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Q&A: The man who started No Laying Up and #toursauce



At times, professional golf can be a humorless enterprise, and the coverage of the sport usually follows suit. That’s where No Laying Up comes in.

A Twitter account started two years ago as well as a golf website that mainly began in 2014, No Laying Up has risen into the consciousness as a funny and witty alternative to a sometimes subdued golf media. You can find the hilarious stream of golf thoughts –especially during live tournament action — on its Twitter account @NoLayingUp.

The No Laying Up group, a team of a few golf fanatics, also prides itself on finding fresh angles on golf coverage in its website writing. The greatest example in that regard would be Tour Sauce. No Laying Up’s own invention, Tour Sauce refers to a list of actions on a golf course that only Tour pros can do without looking ridiculous. No Laying Up released Tour Sauce to the world in a magnificent four-part series (here’s Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV) and it has caught on as a Twitter phenomenon with #TourSauce. Additionally, No Laying Up coined the popular #PrayForTedScott on Twitter.

Chris Solomon, a No Laying Up co-founder and the man in charge of its Twitter account, stopped to chat with GolfWRX’s Kevin Casey about No Laying Up’s origins, its place in golf media, some #PrayForTedScott, and, of course, heaps and heaps of #TourSauce.

Kevin Casey: You guys are called No Laying Up and Zach Johnson is famous for doing the opposite, so you are pretty vocal against him on Twitter. How are you feeling after Johnson won The Open? 

No Laying Up: There’s categories of guys I don’t like. Bubba and Poulter are in a class of their own. Those are really guys I just can’t stand. I wouldn’t say my dislike for Zach Johnson is nearly as justified as it is for those two. It’s really not personal with Johnson at all, I just don’t like his style of golf. You can’t win the Masters laying-up on every par-5. We celebrate the guys who have bigger personalities and have more firepower to the game. So that’s why I wasn’t excited to see Johnson win the Open.

KC: No Laying Up is never shy to call out players, with Bubba and Poulter being the primary examples. But, as you said, it’s tougher to justify with Johnson. It seemed like there were some who attacked you on Twitter for your Zach comments. 

NLU:  I wouldn’t really say attacks, just some people were kind of surprised at how much I was hating on him Monday. But it can’t be that hard to understand, really. Plus, I have no idea what we did to get blocked by him on Twitter and that fueled it a lot more than our hate caused it. I’m not even sure what it was, but it must have been the thinnest-skinned thing in the world, because I don’t remember tweeting at him ever and then just finding out one day that he blocked us. It took Poulter an embarrassingly long time to block us. Ted Scott definitely blocked us. Steve Elkington, Brandel Chamblee and Tim Rosaforte have also blocked us. Bubba has not blocked us yet though! I commend him for it; I don’t know how he hasn’t at this point.

KC: You jokingly tweeted that you wear Johnson’s block as a “Badge of Honor.” Is there anyone who blocked you that you seriously feel that way about?

NLU: Yeah, Poulter. I was trying to earn that one. That one was completely justified. The rest of them are for thin-skinned stuff, but I worked on Poulter for a year-and-a-half and that’s one I’m pretty proud of.

KC: You’ve detailed it before, but can you go through the origins of No Laying Up?

NLU: Me and a couple of buddies, who go by the aliases Tron Carter and Big Randy, always had a group text message for many, many years talking sports, mostly golf. Some of the things my buddies came up with were just too funny to keep harnessed in our little group. The whole time with the stuff they were coming up with I was like, “We need to get this on a website, we need to do a blog.” Finally, I said enough of this and I just made the Twitter account one day. I didn’t even put any thought into the name. I just made the Twitter account, gave those two the password and I was like “Let’s try this.” We did it for a while, shared the account and just got bored with it after a year. And we were like, “We should really do something with this.” So last January we bought the domain and the four of us (including Neil at that point) started the website and decided to see if we could do some real analysis. It’s hard to get credibility on Twitter if you’re just tweeting dumb stuff all day. If you can back it up with a chance to show that you have some golf knowledge as well, it works better.

KC: So you wanted to start this to get that funny content out there, but golf coverage can be a little dry at times. Was the idea of getting this alternative out there also a factor? 

NLU: Definitely. We’re big fans of Spencer Hall and Ryan Nanni from Every Day Should Be Saturday, so that was our inspiration from the get go. Every time we write or do something on the website, our goal is for it to be something you can’t find anywhere else., Golf Digest and these websites will all have this same story, like some slideshow of Rickie Fowler’s girlfriend the day after he wins. We don’t want to be doing stuff that everybody else is doing. We’re not really inspired by traffic numbers; we don’t have advertisements. If 50 people read a piece and love it, we’d prefer that over 5,000 people reading it and being indifferent.

KC: When you guys first started the website, did you have any structure planned out?

NLU: We had a basic structure of we wanted to do a preview and a recap for every week. We’ve kind of axed the recap because it’s a lot harder to do a recap and not generalize everything. The previews are a lot harder to do than they look because it’s difficult to find fresh new nuggets about something like the Wells Fargo Championship. So we did have that structure in place and trying to do features once a week. But with full-time jobs on top of this, it’s hard to sit down at night and pound something out when we’ve got other stuff going on and me living on the other side of the globe in Amsterdam. That was the structure, but we also threw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what stuck. It’s always about finding a fresh angle and it’s hard to think creatively like that full time.

KC: You guys are kind of a counterculture outlet for golf. How much do you think there is a market for that audience-wise?

NLU: It’s pretty obvious that there is a space for this. Just to see how much this counterculture has grown in this last 1.5 to 2 years is great. I think a lot of us counterculture people are based on Twitter, while a lot of golf media types are website-based. They use Twitter to interface, but their job is to write. For us it’s more about having fun on Twitter and finding like-minded people to talk golf with. That’s where I spend most of my time and people on Twitter want more to be entertained than to talk serious golf all of the time. I love going on Twitter to see people’s reactions to shots in the moment. So there’s a space for this, but I mean it’s not paying the bills. I don’t have an interest in becoming a full-time golf writer and following the Tour week-to-week and pounding out deadlines. The reason golf writers have to produce all of this Tiger and click bait stuff is because that’s what pays the bills. They’re being judged by how many people go to the website and they’re balancing the line between journalism and trying to get clicks and that’s why we’re able to operate in the function we do. If we were revenue-based, we would be doing the same thing.

KC: So we need to talk about #TourSauce. Can you briefly describe how you guys came up with this concept?

