Following his epic star turn on the historic 100th episode of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, golf-travel guru Matt Ginella of Golf Channel and GolfAdvisor.com returns to join hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch for yet another “even more epic” Emergency 9 episode, diving into everything from Matt’s new love of persimmon woods to an array of favorite “not so hidden gems anymore,” plus a few memorable golf stories — one about an extraordinary 21-year-old kid from Marrakesh and another about a Phil Mickelson par that illustrates why PGA Tour players are aliens compared to everyday golfers.
The hour-long conversation begins with a discussion about how “favorite courses and golf experiences” are often tied to memorable moments in our lives as Matt talks about his son, Bandon, and how his namesake destination — Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon — has made an impact on his life over the years, even long before he landed at Golf Channel. And he goes on to name more than a few courses that have made similar impacts for a variety of different reasons, including Ireland’s Lahinch, Waterville and Ardglass, plus Scotland’s Cruden Bay (and, oh, let’s not forget The Old Course in St. Andrews).
When it comes to Bucket Lists, Matty G is quick to point out that he’s only one man who can’t be everywhere all the time — so there are still more than a few special places out there on his must-play horizon. Nebraska (the entire state, from the private Sand Hills Golf Club to golf resorts such as The Prairie Club and destination clubs such as Dismal River) continues to elude his busy travel schedule (which he hopes to remedy soon), but a South African golf-safari might just be No. 1 among his dream golf-travel prospects.
Diving into places he has been, Matt’s Favorite Places to Stay candidates range from the extraordinary level of service (something he considers a lost art) at Georgia’s Lodge at Sea Island to Puerto Rico’s Villas at Royal Isabela (which has re-opened on a limited basis after devastating Hurricane Maria hit the region) and Ireland’s historic Ashford Castle, where the history dates back to the year 1228.
Food is obviously another component of any memorable golf getaway, and Matt certainly has his favorites — he loves the poke bowl at the little superette near Turtle Bay on Oahu, but the true winner in his mind is the Burger Dog at Silverado in Napa, California. “I could eat these until I die,” Matt says of the creation originally made famous by the private Olympic Club in San Francisco. Enough said.
We all agree the most important things on a golf trip are the people and the golf — in that order, Matt points out. But our discussion about what is important beyond those two key elements drives the conversation back to service as Matt details how a place like Bandon Dunes exemplifies the perfect ambiance from the moment golfers arrive on property and are greeted by legendary Bob “Shoe” Gaspar who headlines a team that has made Bandon a worldwide destination. Of particular note, Matt explains why he believes the measure of courses’ and resorts’ success is when they can shift golfers’ post-round and post-visit conversations from “cost” to “memories.”
The Most Important Piece of Apparel or Equipment on any of Ginella’s journeys may surprise you — a Bluetooth speaker has changed the rhythm with which he plays the game. What’s on his golf playlist? How about a little Van Morrison, Alabama Shakes and Dire Straits? Talking more about the state of his game, Matt says his high-intensity life of travel and work (and lack of practice) makes him “around an 8-handicap who can shoot 84 on pretty much any course in the world.” But he really gets passionate when discussing his shift to the “new” Linksoul persimmon woods that he has embraced, creating a new perspective about how he approaches every round, course distances and working the ball for a new level of fun and satisfaction.
Having played rounds with people such as Wayne Gretzky, Brooks Koepka, Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer’s lifelong friend Doc Giffin and close friend (and honorary “father” in their father-son matches at Waterville) John Ashworth, Matt goes on to name architect Bill Coore as the Most Interesting Person He’s Ever Played Golf With, talking about Coore’s background, work ethic on the courses he builds, and why he believes 250 years from now Coore will be mentioned with the greatest names in golf course design, calling him “a national treasure.”
And the final Emergency 9 answer just might tell you everything you need to know about Matt’s philosophy and his connection to the wonders and life-affirming elements of golf. When asked about the One Course He Wishes Everyone Knew About”, the answer is a two-hole course (that’s right, two holes) he played on a recent visit to Marrakesh, Morocco, detailing why the chance to play those holes with their 21-year-old creator Ayoub Idomar, an aspiring professional golfer, are of deep importance to him — and should be an inspiration to us all.
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“Talking GolfGetaways with Mitch Laurance & Darin Bunch” is sponsored by 2UNDR.com (#AssetManagement) and can be found on GolfNewsNet.com and across the Golf News Net platform. New episodes post semi-regularly (for the most part, except when we’re traveling or golfing or generally having other kinds of fun). “Talking GolfGetaways” is also available on audioBoom, iTunes and Stitcher.
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