Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On The Road Again!

Welcome back to Tour Wife Travels! I apologize for the lack of posts for the past few months. I have been busy on the horse show circuit, and although I visited great spots around the country, my travels aren’t quite as interesting to read about when they don’t involve golf.

I am really excited to have the whole family back together and back on the road. Jimmy joked that as soon as I showed up at Greenbrier he started playing well. As much as I would like to take all the credit, a husband who is finally healthy and back in a groove trumps wife back out on the road.

For Jimmy it was a huge disappointment not to qualify for the PGA Championship. Although he has had 4 top-tens this year, he didn’t make any money after the Barclays last year due to a torn meniscus he had to have repaired. When it came down to it, we were about $30,000 short. The good news is we enjoyed two relaxing (all be it very hot) weeks at home, and Jimmy had a chance to fine-tune things with his coach before this all-important final stretch.

This week we are in Greensboro, NC for the Wyndham Championship. This is only my second time to this fun city, so bare with me as I am still learning the ins and outs of the area.

EAT.

For a restaurant that is always on Greensboro’s “Best of the Best” list, I suggest the Green Valley Grill. Located adjacent to the O’ Henry Hotel, the Green Valley Grill is nondescript on the outside but the classy interior and creative cuisine will leave you full and satisfied. The eclectic American fare is sprinkled with a hint of southern charm and if you can’t make up your mind, try a few dishes from the “Small Plates” menu and share with the table. The Green Valley Grill is definitely the restaurant to visit while in Greensboro.

STAY & GOLF.

If running all over town isn’t what you had in mind during your vacation, check out the luxurious Grandover Resort and Golf. Old world ambiance meets modern amenities, and with 36 holes of beautiful Carolina golf, the Grandover is the perfect spot for a getaway.

With multiple restaurants, bars and a beautiful spa, there is plenty to keep you entertained. If you can tear yourself away from the gorgeous interior, perfectly manicured grounds and charming covered bridges dot the romantic property. The Grandover is a favorite for TOUR players and their families while in Greensboro and once you book your stay, it’s easy to too why.

SHOP.

Husbands beware. The Greensboro/High Point area is affectionately known as the furniture capital of the world. And for the world largest furniture retailer, a very short trip from the Grandover Resort is Furnitureland South.

Between the discount prices and over 1 million square feet of retail space, this one-stop-shop is the perfect place for everything your heart and home desires. The Harris family has owned and operated Furnitureland South for over 40 years. They pride themselves in offering some of the best prices in the business, and the selection is absolutely unmatched. The gigantic furniture “campus” is an absolute must see while visiting the Greensboro area.

I hope I have given some good suggestions should you ever find yourself in the Greensboro. As usual I must insert my shameless golf plug here, because if it weren’t for golf this blog wouldn’t exist! Sedgefield Country Club is a beautiful venue and is the perfect southern host for an exciting final week of the regular season. Jimmy says the course is in the best shape he’s seen and it’s sure to be a thrilling week with quite a few top names and past winners vying for FedEx Playoff spots.

Cheers!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sawgrass - The Home of the PGA TOUR


After a few relaxing weeks at home, the Walker family is finally on the road again. It's a good thing we enjoyed a little mid-season break because we won't be home again until August. Packing for that length of time is a huge challenge and always one of my least favorite aspects of traveling. Surprisingly, I was able to keep my bag under the 50-pound weight limit!

Jimmy had a bit of a rough week in Charlotte when a lower back injury caught us all by surprise. It wasn't a great result, but after the way the week started and talks of withdrawing on Friday, we were happy he was able to grind it out. Only after he made the cut -- and some prodding, stretching, massage, ice, ice and more ice -- were his therapists on TOUR able to identify that the strain was actually stemming from an agitated leg muscle in his upper thigh.

If Jimmy had not made weekend, and there hadn't been a lightning delay Saturday morning, the source of the back pain may not have been identified in time for Jimmy to get back to feeling normal for one of his favorite weeks of the year -- THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

THE PLAYERS is one of the most exciting events on TOUR and you really get the "major" feeling when you watch this tournament. The fans are knowledgeable and polite and the field is truly one of the best in golf.

This is the second year we have had the opportunity to play this great event, so we are still getting to know the Ponte Vedra Beach area. I am going to share a few spots with you we have discovered and I will certainly add more as the years continue.

EAT.

Just 18 miles south of TPC Sawgrass is a fun family restaurant called Caps on the Water. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, Caps serves up coastal cuisine that pairs fresh fish with unique southern and Mediterranean flavors. The large deck, sunset oyster bar and great drink menu attracts locals and tourists alike, and everyone has a great time. Be sure to get there early as even when the weather gets warm, this very popular spot is busy early and stays that way until well after the sun sets.

My next suggestion is courtesy of Lauren Teague, PGATOUR.COM's goddess of social media. Don't let the name fool you, Pussers Caribbean Grill may have a horrible name but the food is anything but that. Located just outside the TPC Sawgrass on the A1A, Pussers offers a taste of the Caribbean with unique dishes and fun colorful signature cocktails. And with its proximity to one of the country's best golf courses, it's the perfect ending to a day spent watching THE PLAYERS or playing the TPC.

STAY.

For accommodations as close to the action as you can get, the Sawgrass Marriot is a beautiful property that offers convenient boat service to and from TPC Sawgrass specifically for its guests attending THE PLAYERS Championship.

The Sawgrass Marriot offers access to eight wonderful golf courses in the area, including the TPC's famed PLAYERS Stadium Course and Dye's Valley Course. If golf is what you live for then the Sawgrass Marriot can offer you a trip of a lifetime.

