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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Crowell In-depth on The Masters

For I don't know how many years in a row, Brian Crowell will again lend his expertise to TV viewers of The Masters.  Crowell, who is the head pro at GlenArbor GC in Bedford and host of the Golf Channel hit "Lesson Tee Live," will provide commentary for CBS on two platforms:

"Masters In Depth" on Direct TV Channel 707: Thurs - Sun 1:00 - 6:00 pm

"Masters on the Range" on CBS Sports Network (check local listings for channel #)
Wed: 9-11am
Thurs - Sun: 11am-1pm

Crowell's a busy guy, but he doesn't scrimp on doing his homework, which makes his commentary some of the most insightful you'll find on the tube.

Full disclosure: Crowell also penned "Slice-Free Golf," which I had a small hand in when it was published in 2011.

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

Pound Ridge Makes April Affordable


Can't wait to get back on the course?  Here's good news to start your season: Pound Ridge Golf Club, New York’s only Pete Dye design, will continue its off-season rates of $150 before 1 p.m. and $100 after 1 p.m. through May 3.

Available seven days a week, rates include golf or pull cart, yardage book and use of the practice facilities. For players searching for a “home” course for leisure or business golf, Pound Ridge recently announced its 2015 Season Golf Plans including individual and deluxe options.

“Whether in search of the year’s first round or checking Pound Ridge off the proverbial bucket list, the off-season rates are a tremendous value and opportunity to play a world-class layout,” says Todd Leavenworth, General Manager. “Spending a few hours outdoors in total tranquility is an ideal way to shake off the remnants of a historically severe winter.”

Pound Ridge also recently launched its new website, featuring a modern, easy-to-navigate interface with embedded video and panoramic images of the course on each page. Golfers are treated to a high-definition, drone flyover providing unprecedented views of the Dye masterpiece. Optimized for mobile and tablet formats, booking tee times and gathering course information is convenient and easy.

Ranked No. 3 in-state by GOLF Magazine and No. 4 by Golfweek, Pound Ridge is a formidable challenge for accomplished players, with its 146 slope and 76.1 course rating from the back tees. However, Dye’s use of handicap differential in determining the placement of the five other sets of tees makes the golf course appealing for every type of player.

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Golf Channel Academy Goes Live

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You've watched Brian Crowell, Michael Breed, and Martin Hall on Golf Channel Academy. Now you can get live in-person lessons from teaching professionals of their caliber nationwide.  Golf Channel Academy, a dedicated network of teaching facilities and a hands-on extension of Golf Channel’s Golf Channel Academy prime time instruction programming, will begin to roll out this week with an initial 57 locations in 26 states and Canada. Five of them are within (or near) the NY metro area.

Golf Channel Academy offers a chance to receive personalized instruction from some of the game’s finest coaches. Its primary mission is to bring these top teachers together and make it easier for avid amateur golfers to experience their high-quality instruction. Each location’s teaching philosophy will be based on that coach’s particular proven methods that elevated him or her to the top of the golf teaching profession, but all will be dedicated to the philosophy that learning takes place over a period of time, and the relationship between coach and student is an on-going one devoted to long-lasting improvement.

A directory of all Golf Channel Academy locations and additional information on the facilities, programs, PGA of America and LPGA teaching credentials, and the inaugural group of more than 190 lead and staff coaches can be found at GolfChannelAcademy.com.

“Golf Channel Academy is a natural brand extension of our popular, high-quality instructional programming,” says Mike McCarley, president, Golf Channel. “Our viewers will have the opportunity to interact with Golf Channel’s brand beyond traditional media platforms as Golf Channel Academy facilities open in markets across North America. Golf Channel works closely with PGA of America and LPGA teaching professionals and values their ability to enhance golfer’s enjoyment of the game, which ultimately encourages their students to play more golf. With this goal in mind, Golf Channel Academy coaches are committed to engaging golfers through instruction to make the game more accessible, inviting and fun.”

The inaugural group of Golf Channel Academy lead coaches in our area includes:

Paul Ramee, Jr.Bull’s Bridge G.C., South Kent, CT
Jason Birnbaum, New Jersey Golf Academy, Roseland, NJ
Kelley Brooke, The Golf Academy of Randall’s Island, New York City
Anders Mattson, Saratoga National G.C., Saratoga Springs, NY
Mitchell Spearman, Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy at Doral Arrowwood, Rye Brook, NY

The Golf Channel Academy is yet another brand extension from the multimedia enterprise formed by Arnold Palmer in 1995 and now part of the NBC Sports Group.  In addition to golf programming on television and various digital platforms, Golf Channel operates GolfNow, Golf Advisor.com, and the Golf Channel Am Tour.

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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Els for Autism Teams with BirdieBox


The Els for Autism Foundation has teamed up with BirdieBox to launch the "Els for Autism Box," a limited-edition collection of golf related products associated with Els for Autism’s founder, the smooth-swinging South African golfer, Ernie Els.

