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Opinion & Analysis

Ocean’s Eleven: Danzante Bay Golf Course is Rees Jones’ Unfinished Symphony

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Mexico’s Baja Peninsula is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the world and host to some truly special golf destinations. The newest addition is Danzante Bay Golf Club at the Villa Del Palmar Resort in Loreto, Mexico.

The course recently held a “Grand Opening” celebration despite the fact that it only has the first 11 holes open for play. The construction of the final eight holes was delayed by a combination of factors and won’t be available for play until October 2017, but the owners of the resort and the local government thought enough of what they had to let the celebration go forward.

I admit to being skeptical; it was kind of like being invited to a graduation party for a kid that had just finished his sophomore year. But after playing the course and experiencing the many charms of the resort, the verdict is there are at least 10 good reasons to visit a resort with an 11-hole golf course.

Reason #1: Rees Jones

Rees Jones - R1

Hall of Famer Jones has a slew of memorable tracks in his portfolio and he has brought all of his skills to bear at Danzante Bay. Jones is known as the Open Doctor for the work that he did to prepare seven U.S. Open venues, six PGA Championship courses, and the layouts for four Ryder Cups, two Walker Cups and a Presidents Cup. While he took some flack from tour pros like Phil Mickelson for turning these courses into tests that the average golfer couldn’t hope to pass, the opportunity to play a course that has been crafted from scratch by one of the legends of golf design should not be missed. Danzante Bay combine a rare landscape of sea and surf.

Reason #2: Natural Beauty

Resort and course - R2

Many courses claim they are “seaside,” but only offer a few holes with a full view of the waves. Not so at Danzante Bay, where every one of the current 11 holes has a view of the sparkling blue Sea of Cortez. Jones noted that the landscape available for the course was “the most diverse I’ve ever had to work with.” Featuring, desert, fluffy dunes, rocky slopes and majestic vistas, you will likely take as many photos as you do swings as you make our way around the hills and valleys.

Reason #3: It’s a Resort Course that Plays like One

Course View - R3

In recent years golfers have been subjected to so-called resort courses that, while scenic enough, have a level difficulty that make you want to get away from your golf getaway. At par-72 7,400 yards, Danzante Bay has plenty of challenge for the accomplished player. The 12th (which plays beside the hotel to a green that is just a few yards from the beach) and 18th (a worthy finishing hole that plays down a steep canyon towards the Giganta Mountains in the distance) are burly par fives that reward the bold and punish the foolish.

There are multiple tee boxes, and the forward tees offer just as rich of a golfing experience as the tips. The paspalum turf is meticulously maintained and the greens roll fast and smooth, but are not the tilted glass surfaces that produce four-putts on a regular basis. This is a course that can host the scratch golfer or the occasional player and leave them both smiling.

Reason #4: No. 17

Hole 17 looking SE - R4

On a course that is just over half finished, No. 17 is already drawing praise from around the golf world. Playing 178 yards from the tips, the player is perched on the shoulder of a cliff overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The green sits on a narrow peninsula about 30 feet below with a canyon in front and the ocean behind ready to swallow shots that land short or long. A ridge bisects the green and guarantees that hitting the wrong side of the green will leave a very challenging two-putt. But no matter your score, you will be taken in by a hole that rivals classics like No. 7 at Pebble Beach for sheer beauty. Don’t be surprised if there is a gallery of hotel guests on the tee who have hiked up to the hole just to see the view.

Jones himself acknowledges the exceptional nature of the hole. “I have no doubt that No. 17 will be [considered] one of the best in the world,” Jones said. “Neither does anyone else who has seen it.”

Reason #5: Jacques Cousteau

Marine life - R5

Cousteau, arguably the most famous naturalist and environmentalist of the 20h century, spent a lot of time studying the Loreto Islands that lay just of the coast of Danzante Bay. The pristine waters are home to 80 percent of the world’s ocean species, from spiny crabs to majestic Blue Whales, moving Cousteau to give the pristine waters the nickname, “The World’s Aquarium.”

Take a charter boat trip out to the islands and watch the dolphins frolic in the water beside you as you skim along the water. When you get to one of the outer islands, you can take a walk on the beach or snorkel amongst the most spectacular array of marine life this side on the Galapagos Islands.

If you want to float your own boat, grab a kayak or paddle board from the hotel beach and get out on the bay, which is usually as smooth as the greens on the course. The resort is located in the middle of a United Nations World Heritage site, which means it is officially one of the most special places on Earth and bound to stay that way. One look at the sun setting over the mountains followed by about a zillion stars overhead confirms the vote. And for landlubbers, there is hiking, biking and nature-tours that fill up a day and several memory sticks.

