Diamante Days

Dunes featured in LINKS: 12 Best Opening Par Fives in Golf

12 Best Opening Par Fives in Golf By: Joe Passov The Dunes was recently featured in LINKS as one of the top 12 best opening par fives in golf. As he did with the Los Angeles Country Club’s North course, site of the 2023 U.S. Open, George Thomas Jr. preferred to kick off his course designs with a par five. So did post-World War II design great Dick Wilson, who started Bay Hill and Doral’s Blue Monster in that fashion. While a surprising number of acclaimed courses open the round with a par five, only a handful can be considered truly superb holes. Here are the 12 best opening par fives in golf. Read more.

Revisiting the 2012 World Club Championship at Diamante

By Travelin’ Joe Passov As the dust settles on another exciting Ryder Cup Match, it was fascinating as always, to see professional golf switch its focus to a team competition. Nine years ago, one of the most eagerly anticipated team events in amateur golf, the World Club Championship, took place at Diamante. Combining club and country, the WCC promised a lot at Diamante—and over-delivered—resulting in the most exciting finish in the event’s history. An hour-long recap of the tournament was televised on Golf Channel that December and on Sky Sports for European viewers. Here’s a look back at the 2012 World Club Championship. Camaraderie and fellowship are supposed to be the defining characteristics of the World Club Championship. Year Number 9 of the best amateur event in golf delivered something more: pure, pulse-racing drama. In a classic battle of youth versus experience, the Seminole Golf Club team of elder statesmen David Abell and Kelly Miller pipped the youngsters from Canada’s St. George’s Golf & Country Club, Mark Elgner and Colin Flabbi, 1-up. Against a stunning Pacific Ocean backdrop at Diamante Golf Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the finalists produced an outcome that only a Hollywood scriptwriter could have dreamed up. The World Club Championship is a week-long competition that pits 20 clubs representing 14 countries, the common denominator being membership on the list of GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World. Each course nominates its club champion, who then selects a partner. Both must carry handicaps of 3 or better, though in fact, the majority of players are scratch or lower. Mexico’s Diamante Golf Club, ranked No. 58 in the World in 2011, proved to be a wildly popular host for the ninth edition of the tournament.  Players raved about the Dunes course, the brand new clubhouse, the remarkable service and the festivities that accompanied the event. So good was this combination that it moved Pine Valley team member Robert Lewis Jr., four times a Walker Cup player and twice the captain, to remark that this event ranked right alongside his Walker Cup experiences. Still, amid all of the pleasantries, there was serious golf to be played. Oh, how it was played. Two qualifying rounds of stoke play produced a clear favorite, Ireland’s Portmarnock Golf Club, comprised of John Greene and Geoff Lenehan, who blistered Diamante and the field with rounds of 65 and 63, easily qualifying for match play. Five shots back were Ryan Birnie and Sean Fenger of defending WCC champion Durban Country Club of South Africa. Seminole in Florida also qualified comfortably, but the final spot had to be decided by a playoff between St. George’s and the Winged Foot team of Rob Christie and Matthew Hultquist. After several agonizing misses on the first two holes, an exhausted St. George’s team triumphed on the third sudden death hole. So it would stand to reason that Portmarnock and Durban would sail through to the final, right? Not even close. Both Seminole and St. George’s pulled off upsets in surprisingly easy fashion, setting the stage for an unforgettable final. Abell and Miller, who won this event in 2006 at Sage Valley Golf Club in South Carolina while representing Pine Valley, fell behind after the first hole, but leveled the proceedings following Abell’s heat-seeking missile drive to 2 feet at the par-4 4th. Seminole scratched out a 2-up lead after 11 holes, but St. George’s parried with Elgner’s birdies at the par-5 12th ( a hole since replaced) and par-5 14th (now the 15th hole). That’s when the Hollywood scriptwriters went into overdrive. Somehow, in the midst of a brilliant run, Elgner three-putted the par-4 15th (now the 16th). 1-up Seminole. At the petite par-3 16th (now the 17th), ocean waves crashing in the backdrop, Abell and Miller hit it close, while Elgner missed to the left, just off the green. Flabbi found the wrong side of the green, making a two-putt nearly impossible. No matter—Elgner ran in his putt from the light fringe for a birdie 2. Seminole had to match—and did. At the 17th (now the 18th), one of the game’s greatest modern par-5s, a favorable wind allowed players ideal opportunities to scale the 50-foot sand cliff with their second shots and three of them did. Only Seminole’s Miller was forced to lay back. Again, no matter. With one of the greatest clutch shots in the nine-year history of the World Club Championship, Miller knocked a gap wedge from 94 yards up the hill, onto the green and just past the blind hole location. It bit perfectly and trickled back three feet, right into the cup. Eagle! The sizable gallery erupted. Game, set and match, perhaps? Not quite. After eagle try misses from Abell and Flabbi, Elgner steadied himself and rolled one at the hole in an attempt to extend the match. Bam! Back of the cup—another eagle! Seminole remained 1 up. To the 18th (the old par-4 18th that headed toward the clubhouse then turned abruptly left) the disbelieving crowd marched. After Flabbi flirted with the desert off the tee, both teams had the green surrounded after their approaches, but each with challenges. It all came down to the other three players. Miller’s effort from just off the front-left of the green got caught up in the sticky paspalum and left him woefully short, perhaps 12 feet from the cup. Abell gave his a spirited run, but it scooted four feet past the hole. Elgner’s attempt was well-gauged, curling to two feet. Seminole conceded the 4 to St. George’s. It was up to Miller and his 12-footer or Abell from a ticklish four feet. Leaving nothing to chance, it was Miller time, for the second hole in a row. He stroked his long putter and there was never a doubt. Down it went—victory, and the Jay Lee Trophy–for Seminole. David V. Smith, the World Club Championship Founder and Ken Jowdy, the week’s host and Founder of Diamante, had identical words following play: “That was