GOLF.

If attending a world-class sporting event is something on your "bucket list' then THE PLAYERS Championship is not to be missed. Although the PGA TOUR has never made the official claim of The Players being the "fifth major," any of the players will tell you it's just that. The field is spectacular, offering a well-balanced mix of PGA TOUR and international players, rookies and veterans, oh, and a Tiger, too.

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a long, fast, challenging 7,215-yard Pete Dye masterpiece. Designed with every type of player in mind, the course offers a wonderful balance of holes of varying length for every type of shot-maker. And the "stadium" feel offers spectators a chance to see great golf from wonderful vantage points with the famed 17th hole being one of the most intimidating and recognizable holes in golf.

Even with warm May temperatures on the rise, Ponte Vedra Beach and THE PLAYERS Championship is a stop that every golf fan needs to make.

And now it's time for this TOUR wife to take full advantage of this wonderful week and head to the course. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Is there such a thing as “home field advantage” in golf? We would like to think so! And this week we are excited to welcome everyone to our hometown, San Antonio, for the Valero Texas Open!

Jimmy has been a San Antonio resident since grade school and, I reluctantly, moved here when we were married in 2005. After almost 6 years, I have become a big fan of the city, the people and really feel like San Antonio is home.

Jimmy and I are ready for a full week of family, friends and a little golf too! We are also excited to share with you a few places we consider our hometown “favorites”.

EAT.

San Antonio is known for it’s charming downtown Riverwalk and if you are going to be spending an evening exploring downtown, there is no better place to stop for dinner than Boudro’s. A self-proclaimed “Texas Bistro,” this trendy place is always packed and a favorite among locals braving the Riverwalk crowds. The pink Prickly Pear Margarita may look and sound girlie but don’t let it fool you. This tart little concoction should probably come with a two-drink limit or you may find yourself at the bottom of the San Antonio River. (Don’t panic, it’s only about 3 feet deep!)

The second must-have item on Boudro’s menu is the Tableside Guacamole. Simply put, it’s the best. I’m willing to stand by my statement and will give away some sweet golf swag to the person proving me wrong!

The entire Boudro’s menu is great, and the atmosphere is fun and festive. Be sure to make it a priority stop on your trip to San Antonio.

There aren’t many restaurant signs designed to keep the masses away but that’s exactly what “Rudy’s Worst BBQ In Texas” tries to do. And they fail miserably. After traveling to some of the self proclaimed “Best BBQ Joints” in the country, Rudy’s worst is better than the Best’s best. Pulling up to the gas stations that house Rudy’s you will undoubtedly question our suggestion but one bite of anything on the menu and you will understand why Rudy’s is basically a religion around here. Be sure to sample a little bit of everything but don’t forget the “sause”.

SHOP.

For premiere shopping in San Antonio be sure to head to the Shops at La Cantera. The beautiful outdoor shopping and dining experience is perfect this time of year when mild weather is at a premium in South Texas. With tons of shops and restaurants to choose from, it’s easy to lose track of time enjoying the mall.

STAY & GOLF.

Open only a year, the JW Marriot San Antonio is not only the host hotel for the Valero Texas Open, it is also the largest Marriot property in the world. The 1002 rooms and 85 suites are a beautiful blend of Texas Hill Country and contemporary elegance, with every inch of the property total luxury.

While all the restaurants live up to great expectations, the Vegas-inspired High Velocity Sports Bar should not be missed. No matter who you root for, the 120 foot-long high definition video wall makes you feel as you are right in the middle of the action.

Don’t feel like heading down to the Riverwalk? Don’t worry, the JW Marriot San Antonio has built it’s own! The River Bluff Water Experience, a six-acre water park, is one river you will actually want to swim in. Parents try to keep your excitement under control and not push your kids out of the way when you see everything that the JW Marriot has to offer.

If you can tear yourself away from the massive hotel, be sure to book tee times at two championship golf courses located about a nine-iron away, at the TPC San Antonio. The Pete Dye designed AT&T Canyon Course and Greg Norman designed PGA TOUR stop AT&T Oaks Course are the two newest additions to the TPC network.

The Oaks Course that the TOUR Players play may be the first you choose to because, lets face it, everyone wants to play where the pros play. But absolutely do not overlook the fabulously designed Canyon Course. When Jimmy and San Antonio resident and TOUR winner, Cameron Beckman aren’t hard at work prepping for the Texas Open, the Canyon Course is on the top of their list of links to play.

Being a private golf club, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity JW Marriot guests have and play these two awesome tracks.

ETC.

Party with a purpose? That is exactly what this week’s Fiesta San Antonio is all about. A premier festival in San Antonio with over 100 events and each event is produced by a nonprofit organization. With an economic impact of over $200 million, the funds raised provide services to San Antonio residents throughout the year.

This is the first year Fiesta and the Valero Texas Open dates have coincided. With events ranging from parades and food and wine tasting, to art shows and symphonies, Fiesta is another reason we love San Antonio.

We are so excited to have the TOUR in our town this week and hope you enjoy San Antonio as much as we do. With wind coming from all directions this time of year and the AT&T Oaks Course a rolling, whopping 7,522 yards monster, it’s sure to be an exciting week of tough golf.

Cheers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hello Lone Star State!

After a few frustrating weeks for Jimmy in Florida, we are really happy to be back in the Lone Star State. I admit, after growing up in Utah and going to college in Colorado I never thought I would call Texas home. But after six years here I have really grown to love this State, it’s people, and I too have a sense of pride when I see the Texas flag. (I assure you my mother is having a heart attack as she reads this. Don’t worry mom, Utah will always be home!)

