Playing Tiburón: These are golf courses all of us can enjoy!

Tiburón is a marvelous championship track that’s also remarkably accessible to my bogey golf game!

Tiburón is a golf course that conjures up images of pro golfers at work. The LPGA ends its season here with the CME Group Tour Championship. Greg Norman, who designed the track, annually hosts the elite QEB Shootout at Tiburón. And I jumped at the opportunity to join Ricky Potts’ annual invitational event and join 23 golfers of varying levels take a run at Tiburón.

Then, on my way down to Naples, I got scared. I’m a little old lady golfer. I play from the forward tees and my index can sometimes be a bit of an embarrassment.  It felt a bit presumptions to be on my way to Tiburón.

At the pairings party I felt at times as though I’d wandered into a gathering of my grandchildren’s friends! My anxiety level notched up a bit more.

But I pulled up my big girl panties and got myself to the first tee on the Gold Course, looked out over a big, broad fairways, drew in a deep breath, and took my shot. The ball did what it usually does for me. It flew straight and true and came to rest in the center of the fairway.

The tension flowed out of my body and I relaxed. I know how to play golf. I’ve been playing the game with greater and lesser degrees of skill for more than half a century. Tiburón may be a championship track that’s designed to test the skills of the best players in the game, but I discovered very quickly that it’s also a golf course I can play and enjoy.

I did visit several of the track’s stacked sod wall bunkers and came out of them easily because they’re filled with friendly, fluffy sand that’s very receptive to a solid, properly delivered wedge shot. I strayed into two or three waste areas and came right out of them as well with my trusty five hybrid.

I loved the Tiburón greens. They’re fast, packed with tricky breaks, but so well designed and maintained that my putts rolled smoothly and held their line. No bumpy lumps to distort the roll! As soon as a adjusted to the faster pace I realized I was looking forward to the next putt! And there were remarkably few three-putts on my cards, for both the Gold and the Black courses.

I’ve learned that I don’t need to be a single digit handicapper to play a championship track like Tiburón. I used the forward tees because those are my tees now. I kept pace with the group in front of me and didn’t hold up the group playing behind me. I played my bogey golf game, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The miracle of golf is its plasticity and Tiburón is so skillfully designed that it challenges and tests both me and Lexi Thompson! We face the same basic conditions – water and marshes, fairways that twist and turn through an Audubon Sanctuary and all the delights as well as hazards that entails.

My time at Tiburón has shown me that my bogey golf game can go anywhere. It’s going to be bogey golf whether I play it on my home course or down in southern Florida or out on the West Coast or in Scotland. It’s a game that brings me hours of pleasure as well as adventure, puts me in the company of some delightful people I wouldn’t otherwise know, and is keeping me younger than my years.

My partner on this adventure is a man my grandson’s age, who I didn’t know before we met at the pairings party. We hopped in his car after our first round and went shopping at the local PGA Superstore. I wanted a new golf shirt. He needed a new glove. We both bought some balls.

Next: Five courses for your bucket list

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I need to start planning my next golf adventure. Any suggestions on where it should  be?