Friday, February 27, 2015

New Balance Adds to Golf Shoe Line

New Balance 2003
New Balance Golf continues to expand its line of golf footwear with the introduction of the 2003 model, a cleated athletic style golf shoe designed for the golfer looking for a lightweight shoe that provides traction and comfort.  

The 2003 golf shoe is built on a performance fit golf last that features a waterproof mesh upper with a TPU stability cage for ultralight support and fit, and a REVLite® 10mm drop* midsole for lightweight cushioning and premium responsiveness. The outsole utilizes the Champ One-Lok® Zarma Tour** cleat system. The company says golfers will enjoy the same style, comfort, and fit they are accustomed to from New Balance footwear, plus performance technologies designed to help enhance their golf game.

"The 2003 looks and fits like a running shoe, but has the traction elements that will provide stability and balance throughout a golfer's swing," says Bruce Schilling, General Manager of Golf and Tennis, New Balance. "Our customers have been very pleased with the initial sell-through of our introduction line. Now with the addition of the 2003, 574B and other styles for men and women, we are able to provide more options for different types of golfers, with many styles offered in widths up to 4E."      

NBG2003 Specs                                                                    
Men's Style: Silver/Red
Sizes: 8-12, 13, 14
Widths: D, 2E
Shoe Last: New Balance hybrid last
Weight: 11.1 oz.
2-year waterproof warranty***
Upper: Waterproof mesh upper with TPU stability cage
Outsole: Champ Slim-Lok® Zarma Tour cleat system with seven cleat system. The Slim-Lok is an extremely thin and light locking cleat system.
Midsole: REVlite® - a foam compound that provides the same responsiveness and durability of foams 30 percent heavier. REVlite® provides a very lightweight ride without minimizing construction or sacrificing underfoot cushioning or stability.

Suggested retail is $134.95

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Titleist Releases 2015 ProV1 and ProV1x

The 2015 Pro V1 and Pro V1x are on sale now, eighty years after the first Titleist golf ball was produced and almost fifteen years since the dominant model was first introduced in October, 2000. It's been one heck of a successful ride, one based on performance and brand aura with a healthy dose of reverse price appeal ("it's more expensive, therefore it has to be better").

“Golfers often ask us what sets Pro V1 and Pro V1x apart from other golf balls. You can’t just point to one or two things,” said Bill Morgan, Senior Vice President, Titleist Golf Ball R&D. “The difference is everything. We have more people with more experience designing and making golf balls, the largest intellectual property portfolio and the most sophisticated precision manufacturing processes. The 2015 Pro V1 and Pro V1x are the culmination of all that knowledge and all of that technology. The original Pro V1 was revolutionary, no question, but we’ve learned a lot in the last 15 years and these new Pro V1 models are the best we’ve ever made.”
 
Since 2015 Pro V1 and Pro V1x were first introduced on the PGA Tour in October, more than 100 players have put the new models in play around the world – including Jordan Spieth, who played new Pro V1x in back-to-back runaway victories at the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge, winning those events by a combined 16 strokes. Jimmy Walker first put new Pro V1x in play at the PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he finished runner-up. The following week, he won the Sony Open in Hawaii by nine shots. Bubba Watson, Padraig Harrington and Charley Hoffman also trusted 2015 Pro V1x to victories soon after the new models were introduced on the worldwide tours.

The 2015 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls feature a new, patented thermoset urethane elastomer cover that the company says delivers more short game spin and control, and softer feel – while maintaining their exceptional distance and flight characteristics, and best-in-class durability. The softer, reformulated cover system improves feel, sound and short game scoring control, Titleist says, providing golfers the confidence and performance to hit it closer to the hole.

“When we set out to improve Pro V1 and Pro V1x, the product development process always starts with asking golfers how we can help them shoot lower scores,” Bohn said. “Since golfers have had such resounding success with Pro V1 and Pro V1x, this time around, they told us, ‘Don’t change much. I love the distance. I love the scoring performance. I love the durability. If you can give me slightly more spin in the short game as well as even softer feel, I’ll take it. I just don’t want to give anything up.’ So that became our design goal.”

