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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gary Player Reaps Award from Met Golf Writers

The Player Foundation and World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player are slated to receive the Winnie Palmer Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the organization's 64th National Awards Dinner on Tuesday, June 9 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, NY.

The Player Foundation provides quality education, nutrition, medical care and extra-curricular activities for underprivileged children around the globe. It was established by the Player family in 1983 and to date, through several annual events staged in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South Africa, the foundation has raised more than $50 million for these important causes.

Each year, Black Knight International, in conjunction with The Player Foundation, manages and runs
a series of four prestigious golf events on four continents which raises more than a million dollars annually.

"What the Gary Player family and their entire company has done for others is remarkable," MGWA President Bruce Beck said. "The Player Foundation provides hope, just like Winnie Palmer did for so long."

The MGWA's Winnie Palmer Award acknowledges an individual consistently given their time, energy and enthusiasm to those less fortunate. The Award is named in honor of Winnie Palmer, who devoted much of her life to charity work for literacy programs and health care. Past recipients include Barbara Nicklaus, Dolores Hope, Vivienne Player, Betsy King, Peggy Kirk Bell, and Ernie Els.

Created by the Met Golf Writers Association in 2000, the Winnie Palmer Award has been sponsored by Rolex Watch USA since its inception.

Other MGWA award winners Nick Price (Gold Tee Award) and Ron Sirak (Werden Golf Journalism Award) will join Player on June 9. Additional MGWA award recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.

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 24, 2015

Disabled Vets to Learn Golf Free with Met PGA Pros


Met PGA Hope (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) got off to a good start yesterday at the John Kennedy Learning Center at Westchester Country Club when dozens of local pros gathered to find out how they can help veterans with disabilities benefit from the game of golf.

"There's a special link between golfers and our veterans," said Charles Robson, Executive Director of the Met PGA. "With West Point in our backyard, it just seems like a natural."  The eight-week golf instructional program for veterans with disabilities is slated to roll-out at West Point GC this spring.  "For us, it all comes down to giving something back to these people to whom we owe so much. For the vets, it's a great chance for them to benefit from the game."

Elmwood CC's Pete Stefanchik
swings wrong-handed on one leg
The pros attended a morning presentation by PGA Professional David Windsor, an expert in teaching adaptive golf programs for individuals with physical and cognitive challenges.  In the afternoon, they experienced first hand what the vets feel like trying to play golf while coping with various disabilities. The pros wore various devices that forced them to hit a ball on one leg, or with the opposite hand like a switch hitter in baseball, or with only one eye.

"The sensation is totally different," said Heath Wassem, Met PGA President and head pro at Fenway Golf Club. "It really gives you a great appreciation of what they go through."  There were also several disabled vets in the crowd who demonstrated their prowess.

PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. It is designed to introduce golf -- at NO cost -- to veterans with disabilities in order to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being. The HOPE program, led by PGA professionals, helps veterans assimilate back into their communities through the social interaction the game of golf provides.

Interested participants should contact the Met PGA to learn more.

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 23, 2015

The Squeeze -- a Sure Bet Golf Movie

Jeremy Sumpter, Jillian Murray,
and Terry Jastrow (seated)
Any golfer who plays for money -- all of us, in other words -- needs to see The Squeeze, a soon-to-be-released movie about gambling, golf, and Las Vegas. It's also about the loss of innocence, how young love conquers all, and why you should never trust anybody who wears a hat indoors. But mostly it's about life-or-death gambling on golf.

Here's the plot in a nutshell: Young muni golf phenom who can't lose becomes the stakes horse for a high-rolling gambler who rides him to Las Vegas to play in a million-dollar match. The Squeeze happens the night before the match, when the small-town phenom is threatened with death by either side, one if he wins, the other if he loses.

I saw the movie in a preview and found it fun, exciting, and full of choice bits.  It's not Tin Cup, but it's not Bagger Vance, either (thank goodness). What really distinguishes it from other golf movies is that the players are really players. They know which end of the club to hold and how to swing it, which is more than you can say about just about any other golf movie ever released. The golf sequences -- and there are many good ones -- are believable and a pleasure to watch.