Missing Tiger at Torrey Pines

Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images By Travelin’ Joe Passov Tiger Woods returned to Southern California this week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for the purpose teeing it up at Torrey Pines for the U.S. Open. So many storylines are swirling around golf’s greatest competitors. So far, however, the biggest storyline has revolved around the player who’s missing—Tiger Woods. On the one hand, it was encouraging to see Tiger ambulating on his own, albeit with crutches at the Los Angeles airport. On the other, it still depresses one and all that he can’t defend the Torrey Pines U.S. Open title that he captured in unforgettable fashion in 2008. There may have been more important, historically significant U.S. Opens. None, however, was more thrilling than the 2008 edition.  Fresh off a surgical procedure to his left knee after the 2008 Masters, Tiger had taken a two-month break from competitive golf when he arrived at Torrey Pines in suburban San Diego. Fans could see him clutching his left leg and wincing in pain, yet they were mesmerized by his Saturday performance that featured two eagles and a chip-in birdie in a six-hole stretch. Little did we know—because Tiger didn’t tell us until the tournament ended—that he was actually competing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and that further, he had suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia two weeks before the U.S. Open. Woods came to the final hole needing a difficult 12-foot putt to tie Rocco Mediate and earn an 18-hole playoff. Down went the putt, up went Tiger’s fist. The playoff was anything but anticlimactic. From three down with eight to play, Mediate pulled ahead by one after 17 holes. Time for another Tiger roar. Smashed drive, soaring 4-iron, two-putt birdie. Sudden death. A Mediate bogey ended things on the 91st hole. Tiger had his third U.S. Open crown. In a lifetime of Tiger Woods highlights, this was perhaps the Tiger Woodsiest. On the Wednesday following his Monday playoff victory, Tiger told the world of his plans to have season-ending surgery, forcing him to forego the year’s final two majors as well as the Ryder Cup. Eventually, he returned and dazzled us again and again, culminating in a win for the ages at the 2019 Masters. No one knows for sure when Tiger will next compete. We know he has a bright future in course design, as illustrated by his wonderful work at Diamante’s El Cardonal and at the Oasis Short Course, among other creations. But every one of us would love to see him come back to tournament golf one more time. Tiger is missing Torrey Pines this week, but Torrey Pines and all of his fans are missing Tiger even more.