The thermoset urethane cover formulation on both Pro V1 and Pro V1x is created by a chemical reaction that takes place during the sophisticated casting process. Liquid materials specifically formulated by Titleist R&D are combined and react to form the solid cover. This urethane is termed “thermoset,” meaning that the cover, once formed, will not re-melt. Most competitive urethane-covered golf balls use a thermoplastic urethane (TPU), supplied by an outside vendor and usually formulated for another non-golf product, which is melted and then reformed to create the cover.

“Thermoset urethane is very difficult to work with, but it gives us complete control of the chemical composition. It’s essentially a little chemical plant right in the mold, compared with using an off-the-shelf material like TPU. This allows us to dial in our desired properties of spin control, softness and durability,” said Michael Sullivan, Vice President, Titleist Golf Ball Product Development. “We do a lot of testing. We test the urethane on the ball and test it off the ball. In fact, we do so much material testing before it even gets onto a golf ball that by the time it does, we have a solid understanding of how it’s going to react. With the new 2015 models, we tested hundreds of formulations. You simply can’t do that with TPU. In the end, our iterative prototyping process ultimately improves performance for golfers.”

“We’re giving golfers everything they’ve previously had in Pro V1 and Pro V1x with some enhancements,” Morgan said. “They’ll get the extraordinary distance and ball flight they’re accustomed to. But they’ll also get a softer cover, which will add more spin control and feel around the greens. The feedback we’ve received on tour and with club professionals and amateurs clearly tells us that players are benefiting from this improved performance.”

New Pro V1 and Pro V1x also are designed to maintain their long-lasting durability. The company says the new urethane cover, combined with the improved paint system that debuted on the 2013 models, keeps Pro V1 and Pro V1x whiter and brighter longer throughout the course of play. The cover and paint system also contributes to an aerodynamically more consistent golf ball.  

“The breakthrough we made in durability with 2013 Pro V1 and Pro V1x really opened up the doors for us in terms of experimentation with our cover formulation. Our urethane is so resilient that as we softened it, we were able to increase short game spin and enhance the feel while maintaining its abrasion resistance,” Morgan said.

Titleist provides two distinct performance options within the 2015 Pro V1 family. Comparatively, Pro V1 has a softer feel, slightly more long game spin and a penetrating trajectory for a shallower angle of descent for more roll. Pro V1x offers a slightly firmer feel, lower long game spin and launches higher with a steeper angle of descent. The company says both Pro V1 and Pro V1x deliver extraordinary distance, the best scoring performance for all golfers, and long lasting durability, yet differ in feel, long game spin and flight.

Pro V1 is a three-piece, multiple component technology with a very soft compression ZG process core, ionomeric casing layer, softer thermoset urethane elastomer cover, and spherically-tiled 352 tetrahedral dimple design.  

Pro V1x is a four-piece, multi-component technology with a ZG process dual core, ionomeric casing layer, softer thermoset urethane elastomer cover and spherically-tiled 328 tetrahedral dimple design.

And what about that reverse price appeal I mentioned?  MSRP for a dozen is $62.

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress an Orlando Golf Essential

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress New Course
Orlando offers a surprising number of good golf experiences, but one not to be missed is the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.  Multiple Jack Nicklaus signature courses, one of the top 25 golf academies in America, and a simply exemplary level of service make Grand Cypress a golf destination in a class by itself.

The original heart of the golf operation are three mix-and-match nine hole courses (North, South, and East) designed by Nicklaus in 1984-86.  Each nine is distinctive, although the East course is a bit more forgiving, with wider fairways, fewer bunkers, and more options for getting your ball onto the green.  The North and South are tighter and more demanding of accuracy, featuring slightly elevated fairways with unforgiving edges and plateau greens all-too-frequently surrounded by sand and/or water. Tackling all three nines in a day will give you a feeling of accomplishment regardless of your score.

