I first went to the Masters with my dad when I was 14, and I’ve gone 15 times since then, and Augusta National has always had magical Karma for me. There is so much history, beauty and uniqueness on the property that you can’t help but feel that Bobby Jones is still there. The Sunday afternoon in 1992 when Fred Couples put on a green jacket, with my friend Jim Nantz from CBS in Butler Cabin, is one of my best golf memories.
Seminole Golf Club
Juno Beach, Fla.
• No. 12 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 in the U.S.
• No. 20 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 in the World
The course is fun to play, never gets old and has a unique feel. It is a simple and elegant design by Donald Ross on a choice sand hill in Palm Beach that changes as the wind does. The locker room, membership and club tradition hits the center of the bullseye for a golf traditionalist.
Crooked Stick Golf Club
• No. 95 on GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 in the U.S.
This was the first big time, tournament-style course I played as a kid, right after Pete Dye designed it. I spent a lot more time on the practice tee after playing it that first time. You needed a lot of shots to play well — big-time shots. I think it’s an amazing layout full of visual deception and creativity. Mr. Dye has tweaked it over the years, so it’s not as severe as it was when it first opened, but it still has a very special appeal.
Otter Creek Golf Club
This is an old Robert Trent Jones design in the middle of the Indiana cornfields where I grew up. There are a lot of mature tees, large greens and classic Trent Jones bunkers scattered throughout the course. It was the host for the Indiana Amateur for many years, and Fuzzy Zoeller and Jim Gallagher Jr. both won there before becoming PGA Tour stars. It’s a great tournament site that I will always think of as a fun, difficult test.
Houston Country Club & [XLINK http://www.golf.com/golf/courses_travel/coursefinder/course/0,28290,1522380,00.html” “Shadow Hawk Golf Club” “” “articlelink”]
Sorry, but I copped out and created a tie for my fifth favorite courses. The Houston Country Club, where I was the pro for 10 years, is an old-line club with great family membership and a layout that has always been fun to play. The course sits along a big bayou that comes into play on a number of holes. Ben Hogan played Sam Snead there in a “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” match in 1964, and the legend still lives.
I’ve seen my current home course, Shadow Hawk, grow up from its infancy. Rees Jones created a few lakes and took advantage of the old pecan trees to design a big, spacious course that looks like it has always been there. Small “push up” greens and generous landing areas with a variety of holes make for a course you can play every day — I wish I could.