NLU: It was something that my buddies and I would do on the golf course. We knew each other and our games really well and had really great matches, improved a lot over the years. We just started thinking we were better than we were. It was to the point that we were rooting for a 65 degree day when we could justify wearing pants, which is an example of Tour Sauce. It snowballed into you hit a good shot and your buddy says nice shot and instead of saying thank you, you give a tip of the hat. And we kept one-upping each other and it would turn into this hilarious side game of who could pull it off the best. It kept going and going until finally we were like, “We have to get this on paper.”

KC: You guys have done a lot of these Tour Sauce moves yourself, but some are really crazy. Like have you ever actually acted out “The Apology?”

NLU: I’ve never seen that one done. But we did have someone tweet us a picture once of hitting a ball into someone’s yard and they signed their glove and left it on their fencepost. Also, one of my friends won the member-guest at his club and after he sank the winning putt on the 18th green, his two little kids ran out onto the green and greeted him, and his wife came out and kissed him. And to top it off, he took out the flag and took it home with him. It’s funny because my mom’s totally in on it now. My dad was playing in the same member-guest this past week, and he was in second place going into the last day and she was like, “I’ve got my high-heeled boots on and I’m ready to run onto the green if he wins.”

KC: You and Kyle Porter did a Tour Sauce Power Rankings. What pros do you think have the most underrated Tour Sauce games?

NLU: [Justin] Rose was the first guy who came up there. Patrick Reed isn’t an underrated Tour Sauce guy; he’s one of the sauciest guys out there. Sergio can be really saucy, too. He’s never happy with a shot; he’s always leaning and can be pouty. Keegan Bradley can be very saucy — when he misses a putt it looks like he just found out his dog died. He’s basically got his own Tour Sauce category too with his pre-shot routine. Phil can get really saucy with how analytical he gets on a lot of his shots. Everyone has their own flavor of Tour Sauce.

KC: So #PrayForTedScott. We know its origins, but you actually first used the hashtag during last year’s Open Championship. Did you in any way expect the avalanche that followed after you first used the hashtag?

NLU: I remember some catastrophic event had happened somewhat recently and I had remembered seeing “Pray For.” But it was far enough away from that event that I felt OK making the hashtag. It was meant to be a joke about Ted being in danger because of the way Bubba treated him. I just did it and it took on a life of its own. It’s so ridiculous in a way because it all stems from that one Travelers incident. Bubba doesn’t really yell at his caddy and he’s not really hard on him, but it will always be funny to me to keep that line of jokes going forever. At the same time, I’ve never seen a player do that to a caddy, at least on camera.

KC: Did you get any DMs about #PrayForTedScott?

NLU: I’ve gotten a few messages like, “You’re doing God’s work right now.” A few of them are from players. The funniest to me is which players will favorite an anti-Bubba tweet, which is public for people to see. And you can tell right there, OK, that guy doesn’t like Bubba.

KC: No Laying Up had an excellent podcast a couple of months ago with Justin Thomas as a guest. I’m curious how did that come about? 

NLU: He started following us back in January or February and he would favorite a tweet and message us here or there. I just shot him a DM and asked him if he was interested in doing a podcast and he was down to do it. I think he appreciates the golf counterculture. He knew I wasn’t going to ask him about Spieth and run through the same narratives and everything.

KC: It seems like you’ve kept in contact with Thomas, too, as well as other Tour Sauce fans Billy Horschel and Scott Langley.

NLU: We’ll exchange messages from time to time. It’s funny, some players will DM me random things that they can’t say in public. I have some screenshots I would never take or send that would be very interesting on Twitter. It’s cool that Twitter gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with these guys. They can appreciate somebody who tells it like it is. But at the same time, Horschel is friends with Poulter, so he probably hates my Poulter stuff. I protect the guys we’re friends with. I don’t call out Thomas or Horschel on Twitter. I can definitely be criticized for being hypocritical when it comes to the guys I like. I’m very soft on them on Twitter.

KC: Are there any guys who lay up too much who aren’t really contending at the moment that you dislike?

NLU: There are certain things about guys where I’m like I’m out on you. Like, Will Wilcox, you can’t play with a yellow ball, get that off my screen. For Johnson and some of those short-hitters, the whole mindset of No Laying Up is not that you’re not allowed to lay up. When Sergio laid up on 17 at the BMW last year from like 223 yards, he can get on from anywhere he wants to, but he played with fear and laid up. That’s the kind of thing I’m most against. I’m not advising golfers to play outside their ability. It’s just that I love the guys who will go for it and be aggressive.

KC: What are your favorite Tour Sauce moments of 2015 thus far?

NLU: Probably the entire montage of Spieth yelling at his ball at the Masters. Kevin Na comes to mind on No. 17 at Sawgrass when he did the club throw and he hit it to 5 feet. Spieth also did that at Colonial when he hit it to 15 feet on the 72nd hole. Living in Amsterdam it’s tough to watch a lot of golf, so I’ve been relying on people to report Tour Sauce to me.

KC: Are there any new Tour Sauce moves you’ve noticed since writing that series?

NLU: Some will pop up. A caddy will stand over a putt with the pin behind his back, as if he’s going to putt it. If you’re my partner and you’re lining up a putt from behind the hole, I go stand over your putt as if I’m the caddy and I’m going to putt it. Another one is when you hit a shot into a blind green and you think it’s really good but there’s no applause from up around the green, you can act confused as to why there wasn’t an ovation.

KC: You’ve said that Tiger kind of invented Tour Sauce, but have you ever looked at players from previous generations in regards to purveyors of Tour Sauce?

NLU: It’s funny to go back and look at and see the old highlights from the 70s and you see guys doing the spike mark blame. Nicklaus in ’86 when he missed the putt on No. 12, he tapped down a spike mark immediately. So people always get that to me. Jack had some premature tee grab sauce for sure and he was also the purveyor of the hike-up-the-pant-leg-before-getting-the-ball-out-of-the-hole. I think he basically invented that. Palmer had all of the leaning going on and the follow through finishes and what not. Tour Sauce is not new, it’s always been there.

KC: No Laying Up is a big fan of a lot of these younger guns. I know this is a long-term projection, but how many majors do you think Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth each end up with?

NLU: This was a question I floated to Shane Bacon a while ago: Between Rory and Spieth, do they beat Nicklaus’ 18 majors? I’m confident they’ll beat Tiger’s, but I’m less sure on Nicklaus. I’ll say they each win six more majors; Rory wins 10 and Spieth wins 8. No one will ever remember to look back at that prediction, so it’s the safest one you can make. But overall, I think this will be an unbelievable rivalry for the next 10 years. It’s impossible to put into words how amazing the state of the game is.