The headline course at Grand Cypress is the confusingly-named New Course, which opened in 1988.  Nicklaus designed it as a tribute to the Old Course at St. Andrews (now do you get the name?) complete with a links feel, replica holes, devastating pot bunkers (bring a ladder) and even double greens and fairways.  Bring your bump and run game--it will feel right at home.

Orlando is home to numerous top-name golf schools, but you won't put a finer point on your game anywhere than at the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf.  It's been recognized since 1999 as one of the top 25 golf schools in America by Golf Digest and every resident instructor at the Academy is listed among the top 50 instructors in Florida.  Whether you're a beginner or a tour pro, the level of instruction, the teaching tools, technology, and facility will help you lop strokes off your scores.  The 21-acre practice facility not only has state-of-the-art computer and video-aided instruction, but three regulation practice holes designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Not to be overlooked is the Greens of Lake Windsong Par Three course at Grand Cypress.  It's a nine-hole pitch-and-putt with holes ranging from 37 to 90 yards.  Best of all, the hotel will supply the clubs, tees, and even a golf ball when you stop by for a little family fun--or to work on your short game.

If by any chance you need a break from golf, the list of other activities at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is almost too long to include here. Suffice it to say there's everything you (or your other family members) could want in the way of water sports at 21-acre Lake Windsong or around the half-acre pool with 12 waterfalls and a water jet splash zone, the Marilyn Monroe Spa, and seven on-premises bars and restaurants.  And did I mention the accommodations?  The 815 rooms were recently refurbished and have every sophisticated amenity you could possibly want.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nick Price Honored by Met Golf Writers

Nick Price



Mark June 9 on your calendar.  On that date, World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Nick Price will receive one of golf’s most prestigious honors, the Gold Tee Award, from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the 64th National Awards Dinner at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Widely regarded as one of the nicest people in the game, Price joins select company on the list of past Gold Tee recipients which includes Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam, Phil Mickelson, and last year’s honoree Fred Couples.  The Gold Tee is the MGWA’s highest honor, awarded to an individual whose career achievements exemplify the best spirit and traditions of the sport of golf.

Price won three major championships during his illustrious career, the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championships, and the 1994 Open Championship (British Open). In August 1994, Price was ranked number one in the world, a position he held for 43 consecutive weeks, a stretch that has only been bettered by Tiger Woods.

Born in South Africa, raised in Zimbabwe, Price won 18 PGA TOUR events as well as 24 international victories. In both 1993 (four wins) and 1994 (six), he was the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, the PGA of America Player of the Year, and the PGA TOUR’s leading money winner. Price, 58, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003.

This October in South Korea, Price will once again captain the International team in the Presidents Cup. In 2013, the Fred Couples-led U.S. team defeated Price’s International team, 18.5 to 15.5. Price played in five Presidents Cups (1994-2003).

“As great a player as Nick Price has been, he’s even a better person,” said MGWA President Bruce Beck. “We’re very excited to honor Nick with the Gold Tee.”

Since 1952, the MGWA has recognized the game’s greatest players, contributors, and organizations
at its National Awards Dinner, the longest running and often the largest golf dinner in the U.S. each year.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Truth About Your Driving Distance

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Game Golf, a wearable device that automatically tracks and graphically displays a golfer’s round and statistics, revealed recently a variety of data and statistics collected from its user platform. Data is based on more than 170,000 rounds of golf posted in 2014.

The data collected unveiled for the first time true insight into the avid golfer’s game including make of clubs used, player’s club distances, greens in regulation, fairways hit, putts per hole, scrambling, sand saves and tee and approach shot accuracy.  The data reinforces Game Golf’s ability to provide golfers with valuable statistics that can be applied to improve their game. For example, golfers can learn their true club distances and stop basing their club choices on wishful thinking.

