Social media has obviously brought a huge change to the world of golf. Connecting with those who share our passion for golf, often without meeting them in person, has become routine — and it’s a wonderful benefit of the digital age. Such is the case with Samantha Marks, former associate editor/content manager for the Golf Channel digital platform, and one of the great (relatively) new voices and personalities in the game.
Samantha joins co-hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch on Episode 162 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast to talk about her recent golf road trip from Florida to Nashville with good friend Alexandra O’Laughlin (also of Golf Channel); Samantha’s perfect home address on the Winter Park 9 course; her journey from junior golf to being a member of a packed University of Arkansas women’s golf team; and her plans for the future.
Samantha begins the conversation by detailing her life growing up in Winter Park, Florida, and talks about the transformation of Winter Park 9 by architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns and the impact that change has had on the community. She discusses the wonderful proximity she enjoys to her parents and how the course has become a hub for family golf-related meetings on a regular basis.
Samantha next jumps to the second stop on her recent trip: Another nine-hole gem, Sweetens Cove in Tennessee, site of last year’s Golf Trip Experts’ listeners trip. Samantha explains how the atmosphere and chill vibe at Sweetens fits perfectly with the way both she and Alexandra play golf now, having both been competitive golfers early and now appreciating the fun and creative aspects of the game.
The first stop on the journey is discussed next, and Samantha raves about The McLemore, a Rees Jones-Bill Bergin design perched high atop the stunning scenery of Rising Fawn, Georgia. Mitch explains that he has heard about McLemore from good friend and recent “Talking GolfGetaways” guest Chris Mascaro, host of the “Next on the Tee” podcast, and Samantha confirms what Chris talked about: McLemore is an otherwordly mountain golf and lodging experience with views and challenges worthy of a course nominated as the “Best New Course” for 2020.
Another stop on the Marks-O’Laughlin adventure was the highlight of the trip for both — a chance to play one of the premier private clubs anywhere, The Troubadour Golf & Field Club near Nashville. A high-end Discovery Land community with multiple amenities, Troubadour also showcased an incredibly relaxed atmosphere to go along with a championship Tom Fazio golf course, and Samantha shares the laughs and the fun afforded to guests, citing the food-dessert-drink offerings at the on-course Comfort Stations as off-the-charts unusual and among the most memorable she’s experienced.
Samantha then describes her college golf career, beginning at the University of North Carolina and continuing at Arkansas. She details the process of transferring schools and shares what turned out to be one of the best experiences of her life, as she joined a wonderful coach, Shauna Taylor, and teammates who made her feel right at home. Samantha talks about the attitude of all involved in welcoming her, as well as her high-profile teammates who are already making waves on the LPGA Tour — Gaby Lopez and Maria Fassi.
Finally, Samantha answers a few golf-travel questions and shares why Pebble Beach and the courses of the Monterey Peninsula are at the top of her Bucket List; why Oregon’s Sunriver Resort became her Favorite Destination; why the Members Suite overlooking the 18th green at Old Head in Ireland is her Favorite Place to Stay (duh!); and mentions the mouth-watering ribeye steak she recently had at Troubadour as her Favorite Thing to Eat on a Golf Trip.
With an outgoing personality that’s made for work in front of the camera, a ton of knowledge and insight into the burgeoning world of digital golf media and a sense of humor that makes people smile, it’s easy to see why Samantha Marks is at the beginning of what is sure to be a long and successful career in golf. Lucky, lucky us. Enjoy the connection.
—Words by Mitch Laurance