BirdieBox will officially debut the package during Autism Awareness Month at their pop-up retail store in Augusta, GA, today through Sunday, April 12th. A percentage of proceeds will be donated to the foundation started in 2009 by Els and his wife Liezl after their son Ben was diagnosed with the disorder.
Els-Platinum



"Our foundation is committed to helping people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives," Els says, "And we are delighted that BirdieBox, along with my partners, have developed this great new give-back initiative to help the Foundation raise funds and awareness for this important cause. The box has some great items and the timing is perfect as it launches in April – which is Autism Awareness Month.”

These limited-edition boxes are available through BirdieBox.com at three price points ($249.95, $149.95, $79.95) and will include an extraordinary assortment of golf gear with a total value nearly double the retail cost. Among the items included are TaylorMade TOUR Preferred balls, special-edition “Els for Autism” Daphne’s head cover, Els Collection polo, Zero Restriction outerwear, Stable 26 socks and an I-ONICS Power Sport band.

BirdieBox’s donation will help fund a state-of-the-art autism center and hub of worldwide operations for Els for Autism, The Els Center of Excellence. Groundbreaking for the Center took place last year and the first components are due to open in August 2015. Once complete, the Center will provide on-site education for 300 children on the autism spectrum ages 3-21. It will also bring together the critical components of early intervention, transition to adulthood, medical and professional services, and adult services all on one campus. Committed to a global mission, the Center has been designed to facilitate a multi-faceted global outreach program focused on the sharing of best practices and programs with the global autism community and beyond.

“It is estimated that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with autism, a truly staggering figure highlighting the millions of individuals and families affected by the disorder,” says Pat DePirro, CEO of BirdieBox. “We strongly believe in the Els for Autism Foundation and proudly stand by its side as it strives to make a positive difference to the lives of those affected by autism and their families.”

A turnkey solution for club, corporate and charity golf outings, BirdieBox offers event organizers a wide variety of packages for all budgets and tastes. These include numerous pre-configured options and prize boxes, or customers can totally customize their order by selecting from a diverse assortment of premium golf, lifestyle and nutritional products. The exterior of each event box can be handsomely designed to showcase specific logos, imagery and messaging. Brand exposure can be furthered by inclusion of logoed golf balls, apparel, headwear, accessories or other items.

Beyond the company’s event services, personal monthly subscriptions that remove the hassle from shopping and gift-giving are available at BirdieBox.com. Packages include a selection of the hottest golf, lifestyle and nutritional items from major brands. Offered in one-, three-, six- and 12-month options, subscriptions start at $49.95 per month while retail value of each delivery is $100 or more.

The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie and Liezl Els to focus on the issue of autism. The Els son Ben is profoundly impacted by the disorder, which affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S.

The Foundation’s overarching mission is to helping people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.  In the U.S., to help fulfill its mission Els for Autism is currently building a state-of-the-art Center of Excellence in Jupiter, FL, on a 26 acre campus with a local, national and global reach and is in the middle of a capital campaign to finance the development. Once completed, the Center will host a uniquely designed, on-site educational program for 300 children on the autism spectrum ages 3-21 and bring together the critical components of early intervention, education, applied research, transition to adulthood, medical and professional services, and adult services all on one campus. Having all the essential components on one campus, with the integrated programing and continuity of service that this allows, will not only be a game-changer for the children in the local area, but positions the Center as the perfect hub for a global outreach program; that will ensure its influence is felt far beyond the boundaries of its walls.

Groundbreaking for the first components of the Center, the Lower School and the Auditorium Building, began in March 2014. The Lower School is on schedule to welcome its first students in August this year, and the Auditorium Building is also on track to become the new home of the Foundation this summer, enabling the team to further develop its global outreach programs using this magnificent, and fit-for-purpose building as its base. In the meantime, the Foundation continues its fundraising efforts to ensure a continuous build schedule for the remaining components of the Center; the Upper School, the sports facilities, the medical and professional building and the adult services component.

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Best Golf on TV Sunday? Drive Chip Putt at Augusta


A pair of local youngsters should be on everyone's radar Sunday when they compete in the Second Annual Drive Chip & Putt Championship this Sunday prior to the start of the Masters.

One is Matthew Camel of Greenwich, CT, who racked up the high score in the nation in the regional qualifer, scoring 169 total (69 Drive, 40 Chip, 60 Putt) out of a perfect maximum score of 225.

Camel, who plays out of Round Hill Club, was a consistent performer in Met PGA Jr. events last year, accumulating 4,295.76 points toward a rank of ninth in the player of the year race in 18 events. He won twice, once at Powelton Club, again at Rockrimmon.  He qualified for the Drive Chip & Putt in the Male 14-15 year-old division at Apawamis, then Eisenhower Park's Red Course, before advancing to the regional event at Bethpage Green.

