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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nicklaus Joins SNAG To Grow Golf

Jack Nicklaus
Photo courtesy of PGA Tour
In an effort to bring golf into the mainstream of youth sports, golf legend Jack Nicklaus has embarked on an initiative to grow the game with the assistance of SNAG® Golf (Starting New at Golf) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).  The new Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, powered by SNAG, will be introduced at select local park and recreation facilities in 2013, and for the first time golf will be made available to youngsters as a team sport.  The innovative Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, combined with SNAG’s well-established, first-touch development program, will provide a golf learning experience for children ages 5 through 12, in a safe, affordable and accessible environment.

Nicklaus has been an important advocate for growing the game and he envisions that with SNAG’s programming and modified equipment, and the active participation of local park and recreation agencies through the National Recreation and Park Association, golf at last will have a competitive footing with such team sports as soccer, basketball and football.

“There are so many sports—team sports—played in the park system today,” Nicklaus said. “Today, kids start playing athletics when they are as young as 4 or 5 years old, and by the time they are just 7, 8 or 9 years old, many of them have picked the two or three sports that they might want to play in the different seasons.  If golf is not part of the sports introduced and available to them at their local park and recreation facilities, they will play other sports and not golf.  So we need to get golf in their local parks and have them play our sport, and I think the team concept is the way to do it.

“Children seem to embrace the team concept of looking to and relying on other children, so it is not all on their shoulders. A lot of kids shy away from golf because of that.  When I picked up the game at age 10, one of the beauties of the sport was that I could do it by myself.  I didn’t need someone to throw a ball to me or catch a ball or defend me.  I could be as good as the time and effort that I wanted to put into it.  But at the very young age many children are introduced to sports, many don’t want so much placed on their shoulders.  The idea is to bring kids into the game, keep them into the game, have them learn, let them have fun, have fun with their friends, and then they can advance to the next level where they get on a golf course and develop.”

Some 300 Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues are planned for spring 2013 and an estimated 400 are projected to launch in 2014.

Terry Anton, founder and CEO of SNAG Golf, is enthusiastic about the leadership position of Jack Nicklaus in the establishment of the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues.

“Jack Nicklaus’ vision to bring golf to the same venues where other organized sports thrive will make it easier to develop our future golfers,” Anton said. “These leagues will introduce millions of new players to the sport and will help nurture children developing their motor skills and do it in a fun way.  SNAG is honored to have been selected to participate with history’s greatest golfer and the NRPA in the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues.  Our task is to make his vision a reality by implementing SNAG’s programming in the parks and directing this feeder system into all on-course golf programs.  This is an important stepping stone for the industry to capture interest in golf early so that youngsters will transition with confidence to play with actual golf equipment on a traditional course.  The more fun we make golf for children, the more chance they have to play the game for a lifetime.”

Photo courtesy of SNAG
The use of parent-coaches and turning soccer and other playing fields into venues for this golf competition will be pivotal to the implementation of the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, through the auspices of the National Recreation and Park Association.

“Local parks and recreation are the go-to places where children can learn to play sports and develop a connection to healthy activities,” says Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association.  “We are so proud to be bringing the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues and SNAG to park and recreation agencies across the country, because not only is it a great program but it means more children will have the chance to participate in the sport of golf in a fun and unique way and develop a connection to a healthy activity that will last them a lifetime.”

The NRPA will administer grants to park and recreation facilities across the U.S. to underwrite the costs associated with providing Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues equipment, coaching and programming.  A 501©3 entity, G.O.L.F. (the Global Outreach for Learning Foundation), has been established to raise the necessary funds.  G.O.L.F.’s mission is to help people develop golf skills and have fun through developmentally appropriate programs.  The goal is to ensure retention and provide a sustainable model for transition to other programs at golf facilities, in order to increase participation for current and future generations. (For information on G.O.L.F. visit www.snaggolf.com/jnll.html.)

The Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues will be separated by age groups:  5- and 6-year-olds; 7-8;
9-10; and 11-12.  Each league will have a set number of children per team and incorporate a specialized, age-appropriate format and learning curriculum.

The Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues ultimately will be a global philanthropic endeavor to bring the sport to countries that are embracing the game as part of the Olympic movement.  For further information about the Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, powered by SNAG, call (866) 946-5092 or e-mail jnll@snaggolf.com.  For information about the grant program for park and recreation agencies visit www.nrpa.org/snag.