You couldn’t engineer a more perfect stop for the Walker family than Houston. There are not many weeks out of our hectic year where the stars align, and both our passions take place in the same city at the same time, but this week is one of them. And with Jimmy’s long time sponsors, Insperity, calling Houston home, it makes this week even more special.

With Houston being the fourth largest city in America, to say it’s easy to get lost here is an understatement. Two main freeways circle Houston like big racetracks – the Sam Houston Tollway and the 610 Loop. Between the 610 Loop and Downtown, are some of Houston’s most exclusive and historic neighborhoods and prime real-estate for shops and restaurants. I am going to focus on a few special spots that are “inside the loop” to make this big city feel a bit smaller.

EAT.

LA. Chicago. New York. These cities will gasp in horror when I say Houston can beat them all, or at very least, go toe to toe when it comes to spectacular cuisine.

First off is Ibizia located between midtown and downtown. The goal of owners Grant Copper and Chef Charles Clark was to create a sleek and sexy setting where the patrons, chefs and servers can all interact and enjoy an amazing dining experience. The open kitchen, contemporary décor and the 4,000 bottles of wine ensconced on the wall do just that. The first time I was fortunate enough to eat at Ibiza was when I was an intern at Compaq during college. I remember the food being amazing but lets face it, I was a starving college student so at the time cup-o-noodle was amazing. But ten years later, Ibiza is still in the same location and Cooper and Clark are still creating Mediterranean cuisine truly worth remembering.

Considered by many to be the Holy Grail of Houston dining, the fact that Mark’s American Cuisine is located in a renovated 1920’s church is appropriate. Winner of numerous culinary awards, including the #1 rating since 2001 by Zagat’s Houston Restaurant Survey, the list of Chef Mark Cox and his restaurants achievements are endless. Houston resident and TOUR player Chris Stroud and his wife Tiffany are big fans of the restaurant, and they will be the first to tell you that Mark’s lives up to the hype. The Recommended Menus of the Chef’s personal choices change daily and use the freshest seasonal ingredients. On your next trip to Houston, be sure to make a reservation at Mark’s for a meal you will not forget.

SHOP.

Located at the Westheimer and Drexel streets just off 610, be sure to check out Highland Village. For more than 50 years, Highland Village has been a Houston shopping tradition. Today the center is a mix of carefully selected national retailers and unique boutiques. Be sure to check out Tootsies, an upscale boutique that carries shoes, denim and contemporary and classic collections from American and European designers. Valobra is a spectacular southern jewelry and antique store located in Highland Village and, are also a big sponsor of this week’s Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. (More of that to come!)

Highland Village is perfect for late afternoon shopping paired with an evening dinner, in one of Houston’s unique districts.

STAY & GOLF.

The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa are situated on 18 acres of wooded bliss, in the heart of Houston and just outside the 610 loop. The 289 guest rooms are elegant and offer floor to ceiling wooded views, offering guests the chance to relax and have all the city stress melt away.

Whether you choose to de-stress via the spa or workout route, The Houstonian has two amazing facilities for guests. The 125,000 square foot workout facility has been voted as one of the nations top-10 fitness centers, and guests have access to three resort style swimming pools, a rock climbing wall, boxing ring, tennis courts, 30 certified personal trainers and group exercise classes.

At Trellis, the spa at The Houstonian guests will be treated to one of the most beautiful and functional spas in the country. With 17,000 square feet of space and over 100 wonderful treatments, Trellis is definitely worth a visit while staying at The Houstonian.

Also, while a staying at the hotel, guests have access to Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course where the Shell Houston Open is played. Although it is a bit of a drive from the hotel, the Tournament course at Redstone designed by Reese Jones and David Toms, is well worth it. At over 7,400 yards from the tips, the course is one of the longer on TOUR and always in meticulous shape especially in the spring by the time the TOUR heads to town.

ETC.

This week is a special week for me because not only is Jimmy playing golf in our home State but I am riding in the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. The show is one of the oldest and most prestigious charity horse shows in the country and a social and fundraising event that is unique to Houston. The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show benefits the Texas Children’s Hospital, one of the country’s leading pediatric hospitals and #3 in the nation for cardiac care, as well as the Ronald McDonald House.

After our son was born last year, he was quite sick and spent 10 days in the NICU. While we were there, we became friends with some very special people named the Johnsons. The Johnson’s son Field was born with some heart issues and has undergone a few surgeries to correct those issues. His latest was done at Texas Childrens Hospital and Field’s mom, Lisa, raved about how wonderful the doctors and the staff are. And the Ronald McDonald house really helped them feel welcome while staying in Houston.

So not only do I get to participate in something I love, but it also benefits a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. And, by the way, little Field is doing amazing and our boys will be friends for life.

I hope I have helped make this large city feel a bit smaller. Head out to Redstone to support the golfers and be sure visit the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy to watch some of the best equestrian athletes from around the country. The $15,000 Hunter Derby takes place at 7:30 PM on Friday evening and the $35,000 Pin Oak Grand Prix starts at 7:45 PM on Saturday.

Cheers!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Times & Golf In Orlando


Jimmy was pretty disappointed about missing the cut in Tampa because he loves the golf course, but the great thing about golf is there is always another week. And this week we are in Orlando for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at famed Bay Hill Club and Lodge. It’s been 6 years since we have had the privilege of playing this tournament and we are really excited to be back.

