Pro for a Day
March 23, 2012
Does playing where world-class professionals compete improve a weekend golfer’s game? Nicholas Stein finds out
Standing on the 18th green of the Gold Course at Tiburón Golf Club, located at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples in Florida, I can’t resist the urge to hold out my putter like a periscope, squat behind the ball until my knees brush the grass and study the 6-foot grass runway that separates me from the hole. All morning, I’ve been taking a little extra time over my shots, double-checking my yardages and consciously avoiding hitting driver off every tee. On other days — and other courses — I’m just another weekend golfer wrestling with his game. But today something is different: I feel like a pro.
A year ago on this very green, at the annual Shark Shootout (now known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout), American prodigy Dustin Johnson shook off the effects of near misses at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, and partnered with flamboyant Brit Ian Poulter to claim the title. Two weeks after my time on the Gold Course, Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele topped the field, becoming the first PGA Tour rookies to win the Shootout.
Adding to the fantasy, the resort, stately Mediterranean-style clubhouse and practice facilities feel a world apart from your local municipal course. Earlier this morning, as I looked out the window of my room, I could see the gleaming metal grandstand rising above the 18th green. And as I explored the locker room inside the clubhouse and warmed up on the sprawling practice tee, I kept expecting to run into Rickie Fowler or Camilo Villegas — two of the young pros in the 2011 field. …
Click here to read more in the Spring 2012 issue of The Ritz-Carlton Magazine