Long before this weekend’s skins game was announced, Rory McIlroy had spent plenty of time at Seminole Golf Club. McIlroy’s Florida residence is just a short drive away, and his father, Gerry — whom Rory gives four shots a side, he said — is a member at the exclusive club.
This website has extensively chronicled what we know about Seminole over the course of the week leading up to Sunday’s Taylormade Driving Relief skins game. Seminole insider Michael Bamberger has written about what the course is like as a hang. Our Top 100 Courses panelists have detailed its best holes and how amateurs would fare. But what does McIlroy himself really think of the place? Luckily, he dished on the course earlier this week on the McKellar Golf Podcast (which you can and should listen to here!) and gave some insight into what makes Seminole different.
“It’s brilliant. It’s a pure golf club, I think that’s first and foremost, there’s no — obviously over here in the States, there’s a lot of country clubs and there’s a lot of stuff that goes on outside of the golf, y’know, pools and tennis courts and gyms and there’s a big social thing. Seminole is just a pure golf course. The president of the club, who I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the years, Jimmy Dunne — he always describes it as, ‘Seminole has probably the highest golfing aptitude of any golf club in the United States,’ which is a pretty good way to describe it.”
To hear McIlroy tell it, this isn’t a course where members will lounge about the pool, nor even the distance-restricted driving range. They’re eager to get out and play.
“But people roll up half an hour before their tee time, hit a few balls on the range — the range is 230 yards long, I definitely can’t hit driver on it, a few of the members can’t either — but you warm up and then you go out and play and it’s brilliant.”
That squares with McIlroy’s recent ethos that his time is better spent playing rather than merely practicing. It’s also primarily a walking course, a fitting site for Sunday’s skins game, where players will carry their own bags.
“Everyone walks, you can obviously carry your own bag if you want, there’s caddies. … Jimmy Dunne a few years ago took out all the benches just to speed up play, so people can’t sit down.”
According to McIlroy, the club wastes no time reminding you about pace of play.
“There’s a note on the first tee, it’s: ‘Play good, play fast. Play bad, play faster.’ That’s the motto. So they’re very proud of the fact that they can get around the golf course in a four-ball in just over three hours.”
McIlroy also revealed on the podcast that he’s been focusing more on the finer points of golf course architecture, which has allowed him to appreciate Seminole in a whole new light.
“So it’s a real golf club, and it’s brilliant, it’s a wonderful design, Donald Ross, some of the greatest green complexes in the world, it’s a very cliche thing to say in golf course architecture that it’s a second-shot course, but it really is. There’s plenty of room off the tee, but you really have to think about where you’re placing your ball with your approach shots.”
You can (and should!) listen to the entire podcast interview here.