KC: What is the future of No Laying Up?

NLU: We would love to redesign the site; we just haven’t gotten the time to actually sit down and do it. We had one design and redesigned it to what it currently is like a month later and we haven’t touched it since. I would love for the site to look a little cleaner, a little better. We have some new merchandise coming out; we’re trying to perfect the shipping and all of that process. We would love to have some towels and pullovers in the pro shop. I come up with ideas all of the time, and then I sit down to write and hate what I write. I have an arsenal of unpublished drafts. I’d like to pick the podcast game back up, but we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.

I wish my other friends with No Laying Up just had more free time because when they write, it’s some funny and really good stuff. If they had the time to dedicate to it, the website would really be something.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014



  1. Scott

    Jul 28, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    NLU is a pretty funny site. I could not stop laughing at the Toursauce articles

  2. John

    Jul 27, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    I am 59 years old and I think NLU is really funny. It’s a game people, not a religion. Of course the problem, Kevin, is most of the knuckleheads on here either have no sense of humor, or are so full of tour sauce that it’s impossible for them to laugh at themselves. Great read.

    Oh and by the way, if jerks like Hogan often was wouldn’t like NLU, I’m all for it.

  3. Pingback: What I’m Reading (July 27) – Kyle Porter

  4. No sauce

    Jul 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Guys talking about tour players sauce sounds really…… (insert the word). Got to be one of the worst sayings so far! Definitely tops the idiots yelling BAABAABOOEY and that is saying something. Keep your talking about tour guys sauce to yourselves.

  5. Patricknorm

    Jul 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Without naming names , my son is a prominent pro athlete and this is the way they talk all the time. In front of a camera it’s very professional and orderly and polite but off camera and amongst friends this is what they do. When you’re a pro you have a lot of insight into your sport because well, you’ve been doing it at the highest level for 20 years. Pros get bored by the lameness of other players, announcers and team owners.
    Let’s face it I like this guy and went to his website, read the articles, the Twitter account and it’s all authentic. Lighten guys ( male and female) it’s 2015 and if you play golf at a fairly high level like I do and play way too much and get way too serious, this is the kick in pants some commenters need.
    I been a pro athlete , hung around the guys for close to 40 years and this website is pretty close to telling it like it is. There is luge out side the ropes, lines, arena , etc.

  6. Christosterone

    Jul 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I think the NLU group of writers are fairly typical of the post 1970 children…I am counted in their ranks sadly.
    NLU is a perfect microcosm of this generation….his persistent references that he is not “totally” into it and that he is so ready to point out that he is not full time nor are any of his “writers.”….or that his website is not completed or page views don’t matter or that he is over seas or blah blah blah….basically he is too cool to engage in anything thereby avoiding ownership of failure…or a lack thereof….newsflash NLU, the world is governed by metrics and generally speaking, you are what you earn…with very few exceptions.
    NLU’s mentality is typical of people who are afraid of failure…they never fully engage so are never held to the any judgment….he can simply brush aside criticism with the excuse that this is not his full time endeavor…were it to be he would be subject to failure as he would have no excuses…
    So, as I stated before, I am proud to engage fully in the pursuit of catching lightning in a bottle on a golf course…
    I can never throw on a #23 jersey and drop 63 on Larry Bird at Boston Garden….but I can play Sawgrass and maybe, just maybe drain a 20 foot snake like Tiger in 2001…and that is exciting to me…
    Hope this helps explains NLUs polarization…

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      I definitely understand where you’re coming from here, Christosterone. I totally get why NLU is polarizing, and each side has valid reasons for standing where they do on this. It in no way confuses me why some people aren’t fans of or outright dislike NLU.

      The only thing I’ll say here is that Solomon was pretty honest in why NLU is structured the way it is. As his answer above showed, he is very aware that NLU would be a much tougher endeavor if the goal was to make money off it. As you can see in Solomon’s answers, he’s definitely not a big fan of everything with golf coverage, but he also gets that NLU would probably cover golf in a very similar way as the other sites if making money was a goal. He seems to be fully aware that if he and his friends tried to put all of their effort into making money here, they would fail and/or NLU would lose its character and become like any other golf website.

      Maybe I’m reiterating your points, I don’t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t see Solomon and NLU using these things as excuses. I think they just understand that NLU works best as it currently is and it really wouldn’t as a full-time money-making venture.

  7. Matthew

    Jul 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    The reason wrxers don’t like NLU is because they’re full of #toursauce and don’t like being made fun of

    • Christosterone

      Jul 26, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      I think many of us view the “tour sauce” crowd as being “too cool” to play aspirational golf.
      There is a zero chance I could ever be a tour player, though I’m completely excited to throw on a pair of knickers with matching foot joys and tee off at sunup to chase that perfect shot….
      And while I may never achieve it, my dream is to occasionally play a hole as well as a pro…I could never dunk a ball from the free throw line like Dr J or throw a 50 yard spiral like Brady….but on rare occasions I will catch magic in a bottle and birdie a hole or hit it to a few feet from a long way out…
      And I am ecstatic on those rare occasions….and while these guys view everything through a cynical “ironic” prism, I choose not to….unlike these guys, I am not too cool to celebrate the occasional lucky putt or hope for better shots in spite of the fact I may be 10 over par….

  8. Dean

    Jul 26, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, there are some incredibly humorless people ’round here. I bet some of you are a blast at parties.

    NLU is great, and quite funny. I hope they keep it up.

    Good article, Kevin. Trust me, some of us “get it.”

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Haha thanks, Dean! I don’t have any qualms with people who are against NLU. I’m obviously not one of those people but NLU is not an entity many people feel neutral about.

  9. JH

    Jul 26, 2015 at 11:23 am

    really golfwrx? these guys are a bunch of dooshcanoes. terrible article.

  10. Spikey

    Jul 26, 2015 at 3:24 am

    What a bunch of total cnuts

  11. D Louis

    Jul 26, 2015 at 2:28 am

    This site seems to decline a little more every week with really entertaining, breath taking articles like this

  12. Slimeone

    Jul 26, 2015 at 12:32 am


  13. Sean

    Jul 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    All that matters in the end is how many. It doesn’t matter how you do it. The scorecard doesn’t care.