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ionize Your Swing With Energy Athletic Golf Shirts

Energy Athletic Golf Shirt
Photo courtesy of Energy Athletic
You've probably seen (and maybe even wear) one of those energizer wrist bands that promise to help you hit the ball farther, walk the course faster, and otherwise generally enjoy the brighter side of life. Now you can enjoy the same effects in a golf shirt by Energy Athletic. The secret is in the shirt's fabric, which has been treated to embed negative ions in the structure of the fabric. You can't see it, but it's there.

But don't take my word for it; none other than Paul Azinger said it enhanced his performance when he endorsed the brand. While I can't attest to the science behind the energizing effect, I can say that the shirts I tried were super comfortable, stretched and gave in all the right places during the golf swing, and looked darn good, too. In addition to the IonX treatement, the company says the fabric is wrinkle resistant and has odor-preventing, anti-microbial properties as well as moisture-wicking ability.

I wore the Energy Athletic Short during a couple of rounds and I must confess I didn't see any appreciable difference in my scores although I suspect that had more to do with several unfortunate three-putts than with my clothing. Did I hit the ball further? I didn't take any before-and-after laser readings, but it seemed to me I was getting a couple of extra yards out of my driver. I also seemed to swing more freely. Was it the shirt? Your guess is as good as mine, but it sure felt good.

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Big Little Book About Golf's Rules And Rewards

Golf: A Game For Life
Gene Westmoreland writes about more than just the rules of golf in A Game For Life, his collection of essays about a subject he knows better than just about anybody.  The book, proceeds of which will be donated to the MGA Foundation, gives us not only insights in the sometimes bewildering rules of the game but also into what makes it one of the best ways to enhance your life.

That may sound like heady stuff, but Westmoreland is anything but a stuffy philosopher. His writing is easy, his approach to the subject is thorough without being pedantic, and his outlook on the game is not so much reverntial as appreciative. He makes a great case for playing by the rules but doesn't hesitate to loosen them up a bit to make the game more fun for duffers just out to enjoy a walk in the sunshine. I've played a round or two with the man, and can attest that his attitude toward the game made every one of them a pleasure.

That attitude carries over into Westmoreland's explanation of the rules of golf, most of which are not only spelled out in clear English but illustrated with incidents many of us have seen either in person or while watching the pros on TV. He does this particularly well in situations that can be rather confusing, like encountering loose obstacles in a hazard. Can you move them? No. Are you penalized if you move, say, a twig in a bunker during your swing? Again, the answer is no. Westmoreland points out, though, that your "swing" doesn't include your backswing! So, if you touch that twig during your takeaway, you've added two strokes to your score. He illustrates the concept by recalling the penalty Brian Davis called on himself during a playoff with Jim Furyk at Harbour Town:
"The TV announcers correctly quoted Rule 13-4, but misunderstood the definition of a stroke, for while it is okay to touch a loose impediment during the stroke, Brian touched it on his backswing."
Nearly every rule examined in A Game For Life has a real-life example that makes it easier to understand and Westmoreland's career in the game has given him thousands of such examples from which to choose. He has been an active member of USGA Championship Committees, serving as co-chairman of the 2004 U.S. Amateur and the 2006 U.S. Open. His service as the Metropolitan Golf Association's Tournament Director for many years (among other accomplishments) led the MGA to christen the trophy for its premiere event, the Met Open, the Westmoreland Cup. In A Game For Life, Gene Westmoreland speaks with both common sense and authority.

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

GolfLogix Tops The GPS App Charts

Like many other things in golf (and life), I came to the GPS party rather late. In fact, I was unabashedly a reverse snob when it came to judging yardages by anything other than my own "keen eye" and a sprinkler head or two until I won a Golf Buddy in an event a couple of years ago. Even then, it somehow seemed unsporting to check it, especially on a course I knew. Shot by shot, though, I came to rely on the technology more and more even when I was standing next to a yardage marker. I must admit, having the distance to the front and back of the green was reassuring--as was knowing exactly how far my ball had carried when it landed in that big bunker. Then I left it in a cart after a round and that was that. I thought about getting another one, but never quite got around to it.

Until I got a smartphone. I was real late to that party, too. But things changed and I needed one, so I traded up--now I can text while driving just like the rest of the world. Just kidding! What the smartphone did enable me to do, though, was go back to the GPS party.

