Reasons 149 and 258 to Love Northeast Florida

I spent Friday afternoon at Sawgrass, watching The Players Championship. I've attended this tournament every spring since moving out here in 2005, and I'm still amazed by the quality of the event and the electric atmosphere of the venue.

I walked about ten miles on Friday, and I had the chance to catch a really hot round of golf by Charlie Wi. He blistered the course, striking his irons over and over again to just a few feet, then icing the putts. It was funny that Kevin Na took so much heat for his slow play, because Charlie was just as bad. He slow-played his partners (John Rollins and Francesco Molinari) to the point where I think Francesco actually became so frustrated that he three-putted 16. 

Molinari dropped the loudest f-bomb I've ever heard on a golf course, by the way.

Slow play became the story of the weekend. A tiny minority of drunken idiots, and I'm really disgusted by this, treated the poor kid terribly. To his credit, he owned up to his playing issues and admitted it was frustrating for him.

Look, this is a problem all over the place. These professionals are taking six hours to finish a round. We're talking fifteen minutes a hole. It's often even worse on your neighborhood municipal course. I play ready golf, but I also like to mark and putt, so I see both sides of it. Still, in my book, a round of golf should take about three hours.

All that said, what can you do? If there are slow players in front of you, getting mad isn't going to help you any. You still have to make your shot, so simmer down and concentrate.

I've seen people spit at the volunteer course attendants. I've seen grown men shout at seven-year-old kids playing a four-hole junior golf tournament (where a great many of America's millions of golfers got their start, by the way). I've seen people run their carts into each other in anger, and threaten each other with violence.

It's no surprise that stuff like this happens (and look, those jackass kids on the bachelor party should have let them play through, but that sucker that attacked them is just ridiculous).

But all that stuff about slow play aside, the tournament lived up to the hype in every way. What a tremendous Sunday battle, and what a great champion in Matt Kuchar. Nice guy whose parents live five minutes from the course. We've had four inches of rain in the last forty-eight hours, so it's good that they got that tournament in before the gullywashers came through!

We took our daughter camping at Ft. Clinch over the weekend. It was her first time, and she loved it. We saw a deer and caught some fish and hit the beach and did some shelling. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and slept in a tent for the first time.

We also joined a tour of the fort at dusk. It was simply awe-inspiring to see the moon rising over a Civil War fort, the bastions and replica cannons lined up against the starry sky. Lyla was tired and cranky, but we all had a good time overall. It was a candlelight tour, with no flashlights or lanterns, and the atmosphere was perfect.

In other news, I'm back to a full course load at the college, and I'm gearing up for my transition to UCF in August. I'm completing some professional development activities for UCF while I'm also participating in a pilot for a new learning management system at the college. All of this means I've been up to my ears in work, but I hope things smooth out soon and I can get back to some writing.

The long and short of it is that Northeast Florida is home to some great events and places. If you want to see the real Florida, the one that doesn't include a wannabe actor in a mouse suit and a two-hour wait to ride, then fly into Jacksonville and point your rental vehicle up A1A to Fernandina Beach.

Or come out for The Players next year (just make sure you pack your sunscreen). Either way, you can't go wrong...


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