Reason #6: Tequila Tastings Every Friday

Drinks - R6

Need I say more?

Reason #7: Owen Perry and the Villa Del Palmar Resort

Resort Pools - R7

The Villa Del Palmar is one of nine properties in the portfolio of master hotelier Perry. A visionary developer with more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Perry makes the goal of every property in The Villas to provide an exceptional experience to every guest from the moment of arrival to the moment of departure.

To help ensure that outcome, Perry established his own hospitality school on site that teaches staff the “Villas Way,” which covers everything from drawing your name in coffee beans on the bed as a welcome to drawing you a bubble bath in the extra large Jacuzzi tubs.

Every room has an ocean view and a balcony. Perry’s signature is sweating the details and leaving nothing to chance; even the on-site water supply is managed by the resort’s state of the art desalination facility located under the hotel, ensuring that every glass of agua from the bathroom tap is good to the last drop. If the staff haven’t anticipated one of your needs, your heart’s desire is a phone call away to the personal concierge who is assigned to you when you check in.

“This resort is all about the blending of the amazing natural setting with the comforts and amenities that the resort traveller expects,” Perry said. “Sure, it is a challenge to be in an environmentally protected area, but it also ensures that we will always strive to maintain that balance.”

So far, so good.

Reason #8: Showtime

Showtime - R9

At night, the Villa Del Palmar offers a range of entertainment options for its guests, including beach barbecues, dance parties and an authentic Mexican cabaret. It’s the kind of thing that is completely kitschy, but so genuinely fun that you forget to mind.

Take a good look at your waiter or housemaid because they will likely be a part of the show. On consecutive nights we saw a maintenance guy emceeing the beach party show and the amazing flamenco dance couple were the kayak rental guy and one of the housemaids. They do the double duty for the best of all possible reasons… they love it.

Reason #9: Sp-ahhh

Spa treatment - R9

An increasing number of golf travelers are demanding a top-quality spa experience, and the Villas does not disappoint. The resort boasts a 39,000 square foot facility that features sauna, steam, Jacuzzi and varied temperature tubs for men and women. The massage staff are skilled in a range of massage techniques; book your appointment and advance to ensure that your favorite will be performed by their resident specialist.

After your treatment, head to the exotic juice bar for a glass of the delicious blends that are invigorating, calming and cleansing. Then lie back in a recliner and relax in a cool-down room that is as beautiful and tranquil as the landscape that surrounds it.

Reason #10: You Can Live There

Model Home - R10

There is a 99 percent chance that at some point during a visit to Villa Del Palmar Loreto you will think to yourself, “It would be so great to live here.” In fact, you can live there. The development has plans for a range of real estate options, with more than 120 lots available starting at $281,000. The homes are designed by award-winning architect Kevin B. Howard and with amenities like a private Owner’s Beach Club, Beachfront views and custom features including pools/spas, outdoor showers, fireplaces and more.

Travel to Villa Del Palmar Resorts is a bit challenging, with short but limited flights to the Loreto airport from LAX. Once you arrive, shuttles and taxis are waiting for the 30-minute ride to the resort, or you can opt for a rental car if you plan to explore historic Loreto village on your own. A variety of vacation plans are available, but the all-inclusive option takes out all of the guesswork and guarantees access to almost everything the resort offers on land or water.

Learn More: Villa Del Palmar Resorts and Danzante Bay Golf Course

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ronald Montesano

    Jan 21, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Michael,

    I think I would need a tequila tasting after playing #17. I suspect that the back tee will be abandoned after one season, and that the hole will max out at 135, as it should. That is a green that should be approached (if at all) by nothing more than 9 iron. No margin for error. Folks who end up in that bunker on the right will like as not, blade the ball over the green, toward Davy Jones’ locker.

    Your write-up is excellent and I look forward to more of your work.

  2. Peter Shaw

    Jan 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Looks horrible! Gimicky track with the subtlty of a brick!

    If they can only afford to do 11 holes, how long will it stay open for?

  3. S Hitter

    Jan 20, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Place looks great. I would love to be there

  4. michael

    Jan 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I’d like to see more articles on golf courses on WRX. Maybe not in the advertorial style of this piece, but nevertheless, there are some great golf course writers and photographers that could provide some solid content.

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Opinion & Analysis

Golf swing videos: What you absolutely need to know

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Let’s start with a game. Below are 5 different swing videos. I want you to study them and decide which of them is the best swing. Take your time, this is important…

Please, write your answer down. Which one was it?