Larry Walker: Diamante’s Humble Hall-of-Famer

Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies during the All-Star Game on July 7, 1998 at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images) By Travelin’ Joe Passov This coming Sunday, July 26, was scheduled to be induction day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. for the class of 2020. The Coronavirus chaos squashed those plans. Instead, Derek Jeter, Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons and Diamante’s own Larry Walker will celebrate the honor on this same weekend in 2021. “I fully understand and agree with the Board’s decision,” said Walker in late April. “It is most important to do the right thing for everybody involved, and that means not putting any participants in jeopardy, whether Hall of Famers or visitors. I realize how serious this situation has become and how many lives have been lost.” It also means that Walker is spared the agony of having to make a major, televised speech for another 12 months. Sure, he’s ecstatic about the honor. On the other hand, he’s less comfortable about the spotlight that comes with it. Larry Walker is as humble as they come. His baseball career earned him his deserved place in the Hall of Fame. Still, it’s not easy honoring a legend who never had any interest in ceremony, recognition or self-promotion.  Perhaps that makes it even more special. A Diamante visitor for two-and-a-half years and a property owner for a little more than a year, native Canadian Larry Walker might be reluctant to toot his own horn, so we’ll do it for him. He played 17 years in the major leagues, from 1989 to 2005, with the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals. As a Colorado Rockie in 1997, he became the only player in major league history to register both a .700 slugging percentage (SLG) and 30 stolen bases in the same season. That season he won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award (MVP). From 1997-1999, he became the first player in more than 60 years to hit better than .360 in three consecutive years. He captured three National League batting championships overall. He was elected to Canada’s Sports of Hall of Fame in 2007. Seven Gold Gloves. Five All-Star appearances. Three Silver Sluggers. Pretty impressive stuff, right? Tell that to the guy who answered the Hall of Fame’s congratulatory call and accompanying video camera crew while dressed in a NASCAR-style, SpongeBob SquarePants shirt. Sports Illustrated called him a “fashion tastemaker,” because the shirt sold out on Amazon and at Walmart within 24 hours. Self-effacing? When I asked him about his most memorable moment on the field, he didn’t respond with “clinching the National League pennant,” or “hitting a home run in the World Series.” Instead, he recalled a gaffe. In 1994, while playing for the Expos on an ESPN Sunday night telecast in Dodgers Stadium, he caught a fly ball in foul territory from L.A.’s Mike Piazza off a Pedro Martinez pitch. He then handed the ball over to six-year-old fan Sebastian Napier. Unfortunately, that was only the second out in the inning. Larry quickly saw the Dodgers’ Jose Offerman tagging up from first, running at full throttle. Walker sheepishly retrieved the ball from the young fan, and held Offerman to third base.  Larry’s make-good to young Sebastian the next inning earned both a standing ovation. “I fired a strike to home plate, too,” says Walker. “You know, I had a few great defensive plays and some walk-off home runs. But that play gets talked about more than anything else in my career. Everyone seems to remember it.” Diamante’s Ken Jowdy chimes in, laughing and commenting, “I remember my happiest moment when you were on the field, Larry. The 2004 World Series.” That was the year the Red Sox broke an 86-year World Series drought. For Jowdy, a rabid Red Sox fan, it was heaven. “I don’t want to hear about it,” responds Walker, who for his part, batted .357 in that World Series, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and who hit the only two home runs the Cardinals managed the entire series. On the afternoon of January 21, 2020, Larry was out doing yard work at his Florida home. “That day was fairly normal for me,” he says. “I had my best friend in from L.A. and one of my brothers came down from Virginia. I brought them in as a ‘just in case’ the phone happened to ring. It was leading up to the witching hour—5 pm to 5:20 is when they said they’d call, if they called, as that was one hour before it would be (announced) on TV. “I made myself a drink, turned the ringer on and set the phone down, so everybody could see if the call came in. It was a little chilly for a Florida evening and it was getting close to end of the time they said they’d be calling. I made an announcement to the friends and family there, ‘In 90 seconds, we’re going inside.’ Thirty-three seconds later, the phone rang. Everyone around me went crazy. I went numb. The emotions took over. It brought tears to my eyes.” On the 10th and final year of eligibility, by a margin of six votes, Larry Walker was now a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For a Vancouver, B.C. kid whose first love and sporting success was hockey, who had zero ambitions or expectations of realizing this pinnacle of success, it was truly sweet. He had deliberately kept expectations low. “The thought of being a Hall-of-Famer never once crossed my mind while I was playing,” says Walker. “When my playing days were over, my goal was to stay on the ballot for all ten years. For me, that was a success. I never put myself in a position for disappointment.” This modest superstar fits right in at Diamante, where’s he treated simply as another member out hunting for birdies. Actually, Larry has a

Tiger Woods gives a demonstration at Diamante's The Oasis Short Course designed by TGR Design

Tiger’s Back: Chasing PGA Tour History at Jack’s Place

Tiger Woods gives a demonstration at Diamante’s The Oasis Short Course designed by TGR Design By Travelin’ Joe Passov Given what’s happened to our planet, it seems like a million years ago since Tiger Woods last teed it up on the PGA Tour. Actually, it’s only been five months. To put it in more unprecedented context, Tiger is your current Masters champion. He will retain that status for another four months at least. All we can do in July 2020 is to acknowledge the bizarre reality of life as we know it, and grip tight to things that comfort us. We will watch Tiger Woods play PGA Tour golf again this week. That is pure comfort. For the first time since the PGA Tour resumed play before no crowds at Texas’ Colonial Country Club in mid-June, Tiger will tee it up in formal competition. In late May, he looked sharp in a televised charity encounter at his home club in Florida, the Medalist, where he traded chips and quips with Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but to many, the unknowns still linger. They shouldn’t. By choosing to return at the Memorial, Tiger is executing his game plan perfectly. He won’t just expect to feel good, get some reps in and contend. His expects to win. He’s picked the perfect spot. With Bryson DeChambeau dominating golf coverage with his added bulk and strong finishes, Webb Simpson carrying the torch for the veteran stars and Collin Morikawa setting the pace among the young guns, it’s easy to forget that Tiger will author the golf story of the year if he wins this week. One more ‘W’ and he will break Sam Snead’s all-time record for most victories on the PGA Tour. Will Number 83 happen this week? There’s no better place for it to happen. Muirfield Village, venue for this week’s Memorial , is special to Tiger in so many ways. It’s not only that he has won five times here, including the only three-peat in the tournament’s 46-year history, back in 1999-2000-2001, it’s also the admiration he has for the golf course, and for its designer, Jack Nicklaus. “I’ve always played Nicklaus courses well,” said Tiger a few years back. “(At Muirfield Village) there is ample room off the tees. The greens are really severe. If you miss the greens, it tests your short game. Those are the things I think I do well.” What Tiger also does well is hit precise irons, something that works very well at Nicklaus designs, which inevitably are “second-shot” golf courses, much like the model for Muirfield Village, Augusta National. Nicklaus first conceived of Muirfield Village while competing in the 1966 Masters. Wouldn’t it be great, he thought, if he could do something like Bobby Jones did with the Augusta National experience, but do it in Columbus, Ohio, where Jack grew up. In 1974, together with architect/land planner Desmond Muirhead, Nicklaus crafted what became one of the PGA Tour’s most admired golf courses. Critics praised “The House That Jack Built,” as much for its flawless conditioning as for its splendid strategic design. Every bit as impressive was how Nicklaus seamlessly integrated spectator areas into the closing holes, using hillsides and amphitheater-style mounding to provide fans with clear views of the action. Clearly, it would mean a lot for Tiger to break the record at Jack’s place. After all, it has been Jack Nicklaus and his record of 18 professional major championships that has motivated Tiger since he was a boy. Could it happen this week at Jack’s Memorial Tournament, that Tiger eclipses Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour victory record? Why not? There’s no pressure on Tiger and few expectations, as he knocks the rust off of his tournament game. There’s something else, too, that works in Tiger’s favor on the tough Muirfield Village greens. “Tiger has no equal in his ability to play the correct break and to control the pace of his chips and putts,” said one Top 100 teaching pro to me a couple of years ago. “He has made more nasty, curling putts than anyone.” Will the absence of fans help or hurt Tiger’s chances? In an odd coincidence, Tiger’s record-tying 82nd win at the Zozo Championship in Japan occurred without fans in the second round, due to wild weather wreaking  havoc with the tournament course’s infrastructure. The final round was postponed until Monday and there weren’t a whole lot of folks along for the journey. No, when Tiger gets in the bubble of contention, it won’t matter who’s around. He’s figured out a way to close the door on 82 occasions. It’s not far-fetched to suggest that Number 83 is in the forecast this week.