  14. Kyle

    Jul 25, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    The part 1-4 tour sauce articles made my night. Love the tweets keep em going!

  15. Mlecuni

    Jul 25, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Anything positive ?

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      What do you mean?

      • Mlecuni

        Jul 26, 2015 at 8:05 am

        I mean that there is more in the game of golf than unfavourable judgments with the only perspective of selling merchandise or make a joke, especialy over a two times major winner.
        I dont reconized the golf that my familly, friends and myself love in this article.

        So any construtive critisism ?

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

          If you didn’t find any positivity in this article, you were not reading very closely. NLU isn’t about always saying unfavorable things. They tell it like it is, positive or negative. The point for them is to have fun. Some of their jokes have a positive connotation, others have a negative one. I certainly understand that NLU isn’t for everybody, but it’s misconstruing it to say that they are always negative.

  16. Gary Gutful

    Jul 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I lay up all the time.


    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Haha, on a regulation PGA Tour course from the tips, I would have that same problem over and over again.

      • Steve

        Jul 26, 2015 at 7:39 am

        Regulation PGA Tour course? What is that? This isnt football or basketball where the dimensions are the same everywhere? You just keep proving your knowledge.

        • Kevin Casey

          Jul 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

          I’m curious about this, Steve. Does your dislike for me all stem from that one disagreement we had over the Road Hole? If so, that is really strange and petty. People disagree all the time, there’s no way to have any lasting friends if every time you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone on one issue you treat them as a new enemy.

          But that’s just one option. I feel what’s more likely is that you’ve disliked me for a long time, and it first bubbled up in comments on the Road Hole argument. I can understand this option far more than the first one. But yeah, I am legitimately curious which one of these strikes closer to the truth.

          Anyway, all I meant by regulation was your average PGA Tour course. They’re obviously not all the same, but they all tend to be far longer than the courses I play (where the tips are maybe 6,600 or 6,700 yards at most) and have much more trouble (narrower with more trees and bunkers, and rough that is actually somewhat penal). I really don’t see why there was any need to gripe over my phrasing here.

          • Steve

            Jul 26, 2015 at 1:25 pm

            You seemed to know very little, but come off that you know alot. Just in you recent articles. 1. You think a hole in a major championship that is playing over par isnt fair. 2. You pick someone as a favorite to win the Canadian open, that wasnt in the field. 3. You think there are regulation pga tour golf courses.

            • Kevin Casey

              Jul 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm

              So from what you’re saying, it seems like the first scenario I offered for your dislike is pretty much correct, which is very strange…

              As for your points, 1. You just did not get my argument about that hole on Thursday. At all. That is clear from your statement. 2. That’s fair, for the most part. I did offer a mea culpa on that, it was a dumb mistake and I own up to it. Although, I didn’t pick him as a favorite. I put him on one of my DK rosters. If I could have picked 12 players with no restrictions, Pettersson wouldn’t have been on there. But there’s a salary cap to rosters and I have to choose players who are further down on the scale in a field. Regardless definitely a stupid error that I regret. 3. Once again, you’re just not getting it. I already explained what I meant by that phrase.

              • Patricknorm

                Jul 26, 2015 at 6:28 pm

                Hey Kevin I’m a big fan of yours and keep up,the good work. It’s like any pro sport. You’re closer to golf pros more than anyone of us will know and everybody has an idea. But they don’t know. I have a son who’s been a pro for,10 seasons in another sport, makes well over seven figures and it amazes me all,the time when people argue with me about his sport. They think they know but don’t. That’s what you’re up against every time you write and article it seems. Hang in there.

            • The Infidel

              Jul 30, 2015 at 8:14 am

              Steve – Take it somewhere else or get therapy. Those are your big boy options.

  17. Ryan

    Jul 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Doesnt surprise me that a few WRXers are too dense to get NLU. Great interview, Kevin.

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Appreciate it, Ryan! Helps to have a great subject like Solomon and NLU.

  18. Jang Hyung-sun

    Jul 25, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Ben Hogan is spinning in his grave over this nonsense.

    • Christosterone

      Jul 26, 2015 at 9:20 am

      I sadly do a lot of these…though to defend the pants pull up, I have ripped a crotch seam getting a ball out of the cup so at least I have an excuse on that one…

  19. ABgolfer2

    Jul 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    There is no wrong way to win the Masters as long as the winner plays by the rules and displays proper etiquette.

  20. TJS

    Jul 25, 2015 at 11:53 am

    “You can’t win the Masters laying up on all par 5’s.” Yeah this quote is so special since he’s talking about the guy who actually won the Masters doing just that…not a very informed group of “Golf fanatics.” Should’ve ended the interview right there…idiots.

    • Kevin Casey

      Jul 25, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Solomon very well knows that ZJ won the Masters doing exactly that. Look at what he says in the sentences around that one. Context there makes it pretty obvious that what he’s saying here is that he sees winning the Masters by laying up on every par-5 as blasphemy, as the wrong way to do it. He knows it can and has been done, what he’s saying is that he doesn’t like seeing it done that way.

      I can see how that sentence could be misconstrued on a quick read, but if you pay attention closely to everything said in that response, you’ll see what he’s trying to say there.

    • Matto

      Jul 27, 2015 at 6:44 am

      It was said in the same vein as the “you can’t play golf with a yellow ball.”
      Well, obviously…you can.

      • Kevin Casey

        Jul 27, 2015 at 8:57 pm

        Exactly. You said it much better and quicker than I did haha

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: 2024 Genesis Invitational First Round Leader picks



The Genesis Invitational begins on Thursday, and while all eyes will be on the return of Tiger Woods, there are plenty of intriguing storylines this week. The event marks the first limited field “signature” event, that will also feature a cut. Of the 70 players, the top 50 players as well as any player within ten shots of the lead will make it to the weekend.

In the past five editions of the tournament, there have been six first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the six, all six have come from the morning wave. There were co-leaders from the PM in 2018, but there does seem to be a real advantage for AM starters at Riviera.

As of Tuesday, the wind doesn’t look as if it will play a factor during round one. It will be about 58 degrees and sunny for most of the day.

Wind such a small field this year, most of the golfers will be going out at roughly the same time, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with looking for a tee time advantage.

This week, I used the Betsperts Rabbit Hole to see each players floor/ceiling.  You can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Genesis Invitational First-Round-Leader Selections

Cameron Young +4000 (BetRivers)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:44 a.m. Local Time

Cameron Young was one of the players I considered adding to my outright betting card but ran out of room. Last year, Young finished in a tie for 20th at the event. Two years ago, he got off to a blazing start, shooting 66 in round one and eventually finishing in a tie for 2nd place.

