Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dress Up Your Driver

When you look better, there's a spring in your step, a song in your heart, and by golly, you just perform better, too.  With that principle in mind, ClubCrown by VIVE has introduced a product to make your driver (or other metal wood) look better on the tee.  Will it help you hit the ball longer and straighter?  Who knows!  But at least there will be a spring in your swing when you look down at that striking new club in your hand.

Actually, the ClubCrown Stripe should help with alignment, which can't hurt your performance.  Best of all, the ClubCrown Stripe can be self-installed in minutes and it costs only $19.99.  I watched the installation video (which lasts about four minutes), then put the stripe on my driver in less than ten minutes--total--and got it absolutely right the first time.  Easy!  Here are the actual before and after results....

Cool, huh?  Here's the instruction video...

"The STRIPE allows golfers to customize the crown of their club for only $19.99 and gives them the added benefit of serving as an alignment aid," says Andrew Glaser, Founder and CEO of the company. "Just like the original ClubCrown, the STRIPE can be removed and won't damage a club's finish. Every design we make has fantastic alignment properties and, at the same time, gives your clubs a very cool look and feel. All STRIPES are the same width as a golf ball and our proprietary alignment method ensures that the stripe always goes straight back. The customized alignment properties of the STRIPE are totally unprecedented in golf, especially at this amazing price point."

The STRIPE is offered in over 70 collegiate and military designs, plus many other exciting patterns. for more information or to order, visit

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kananaskis Country Golf Gets $18 Million to Rebuild

Golfers in or headed to the Canadian Rockies were heartened by the announcement that the provincial government in Alberta is going to spend $18 million to rebuild the 36-hole Kananaskis Country Golf Course complex. Work to refurbish the courses to their original design and protect them from future flooding is expected to begin later this year.

A favorite of Albertans and global tourists alike, the Robert Trent Jones-designed Mt. Lorette and Mt. Kidd courses have been closed since the June, 2013, flood.  In addition to the golf courses, the Alberta government also committed $60 million to restore campgrounds, day-use areas and recreation trails.

“We’re deeply gratified by the news and what it means to the community, our team, local businesses and provincial tourism,” said Kananaskis Country Golf Course General Manager Darren Robinson, who has been with the at KCGC for 17 years.

A 2011 study showed the significance of Kananaskis Country Golf Course to the province as it produced a net economic impact of $14 million while sustaining 175 full-time equivalent jobs. KCGC hosted an annual average of 60,000 rounds in its last five years of operation and 85 percent of those golfers were Albertans – who receive a reduced rate.

“Kananaskis Country’s economic impact over the past 30 years cannot be overstated,” said Darren Cooke, General Manager at Canmore Golf & Curling Club and Canadian Rockies Golf spokesperson. “The re-opened courses and other recreational activities will immediately provide more leisure options for all Albertans, as well as significantly more tourists and revenue for Alberta and the Canadian Rockies destination overall.”

Known for its inspiring beauty and pristine, unspoiled natural setting, Kananaskis Country joins other acclaimed Canadian Rockies Golf partners as regular fixtures in yearly “best of” rankings by Score Golf and Canadian Golf Magazine. The two separate and distinct championship courses at KCGC are surrounded by rugged mountains towering 10,000 feet above sea level and are named after two of the towering limestone peaks that serve as their backdrop.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tamarack Hosts Senior Am Qualifying

Tamarack Country Club in Greenwich, CT, will host a strong field of senior golfers trying to qualify on August 27 for a spot in the 60th U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.  The prestigious tournament for players 55 years of age and older will be contested at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, California, from September 13 to the 18th.   In all, some 51 golf clubs around the country were selected to host a qualifier, and August 27th is the final day to determine who will make the field.

Among the group of Tamarack registered players are Dick Siderowf, one of America’s most renowned amateurs and a member of Century Golf Club in Purchase, New York, and George Zahringer III, a member of Deepdale Golf Club on Long Island, who won the 2013 British Senior Amateur, the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur, multiple Long Island Amateurs, as well as four consecutive Met Amateur Championship titles.