My app of choice? GolfLogix. I spent a couple of minutes downloading and setting it up, then put it into play.  I used it the first time on a course I know very well so I could check the quality of information on the screen and was very impressed. The course loaded quickly, the maps were helpful, and the accuracy was excellent. I particularly like the target feature, which lets you choose an intermediate point (like the left edge of a fairway bunker) and get the distance to reach it as well as the distance to the green from there. You can do the same for the green. Not sure whether to bomb a driver or lay up with a three wood? Another handy feature allows you to see the landing zones of your clubs right on the map for each hole.

You can also add notes to the holes to create your own caddie book for subsequent rounds--and if you're a real caddie, you can mark the daily pin positions on each hole before the round, then earn an extra large tip by demonstrating pinpoint course knowledge.

There are a whole raft of other features, too, like the ability to track your game shot-by-shot and club-by-club for post-round analysis of your driving distance and accuracy, ball striking (GIR's from the fairway), scrambling, putts, etc. Just in case you don't have enough information, you can also track the duration of the round and even the calories you burn.

Battery life and the hit on your data plan aren't really problems. By using the screen lock feature on my phone after every use, I drained only about a third of the battery in four and a half hours (I turned it on a few minutes before we teed off and played with it awhile afterward--it really was only a four-hour round). I also checked data usage, which was about one MB for the round.

I first tried the free version of the app, but the annual $19.99 Champion membership fee became quite reasonable when I realized I had to click through an ad every time I changed holes. Besides, many of the best features like the club distance grid and touchscreen distance markers, are only available on the paid membership.  As of this writing, you can actually make ten bucks by taking advantage of a Golfsmith Pro Shop offer that awards GolfLogix Champion members $20 off plus free ground shipping (worth $9.99) on their first order over $75. You can also upgrade to a Golf Digest Live suite of features for an additional $19.99.

GolfLogix is available for Apple and Android phones. There are some 30,000 courses mapped for use
and you can save the ones you play frequently (or just want to remember).

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Software Helps Golfers Go Pin Hunting

Your home club may not be quite as famous as Merion, host for the 2013 U.S. Open, but you can enjoy at least one of the advantages members of that famous course have. It's the innovative ezLocator system that helps the superintendent at Merion and dozens of other top facilities manage pin locations.

Merion's director of grounds Matt Shaffer says, "By looking at our pin sheets and seeing what kind of play we're getting, we can set things up accordingly and avoid making certain mistakes.  And it allows us to water better.  I think it's definitely going to give Merion an opportunity to put itself in the best possible position, and the technology will give the USGA a lot more flexibility.  I think the players may actually see the difference."

ezLocator pin sheets
ezLocator Pin Sheets
A high-tech solution to an age-old problem, ezLocator eliminates the shortcomings of restrictive systems such as dividing the green into zones or front, middle and back.  After a 3D mapping system locates all the possible placements on each green, the information is entered in a program and with a click of a button the superintendent can get the job done, allowing the members of the club to enjoy tournament quality pin sheets each time they play.

The product was developed by Jon Schultz, CEO of ezLocator, who is also a member of the Dallas Athletic Club. After chats with other members of his weekend golf group in the 19th hole, he saw a need that created an opportunity.  "It seemed they always played the same pin positions and that all the golfers wanted a tournament like experience every time they teed off," Schultz says.  From his experience as a top amateur player, a caddie, a tournament chairman, he began developing a system that was easy to use by the superintendent and would enhance the member’s experience.  A test program was conducted at the Dallas Athletic Club that evolved into the software application that is on the market today.

Kevin Nettles, superintendent at the Dallas Athletic Club, says, "There’s nothing like it on the market. Players absolutely love the system and it has allowed me to manage the greens from a stress point.  I can isolate certain areas of the greens when necessary and save certain locations for special events."  In addition to Merion and the Dallas AC, ezLocator is now being used by many of the top clubs and courses across the U.S. and Canada including Westchester Country Club.

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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How Much Dye Golf Can You Play?

Casa de Campo is dishing up the ultimate golfer’s “all you can eat buffet,” including one of the top golf courses in the world, in a “Golf Fantasy Trip” package highlighted by limitless golf.  Stay at the resort for four nights and get everything for one price. That includes as much golf as a person can play on 63 holes designed by legendary architect Pete Dye, highlighted by the infamous Teeth of the Dog.

