To Find Out How You Can Play In A Great Tournament On These Courses

    Well, part of the Norman Signature Course is brand new, any way. Nine holes opened in the fall of 2015, with the other nine slated to open soon thereafter. After seasonal storms caused major delays, the course finally opened in mid-November 2016. However, as a protection against further weather issues, Norman was gifted a parcel of land along the Ameca River that yielded the creation of five new holes that weren’t part of the original design, which will be fully playable by next month. To accommodate the new holes, which include two water-guarded par-3s and a superb risk/reward drivable par- 4, the course was rerouted with existing holes renumbered, and the original first five holes consigned to history. The result is a dazzling, 7,326-yard, par- 73 layout with an unusual par 35-38 combo for the front and back nines.

    Also unusual is the journey to the course itself. Players will arrive via the world’s longest golf cart suspension bridge, a drama-filled, one-lane ride over the Ameca River that takes you from the beehive of relaxed activity at the sprawling Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort in Nayarit to a core golf experience notable for its tranquil, natural setting in Jalisco, complete with jungle-edged fairways and panoramic vistas of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

    “When designing the course, respecting and promoting the conservation of ecologically sensitive areas was of primary concern,” said Norman at the 2016 opening. “As a result, routing was dictated by nature, according to dense vegetation corridors, streams and wetlands. . . . Ultimately, both high and low handicappers will really enjoy playing (the golf course), as it offers the perfect trifecta of beauty, fun and challenge.”

    While Norman’s creation will seldom frustrate resort golfers, provided they pick the proper set of tees, it’s definitely all the modern championship golf you want, thanks to the sophisticated green contouring, artfully placed bunkers and indigenous trees, a plethora of ponds and plenty of yardage from the tips. Two holes that skirt the Ameca River, the 473-yard, par-4 10th and the 549-yard, par-5 16th best illuminate the layout’s virtues.

    Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Practice Range
    Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Practice Range

    While Norman’s latest-greatest might be the region’s new must-play, it shares the spotlight with two siblings at the resort. Concurrent to the additional five Norman holes opening on the Championship layout, a brand new 10-hole, par-3 course called The Lakes opened in October. Holes range from 61 to 114 yards, though it’s hardly a pitch-and-putt. The aptly named layout is loaded with stunning water hazards, and boasts bold bunkering as well. Located in the epicenter of the resort, this walker-friendly loop is fully illuminated for night play.

    Also not to be overlooked is the resort’s original tract, a 6,668-yard, par-70 funfest created Jack Nicklaus. Emphasis here is on visuals, with roomy fairways, large, shallow bunkers and receptive greens. True, seven lakes await to snare errant shots, but with mountains, ocean and jungle always in view, you’ll enjoy the sensory overload, even if you have to reload a time or two.

    As strong as the golf is at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, the resort itself is the star. Nuevo Vallarta is one of seven Vidanta luxury destinations in Mexico. In particular, Nuevo Vallarta shines, thanks to more than a mile of white sand beach, 27 swimming pools, 38 bars and restaurants and five high- end, high-rise hotels on the 2,500-acre property, including Grand Luxxe, which recently received the coveted Five-Diamond Award from AAA. On the way in 2018 is a one-of-a-kind theme park conceived in conjunction with world-famous Cirque du Soleil.

    Arizona golfers will get to sample Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta’s amazing attractions and compete in a unique golf competition as well, when the Canada, USA & Mexico State Team Championship take place in April. Ambitious golfers looking to sample the area’s other top tracts have a buffet line of appealing prospects. Indeed, you can play some incredible golf either before or after the Canada, USA & Mexcico matches.

    Punta Mita Pacifico Golf Course
    Punta Mita Pacifico Golf Course

    The tastiest option is Punta Mita’s Pacifico, a Jack Nicklaus design in Riviera Nayarit that’s affiliated with the much-honored Four Seasons and St. Regis Punta Mita hotels. Eight holes edge or face the ocean, but by far the most well known is Pacifico’s alternate, island-green, par-3 third hole, which is called “Tail of the Whale” due to its distinctive shape. When the ocean surf rolls in, an amphibious vehicle ushers you to the whale tail-shaped green.

    Pacifico’s younger sibling, Bahia, is another Nicklaus creation, and is the tougher of the two, owing to the wildly contoured greens. But with six seaside holes, lava outcroppings and Sierra Madre backdrops, there’s eye candy galore. If you’ve been battered with bogies by the time you reach the 571-yard, par-5 18th, take a gander at the nearby El Faro surf break, where the real wipe-outs take place.

    Vista Vallarta gets the nod for best in the state of Jalisco. Home to designs by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, Vista Vallarta played host to the 2002 World Cup on the Nicklaus course, where despite a third-round 62 from Phil Mickelson, Japan edged the USA team (Mickelson/David Toms) for the title. The Nicklaus layout climbs into the Sierra Madre foothills and provides captivating views of the Bay of Banderas. Weiskopf’s handiwork is more lay-of-the-land and features low-profile fairways bracketed by dense jungle rough, along with an entertaining drivable par-4 closer.

    In a class by itself is El Tigre at Paradise Village Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, a 7,239-yard brute that menaces with 120 bunkers and water on 13 holes. If you bring a single-digit handicap game, you’ll relish the challenge. If not, El Tigre, an incredible design by the late Robert Von Hagge, might devour you.

    Wherever it is that your hooks and slices lead you, fear not. Puerto Vallarta and its surrounds offer plenty of pampering resort experiences to ease the sting. Indeed, a pampered day in the spa along with a sip or two (or three) of that smooth, clear local liquid produced in Jalisco, and you’ll be primed to tackle another 18.

    BEST OF PUERTO VALLARTA GOLF 

    El Tigre Golf Course www.eltigregolf.com

    Nuevo Vallarta Golf Resort www.vidanta.com//en/destinations/nuevo-vallarta

    Punta Mita Golf Club www.puntamita.com

    Vista Vallarta www.clubcorp.com/clubs/vista-vallarta-club-de-golf

    Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta Resort (800) 292-9446 www.vidanta.com


    About the Writer
    Joe Passov, aka Travelin’ Joe, rates golf courses and travel destinations for Golf Magazine. He lives in Scottsdale.