The annual PGA Merchandise Show always provides a wonderful opportunity to experience the Floridian golf scene, too. After experiencing the remastered Gold Course last year we had the opportunity to play the newly remastered Black Course in January 2018. First question when arriving at Tiburón Golf Club, “How much damage will we still see from Hurricane Irma?” We were absolutely surprised to see that almost all damage has already been cleared, just some new plantings are a hint to how the course was hit by Irma in hurricane season.
Second step: the new Shark Experience buggies. Wonderful buggies with most comfortable seats, more speed and even USB-connection to recharge the smartphone during the round. We loved them!
An important add-on to our experience was – as in the previous year – the caddie service. As I am from Europe and play frequently in the UK and Ireland, I love caddie services supporting my round. And it’s a pity almost no German golf clubs provides caddie services anymore! Last year we enjoyed Greg being our caddie, this year Mitch did a fantastic job as well and did not only provide very helpful information on our first round on this fantastic course, but also increased the speed of play significantly: being a group of four we finished our round in about 4 hours, which – considering the partly long transits between some holes – is a wonderful duration for such great course.
Talking about the course itself: it is wonderful and a sheer pleasure to play! Unfortunately we have not played the course prior to the remastering, but the current layout is superb and a challenge for all levels. How do you decide on the question, whether a golf course is well-designed? For me, three criteria apply: First, it should provide different tee boxes, so that e.g. couples with different playing abilities can share a common round and both have fun. The six tee boxes, including the new Family Tee, per hole make the course fun to play for all skill levels. Second, the layout should force you to use almost every club in your bag. The Black Course makes sure you do, various course management strategies on the different holes challenge the full range of shots and clubs. And third, you should remember at least one hole as being unique and well remembered. This is where things are getting hard, because for me the course provides more than one fantastic hole to be remembered. We enjoyed the dogleg No. 3 with the huge pines limiting long hitters. I love No. 6 with the big lake to the left. Also No. 9, a great par 5, is a tough challenge for your course management. Hole 13 is traditional penal design: choose your tee box wisely, as the water hazard will be unforgiving. And also hole 17 is a beauty, while the lake to the right often provides wildlife at its best. The numerous trees to all sides of the holes, the frequent water hazards and the wonderful sunshine we enjoyed on the day of our play all added up to a mood that partly remembered us to Indian Summers and made our round a fantastic experience.
A visit to Sydney’s Pub after the round enriches the stay with nice drinks and lovely food. After such break you should be ready to go for the final challenge of your stay at Tiburón: the Golf Shop. “Shop til you drop” is not a challenge there! Both, men and women find numerous products, especially regarding clothing, of perfect quality and all styles. It is much harder not to shop instead of leaving the shop with plenty of bags.
We fully enjoyed our round on the remastered course. Is it easier or more difficult than the Gold Course? Interestingly – although the Black Course is rated more difficultly – we considered it to be easier. But this may derive from the fact that I personally love to play long iron shots – and the course provides many opportunities to do so, either from the tee or approaching the green. The Black Course is a must play in Florida and I can’t wait to re-visit as soon as possible!