Another reason we were excited for the week (and for the delay in posting the blog) is Jimmy was picked to host the Golf Channel’s Inside the PGA TOUR show and the lil’ one and I got to tag along. After the crew spent about 2 seconds with our nine-month-old son it quickly transitioned into the “Mclain Walker Show,” and Jimmy and I were off the hook. The whole day was truly first class, and we were reminded how truly privileged a life we lead on TOUR.

EAT & STAY.

As soon as you drive through the gates of the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando you immediately get the feeling you are in for something special. When Steven Spielberg was consulting on Universal Orlando Island of Adventure Park, he suggested each of the three hotels on the property has a special theme to make them unique. And are they ever! The Portofino transports you from busy Orlando to the beautiful Italian Riviera. With everything the Portofino has to offer, in the ultimate role reversal your kids will have to drag you kicking and screaming away from the hotel.

While filming Inside the PGA TOUR, we were treated to a fabulous lunch at one of the Portofino’s charming restaurants. Sitting in the sun at Trattoria del Porto, overlooking the “piazza,” you really feel as you could be in Italy. With eight different bars and restaurants, the dining options at the Portofino offer enough variety to keep everyone happy.

The Loews Portofino Bay may be located in Orlando and look Italian, but it is an amazing world-class resort that couples looking to get away and families of all size can enjoy.

The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort

SHOP & PLAY.

After our fabulous lunch at the Portofino, we took a boat from the hotel straight to Universal Orlando Island of Adventure theme park. The idea behind Island of Adventure is that each aspect of the Park is centered around a “storytelling theme.” From Dr Seuss to Harry Potter, you will be amazed at the attention paid to every small detail at both Universal Orlando Parks.

With rides, shows and shops to please every age, Universal Orlando Resort maybe be the “other park” located in Orlando, but I can assure you, the Parks are second to none and should not be missed.

Jimmy, Mclain and I filming Inside The PGA TOUR

GOLF.

Although it may be hard to tear yourself and your loved ones away from the theme parks in Orlando, Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill is pretty great excuse to do so. With all the golf heavyweights scheduled to play, it’s a tournament that commands attention and respect must be paid to the challenging course. Fast greens, water on most holes and with wind usually a factor, Bay Hill is a perfect for spectators looking to get their fill of everything great golf has to offer. Be sure to check out the tournament if you are ever in Orlando during the week of Bay Hill.

For the 50 other weeks a year when the PGA TOUR is not in town, golfers can get their fix at Orange County National. Located in nearby Winter Gardens, every other year OCN is the site of dreaded PGA TOUR Qualifying School and for 10 years running was voted as one of Golf Digests “Best Places to Play.”


Orlando is a great city with so much to do and see, be sure to plan accordingly. Our whole week has been a wonderful experience, and we can’t thank the Golf Channel and Universal Orlando Resort enough for our memorable day. Be sure to watch Inside the PGA TOUR this Tuesday evening (3/29) on the Golf Channel to get a great look at Universal Orlando Resort and our life on TOUR.

Cheers!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time for Tampa!


After three wonderful weeks in Gulfport, Mississippi indulging in my hobby, hunter/jumper horse shows, it’s time to get back to golf. I enjoyed success in the arena, riding to Champion of my division two out of three weeks, while Jimmy and the rest of the Honda field battled the wind and the Bear Trap in West Palm Beach.

My mare, Sahalee, and me.


We are enjoying being back together as a family this week in Tampa at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. The famed Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is a player favorite and one of the hardest non-major courses of the year. It has enough tough holes to keep things interesting, but with four par-5’s, there are also plenty of scoring opportunities if one’s putter is hot.

EAT.

Located about 40 minutes from Innisbrook is a truly can’t miss experience, Berns Steakhouse. Don’t let the quirky décor reminiscent of the Haunted House ride at Disney World fool you. Berns has been rated as one of America’s Top Restaurants time and time again and boasts the largest private wine collection in the world. Much of the food is organically grown especially for the restaurant; and for dessert lovers the private Harry Waugh Dessert Room is it’s own epic encounter in and of itself. For a special occasion and truly unique night, make a reservation, dress up (Yes! There is a strict dress code!) and head to Berns.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Berns is the Wing House, located not far outside the gates of Innisbrook, on US 19. In typical wing restaurant “fashion,” spandex hot pants are a plenty, but the wings are tasty and sweet tea refreshing. After a hot day on the course, golfers are frequent patrons of the Wing House to enjoy the food, sports bar atmosphere and perhaps the hot pants too.

STAY AND GOLF

Upon entering the gates of Innisbrook Resort, the hectic north Tampa traffic and pace melt away. As you wind your way past lush courses dotted with massive Spanish moss covered oaks and accommodations named after the most famous golf courses in the world, you can’t help but feel a little bit like you have escaped to Kellerman’s from the movie Dirty Dancing.

After Dr Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hospitality, bought Innisbrook Resort in 2007, the true grace and glory of the property has become the main focus. Major renovations have taken place to help make Innisbrook Resort a premier golf destination and according many TOUR players, the Copperhead course has never looked and played better.

ETC.

For sports fanatics and even the casual observer, spring is a great time of year to visit the Tampa area. For five weeks a year the worlds best baseball players head south for spring training. Nothing beats a day on the golf course, an evening at the ballpark and beautiful mid-70’s weather.