The verisimilitude is in large part a function of the director's background as a senior producer/director of golf for ABC Sports for 22 years. Terry Jastrow conceived and wrote the story based on what he says is the true story of Keith Flatt, which he heard over the dinner table one night.  Also on the production team was Jastrow's wife, Anne Archer, whom you might remember as Michael Douglas' wife in Fatal Attraction, Michael Doven, whose credits as an associate producer include Mission Impossible II, and many others with substantial film credentials.

Golf is at the center of the story, but the characters are what make it fun.  Twenty-two-year-old Augie Baccas (Jeremy Sumpter) is the young phenom whose fractured family life and need for ready cash enable the smooth-talking gambler, aka Riverboat, to persuade him to give up dreams of playing in the US Open for a career hustling golfers with more money than sense. Riverboat is played by Chris McDonald, who played a similarly smarmy bad guy, Shooter McGavin, in Happy Gilmore.

Augie's longtime sweetheart, Natalie (Jillian Murray), is against the deal, of course, but comes through for him in the end.  Las Vegas gambler Jimmy Diamonds (Michael Nouri) looks the part and plays it better. The best character in the whole flick, though, is Riverboat's over-the-top wife, Jessie, played by Katherine LaNasa.  She delivers the cleverest double entendres as well as the most flamboyant strut you'll ever see on screen.

The story arc is rather predictable, but there are enough sidebars and minor characters to make it worthwhile to pay attention. Augie struggles with his conscience in the beginning, but greed and/or need wins out and he plays in ever-larger matches set up by Riverboat until all the available sheep are fleeced and they move to the really big money games in Las Vegas. There, Riverboat sets up Jimmy Diamond for the coup de grace in a poker game and pits Augie against the reigning "US Champion" (I suspect the USGA wasn't crazy about allowing use of the term "US Amateur Champion" in this context) at Wynn Las Vegas.

The night before the match, Augie has another confrontation with his conscience, but overcomes it with vodka and cranberry juice. That's when the threats come from Jimmy Diamonds and Riverboat.  Heads you win, tails you lose, but in either case, you die. Not the kind of quandary that makes for happy swing thoughts on the first tee. The story arc is predictable but the ending isn't, so I won't offer any spoilers. Trust me, though, it's worth hanging around for.

Reaction from other early screeners has been very positive. Here are a few comments:

Jack Nicklaus: "I watched The Squeeze with Barbara and really enjoyed it. It’s a fun movie that tells an interesting story, and the golf elements are so real you actually believe it could happen."

Phil Mickelson: "The Squeeze is the best golf movie ever because it’s so authentic. It hooks you in the beginning and stays interesting and entertaining right to the end. I’m looking forward to seeing it
again."

Tom Watson: "The Squeeze depicts actors (lead actor Jeremy Sumpter in particular) who are truly believable as pro quality golfers. Director Jastrow’s true understanding of the game (with 22 years directing sports, in particular golf on ABC Television) injects reality into the scenes with a stream of golf humor that golfers will find both familiar and believable, which are sadly lacking in all previous golf movies. With his athletic swing, Sumpter made this entertaining tale believable from the start. The catalyst for the film is the character “Riverboat”, whose role is wonderfully played by Christopher McDonald. His guile and salesmanship together make for an intriguing surprise ending. The Squeeze is indeed an enjoyable adventure into golf and big time gambling."

The bad guys are evil, the hero is kind of hapless but you root for him anyway, and the golf is more than just credible.  The Squeeze is a delightful diversion.  It releases April 17th in selected theaters and video on demand.

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 17, 2015

Mitchell Spearman Joins Golf Channel Academy

photo
Mitchell Spearman
The newly formed Golf Channel Academy has named another local facility and leading teacher to its lineup. Mitchell Spearman, founder and owner of the Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy with locations in New York, Virginia and Maryland, has been named one of the inaugural instructors.

“I’m very excited to be among the first teachers associated with the new, dynamic Golf Channel Academy,” said Spearman, member of GOLF magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers in America” list since its inception. “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 44 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.

