My 21 favorite photos from South Korea

The view from the rooftop bar of our Songdo hotel.

Technically, 22, if you want to count that cover photo.

First, a bit of background: My job requires a lot of fantastic travel and even more fantastic photo opps. Most of these photos get buried in a Flickr archive I’ve built for Future Me. A few make their way to Instagram or Facebook, but often the context (and/or the window to get a post up while it’s relevant) is lost. For that reason, I wanted to start breaking some of my trips out into posts like this. If nothing else, it will help Future Me and his Future Memory Loss.

21. There was a lot to like about Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, site of last week’s Presidents Cup. One of my favorites was the view from the tee at No. 18, a reachable, exciting par 5 that brought the water and the bunkers into play and rewarded players and fans with a few match-ending eagles. The view of Songdo’s skyline was an added bonus.

20. Songdo, South Korea, is a strange and awesome place. Just over a decade ago, it was part of the Yellow Sea. After pushing 500 million tons of sand into the Sea, Songdo International Business District sprung up, complete with skyscrapers, zany architecture and more. I’m not sure it’s the “City of the Future,” but it was a great place to have jet lag and early mornings.

19. This is about the fifth time I’ve discovered a Rickie Fowler photo like this after going through a day’s work. It all goes back to the original, two years ago at Liberty National.

18. Bubba Watson’s first shot of the week, the golf equivalent of the bat flip. #TourSauce

17. On the Sunday before the Presidents Cup, my wife and I decided to take a ride around an empty Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea with a few other TOUR employees. When we saw an overhanging tree, my friend Chris couldn’t resist climbing to the top. I love this photo, even if he’ll complain, accurately, that you can’t see how impressively high off the ground he is.

16. Although, that wasn’t Chris’ best photo of the day. When we saw how much the rocks at No. 18 looked like the scene from The Lion King, Chris grabbed the cart and the Presidents Cup to make it complete.

15. Just a couple of bros.

14. On the Monday after the Presidents Cup, we were hosted by Whistling Rock Country Club in Chuncheon. The course has 27 holes and each nine (Cocoon, Temple, Cloud) has a uniquely-designed tea house for its halfway house, which is just a fraction of what made this place so cool. In the lower left of this photo, you can see the psychedelic tea house of the Cocoon course. In the distance, you can see one side of the incredible clubhouse. Here’s a shot of the tea house on the Temple course.

13. Another shot from Whistling Rock, No. 9 on the Temple course, which features this incredible bridge (and a waterfall you can’t see). In the background, you can also see the long side of the clubhouse, which at times feels more like a contemporary art museum inside.

12. There’s a canal that runs through the middle of downtown Songdo. At the end you can rent mini motor boats and make runs up and down the water, through Central Park and under the walking bridges, which of course we did.

11. You can also take your boat around “Rabbit Island,” which, as you might guess, is just a small island filled with a shitload of rabbits. Sure.

10. You may have seen the “Blue Steel” photo that Phil Mickelson requested everyone take during formal portraits last week. Afterwards, players ran to the photographers to see how it turned out. They’re just like us!

9. Granted, that was only the second-best photo Phil took that night.

8. Directly behind the tee box at No. 9 on the Cloud course at Whistling Rock. One thing that was explained about the course was that all the rock that was moved to make the golf course was kept on-site to form the water features around the property. The landscape architecture firm that worked on the land made these feel like natural additions instead of the forced features you often see at courses.

7. No American player got more attention from The Fanatics last week than Jordan Spieth. After his “Merry Christmas, International team” comments, the group of fans from Australia and South Africa sang a variety of Christmas carols to him for the rest of the weekend. Nevertheless, as soon as his 18th hole obligations were complete after the U.S. locked up their Presidents Cup victory, Spieth ran over to the group to take a number of photos.

6. Spieth wasn’t afraid to rebrand himself, either. Shameless plug, but if you’re curious what it’s like to spend a day with The Fanatics, I wrote about that here.

5. Looking out over Songdo, South Korea, you can see the almost randomness of the partially-finished business district. An expansive plot of empty land here, a skyscraper of condominiums there. It almost resembles the way Las Vegas pops out of the middle of the Nevada desert. You can see what I mean in this photo, taken from the 37th floor of the NEAT Tower. However, looking the other way, as in the photo above, you can see the never-ending sprawl of Incheon City in the distance.

4. And here’s what all that sprawl looks like at night. This photo was taken another 10 stories up, on the 47th floor of the NEAT, with a 30-second shutter speed.

3. There were plenty of beautiful mornings in Songdo, but the weirdest one was Wednesday, when I woke up to an emergency alert on my phone, written entirely in Korean. I found out from the guy in the hotel that it was a smog warning and, after headed out to the golf course, you could see that it was no joke.

2. By design, 40 percent of Songdo is designated as park space, much of that lying in Central Park, which has hiking and jogging trails, a free outdoor gym and more. I love this shot of Justine walking through one of the gardens in the park.

  1. One more of Whistling Rock, and the massive elevation change on the Temple course. Perfect weather, perfect company and a perfect 27 holes made this easily the best day of the trip.
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