FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Caesarea Golf Club, Israel

by Francis X. Gallagher

Jan 1, 2016
2015

After years of wishing to travel to Israel — an interest developed by 16 years of a Catholic education and meetings with people from EL AL Israel Airlines and the Israel Ministry of Tourism — I used my annual birthday trip as a reason to visit. Over cocktails with my brother, Gerald; his wife, Shelley; and my wife, Michele, I brought up this pent-up desire, and the gods set in motion a wonderful trip.Francis with Peggy

The Caesarea Golf Club is the only 18-hole course in the State of Israel, so it is a must-stop for golfers touring the area. A vibrant membership has seen the course grow and develop and then redevelop. On the first tee, golf professional Peggy Halfton welcomed us. Born in the U.K., Peggy has been a part of Caesarea for 39 years, so she knows the course and the history.

Most tourists come to the town of Caesarea to see the Roman ruins, beaches and what is left of King Herod’s reign, including a magnificently preserved aqueduct, his palace and Ancient Caesarea. As a significant port in ancient times, it played a vital role in the “Roman machine.”

Francis with Gerry

Francis with Gerry © Francis X. Gallagher

The course officially opened in 1961 and was entrusted to the Rothschild-Caesarea Foundation. Baron Edmond de Rothschild, known as the father of the Jewish settlement, encouraged relocation of Jews from all over the world to the land of their forefathers. The settlements needed economic streams, agriculture and proper housing, and Caesarea benefited greatly.

In 2007, Pete Dye redesigned the course to conform to the natural setting and put Caesarea on the golfing map. The design sculpted holes around indigenous and established foliage; trees that had to be removed were replanted. Dye created 7,185 yards of immaculate paspalum fairways and added his signature fairway and “eyebrow” bunkers among the natural sand dunes of Caesarea. After our departure, the course hosted its first professional tournament when ALPS (Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland) brought its tour to Israel. Professionals hope to encourage golf as a sport in Israel for locals and tourists.

Staying at the Dan Hotel Caesarea is convenient; you can walk to the course via a path. On our first full day in Israel, Gerry and I took on the only 18-hole course in the Holy Land.

Hole 1 | 409 yards, par 4

Peggy asked if we wanted to be paired in a three- or four-ball, and I suggested we go off as a twosome, as we had lots of notes and pictures to take. That left Gerry and me on our own launch and attack on the ancient lands in the somewhat modern sport of golf. We teed off with a nice set of Callaway clubs, and I became fond of the rescue 4-wood Razr X.

This hole is a dogleg right typical of Pete Dye. From an elevated tee box, I drove a ball hugging the contour on the left side. I prayed the ball stayed in play — after all, this was the Holy Land — and the power of prayer came though. The ball nestled on the cart path left. Gerry hit a “breakfast ball,” landing in the center of the fairway. A few lucky chips and we both made the green for bogey, putting the first golf hole in Israel in the books.

Hole 3 | 544 yards, par 5

A long and wide-open fairway leads one to pull out all the stops and heave a ball high and far. I felt like Caesar, ready to conquer the course, but instead sent a pop-up high and short. Gerry found the various Pete Dye bunkers, including the hole-long waste bunker on the right side of this fairway that takes a sharp right turn.

I used all I had to clobber my 3-wood and make up for my meager distance off the tee. I shimmied when I should have stayed straight, positioning the shot far left, again barely staying in play. I then took the Callaway Razr and landed just shy of the green. An over-the-top chip and a two-putt turned a near disaster into a Pete Dye legend. The last time I saw Gerry, he was using some unholy language at the eyebrow bunker near the green!

Hole 16 | 460 yards, par 4

A team of four hand-picking weeders were walking down the fairway and removing large, invasive crab grasses attempting to take over the fairways. Trusting ladies, they barely moved out of harm’s way when we took our shots off the tee. I had a nice, clean hit, but it landed in the waste bunker lining the right side. The hole is another Dye dogleg right, and even balls hitting the fairway might roll into the large bunker due to the fairway’s left-to-right slope. I decided to lay in a wood, as the ball was sitting up well in the sand, and landed on the left side of the green near a mogul. A simple chip had me up and walking away with par. Gerry took an extra shot, getting to the green and carding a bogey just as an Israeli Air Force F18 overhead let off a sonic boom. I thought it was in celebration of my game.

Hole 18 | 475 yards, par 4

The finishing hole is all uphill and ends at the clubhouse remote bar and restaurant, which teeters between the first tee and the 18th green. Your goal is to amass your centurions into play and climb this hill to the green at the top. All the while, the fairway slopes left to right, causing errant balls to stay in the Holy Land forever. I was lucky, as my tee shot landed left and nearly in the brush but miraculously bounced out. Gerry took a more challenging route and placed a nice new ball in the dense brush on the right. My shot to the green was right in line with a tree overhanging the left side. As the old saying goes, trees are 80 percent air, but in Israel some of that remaining 20 percent might be green olives. I flew through the tree, hitting soft leaves and a few agreeable olives, landing short of the green. Urged on by cheers from the bar, I chipped on the green and two-putted for a bogey. Gerry lost a stroke in the brush but recovered with a double bogey.

Although we were on a strict schedule to make our way to Acre, we stopped to admire the magnificent views through the bar window down the first fairway. We patted ourselves on the back for playing golf in Israel and checked off yet another unusual round off the beaten path.

Caesarea Golf Club

P.O. Box 4858
Caesarea 30889
Israel
tel 972 4 6109600
caesarea.com

Newsletter sign-up

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Lifestyle
Sep 24, 2021

Fall Travel Trends from Vacasa

With the autumn in full spring, now is time to start planning your fall weekend getaway.  Whether a relaxing weekend on the lake, leaf-peeping or hiking, check out these fall travel trends from vacation rental management company Vacasa.

Experiencing GBTA Convention 2021
Safely and Responsibly

GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.

September 2021
Sep 23, 2021

Host a Fabled Business Event in Wonderful Copenhagen

I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.

Canada
Sep 23, 2021

Reimagined Park Hyatt Toronto Officially Reopens Its Doors

The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.

Greece: Destination Luxury

Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.

eFlyer Reviews
Sep 22, 2021

Irwin’s Review

I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.

eFlyer Lead
Sep 22, 2021

Cathay Pacific to Use Sustainable Fuel for 10 Percent of Total Consumption by 2030

Cathay Pacific reaffirms its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with a pledge to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel for 10 percent of its total fuel consumption by 2030. The airline has made pioneering efforts in supporting SAF development for more than 10 years.

Register Today for the Most Important Gathering of Business Travel Professionals

The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.

Daily
Sep 22, 2021

La Concha Resort Puerto Rico Review

Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha.  As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.