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.

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

Corporate Golf Events in Cabo San Lucas

 Despite the rise of new technologies and the virtual environment, face-to-face interaction remains one of the most effective ways to strengthen any company’s business relationships with clients, customers, associates, and employees. Corporate entertainment events introduce new products, increase customer retention rate, create networking opportunities, improve in-work relations, reinforce your image as an industry leader, and much more. The concept of corporate events encompasses company dinners, meetings, conferences, symposiums and even recreational activities for employees. Whatever form they take, this type of activity occupies a very important place in companies’ communication strategies and finding the right place and venue is key to success. Conferences or meetings can prove effective by combining work and play in an attractive setting. Another variant could be the organization of a recreational activity such as a golf championship or a creative workshop, where a company’s employees have the opportunity to strengthen ties, bridge differences and get to know each other on a personal level outside of the office setting. The organization of a special dinner or party may provide an ideal context for the collective recognition, appreciation and celebration of specific successes and objectives achieved by a professional, a team or the whole company. There are a number of factors that go into choosing the perfect destination for a corporate event.  With so many wonderful countries, cities and venues to choose from, Cabo San Lucas is one of the top choices for many companies in the USA, Canada and Mexico, especially for those who are looking for a high-end golf event. Nestled at the tip of Baja California Sur, Los Cabos is known for its breathtaking and unique landscape, perfect weather year-round and world-class golf. This laid back Los Cabos lifestyle is easily accessible, making events in the region a stress-free experience from start to finish. The San Jose del Cabo International Airport serves more than three million passengers each year thanks to non-stop and easily accessible connection flights from the continental United States and Canada. Once landed, guests find driving easy on the four-lane Corridor highway. Partnering with an exclusive golf course or country club that makes all guests feel welcome is an essential part of planning any corporate golf tournament. Most corporate golf outings end with a nice lunch, drinks on the green and/or Awards banquet dinner. Ambiance is everything here – and that will be determined by your golf course selection. On 1.5 miles of pristine beachfront along the Pacific Ocean in Cabo San Lucas, you’ll find one of the most spectacular golf course facilities anywhere in the world — Diamante Cabo San Lucas. The resort facilities are available for Corporate Events, Charity Tournaments, and Golf Outings. The beautiful coastal setting and amenities make Diamante Cabo San Lucas a great venue for player tournaments and events. Diamante now offers Corporate Golf Schools – team building workshop with a customized session of Golf Instruction. Diamante Golf Academy can create a program specific to the needs of the players. For more information about Diamante corporate events please email Jeff Scott: jscott@diamantelife.com