Now, I am going to tell you a little secret; they are all the exact same swing filmed simultaneously from 5 various positions. JM1 is on the hand line but higher, JM2 is on the hand line but lower, JM3 is on the foot line, JM4 is on the hand line and JM5 is on the target line. Same swing, very different results!

So, what did we learn? Camera angle has an enormous impact on the way the swing looks.

“If you really want to see what is going on with video, it is crucial to have the camera in the right position,” said Bishops Gate Director of Instruction and Top 100 teacher Kevin Smeltz. “As you can see, if it is off just a little it makes a significant difference.”

According to PGA Tour Coach Dan Carraher: “Proper camera angles are extremely important, but almost more important is consistent camera angles. If you’re going to compare swings they need to be shot from the same camera angles to make sure you’re not trying to fix something that isn’t really a problem. Set the camera up at the same height and distance from the target line and player every time. The more exact the better.”

For high school players who are sending golf swing videos to college coaches, the content of the swing video is also very important. You have 5-15 seconds to impress the coach, so make sure you showcase the most impressive part of your game. For example, if you bomb it, show some drivers and make sure the frame is tight to demonstrate your speed/athleticism. Likewise, if you have a great swing but not a whole lot of power, start the video with a 5 or 6 iron swing to showcase your move. Either way, show coaches your strengths, and make sure to intrigue them!

Now that you have something that represents your skills, you need to consider how to format it so coaches are most likely to open it. I would recommend uploading the swings to YouTube and including a link in the email; a link allows the coach to simply click to see the video, rather than having to mess with opening any specific program or unknown file.

When formatting the email, always lead with your best information. For example, if you want a high-end academic school and have 1550 on the SAT lead with that. Likewise, if you have a powerful swing, lead with the YouTube link.

Although these tips do not guarantee responses, they will increase your odds!

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Opinion & Analysis

Jason Day’s shoulder: More concerning than it seems?

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If you watched The Players Championship last weekend, you probably saw Jason Day tweak his shoulder on the 16th hole on Sunday. He addressed the injury in his post-round press conference and it caught my attention. Check out this video of the press conference to hear the entire clip.

A few things about what he said stuck out to me:

  • “Every now and then it happens where my shoulder feels like it pops out, but it’s like more of a sting”
  • Feeling a “pop” and “sting” in his lead (left) shoulder
  • Pain is usually during the transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing
  • He’s been doing shoulder exercises to “stay loose”

Just by watching Jason Day’s swing, it seems pretty evident that he is a hypermobile athlete. This simply means that his joints tend to be naturally looser, enabling him to achieve the tremendous positions he does in his swing. This can become problematic, however, when hypermobility becomes instability. Instability of the shoulder can lead to recurrent and frequent subluxations and/or dislocations of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint.

Shoulder Injuries in Golfers

Photo Credit: Arrow PT

Shoulder injuries account for 8-18 percent of all golf-related injuries. The most common shoulder injuries to the lead shoulder are posterior instability and acromioclavicual (AC) joint injury. Both of these injuries tend to be painful at the top of the backswing when the lead arm is in near-maximal horizontal adduction (reaching across your body). This position creates a compressive force through the AC Joint, which may cause pain.

Maximal horizontal adduction also places stress on the posterior capsule of the shoulder. During the transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing, the hips and trunk begin to rotate towards the target. In elite golfers, the arms tend to lag behind, creating a tremendous amount of torque. This can lead to something termed the “adduction stretch” in the swing when the arm bone contacts the rib cage and the humeral head exerts a posterior force. Repeated over thousands of times, this can lead to posterior instability of the shoulder (especially in a naturally hypermobile person).

 

Notice that Day’s hips have fired towards the target, but his shoulders are lagging behind. This is a move that creates tremendous torque and clubhead speed but also stresses the shoulder joint and capsule.

Golfers with posterior instability may suffer from posterior subluxations. A subluxation is when the shoulder slides out of the joint and immediately slides back in. This is different from a dislocation, where the joint remains separated until it is physically put back into place.

Photo Credit: Back And Body Clinic

Symptoms of a subluxation include:

  • A feeling of the shoulder moving out and in of the joint
  • A feeling of looseness in the shoulder
  • Pain, weakness, or numbness of the arm

Should Jason Day Be Concerned?

I’m not here to diagnose Jason Day with any medical condition. I have not evaluated his shoulder, and I do not have enough information to make any kind of an informed diagnosis. But, if it barks like a dog…

Is Day’s shoulder injury something that could negatively impact him in the foreseeable future? I would argue yes. If he does indeed have posterior instability of his lead shoulder with recurrent subluxations during his golf swing, this may be a problem that nags him for a while to come.

