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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ECCO Launches Next-Generation Footwear

ECCO has launched BIOM Hybrid 2, the next-generation of its best-selling style showcasing patented NATURAL MOTION technology and built atop the award-winning E-DTS outsole.

Premiering for Spring/Summer 2015, BIOM Hybrid 2 is slated to be worn in competition by Tour star Fred Couples and other ECCO Golf staff players. It is 15% lighter than the original model thanks to an extra-thin midsole that helps bring players closer to the playing surface. This is complemented by a dual-density TPU outsole. Two-colored to create an inspiring aesthetic, it is harder in areas that need the most stability and softer in key comfort zones.

“We’ve taken what many have declared the world’s most comfortable golf shoe and made it even better,” says Michael Waack, Head of Global Golf at ECCO. “That we can do this is a testament to our skill as shoemakers and the drive that pushes us to pioneer new innovations season after season.”

Like all ECCO golf shoes, BIOM Hybrid 2 is created using the advanced Direct-injection Process. This bonds the upper and outsole unit, creating a one-piece shoe construction without the use of glue or stitching. Benefits include an exceptionally water-tight seal, outstanding flexibility and out-of-the-box comfort.

Additional features of BIOM Hybrid 2 include:

  • Weather Resistance – Naturally soft, breathable and strong yak leather uppers are treated with HYDROMAX™ and an anti-stain formula for superb protection from the elements
  • Anatomical Last Shape – Developed by scanning the feet of 2,500 athletes to provide ideal levels of support
  • Tour-Proven Traction – Constructed from TPU – a highly durable, wear-resistant material – the molded traction bars offer hundreds of traction angles for superb grip
  • Technical Insole System – A new, ultra-premium insole with silicon printing helps prevent unwanted foot movement during the swing

In addition to me and Fred Couples, the ECCO men’s golf collection is worn in competition by Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Thomas Bjørn, Thongchai Jaidee, Marcel Siem, Andreas Hartø, Wu Ashun, Will Wilcox, JB Hansen and scores of other Tour stars worldwide.

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 24, 2014

ARCCOS Now at Apple Stores

ARCCOS, the first club-to-cloud system offering GPS, live stat tracking and Tour analytics, is available now at all Apple Stores nationwide and online at www.apple.com.  Featuring a set of 14 virtually weightless sensors, ARCCOS joins a small group of sports tech products Apple has selected to showcase in its nearly 260 locations.

According to the company, each ARCCOS sensor easily attaches to the end of a club grip. Once paired via Bluetooth to the ARCCOS iPhone app, the system seamlessly integrates with a golfer’s game, allowing them to view stats in real time as they play. It requires no alterations to pre-shot routines, additional devices, tapping, or other hindrances to enjoyment and improvement.

“Our core consumers are very tech-forward, savvy individuals whose purchasing habits closely align with the large and knowledgeable customer base Apple has established,” said Sal Syed, CEO and Co-Founder of Arccos Golf. “The leading-edge technology found in ARCCOS is unlike anything in golf and we’re very excited for players to experience it for the first time.”

ARCCOS is available at select golf retailers nationwide. Along with GPS for more than 16,000 courses in North America, the system captures critical data for your game, providing players with instant access to information on distances hit, club averages, driving accuracy, greens in regulation, sand saves, putts and more. This helps golfers identify patterns and refine tactics before, during and after each round.

Further bolstering the system is the proprietary ARCCOS Tour Analytics platform developed in conjunction with golf’s most renowned statistician, Peter Sanders. Drawing from Sanders’ work with PGA Tour star Zach Johnson and many others, it automatically breaks down a players’ handicap into five key components – driving, approach, chipping, sand game and putting. This allows players to:

  • Gain insight into what every shot means
  • Understand exactly how each part of their game contributes to scoring
  • Explore comparative data in each of the five components from golfers with the same handicap
  • Evaluate patterns across their entire golf history, supporting refinement of on-course tactics

More than just a tool for the individual users, ARCCOS is utilized by top instructors. It helps their students recognize and correct faults, such as club distance gaps, noticeable shot dispersion patterns and other problem areas.

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 22, 2014

Brynwood Markets Memberships for Future Course


Members at Brynwood Golf & Country Club in Armonk got good news recently: the club's owners are moving forward with plans to develop the property and rebuild the course.  Brynwood Partners, the club's owners, submitted a revised development plan to the North Castle Town Board on November 5th and the Town Board has accepted the submission for review, a major step in getting final approval for the project.

