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With two events already played, The “Florida Swing” is well upon us. Two events have been and gone, ( The Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens and WGC Cadillac Classic in Miami) and it’s traditionally the time when the PGA Tour season takes things up a notch. Fields become stronger and the chance to warm up for the first major championship of the year, the Masters at Augusta puts all that much more pressure on the game’s best to get their swing sharp.
Coming up this weekend is the Transitions Championship at Palm Harbor before the event everyone looks forward to in Orlando hits town next week… the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Sandwiched in between is the Tavistock Cup which is being held at Lake Nona this year on 19th and 20th March. (Here’s our report from last years event – Day 1 / Day 2 )
It’s a great chance for all golfing fans to get up close and personal with some of the best players in the world. The Tavistock Cup is a chance to see some team golf as it features the top-ranked golf professional members of four international golf clubs; Albany, Isleworth, Queenwood and this years host Lake Nona. The two-day tournament is an officially sanctioned PGA Tour event and up until 2010, the Tavistock Cup was contested by Isleworth and Lake Nona golf clubs only.
In 2011, the Tavistock Cup was expanded with the addition of the two new teams representing Albany, a resort and golf community in the Bahamas, and Queenwood, a private golf club outside of London. Each team consists of six golf professional members who play for prize money, team hole-in-one prizes and the title of World Golf and Country Club Champion. Members of the four clubs have collectively won more than 860 tournaments worldwide, including 62 major championships through 2011!
Tickets are not sold to the public and only club members, residents, sponsors, designated charities and invited guests are able to attend the event. Once in, there are no ropes separating spectators from the players and spectators generally wear the official team colors of Albany Pink, Isleworth Red, Lake Nona Blue (last years winners pictured above) or Queenwood Green to show their support for Team Albany, Team Isleworth, Team Lake Nona or Team Queenwood.
From there, most of the players will then head over to the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and will compete from 22nd to 25th March.
Martin Laird enjoyed two firsts on a late Sunday afternoon last March when he walked off the final green at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge. He got to shake the hand of Arnold Palmer, and he successfully converted a 54-hole lead into a victory, which allowed him to enjoy the aforementioned handshake.
“You know, I had never met Arnold until I walked off that last green and shook his hand. That’s an awesome way to meet someone, especially someone who is such a legend in the game,” says Laird, recalling those moments immediately after his hard-fought win in the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. “It was exciting to walk up that hill and tell him what a thrill it was to win his tournament.
“Before I was ever on the PGA TOUR I remember watching on TV and seeing guys walk off the green and shake hands with Arnold, and I thought that was so incredibly cool. Besides winning majors, I feel like an event where Arnold Palmer is the host is about as big a tournament as you can win.”
Not only is this the time of year when the eyes of the sports world really begin to follow pro golf, but these four weeks are also the most publicly accessible stretch of courses the PGA Tour plays all year long. Nowhere else on tour will you find four public golf courses right in a row, all in the same state and once the pros have pulled out of town, your golf group can pull right in and enjoy near tour-quality conditions.
Your golf group could feasibly play all four on the same trip if you don’t mind a little drive time between the courses. Simply start in south Florida at Miami’s Doral Resort, then head north to PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. Then, zip across the state to Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club near Tampa, and finish up at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando. It’s a cool way to play but that of course, assumes you’re happy to miss some of the play when you’re playing!
If you can’t make it here in the next few weeks then we look forward to seeing you in Florida for some great golf at some other time… as really, you can play golf in Florida pretty much anytime of year!