Golf in the Festive Season

Competing in Florida during the Festive Season

Being away from family and friends over the Festive Season is certainly not for everyone however the warmth of the reception from new golfing friends has been nothing short of exceptional. My wife and I, like pretty much most married couples, would love to have had children, however, the man above decreed that was not for us. Maybe the man above wanted us to go to Florida?  Enjoy some sun, some great golf but most importantly some great hospitality? We return this year to compete in the Orlando International Amateur and The New Years Invitational at St Peterburg Golf Club for the fourth year in succession.

Image of the fourth hole at Panther Lakes
The Fourth Hole at Panther Lakes, Orange County National

The Orlando International Amateur

Played at Orange County National, December 28-30, The Orlando International Amateur is appropriately named as it has attracted entrants from over 20 countries. The event is expertly run by Max and Tiago. It most certainly has grown to be an internationally recognized amateur golf event. The standard is exceptionally high with last year’s winner, Greyson Porter, shooting a whopping -19 over three rounds. Indeed he shot 63 in round one around Crooked Cat which measures 7500 yards and feels like you are playing on velcro with no run on the ball.

This will be my fourth year competing in the event and I have always received a superb welcome from the organizers. It’s great to be able to tee it up with the College kids and see the future of the game fist hand. In reality, competing in the off-season, playing these courses off the tips is a struggle for me. Father Time is beginning to tug at my shirt tails.  While I would have strongly advised against this type of thinking in the past, I have to admit, if I make the cut here I will be very happy

The New Year’s Invitational

For me, this is up there as one of my favorite amateur events of the year. The welcome I have received from the members for the past three seasons has been nothing short of phenomenal. St Petersburg Country Club espouses the great old traditions of amateur golf. To come across a club upholding such time-honored traditions to keep this historic golf event on the map is most refreshing. In an Irish context, it reminds me of the Mullingar Scratch Cup where members proudly dig in to preserve the event. 

The New Years Invitational has been running since 1927 and you can view a list of its winners by clicking here.

A Rich History

This historic event is run by a very historic golf club. A former PGA Tour Stop which has history dripping from its walls. The walls of the clubhouse are adorned with pictures of greats such as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Raymond Floyd to name but a few. The sense of tradition here seeps from every nook and cranny and is amplified by the members. Volunteerism is entirely evident in the running of the event. It speaks volumes for the passion and pride the members have in preserving this great tradition. 

The golf course itself places more emphasis on accuracy than distance. For yours truly this certainly helps. It curtails the scoring whereby last year’s winner Kyler Tate shot -3 to take the title. Tight Fairways, small quick greens that predominantly slope back to front with gnarly Bermuda surrounding them make this a very exacting test. Indeed a lot of things went my way her last year and I managed to bring home the Mid-am division trophy, despite a very disappointing last round. I cannot wait to return.

The 15th Hole at St Petersburg CC
The 15th hole at St Petersburg Country Club.

Visiting Friends Old and New

As previously suggested, the path laid out for us has afforded us this great opportunity to make some great friends across the world. Having spent years working as a Social Care Worker and looking after others for the festive season this is a new departure. Changing career to work in the Golf Industry has given us this marvellous opportunity to Golf in the festive season. In truth, the opportunity is more about making new friends who slowly but surely become Old Friends.  People who have welcomed us with open arms to Florida in the past and indeed who we have welcomed on Irish and Scottish links in return. Indeed I am looking forward to meeting our very first clients at Lyons Links toward the end of our trip.

Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year to all.

ps: My New Years Resolution is to write a regular blog as so many of you have requested

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