For current and prospective Brynwood members, that means the course will be in full operation next year and memberships with valuable discount rights for the future are available now.  All members who joined from 2010-2014 are Founding Members and can earn up to $20,000 in initiation credit for phase 2 at Brynwood. The Founding Member category is now closed, but all new members for 2015 will become Legacy Members with following benefits:

 • Legacy Members will receive a $10,000 credit toward any future initiation fees that may be charged for Phase 2 at Brynwood.  In addition, each new member will receive an additional credit of $1,000 for each consecutive year of membership, (up to a maximum total of $15,000) ending when the club begins accepting applications for Phase 2.
 • A Legacy Member who refers a new member to Brynwood for the 2015 season will have a credit posted to the referring member’s account equal to 10% of the new member’s membership dues, earned upon the new member being accepted and their payment of dues.

The innovative club is also offering a a new membership category for 2015.  It's called the Friends & Family Membership and offers these features:

 • To qualify, a minimum of three NEW golf members must join as a group.
 • A 25% dues discount is available for the first three golf memberships.
 • A further 5% dues discount is available for additional members, up to maximum of 40%. 
 • Current members may participate in the Friends & Family Membership, and receive the dues discount, if they recruit a group of three or more new members who join at the same time. 

Sounds like a good time to round up your foursome and plan for the future with one of the most innovative golf clubs in Westchester.

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 21, 2014

Face-On Putting Solves Anchoring Rule Dilemma

As someone who has tried just about every putting method (legal and otherwise), I can attest that there's a lot to be said for face-on putting, especially as it's done using the GP Putter.

The GP Putter is entirely legal now--and under the USGA prohibition of anchoring to go into effect in 2016--because of the way it is designed and the method recommended for its use.  As I see it, face-on putting has two big advantages:

1.  You are using both eyes to align your stance and the putter with the ball and your intended target line instead of just your dominant eye, which traditional putting relies on.

2.  The motion of the putter stroke is forward, not sideways, so a twist of the wrist is almost impossible, making for a truer club path.

But don't just take my word for it. This video https://vimeo.com/90035278 with Pat Dionne, the inventor of the GP, tells a lot more about it than I can.

You can find all the technical details, more videos, and ordering information at www.face-on-putting.com.

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 20, 2014

Get an Insider's Look at KPMG Women's PGA Championship

An army of volunteers as big as the event itself is needed for the inaugural KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to be held June 9-14, 2015, at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.

"We’re looking for about 1,800 volunteers," says Championship Director Bob Jeffrey. "About half of those are marshals we get through local clubs who are great supporters.  The rest serve on volunteer committees that handle admission sales and will call, contestant transportation, leaderboards and thru boards, and walking scorers."

It sounds like a lot of work--and it is--but the opportunities to experience the tournament are big, too. "Volunteers work three or four shifts depending on their committee assignment, so they have plenty of time to attend and enjoy the tournament the rest of the week," Jeffrey points out.  "Marshals and walking scorers are inside the ropes and are close to the players. Some jobs, like transportation, get opportunities for even more personal contact."

Adult volunteers, ages 22 and older, are required to work four shifts and contribute a minimum of 16 hours total, while junior volunteers, ages 16 to 21, are required to work three shifts and contribute a minimum of 12 hours.  Shifts will last between three and four hours.  For details on positions available, visit www.kpmgwomenspgachampionship.com/volunteer.  You can also contact Jenna Boyce, Volunteer Operations Manager, 914-595-6801 or jboyce@pgahq.com.

"We’re absolutely looking for men as well as women," Jeffrey says, "and we even have junior positions for young people 16 to 21. There’s no fee for them. We want to get as many juniors involved as we can."

Adult volunteers pay $96 to participate. In return, Jeffrey explains, "they get items with a much greater value. The package includes a Polo Ralph Lauren shirt, headwear, a credential they can use to access the course anytime whether they’re working or not, meal and water vouchers for on-course concessions, a program, complementary parking, and a discount for merchandise."

Not sure you know enough about golf to hold a responsible position at a professional tournament?  Not to worry.  "Not every job requires a lot of golf knowledge," Jeffrey says. "Transportation, admissions, and office volunteers don’t need any golf knowledge at all."  He adds that there will be training and orientation offered in late April and, the weekend prior to the tournament, volunteers will visit the course to see what they will actually be going before they start their first shift.

The Championship will offer a purse of $3.5 million, among the highest in women’s golf.  The event is a collaboration of KPMG, the PGA of America, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Continuing in the tradition of the LPGA Championship, which was first played in 1955, the event will rotate annually among prestigious courses in major metropolitan areas.

