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Buddies Golf

Rivals & Friends

Continued (page 2 of 2)

In addition to Frederica, the clubs and communities where tour players are most likely to buddy up are in Orlando (Lake Nona and Isleworth); Hobe Sound, Fla. (Medalist Golf Club); Jupiter, Fla. (The Bear's Club, Dye Preserve); Palm Beach Gardens (Old Palm); Scottsdale (Whisper Rock); and La Quinta, Calif. (Madison Club). Whether it's Chez Reavie and Paul Casey at The Rock, or Dustin Johnson, Steve Marino, Marc Turnesa and Hank Kuehne rotating among Dye Preserve, the Bear's Club and Medalist, it's the games that bring them together. The bond between Marino and Turnesa goes back to the Nationwide Tour. When Turnesa won the 2008 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Marino was there to pour a beer over his head.

The standard line is that in the winter, the range at the Medalist looks like a tour event, with everybody from Woods to Rickie Fowler and a contingent of LPGA players led by Stacy Lewis beating balls. Lewis, along with Belen Mozo, Alison Walshe and Meaghan Francella, might get in the six-person Wolf games with the boys, or organize buddies groups that include Paula Creamer from Orlando and Nicole Hage from Coral Springs.

In his early days at Isleworth, Woods would play and practice with Mark O'Meara and John Cook. Star athletes like Marcus Allen and Andre Reed would fill out the groups. But as O'Meara and Cook moved out of the community, Woods hung out with Arjun Atwal and some of the club's junior members. Now that Woods lives on Jupiter Island, most of his buddies games are with Ahmad Rashad and Michael Jordan, although he will occasionally join Fowler or Dustin Johnson at Medalist for a quick nine holes. His closest buddy among tour players is college teammate Notah Begay III.

The palm beach connection also brings together South Africans like Ernie Els (Bear's Club) and Louis Oosthuizen (Old Palm), or in the case of Keegan Bradley, other clubs in the area as well as the Loxahatchee River--a hot area for tour pros who want to live on the water. "I'm starting to get close to Rickie and Dustin, but one of my favorite people on tour is Camilo [Villegas]," Bradley says. "I've been branching out this past year."

"Golf Boys" frontman Crane has been known to branch out as well, whether he's bonding with Phil Mickelson at the Madison Club in California during winter break or sharing a house on the road with Webb Simpson and his wife, Dowd. "There's nobody that makes me laugh more than Webb," Crane says. "He and [caddie Paul Tesori] together, we're always laughing, always at the stupidest 3-year-old jokes."

Fowler, who hangs with Crane, Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley on tour, has shared a house on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter with Cameron Tringale, Scott Langley and Morgan Hoffmann. But Baddeley swears he's not auditioning for the Golf Boys. "Me and Bubba are sort of opposites, like the yin and the yang," Baddeley says "Rickie, he's awesome. He's such a thoughtful young guy, but he's a bit of a jokester at heart, too. That's why we all get on so well." That's the way it is with tour bromances. Sometimes opposites attract.

Watson, Crane, Fowler, Mahan

From bottom left, "Golf Boys" Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan.
Photo: Allan Henry/US Presswire

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