Tampa is the perfect spring break spot for adults and by making the Transitions Championship and Innisbrook Resort part of your travels plans I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Cheers!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Florida Swing Kicks Off

It was quite the four weeks on the West Coast for the Walker family. These past few weeks were our first of 2011 traveling together as a family, staying in our bus and some fantastic golf from Jimmy. I must admit, it felt wonderful to be together and great golf was just the icing on the cake, especially since it’s the beginning of the year and the West Coast has not typically been Jimmy’s best finishes in years past. Those darn mutating greens can be quite tricky but as Jimmy’s putting stats indicate, they didn’t get the best of him this time around.

From West to East and Bent to Bermuda, after a much-needed week off Jimmy heads to Florida and the start of the Southern Swing in West Palm Beach at PGA National. The “small one” and I are enjoying my passion hunter/jumper horse competitions for the next few weeks, and I am sad to be missing this stop as WPB has everything I enjoy.

EAT.

Located in southern Jupiter you will find Leftovers, one the Quigley family’s favorite restaurants. (451 University Blvd, Jupiter 561-627-6030) Leftovers is a wonderful family friendly place with fabulous “sub-tropical” dishes where fresh fish is the highlight of the menu. The specials change daily but always aim to please and do just that. The atmosphere is light and casual but get there early as they don’t take reservations and the locals know how great this place is.

Café Chardonnay is another gem of the area, located in Palm Beach Gardens. (4533 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens 561-627-2662) An amazing wine menu paired with creative American cuisine makes Café Chardonnay a perfect spot for adults wanting (or needing!) a romantic night out.

Lastly, for an upscale twist on an old favorite, try Vic & Angelos Coal Oven. (4520 PGA Blvd, Palm , Beach Gardens 561-630-9899) Vic & Angelos pizza is a favorite among Jupiter residents Will Mackenzie and Rickie Fowler, but the menu offers up a lot more succulent Italian dishes than just pizza. From one gnocchi lover to another, Vic & Angelos Ricotta Gnocchi is one that should not be missed. A happening spot especially during the Tournament week and MLB Spring Training, reservations are recommended.

SHOP.

Suggesting an indoor mall isn’t usually my style, but because of it’s proximity to PGA National, The Gardens Mall located on PGA Boulevard is my pick for the week. Whether it’s rain in the winter or heat in the summer that drives you indoors and over 160 shops and restaurants to tempt you, don’t feel guilty if shopping is the reason you stay indoors. The beautiful Gardens Mall is retail heaven.

STAY (AND GOLF!)

The Honda Classic in WPB is one week that truly spoils us on TOUR. If you are going to make a trip to the area, there is no better place to stay and play than PGA National Golf Resort & Spa. There are not many weeks where we get to stay at the course but this week is an exception and exceptional it is!

With 5 courses to please players of all levels, PGA National is the perfect choice for a golf vacation. Feeling confident with your golf game? Be sure to play the Champion Course, the same course the TOUR pros play during the Honda Classic. This formidable course boasts three of the most challenging consecutive holes in golf known as “The Bear Trap,” named after designer Jack Nicklaus. When TOUR Pro’s pray each day to the Golf Gods for even par through The Bear Trap, you know you are in for a challenge.

ETC.

For an opportunity to watch the worlds best in my favorite sport, equestrian stadium jumping, drive 30 minutes south to Wellington. Every winter equestrian athletes at the peak of their sport gather in south Florida. Friday March 6th is the Nations Cup Grand Prix, a team competition consisting of 4 riders from each country battling it out over massive 5’+ jumps with big money and bigger bragging rights at stake. A great competition that even non-horse lovers will respect and admire.

Golf, horses, wine, food, shopping. The Palm Beach area has everything this TOUR Wife could want and I hope you enjoy the spots I have shared with you!

Cheers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lights! Camera! Riviera!


It was quite the rollercoaster week at Pebble Beach, with a lot of highs and a few lows. Jimmy was pretty disappointed with his Sunday but considering how his opening nine and Spyglass Hill started, a top-10 was a great place to finish. We are beyond thrilled for our wonderful friends D.A. and Lori Points and D.A.’s first win on the PGA TOUR. Jimmy and D.A. battled it out on the Nationwide Tour in 2004 finishing 1st and 2nd on the Money List respectively, and we have been great friends ever since. Again, huge congratulations to the Points on a great win!

With Sunday in the rearview mirror we headed down the Pacific Coast Highway to our next stop, Riviera Country Club and the Northern Trust Open. Riviera is one of Jimmy’s favorite courses and with my brother being a Los Angeles resident, it is a stop we always look forward to.

EAT.

Obviously with Los Angeles being one of the largest cities in America and traffic being brutal at best, I’m going to keep this week’s suggestions close to the golf course and the Santa Monica area. And because I have great suggestions for each, I am going to give you one for every meal of the day.

Breakfast. South along Ocean Avenue away from the hustle and bustle, is Cora’s Coffee Shop. (1802 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica 310-451-9562) A tiny restaurant with primarily patio seating and no view worth mentioning, but great food made from fresh ingredients and something on the menu for every breakfast lover. The orange and blueberry pancakes are the house specialty and the huevos rancheros should not be missed. Don’t blink or you may miss the place, it’s definitely worth the effort to find.

Lunch. While strolling along Montana Ave in Santa Monica, I highly suggest squeezing in to Blue Plate for lunch. (1415 Montana Ave, Santa Monica 310-260-8877) Blue Plate is the perfect charming neighborhood restaurant to pair with an afternoon on Montana Ave. The soups, salads and sandwiches are all delicious but it’s quite the happening locals spot so I suggest going either early or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.

Dinner. Sticking to Montana Ave, R&D Kitchen is a hip dinner spot with a drink list aimed to please and food to impress. Start with the dip duo appetizer and the ahi tuna burger is a best seller. Get there early, as R&D doesn’t take reservations and patrons are known to wait up to ninety minutes.


SHOP.

Back to Montana Avenue we go for my favorite type of shopping, boutiques! This street is perfect for those who prefer unique shops like Every Picture Tells a Story, a children’s art and bookstore specializing in rare artwork from the books we all grew up loving. Last year I found two amazing prints signed by the illustrator that make me smile every time I step foot in my son’s bedroom. A true gem of a store, I highly suggest making a point to stop if you find yourself in shopping heaven along Montana Ave.


STAY.

A lot of golfers this week are huge fans of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. The Fairmont is a beautifully traditional hotel combined with contemporary touches. The grand and lush exterior make way for beautiful guest suites that feel a bit more like the Bahamas than busy Los Angeles. Located just off Ocean Avenue, guests can stroll through the luscious gardens or out the gates and across the street for a walk along the Pacific; this is a hotel you shouldn’t pass up.


GOLF.

Being a private club, tucked in between the mega mansions of the Brentwood area, playing is not an option for most of us but Riviera is a course everyone should experience. Time and time again this course is named as a TOUR player favorite and it boasts one of the most exciting short par-4 holes of the year. Players can go from hero to zero as attainable eagles flirt dangerously with double bogeys and the line between the two is thin. Riviera is simply golf at it’s best and this is a week you won’t want to miss.


Los Angeles is a completely overwhelming city and I hope I have given you suggestions that keep you happy and busy in one spot and off the freeways. Rain or shine, this TOUR wife plans on enjoying an amazing week in L.A.

Cheers!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pebble Beach ... Need I Say More?


Have you ever popped a champagne cork at 38,000 feet? Well, we did Monday! We were the lucky travel companions of the Wilson family after Mark’s second win of the year. The Wilson’s are a wonderful family, and we were excited to share in their success. With big names or the latest, greatest 350-yard bomber who usually captures fan and media attention, it is great a guy in his 30s from Wisconsin who continues to prove that you can’t discount the rest of the field. Congratulations, again, to Mark Wilson on his second PGA TOUR victory in 2011!

After a very comfy flight and a bit of celebratory champagne, we have arrived at the Monterey Peninsula. The AT&T National Pro Am at Pebble Beach is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. AT&T puts on a first-class event for the pros, amateurs and their families and with the most famous public golf course in the world as our setting it’s a recipe for a spectacular week.

EAT.

Oh where do I begin? Some of my favorite places all year are located on the Monterey Peninsula. I could write and write and write about places to eat here, but for your sake, I’ll limit my suggestions and save some for next year.

Our first stop of the week is always The Cheese Shop in Carmel-By-The-Sea. (Carmel Plaza, Lower Level, Ocean & Juniper 800-282-9463) A cozy little shop located in the Carmel Plaza, this wonderful little store had been in business since 1975 and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. With hundreds of unique cheese and hard-to-find wines, this is the place for the true connoisseur. Proprietor Kent is a master of boutique wines, and for a wine lover like Jimmy, this shop is truly heaven.

My next suggestion is Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room in Monterey. (622 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey 831-655-4852) A fun restaurant with a tropical theme, Hula’s is a favorite of Brett Quigley, Rory Sabbatini and especially their kids. Fresh fish and seafood with a mix of Asian, Latin and Caribbean flavors makes Hula’s a unique dining experience perfect for a night out with the family. Amy Sabbatini highly recommends the sweet potato fries and I recommend making reservations for large groups, especially during the tournament week.

Lastly, be sure to hit Kate’s Place in Carmel before leaving the Peninsula. (Mission Street between 5th and 6th Carmel, 831-624-0199) Hands down the best eggs benedict I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. A warning – expect a long wait if you get there past 9 AM and they only accept cash. Trust me, Kate’s Place is well worth the wait and the hassle.

SHOP.

Since I already suggested The Cheese Shop located in the Carmel Plaza, take advantage of the location and visit the rest of the shops in the Plaza. Located on the corner of Ocean and Juniper Streets in Carmel, the Plaza is a fun center that is a mix of super posh stores like Louis Vuitton and local flavor like the Carmel Coffee and Coco Bar.

STAY.

Heaven on earth has a name, and it is The Inn at Spanish Bay. An elegant and slightly contemporary lodge, The Inn is my top choice for accommodations inside the gates of Pebble Beach. The view from the north side of the Peninsula where The Inn is located is simply spectacular. Be sure to grab a glass of wine (or the most fabulous raspberry martini invented) and watch as the bagpiper serenades the setting sun. Absolutely nothing about The Inn at Spanish Bay disappoints. Yes, the rooms are expensive but well worth it for a truly amazing experience.

I completely understand how paying $600 + a night for a hotel room can make one feel ill, so I am suggesting a great alternative. Until this year, when Jimmy and I decided to give the RV lifestyle a try, one of our favorite alternatives to a hotel is the website Vacation Rentals By Owner – www.vrbo.com. VRBO is a site that offers private homes for rent across the United States and around the world. The Monterey Peninsula is a perfect spot to take advantage of the wonderful homes available on VRBO. Whether you want a cozy cottage that sleeps two or a mega mansion that sleeps 20, there is usually a home available for every size and budget.

GOLF.

Yes, Pebble Beach is home to quite possibly the most famous group of public golf courses in the world, but some of the best golf in the area can be played at Fort Ord’s Bayonet and Black Horse courses. The website’s affirmation of “the best 36 holes on Monterey Bay” may cause a few chuckles, considering whom they are up against, but after you play you may agree. If you ask any TOUR player what courses come to mind when asked which are the best, undoubtedly Bayonet will be high up on the list. As Jimmy says “It’s an overlooked gem in the Monterey Bay area.”

Rumor had it when Tiger Woods agreed to play in the AT&T National Pro Am again he made a big push to have Bayonet be a part of the rotation, and that says a lot about the quality of the course. With green fees under $100 for midweek play, it would be a major bogey to pass up Bayonet and The Black Horse. For more information visit www.bayonetblackhorse.com.

With clear skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s, we are ready for a perfect week of golf at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Come out and support all the players, whether they are a -6 or a 40 handicap, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the world!

Cheers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wild Days Ahead At Waste Management Open!


First and foremost a big congratulations to Bubba and Angie Watson for a great win in San Diego. With Jimmy coming from the Nationwide Tour, it’s great seeing other Nationwide grads doing well. Torrey Pines is always a course that challenges Jimmy a bit, so despite a bit of a rough Sunday, I am proud of him for playing so well.

This week we are in Scottsdale for one of the rowdiest tournaments of the year, the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale. For those all the folks out there in places like Buffalo, NY, who have never had a chance to experience this tournament, it truly is the “greatest show on grass”.

Scottsdale is a golfers paradise with over 150 public and private courses in the area to choose from and average sunny days are well over the 300 mark. When one comes to Scottsdale and especially the Waste Management Open, prepare for a lot of pomp and circumstance that goes along with the event. In one day driving around here, I see more vanity license plates then I do in a year in Texas and THAT my friends, is Scottsdale in a nutshell.


EAT.

There are tons of good restaurants in the area; depending on what part of Scottsdale you are located. I am going to give you two good recommendations this week that are in different parts of the city.

If you are in North Scottsdale, a short jaunt up Hayden Road is the Spotted Donkey Cantina in Cave Creek, a trendy restaurant with great southwestern cuisine and hip atmosphere, including wonderful patio dining when the weather is good. (Hence my 300 days of sun reference above.) The Spotted Donkey is known for using locally sourced ingredients, including Hatch Green Chilies, in dishes like their decadent Arizona Mac n’ Cheese. (8220 North Hayden Road 480.922.1400)

Another fun restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale is Bandera. Known for their rotisserie, Bandera is a southwestern-meets-bbq in an upscale setting. The restaurant gets busy after work hours end and tables are limited, so patrons are known to wait it out, drink in hand. (3821 N Scottsdale Rd (480) 994-3524)

One can’t go wrong with either restaurant but both are on the smaller side and local favorites so reservations are strongly advised.

SHOP.

Taking full advantage of the sun, especially when temperatures are at a premium during the winter months, I am going to suggest you and your wallet head to Kierland Commons. A fun center with a “main street” kind of feel, Kierland Commons is perfect for an afternoon of shopping combined with lunch or dinner. With a wide variety to choose from, Kierland is a nice alternative to the average mall.

STAY.

Centrally located in Scottsdale is the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. This great property is 27 acres of pool, spa, golf and luxury linen goodness. The Hyatt is perfect for a romantic getaway or for families traveling with children as it has plenty to keep everyone occupied. There is a 1.5-acre water park and Camp Hyatt Kachina to keep little kids happy, as well as the Spa Avania and a top rated golf course to keep big kids happy.

Be forewarned, the Hyatt room rates are not for the faint of heart during peak winter months. Booking a trip during the summer months will save you over half. For rates, drool worthy pictures and more information check out http://scottsdale.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/.


I hope I’ve given you some useful information for planning a trip to Scottsdale. Of course, I am completely biased and think the best week to come is during the Waste Management Open. It truly is a spectacle that should not be missed!

Cheers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Torrey! Torrey! Torrey!

After a week off, Jimmy is back in action and the little one and I are finally on the road with him. We couldn’t pick a better week to start than Torrey Pines and San Diego.

When the weather is good, there are few places around the country that beat this city. San Diego is a fun, hip city with wonderful dining, shopping, golf and views that can’t be beat.


EAT.

If you like Mexican food then Fidel’s Little Mexico in Solana Beach is a must. (607 Valley Ave, Solana Beach 858-755-5292) Everything on the menu is fantastic but I highly suggest the chicken and rice soup. Accompanied by avocado, onions and a side of fresh flower tortillas, this soup is a dish I look forward to all year long. Yum!

With reasonable prices and lots of tables, Fidel’s is a great spot for families and bigger groups, although reservations are strongly suggested if it’s racing season at Del Mark Race Track. Fidel’s can be a little hard to find so I highly suggest following a GPS, especially after sunset.

STAY.

Although the Lodge at Torrey Pines is wonderful, it is quite pricy. A slightly cheaper alternative if you want to stay at Torrey Pines Golf Course is the Hilton at Torrey Pines. I picked a random week in March as a test, and the average room price difference between the two hotels is at least $150 to $200 per night. You can’t go wrong either way, as the views of the golf course and Pacific Ocean are fabulous.

If you don’t want to stay right at the course the Del Mar Inn by Clarion is a much cheaper option and is walking distance to downtown Del Mar. It’s an older, quirky hotel but is clean and has a lot of charm. Not quite the same views as staying up at Torrey Pines but with the amount of money you save, you can play an extra round or two on the South Course. Trade offs!

SHOP.

Downtown Del Mar offers fun boutiques that may not satisfy every shopping need, but is a perfect spot for lunch and getting some fresh sea air while browsing.