Throughout Championship Week, KPMG will spearhead an on-site women’s leadership summit bringing together top women leaders in business, politics, sports, and society to network, learn, and give back. KPMG also will manage the ongoing community initiative to provide today’s top women leaders the opportunity to cultivate the next generation of female leaders and equip them with the leadership skills, networks, and confidence through scholarships, training, and internship and mentoring programs.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be broadcast on NBC and Golf Channel

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 19, 2014

Go Into Winter With a Full Swing (Simulator, that is)

Have you put away your clubs for the winter?  That's a big mistake, especially if you live in New York City or the vicinity.  For one thing, you can hone your game indoors at Chelsea Piers on the Full Swing Golf Simulators--or even put one into your home as hundreds of dedicated golfers and fun seekers have done.  Forget the old, clunky simulators you may have experienced a few years ago. Today's technology is remarkably close to the real thing and, better yet, equipped with game-improvement tools that can make a huge difference in your score.

That's why so many top players like Hunter Mahan and Ian Poulter have put Full Swing Simulators into their homes.  You can, too, for a remarkably reasonable price.  More on that later.

I checked out a Full Swing Simulator with rep Matt Cook recently.  It happened to be located in the offices of a law firm in Manhattan, which demonstrated just how flexible the installation can be. It was also the first time I ever willingly spent time visiting a lawyer.  The demonstrations showed just how advanced the units are, providing instantaneous feedback on every swing with proprietary technology that puts Full Swing far ahead of the competition.

Full Swing Simulators actually use two types of viewing devices to provide accuracy and responsiveness.  One is infra-red tracking provided by two windows in the floor of the installation that track the actual flight of your ball.  Other simulator (and launch monitor) technologies merely project what's happening in flight using algorithms based on your swing speed, launch angle, and other factors.  The infra-red system also means you don't need to use specially-marked balls to get accurate readings.

The other viewing device is Ion2 Vision technology, an all-new camera-based system that focuses on club head and ball flight behavior.  It's a thin-profile unit that mounts almost flush with the simulator ceiling and uses high-speed cameras to measure your results.  Most competing camera solutions require that you hit from the same 4-6 inch spot on the mat but the Ion2's field of view is an 18-inch diameter, so Ion2 finds your ball and automatically adjusts the target line within the software.  You'll get instant feedback on back spin, side spin, spin axis, club head speed, face angle, and club path.  All Full Swing Simulators come with E6 Software, that, coupled with the vision technology, gives you the most realistic motion graphics available.

The Swing Catalyst is an option you'll love. It provides video of every swing you make along with stats that measure things like the rhythm of your swing (the ratio of time taken for your back-swing to your through-swing).  Want to know why your approach shot on Pebble Beach's eighth hole fell into the ocean instead of landing on the green? You can check out the actual swing you made to find out.

The Full Swing Simulator provides up to 86 courses to play and practice as well as scoring for numerous games and wagers for up to eight players.  Want this in-home golf course for yourself?  They start at just $45,000 for a system with a custom design and training person to make it work for you.

One of the many cool features of the Full Swing Simulator is the "boost" setting, which allows your kids to hit the ball as far as you do--or vice versa!  Sounds like a great way to get the whole family involved in golf, doesn't it?  And for those times when pasture pool isn't on the agenda, the system provides a powerful gaming computer with high definition projection that will "wow" even the hardiest gamer.  Great family Christmas present? You bet!

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 17, 2014

Golf's Best Behavior Manual

Shouts of "Baba Booey" notwithstanding, golf has always been a game remarkable for its civility. The USGA rulebook doesn't cover politeness, however, except in rather general terms. If you've ever not been sure what to do in certain circumstances, you need a new booklet called "Golf Etiquette Quick Reference. A Golfer's Guide to Correct Conduct." by Yves C. Ton-That, a rules official and best selling golf author.

This new pocket-sized guide supplements "Golf Rules Quick Reference", Ton-That's first guide that sold more than one million copies and is the best selling golf book in the U.S. It has been translated into more than twenty languages and according to Golf Digest is "the best effort yet to decipher the Rules of Golf." The new booklet covers everything golfers of all skill levels need to know, so that you can play any course in the world with confidence. It includes sections on topics like preparing for the round at home and enjoying a drink at the 19th hole as well as safety, courtesy, and fixing divots. The guide is also extensively illustrated in color and is the perfect complement to the Golf Rules Quick Reference.

