Nestled in the scenic shadows of the Smoky Mountains, Bent Creek Golf Course's 18-hole layout stretches across 6,182 yards of fairways that rise and fall among rolling foothills and pristine valleys. Golf legend and course designer Gary Player made deft use of a babbling mountain stream by running it through the course and seamlessly uniting two distinct nines: a front nine that sprawls across the valley floor and a back nine that roams the hilly mountainside like a forlorn sasquatch. The overall effect is a course that does justice to both the sheer scope of the rising peaks with bottom-up views and the panoramic splendor of Great Smoky Mountains National Park when seen from the cresting hilltops of the back-nine. The inventive layout is perhaps best characterized by the 11th hole, a 362-yard par 4 where a 90-degree dogleg-left plays into a green completely surrounded by the creek's rippling waters. A blend of bent and bermuda grasses grows resiliently for golfers striving to play all year-round, and fragrant wildflowers blossom at every tee to warm the hearts of world-weary nine-irons.
Bent Creek bolsters the pin-hunting prowess of its golfers with a staff of PGA-certified instructors that conducts lessons and presides over the domain of their full-service pro shop. A practice putting green helps players trim their score by reading dicey slopes, and the Creek Side Grill hosts postround revelry and community gatherings to decry the historical hardships of the mashie niblick.:m]]
Course at a Glance:
As they observe the vibrant exhibits of aquatic life inside the Miami Seaquarium, many guests don't realize that they are walking through a movie set and a hospital. In the onsite lagoon, bottlenose dolphins swim through waters once traversed by Flipper, who filmed several television episodes and films at the venue. The Seaquarium is also recognized as a manatee critical care facility. Its staff has accomplished several historic treatments, including monitoring the conception and arrival of the first manatee born under human care and conducting the first manatee neurological surgery.
These facets of the Seaquarium—along with its many conservation efforts, educational programs, and shows—underscore a united commitment to wildlife consciousness. The animal attractions enable visitors to witness the allure and fragility of oceanic fauna up close, whether they are petting the back of a stingray or washing a dress shirt on the rough back of an 8-foot nile crocodile. Special encounters decrease the distance even further, sending patrons on underwater Sea Treks through the reef display or helping them to lead marine-mammal training routines.
It's hard to pinpoint the biggest personality inside the Seaquarium tanks, but Lolita the killer whale—who performs daily alongside pacific white-sided dolphins—claims the title of heaviest, period. On the other end of the scale, macaws and cockatiels perch around the Tropical Wings section of the park, and endangered sea turtles lounge at Discovery Bay. Elsewhere, a watery playground and three-story ropes course keep legs from growing too wobbly after a trip to Shark Channel or a smooch from a sea lion.
Photography is ubiquitous in contemporary life and culture. The founders of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts recognized this fact, so they sought to create a setting where visitors from all walks of life could appreciate and experience photography. As one of the few photography museums in the country, FMoPA presents exhibitions, which exclusively use this medium to explore themes that expose some intriguing or exciting aspect of history or modern, everyday life. This focus allows the museum to prominently feature pieces that other art institutions might not necessarily show, such as works of photojournalism or historic photographs.
In addition to scheduling upcoming exhibitions, FMoPA also includes a permanent collection. The collection aims to preserve particularly important images, such as those of various masters of the medium, including Harold Edgerton, Clyde Butcher, Hans Silvester, and Berenice Abbott.
After studying the museum's exhibitions—which can include images culled from national and international sources—guests can step behind the camera themselves during photography workshops for students of all skill levels. Then, budding photographers can display their latest shots at 15 Minutes of Fame, a showcase where up to six presenters exhibit and discuss their original work. They also host a photography group, the Photo League, for those photographers that want to share tips and helpful hints once a month.
Inside a building in St. Petersburg, works of art from around the world gather like good friends. Georgia O'Keeffe's Poppy hangs not far from Paul Cézanne's A Corner of the Woods, Pointoise. Claude Monet's Houses of Parliament gives a glimpse of faraway lands, while Thomas Moran's Florida Landscape stays closer to home.
With a range of permanent and rotating exhibitions, the Museum of Fine Arts seeks to engage visitors with art while preserving the pieces in its care. Much of the collection resides in an original 1960s building, but an adjacent modern gallery draws in visitors with special exhibitions, an art library, and interactive educational facilities—ensuring they have plenty of ways to experience art or at least overcome a fear of informational plaques.
Who They Are
Even before the Museum of Fine Arts opened to the public in 1965, founder Margaret Acheson Stuart saw its galleries as a space where diverse audiences could explore art "from antiquity to the present." Architect John Volk had designed the original museum wing to instill visitors with a feeling of solidness and permanence. Decades later, the museum sought to expand, and conducted a nationwide search for a worthy architect. They were rewarded with designer Yann Weymouth, who completed a second building in 2008—a two-story, modern glass conservatory.
When Joseph Olear tore down the original Three Point Bowling Center, he preserved what mattered most. ”We recycled the 35-year-old maple lanes and made a bar out of it,” he happily explains. “And also this gorgeous desk in my office.” The former alley was bought out by Joe’s father in ’86—a spontaneous decision that still perplexes the son. He “just bought the place! If you’d have told me we’d have a bowling alley, I’d have thought you were crazy.” That said, it’s a decision that gave Joe the reins to a facility he would totally revamp.
The updated alley features 16 automatic lanes, one of the largest bars in Kansas City, and a large crop of vine-ripened bowling balls. Olear has also solicited the master food stylings of chef Dan Cermeno for juicy burgers, steak-filled sandwiches, and spicy seafood pastas. He explains that Cermeno’s dishes—available at the alley or in Three Pins Diner—are by no means typical alley fare. “He’s a shopping king,” says Olear. ”On his way in, he stops to shop. [Always] fresh fruit and veggies—wherever the freshest stuff is.”
Beyond the lanes, Three Point entertains patrons with six full-size pool tables, dartboards, indoor and outdoor TVs up to 64 inches wide, as well as nightly league events. The revelry also extends outdoors, where an expansive outdoor deck patio hosts a meat smoker capable of feeding parties of up to 500. “There’s a guy comes in at first light and smokes the meat, “says Olear. “Venison, ribs, whatever he has. It’s in there for about 10 hours. It’s unmatched, really.” Wonderful as that is, there’s one thing Joe enjoys more. “Having a drink at the bar,” he says, smiling. “People will say they met their wife here. It happens on a fairly regular basis—someone comes in and says how nice the place is. It really makes your day.”
Shula’s Athletic Club—named for Don Shula, the NFL Hall of Famer who coached the Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl trophy in 1972—doesn’t find it hard to fill its sprawling 40,000 square feet of space. A cardio room with more than 50 pieces of equipment, a spinning center, weight rooms, fitness-class studios, and basketball courts spread through the facility, luring athletes for independent workouts and personal-training sessions. Dozens of weekly fitness classes range from calorie-burning Zumba workouts and Vinyasa-yoga sessions to spin classes that help students practice for the day they have pedal-powered cars.
The athletic club also accommodates older exercisers with aquatic aerobics and seated Silver Sneakers workouts, and it keeps kids busy with confidence-building youth sports programs. Young legs run over a new 60-yard athletic field or nine lighted tennis courts where kids whack tennis balls and low-flying hot-air balloons with rackets.
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