The fastest way to improve your swing is to undergo a procedure involving robotic arm implants and energy harvested from the tidal force of foreign moons. Following in close second is an equally effective but slightly less invasive approach: six-weeks of golf lessons at On Target Golf Schools. With today's Groupon, $60 gets you six weeks of swing refinement from golf pro Mike Stevens or one of his talented instructors, a $165 value.
Bloomingdale Golfers Club's 18-hole course stretches 7,165 yards into immaculate fairways hemmed by scenic waterways and trees draped in spanish moss. The layout features four long and memorable par 5s, including the 564-yard fourth hole, which bends left, then fades to the right, then doubles back left in a dizzying snake pattern that defies orthodox shot-making and golf carts prone to motion sickness. Each fairway serves as an emerald runway to the course's majestic greens, which sprout champion dwarf bermuda grass, a putting surface favored by seven prestigious PGA Tour venues.
Golfers can warm up at the practice facilities, which include a two-tiered driving range, half-acre practice green, and a short game area with a practice bunker. Famed PGA Tour pros Lee Janzen, Steve Stricker, and Michael Bradley have all refined their swings at Bloomingdale Golfers Club.
After rounds, golfers can relax at The Legends Grille, which serves up ham and turkey sandwiches, barbecue pulled chicken, and other casual fare. As they dine, guests can watch sports on seven big-screen TVs or enjoy the gallery of golfer-heckling birds soaring above the outdoor patio.
Course at a Glance:
You don't want to go into the first hole Waterlefe Golf & River Club's 18-hole, Ted McAnlis-designed course cold. Like many tracks on the formidable course, the opening par-five curves around Manatee River and its surrounding ponds; the river imperils any opening drives that veer right, and a separate pond awaits to gobble up any approach shots that miss to the left. From a birds-eye view, parts of the course look like shapely crescents of green carved into the deep-blue waterways. Unfortunately, you'll have to compromise your enjoyment of the scenery with the challenge of avoiding it.
Played from the tips, the par-three 9th hole plays to 230 yards, and it's all marsh from the tee to the green. The river hugs both sides of each of the final three holes, giving each golfer one last chance to prove they can keep their ball dry without having to dress it in a tiny wetsuit.
Though the course may be a harrowing challenge to some, PGA pro Steve Dietz has made it his home. As director of instruction at The Golf Academy of Waterlefe, Steve draws from 25 years of experience as a golf pro to create the curriculum used by his staff of fellow PGA instructors. The Golf Academy's ultimate goal is to help golfers hit straighter drives, more accurate approach shots, and longer putts en route to lower scores. Lessons often incorporate a combination of video swing analysis, user-friendly online tools, and other modern training devices. In addition, the Academy's club-fitting services match golfers with their ideal club set based on swing technique and body type so they know they're getting the most out of their equipment.
Course at a Glance:
With a successful career as a golfer and a coach that earned him a 2011 induction into the U.S. Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, Mike Stevens draws from a lifetime of experience to foster golf-game improvement in his clients. Mike’s custom, six-week golf training program—the flagship curriculum for his On Target Golf Schools—uses a biomechanics-based understanding of the golf swing to help students hit the ball farther and straighter without having to sell their soul for a corked 3-wood. Mike enhances lessons with the competitive insight gleaned from his continued success in tournaments, including a 2011 victory at the Copperhead Cup in Tarpon Springs. In addition to his six-week course, Mike offers clinics designed for kids and one-on-one lessons for those who want more private counseling.
Terrace Hill Golf Club's par-30 executive course boasts 1,854 well-groomed yards of Bermuda grass around its nine holes, which well-situated lights keep playable day and night. Whether illuminated by the sun or elevated electric bulbs, the course's sloping fairways and greens challenge two players' swinging skills—or the putting aptitude of one player over two visits—as they traverse them in a cart or roll down them in sleeping bags. After visiting all nine holes, golfers may conclude their visit by heading to the driving range and forcefully smacking a small bucket of balls to impressive distances, or patiently hitting them one by one. Players must schedule a tee time at least 24 hours in advance.
Pinebrook/Ironwood’s 3,964-yard executive course challenges every golfer’s stroke and strokes every retina with its beautiful Gulf Coast surroundings. Water borders 16 of the fairways, with 37 bunkers, or 6.4 million years in hourglass time, buffering the well-manicured greens. Budding Ben Hogans can cruise the course in their own golf cart and line up on super-quick Champion Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda grass, which is said to outperform traditional Bermuda for producing a true roll and distorting Mayday signals.