"Etiquette on and around the golf course is crucial, and is just as important as the rules of play to ensure that you play the game in the proper spirit," says Ton-That, who also penned "Trouble Shots and Quick Fix Guide" in his career as an author. "When you're in the company of seasoned golfers, or invited to play a private club, saying or doing even one thing incorrectly can make the difference of not being invited back. And with a little preparation and knowledge, you can avoid most any potentially embarrassing situation."

The 48-page, spiral-bound and plastic-coated book is now available in golf shops and at www.golfrulesmadeeasy.com, for $12.95 (ISBN 978-3-909596-77-5, Artigo Publishing International, 1st edition 2014).

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hilton Head Winter Bargains

Hilton Head Golf Island, a collection of 31 of the Lowcountry’s premier golf courses, announces an assortment of warm weather winter escape stay-and-play packages at the area’s marquee resort and golf destinations.  With average temperatures in the 60s and 70s during its coldest months, Hilton Head offers a welcome respite from the freezing weather found in most of the country. The perfect destination for golf enthusiasts seeking year-round play, the winter months welcome incredible value and plentiful tee times.

Ranked top 10 in seven categories by Golf Digest including “Best Courses” and “Best Weather,” Hilton Head Golf Island has a variety of seasonal vacation packages available:

  • The Heritage Golf Collection – “Couples Winter Golf Escape” includes five nights in an ocean-view room at the newly-renovated Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and five rounds of golf at any of seven Heritage Collection courses including Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club, Shipyard Golf Club, Palmetto Hall Plantation Club and Oyster Reef Golf Club. Package also includes daily breakfast at The Westin, 10 percent off spa services at The Heavenly Spa by The Westin, complimentary range balls and a $100 card for use at the golf shop and clubhouses. Based on double occupancy, packages start at $155 per person, per night. Valid through February 2015. For package and reservation information: 843.681.1706, vcastaneda@heritagegolfgroup.com.
  • Palmetto Dunes – “Unlimited Golf Vacation Package.”  Stay four days and three nights in a resort view villa and play two days of unlimited golf at each of the resort’s championship courses, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills and George Fazio. Guests also enjoy two hours of complimentary tennis court time (daily), preferred rates on all other resort activities as well as dining and merchandise discounts. Rates start at $140 per golfer, per night and include all taxes and resort fees. Valid through Feb. 28, 2015. For package and reservation information: 877.567.6512, www.PalmettoDunes.com.
  • Old South Golf Links – “Par 5 Package.” Just over the bridge in the charming mainland town of Bluffton is the acclaimed Old South Golf Links. Package includes four nights at the Hilton Garden Inn with complimentary breakfast, and five rounds per person including one round each at Old South Golf Links; Hampton Hall Golf Club, The Country Club of Hilton Head or Bear Creek Golf Club (choice of two); Palmetto Dunes Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills or George Fazio (choice of one); and Sea Pines Resort Heron Point or Ocean Course (choice of one). Starting at $675 per person in a double occupancy standard room, price includes sales and accommodations tax. Valid through Feb. 2015. For package and reservation information: 843.837.2610, www.OldSouthGolf.com.
  • The Sea Pines Resort – “Stay-and-Play Villa Golf Package.” Experience three nights in private villa accommodations and one round each at Harbour Town Golf Links, Ocean Course and Heron Point by Pete Dye. Offer is full of extras including complimentary green fees on afternoon replays on the Ocean Course and Heron Point (cart fee not included), range balls and 10 percent discount on retail merchandise and food and beverage at the resort's pro shops and restaurants. Packages start at $177 per golfer, per night, inclusive of all taxes and fees, based on quad-occupancy. Rate valid through Feb. 28. 2015. For package and reservation information: 1.800.SEAPINES, www.SeaPinesGolf.com.

“The comfortable temperatures and lower humidity in the traditionally off-season months of December, January and February make the island a popular destination year-round,” says Cary Corbitt, President of the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association and Vice President of Sports and Operations at Sea Pines Resort. “These stay-and-play packages from the area’s finest resorts and courses are offered at an incredible value this time of year, and we encourage everyone to come enjoy the Lowcountry sunshine.”

As one of the nation’s foremost golf capitals, Hilton Head Island is the preferred vacation destination of golfers seeking a high-concentration of world-class quality courses, an unspoiled natural environment, beautiful resorts and inns, and old-fashioned Southern hospitality The legendary coastal Carolina destination has invested more than $200 million in upgrades in the past two years that are already finished, or under construction, transforming Hilton Head Island into the freshest resort town in America.