"Golfers love data and are truly obsessed with understanding their tendencies and how they approach the game,” said John McGuire, CEO, Game Golf. “Up until last year, data capture has been solely available to professionals through resources such as ShotLink. Game Golf provides the same data in a visually compelling way and affords golfers the ability to better understand the distance they actually hit their clubs, allowing for better club selection during rounds and ultimately fewer strokes.”

The Game Golf platform allows users to organize data through a variety of filters. For example, Game Golf can look at the GIR of men over the age 35 living on the East Coast with an average score between 85-90. Or, conversely, Game Golf can take the averages of the entire Game Golf platform. Here is a top-level look at general data and statistics broken down by average score:

Average scores between 75-80:

  • Average drive distance: 235 yards
  • Percentage of drives in the fairway: 51 percent
  • Percentage of greens in regulation: 52 percent

Average scores between 90-95:

  • Average drive distance: 196 yards
  • Percentage of drives in the fairway: 43 percent
  • Percentage of greens in regulation: 23 percent

Besides fellow golfers, Game Golf platform users can compare their stats to the current three Game Golf PGA Tour ambassadors including 2010 U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell, 2003 U.S. Open Champion Jim Furyk, and two-time Ryder Cup winner Lee Westwood. For example, and based on McDowell’s rounds uploaded on the platform, his average driver distance is 270 yards, hitting the fairway 77 percent of the time and getting to the green in regulation 72% of the time.

“Whereas avid golfers don’t expect to match up against the Game Golf ambassadors, the data they obtain provides invaluable insight to improve their game,” said McGuire.  “Recognizing over time some of their shortfalls, golfers can spend more time with a PGA professional or on their own trying to refine a particular aspect of their game - whether it be off the tee, approach shots or from the sand.”

After officially launching at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, Game Golf has since mapped more than 36,000 courses worldwide, been used in 96 countries at 17,000 different courses, and is averaging 4,000-5,000 rounds uploaded per week.  Game Golf is permitted under the Rules of Golf and is approved by the USGA and R&A to be used during tournament play.

The small, lightweight device is worn on the player’s waist and individual, feather-light sensor tags attach to the top of the grip on each club. Weatherproof and temper-proof, the durable club sensors pair easily with the waist-worn device with a simple tap and Game Golf automatically records the course, location on the hole, club used, club distance, and accuracy without the need to carrying smartphones in your pockets.

Constantly refining the platform, Game Golf announced several new features based on user feedback.  Among the most popular include:

o   Tee Shot and Approach Shot Dispersion
o   Club Performance
o   Game Benchmarks
o   Challenges
o   Round Privacy
o   Smart Shot Detection

Game Golf is currently available for $199 and can be found in most golf shops and golf specialty stores. It is also available online at GAMEGOLF.com, Amazon.com, Apple.com and other online golf sites.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kelley Brooke to Help Inaugurate Golf Channel Academy

Photo
Kelley Brooke
Kelley Brooke, owner of The Golf Academy of Randall’s Island in New York City, has been named as one of the inaugural instructors of the newly formed Golf Channel Academy. Brooke is among the first thirty of the game’s most influential and recognizable teachers coming together to establish a dedicated network of instruction facilities with the active support of Golf Channel.

“I’m very excited to be among the first teachers associated with the new, dynamic Golf Channel Academy,” said Brooke, ranked a Top 50 Golf Instructor in the nation by Golf Range Magazine. “This is a chance for golf instructors to work together, learning from one another and adopting best practices in both teaching and the business of teaching. I think it’s going to propel the coaches and coaching forward in a big way.”

Golf Channel Academy is the first network of its kind devoted to efficiently growing the business of golf instruction. With thirty charter locations already committed, Golf Channel Academy will be inviting additional coaches to become part of the network as it officially launches in April 2015.