Tamarack, which opened for play in 1929, is celebrating 85 years as one of the premier clubs in the region and one of only a handful of original Charles Banks designs.  Banks learned his craft from his association with legendary Golden Age architects Seth Raynor and C.B. Macdonald.  His first project was the Yale Golf Course, which opened in 1926.  Nicknamed “Steam Shovel Charley” because of his use of the new machine in moving massive amounts of earth to create elevated greens and deep greenside bunkers, Banks left an exquisite signature sandy footprint on Tamarack’s par-5 17th hole aptly named “Big Bertha.”

The superbly maintained layout boasts an incredible number of famous European classic hole designs including:  the stunning long “Biarritz” par-3 (the 12th); a “Redan” (the 7th); the “Eden” (the 3rd); a “Road Hole” (the 14th); the “Short” (the 15th) and a “Punchbowl” green on the 11th.  

Tamarack gained local fame as co-host of the popular Ike Championship during its formative years from 1953 to 1962.   The Ike was named in honor of former President Eisenhower, who personally approved the competition, and many of the top name amateurs of the day who were affiliated with Met area clubs competed for this prestigious title.  The name Tamarack refers to a species of pine indigenous to the region.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take Me Home to Sebasco Harbor Resort

Sebasco Harbor Resort Hole #2
Sebasco Harbor Resort Hole #2
I spend a lot of time in fabulously fancy resorts and play many famous, perfectly-manicured golf courses, but I can't remember having a better time than my wife and I did recently at relaxed, comfortable Sebasco Harbor Resort in Maine.  It's got all the amenities you could want including one you can't find everywhere regardless of the price you pay--the feeling that you've come home.

That sense of belonging exists in spades at the spunky nine hole golf course, which I played four times during our five-day stay despite having promised my wife I wasn't even going to bring my clubs on this trip.  It was just too much fun to pass up!  The fourth round was actually a scramble tournament played with both locals and resort guests (including men, women, and kids) that was pure enjoyment.  I had to leave before the final scores were posted to make it to dinner with my long-suffering wife, but stopped by the clubhouse to check the results afterward. It was closed, but head pro Bruce Olson happened to be walking off the course after playing a quick twilight nine, recognized me, and congratulated me on our team's win! The feeling couldn't have been warmer at my home club.

The Sebasco Harbor track is challenging, especially for a resort course. It has a couple of quirky holes to make it interesting and enough length in several places to put your full game to the test.  Tees range from 4,728 to 6,092 yards (for a double circuit to make 18 with a par of 72) and a rating/slope of 70.6/123 from the tips. The layout lies in the hills above the harbor and winds through trees, not home sites, so you can relax and enjoy your game without worrying about driving into somebody's patio.

The signature hole is the 145-yard second hole, a par three that plays over water to a severely-sloped two-tier green.  I barely missed a hole-in-one the first time I played it, then four-putted the next day.  The third hole is one of the most challenging short par fives you'll find anywhere.  It's only 471 yards, but the tee shot is a forced carry to a sharp dogleg left that forces you to leave the driver and maybe even your three wood in the bag.  The green is still reachable in two, but only if your standard 230-yard fairway shot can thread a tree-lined fairway that's less than 20 yards wide in spots.

Three short par fours (the fourth, fifth, and eighth) are offset by the brutal 400-yard uphill dogleg seventh hole, which requires a perfectly-placed drive and a well-aimed mid iron to reach the green in regulation.  The nine ends with a fun birdie opportunity, the 501-yard ninth which has a generous fairway and a dogleg that's navigable by most players. My scramble partners and I put an eagle on our card--probably the winning one-stroke margin.

One of the great bonus golf features of Sebasco Harbor is the Lake Course, a three-hole track made up of holes that were at one time part of the main course until it was rebuilt by new owners in 2001.  The 176-, 204-, and 280-yard holes are perfect for kids, non-golfers, and players of all ages who want to squeeze in a few more holes.  The cost? A whopping $12 to play as much as you like.  The regular course, by the way, is only $45 for 18 holes.