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 15, 2014

Will Big Brother Be Watching Your Pace of Play?

Like just about any problem, it's almost impossible to solve pace of play without accurate measurement.  The USGA announced this week at the Pace of Play Symposium that they're going to try out a clever monitoring system early next year that will allow real-time measurement of the time it takes players to navigate a course.

The system is based on technology installed in flagsticks that will allow a course operator to spot bottlenecks and (hopefully) correct them before they back up and entire course.  Bottlenecks have a terrible ripple effect and are considered the worst single problem in pace of play.

The device from Spectrum Technologies (who also worked with the USGA to develop TruFirm technology that measures the firmness of greens) includes a magnet in the bottom of the flag that tells when the stick is pulled from the cup and replaced and a processing and communications unit that communicates with a central data collection point and/or to hand-held devices like cell phones or tablets in the hands of rangers on the course.  Measuring the time between flagstick "transactions" lets you see anomalies that can be attacked immediately.

"At the end of the day, I always say that a golf course is like a factory that is producing rounds of golf," says the USGA's Matt Pringle. "DuPont doesn’t try to run a chemical plant without measurement and control. We shouldn’t be running golf factories without measurement and control, either. Even if just basic measurements are taken, I think the golf course operator will realize a lot of improvement."

Test units are expected by early spring and will be de-bugged in an on-course trial, possibly during a USGA event or two.  Then they'll be sent to state and local golf associations for wider testing.

Sounds like a great idea to me, although I hate to think of disturbing all those rangers during their naps.

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 14, 2014

Positive Report on USGA Pace of Play Initiatives


One of the better initiatives to improve pace of play the USGA adopted last year is "Play 9," a promotional campaign sponsored by American Express to encourage golfers to tee it up for fewer than 18 holes.  The promos with Rickie Fowler were clever and well-done (unlike the "While We're Young" fiasco) and it seems to have actually had an effect, at least according to info released yesterday at the Pace of Play Symposium.

USGA spokesman Hunki Yun reported that 24% of the total rounds played in the last year were 9-hole affairs.  That's more than I would have expected, even though I purposefully contributed to the number by playing more than a few myself.  Another part of the effort was promotion of Play 9 Day on July 23.  While exact data for that single day isn't reliable enough to quote, the GHIN system showed that golfers logged 1.5 million 9-hole rounds in the June-July period this year, an increase of 13.4% over the same period last year.  That's pretty significant.

Also encouraging were the results of a USGA survey, which found that 38% of the rounds played by golfers under age 40 were 9-hole rounds.  In the "casual" golfer category, it was 35%, and among women golfers, 35% played nine holes.  It looks like promoting 9-hole play is a good way to grow the game.

One of the less effective efforts has apparently been the "Tee It Forward" campaign.  While the USGA survey said that 88% of golfers said the idea has a positive impact on the game, only 47% have actually tried it.  That's really too bad, since anecdotally I can attest that playing from the proper tees makes the game a heck of a lot more fun.  It also substantially speeds up the pace of play, according to the USGA data.

Note how the length of the course directly corelates with the amount of time required for a round. Just eyeballing the above chart, it looks like 6,000 yards yields a round under four hours, while 6,500 pushes it closer to 4:30.  That's a lot of time spent crushing the egos of those who think they can drive the ball 280 yards.

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 13, 2014

Would You Play Faster for a Million Dollars?

USGA Pace of Play Symposium
There's more than just the golfer's sanity at stake in speeding up the game, according to two experts who spoke today at the USGA Pace of Play Symposium.  For course owners (public and private), there could literally be millions of dollars riding on how fast the typical foursome completes its round.  The analysis was presented by Stephen Johnson and Henry DeLozier of Global Golf Advisors.

The value isn't just in the additional golf revenue that can be generated if more players can get on and off the course more quickly, it's really how the value of the property is affected by a multiple of that revenue.  Underlying it all, of course, is the fact that when a course acquires a reputation for slow play, it becomes less attractive for both daily fee players and/or prospective members.  Less demand equals less revenue, not something the flat-lining golf industry needs right now.

What's the value of 1,000 more $100 rounds over the course of a season for a daily-fee operator?  $100,000, right?  Wrong!  It's actually closer to $1,000,000 because the value of the asset--the golf business of the course--is about ten times the cash flow.  The owner will make $100,000 more now, plus $1,000,000 when and if he sells.