Welcome Back to Diamante

We are pleased to report that the Governor of Baja California Sur is easing the restrictions on businesses here in Los Cabos in the coming days. With that great news, Diamante is happy to announce that we will be welcoming back members and guests starting June 27th. Even during these uncertain times, we remain committed to providing you with an experience to be remembered for years to come. While doing so, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we implement and follow a series of new mandatory policies and procedures from the state of Baja California Sur and the country of Mexico. On the following pages you will find guidelines for amenities and departments found throughout the property. Please note that we may modify this program as guidelines are added, modified, or removed by Government Agencies. Diamante also reserves the right to close any facility or activity if it is determined that we can no longer operate them in the safest environment possible as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Upon your return, you will notice some changes throughout the property to practice and promote social distancing as well as protect your health and safety.  Our staff has been trained to meet the criteria for all our new procedures and protocols and this will include the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) throughout all departments. We will no longer be accepting cash transactions. We remain committed to creating the safest environment possible for all of you, your guests and our staff. We will ensure our employees follow the new safety protocols, but that only works if our members and guests take the personal responsibility of following those protocols as well. On behalf of everyone here, we would like to extend a warm and sincere thank you to everyone for supporting the COVID-19 Staff Assistance Fund. We have been using the proceeds to  distribute “food” cards to all of our employees who are extremely thankful, and they are all looking forward to welcoming you back at Diamante. If you have any questions regarding your upcoming arrival, or our new COVID-19 protocols or procedures, please email: welcomeback@diamantelife.com GOLF OPERATIONS The Dunes Course and El Cardonal During our initial reopening period, starting June 27th The Dunes Course will be open four days each week (Saturday – Tuesday) and El Cardonal will be open three days (Wednesday to Friday).  In order to minimize traffic in our retail areas, we ask that you make tee times by phone or email and to arrive to the practice facility no more than 30 minutes before your tee time. Parking/Carts/Valet – Personal Cars There will be signage directing you to parking as valet service will not be available. Personal carts can be brought to the area next to valet to receive a golf cart. Golf Carts You may share a golf cart with a player if you are sharing accommodations. Bags will be on cart if using bag storage service. In addition to the golf cart, touchpoints such as sand bottles, cooler, and rake will be cleaned and disinfected before and after each round following best industry practices and local health department guidelines. An attendant will be present upon your arrival to remind you of the social distancing protocols to ensure all practices and general hygiene expectations are met for Members, Guests, and Staff. Check-in Process Please check-in at the first tee of El Cardonal or The Slider Bar if playing the Dunes Course. A receipt from rounds used or guest charges will be emailed to you. Playing Experience The Slider Bar, Tacos and Tortas as well as our Comfort Stations will have all of your favorites served to you by contactless delivery. Restrooms will be open with a limit of one person at a time and will continue to be cleaned and sanitized regularly. Wipes will be available for personal use. Practice Greens – Inserts have been placed in all cups. Rental Clubs are available and will be sanitized before each use. Inserts have been placed in all cups on the course. Please refrain from touching any part of the flagstick. Rakes have been removed from the course and can be found on your cart. Post Round – Please return to the parking lot after the completion of hole #18. Oasis Short Course Clubs are available and will be sanitized before each use. Scorecards and pencils will be prepackaged in a bag and sanitized. Inserts have been placed in all cups on the course. Please refrain from touching any part of the flagstick. Restrooms will be open with a limit of one person at a time and will continue to be cleaned and sanitized regularly. Wipes will be available to sanitize personally. Putting Course Please bring your own putter and golf ball. Scorecards and pencils will be prepackaged in bag and sanitized. Inserts have been placed in all cups on the course. Please refrain from touching any part of the flagstick. Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy (subject to availability) Please contact Matt Moroz at mmoroz@diamantelife.com for prices and availability. FOOD AND BEVERAGE Izzy’s, The Sports Bar, The Market and Amigos Restaurant are open by reservation only. Reservations must be made by emailing dining@diamantelife.com or calling your concierge. Please note that we will no longer be accepting cash transactions at any of our Food and Beverage venues.We will continue to provide contactless residence-delivery from The Market and nightly special menus. Menus can be found by clicking here. Sunday – BBQ Monday – Surf and Turf Tuesday – Sushi Night Wednesday – Member’s Dinner Thursday – Fried Chicken Friday – Pizza and Salad Saturday – Taco Fiesta You may call the market or email dining@diamantelife.com to place your order. All residence deliveries will be touchless and will require no signature. Your receipt will be emailed to you. THE RESORT CLUB The Lagoon The Lagoon is open with paddle boards, boats and kayaks.  The chaise lounges have been placed to meet the current guidelines for social distancing. Chaise cushions and water activity equipment are sanitized after each use. Towels are available at

