Sunday, March 12, 2006

Two More Rounds of Golf - this time Florida!

While chairing a conference in Tampa Bay the last two days of February and the first day of March I was able to work in two rounds of golf on two of the best courses in the area: Copperhead at the Westin Innisbrook in Tarpon Springs, where the PGA Tour plays the Chrysler Championship, and TPC of Tampa Bay in Lutz, where the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am is played.

Both courses are simply wonderful. While the weather was a bit windy on Sunday, February 26th when I played Copperhead, it was just perfect on Wednesday, March 1 when I played TPC. The Outback Steakhouse Pro-am has just finished the previous Sunday, so the bleachers were still up and it provided a unique perspective of what it must be like on the tour playing before large stadium crowds. On the par 3's the greens were surrounded by bleachers which provided an imposing challenge, "even though they were empty". I can only imagine what it must be like when they are full of spectators watching every single aspect of one's play.

Noting that I played my first round of the year in Indianapolis on January 28th, see post dated January 29, 2006, this trip allowed me to play a round in both February and March in Florida, keeping up with my goal of playing golf once per month "somewhere" all year long. I have never done that, and it seems like a fun goal to "take a shot at".

No conference is complete without evening dinner commitments. On Sunday evening I had dinner at Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa which I have heard so much about through the years but never had the opportunity to eat at due to schedule conflicts every time I have been in the area. It's quite an experience and one that I recommend. Quite frankly, I personally would not go out of my way to go here again, but it is one of the "must do" dining experiences one should have if you are in the area and have the time.

On Monday night, I had dinner in the Ybor City Historic District of Tampa Bay which I found very nice. I can highly recommend the Columbia Resturant. The Columbia opened it's doors in 1905 on Ybor City's Seventh Avenue. Family owned for over 100 years, it is not only a landmark in Tampa, but serves award-winning Spanish/Cuban cuisine and an internationally honored wine list. Flamenco Dance performances are featured nightly (except Sunday) and live jazz Thursday though Saturday. Don't miss the dance performances, and if you are looking for a quiet place to have a hand-rolled cigar and great glass of homemade Sangria, this is the place.

On Wednesday evening, I had dinner at Charley's Steakhouse & Market Fresh Fish near the Tampa Airport and thought it was absolutely outstanding! If you are ever in the Tampa area, be sure to have dinner at Charley's. I checked the Zagat guide for resturants in Tampa Bay, knowing that I wanted to eat at Berns, but really did not know of any others in the area. Zagat had an entry on both Berns and Charley's under steakhouses. Charley's is one of the best resturants I have ever dined; service and food is impeccable. Be sure to make a reservation and to have key lime pie for dessert.

Upon arriving home Thursday at 4:30 pm from a successful conference, I met my wife and headed to Butler University to hear former President George H.W. Bush speak. Refering to my entry on October 30, 2005, describing my opportunity to hear former President Clinton's speech at Butler in November, this now makes two presidents I have been able to hear speak in my hometown of Indianapolis within four months of each other. Considering I had only seen one president in my lifetime until the Clinton speech, which was LBJ in 1966 in Indianapolis, this has truly been a special opportunity and worth waiting in line to get the tickets each cold morning. I have now seen three US Presidents speak in person; I am glad to have made the effort.

Not a bad week....much of life is trying to make things happen and seizing the opportunity when it comes your way......