Conservative treatment for posterior instability typically features physical therapy focusing on improving rotator strength and stability. The rotator cuff can help stabilize the shoulder during the golf swing and prevent excessive motion of the humeral head within the socket when it is functioning properly. Medical research shows that conservative treatment of posterior instability is often successful, but not for every person. One study reports only 25 percent that golfers with posterior instability were able to return to golf after undergoing physical therapy. This study is old and has a few issues, but still, this is a pretty low percentage.

Surgical treatment of posterior instability is an option. The surgery includes tightening the capsule to prevent further subluxations. One of the major drawbacks of this surgery is that it may be tough to get full cross-body range of motion back after the capsule is tightened. This can make it difficult for golfers to get back to their old swing style after surgery.

Surgical repair of the capsule showing the tightening of the capsule.

 

Overall, shoulder injuries, particularly to the lead shoulder, can be problematic for golfers of all ability levels. I sincerely hope that Jason Day is able to overcome his shoulder pain and continue to play at his current level.

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Opinion & Analysis

Starting from Scratch (Episode 1): GolfWRX Editor switches to lefty

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As a right-handed Division I (Rutgers University) golfer, I underwent spine surgery at 20-years old, which effected the lower right portion of my back. Eight years later, I’m a trending-up-2-handicap who deals with back spasms after nearly every round of golf or practice session, and a lingering left wrist injury — neither of which are very good for a right-handed golfer. Extremely frustrated with golf and my body, I’m officially announcing my retirement as a right-handed golfer. BUT, I’m not retiring from the sport I love.

Going forward, I will be switching to playing golf as a left-hander. The left-handed swing puts significantly less pressure on the lower right side of my back and my left wrist. Therefore, I’ll be able to continue playing golf by switching sides, and get back the passion to practice and improve.

The problem? I’ve never played golf lefty and I’m not ambidextrous. I write, throw, bat, swing, play pool, play darts, everything as a righty. For 28 years, I’ve played golf righty.

As your fearless GolfWRX Editor, I’ll be documenting the entire process through written articles, photos, podcast updates, video and social media posts (@tg2wrx on Instagram). I’ll explain what it’s like to start the game as a beginning golfer, and the process I take to improve. I’ll document lessons, club fittings, performance assessments, rounds of golf, and practice sessions on my quest. Hopefully, I’ll be writing the blueprint for how to go from a terrible golfer to a nineties shooter. Hopefully.

My goal is to break 100 (on a regulation golf course from the “white” tees) before Labor Day. My co-host on Two Guys Talking Golf has bet against me for a publicly undisclosed sum, and I’ve also been taking many side bets, as well. My mission for the summer is to prove everyone wrong.

Watch Episode 1 of the series to see my first swings as a lefty.

Starting from Scratch: Episode 1

 

Week 1 and 2 highlights

  • Whiffed once while attempting to hit a 6-iron. I’m just happy it only happened once.
  • Went to a big box store to buy used golf clubs. Wow, buying equipment as a lefty is just as difficult as left-handers have been telling righties their entire lives. I bought a 64-degree SureOut wedge — I need the most forgiveness I can get
  • Purchased the rest of my set online for less than $500! We will be posting a “What’s in the bag” video in the coming weeks. Spoiler alert: I got some VERY forgiving stuff.
  • Watched a video from Shawn Clement — who is scratch as both a lefty and a righty — saying right-hand dominant golfers playing lefty should feel the club pulling with their right arm. It feels like a backhand stroke in tennis, and I’m thinking this will be a good swing thought moving forward
  • Grinded at the short game area almost every night until the rest of my clubs came in. Short game is feeling really good. Just working on hitting down on the golf ball and making consistent contact near the center of the face.
  • One night after work, I went to the short game area at my local course, and realized no one was playing. Although I didn’t feel ready to take my game to the course, I decided to play 9 holes. And I shot… 50!! (Par 35; 2,810 yards.) Very encouraging.
  • Check out @tg2wrx for a ridiculous flop shot I hit over the trees during my first round as a lefty
  • Shot 44 on a mini golf course putting lefty… yikes. Gotta reduce those three putts.

Thoughts from a left-hander

Overall, the most work is going to be getting mid-to-long irons in the air, and reducing slices/top/shanks off the tee. If I can simply get the ball in the air and hit it somewhere around the center of the face, I believe I can plot my way around a golf course to break 100. Bunker play is a huge concern still, so I’ll want to avoid bunkers at all costs. Other than that, I need to practice more. More range balls, more chip shots, more pitch shots and more putts. I need to continue getting comfortable hitting golf balls from the “wrong” side.

Tune in next time to see my WITB and how I’m faring as a south paw.

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