While cruising Del Mar, be sure to check out Del Mar Plaza. It is fun shopping center with a few mainstream stores any many unique boutiques. Being the equestrian that I am, I love the Saratoga Saddlery & International Boutiqe. (If you are reading this blog be aware of the shameless plug for all things horsey – I’ll try to keep it at a minimum.)

While in the area, be sure to check out the Del Mar Hat Co for fabulous "Derby style" hats should you be in town during racing season. The retail store and design studio are located at 11689 Sorrento Valley Road SD 92121 or find them online at www.delmarhat.com.


There are so many wonderful things about the City of San Diego, I will need a few more years of blogging to even scratch the surface, but I hope these little tidbits will help if you are ever visiting. Get out and support the golfers this week at the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open. A great field, great course, great views and most importantly, the weather will to be WONDERFUL!

Cheers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Aloha 2011!

It's time to officially kick off OUR golf year. Jimmy is starting the year at the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. Although I am sad to be missing the tournament this year, after hearing about Jimmy's travel day it would have been a very long day for baby and I. So, instead we wished J luck, and sent him on his way.

But the good news for all your Tour Wife Travels followers (as few of you as there may be at the moment!) is that I have been to this tournament a few times in years past so I have plenty of "insider information" to pass along this week!

So without further adieu -- my first Tour Wife Travels post!

Honolulu is the melting pot of Hawaii and if you have the opportunity to spend time in this city, it's easy to get lost in all the hustle and bustle. Here are a few tips to make this large city feel a bit smaller and a bit more manageable.

EAT.

You can find anything and everything in Honolulu but sushi is a must. No matter your price range, there is a sushi stop for everyone.

First and foremost is Nobu Waikiki located at The Parc Hotel. ( 2233 Helumoa Road +1.808.237.6999 ) A favorite spot for Tour players such as D.A. Points and Chris Stroud; with it's fabulous food and head chef Nobu Matsuhisa usually in residence during the week of the Sony Open, it's inevitable that you will see a professional golfer enjoying Nobu every night during the Sony Open. A word of caution - Nobu is quite pricy and leaving with a bill of $200+ is usually the norm but well worth it for a special night out.

For sushi on a budget (sushi?? budget?? oxymoron) a great hole-in-the-wall spot in Waikiki is Furusato Sushi (2424 Kalakaua Ave +1.808.922.4991) located across from Kuhio State Park. No frills. No gimmicks. Just quick, easy, good sushi that so far hasn’t disappointed us.

I have quite a few more restaurants to suggest but I have to save something for next year, right?

SHOP.

From Tiffany & Co and Gucci, to Billabong and Volcom, there is a ton of shopping in Waikiki. But in my opinion, the most fun thing to do is to take a stroll through the International Market Place in the heart of Waikiki. A unique shopping experience guaranteed to send you home with nothing you really need, but full of fun trinkets to remember your Honolulu trip.

The key to the International Market Place is the art of bargaining. If you don’t put your bargaining skills to the test you will be highly over paying for Aunt Ida’s Christmas present, but over paying for everything seems to be the norm in Honolulu. Don’t feel bad haggling down on the price for that cute sterling silver bracelet or obnoxious print shirt – the locals are used to it and inflate their prices accordingly.

If bargaining isn’t your thing, (Tiffany’s probably won’t appreciate you telling them their diamond earrings are “too much, too much”!) you can stick to all the regular stores along Kalakaua Ave and over pay with all the rest of the tourists.


STAY.

On our most recent trips to Honolulu, Jimmy and I have stayed at the Moana Surfrider, a Westin property. It’s a nice hotel right in the middle of Waikiki, which has its pros and cons.

Pros:

- Walking distance to all the shopping and dining, it’s the perfect place to stay if you want to be in the middle of the action.

- Beachfront property along Honolulu’s busy Waikiki beach. Great for taking a quick splash in the ocean then running up to your room to change. Some epic people watching but some of the bikinis are not exactly rated G.

- Fantastic bar with fun drinks and perfect for watching the sunset across the Pacific Ocean.

- Good gym that over looks Kalakaua Ave. With the huge windows over looking the street, I highly suggest wearing something you don’t mind all of Hawaii seeing you sweat your butt off in.

Cons:

- Rooms on the street-side of the hotel can be quite noisy.

- The rooms in the original part of the hotel are renovated but about the size of my son’s crib. The rooms in the towers are not renovated but much larger.

- Not the most child friendly hotel as the pool is very small but great for families with teens who enjoy all the action

All in all, the Moana Surfrider is a fun Honolulu hotel that is perfect for families or couples that want to be busy the whole trip.

For those who are lucky enough to be in Honolulu this week, get out and watch golf at the Sony Open and cheer on the worlds best… in the rain.

I hope you enjoyed my first post. It’s a work in progress and it may take my post-baby-brain a bit to get back in to thinking mode. I am open to comments and suggestions – be gentle please!

Cheers!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Welcome to Tour Wife Travels!

Hello! Welcome to my blog - Tour Wife Travels!

My name is Erin and I am the wife of PGA Tour player Jimmy Walker. We often get asked how we handle traveling 30 weeks a year, and let me be the first to tell you we lead a privileged life, but being away from home can be hard. My husband and I make it a point of exploring every city we visit. Whether it's our first visit or our 10th, finding new places to eat, shop, stay and explore has become our hobby.

And now, Tour Wife Travels would like to share those spots with you! If you ever find yourself in one of our "Tour Stop Cities," I want to give you the insider information on all the places the Pro's, their wives and kids enjoy while they are in town.

So bring on 2011 and let me show you how this Tour Wife Travels!