As much fun as I had on the golf course, I still managed to tear myself away from it long enough to do some biking, hiking, and sea kayaking with my wife, visit a couple of nearby towns to do some shopping, site-seeing, and have lunch with some old friends, and enjoyed several lobster dinners at the best dining spot in Maine, Anna's Water's Edge Restaurant, where there were far more locals than tourists every time we were there. The resort also offers excellent dining options plus an addictive ice-cream and coffee stand.  There's a spa as well, plus every conceivable outdoor activity you could want (most of them free!), not to mention an indoor recreation center with vintage candlepin bowling and dozens of other options for rainy days.

The best amenity of all, though, was the people. Staff members were friendly without being cloying and couldn't have been more helpful.  From the time we arrived, they made us feel totally at home.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Monday, August 18, 2014

Strategic Play Rules at Canmore Golf & Curling

Constant improvement is the dream not only of every golfer but the mantra of the Canmore Golf & Curling Club, a must-play course in the Canadian Rockies.  The member-owned course opened in 1926 and has continually tweaked its golfer-friendly layout to keep itself relevant to the modern game.  It’s a pleasure to walk, the scenery is excellent, and the amenities belie the price.

Canmore Golf & Curling Club’s course lies in a flat valley near the Bow River with great views of the Rundle Range.  It’s surrounded by the mountains, but doesn’t play up and down them, so lies are level and there aren’t any drastic elevation changes to deal with. The difficulty on the course comes from tree-lined fairways and careful shaping of the green and bunker complexes. Water is in play on several holes, too, so a little thought should go into nearly every shot. Four sets of tees measure 5,172 to 6,470 yards.

You first encounter the Bow River on the 410-yard fifth hole, where it lines the right side from tee to green. It’s there again on the approach to number six, the 454-yard par-four number one handicap hole. All of the par fives are reachable in two in the crisp, thin mountain air and none of the par threes plays with the same club, measuring 150, 173, 182, 190, and 217 yards. The course also features five par fours where the driver is best left in the bag. They all require super accuracy and shape off the tee, distance control, and a deft hand with the wedge.

The finishing holes at Canmore Golf & Curling can flip a match on its ear in a split second.  The sixteenth is a 444-yard par four with a gentle dog leg to navigate off the tee and water to carry on your approach. The seventeenth is a 217-yard par three guarded by several bunkers not to be trifled with and the eighteenth is a 528-yard double dogleg par five that screams “birdie!” for the accurate ball striker.

Canmore Golf & Curling Club has an excellent range, short game practice area, and two full practice holes (the result of recent course improvements). The Sand Traps Restaurant goes far beyond the usual burgers and wraps to offer seasonal and regional treats like tourtieres, which are French Canadian meat pies made with venison and wild boar, and fresh greens picked daily from local community gardens. It all adds up to a relaxed, first-class golf experience.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mike Diffley Riffs on Mid-Year Golf

A guest post from Mike Diffley, Head Professional at Pelham Country Club and 2013 Met PGA Teacher of the Year:

The majors are over on the PGA Tour but here in the Northeast everyone should have plenty of competitive rounds under their belt. Good or bad it's time to check yourself. You need to spend time evaluating your game, skills, practice habits, attitude and mindset! Club Championships, Section Championships, getting ready for the finish is important. If you won one tournament a year you would be a legend in your world so look ahead and keep your motivation where it might get you what you want!

Your Game

  • Score: Is it reflecting the state of your game or are there one or two aspects that are weak? Improve weaknesses and maintain strengths. Analyze and plan. Double down on weaknesses.
  • Skills: Grade yourself, A thru F (Driver, Fairways & Hybrids, Irons, Short Irons, Full wedges, less than full shots, around green, long putts, short putts)
  • Practice Habits:  Keep a schedule or at least keep track of how much time is spent on each aspect and what needs to be improved. Make 50 five-footers and hit 25 sand shots as examples. Most players practice a particular shot that might have cost them in their last round or one that left them disappointed. Those are emotional ways to practice, you need to be analytical and practice the important things as well as your weaknesses. Play nine holes often to work on scoring. Use the game "Worst Ball" (play 2 balls and take the worst one on each shot until you hole out and see if you can break 40.) This teaches you course management, concentration and scoring as well as learning to play from everywhere not just the easy places.
  • Attitude:  Are you positive in your thoughts and actions? Are you planning for the rest of the season or have you written it off because it wasn't the start you wanted? You're working hard, tired like most people, but that's no excuse. The difference between those that succeed and those that don't most times is the attitude. My observation has been those with the most drive succeed!

