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Monday, November 26, 2012

Golf Raises $3.9 Billion For Charity

Few--if any--sports promote charitable giving the way golf does. Last year, according to Golf 20/20, the game raised $3.9 billion for local and national causes across the United States.

While we're all aware of the charitable beneficiaries of the PGA Tour events, we often underestimate the impact of golf as a fundraising vehicle on the local level. According to a study conducted by the National Golf Foundation, golf funded charitable causes through

  • 12,000 golf facilities (75 percent of the U.S. total)
  • 143,000 events
  • 12 million participants

All told, golf raised an average of $26,300 per function. That's a lot of $400 foursomes in your local Firefighters Against Smoking In Bed Annual Golf Outing And Hot Dog Feast.  The charitable impact findings are based on qualitative calls and data collection from a coast-to-coast sampling of public and private golf facilities, and non-profit organizations producing golf events.

“Regardless of the economic climate, golf is a key driver of charitable giving in the U.S.,” says Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation, administrator of GOLF 20/20.  “As a major focus of the golf industry, working with organizers of philanthropic events helps improve millions of lives.”

Beneficiaries include health, youth, education, environmental and cultural groups nationally, regionally and locally. More than 85 percent of organizations conducting golf events find them important because, in addition to raising significant funds, they are easy to organize and provide exposure and networking opportunities among supporters.

Donations, including those from professional tournaments, are a significant part of the golf industry, which is comparable in size to the motion picture and video industries.

GOLF 20/20 is a unique collaboration of all segments of the golf industry, from associations and manufacturers to golf course owners / operators and the media.  It was launched in 2000 and is designed to unite and activate the industry around key strategic initiatives that increase participation and retention, involvement and interest in the game.

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

Friday, November 23, 2012

St. Andrews Toughens Up

The St. Andrews Links Trust has announced that a number of improvements are planned for the Old Course to help maintain its challenge for the world’s top golfers when they return to play The Open Championship in 2015.

St. Andrews
Golf course architect Martin Hawtree was commissioned to find potential changes that would challenge elite players without unduly affecting club and visiting golfers. His other charge was to make sure the revisions were true to the special character of the Old Course.

The work is planned to take place in two phases over this winter and next. The first phase involves work on the 2nd, 7th, 11th and 17th holes. The second phase will take place in winter 2013/14 with work on the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 15th holes.

Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, “The Old Course is renowned as one of the great Open venues and its continued prominence on the Open roster is crucially important to the economy and reputation of St Andrews. The Old Course has evolved over time and the Links Trust is delighted to be working with the Championship Committee in order to maintain the challenge of the course for elite tournament players and the thousands of golfers who play here each year.”

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A, added, “We have considered the challenge presented to the world’s top golfers by each of The Open Championship venues and carried out a program of improvements over the last ten years. While some holes have been lengthened on the Old Course in recent years it has otherwise remained largely unaltered. The Championship Committee felt there was an opportunity to stiffen its defenses in some places to ensure it remains as challenging as ever to the professionals. The proposals from Martin Hawtree should place more of a premium on accuracy and ball control while retaining the spirit and character of the Old Course.”

According to the information released today, here's what's going to happen:

Phase 1

  • On the 2nd hole, the two bunkers right and short of the green will be moved closer to the right edge of the green. The ground to the right of the green will also be re-contoured to create more undulations and the width of 3rd tee will be reduced to accommodate this. Two bunkers on the right side of the fairway, near the 3rd Championship tee, will be removed.
  • On the 7th, the large depression in the landing area of the fairway will be filled in and a slight mound created. The area to the right of the green will be remodeled to create more undulations.
  • On the 11th, the back left portion of the green will be lowered to create more hole location options.
  • On the 17th, the Road Bunker will be widened by half a meter at the right hand side and a small portion of the front of the green will be re-contoured to enable it to gather more approach shots landing in that area.

Phase 2

  • On the 3rd hole, the first fairway bunker on the right will be removed. A new fairway bunker will be added into the bank on the right hand side about 275 yards from the Championship tee.
  • On the 4th, the acute spur formation on the left hand side of the fairway will be reduced and the bunker on the right hand side of the green will be moved closer to its edge. The ground to the back right of the green will be re-contoured.
  • On the 6th, the ground to the right of the green will be re-contoured.
  • On the 9th, a fairway bunker will be added short and left of the green, about 25 yards to the left and diagonally towards the green from the last bunker on the right of the fairway.       
  • On the 15th, the ground to the back right of the green will be re-contoured to create more undulations.

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Great Putters Do

A guest post from Kevin Sprecher, Director of Instruction at Sleepy Hollow CC.

