by Jeff Skinner
With the PGA Tour in the heart of the Florida swing Tim Rosaforte has provided us with a primer on what he calls “Golf’s Hot Spot”. In this week’s Golf World Rosaforte is at his insiders best when he breaks down the hottest golf locale in Florida.
The Jupiter area is filled with so many professional golfers that the clubs look like tour events and you’re likely to bump into a few pros at the beach or dinner. And Rosaforte should know as he has lived in the area since the late 1980’s.
Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were one of the first PGA couples that moved to the area in the 60’s and since then there are dozens of PGA and LPGA professionals that enjoy the mild climate that allows year round practice.
There has been such an influx of tour pros over the past five years into the Jupiter area that Isleworth (Woods’ former community in greater Orlando) and Lake Nona (Els’ old U.S. base) have been replaced by Medalist (Tiger’s new club) and The Bear’s Club (home course for Els, McIlroy and Donald) as stomping grounds for the world’s best golfers. There is even talk of a Tavistock Cup-like competition between Medalist and Bear’s Club or, on a less public level, a home-and-away series between Tiger and Rory — loser buys at the Capital Grille. “I think having [McIlroy] down there, I’m sure we’ll have a few dinners together and certainly hang out a bit more,” Woods says.
Why Jupiter? Well, it’s about more than no state income tax, although that is a contributing factor for those relocating from outside the Sunshine State. Northern Palm Beach and neighboring Martin counties, about 150 miles southeast of Orlando, simply have better weather, less traffic, the ocean and what transplanted Rhode Islander Brett Quigley calls, “the Jupiter lifestyle of shorts, golf shirts and flip flops.”
He counts at least 34 PGA professionals that include Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els, Luke Donald and newly transplanted Lee Westwood who left the cold winters of England so he could practice year round. And that’s not counting a sprinkling of LPGA professionals that includes Stacy Lewis among others.
Rosaforte gives us the inside dope on the Tiger Woods/Greg Norman feud and Norman’s issue with his old club.
Norman, who lives less than a mile away, thought when Tiger moved into the neighborhood amid his personal turmoil that they could perhaps buddy-up and be friends, but Woods gave Norman the cold shoulder, although Tiger did rent office space in Norman’s old building and also became a member at Norman’s signature club, Medalist. The chill between the two escalated after some of Norman’s comments about Woods at the 2011 Presidents Cup, but Tiger just kept being Tiger, using the club not only to shoot commercials, but to host outings for his foundation and knock balls around with his son, Charlie. Accompanied by close friend Ahmad Rashad, Woods also shot a course-record 62.
Norman left Medalist last December in a dispute over the club’s redesign strategy, pulling his name off the course and the Great White Shark off the wall above the bar in the men’s grill. De Mudd, the club president and also a member at The Bear’s Club, was pushing for a restoration to the original Norman-Pete Dye layout, but Norman didn’t want that and Dye didn’t want to get involved. When Mudd hired Dye disciple Bobby Weed, Norman severed all ties. After a phone call by Dye, Norman became an honorary member at The Dye Preserve in the horse farms of West Jupiter, where up-and-coming tour pros such as Scott Langley, Morgan Hoffmann (two of Rickie Fowler’s roommates) and Steve LeBrun are members.
Mudd didn’t want to lose Norman, but he has been trying to boost the membership by giving the club some sizzle, and Woods’ apparent comfort around Medalist is a win-win. “The hang factor of him going out to the range, going out practicing on the course, bringing his teacher in — it has been a seamless relationship,” Mudd says. “Yes, he’s special, but as he walks around here, he’s comfortable because he’s just one of the guys.”
Tim Rosaforte is as connected in the world of golf as anyone. From hanging with Jack and Barbara to rounds with Norman and chillin’ at Seminole he gets around. And in this article he gives us a glimpse of Mr. Rosaforte’s neighborhood.