December 22, 2014

Places To Play

Eastwood Golf Course in Fort Myers is an excellent test of golf, fun to play and in great condition. So it is no surprise that, shortly after opening in 1977, Golf Digest magazine ranked it among America's best public courses.

Built by guru course architect Robert von Hagge and former PGA Tour player Bruce Devlin, Eastwood's 18 holes wind through oak, pine and palm trees. There are also numerous water hazards scattered about the course, so picking the right club and hitting controlled shots is especially important. Yet, unlike many of its Florida course counterparts, Eastwood has virtually no parallel fairways and no rows of homes bordering the fairways. Consequently, this challenging gem has character and features a well-balanced array of par-three, par-four and par-five holes. Still a couple of holes stand out, most notably the third and sixth holes.

The par-four third only plays 356 yards from the men's regular tees, yet it is rated the number-one handicap hole because of a water hazard running down the left side, a narrow fairway, and a well-trapped sloped green.

The short par-three sixth hole, playing 178 from the back tees, is one of golf director Rich Lamb's favorite holes, and I know why. You hit over a lake to a green surrounded by bunkers, from an elevated tee.

The rates for greens fee and cart fluctuate according to the time of year: $60 during high season and $40 the rest of the year. What makes Eastwood special is that the rates get cheaper by 20 percent when you tee up after 11 a.m., and they drop by another 20 percent after 2 p.m., so it's best to call in advance (275-4848).

Eastwood's added amenities include a snack bar, driving range, and chipping and putting greens.

THE LINGO

Even if you can't play a lick, it's important to be a scratch player when it comes to knowing the language of the links. Here are some tips for brushing up on your golf vocabulary.

Angle of attack: The angle of descent at which the club approaches the golf ball.

Closed stance: The player aims his feet to the right of target, in a closed stance position, when preparing to hit a right-to-left draw shot.

Nail One: To hit the ball powerfully.

Open stance: The player aims his feet to the left of target in an open stance position when preparing to hit a left-to-right fade shot.

Spray: To hit several consecutive shots wildly.

Square address: The player takes a square address when he or she sets the body parallel to an imaginary target line and sets the club down perpendicular to the target.

Wind cheater: A low shot that pierces a strong headwind.

New Home for TopTeacher

David Leadbetter, ranked by Golf Digest magazine as America's top teacher, and an instructor I have had the pleasure to learn from while writing instructional articles for Golf magazine, has a new Southwest Florida base.

The David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Naples, founded in 1993, has a new home at the beautiful LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort. The Bob Cupp design, par 72, championship layout offers the Naples academy over 12,000 square feet of private tee space, private putting and chipping areas.

"Students will have the best of both worlds-fabulous beachfront accommodations and world-class golf and golf instruction at one of Florida's most breathtaking destinations," says Adam Bazalgette, academy director.

Having undergone a recent $50 million transformation, LaPlaya now features a 4,500-square-foot full-service spa, fabulous beachfront dining, expansive pool area and fitness facility.

Fun and Games

Thanks to a new card game called Swingless Golf, weekend hackers stand a fighting chance of beating their low-handicap friends.

This game is played just like regular golf, except that you don't need to hit any shots. The card you flip over from your stack tells you what you scored on a hole. And that hole can be one on the scorecard you are given in the four-deck package, one from your own Southwest Florida country club, or one you saved from a famous course such as Pebble Beach or Augusta National, where the Masters is being played this month.

Say you are a foursome, ready to play. Each person is given a deck of cards. After shuffling the decks, they simply turn over the top card and their score is recorded. Just keep turning over cards 18 times until the round is over, then add up the scores. Even if you lose, you gain, because the explanations for how you shot a particular score are amusing. Plus, practically every time you turn over a card, you will learn a new swing or shot-making tip.

If you like to wager once in a while, imagine the excitement you can have playing a Nassau game with automatic presses and skins for birdies and eagles. You can even score a hole-in-one playing Swingless Golf, so you better be ready to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the clubhouse-or house-should you get lucky. Suggested retail: $19.95. For further information, call (800) 816-2716 or visit wwwlinkswalker.com.

Tips

Tom Patri, one of Golf magazine's top 100 teachers in America and director of instruction for TP Golf Schools at Naples Grande Golf Club, has a unique style of teaching. Instead of confusing golfers with complex swing angles and positions, he depends on imagery. When he's not on the lesson tee, you can see Patri on The Golf Channel. During the living room lesson segment, he reviews video showing a golfer's swing and offers an on-the-spot cure. What follows is a case in point, with Patri recalling how he cured viewer Frank Marino's wild slice:

"After reviewing Frank's tape, I could see his problem right away. His faulty swing path was a reverse figure eight, meaning that he swung the club back dramatically inside the target line, looped it back over the top outside the target line, then pulled the club across the ball.

"I explained to Frank that his path was opposite to legendary player Lee Trevino, one of the all-time accurate hitters of a golf ball. I told him that Lee took the club back on the outside, allowed it to fall gently on an inside path on the way down, then delivered it solidly into the ball hitting controlled shots.

"Next, I just asked Frank to imagine reversing his figure eight from in-to-out to out-to-in. I knew Frank understood me clearly, so I was not surprised to hear that Frank had later called The Golf Channel, thrilled about me curing his slice problem"

If you slice, try using your imagination, just like Frank. Alternatively, if you need help and you want to book a lesson, Patri can be reached at 455-9179. The bonus: Mention this article in Gulfshore Life and he will give you a one-time 50-percent discount on a one-hour lesson.

The Rules

Want to win more matches without changing your swing? Learn the rules set down by the United States Golf Association. To get off to a good start, know what to do when losing your ball.

Situation: Player A slices her shot into the woods. She and her opponent look for the ball for five minutes, which is the maximum time limit available to a player trying to locate a golf ball.

Common mistake: Unable to find her ball, Player A takes a new one out of her golf bag, then tosses it into an area of fairway located a few yards from where she thinks the ball came to rest. Next, she penalizes herself a stroke before playing on.

Correct procedure: According to Rule 27-1, you must incur a one-stroke penalty and return to the place where you played your last shot. In the case cited, for failing to return to the teeing area and thus breaking the rules, Player A loses the hole to her match play opponent.

Southwest Florida's John Andrisani is the former senior editor of instruction at GOLF Magazine and the author of more than 25 books, including The Tiger Woods Way and Think Like Tiger. Send questions and comments to John at jagolf3238@aol.com