Kevin Sprecher
Kevin Sprecher
Great putters are not born, they are individuals who work hard on their skills and have excelled. All great putters are not alike.  However, they do have a few things in common. First, great putters believe they are great. They have tremendous confidence in their ability. Second, they hit the same spot on the face consistently. It’s usually the center but many hit it off center, just the same spot all the time. Hitting the same spot consistently aids in speed control. Third, they are comfortable with their setup and setup the same way every time. Fourth, they read the greens correctly. Fifth, they consistently start the ball on their target line. Lastly, they have great speed control.

If you want to become a great putter work on try these drills:

  1. Use impact tape to see where you strike the face of the putter. Try to hit an area smaller than the top of a tee.
  2. Work on a comfortable setup position. Use a mirror to work on alignment, distance to the ball, posture and balance.
  3. Practice reading greens. I find it easier to read a green when I know where the straight putt is located. Walk to the right and left of your ball and find the straight putt. This helps you to decipher the break.
  4. Use a chalk line to practice rolling the ball on your target line. Snap a 15’ line down and hit putts in three foot increments. This drill also helps with club face alignment.
  5. Practice hitting several putts the same distance. Take five balls and putt them to an area (not a hole). See if you can get all the balls within a club length of each other.

If you are successful with these drills your putting will improve and your confidence will grow. If you are still struggling consult with a PGA golf professional.

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

John Kennedy Honored With PGA Patriot Award

John Kennedy Jr., Director of Golf at Westchester Country Club, was honored by the PGA of America this week with the 2012 Patriot Award, which recognizes a PGA Professional who personifies patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrates unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America. Kennedy established a foundation for supporting men and women of the military along with an affiliation with the VA to help instruct disabled veterans. He's the fourth recipient of the award, which was first presented in 2008.

Kennedy established Golfers in Support of the Troops Foundation in 2008, which has raised more than $90,000 over a four-year period to distribute more than 20,000 articles of clothing to U.S. troops and their families. Clothing was sent to Baghdad, Iraq, Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Fort Drum, N.Y. Kennedy contributed 50 percent of the clothing that he purchased for his own golf shop.

In addition to Westchester Country Club serving as a strong supporter of Patriot Golf Day since the initiative began in 2007, it also has supported Kennedy’s efforts to build an alliance between the New York VA Hospital Prosthetics Device Department and 2010 Patriot Award recipient Jim Estes of Olney, Md., founder of the Salute Military Golf Association. Together with 2011 Patriot Award recipient John Hines, the group is working to expand training of PGA Professionals to give golf instruction to disabled veterans.

“I think that certainly anyone growing up in America should have great appreciation for those who serve our country in uniform,” said Kennedy. “I have great respect for those that served and have served and the sacrifices they have made. It is a great feeling that by our efforts such as Golfers in Support of the Troops that we may help our veterans and particularly their families. Additionally, we have built a relationship with the New York VA Hospital to help spread training of PGA Professionals to encourage more disabled veterans to have the opportunity to learn and play golf. It gives those who have been in hospitals, sometimes for months, something positive for which to look forward. If I can succeed in this project, then more around the country can follow.”

Kennedy has been a PGA member since 1976. In 2010, he became the third member of the Metropolitan PGA Section to be named a recipient of the Horton Smith Award, which recognizes an individual PGA member for outstanding and continuing contributions to professional education. Kennedy also was the 1997 Metropolitan PGA Golf Professional of the Year; and recipient of the 2005 Section Bill Strausbaugh Award; the 1985, ’88 and 2009 Section Horton Smith Award; and the 1983, ’91 Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities.
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Save Your Golf League With Genius Help

Golf leagues are fun, a great way to grow the game, but a real pain-in-the-neck for the poor guy or gal who has to keep play organized, answer a thousand member questions, and a the same time make sure the players are having the kind of fun they're supposed to have. Enter the latest product from Golf Genius Software, GolfLeagueGenius.com.

Developed and tested in collaboration with golf leagues and PGA Professionals across North America for the past 12 months, GolfLeagueGenius is the first web-based golf league software solution designed to drastically reduce the time demands of golf league managers, while providing a fun and interactive experience for league members.

GolfLeagueGenius was designed for managers of recreational and competitive golf leagues to minimize the hours spent managing player rosters, pairings and event scheduling, tournaments and scoring, updating Handicap Indexes, and more.

According to Golf Genius Software CEO Mike Zisman: “With GolfLeagueGenius, league managers can have the best of both worlds. They receive a best-in-class, fully-functional league management system, plus the ability to support and enhance the community aspect of golf leagues with innovative social features that increase member engagement and participation.”

League managers will take their league to the next level as player management is simplified,season-long scheduling can be completed in minutes, scoring is automated for any defined tournament type simply by entering a player’s gross scores, and Handicap Indexes are updated automatically via GHIN and GolfNet. Furthermore, members can use the GolfLeagueGenius.com free smartphone app for real-time score entry, saving the league manager the time of entering scores.