Casa de Campo. Photo courtesy of the resort.
Along with “The Dog”—the number-one course in the Caribbean according to Golf Digest — are three breathtaking nines at Dye Fore, spread along cliffs high above the Chavon River, and The Links, featuring spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. Golfers partaking in the “Fantasy” play them all, as often as they would like, thanks to unlimited greens fees.

Other elements of this Golf Fantasy include:
  • Four nights’ accommodations in a newly renovated elite-class room at the resort
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily
  • Unlimited drinks in all resort bars and restaurants, including Oasis bars and beverage carts on the golf courses
  • A one-hour lesson with Eric Lillibridge, director of the on-site Jim McLean Golf School
  • One round with a Casa de Campo PGA Professional
  • Two sports massages at the Casa de Campo Spa
  • Welcome champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Complimentary use of a golf cart on property throughout the stay
  • Pete Dye-autographed copy of the beautiful coffee-table book, “Pete Dye Golf Courses”
  • VIP treatment through arrivals at La Romana airport, plus airport transfers, taxes, and service charges
Cost for the “Golf Fantasy,” available from Jan. 3 through March 14, 2013 , is $2,799 per golfer, based on double occupancy, or $3,695 single occupancy. Accompanying non-golfers are $2,110. For more information, call the golf reservations office at (809) 523-8215 or visit www.casadecampo.com.do.

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

Monday, December 3, 2012

Excited About Golf Socks

Considering the amount of golf gear I sample, I never thought I'd get all hopped up about a pair of socks, but then Kentwool came my way. Simply fabulous!

They fit snug without binding, hold their shape, give you extra support where it helps, and extra padding where you need it. They also have spandex panels that create an exact fit to your foot. I've taken to wearing them off the course, too, because they reduce fatigue and are comfortable as heck. There are several different styles, but all are made primarily from Merino wool, an ultra-fine fiber that's soft and has a luxurious feel. The sock insulates in the winter and cools in the summer, holds up to 30% of its weight in moisture while wicking it away from your skin, and the company claims the fabric does not bond with bacteria so it's odor resistant.

Kentwool Socks
photo courtesy of Kentwool
Kentwool makes traditional high- and low-profile styles  but their latest product is the 19th Hole Collection, which runs from solid to argyle to some pretty wild stripes. The company's slogan says they are the makers of the "world's best golf sock" and I agree.

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 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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Last Chance For Free Grand Slam Today

Today is the last day to read Grand Slam for free! Don't miss this Halloween opportunity to download the Kindle edition of this tongue-in-cheek tale of a werewolf with moonstruck swing thoughts who pursues the biggest prize in golf, the Grand Slam.

Bobby Jones did it, Tiger Woods almost did it, but if the moon were full during the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship, could a werewolf win the elusive Grand Slam of golf? Find out in this tale from Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf.

Kindle owners can download Grand Slam with a single click. You can also read it on your iPad or other device using the Kindle app from Amazon. But if want to read it for free, you have to act today!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Michael Breed Golf Academy Opens At Manhattan Woods

You've seen him on the Golf Channel's Golf Fix, heard his expert color commentary about the Ryder Cup and PGA Championship, and soon you will be able to experience Michael Breed's intensely energetic teaching style up close and personal.  Next year, he will launch the Michael Breed Golf Academy at Manhattan Woods in West Nyack, NY. Best news of all: it's not just for the high-end club's members. You're invited too!

Michael Breed
Michael Breed on the lesson tee at Manhattan Woods
"I've always wanted to expose more and more people to the great game of golf," Breed says. "That's what led me to the Golf Fix and now it's what I'm doing with the academy."

Breed is leaving as head pro of Sunningdale Country Club in Scarsdale, NY, a position he's held for twelve years, so he can devote full time to extending his reach as an instructor.  “I couldn’t have done any of this without Sunningdale," he says. "Without them, I couldn't have done the Golf Fix and without Golf Fix, I couldn't do this. But there was a limit to what I could do at Sunningdale.”

There are apparently no limits to the arrangement with Manhattan Woods. "The idea is to create the best golf learning experience you can have at a club," Breed says. "I’m a big dreamer and this is a big dream."

Manhattan Woods President John Koh adds, “Our club is a hidden jewel. Our goal is to become THE club in this area and among the top 50 in the nation. Merging Michael Breed’s name with ours will help do that.”