At TPC Scottsdale last week, Young gained 4.0 strokes off the tee, demonstrating once again that he’s an elite driver of the golf ball. That should serve him well this week at Riviera.

Hideki Matsuyama +6000 (BetRivers)

First-Round Tee Time: 10:42 a.m. Local Time

Matsuyama is one of the players who has an incredibly high ceiling when things are going well. He finished 13th at Torrey Pines this year and 22nd last week in Phoenix, so he’s shown some signs of playing well early in 2024.

‘Deki finished 9th and 5th in two consecutive starts in 2019 and 2020 and is clearly a fit for the golf course when he is healthy. He also loves soft conditions as he showed in his 2021 Masters victory.

Emiliano Grillo +6600 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 7:56 a.m. Local Time

Emiliano Grillo has finished in the top-22 in all three of his 2024 starts on the west coast. Last week at TPC Scottsdale, the Argentine gained 6.0 strokes on approach, which was his most since the Mexico Open in April.

Grillo is an excellent long iron player who should be able to take advantage of the par-5’s and drivable par 4 at Riviera Country Club.

Tom Hoge +8000 (BetRivers)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:08 a.m. Local Time

In his past two starts, Tom Hoge has finished 6th at Pebble Beach and 17th at TPC Scottsdale. He gained 3.7 strokes on approach in both of those starts and is one of the more consistent iron players on the PGA Tour.

Hoge hasn’t been great at Riviera in the past, but last season he finished 14th, which shows he could have figured something out. The 34-year-old shot a 67 in round one. Another strong start this year will put him in the conversation for the first round lead with the way he’s currently hitting it.

Taylor Moore +9000 (BetRivers)

First-Round Tee Time: 11:18 a.m. Local Time

Taylor Moore struggled early in the year but may have found some form last week at TPC Scottsdale. The Arkansas product gained 3.8 strokes on approach and 4.0 strokes around the green. He was horiffic on the greens, which caused him to fall to 38th on the leaderboard, but the way he hit the ball was encouraging.

Moore finished 21st at Riviera in 2022, shooting in the 60’s for the first three rounds.

Adam Svensson +10000 (BetMGM)

First-Round Tee Time: 8:32 a.m. Local Time

Adam Svensson finished 9th at this event last year, and though it’s been a slow start to his 2024 campaign, a return to Riviera may be what Svensson needs to get things on the right track. Svensson has some of the longest odds on the entire board this week which is enough for me to take a shot given his 2023 performance at the course.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Genesis Invitational betting preview: Stage set for elite ball strikers to shine at Riviera



The PGA TOUR’s West Coast swing makes its final stop to play a $20 million signature event at historic Riviera Country Club. The 2024 Genesis Invitational always delivers as one of the best tournaments of the year at one of the most iconic golf courses in the world.

Riviera Country Club is a par-71 that measures 7,322 yards. The fairways and rough consist of Kikuyu grass, and the greens are Poa Annua.

The Genesis Invitational field will consist of 70 players with the top-50 and ties making it to the weekend. 

Tiger Woods will also make his 2024 debut at Riviera this week. 

Past Winners at The Genesis Invitational

  • 2023: Jon Rahm (-12)
  • 2022: Joaquin Niemann (-19)
  • 2021: Max Homa (-12)
  • 2020: Adam Scott (-11)
  • 2019: J.B. Holmes (-14)
  • 2018: Bubba Watson (-12)
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson (-17)
  • 2016: Bubba Watson (-15)
  • 2015: James Hahn (-6)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking

This week, I find ball striking to be especially important. Riviera requires golfers to play well in all facets of their game.

Ball striking includes both off the tee and approach, as one or the other will not be enough this week. Golfers will need to excel with both the driver and irons this week if they want to contend.

Last year Jon Rahm gained 12.5 strokes ball striking. In 2022, Joaquin Niemann, gained 9.1 strokes ball striking.

Total Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in Past 24 Rounds (Average per round)

  1. Adam Scott (+2.08)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+1.97)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1.54)
  4. Justin Thomas (+1.30)
  5. Chris Kirk (+1.18)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

While off the tee is included in the ball striking stat, I am double-dipping here by incorporating SG: Off the Tee. Driving distance is very important, as the course is long, and there are many fairway bunkers that require length to carry.

Driving accuracy is also important because the Kikuya rough can be quite penal.

SG: OTT Round in Past 24 Rounds (Average per round)

  1. Kevin Yu (+0.98) 
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+0.79) 
  3. Rory McIlroy (+0.78)
  4. Byeong Hun An (+0.67) 
  5. Cameron Young (+0.62)

Strokes Gained: Putting (West Coast)

Riviera’s fast and firm greens are notoriously difficult. Putts from 10 feet and in are far from a guarantee, and this is an area where we will see many golfers struggle this week.

SG: Putting (West Coast) Past 24 Rounds (Average Per Round)

  1. Nick Taylor (+24.2)
  2. Brendon Todd (+23.1)
  3. Sahith Theegala (+18.7)
  4. Sam Burns (+18.5)
  5. Taylor Montgomery (+17.7)

3-Putt Avoidance (West Coast)

Poa can get really bumpy late in the day, making tough par saves late in the tournament even more difficult. Average three-putts per round are much higher at Riviera than the TOUR average. 

3-Putt Avoidance: Gained in Past 24 Rounds (Average Per Round)

  1. Sam Burns (0.8)
  2. Kurt Kitayama (+0.8)
  3. Keegan Bradley (+0.8)
  4. Nick Taylor (+1.0)
  5. Dabis Riley (+1.1)

Strokes Gained: Around the Green

This event will be far from a birdie-fest. As mentioned, Riviera is a true all-around test.

With fairways relatively difficult to hit, playing out of the rough will create a lot of missed greens. Golfers will need to make some tricky up and downs to get away with par at Riviera.

SG: ARG: past 24 rounds (Average per round)

  1. Justin Thomas (+.78)
  2. Russell Henley (+.76) 
  3. Hideki Matsuyama (+62)
  4. J.J. Spaun (+.57)
  5. Beau Hossler (+.56)

Course History (SG: Total) (Average per round)

  1. Cameron Young
  2. Adam Svensson
  3. Mac Homa
  4. Viktor Hovland
  5. Patrick Cantlay
  6. Collin Morikawa
  7. Adam Scott
  8. Xander Schauffele
  9. Will Zalatoris
  10. Rory McIlroy

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: BS (28%), SG: OTT (24%), SG: Putting West Coast (17%), SG: ARG (17%), Course History (7%) and 3-Putt Avoidance West Coast (7%).

