Things are quiet on the PGA Tour these days. For three weeks straight, the Tour will compete against the Super Bowl, and now The Winter Olympics, for viewers. A tough stretch, no doubt. But you can always think back to better days.

Things are quiet at this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. (Image: ashi/Flickr)

Ten years ago, Tiger Woods made an incredible comeback at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Seven shots down with seven holes to go, holing out a wedge shot from the 15th fairway along the way. The Pebble Beach victory was Woods’ sixth straight win on Tour.

Four months later, Woods returned to Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open–also the site of this year’s Open–and casually won by 15 shots. Miguel Angel Jimenez, who tied with Ernie Els at +3, famously said, “I’m trying to win my own tournament.  He’s playing a different tournament. There’s no way you’re going to take that tournament.”

Woods went on to win NINE times in 2000. He was pretty much an automatic victory.

Ten years later, Woods is absent from this year’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am–for reasons we don’t need to rehash. Will he play in the U.S. Open? We’ll have to find out.

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I’m going to be honest: I’m not a well-traveled golfer.

I’ve played at a lot of nice courses over the years, thanks to high school, college, and summer tournaments. But outside of that, about 95% of the golf courses I’ve played are in my former home state of Georgia. Since moving to Tennessee last March, I’ve probably made it to about 10 courses here. I guess I’m just a creature of habit.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I see some type of golf vacation in my future. The future could be ten years away, but it’s the future nonetheless.

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Pinehurst tops my wish list of golf vacations. (Image: deltaMike/Flickr)

Here’s a few of my vacation targets:

Pinehurst: Is there a better golf destination in the world?  With 8 courses on the resort, a spa and plenty of shopping for the wives, plus a world-class hotel and restaurant, does it get better than this?

Scotland: I’m a Bruce, so Scotland is a no-brainer. Italy and Scotland are the top two countries on our must-visit list, even if I never play golf. That said, it’s hard to pick just one course from Scotland—St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Turnberry. It’s a long list.

Pebble Beach: This one is going to happen one day, maybe sooner rather than later. Maybe I can even work up a second round at Spyglass Hill.

Spain: I’ve read a little about La Manga Las Lomas Village lately. The resort has been named European Golf Resort of the Year several times. With three outstanding championship courses, this is as good as European golf gets.

So those are a few of my wishlist destinations. Any suggestions?

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Harbour Town's first tee. (Image: Robert Bruce's iPhone)

Last month, my wife and I took a trip to meet some friends in Hilton Head—the home of one of the PGA Tour’s most well-known courses, Harbour Town.

Since we were there for just a few days, I didn’t get the chance to play a round on one of Hilton Head’s gazillion courses. Most of my time was spent on the beach, playing bocce ball—a game I’ve discovered that I suck at thanks to Josh and Marc—or eating, and eating, and eating.

A couple of friends and I did make it over to Harbour Town, just to check it out. I stood on the first tee—see photo—and imagined a beautiful fade landing on the left center of the first fairway. Maybe next time I’ll actually play the course.

Standing on the first tee at Harbour Town reminded me of all the courses I still want to visit. Pebble, St. Andrews, Bethpage—just a few of the tracks on my golf course bucket list that I listed last year. I’ve made zero progress on that list.

Maybe it’s time to take action. Problem is, scoring a tee time at some of these courses is as difficult as finding one sunflower seed in a tossed salad. You’ve just got to plan ahead.

So I need a goal. Sometime in the next two years, I’m going to play one of the courses on my bucket list. Which one? I have no idea. But, if this blog is still kicking, I’ll report it here first.

Thanks, Harbour Town.

Image: Dave D/Flickr

Image: Dave D/Flickr

The virtual version, that is.  Sorry about the cheap marketing trick.

The USGA and an online golf game organization called the World Golf Tour have organized an online golf tournament at the virtual version of Bethpage Black, the site of this year’s U.S. Open.

Starting May 25, visitors to the U.S. Open’s official website can play a round on the virtual Bethpage and qualify for the “Virtual U.S. Open,” which will take place on June 22 and include 156 qualifiers. Other than a hearty dose of virtual pride, the winner will get a pass to the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach.

The World Golf Tour allows you to play online golf for free without installing any buggy,  spyware-ridden software. Pretty cool. Since Bethpage wasn’t included in last year’s Tiger Woods game (not sure about the 2010 version), this may be your only chance to play Bethpage without driving to New York.

In addition to Bethpage, virtual, playable versions of The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Wolf Creek Golf Club, and Bali Hai Golf Club are also available on the site. The graphics look pretty freakin’ sweet.

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Beware Californians! This man wants to tax your round of golf. (Image: Cine Fanatico/Flickr)

Taxes.

We hate ‘em all: income taxes, state taxes, sales taxes, property taxes. Taxes, in my opinion, are the worst part of government. It makes me nauseous to see the chunk of money the government takes out of my paycheck every week. And when politicians create tax cuts for one group, they piss off the other group.

Taxes suck.

So imagine the joy of golfers in California when they heard that Governor Arnold has proposed to tax golf. That’s right—golf.

Oh, but that’s just part of the fun. In order to stitch a gaping $42 billion budget deficit, the Governator has also proposed taxes on auto care, veterinary care, amusement park and sporting event admissions, and furniture repair.

How much does golf already cost in California? A round of golf at Pebble is around $500. And a tax on top of that? Wow.

Everyone is waiting to see how the current economic climate is going to affect golf. Country club memberships are down and sponsors are rethinking how they allocate their money. Now, at least in California, our beloved game may get taxed.

One more reason to think taxes suck.

Source: Associated Press