That's also not counting, by the way, the ancillary revenue spent by golfers who spend less time on the golf course and more time in the bar and restaurant afterwards. Who wants to hang out and celebrate after standing around for five hours on the course?

Or what about a real estate developer that invests $10 million in a new course with the expectation of selling $40 in homes around it?  If the course develops a reputation for five-hour rounds, how will that affect his home/membership sales figures?  Not positively, that's for sure.

There's no question that pace of play affects both the capacity of the course to handle more players and the rates they are willing to pay.  The economic impact of faster golf makes it a no-brainer for course operators to get on the pace of play bandwagon.

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

Fitting Experience at New York Golf Center

There's not a single golf course on the island of Manhattan, but that doesn't mean golfers have to jump on a train to get expert help with equipment.  In fact, those who live outside the city might want to head in for a fitting session at New York Golf Centers (NYGC).  The company this year joined with club-fitting giant Cool Clubs to provide state-of-the-art club fitting with spectacular technology and proprietary software.

I recently went through a driver fitting with Josh Chervokas, COO of NYGC and director of their custom shop. I knew it was time, given the fact that it's been three years since my last fitting and not only has club technology advanced in that time, my body has changed (not necessarily for the better). Not to worry, Josh said as we started, "Our goal is to create a club that fits your body, not make your body perform to your club's specifications."  Made sense to me, especially when he measured the driver I've been using and pointed out that the shaft is stiff-plus and the swing weight a hefty D6.  That worked fine in my youth, but given the health problems I experienced before this season started, it wasn't surprising I've lost a lot of yardage off the tee using that sledge hammer.

Using Trackman and Cool Club's technology, Josh found that my "smash factor" (the ratio of ball speed to swing speed) was excellent and my ball spin was acceptable. Where I would get lower scores was with a higher ball flight and less dispersion off the target line.  I might not pick up much total distance, but I'd spend a heck of a lot more time in the fairway.  Needless to say, that worked for me.

New York Golf Center has more than 12,000 demo combinations of club heads and shafts to try. Josh's expert eye narrowed those choices down to a select few for me and I tried a half-dozen combinations until he found one that produced the desired result. Once the correct fitting files were created, order fulfillment will take place at Cool Clubs' Scottsdale, AZ headquarters factory.  The system is a perfect fit for both companies--and for me.

"We are excited to be working with a true partner in Cool Clubs," Josh said. "Our company philosophies really meld well in that we are both always striving to be the best. And to this end, we have each achieved great individual success. Cool Clubs CEO Mark Timms and I are always exploring ways to improve, so I'm not just excited about the capabilities we have added now but also about the future innovations we can develop together. This partnership is great for us and for the industry as a whole, and it will be the driving force in custom fitting as we look to the future of the game."

Club fitting really isn't something you should think about--it's something you should do.  Properly-fitted clubs can erase strokes more quickly from your game like almost nothing else.  It's not an expensive luxury, either. A driver fitting at NYGC is only $125, which is pretty reasonable when you consider what you'd spend on the driver in the first place. Doesn't it make sense to buy one that sends the ball where and as far as you want it to go?

New York Golf Center is an eight-time winner of Golfworld's Top 100 award and the only Golf Digest Top 100 fitting center in New York City. There are two convenient locations and a third pro shop at Chelsea Piers.

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 12, 2014

LPGA Teams With USGA To Improve Pace of Play

Competitive pace of play has been improved by science-driven solutions developed through joint partnership of the USGA and the LPGA, according to presentations today at the USGA’s second Pace of Play Symposium.

The LPGA reduced its average round time by 14 minutes during the 2014 season, using methods based on USGA analysis of data and with the support of officials and players. Aggressive control of the lead group’s pace and wider tee time intervals contributed significantly to the reduction in average time per round.

“We actively participated in the USGA’s Pace of Play Symposium last year, and took their recommendations to heart,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA's chief Tour operations officer. “We were easily able to implement solutions that delivered immediate and positive results. We’re proud of the progress and will continue to push for improvement.”

Based on test programs conducted at several tournaments throughout the 2014 season, the LPGA crafted a new pace of play policy, and communicated regularly with players and officials during its implementation. Per its policy, a time par sheet is created for each tournament, representing the time allotted for lead groups to finish each hole during a round. While the lead groups are bound by the time par, every other group in the field is responsible solely for maintaining its position on the course in relation to the group preceding it.

If a group falls out of position, that group may be warned or timed. The policy allows officials to warn or time the lead group, even if it is under its time par, if it is holding up the group behind.

