1,476 Miles. 5 games in 4.5 days, 4 Rounds of Golf, 1 Flight and One Way Over The Top Day.
Sep 9 2011: Orlando, FL. Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge. Home of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Great start to the trip. Nice course, relaxing environment and a Lee Janzen spotting in the locker room after the round. Every course should have a little bar set up right in the locker room that you can sit at after your round and enjoy a cool beverage with your friends, talk to your fellow golfers, watch ESPN and keep an eye out for PGA pros. Sitting at the Bay Hill locker room bar and relaxing after our round was easily one of the highlights of the trip.
Sep 9 2011: Tampa, FL. Tropicana Field. Red Sox vs. Rays. Rays Win 7 – 2.
The Trop! The park that everyone loves to hate. Yes, it’s not a great park, but it didn’t seem that bad overall. We weren’t lucky enough to see a pop fly bounce around in the scaffolding, but there’s always next time. The Rays are a fun team to watch. Too bad they don’t get a little more fan support. Although my Twitter feed tells me that Dickie V is a Rays fan, so they’ve got that going for them…which is nice.
Sep 10 2011: Auburn, AL. Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mississippi State vs. Auburn. Tigers Win 41 – 34.
This was the start of one of the craziest 24 hours in UST history. Woke up early in Tampa, flew to Atlanta, then drove to Auburn for a noon game time. Followed that up with a drive to Athens, GA for the South Carolina vs. Georgia game (see below) then drove to Jacksonville arriving at 4am for a 7am tee time at TPC Sawgrass. In less than 24 hours we took one flight, watched two college football games, drove approximately 600 miles and slept less than three hours in preparation for one of the best public golf courses in the US. There’s an obtuse joke here about Bad Idea Jeans, etc ,etc. The Auburn game can be summarized thusly – don’t buy front row tickets for Auburn football games. You’ll be slightly below field level and will watch the entire game on the Jumbotron. We screwed up. Also screwing up was Auburn’s war eagle, which did it’s customary circle of the stadium before the game, but got confused and ran into the glass on the luxury boxes, collected itself, finished a very low pass over the crowd and recovered to land at midfield. That’s something you’re not going to see everyday. Auburn did make a rousing comeback though…which is nice.
Sep 10 2011: Athens, GA. Sanford Stadium. South Carolina vs. Georgia. Bulldogs Lose 45 – 42.
I think it’s safe to go public with the fact that UST and The South are going steady. UST is even wearing The South’s football jacket. What’s not to love? Friendly people, good food, unique culture, great weather, southern belles, a love of college sports and for nerds like ourselves, a low cost of living. If at all possible, every UST will try to at least spend a little time in The South. We were a little late for this game after the drive from Auburn, but that didn’t matter. A game between the hedges checked a line item off UST’s bucket list. Postgame brought a long drive to TPC Sawgrass and back into Florida, which UST doesn’t necessarily consider part of The South.
Sep 11 2011: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. TPC Sawgrass. Stadium Course. Top 50 Golf Course.
There are lots of reviews that say TPC Sawgrass is overrated. UST would disagree. We didn’t have much time to enjoy it, but while we were the group threw down some respectable scores on little sleep, other than Red of course. He shot 115! If we told you that he has been golfing for 20 years you’d swear we were lying right? He did par the signature par three 17th island green though, so he can always tell his kids about that. This trip was really a watershed moment for his downright horrendous golf game. He has successfully transitioned through all five stages of grief. Stage 1 Denial started in about 2007, with Stage Five Acceptance happening on the back nine at TPC Sawgrass. It’s been all bliss and butterflies since.
Sep 11 2011: Jacksonville, FL. EverBank Field. Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. Jags Win 16 – 14.
What the hell is EverBank Field?! We were there, it was hot and Red had to spend some time in the shade to recover. End of story.
Sep 12 2011: Miami, FL. Doral Golf Resort. Great White Course. What Can We Say – At Least it’s Golf!
Let’s get this out of the way – Doral is overrated, but most people know that already. We would have liked to play the Blue Monster, but it was closed for aerating, so the Great White course was our next best option. The course is tight and planes are constantly flying overhead. As one local said “you can see the whole course from the first tee box”. I’m surprised that quote doesn’t show up on their website. On the upside, Fred S did sweet talk his way into some free room upgrades. There is a surprising lack of quality golf in Miami.
Sep 12 2011: Miami, FL. Sun Life Stadium. New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins. Dolphins Lose 38 – 24.
The no defense start of the NFL season! Chad Henne looked like Brett Favre in his prime. 400 yards by both quarterbacks. It’s funny because 400 was also the over/under for number of fake racks in Sun Life Stadium. Brands took the over and won. He’s a connoisseur. All these write ups sound too negative on Florida, which isn’t the case. Florida’s just different. For example, there is a full on club in the stadium complete with flashing fluorescent lights, a DJ and pumping dance music. UST is just not on the same wavelength. Being out of phase with Florida might also explain why we chose to park our rental truck smack in the middle of the full on hood. But don’t worry for us. It all turns out good in the end for UST. You see, the guy whose house we parked in front of told us he had an AK-47 inside to protect our truck if anything went wrong. See, no problem whatsoever! Oh yeah, they had a stealth bomber do the flyover before the game. That was very cool.
Sep 13 2011: Miami, FL. Doral Golf Resort. The Gold Course. Golf and Guns!
Not much to add here. We had a little time before our flights, so we snuck in an early morning round on the Gold Course before shipping out. Just outside the fence of the resort was a gun range that you could hear for about four or five holes. Sounded like grandma was going off with an Uzi in the middle of your backswing. Good thing we’ve all been trained in the ways of Earl Woods and no noise or distraction can faze us. We’re locked in…especially Red and his 110 on the scorecard. 110!!!!
Had great tacos at California Tacos To Go in Tampa. Warm rain and cold horchata was a nice mix. A little out of the way, but worth the trip.
You can’t venture into The South without getting some Krispy Kreme’s. This time they were bought from a charity run for a local high school outside Auburn. Good times. Set us up nicely for a trip to Papa Joe’s B-B-Q in the same small town before the game. Wow friends, just wow. Caloric overload. Now you know why Truba looks the way he does in the picture above!
Waffle House has become a UST staple. One of the funniest moments in UST history occurred in a Waffle House by the Tampa airport at midnight. Fred S simply wanted to order a waffle and an orange juice, instead he became subject to the greatest up sale of all time. The transcript:
Fred S: “I’ll get a chocolate chip waffle and an orange juice.”
Waitress: “Bacon or sausage?”
Fred S: “Sausage”
Waitress: “How would you like your eggs?”
Fred S: “Over easy”
Waitress: “Hashbrowns – shredded or cubed?”
Fred S: “Shredded”
Fred S: “Sure”
Next thing he knew he had five plates sitting in front of him! It was an awesome sight to behold. That waitress should be working on Wall Street.