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These coaches will receive a wide-spectrum of business consulting services and products addressing marketing, sales, technology and back-office solutions needs, as well as shared best practices across the network. Coaches also will have the opportunity to appear on instructional programming across Golf Channel’s television and digital platforms. Students at Golf Channel Academy locations will be able to track their progress using advanced software to measure specific goals under the direction of their personal coach.

“Golf Channel Academy will align the top coaches from across the country to run their business within a robust, collaborative operation,” said Todd Wilson, CEO of Golf Channel Academy. “Our members will have a unique opportunity to tap into best practices and proprietary data that will assist each member instructor and academy operation to grow their business while operating under one unified brand.”

During the past 23 years, Brooke has done much to change the face of youth and women’s golf in the New York City metropolitan area, forming the not-for-profit NYC Junior Golf Club, Inc., and Police Athletic League Golf Program, while conducting hundreds of Women’s Golf Clinics and Golf Schools.

She also developed a “Fit for Life” program for children with disabilities, providing thousands of children with disabilities throughout the five boroughs an opportunity to play the game.  In 2010, the NYC Mayor’s Office and Commission on Women’s Issues selected Brooke as a woman who has a made a difference during “Women in History Month.”

Golf Channel Academy in Manhattan will feature Brooke and her staff of five instructors: Leslie Andrews, the former Executive Director of the LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals; John Connelly, a TPI Certified instructor who specializes in identifying physical capabilities and limitations as relayed to the golf swing; Robert Craigmyle, who has 20 years of experience, as both a tournament player and instructor; James Field, an expert in equipment and clubfitting, as well as a member of the European Golf Teachers Federation; and Todd Bordonaro, a PGA certified instructor and sports nutritionist.

Brooke is a protégé of Butch Harmon as well as Craig Bunker at the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools. She has spent the last 37 years in the golf industry as a player, teaching professional and golf facility owner. Brooke has hosted several golf television shows on cable, most recently “Golfing NYC Style” and “The 19th Hole.” She’s also made guest appearances as a golf expert on The Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” and written for many golf periodicals, including Golf Digest and Junior Golf Magazine.

An accomplished player before joining the teaching ranks, Brooke won an individual state championship in high school (Iowa) and earned All-Big 10 honors at the University of Iowa. Kelley also represented the United States as a member of the University World Cup Team. As a high school student she qualified twice for the LPGA Rail Charity Classic. She also competed professionally on the former Futures Tour and Players West Tour.

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Make Room on Your Bucket List for Streamsong

Streamsong Red #16
Streamsong has risen to near the top of most golfers' bucket lists, and with good reason. The two courses (soon to be three) are spectacular examples of how the land, not the builder, ultimately creates the golf experience. That's not to take anything away from architects Coore & Crenshaw and Tom Doaks, only to emphasize that they couldn't have created these masterpieces without the bones of fine golf geoforms in the landscape.

As everyone knows by now, the courses were built atop an abandoned phosphate mining property abandoned years ago when the supply of the money-making fertilizer ingredient in the ground was exhausted.  Corporate owners Mosaic Company decided to take a page from the Bandon Dunes playbook and build a top-drawer golf resort in the middle of nowhere in the belief that if they created it, golfers would find it.  With the help of a substantive public relations effort, that assumption was proven correct.

Today, Streamsong Resort is home to a 216-room lodge with all the usual amenities (spa, pool, fine dining) as well as bass fishing and skeet and trap shooting to help fill your hours when not on the golf course.  The lodge is an ultra-modern edifice with overtones of its corporate owner's industrial roots.  Rooms are large and well-designed for comfort, with multiple big-screen TVs, spacious baths, and thoughtful service.  Wood, polished granite, and finished concrete dominate the decorative theme.

What brings the customers to Streamsong, though, is the golf.  Two walking-only courses were built with the discriminating resort golfer in mind.  The Red course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw while the Blue course is the product of Tom Doaks' creative mind.  The two tracks differ somewhat, but both offer excellent links golf minus the ocean.  Gil Hanse has been tapped to design a third course (to be known as the Black course) adjacent to the existing duo on slightly flatter topography but with the same turf-friendly sandy soil.  The opening of the new course is scheduled for late 2017.