“Before GolfLeagueGenius, I used an Excel spreadsheet to calculate scores and manually adjust handicaps,” says league manager Angelo Nyars. “With GolfLeagueGenius, it is all done automatically. The whole process is efficient, looks professional, and most importantly, it’s affordable and easy to use.”

GolfLeagueGenius features a robust tournament library enabling leagues to play traditional or custom tournament formats, as well as numerous tournaments within the same event. This results in more winners and more engaged golfers coming back week after week.

The scheduling feature, based on proprietary algorithms first developed by Golf Genius Software for GolfTripGenius.com, is designed to assure that everyone plays with everyone else over the course of a season. It gives a league manager the ability to pair golfers a variety of different ways: whether it’s different golfers paired together each event; scheduling over divisions, flights and teams; by Handicap Index; or simply done manually. No matter the desired parameters, the tee sheet is created in a matter of seconds.

Besides all of these features, what sets GolfLeagueGenius apart from the competition is the ability to create a fully-customizable member website for league members. Each site can be branded with a league’s logo, banner and colors, and members log in to register for upcoming events, check pairings and tee times, view results and statistics, as well as interact socially through photo galleries and message boards. The member website dramatically reduces the time league managers spend answering questions from league members.

Tyson Marostica, an assistant PGA Professional at Raven’s Claw Golf Club in Pennsylvania, has experienced the benefits: “With GolfLeagueGenius, I have cut my time managing our men’s league in half. The typical phone calls of ‘What are the pairings? What are the standings? When is my tee time?’ have disappeared.”

The free GolfLeagueGenius mobile app is available for iPhone and Android. Golfers can enter their group’s scores while out on the course, view a real-time leaderboard, upload photos, and more.

Regular pricing is $15 per golfer for the season with the first event free. Pricing includes free, unlimited telephone support and comes with an unconditional money-back guarantee.

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter Simulator Golf Leagues Promise Good Times

Billy Ashford
Billy Ashford
The indoor golf studio at Bilancio in Purchase, NY, will become the domain of Mahopac Golf Club's Billy Ashford this winter.  He'll be giving private and group lessons using state of the art JC Video software and many other tools.

The facility, which is located in the Bilancio personal fitness center, also includes an AboutGolf simulator where Ashford will be running golf leagues all winter. Should be a fun place to get together for a weekly round with your buddies on some of the fabulous courses available on the simulator.

See what it's all about at a free preview on Saturday, November 17, 6:30 to 8 PM at Bilancio, 4 Manhattanville Road, Purchase, NY.

You don't need to belong to the fitness center to take advantage of the golf studio (although it couldn't hurt your game!) and both individual and series lesson prices are available.  For more information, email Billy Ashford or call him at (845) 222-9056.

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

Monday, November 12, 2012

Delightful Tralee By The Sea

The second hole at Tralee. Photo courtesy of the club.
The biggest problem you'll face when playing Tralee is keeping your mind on the game. The Arnold Palmer design in Barrow, County Kerry, Ireland, not only has a succession of excellent holes, but every one of them has a full view of the Atlantic and many have fascinating stories and features to go along with the views. Like the 12th century Norman tower behind the third green and the sandstone boulder between the fourth and fifth fairways allegedly hurled there by Cuchullain, one of the great heroes of Irish mythology, from the top of the Sliabh Mish, the mountain that can be seen to the south. Plus the smugglers' harbor behind the seventh tee box, the shoreline behind the sixteenth green where a ship from the Spanish Armada ran aground in 1588, and the beach along the second hole where scenes for the 1970 epic movie Ryan’s Daughter was filmed.

But pay attention! You're there for golf, right? You won't be disappointed. Tralee presents a fabulous links golf experience. As the club slogan goes, it was created by God and designed by Arnold Palmer. The front nine is fun, the back nine simply spectacular, with a parade of dramatic holes that equal the best you'll find anywhere in the world. In a country noted for great golf, Tralee should be at the top of your must-play list.

The first hole sets the tone as you drive your ball directly toward the ocean. By the time you reach the green 404 yards away, you've seen the water on three sides (although not in play) and tested the stiff Atlantic breezes, the quirky rolling fairways, and navigated around the stone wall that guards the green approach on the left. The course routing continues in that vein. A round at Tralee calls for strength, length, accuracy and touch, not to mention a bit of luck and a sense of humor capable of taking the funny bounces of links golf in stride.

The 12th hole at Tralee. Photo courtesy of the club.
A bit of tactical play comes in handy, too. At the surgical 399-yard eighth hole, for example, most players should leave the driver in the bag and lay up to the mound on the right side of the excruciatingly narrow fairway that drops off the cliffs on the left side. The eleventh hole, a 595-yard uphill par five, is simply brutal, while the twelfth, a 461-yard par four, can only be described as punishing, with a semi-blind drive followed by a a long second shot that must carry a deep gully on the left of the green to give you a chance at par.