  1. Sahith Theegala (+3500)
  2. Max Homa (+1600)
  3. Justin Thomas (+2000)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+1400)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+1600)
  6. Scottie Scheffler (+750)
  7. Beau Hossler (+1800)
  8. Adam Scott (+4500)
  9. Viktor Hovland (+1200)
  10. Luke List (+15000)

2024 Genesis Invitational Picks

Justin Thomas +2500 (Bet365)

Justin Thomas was my headline bet last week, and I’ll be going back to him once again at Riviera. Although it wasn’t a spectacular performance, JT played well enough, finishing in a tie for 11th.

Statistically, Thomas didn’t play extremely well, however, he was solid in all facets of his game, which is a key at Riviera. He gained strokes off the tee, on approach, around the green and even putting. After making a putter switch after the first round, the two-time PGA Champion was positive on the greens for the rest of the week.

Thomas has had a great deal of success at Riviera, and history has shown that players who have a strong track record at the course are more likely to have a repeat performance. In his past six starts at the Genesis Invitational, Thomas has three top-10 finishes, including a second-place finish in 2019. In that event, JT lost to J.B. Holmes on a windy Sunday when he played 36 holes. He finished 20th last season. 

Although he’s yet to get in the winner’s circle since the 2022 PGA Championship, JT has finished 3rd, 6th and 12th in his three 2024 starts. I believe the win is coming, and one of his best chances of the year will be this week.

Tony Finau +3000 (BetRivers)

Despite not finishing extremely well, Tony Finau once again hit the ball great at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He gained 5.8 strokes ball striking, which should provide him much more of an advantage at a course like Riviera as opposed to the shorter track in Pebble Beach. Finau was also excellent at Torrey Pines, finishing 6th and gaining 7.0 strokes on approach, which was good for 2nd in the field.

Finau has a strong track record at Riviera. In 2021, he lost in a playoff to Max Homa and in 2019, he finished runner-up to Bubba Watson. He ranks 14th in the field in Strokes Gained: Total per round at Riviera. The 34-year-old has finished in the top-20 of the event in three of his last five tries.

It’s been a slow start for the bigger names at the top of the leaderboard this season, but I believe a player like Finau can get it done this week in a signature event.

Sahith Theegala +3500 (DraftKings)

This season, Sahith Theegala is playing like one of the best and most consistent golfers on the PGA Tour. In his past two starts, he’s finished 20th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and 5th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Last week at TPC Scottsdale, Theegala gained 5.6 strokes on approach and 2.6 strokes off the tee.

In addition to the strong recent ball striking, the former Haskins award winner is an excellent putter on West Coast POA, ranking 3rd in the field in the category only behind some fantastic putters.

Theegala has proven that he’s extremely comfortable playing on the West Coast where he grew up and went to college at Pepperdine. He won the Fortinet Championship in the fall and can be another player, similar to Max Homa, who wins at Silverado and Riviera.

Adam Scott +4500 (FanDuel) 

This number is a little shorter than I was hoping for, but Scott’s combination of recent form and course history at Riviera is too difficult to ignore this week.

Last week at TPC Scottsdale, the Australian gained 6.5 strokes on approach, which was his best performance in the category since June of 2022. Scott has started his 2024 season finishing 20th and 8th in his two starts and a recent iron switch seems to be working out beautifuly for the veteran. He switched from Miura irons to the Srixon ZX Mk II (3, 4), Srixon ZX 7 Mk II (5-9), which are more of a cavity backed iron. He also switched to a TaylorMade driver and has gained 1.8 and 1.7 strokes off the tee in his two starts this season.

Scott’s history at Riviera is remarkable. In his last eight trips to the course, he’s finished in the top eleven five times, including a win (2020) and a runner-up (2016). In the field, he ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Total at Riviera.

At his best, Scott can compete with all of the top players on Tour despite being in the back nine of his incredible career.

Hideki Matsuyama +8000 (BetRivers) 

This is simply a “bet the number” play for me this week. Hideki Matsuyama has been a tough man to predict since his 2021 Masters victory and he’s been relatively inconsistent to kick off his 2024 campaign. In between some mixed results, the Japanese star has finishes of 13th at Torrey Pines and 22nd last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

In the past, Matsuyama has played great at Riviera, however the results haven’t been as strong in the past three seasons. He has finishes of 4th (2015), 9th (2019) and 5th (2020), so he clearly has an eye for the layout.

Matsuyama is great with his long irons and is always one of the best players around the green, which are two of the most important factors at Riv. If Matsuyama can keep his driver in play, I think he will be around over the weekend.

Other Considerations

I decided to add this blurb this week of some players that I strongly considered but couldn’t fit on my card. If you need a break from some of my stalwarts such as JT, Hideki or Scott, a bet on one of these players looks great.

Ludvig Aberg +2200: Riviera should be a perfect course fit.

Sam Burns +2500: Playing extremely well at the moment and figures to be in the mix.

Cameron Young +4000: Played great here last year and seems to be finding some form. Driver can be a weapon at Riv.

Will Zalatoris :+5500: Still working his way back from injury, which is my concern, but Riviera is a golf course that will suit Zalatoris for the next decade plus.

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19th Hole

The biggest golf resort you never knew (but should)



As a Korean-Canadian and an avid golfer for over 35 years, I am fortunate to have played on many beautiful golf courses in the West and the Far East. I still have a boatload of courses like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews on my bucket list, but I came to learn that Asia had plenty of such places to visit as well.

I have recently had the good fortune of playing the iconic Blackstone Golf Club at Mission Hills Resort in China, which is consistently ranked as one of the best courses in Asia. Blackstone is particularly famous for hosting the Tiger Woods vs. Rory McIlroy exhibition ‘The Match at Mission Hills’ in 2013. The event brought international attention to the sprawling luxury resort and boosted the level of interest in the game in the region.

Before delving into my amazing experience at Blackstone Golf Club, here is a little bit of information about the best golf resort you may never heard of.

Tiger and Rory faced off at the very course I was at in 2013. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it by telling you who won.

The Best Golf Resort in The World?