“We all have a role to play in affecting pace,” said Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, LPGA player president. “The players and staff have worked in a true spirit of collaboration to learn and introduce new concepts, and it’s gratifying to see results.”

The USGA monitors pace at all of its national championships, with notable improvement seen in the U.S. Women’s Open. In the 2012 championship at Blackwolf Run, the average playing time for groups of three for the first two rounds was more than 5 hours and 40 minutes. The average time at Pinehurst No. 2 for the first two rounds of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open was nearly 30 minutes less.

Using a data-based approach, the USGA has been working with numerous organizations including the LPGA to improve playing times of competitive and recreational rounds around the country.

“At last year’s Pace of Play Symposium, we discussed the importance of starting-time intervals as well as setting aggressive requirements for the pace of the lead group,” said USGA Technical Director Matt Pringle, Ph.D. “We were happy that the LPGA focused on these areas to improve flow during their tournaments, and set a policy that can serve as a model for the industry.”

Pringle and Daly-Donofrio presented the results of the LPGA’s pace improvements during the USGA’s second Pace of Play Symposium today. The gathering draws industry leaders from both competitive and recreational circles to encourage data-driven solutions and best practices to improve the time it takes to play a round of golf.

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

Nicklaus Golf Balls Introduces Subscription Service

Ever jumped out of your car at the golf course and realized you're ball-less?  Your only option is to pay pro shop (read: "pro-foundly expensive") prices because you forgot to hit the discount golf center before your round.  Now there's a solution: Nicklaus Golf Balls has launched an industry-first subscription service that provides registered online customers a quantity discount on one dozen golf balls per month, while providing an applicable donation to children’s charities.

Showcasing a special rate of $5 off standard pricing, this new service offered on www.nicklaus.com includes free shipping and handling. It’s a perfect way for players to effortlessly  make sure their personal stock of premium Nicklaus Golf Balls never runs low or out. This subscription model also continues the commitment of the Nicklaus Companies to make a minimum donation of $1 each to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation (NCHCF) for every dozen sold through nicklaus.com. When FedEx delivery services are used, another $1 is donated to St. Jude.

During the online checkout process, shoppers are offered the opportunity to make their own voluntary charitable contribution.  Quite notably, to date nearly 80 percent have chosen this option.

“We wanted to make it easy for our devoted customers to receive product year-round, without having to visit the website or pro shop every time they needed golf balls,” said Howard Milstein, Co-Chairman of the Nicklaus Companies. “By simplifying the process, we’ve introduced yet another innovation alongside our unique commitment to offering the highest quality golf balls at unmatched prices and helping to support pediatric charities.”

Launched last fall, Nicklaus Golf Balls are engineered for players with a variety of swing speeds. They are offered in three models—Nicklaus Black, Blue and White—so golfers choose their ball according to the color of the tee markers from which they hit.

Based on the premise that swing speeds can be accurately estimated by knowing the tees golfers regularly use, each model was designed to positively impact players who swing within specific ranges. The color-coding makes choosing the correct ball easy, simplifying the ball-selection process while reducing both scores and pace of play.

“All you need to know is the tee you hit from,” Milstein added.

Nicklaus worked closely with experts in materials, technology, engineering, design and manufacturing to develop these made-in-the-USA products. Nicklaus Golf Balls are exclusively sold at nicklaus.com and pro shops at the more than 200 domestic Nicklaus Design courses. This saves players money by reducing costs built into products sold through traditional retail channels. As a result, the premium line is attractively priced at $28 to $32 per dozen, and generates greater charity donations.

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 10, 2014

Sun Mountain Tour Series Rainwear for 2015

It's the time of year, at least in my neck of the woods, when rain and ugly weather plays an increasingly prevalent role in my game.  Which makes it the perfect time for Sun Mountain to introduce its new line of rain gear for 2015.

The company says the Sun Mountain Tour Series golf rain wear is its best yet, offering waterproof, breath-ability, stretch, durability, light weight and quiet in one rain suit. The Tour Series collection is available now as a full-zip jacket ($199), long-sleeve pullover ($179) and pants ($199). For your most convenient Sun Mountain retailer, check out www.sunmountain.com.

Incorporating three-layer technology, the Tour Series has a waterproof, breathable membrane bonded to a four-way stretch shell and a soft, protective inner layer. The result is durable, lightweight, quiet, breathable rain gear that is the perfect protective outer layer.

Tour Series is fully seam-sealed, guaranteed waterproof and offers the convenience of a two-way front zipper and adjustable laser-cut cuffs. Wear it alone for protection from wind and rain and pair it up with a Sun Mountain thermal pullover or vest for those brisk rounds.