Streamsong Red #6
The Red course offers wide fairways, firm and fast turf, and ego-crushing green complexes.  Nearly every green is protected by massive bunkers and/or chocolate-drop (or elephant dropping) mounds. If you have an unobstructed approach, expect to be forced to navigate a false front or a green that slopes away from you.  Pin positions on the edges can be murderous.  Unless you're a regular at the course, it's highly advised to hire one of the well-versed caddies to suggest the best lines off the tee and warn you about some of the hidden monsters around the greens.

From the tips, the Red course measures 7,148 yards. Most players will wisely attack nothing longer than the black tees, however, which are a more manageable 6,584.  Given the elevation changes and ever-present wind, there's nothing wrong with playing it forward to the silver tees, a more-challenging-than-you-think 6,094.

Regardless of your choice of tee, the Red course has a fascinating mix of holes.  From the black tees, half of the par fours measure less than 400 yards while the par threes range from 119 to 184. The par fives are all basically birdie opportunities at just over 500 yards, but each one plays differently into the wind.  It's a great temptation to try to overpower the short par fours, but if you're even slightly off-line from the tee, you'll wish you'd played more conservatively.

Your short game is more important than anything else on every course, but that's especially true on the Red.  Chipping from the firm, tight fairways is not for the faint of heart and well over half the greens have runoffs to deep collection areas.  Elephants, donkeys, and even a couple of prehistoric megalodons (prehistoric giant sharks endemic to the sea that once covered the site) are buried in the enormous greens.  The putting surfaces gets top dressed every week, which makes them lightning fast by resort standards, so you're probably better off spending more time on the practice green than the range before you tee off.

One of the most challenging holes is the 184-yard sixteenth, a Biarritz that's nearly seventy yards deep.  Your tee shot is all carry over water and a punishing bunker.  Let the wind (or your slice) carry your ball right and it's in two-foot-tall undergrowth. Go the other way with an over-cooked draw and your ball will kick down some thirty feet to a collection area--or maybe into a bunker.  Even if you're on the green in regulation, four-putts aren't unheard of.

Steamsong Blue #7
Tom Doaks Blue course is different from the Red--not harder, not better, just a markedly different golf course that requires a slightly different approach to par.  It's a little longer, playing 7,176 from the tips and 6,698 from the black tees, but the first difference you'll see is in the topography, which has fewer tall dunes but a bit more water.  The Blue course also has less mounding to squeeze approaches to the greens.

At first glance, you'll be delighted by the sweepingly wide fairways. But, like the National Golf Links, you'll soon discover two things: 1.) you need that width to play the wind and 2.) if you're in the wrong place, even on the short grass, you're in trouble.  There are also many more fairway bunkers (including cross bunkers) in play on the Blue course, so it's essential that you choose and hit the right line off the tee.  These are serious bunkers, too, deep and expansive, so recovery isn't assured.

The greens on the Blue course are smaller and even more contoured than on the Red.  The tight turf makes chip shots less than easy and probably eliminates flop shots by anyone except Phil Mickelson--and I'm not sure about him.

If there is a signature hole on the Blue, it's number 7, a geographic neighbor to the Red's sixteenth hole.  The seventh on the Blue plays 188 yards from the black tee, all carry over water.  Even though it's downhill, the hole pretty much plays the distance and under-clubbing leads to nothing but disaster.  The green is small and guarded by an ugly bunker on the front left.  It's also surrounded by hills covered with impossible vegetation.

All told, Streamsong should be on every golfer's must-play list.  Common wisdom says it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's no more difficult to reach than Whistling Straits and much easier than Bandon.  Streamsong is about an hour from Tampa and ninety minutes from Orlando, so you've got easy travel options.  Take advantage of them at your first opportunity.

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