The day isn’t over for Phil Mickelson in South Florida.
This weekend’s nasty weather forced a Monday finish for The Honda Classic, conspiring against the plans of some top pros to ready themselves for the coveted Member-Pro at storied Seminole Golf Club. Count among them Mickelson, who started the day in contention having 10 holes to play to complete his 4th round.
Phil wasn’t too pressed for time, though, with Seminole just up the road in tony Juno Beach. He would eventually fade to a T-17 finish anyway, while still marking his best result since a runner-up at last year’s PGA Championship.
Perhaps it’s for the best he didn’t have to wait (and wait) around to join the playoff won by Padraig Harrington over Daniel Berger. Some would half-jokingly say a trophy ceremony is no excuse for missing your tee time at the ultra-exclusive Donald Ross masterpiece, especially on a day billed as “golf’s fifth Major” by many who have played the event.
If that’s not enough golf for Phil, this is just Day 1 of what will be a busy week on the course and in the air for the 5 time Major champion.
The WGCs are no cut events, so if he plays in the Pro-Am on Wednesday it will be eleven days in a row for the for 44 year old world number 19 stretching back to round one of The Honda. And for those keeping score at home or work, that’s a Nicklaus, a Ross, and a Mackenzie all in 24 hours. Not bad for the bucket list of mere mortals, but its right in the sweet spot for the competitive Mickelson who finds himself bouncing back (and on the edge of the Masters conversation) after 2 missed cuts in 2015. As always, it will be very interesting to see what Phil does next.
Read on for a short history of Seminole Golf Club
Conceived in the late 1920s by a young set of “sporting elites” form neighboring Palm Beach, most notably E.F. Hutton, the Donald Ross design opened at the end of America’s Gilded Age.
Open October to May and closing daily at 6 o’clock, it served as winter recreation for Northern elites.
Occupying a rectangular plot buttressed by the Atlantic Ocean, Ross created a course among the dunes of Juno Beach that stands out from the typical flat Florida design scheme. Many of the green complexes are elevated, and though short by modern standards, the two circularly routed nines ensure an ever-shifting challenge for players from the near constant 25 mph winds.
Greens and bunkers have seen renovations but the natural waste areas and superb routing remain from what was once a mangrove swamp. It was a favorite of Ben Hogan who played it in preparation for The Masters and advised young pros to do what they could to play it.
“If you can play Seminole”, he said, “you can play any course in the world.”
The clubhouse itself is an impressive pink stuccoed design by famed architect Marion Sims Wyeth who created a number of Florida landmarks. Inside, members and guests are treated to a the club’s hospitality, described as top notch but never stuffy. The famous locker room, with its mounted big game heads, library, and bar is the standard for American clubs.
Seminole has never hosted a Major championship, but from 1937 to 1961 its members paired with top pros in an intense but friendly one day event where private stakes dwarfed the era’s tournament purses. In 2004 the event was revived and has been a late winter attraction for pros and the exclusive membership ever since. Last year, the four reigning Major Champions participated. Seminole will host the Walker Cup in 2021.
For even more on the course and an expert tour of the holes with photos, click here.
As a former bartender, I can’t help but leave you with this, a recipe for their Honeysuckle, a rum drink that after 2 or 3, makes for a pretty good substitute for playing Seminole itself.
- light rum
- dark rum
- orange juice
- pineapple juice
- pineapple chunks
- crushed ice
- taste of honey
- Blend all ingredients, saving the dark rum as a top float