The Tour Series full-zip jacket is available in black, navy and titanium/steel/citron. The long-sleeve pullover is offered in gray, black, or royal, and the pants in black.

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 3, 2014

Women On Course Grows Apace

Want to grow the game?  Look to Women on Course for some ways to do it.  Women on Course (WOC) has grown participation by 400 percent in 12 months since the nation’s premier golf-lifestyle networking organization was acquired by Billy Casper Golf (BCG).

Roughly 20,000 women enjoy golf, lunch, happy hour and wine-spa activities in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Hartford, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Scottsdale, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, DC and other major markets.  “Play Days,” “Signature” and “Destination” gatherings highlight the programming at more than 1,000 events.

Corporate America is playing a large role in WOC expansion.  Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, Golfsmith, Accenture and others are active nationally and in regions strategic to their businesses, leveraging WOC through corporate memberships, employee development programs and event sponsorships.

“Women on Course provides access for golfers of all skill levels to connect in fun and un-intimidating environments,” says Donna Hoffman, President of WOC, which she founded in 2005.  “Thousands of smiles and new faces reflect the surge in members.”

WOC annual membership has never been more affordable.  In addition to event privileges, “Individual” members ($129) receive a pair of Nike Golf shoes or a $50 gift card for Sport Haley, GG Blue, LIJA or Just4Golf merchandise.  “On Course” members receive Individual member benefits plus a set of Wilson clubs (Ultra model, $299; Profile model, $359) and golf bag for up to a $600 value.

Members enjoy free gifts; special access to private clubs; discounts on greens fees, apparel, equipment, wine and other products; golf and educational resources; contests; and forums.  Fashion, fitness, travel and luxury components surrounding the world of golf are incorporated into the WOC experience.

“Billy Casper Golf is committed to growing female participation,” says Peter Hill, Chairman and CEO of BCG.  “Women on Course has the perfect recipe to introduce the golf lifestyle and its many wellness and career benefits.”

With women comprising one-third (33.2%) of all new golfers, WOC attracts and retains golfers by shifting focus away from score and competition.  Members and guests are encouraged to learn and play golf at their own pace through:

A “Play Your Own Way” choice allows beginners to add their own rules to relieve stress and keep up with more experienced golfers

A “Score 5 to Survive” format – tee shot, fairway approach, chip, two putts – promotes using different clubs without slow play

WOC membership helps women golfers when it comes to

Enhancing golf skills and etiquette for new business connections and career advancement

Establishing lifelong friendships with like-minded women

Making golf more accessible through discounted apparel and merchandise

Helping beginning golfers with fundamentals and advanced players refine their games

Prompting families to spend time together on and off the course

Learning from dynamic guest speakers at events

Mixing and mingling with women from all age groups with diverse and interesting backgrounds

Becoming a corporate sponsor for client prospecting and entertaining, and brand awareness

WOC is owned by Billy Casper Golf, founded more than 20 years ago in cooperation with golf legend Billy Casper.  The company is the largest owner-operator of golf courses, country clubs and resorts in the U.S. with more than 150 properties in 28 states.  Headquartered in Vienna, Virginia with regional offices across America, BCG directs all aspects of course and property maintenance, staffing and training, clubhouse operations, food-and-beverage, merchandising, golf instruction, marketing and public relations, special events and financial management.

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 1, 2014

Pound Ridge Offers Fall Bargains

Pound Ridge Golf Club has instituted off-season rates of $150 before 1 p.m. and $100 after, effective November 3. Having just played the course, I can attest that it's in great shape and fall foliage made it even more scenic than usual.

Available seven days a week, the popular late fall, early winter rates include golf or pull cart, yardage book and use of the club’s practice facilities. More information on cancellation policies and exclusion dates is available at www.poundridgegolf.com.

“The golf course is in great shape this time of year, and the off-season rates are perfect for golfers to sample Pound Ridge for the first time, or to enjoy a value-packed return visit,” says Todd Leavenworth, General Manager.

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 – matching the golfer's skill level to the difficulty of the challenge – in determining placement of the five other sets of tees makes the golf course appealing for every type of player.  I moved up to the middle tees this year and still found it a challenging test.

Pound Ridge is unlike just about every classic layout in the area. Dye’s signature design elements --dramatic mounding, rhythmic routing and subtle deception -- are displayed throughout the par-72, 7,165-yard layout, creating a compelling and fair test of golf.

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