Tiger Woods El Cardonal Diamante cabo

Six Reasons Why Tiger’s ‘Next Dance’ is Must-See TV

By Travelin’ Joe Passov Big-time exhibition golf matches date back to ancient times—well before Old Tom Morris grew his first beard. This Sunday, May 24, Tiger Woods will make his 11th appearance since 1999 in one of these made-for-TV extravaganzas. His results are decidedly mixed. Rory McIlroy edged him back-to-back in China in 2012 and 2013. Tiger is winless in Skins Games. Eighteen months ago, Phil Mickelson snatched away $9 million from him in the floodlit darkness of Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. OK, Tiger has won his fair share as well. But we all know it’s not the same Tiger. The Tiger who awes us, the guy we can’t turn away from, is the Tiger who competes at tournament golf, for history, like no one else. As “The Last Dance” reminded us that there is no greater competitor and no greater champion in basketball as Michael Jordan, Tiger’s 2018 Tour Championship win, his 2019 Masters title and his record-tying 82nd PGA Tour win in Japan last fall remind us that when it comes to competitive golf, Tiger is in a class by himself, as a competitor and a champion. Why we would sit, enthralled, even as Tiger owned a six-shot lead with two holes to go in countless tournaments, was to appreciate the pinnacle of golf performance. With Tiger free from injuries in 2018 and 2019, we were able to appreciate it all over again—the physical prowess and the mental dominance. Stories of a “softer” Tiger accompanied his comeback, with increased friendliness towards his fellow Tour players, more patience with the media, more acceptance of himself. That may be true, but Tony Finau recently set the record straight about Tiger’s demeanor when he was back in the hunt. Finau was paired with Tiger for the final round of the 2019 Masters. It was a dream come true for Finau to play with his childhood idol on such a significant stage. Finau told GOLFTV last December that he and Woods shared “Good luck’s’ on the first tee…and then crickets, nothing, until the 7th. “We get to hole seven, I’m walking off the tee, we’re right next to each other so I figure I better say ‘hi’ or something to him,” said Finau. “I said ‘Hey, Tiger, how’s the family? How’s the kids?’ And he looked at me pretty straight-faced and he said, ‘They’re good.’ And he kept walking, and I never talked to him again until I was congratulating him on the 18th green.” That’s the Tiger Woods that thrills us. As MJ was in NBA hoops, Tiger was the cold-blooded assassin in competition. The 2019 season showed us he still is. So why should we tune in to TNT Network on Sunday, May 24 for Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity—an exhibition, to be sure? Here are six great reasons to watch. It’s all for charity. In conjunction with the live telecast, WarnerMedia and the golfers will collectively contribute a minimum charitable donation of $10 million to benefit COVID-19 relief. In addition, there will be more donation opportunities through the ALL IN Challenge. For instance, with a $10 entry fee, a lucky player can win a putting lesson with Tiger and a VIP experience at the 2020 Hero World Challenge in The Bahamas. There will also be on-course competitive challenges within the match, whether a long-drive hole, or a one-club-only hole. You have to feel good watching—and supporting—this cause. It’s Tiger vs. Phil, Part II The two greatest golfers of our era are also the two most competitive golfers of our era—and that extends to the volume of trash-talk from the pair. During a televised promotional appearance for the Match, Phil made sure Tiger could see the trophy he earned for winning the head-to-head Las Vegas event in 2018. Woods responded by grinning and draping the green jacket for his 2019 Masters win over himself.  Mickelson volleyed back this past week, telling Golfweek, I can’t wait to go to Tiger’s place and take him down. Tiger thinks he has a huge advantage playing there because he was insistent that this event is played on his home course. Despite everyone else wanting to play it elsewhere. That’s fine. We’ll take it to him and Peyton.” This should be a wonderful war of words. It’s Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, Part 18 Two of the greatest NFL quarterbacks in history, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, take a backseat to no one in the competitiveness department. Although Brady led Manning on the gridiron, with 11 wins to Peyton’s six, remember that those were team endeavors. On the course and off, their competitive fires burn furiously. Manning, who will partner Tiger, has posted a handicap index as low as 3.5. These days, it hovers around 6.4, with impressive rounds at some of the clubs he belongs to, such Augusta National and Cherry Hills. His competitive zeal is legendary, as is his own trash-talking. He once offered to buy dinner for the New York Giants entire defense if they would stop Brady from breaking his league record for touchdown passes in the final game of the season. Alas, Brady prevailed. On another occasion, Tiger asked Manning while they were paired on the golf course what the difference was between the offenses on Peyton’s old team, the Colts, versus his new team, the Broncos. Manning responded, “Tiger, it’s really similar. The hardest thing for me right now is that ‘McIlroy’ is on one, and ‘Tiger’ is on two.” Woods responded to the good-natured trash-talk by overtaking McIlroy the following month. Most significantly, Manning could have retired at 35, wealthy and legendary, but chose a brutal rehab to a serious neck injury for a risky return to football. He won his second Super Bowl the next year. Brady is no slouch when it comes to competitive juices. He sports an 8.1 handicap at clubs such as Seminole and The Country Club (Brookline) in Boston. PGA Tour golfer Ricky Barnes played with Brady as his