Jennifer Rosenberg of Laurel Hollow, NY, will compete in the same age group but in the Female division.  She started her qualifying at Harbor Links Golf Course.  Rosenberg teed it up on six Met PGA Jr. events last year, and won four of them, finishing second in the player of the year competition.   In 2013, she won the Long Island Girls Championship, played at Glen Cove Golf Course.  Her home course is Glen Oaks.

Eighty young golfers in four age categories will compete in the Finals Sunday.  If you can't make it Augusta, be sure to tune in to the Golf Channel.  If last year is any indication, this may equal the Masters itself in entertainment value.

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Champion Course for Champions at PGA National

Planning a trip to PGA National Resort and Spa? Be forewarned: the Champion Course, home of the Honda Classic, is a hard, hard golf course. That's not say you shouldn't play it--it's a great golf course well worth the exertion--just keep your expectations under control.

Remember that the course was really designed for professional competitions. It opened in 1981 and hosted the Ryder Cup two years later, followed by the PGA Championship in 1987. It was the home of the Senior PGA Championship from 1982-2000.  After a major renovation, it became the home of the Honda Classic in 2007. It's interesting to note that during those last nine years, only twice has the winner pushed the final score to double digits below par for four rounds.

When Jack Nicklaus took on the renovation in 2002, he basically designed a new golf course, attempting through modifications of the fairway and green contours to make it a little more forgiving for the average player.  While that was accomplished, little was done to change the routing and the heavy influence of water hazards on play.  Coupled with thick, sticky rough, the course well deserves its high ratings and slopes.  From the 6,719-yard gold tees, those are 73.4/145. Most of us will tackle the Blues, which play 6,367 but carry a 71.8/138.  For a real indication of how tough the course plays, though, look at the White tees.  Many players will ignore them because the card shows they measure only 5,934.  The 69.9/129 rating/slope, though, is more like many 6,300-yard courses I've played around the country.

Looking for a challenge? The Champion Course is it. Fifteen of the holes have water in play that dictates strategies both off the tee and during your approaches.  Another caution: the green surrounds generally don't release a short approach shot unless it's a briskly-struck bump and run, so don't expect to trickle a lucky miss onto the putting surface. I played the course this year while the fairways were still narrow after the tournament, so I got to experience plenty of play out of the rough.  It wasn't particularly long, just thick and sticky, so digging out with a short iron is almost always your only option.

The famous Bear Trap gets all the TV coverage, but there are plenty of other tough holes on the course.  Number 6, which looks like a pushover 468-yard par five on the scorecard, plays as a par four for the pros.  Water lines the entire left side just a few yards away from the fairway and bunkers encroach on the right off the tee.  The green has three levels, too, so distance control is paramount on the approach. Number 7, a 186-yard par three, plays downwind but has a front bunker that makes it all carry.  The green is long with a Biarritz-like swale in the center just to make it extra interesting.

One of the strongest holes on the course is Number 11, par four at 395 yards from the Blue tees. Getting off the tee isn't a big problem, but the approach is a killer.  Water runs from the landing area all the way to green on the right. The green itself sits diagonally to the fairway, making for some interesting pin positions. If you overshoot the green, you're left with a shot from a treacherous bunker back toward the water.

Water and wind are hallmarks of the famous Bear Trap, holes 15 through 17.  The two par threes are relatively short (153 and 155 from the blue tees), but both play all-carry with water wrapping around the right side of both greens to drown slices.  Sixteen, 391 yards, calls for an iron or hybrid off the tee to stay in the short grass, but that sets you up for a long approach over water to an elevated green. How tough is it?  Even the bailout for the second shot is over water!

The finishing hole is a classic double dogleg par five that provides all sorts of excitement. It truly is one of the best finishing holes in the game, playing 527 from the blue tees and forcing the player to negotiate fifteen bunkers and water on every shot.  A strong drive sets up a wonderful risk and reward second shot, too.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Champion Course is not an easy walk in the park. It's hard. But for golfers who want to challenge a real player's course, it can't be beat.

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Antigua in the High Cotton


I don't know about you, but I've never been fond of the "plastic" feel of the typical high-tech fabrics used in golf shirts these days.  Granted, they have advantages, but they also make me feel like I'm trying to swing while covered with Saran Wrap.  Antigua has just released a solution: Desert Dry Performance Cotton.  It adds fine cotton fibers to the synthetic filaments that promote moisture wicking. The result is dry comfort with a natural feel against the skin.




Ron McPherson, President and CEO of Antigua, explains the company's thinking in this short video:





I reviewed the Antigua Spring Collection earlier, but hadn't tried the Desert Dry Performance Cotton at that time. I have now, and can say that I found it very comfortable and almost retro in the way it feels against the skin -- Retro as in what golf shirts used to feel like before they started making them out of plastic. Maybe I'm getting too particular in my old age, but I'll leave that conclusion up to you.  By the way, I don't wear Spandex when I ride my bike, either.





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