Breed says he'll be offering every learning tool he can find, not to mention his own personal touch to every lessson.  "Our goal is to bring you to the highest level golf instruction that exists," he says. "Working with Titleist and other brands, we’ll have an entire fitting system for every club including putting, wedges, and full swing. We’ll have indoor bays with the latest and greatest technology. I’m also working with About Golf so we’ll have launch monitors, simulators, weight boards, and all of that, too."

The club is also going to make some changes to the existing short game area so it will have a wider variety of shots to practice. The range will also be updated to include places where you can hit fairway bunkers shots, practice uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies. The work will start this winter with a project to stretch the back range teeing area by 50% and to build a structure to house the bells and whistles. Other features will be added as time and demand permits.

Breed says he expects to offer not only individual lessons to Manhattan Woods members, guests, and the public, but to offer two-day golf schools for small groups at some point in the near future. He will be at the academy three days a week at the beginning and will add instructors who meet his standards in the near future. "The idea is to build it up so there will be instructors at the academy all the time."

Knowing Breed, you can also expect a few out-of-the-box events. "We’re hoping to shoot some Golf Fix shows from here," he adds. "I may do things like hang out on the seventh tee and play the hole with members and guests as they play through. I’ll also be available for outings at Manhattan Woods."

His ambition is to put Manhattan Woods on the map--the really big map. "We expect to draw people from as far away at Bejing," Breed says, pointing out that he does clinics in China 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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween, Werewolves, and Golf

You think golf is scary? Wait until you read Grand Slam, a tongue-in-cheek golf tale that will put a shiver in your swing. And for a few days--just in time for Halloween--Grand Slam is FREE for Kindle owners at Amazon.com!

The full moon is the key when an underachieving European Tour pro suddenly stalks the fairways at Augusta National, Shinnecock, Carnoustie, and Winged Foot with a chance to set the ultimate record in golf, winning the Grand Slam, while leaving behind a trail of bloody victims and sparking the ire of a golf-obsessed newspaper reporter who vows to stop him. It's a golf story weird enough to leave you howling at the moon.

Grand Slam is free through Halloween, so don't miss out on this chance to read one of the 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible and morally reprehensible golf in Weird Golf.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New GoBe Golf Shoes Solve Spikeless Slips

So-called "spikeless" shoes are growing in popularity, but more than a few golfers are still a bit leary of their ability to provide a stable swing platform, especially on wet or damp turf--sometimes quite justifiably. Of course, a smooth, balanced swing can solve the problem of slippage, but who has one of those?

GoBe Golf Shoes
GoBe 5-point tread sole design
Another solution is the 5-Point Star Traction sole on the new GoBe Golf Shoes released this year by the new Austin, Minnesota company of the same name. Check out most other "spikeless" shoes and you'll find the sole covered with round nubs to give you some grip. They work fine, but nowhere nearly as well as the sharp points on the star-shaped lugs on the GoBe sole. I tried out a pair this week the day after a drenching rain and didn't have a bit of trouble on the wet grass.  Even with my normal lurching, lunging swing, the five-point star traction pattern gave me a good foundation. The sole also has non-slip vertical and horizontal traction stripes to complement the star treads and provide a little more stability. The company says that the sole is made of single density, Grade A TPU (whatever that is), which is more durable than rubber but just as flexible.

The GoBe Dry shoe liner has an interior moisture management system with drainage channels, aeration holes at flex points, and notches above the toe area to drain perspiration away from the foot. the moisture wicking fiber lining also aerates and has anti-microbial and anti-odor properties. I guess that means your swing may stink, but your feet won't. Speaking of moisture, the GoBe upper is designed to be roughly 20 times more water resistant than treated leathers. It promises to breathe, keep its color and shape, and resist stains.
GoBe Golf Shoes
GoBe Rebel
One point to keep in mind when it comes to fitting, the GoBe shoe is built on a European last, which has a deep heel cup and a wide toe area. I found my usual size slightly looser than I like, so consider ordering a half-size smaller if your foot is narrow or you like a more snug fit.

GoBe shoes come in four styles for men and women and the suggested retail price ranges from $139 to $159. I wore the "Prodigy" model and the styling so impressed my caddie he made a note to check them out himself.

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beat A Path To Ballybunion

Ballybunion Old Course
The 18th on the Old Course at Ballybunion. Photo courtesy of the club.
There are many old golf courses and more than a few great ones in Ireland, but you can count on one hand the number that are both old and great. The first or second finger on that hand signifies Ballybunion's Old Course, where 120 years of great golf have been played. How great? Tom Watson, winner of five British Opens, called it the best links course in the world.