Your Mindset

  • The Fixed Mindset:  Usually people who are talented or smart think that those traits will get them what they want. They have a "cream rises to the top" philosophy. They blame the system or others for their failures. Examples include Pedro Martinez, John McEnroe, Sergio Garcia (big babies). 
  • The Growth Mindset:  People who takes ownership for their success or failures. They don't blame anyone, they just try to figure out a way to better by learning new or better ways to do things.They practice better, condition better, think better. They rise from their defeats and love the challenge of the process of improving. Examples are Tom Watson, Tom Kite, and Michael Jordan.   
As far as how this relates to golfers, players with fixed mindset think hitting balls and having lots of talent or, my favorite misconception, "groove their swing" will make them better. Then there are players who seek many ways to grow their knowledge and skills. They learn to be creative, smart, and better at the important things! They recognize that they are not limited by where they are now but where they will be in the future. Can you change your mindset? The answer is yes! We have the ability to grow and learn and get better by hard, smart work.

Thoughts on the PGA Championship

  •  Rory: Wow! He is now the man, a incredible front-runner and now a comeback for the ages on the back nine. Eagled #10, everyone was laying up to 80-100 yds because they couldn't get near it. He was not to be denied by the competition, Valhalla, the weather or even darkness. He drives the ball 320 with no roll and straight. Clutch putter with no fear in any part of his game. Four majors at 25 years old, same as Jack and Tiger.
  • Valhalla:  Seems to provide exciting events and finishes, has length, risk/reward and greens where putts can be made. Storms seem to find Louisville when it is hosting. How did they get that course ready to play after all that rain? Big hitters reign with the par fives being  very reachable except for #10 and a few 500 yd par 4's.
  • The PGA of America: Chaos at the end with Rory joining up with Phil and Ricky to finish before dark. Phil wanted nothing to do with this and was pissed off (his eyes gave him away) they wanted a chance to do something special and have Rory watch and sweat. The PGA Tour wouldn't have done that. You know if they had to come back on Monday it would have cost significant dollars as well the loss of the golf and sports worlds attention. The PGA of America appeared to choke but ended up ok with the right winner and the whole world watching!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stewart Creek Mines the Canadian Golf Mountain

In the land of the side-hill lie, Stewart Creek is king.  It’s a mountain course in Canmore where the history of the town as a mining center is highlighted on several holes (including the first) by a mine shaft entrance spotted just off the fairway.  Spend a few minutes reading the placards on the site if you can tear your eyes away from the views of the surrounding Three Sisters, Cascade, Pigeon and Ha Ling Mountains.

Stewart Creek’s 7,195 yards (from the tips) present a succession of challenging, occasionally quirky holes. Five sets of tees make it accessible for players of all levels, although the 6,360-yard whites are tough enough for most of us, especially those playing the course for the first time. You need to choose your lines carefully on holes like the 527-yard sixth, which has a split fairway forcing a difficult choice for your second shot.  The same holds true for the 516-yard eighteen hole where a drive farther left than you think is essential to avoid the woods on the right, but a good tee shot will send your drive down the hill to birdie territory.

The course has several unusual short par fours that demand careful study before teeing off. Choose your club carefully on the tee at the 274-yard fourteenth hole, for example. The ravine that suggests a layup is closer than you may think and so is the green, which can be reached by a moderately strong drive.

Stewart Creek also has a fine range, short game facility, and practice green. It pays to spend time on the latter since the greens are delightfully slick and true.  It's a great addition to any Canadian Rockies golf adventure.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf