Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at TPC Las Colinas

The statue of Byron Nelson looks normal size from 30 yards but up close his story is so inspirational it is bigger than life.

The statue of Byron Nelson looks normal size from 30 yards but up close his story is so inspirational it is bigger than life.

I went to Dallas to capture the Spirit of Byron Nelson. I spent three nights at the Four Seasons Resort & Spa in a villa overlooking the 18th green of the TPC Four Seasons Resort/Las Colinas Course. The HP Byron Nelson Championship has been in existence since 1944 when Byron Nelson won the inaugural event. Since 1983, when Ben Crenshaw won, it has been played on the TPC Las Colinas Course. There is golf history everywhere on this resort property but especially on the Byron Nelson Plaza where, in the watchful eye of a clock tower (Byron loved clocks), there is a nine foot statue of the Legend of Golf. What I realized is that when you are 30-40 yards away from Mr. Nelson’s statue he looks almost mortal, no bigger than any of the golfers that pass by, even another charter member of The Sports Club, also named Byron Nelson (true fact, no relation). But when you come closer, talk to folks who knew him personally and absorb the memorabilia in Champions Hall you get a sense of the Spirit of Byron Nelson.

CLICK here for Part 1 of a Video Interview with Tim Cusick, Director of Golf Instruction, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

CLICK here for Part 2 of a Video Interview with Tim Cusick, Director of Golf Instruction, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

Andy Reistetter with Vail Tolbert, Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas.

Andy Reistetter with Vail Tolbert, Director of Public Relations at the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas.

I received an awesome tour of the property from Vail Tolbert, the Director of Public Relations. Then  I interviewed Tim Cusick, the Director of Golf Instruction and Rob Cowan, The Sports Club Manager along with the other Byron Nelson, an amateur member of the Sports Club.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Rob Cowan, Manager of the Sports Club, Four Seasons Resort & Spa Dallas.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Byron Nelson, an amateur member of the Sports Club with a familiar name.

The highlight, of course, was playing the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course (no pun intended). My playing partners were Tom Horan, host of the popular Golf Talk America radio program “Speaking of Golf,” and a delightful father Steve & son Joey duo from Denver, Colorado. We surely felt the presence of Byron on his golf course at his home club.

CLICK here for a Video Interview with Tom Horan, host of “Speaking of Golf” on the 17th tee at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas.

I had the pleasure of corresponding with Mrs. Peggy Nelson who I met at the 2010 BNC when she released her book, Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance, and Lessons Learned from Golf’s Greatest Gentleman. Here is a Q&A with Mrs. Nelson:Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:   What are your personal thoughts about the Olympics? What is your favorite event, favorite Olympian, most memorable moment and why? Did you and Byron watch them on TV or ever attend in person? Do you have any recollection of conversations you had with Byron about the Olympics in general?

Mrs. Nelson:     Byron and I always admired Olympic athletes and the dedication and sacrifice it takes for both them and their families to reach that highest point of endeavor, no matter which sport it is.  My favorite event would be figure skating, and Peggy Fleming was quite a heroine for me–I was honored to meet her one day many years ago and she was so lovely and gracious–every inch the champion still.  Of course, her Olympic victory was before the event became so prodigiously athletic with all the requirements for multiple jumps, so grace and fluidity were more important.

Byron and I never attended an Olympic event  but watched quite a bit on TV, and were always amazed at the talent and determination the athletes displayed.  We didn’t talk about it a lot nor do I recall Byron saying anything specific about the events, though he enjoyed watching.  I think he liked the summer sports more, because he was never a fan of cold and snow!

Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:     Byron played on two Ryder Cups and captained a third team. What did it mean to him to play for his country? What emotion would characterize it best? What thought or story was his favorite about the Ryder Cup?

Mrs. Nelson:     Byron loved playing and captaining in the Ryder Cup–he said being selected captain by the team was the greatest honor he ever received in golf.  Of course, he loved America and so was very proud to play for the USA; at the same time, when the Ryder Cup was held in Portland, Oregon in ’47 and the British team’s expenses were provided by an American. Byron was very pleased to be part of that team as well as being glad the competition could resume.  As for stories, you might check his autobiography How I Played the Game, because there are several in there.

Andy Reistetter with Mrs. Peggy Nelson at the 2010 BNC.

Andy Reistetter with Mrs. Peggy Nelson at the 2010 BNC.

Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf:     Golf will be played in the Olympics for the first time in 112 years in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In your opinion, what would it have meant to Byron to be an Olympic Golfer? How do you think he would have defined the “Olympic Spirit for Golfers?” How would it have differed, if in any way, from his Ryder Cup experience?

Mrs. Nelson:     One of the things Byron admired about both the Ryder Cup and the Olympics was the spirit of good sportsmanship that pervades both types of competition.  I don’t know that he ever realized there had been golf in the Olympics so long before he was even born, but he surely would have loved to be on the American team–well, if he could maybe have qualified ….!

Good luck with your Olympic Story!

Peggy Nelson

Thank you Mrs. Peggy Nelson for your wonderful insight and sharing Byron with his admiring golf fans through your book and theses responses.   Andy Reistetter, Journey to Olympic Golf

Here are my pictures and comments from this inspirational visit to the professional home of Byron Nelson:  

Gil Hanse’s Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro.

Gil Hanse, creator of the Olympic Golf Course.

Gil Hanse, creator of the Olympic Golf Course.

It seems to me that at the end of every great journey in life there should be a grand golf course waiting for us. The fact that the “Journey to Olympic Golf” took me to Rio de Janeiro for an afternoon visit to the Olympic Golf Course with its designer Gil Hanse and his team of Three Merry Men seems quite appropriate to me.

Here are the video interviews, pictures and some of my notes while walking the course with its creators. The Three Merry Men are Neil Cameron (from Scotland), Kyle Franz (from Albany, Oregon) and Ben Hillard (from Australia). If there is one thing you can deduce from their interview, besides of course that they are having the time of their lives,  is that the wind will be blowing during the Olympic Golf Competition. This is an open, ocean side venue as traditional as they get in golf.

CLICK here for Video Interview with Gil Hanse (Part 1 of 2).

CLICK here for Video Interview with Gil Hanse (Part 1 of 2).

CLICK here for Video Interview of the Three Merry Men- Neil Cameron, Kyle Franz, & Ben Hillard.

CLICK here for Beauty Shots of the Olympic Golf Course.

Native wire grass.

Native wire grass.

This golf course seems to be as natural as the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Linked to the sea with sandy sand dunes the only thing I did not see where the sheep burrowing into the landscape to create the bunkers. An old mine site for silica for glass-making has a two-tone look for a natural contrast. The land is all together, all-in-one, a long view of golf’s future history. It is a walker’s golf course (not even cart paths are planned) with only a few steps from golf hole to golf tee. Restinga habitat, natural “junes” as Aussie Hillard calls them, and native species like wire grass make this a uniquely Brazilian golf course. A true Carioca baby if there ever was one.

 

Gil's favorite green complex, the 12th.

Gil’s favorite green complex, the 12th.

Design features that pay homage to the history of golf and the host of majors will elevate this, the first designed Olympic Golf Course, a wee bit higher into the clouds striving to be near Golf’s Highest Honor. Indeed this will be known as Golf’s Highest Home, the place where Golf’s Olympians compete for the Olympic Golf Gold Medal and immortality within the Olympics and the sport of golf. There will be a little bit of the Valley of Sin, Pine Valley, the Redan and Augusta National. This is the Olympic Golf Course, simple in design to let the design speak simply for itself while challenging the golfers, male and female. A course that will favor the clever golfer, the creative golfer and not an easy lay-down par 68 to the long and powerful hitter of the golf ball.

Andy Reistetter (far left) with Gil Hanse (pink) and his Three Merry Men (from Left to Right) Kyle Franz, Neil Cameron and Ben Hillard.

Andy Reistetter (far left) with Gil Hanse (pink) and his Three Merry Men (from Left to Right) Kyle Franz, Neil Cameron and Ben Hillard.

The land has three zones of upper sandy dunes, middle low lands and a distant forested  section, Yet the routing takes you through the zones three times, saving the fourth and final for the grand finale of a solid par-4, a drivable par-4, a short short hole and a reachable par-5 home for the gold home hole. Simply brilliant. Zyosia fairways, paspalum greens, and native sandy areas galore. Always windy, normally out of the Southeast, stormy out of the Southwest but never directly off the ocean from the east.

In the Barre de Tijuca, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, in the country of Brasil, here along the sea lies the new Olympic Golf Course. While bulldozers shape the links, cranes nearby build the towers of the Olympic Village.

Andy Reistetter with Olympic Golf Course Architect Gil Hanse.

Andy Reistetter with Olympic Golf Course Architect Gil Hanse.

This is the home of the Olympians of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Perhaps the forgotten bride of 112 years, the game of golf, will become the heart of the 2016 Summer Olympics. A new to us Olympic sport in a new destination, the first ever in South America, might just be the story. And what a story it will be on a stage known forever as the Gil Hanse designed Olympic Golf Course.

 

 

Cordoba Golf Club, Home of El Gato & El Plato

Argentina, without a doubt is the “home” of golf in South America! No different than St. Andrews, Scotland is the “home” of golf for the world. After all the Golf Channel Latin America has their studios in Buenos Aires. The only World Golf Hall of Fame member south of the US border is the great Argentine golfer Roberto De Vicenzo who lives near Ranelagh Golf Club south of country’s capital. If Argentina is the “home” golf in South America then it follows that in the modern era, Cordoba Golf Club is the “home” of golf in Argentina. When you arrive at Cordoba Golf Club you quickly realize it is the “home” of El Gato, Eduardo Romero and El Plato, Angel Cabrera.

Being invited to play Cordoba Golf Club through El Plato, Angel Cabrera’s charity foundation and having the opportunity to meet and interview El Gato, Eduardo Romero was quite an honor and privilege. On top of that I staying at the quaint five-guest room La Casa Grande literally across the street from the tenth green. For now this amazing experience is captured in the following pictures, broken up into three albums- the golf course, El Gato & El Plato and the great amateurs to play out of Cordoba Golf Club like Roberto Monguzzi. More words and videos (interviews and beauty shots) to come! Enjoy!

The golf course of Cordoba Golf Club:

El Gato & El Plato:

Great amateurs of Cordoba Golf Club:

 

 

 

Los Leones with the Leon Brothers in Santiago, Chile

Andy golfing with the Leon Brothers, Hugo & Horacio at Los Leones Golf Club in Santiago.

Andy golfing with the Leon Brothers, Hugo & Horacio at Los Leones Golf Club in Santiago.

A memorable day, Christmas Eve, on a memorable golf course, Los Leones Golf Club in Santiago, Chile with two memorable brothers of the professional golfer kind- Hugo and Horacio Leon. Gives new definition to the term “brotherly love” and “love of the game of golf.”  In 2014 older brother Hugo is on the Web.com Tour and younger brother Horacio is on the NEC Latino American Tour. If you haven’t already, you will undoubtedly hear about these guys soon! More words and video interviews to come, here are pictures for now…

 

Hotel & Spa Golf Los Incas in Lima, Peru

Simply a beautiful and exquisite place to stay while visiting Lima, Peru. Centrally located in Lima for golf, shopping, entertainment and sightseeing!

CLICK here to learn about Nikkei and a Taste Of Peru Culinary Culture.

Los Inkas Golf Club in Lima, Peru

What a treat to play Los Inkas Golf Club in Lima, Peru! Founded in 1945 by Peruvians with a mission to learn, enjoy and grow the game of golf in their native land. Having played there and attended a junior golf clinic there I would have to say “mission accomplished” and still going almost 70 years later. With the ruins of ancient Inka civilizations on site and exposed for all to see, playing Los Inkas Golf Club not only has a historic golf feel but a historic world civilization feel too. Special thanks go out to my hosts Golf Instructor Pablo Dupliex, Golf Superintendent John McGee and Member Jocy Robio. I had so much fun meeting them and others, especially the junior golfers and Rocio, Vicky and Debbie!

CLICK here for website of Los Incas Golf Club.

Hilton Bogota, the Heart of Columbia!

Hilton Bogota is an ideal place to stay to see the capital city of Colombia!

Hilton Bogota is an ideal place to stay to see the capital city of Colombia!

With only three nights to discover Bogota, staying at the Bogota Hilton was one of the wisest decisions I have made in the first 66 days of the “Journey to Olympic Golf.” Not only is it centrally located in the heart of Bogota, being there conveniently introduced me to Colombians who through their interaction with me showed be the heart of all the country of Colombia herself.

Yes, traffic is an issue at times in Bogota. Especially so with street closures for the holiday shopping season to encourage residents to come out for a festive atmosphere. Thought it seemed like a short ride from the airport, a quick check-in and I was home in my spectacular room at the Hilton Bogota.

The next morning I literally walked across the street to meet and interview Colombia’s foremost golf columnist and television personality German Calle Sr. Afterwards I went back to the hotel to catch a ride to Los Lagartos for an afternoon round of golf. Later I went to Andres D.C. and enjoyed a memorable night at Bogota’s famous Latin dance club. The next day I traveled a bit south to take a cable car up to Monserrate followed by a tour of La Candelaria, Bogota’s historic district.

Another night of dining and comaraderie with my new golfing pals and sadly it was time to head to the airport and Medellin. I could not have had a better, more meaningful visit to Colombia’s capital city and it all started with the decision to stay at the Hilton Bogota. Please join in my adventure and make one of your own by visiting Colombia and staying at the Hilton Bogota!

CLICK here for Video Interview with Francisca Medina, Front Desk Supervisor, Hilton Bogota.

CLICK here for Video Interview with Paola Lafe Lopez, Concierge, Hilton Bogota.

CLICK here for Video Beauty Shots of Hilton Bogota.

CLICK here to go to the website of the Hilton Bogota.

Karibana, Colombia’s Only Golf Resort, On the Caribbean Sea!

CLICK her for Karibana’s website…

 

Hotel REAL Intercontinental San Jose, Coast Rica

CLICK here for the website of the Hotel REAL Intercontinental San Jose, Costa Rica.

Four Seasons Costa Rica Peninsula Papagayo

CLICK here for Part 1 of 2 Video Interview with Randoll Viquez, Director of Golf- Ocean Views and a Journey through the Jungle!

CLICK here for Part 2 of 2 Video Interview with Randoll Viquez- Learn how Junior Golf is Growing in Costa Rica!

CLICK here for Video Interview with Pascal Forotti, General Manager- Take some Authentic Costa Rica Home with you from the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo!

CLICK here for Video Interview with Dancing & Speed Artist Carlos Hiller- “The Color of Music, Must Enjoy or the Magic is Not There.”