Mission Hills Golf and Resort is located in the southern part of China on Hainan Island, which is about the size of Maine. Often referred to as the Hawaii of China, its tropical location gives the island year-round sunshine with temperatures between 75~90°F in the winter and 60~75°F in the summer. Along with dozens of other notable golf resorts and courses on the Island, the resort is a popular destination for golfers from Asia, Europe, and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Mission Hills first opened its doors in early 2010 with the aim of becoming the best resort in the world. I’m not sure if they achieved their goal, but before you smirk at their ambitiousness, Mission Hills is currently listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s largest golf resort with a total of 10 world-class golf courses. That is an astounding 180 championship-class golf holes in one resort! The courses are designed by the talented Schmidt-Curley Design team who are behind some of the best courses in Asia and around the world.

The Blackstone Golf Club is considered the “crown jewel” course at Mission Hills Resort and gets its name from the plethora of black lava rock that is found all over the course as part of its beautiful charm. But don’t be fooled by its rugged beauty, as the monster-long Blackstone has hosted several World Cup of Golf championships (guess who teamed up for the US to win in 2011?) and the annual World Ladies Championships. It also hosts the annual World Celebrity Pro-Am attended by an amazing A-list of screen stars, pro golfers, and elite athletes from around the world.

So yeah, the course is quite good.

On top of that, the resort holds another world’s best distinction, with a total of 168 different hot springs and pools within the resort. Unfortunately, I was too immersed in playing golf to take advantage of a good hot soak, but it will be on the top of my list to do with my whole family next time.

Now, let’s take a close look at what the Blackstone course was all about, and keep in mind that the course descriptions and opinions are all my own from experience and perspective.

The early morning view outside the hotel room overlooking the course and resort is breathtaking


The green condition was quite superb, albeit a bit slow from Western standards. According to the caddie, the green speed was measured at about 2.9 meters, which translates to about 9.5 on the stimp meter. A speed of 7 is considered to be slow, and the average PGA Tour event is said to be about 12, so for us average folk the greens were rolling well.

The green size is quite large with nearly 5700 square feet average in size with less-than-subtle undulations and big rolling plateaus. The pins were placed slightly towards the front left of the green this day, and the approach shots were challenging for us amateurs to stuff close. The ball rolled straight and true to where it was aimed, and I only had myself to blame for missed short putts.

I don’t know if its an Asian thing, but we seem to have many courses with big greens and sometimes ridiculously big undulations and plateaus on them. We even have bunkers in the middle of the green, sometimes!


Unlike many of the Korean courses I’m used to, the fairways are lush and readily yielded nice dollar-sized divots from well-struck iron shots into the greens. The course itself is huge and it was reflected in the long wide fairways stretching from tee to green.

Most of the fairways seemed to be free of readily noticeable trouble areas, meaning that what you see was what you got. However, upon close inspection, there were many subtle undulations which caused the stance to be slightly uneven at address. It wasn’t like St. Andrews level of fairway undulations, but it was there.

Also, the big prominent fairways bunkers often came into play and caused me to consciously aim away from them, which left longer approach shots into the green. We were somehow feeling confident this day and were playing from the blue tees. And for a guy who averages 240-yard drives on my best days, those small detours inevitably added 1-2 clubs more to the next shot.

Fairways were rolling nicely but were still a bit damp due to the sporadic short rain bursts.

Most fairways were quite wide, though it didn’t keep our balls from escaping into the jungle.


Truth to tell, the rough wasn’t all that intimidating, as it was only modestly long, and the wide fairways pushed the rough back considerably. As it wasn’t tournament season and the course was set up to mostly cater to vacationers, it made sense not to make the rough too punishing.

Beyond the rough was mostly deep jungle-like vegetation, which made it next to impossible to hit the ball out of, let alone find it in the first place.  Thanks to our amateur ball-striking abilities, however, we easily overpowered the hapless wide fairways to appease the jungle gods with our many golf balls.

The rough is almost non-existent from tee to green, except for a little bit around the bunkers and extreme sides of the fairways. The course is very long, so I guess they want golfers to relax and not get high blood pressure?

Fairway and 1st-cut rough


Blackstone had no shortage of fairway and greenside bunkers to daunt the average golfer. The many fairway bunkers were often quite large, and despite the mostly wide fairways, some were placed just at the right (?) places to catch drives that strayed left or right off the tee. Standing on the tees, the presence of so many bunkers was aesthetically pleasing yet intimidating at the same time.

The bunkers were meticulously raked and pristine, with the sand looking visually heavy but being very soft. Maintaining the bunkers to this level of readiness cannot be easy, as there are 10 courses at this resort! Even if there were just two bunkers per hole, that’s still 360 sand traps to rake and prep each day! Add to this the fairways and greens, not to mention the decorative foliage, the level of course maintenance at this level is quite mind-boggling.

I also don’t recall seeing any flat bunkers, as most seemed to have a healthy amount of incline at the front to make it harder to move the ball forward a long way. The greenside bunkers were also deeper and usually presented an upslope lie, and the shots had to have some climb to escape from them. If you have trouble hitting the ball straight, be sure to sharpen your bunker play when you visit Blackstone.

With the frightening number of bunkers at Blackstone, I only managed to get into two of them. I even managed to get up and down on one of them.

Bunkers and blackstones aplenty.

Despite being only the second time in a bunker, this one on the 18th cost me a devastating double bogey.

Tee To Green

Blackstone’s monstrous 7808 yards should satisfy most golfers’ urge to go all out on their shots. From the blues, it was still a challenging 6722 yards, and I don’t mind saying it felt longer than that all day.

Most of the pins can be seen from the tee box, and despite some slightly rolling fairways, Blackstone is a mostly-level parkland course without any significant drop or rise in elevation. Sprawling over a huge area of land, the holes do not double back in parallel but stretch forward through dense foliage, making for a scenic ride in the golf cart. One thing I also appreciated was the leisurely pace of play. The group ahead and behind were not visible for nearly the entire round, despite our less-than-quick pace of play.

From tee to green in its entirety, the course was in amazing shape and condition. The unexpected tropical golf experience was nothing short of amazing, and if I had to make a comparison to some of the other memorable tracks I’ve visited, the Hoakalei Country Club and Turtle Bay Resort (Palmer design) in Hawaii come to mind, along with Korea’s own Haesley Nine Bridge Club, which consistently ranks as one of the best courses in Asia.

The pictures below don’t do justice to the course, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.

The sky was particularly blue and the course beautiful; so much so that my foursome didn’t seem to mind carding doubles and triples over and over again. What a joy.