Diamante Putting Course Q & A with Architect Paul Cowley

Architect Paul Cowley has enjoyed more than 25 years in the business of creating new golf courses. As a designer, planner, manager and builder, he has been indelibly linked to all of the golf courses at Diamante, working in collaboration with Davis Love III/Love Golf Design and TGR Design by Tiger Woods. Cowley’s newest creation is a solo effort, the Putting Course at Diamante. We talked to Cowley to get his take on the new layout.   Question: You’ve participated in the design of some of the world’s top golf courses. What inspired you to take on designing a putting course? Cowley: As a golf designer, I find all aspects of course design to be challenging and interesting. The Putting Course site at Diamante occupies one of the most spectacular settings on the Dunes course, being situated alongside the tee complex at Hole Number 1 and below the clubhouse and restaurant. The Putting Course has a commanding view of the ocean and the most dominant dune on the course. This setting, combined with three acres of potential grassed area, ensured there was enough room to do something special with the design.   Question: You were involved in designing the Dunes Course at Diamante. Why did you return to Diamante for this project? What did you like about the property? Cowley: I returned to help project manage the construction of the second course at Diamante, Tiger Woods’ El Cardonal, and also to make some changes to our Dunes course.  The setting at Diamante is incomparable. It’s always great to come back.   Question: What are the challenges in designing a putting course? How would you characterize your design approach? Cowley: The challenges in designing a putting course are virtually the same as designing a full-size golf course. The task is to provide a challenging and fun experience that players want to enjoy again and again. The best courses are on the edge of being too hard, never too easy, and always make you think. The challenge is designing in that middle ground.   Question: What can golfers expect from this putting course? Cowley: It will be fun and challenging for all levels and a learning tool for all the different aspects of the putting game. It’s not a flat practice green and it will make you think.   Question: Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio? Cowley: No–I have four—because they are all different for various reasons. The Dunes course here, the Patriot course at Grand Harbor and the Love course at Barefoot Resort in South Carolina and Orchard Creek in New York.   Question: What can golfers expect from this putting course? Cowley: It will be fun and challenging for all levels and a learning tool for all the different aspects of the putting game. It’s not a flat practice green and it will make you think.   Question: Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio? Cowley: No–I have four—because they are all different for various reasons. The Dunes course here, the Patriot course at Grand Harbor and the Love course at Barefoot Resort in South Carolina and Orchard Creek in New York.   Question: Which other golf course architects do you admire? Cowley: Old Tom Morris, Donald Ross, Alister MacKenzie, Pete Dye, C.B. Macdonald, Tom Doak, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw   Question: Summing up, what makes the new Putting Course at Diamante distinctive? Cowley: Two of the most well-known putting courses in the world are The Himalayas at St. Andrews in Scotland and The Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. Both of these courses are similar in that they are under three acres of grass, all of which is cut at green height and they are comprised of 18 holes that are played sequentially to create a course. These courses change when they move the pin locations weekly. Our putting course is also just under three acres of grass, but it is very different in that half of the area is cut at green height to create a continuous loop wherein 15 holes are laid out to create a course. The course consists of three par-2s and 12 par-3s that vary in length from 12 yards (36 feet) to 64 yards (192 feet) and plays to a par of 42. The play direction of the 15 holes is designed to be alternately played in reverse, so that a hole that played uphill then becomes a downhill hole the next time around. These two 15-hole courses are named the East course and the West course, reflecting their direction of play at the first hole. Another difference with this putting course is that it will have scorecards that include a handicap rating for each hole based on difficulty. Similar to a regulation golf course, this makes it possible for players of different skill levels to compete with each other. Personally, I don’t know of another putting course that is similar to this one. In any event, I’m fairly certain this course will rank among the Top 5 Putting Courses in the World—maybe even Top 3!

