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On the Road with Ernie: Working on my Game

As Ernie prepares to tee it up this week at the nearby Bay Hill Invitational, he provides an update on one of his course designs in the Bahamas, his practice rounds at Augusta last week, and some new features on his website. All this and more, in this edition of On the Road with Ernie...

I can just about squeeze in writing this week’s report before I head off to the Seminole Golf Club for a pro-am today (Monday). Aside from tour events I don’t normally play in a lot of pro-ams, but this one is different. Seminole is one of the best golf courses in the US – it’s rated number 11 by the prestigious Golf magazine. It’s in North Palm Beach, right next to the Ocean. It’s a real classic. Actually it’s a pretty nice way to start the week, with the Bay Hill Invitational in just a few days’ time. Seminole was designed in the 1920s by one of the great golf course architects of all time, Donald Ross. He did an incredible job. It’s one of those courses which is like nothing else – you know, in some ways it almost plays like a Scottish links. And to be honest, it’s hard to think of a way they could improve on it. As I was saying in last week’s report, I’ve been here quite a few times over the years as a guest of my good friend Johann Rupert. We’ve had some fun. I’m sure today will be a lot of fun, too. I’m looking forward to it.

It’s been a really enjoyable week off, actually. My brief visit to the Albany resort in the Bahamas went well. This stunning 500-acre site just a five-minute drive from Nassau International Airport is a joint project with Tiger Woods. It’s early days yet, but it’s going to be an incredible place to come and stay and play golf. It’ll be the best of the best, in every sense. You’ll experience this wonderful island life, some truly world class resort facilities, and the championship golf course designed by me. As and when things start to happen at Albany, we’ll keep you posted with updates and photographs on the Design section.

Practicing at Augusta

As I was telling you in last week’s report, the few days I had at Augusta National could not have gone better. I played well and, with the help of a great putting tip from one of my playing partners at Augusta, Tony Bryan, I felt very comfortable on the greens and holed a lot of putts. And it was great to see what they’ve done to the golf course. I’ll say it again; I love the changes they’ve made. I’ll tell you all about those changes in my Masters Preview report, coming up in a few weeks’ time.

Since getting back from Augusta Wednesday night I’ve been at Lake Nona, basically working on my golf game. It’s a good place to be at this time of the year and I’ve enjoyed getting down to some serious work!

Coming up this week…

It’s the Bay Hill Invitational here in Orlando this week – a tournament I can put on my schedule without ever having to book a flight! A nice treat for me, it must be said. I just make the 30-minute drive from my house to the golf course each day. Anyway, it’s an event at which I’ve had mixed fortunes since my debut in 1996. I won it in 1998, but missed the cut in 2004 – that’s the last time I missed a cut on the PGA Tour, in actual fact. In between there have been a lot of good rounds, but since that win eight years ago, I guess I’ve never really put it together over all four days. Let’s hope we can do something about that this year.

This is a golf course I enjoy playing, so it’s not as if the layout doesn’t suit my eye or anything like that. I just need to put the pieces together in my game and play sharp, solid golf. I mean, this year I’ve had weeks where some parts of my game have been very good, others not so. I just haven’t been consistent right through the bag, which is unusual because I feel that’s always been one of my strengths as a golfer. But like I said in my last report, I’ve put in a lot of work on my game this past seven days and my swing feels good. The long game is definitely coming together. And my putting? Well, you’ll remember me telling you about the tip I got at Augusta last week. I’ve been working on that here in Orlando the past few days and it feels like a positive change. I’m hoping I can putt a lot better at Bay Hill than I have in my previous few outings. At this level, that’s what it’s all about, basically. If you make some putts, you don’t need to play perfect golf to win tournaments.

Website Updates

I’m nearly done for this week’s report, but before I go I want to highlight a couple of new features on the site. I’ve updated my ‘In the Bag’ section, which you’ll find under the ‘Work’ dropdown menu. So you can now take a peek inside my golf bag and see what clubs I’m using this season! On that subject, I’ve also added a new chart showing the distance I hit each club – on the fly, that is. You’ll find it in the ‘From the Tee’ section on the home page. It’s just an added little bit of insight into my game, which I hope you’ll find interesting.

Finally, everyone probably knows about my connections with The Wentworth Club in England. I’m happy to represent them as the club’s worldwide touring pro…and privileged to be involved with a project to modernise and refine the wonderful West Course. Well, if you’re interested in finding out more, the new hole-by-hole guide is now on the website – just go to the ‘Sponsors’ section and click on Wentworth. You’ll find the link at the bottom of the page.

That’s it for now. I’ve got to go play golf! I’ll write again next Monday.

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