A native of Great Britain, Spearman has been teaching golf for 30 years. He was first exposed to the game by his aunt, two-time British Ladies’ Amateur champion Marley Spearman, and proved to be a fast learner, breaking par for the first time at age 12. By the time he was 18, he had also qualified for the British PGA Championship.

Mitchell decided to make his mark in teaching, however, and in 1988 traveled to America to become David Leadbetter’s chief lieutenant and Worldwide Director of Instruction, a position he held for 10 years. During that period, he worked with several major champions and World Golf Hall of Famers, including Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, and Nick Price. Other past and present students include Craig Parry, Laura Davies, Jan Stephenson and Billy Hurley III.

Golf Channel Academy will feature Spearman and his staff of instructors at the following locations: Doral Arrowwood Golf Club in Rye Brook, N.Y.; Belmont Country Club in Ashburn, Va.; Dominion Valley Country Club in Haymarket, Va.; and the Oak Creek Club in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Spearman and his coaches will benefit from 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.”

A featured host and instructor on the international television show Golfing World, Spearman has written articles for such golf publications as GOLF and The Met Golfer, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of “AIM of Golf,” which uses visual imagery to help optimize performance, and was one of the first golf instructors to produce a mobile app (Golf Shot Fixes) to assist golfers who need instant help on the course.

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Andrew's Adds to Teaching Staff

Photo
Tyler Jaramillo
Tyler Jaramillo is joining the professional staff to beef up teaching capabilities at Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings. Jaramillo, a well-known PGA Assistant Golf Professional in the Met Section, will focus on teaching and operations at the new Apple Tree Learning Center that opens at the club in May.

Jaramillo, a native of Albuquerque, NM, joins Saint Andrew’s with many years of experience at private clubs, most recently at The Seawane Club on Long Island. Prior to Seawane, Jaramillo was an assistant golf professional at Tamarack Country Club, Ardsley Country Club, and Fenway Golf Club, all in the Met Area. He has been a PGA of America Class A member since 2008 and is FlightScope Certified, as well as a TPI Level 2 Certified Coach and a US Kids Certified Instructor.

Additionally, Jaramillo is the owner/director and co-founder of Golf In Schools in Seattle, Wash., where he works with 25 elementary schools and more than 150 children to grow the game of golf.

Jaramillo will report to St. Andrew’s Head Golf Professional Greg Bisconti, joining PGA Director of Golf, Charlie Hicks and PGA Assistant Golf Professional Ambry Bishop to round out the professional staff. His focus will be teaching, both in the center and on-course with members.

A quality player, Jaramillo qualified for the PGA National Assistant’s Championship last year, as well as notching a win on the Met PGA Assistant’s tour at Patriot Hills. He also serves on the Met PGA Assistants Board as well as the Met PGA Tournament Committee.

A graduate of New Mexico State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Jaramillo grew up playing most sports until he concentrated on golf starting at age 15. When not on the links, he is an avid snowboarder.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Antigua Features New Fabric Combo for Spring

An all-new fabric combining the best of two technologies--one old and one new--will be featured in the Spring 2015 collection from the Antigua Group. It's Desert Dry Performance Cotton (D2PC).

"The Spring 2015 Men's Golf Performance Cotton Collection includes this amazing new fabric," says Ron McPherson, President and CEO of Antigua. "It combines the moisture-wicking features of our proprietary Desert Dry moisture management technology with the natural fibers of cotton, to create a performance product that offers the best of both."

Cotton as a fiber alone absorbs moisture quickly, but doesn't allow the moisture to travel across the knitted cotton fibers for quicker release like synthetic micro-filament fibers. By engineering fabrics utilizing synthetic micro-filament yarns and blending them with fine natural cotton fibers, D2PC offers the look and casual comfort of cotton while maximizing the wicking properties of a performance fabric.

The D2PC styles have been developed sharing the same color palette that's carried throughout both the men's and women's Spring 2015 fashion collections. For more information, visit www.antigua.com.

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