Believe it or not, another PGA Tour season is just around the corner. The pros have reconfigured things a bit with a new “wraparound” season that now jumps from one calendar year to the next, so the 2013-14 season is just a few weeks away.
For Florida, the same wonderful five events remain, in similar spots on the calendar to previous years. If you go every year to watch the pros, or say that 2014 will finally be the year to cross that off your sports to-do list, note these dates.
Feb. 24-March 2, The Honda Classic, PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens: The month-long Florida Swing starts at the Champion course at PGA National, the Jack Nicklaus-designed track that gives the pros all they want especially when the wind blows. The key stretch is always the “Bear Trap,” holes Nos. 15-17 that include two watery par 3s and a tricky par 4.
March 3-9, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Trump National Doral, Miami: The pros will find a far different Blue Monster in 2014, as architect Gil Hanse is currently renovating the famed course. You know The Donald will want to see some higher scores than previous years in the elite-field event.
March 10-16, Valspar Championship, Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor: If the Copperhead course wasn’t so strong and respected by the pros, the PGA Tour may have turned its back on this event years ago due to sponsorship uncertainty. But a new long-term sponsor has emerged in Valspar, so there are no worries for the foreseeable future in Tampa Bay.
March 17-23, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge, Orlando: Former Orlando resident Tiger Woods won here last March, delighting the crowds at The King’s place. And take note, college basketball fans – opening-round NCAA men’s basketball tournament games will be at Amway Center over this weekend. Anyone up for a basketball-golf doubleheader?
May 5-11, The Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach: For television viewers, The Players is an annual must-see for the train wrecks at the 17th. For fans who visit the Stadium Course, the experience gets better every year. This past summer, new Celebration bermudagrass was installed on fairways and tees and much of the old grass was used to form new spectator mounds around several holes.