For us short-hitters, we had to aim for the middle of the many bunkers and hope for the best.

If I had a dollar for every time one of us wished we owned a penthouse in one of the many condos dotting the resort…

Many holes are carved right through a lush jungle with a huge modern condo looming in the background.

Cluster bunkers are to be avoided at all costs.

The view from the 1st hole tee at Blackstone.

Looking like a pro in front of the picture board at the 18th tee… then promptly topping a drive 100 yards out. At least I looked good on camera.

Caddies & Carts

Unlike most courses in the West, golf clubs in Asia require each golfer to play with a mandatory caddie and golf cart. Also, if you each decide to have an additional caddie to help hold the umbrella, it can make for a sizeable group of 12 (greens keepers would be tossing in their beds in the west)! So how do the caddies move if you’re driving a power cart, you ask? They simply hop onboard the back of the buggy.

On this day, we ‘only’ had four caddies to attend our play, and they were fantastic. Despite my initial concerns, the language barrier was not an issue as they were conversant in all the needed terminology in English and Korean. This was a pleasant surprise, as I was able to ask more about the course to help my play, and there was always Google Translate.

The caddie fee was 500 yuan each, which is about $70 US. They were highly professional and quick on their feet, and I could tell that the resort had gone to good lengths in training the caddies (said to be 2000 in number!) to make the golfing experience enjoyable for their international guests.

Each foursome of caddies had a ‘master caddie’ that led the other three and acted to translate longer dialogues as needed. They had a good knowledge of the course and general breaks on greens. But don’t expect them to be like the actual caddies like for the pros. They are mostly for offering simple advice on reading greens, cleaning and handing over your clubs, and helping you to find your balls.

Not gonna lie… having a personal caddie wait on your every shot was nerve-wracking at first.

Resort & Facilities

Mission Hills Haikou has a 500-room hotel with several fine-dining restaurants and high-end boutiques within the main wing and the adjoining annex. They also have a shopping mall within the hotel featuring global brands like Taylormade, Adidas, and Skechers, along with a slew of high-end golf brands to luxury watches and whiskies.

The view from my room on the 9th floor was something to write home about, along with the impeccable services. Truth to tell, I had previously heard several horror stories of less-than-friendly services which led me to refrain from visiting China prior. That must’ve been a different country, as Mission Hills pulled out all the stops to impress and awe its visitors, and it certainly worked on me. We were treated like kings on and off the course, and the hotel personnel was on hand to assist us everywhere we went.

The entire resort complex was like a huge labyrinth of spas, pools, shops, and golf courses. They nearly had everything, including an incredible hotel buffet and several ethnic cuisines, a nightclub and karaoke, and an entire museum-like wing dedicated to the many celebrities and pro golfers that have played here. I could have stayed for hours simply looking at their vast collection of golf memorabilia. My golf buddy called it a golf heaven on earth, and I couldn’t agree more.

Again, the pics won’t be able to fully capture the experience, but they’ll give you an idea of the enormous size and quality of the place.

Spic and span to receive guests after a long hiatus during COVID-19, I bet.

I stayed in a nice-sized suite on the 9th floor with a good view overlooking the resort and course.

The tub is actually quite big and probably could fit three of me in it comfy.

The hotel service had complimentary ramen and beers, along with the local fruit.

Early morning view out the window showed the course shrouded in ground fog.

I wasn’t planning to do any swimming when I initially packed for the trip. Next time.

The pool behind the main hotel had sandy beaches!

A huge maze of trails and covered walkways branching off to a vast number of pools, hot springs, and saunas.

The morning buffet was one of the best I had in a while, with a full line up of both Asian and Western foods.

A sign at the entrance of the buffet showed the daily condition of the 10 golf courses.

Hotel Shops & Amenities

The shops inside the lobby were all high-end as well as ones I didn’t think to expect like the NBA-themed shop, Hennessy whiskey and Tabasco hot sauce shops!

Then there were dozens more shops in a whole other building next to the hotel, lined with the palm prints of celebrities and stars. The sheer size and scale of Mission Hills was outrageous.

Trip Overview

Hainan is a tropical Island in the South China Sea and can get quite hot and humid during the summer monsoon season. By plane, it took 4.5 hours from Korea to Hainan.

Interestingly, Hainan Island is designated as a tourist zone by the Chinese government and does not require a visa prior to arrival. It is issued when you arrive at the airport and go through customs.

During the end of 2023 when the trip took place, COVID-19 restrictions were largely over and there were the simplest of checks (1-2 minutes) using a machine to detect any virus before entering and exiting the airport.

The resort itself was only about a 15-minute bus ride from the airport. For those who travel often to Asia, they’ll know that courses and resorts can be up to two hours from the airport.

A brief warm-up on the range and armed with complimentary golf balls, we were off to the first tee.

True to its name, the course had stone walls and fences made from the igneous black lava rock.

Except for the absence of the sound of waves, the ambiance reminded me of courses in Hawaii.

Loved the open skies and the awesome panoramic views!

Be sure to pack some strong sunscreen and sports drinks or salt candy. The tropical climate can get quite hot and humid at midday.

Blackstone plays to par 73 and 6722 yards from the blue. I was happy with the score especially when the caddies told me it was the best they’ve seen in a while, LOL!!!

It looked like they were planning to build even more courses and condos. These folks sure like to think big.

Wall-to-wall memorabilia on display from past majors, champions, and legends of the game. So this is where all those signed Masters flags were!

The three-day stay went by all too fast… (T^T)

As part of the package, we were also shown to the largest duty-free shop in Asia. These guys have a thing for being the biggest, grandest, and most opulent; and it was awesome.

It seemed as if every brand of luxury was represented here, and it would’ve taken hours to see it all. If your partner is into this kind of stuff, leave them at home in case they get in the way of your golf.

A final meal at a popular restaurant before heading to the airport. Can you guess the menu? Yup, Chinese, but like nothing you see in the West. It was all delicious to boot.

Met a new friend while waiting for the limousine bus to take us the rest of the way. Even these guys were BIG.

After a rather simple and quick immigration and boarding process, we were safely on our way home to Korea. I have to give credit to the authorities for making the immigration/airport customs process simple and quick. Sometimes everything can be great, only to be ruined by a last-minute glitch or hold-up at the airport, and there were none.

A short nap and back in Seoul. I can’t wait to go back again soon with the whole family to jump in the hot springs. Now if I can only find a way to go visit Pebble Beach and St. Andrews similarly, I’m set. Wish me luck.


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