The par threes on the back side are particularly exciting. The thirteenth is only 159 yards, but it's all carry to a shallow green and generally plays with a left to right wind that makes club selection and aim a test of nerves. The sixteenth, known as "Shipwreck," plays toward the ocean in a setting as dramatic as you'll find on the Monterey Peninsula. The tee shot must carry 185 yards over a yawning canyon in the dunes and the pin can be as deep as 216 yards onto the two-tiered green.

The finishing hole at Tralee, a 486-yard par five, gives you an excellent chance to close out your round with a birdie, which is always a nice touch. You'll need to be accurate, though, especially off the tee, since there are thirteen bunkers waiting to add a stroke or two.

Tralee plays par 72 at 6,991 yards from the championship tees. It's a good idea to consider playing the forward tees, though, since the golf is just as good and the views are still excellent.

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

Improve Your Game With Winter Work

Kevin Sprecher, Director of Instruction at Sleepy Hollow CC and a Master Instructor for Jim Mclean, reminds us that winter is a perfect time to make some meaningful changes in your golf swing.  "I promise you that any Tour Pro who lives in a cold climate is working on his or her game in a gym, in a dome, or at home, while occasionally flying to warm weather locations," he says.

The learning center at Sleepy Hollow is a great place to do it, too. Sprecher offers private lessons to members and non-members alike throughout the winter, using Trackman, a force plate, and many other devices to accelerate the learning process.  The heated facility allows students to work on both their short and long game.

Sleepy Hollow CC
Sleepy Hollow CC Learning Center
Sprecher also travels to Florida to lead golf schools for his students at Doral in Miami. If you can join him, you will not only have a great time, but should see an improvement in your spring game. Meanwhile, now is a perfect time to incorporate our training facility into your winter schedule.
For more information contact him at kdsprecher@gmail.com.

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

Golf Club Shines On Lake Mahopac

It's not exactly a secret course, but Mahopac Golf Club in Mahopac, NY, may well be one of the most under-appreciated golf opportunities in the Hudson Valley. The course is short but tough, with small, fast greens and vicious bunkering, not to mention gnarly rough and tight landing areas on most holes. The club has been around since 1898 and I think it's about time it got its due.

Actually, the course has its roots in a 1,291 yard six-hole course laid out on the eastern shore of Lake Mahopac by Thomas Bendelow in 1893. It moved to the north shore in 1900 as a nine-hole layout that was later built out by Devereux Emmet to a full 18 holes in 1913. Extensive renovations guided by Ken Dye took place a few years ago to produce today's 6,514-yard track. Par is 70, course rating 72.5, and the slope is 133 from the tips.

Mahopac Golf Club
Tiny green at Mahopac Golf Club. Photo courtesy of the club.
Ask for advice in the pro shop, and the first words from head pro Terrence Hughes or assistant Billy Ashford will be "stay below the hole." In fact, they recommend landing your approach on the front (or even IN front) of nearly every green to avoid some really ugly downhill putting disasters-in-the-making.  Many of the greens--including the first four--actually slope from front to back, so great, great care is called for if you're in the mood to go pin hunting.

The total course yardage may not add up to today's supposedly necessary 7,000-plus yards, but there are more than enough long holes to keep your driver busy--and that may include one of the par threes!  There are five of them, with the shortest listed as 163 and the longest at 218 yards. That monster, the twelfth hole, plays solidly uphill and usually into the wind, though, so don't be ashamed to pull the big stick and hit it with conviction.

The par fives are challenges, too. Two of them, the 487-yard fifth and the 479-yard eighteenth, look like birdie push-overs. Both are heavily bunkered, however, and play uphill, so you can't take them for granted. The other par five, the seventh, is a brutal test at 601 yards with a fairway that slants big time right to left all the way to the hole. Even a center-aimed drive (and second and third shot) will likely end up in the left rough, which makes the hole play even longer.

Mahopac Golf Club
Tricky 15th hole at Mahopac. Photo courtesy of the club.
Most of the par fours offer something to think about. There are a couple of long ones, including the 460-yard sixteenth, a classic dogleg (the 390-yard ninth), and a four-putt possibility at the 403-yard thirteenth hole, which has a steeply-sloped green with several nearly-impossible pin positions. Even the short 330-yard fifteenth hole calls for a strategically-placed 200-yard tee shot and an approach pitch that must navigate around, over, but probably not through a big tree guarding the left side of the green.

There's a lot to appreciate at Mahopac Golf Club. The scenery is spectacular, particularly in the fall, and there's both a range and a short-game area to tone up your scoring potential. Members also enjoy a generous slice of beach on Mahopac Lake.  The club has a fairly small but very active membership that competes in as many as 60 club events every year.

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