Tiger Woods El Cardonal Diamante cabo

Like Tiger, Take a Trip to Japan

By Travelin’ Joe Passov Twenty-two years ago, almost to the week, Tiger Woods ventured to Japan for the first time. The occasion was the Tiger Woods Invitational, a Nike promotion that also featured Mark O’Meara, Nick Price and Shigeki Maruyama. The three days included a pro-am with baseball stars Hideo Nomo and Mike Piazza, a Skins Game on Day 2 and a match with junior golfers from Asian countries on the final day. Tiger arrived as the hottest athlete on the planet—he was the youngest Masters champion in history that year—and his Asian ancestry elevated him to the highest plateau possible here in Tokyo. His reception reminded me of what the Beatles must have felt when they landed in New York. It was my first trip to Japan as well. I was a guest of Nike, and my eyes were wide open, my grin never-ending as I soaked it up. There was Tiger at the opening press conference at Fuji TV’s massive modern studios, answering questions with all of his boyish charm. Have you tried any Japanese food yet? “No, I haven’t,” said Tiger. “Y’all got any cheeseburgers here?” Tiger delighted at every turn. Except at the final sing-along. After the event, we gathered in Tiger’s hotel room at the Hotel Nikko. A grand piano graced the suite and staff hauled up a karaoke machine. Beverages flowed and I knocked out a capable rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” alongside three-time major champion Nick Price. All good, and everybody was there—except Tiger, who was on his way to another airport, another plane, another event. Tiger is back in Tokyo this week for the first time since 2006. He battled Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama in a Skins Game October 21, then will play in the inaugural Zozo Championship, the first PGA Tour event ever to be contested in Japan. At the MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins Game, Tiger snared the early lead, winning $20,000 with a sand save-par at the par-3 fifth hole, and $40,000 at the par-4 eighth, with a rock-solid birdie putt from just under 10 feet.  At the end of a cool autumn day at Chiba’s Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, however, it was Jason Day who grabbed overall honors, with Tiger and Rory tied for second. More golf history will be made next summer, when the Olympic Games take place in Japan. Kasumigaseki in suburban Tokyo will host. Combine Japan’s rich golf heritage, past and present, its bevy of outstanding, world-ranked courses and its cultural appeal, and it becomes abundantly clear: If you’re a passionate golfer and a seasoned traveler, you owe yourself a trip to Japan.  Golf Culture Japan’s first golf course arrived in 1901, the Kobe Golf Club on Mt. Rokko, courtesy of a Brit in the tea trade, Arthur Croom, who longed for a sip of the game he enjoyed back home. A genuine golf boom sounded in the late 1920s, when clubs sprouted around Tokyo and elsewhere in the country. The very best courses benefitted from the design genius of British architect Charles Hugh Alison, a partner of H.S. Colt and briefly, with Alister MacKenzie. Recessions and wartime eventually cooled the expansion, but in 1957, golf enjoyed another explosion. An event then known as the Canada Cup (it became the World Cup in 1967) set Japan ablaze with golf fever. The World Cup is a men’s tournament contested by teams of two players representing their country. Many different countries played host to the event in the early days, from Canada to the United States, along with England, Australia, Mexico, Argentina and France in the first 12 years. Most famous, however, was the 1957 Canada Cup at Kasumigaseki in Tokyo. It was there, over the club’s East course that the Japanese players Torakichi “Pete” Nakamura and Koichi Ono upset the heavily favored United States team of Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret. Nakamura, the individual champion and Ono became national heroes. Nearly 12,000 spectators attended, a huge golf gallery at the time. Golf soon became wildly popular in Japan and 10 years later, its appeal spread to Korea. Eventually, most of Asia fell under the golf spell that started in Japan. For many years, top clubs in Japan employed a unique, two-green system for each hole, one for winter play, the other for summer use. Many have now abandoned this concept, as the development of superior grasses has allowed for single greens to proliferate, though the host club for this week’s professional tournaments retains the old method. Still in place are the long lunches after nine holes and the hot baths, so much a part of proper club life in Japan.  Another tradition alive and well is the women caddies, who tote umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun and who lug your clubs in a trolley (pull-cart). It’s all part of the Japanese golf culture. I’ve made three trips to Japan since that first one. Here’s my take. Where to Play Hirono Golf Club Situated near Kobe, less than an hour’s drive west from Osaka, Hirono has long been ranked as Japan’s top course and among the Top 50 in the world. Designed by C.H. Alison, the course unfolds over spectacular rolling terrain with deep, strategically placed bunkers, known as “Alisons.” Jack Nicklaus reached the 565-yard, dogleg left par-5 15th in two during a 1963 exhibition, a feat never before accomplished and seldom since. Expect its ranking to improve, following a significant and superb restoration by the English firm of Mackenzie and Ebert, who most recently reworked Royal Portrush and Turnberry’s Ailsa to tremendous acclaim. Kawana Hotel (Fuji) Seventy-five miles south of Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport is Japan’s most famous golf resort, Kawana, in Ito. Designed by C.H. Alison in 1930 and built in 1936, Kawana’s Fuji course is the country’s answer to Pebble Beach, with holes draped atop a rocky ledge high above the Pacific Ocean. The 11th hole, with a lighthouse in the backdrop and the

British Open Preview: Northern Ireland’s 6 Must-Play Courses

Photo by Atlantic Lens Photography / Shutterstock.comBy Travelin’ Joe Passov Whether you call it the British Open or The Open Championship, by any name it is golf’s oldest major, dating to 1860. This week, it returns to Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, for the first time since 1951. This will be only the second occasion in history that the Open has been contested outside of Scotland or England. One mere glimpse of the host venue will surely yield this question: How did it take so long to come back? It’s remarkable to think that a course ranked in the Top 15 in world could be overlooked, but it may very well be. Diamante course architect Tiger Woods has made numerous trips to Ireland and played many of the trophy links—Waterville, Old Head and the European Club, among others. He’s even played multiple rounds at Northern Ireland’s highest ranked course, Royal County Down. Yet, he never saw Royal Portrush until this week. Tiger and the rest of the world will discover a truly outstanding test of golf in the next seven days and a truly outstanding golf destination in Northern Ireland .Here’s the lowdown on where to play in Northern Ireland, and a tip or two on where to tip one—and where to rest your head after a good meal. 6 Must-Plays Royal Portrush Golf Club Situated in County Antrim in the far northeast of Ireland, Royal Portrush dates to 1888. Its present 7,317-yard, par-72 championship layout is a 1932 redesign from British architect H.S. Colt called the Dunluce Links, named for a nearby medieval castle that you may recognize even if you’ve never been near there—it served as Castle Greyjoy in the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” The superb course design maximizes its setting in the high dunes along the Irish Sea. It features one of the great holes in golf, the 236-yard, par-3 16th, aptly named “Calamity.” Amid whipping winds, a fade off the tee will plunge into a 75-foot-deep chasm short and right of the hole. In 2016, two new holes debuted, the par-5 seventh and the par-4 eighth, borrowed from the club’s sister course, the Valley, a fine and much-improved test of golf in its own right.    Perhaps the most memorable hole at Royal Portrush is also the most scenic, the 382-yard, par-4 fifth. Named “White Rocks,” the fifth begins at the highest point on the course and provides glorious views of the churning sea and the limestone cliffs that give the hole its name. Beyond lies the Dunluce Castle ruins that give the course its name. On paper, this bunkerless, dogleg-right seems gettable. Sandhills adorned with shaggy rough squeeze the fairway, however, and even with the wind, you’re not quite sure whether you want to trust your driver to carry the dune ridge that hugs the right elbow. The approach plays slightly uphill to a green framed by humps and hollows, with a severe drop-off to the right. Long is wrong, as the beach awaits. While Tiger has to be a favorite to win this year’s Open Championship, native son Rory McIlroy will undoubtedly challenge. As a 16-year-old, in July 2005, Rory set the course record, an 11-under-par 61, in the North of Ireland Amateur. Royal County Down Just outside of Newcastle in County Down, this 1889 Old Tom Morris layout merges beauty with brawn as with few other courses in existence. Perennially ranked among the world’s Top 5 courses, “County Down” as it’s often called played host to the 2015 Irish Open with a design that was substantially reworked by H.S. Colt in 1926. The unforgettable par-3 fourth and the par-4 ninth, the latter with its blind drive, feature a profusion of prickly yellow-blooming gorse in spring, bewhiskered bunkers and panoramas of the Mountains of Mourne and the Irish Sea.   Portstewart The town of Portstewart in County Londonderry can boast of a course that could well rival its more famous neighbors—at least for nine holes. Portstewart’s Strand course is a somewhat schizophrenic layout that rolls out one of golf’s most stirring opening holes—and opening stretches, really—followed by an older, duller, flatter back nine. Chief among the unforgettable holes is the beach and dune vista that greets the golfer from high atop the first tee. 2010 U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell touts the front nine as among the most spectacular in golf, and the course as perhaps the most underrated in Ireland.  Jon Rahm captured the 2017 Irish Open here. Lough Erne An inland course in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh in the southwest of Northern Ireland, but one that’s worthy of your detour, Lough Erne enjoyed early fame from its association (2009-2011) with its young (and successful) Touring Professional, Rory McIlroy, but today, this 10-year-old Nick Faldo creation can stand on its own merits. As well it should, thanks to a rugged, gorgeous parkland design that juts out into its namesake lake and lodging and dining that was good enough to host the 2013 G8 Summit. Two dramatic par-4s that edge the lake, the seventh and the 10th, are worth a trip alone. Castlerock Castlerock’s Mussenden Links (named for a nearby cliff-edge temple) is another course that polarizes people due to its inconsistencies—but it’s the great holes present that make this a must-play. The course is uniquely sandwiched by the railway, the River Bann and the sea.  Located on the Causeway Coast just minutes from Portstewart, it shares many characteristics with its near neighbor, including bursting out of the blocks with memorable holes. Numbers 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 17 and 18 are the ones that will linger longest in memory, notably the dune holes on the back nine. Surprisingly, the signature hole is an inland test, the 200-yard, par-3 4th, called “Leg O’ Mutton.,” It features an elevated green, a stream that bisects the hole and the railway line edging the entire right side. Your most memorable view, however, is from the tee box of the par-5 17th, which drinks in