When you walk out of the modern clubhouse to meet your caddie on the first tee, you're following in the footsteps of nearly every great golfer who ever played on either side of the pond, as well as thousands of devoted duffers from all over the world. The latter group includes countless notables like former President Bill Clinton. His enthusiasm for Ballybunion, not to mention his role in settling the religious strife in Ireland, earned him a statue at the main crossroads in town as well as life membership in the club. Caddies still talk about the drive he supposedly sliced into the cemetery bordering the first hole.

Don't laugh too hard at the man's errant drive, however, until you've successfully hit one to a fairway you can barely see in a 30-mph left-to-right crosswind. That's what you can easily encounter at Ballybunion where, like any great links course, the wind shapes your entire round, pushing the ball wherever it wants in the air and frequently even on the ground. The wind can easily blow a standing ball uphill and caddies develop a particular skill in teeing the ball at a slant to stand up to it.

Wind isn't the only element that can wreck your score at Ballybunion. Missing the fairway can bring on scorecard disaster whether it comes about from an unfortunate gust or shear duffer-ness. Countless pot bunkers await in all the most inconvenient places. Even worse is the marram grass, which is like fescue only meaner since it falls over in the damp air and smothers the unfortunate ProV you just took out of the sleeve and launched into the wind.

Ballybunion's Old Course was thought to be first laid out by a local professional, James McKenna, in 1892. It's been redone, extended, revised, and otherwise tinkered with through the years with the latest design changes overseen by Tom Watson in 1995. Today it plays par 71 at 6,802 yards.

Caddies say the real course begins on the sixth tee since the first five holes are little more than warm ups for the fun the come. The sixth hole is also where the Atlantic comes first into full view. Most golfers would hesitate to dismiss the opening holes as trivial, however. After all, they include a 224-yard par 3 and back-to-back par fives, the second of which, at 560 yards uphill, plays plenty tough.

The eleventh hole, a 473-yard par four, is the signature hole on the Old Course. It plays full along the ocean for both your drive and approach and the elevated green sits nestled against a marram-covered hillside with only a narrow lay-up option 50 yards in front.

While the front side has back-to-back par fives, the second nine has back-to-back par threes. The fourteenth hole is a 133 yard uphill tester with trouble on every side. It's immediately followed by the fifteenth, a 216-yard monster with a 200-yard carry.

Ballybunion Cashen Course
16th Hole at Ballybunion's Cashen Course. Photo courtesy of the club.
Ballybunion also boasts a second course, the Cashen, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., that opened in 1984. Depending on your frame of mind, you'll either find the Cashen Course a tremendous challenge or simply impossible. It features tight blind fairways, forced carries off the tee and to the green (sometimes on the same hole), and approaches with no safety zones for cautious players. The Cashen Course is par 72 and only 6,306 yards, but don't be fooled into thinking it an easy walk along the seashore.

The place to stay in Ballybunion is Kilcooly's Country House, a congenial small hotel with character, a fine dining room, and an intimate, well-stocked bar. The place is filled with antiques and tasteful bric-a-brac, but unlike so many old-world hotels, the rooms are spacious and uncluttered. It's worth requesting that your golf packager include Kilcooly's in your itinerary.

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pelz Plays Games

Dave Pelz Putting Games
The day before I read Dave Pelz's Putting Games, I played in a scramble where all four members of my team--none with a handicap over ten--missed the same basically straight five-foot birdie putt. As you might imagine, I opened Pelz's book with more than average interest. I wasn't disappointed.

Putting Games is all about developing the skills to make more putts. The first section is diagnostic, the second covers stroke mechanics like aim and face angle, while the third is about developing touch and feel. Pelz painstakingly describes seven games you should play to measure your performance so you can map a route to improvement. They are all played with twelve balls and address nearly every putting circumstance from the dreaded three-footer to sixty-foot lags.

As you would expect given Pelz's background as a NASA scientist and perhaps the most data-driven golf instructor in the business, the "games" rely heavily on measurement and data analysis. they also make extensive us of some of the many training aids Pelz sells. This approach will clearly appeal to analytic golfers, but the games will also help more "feel" players improve their putting performance as well.

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crystal Springs Makes Golf A Family Game

There are those who talk about growing the game of golf, then there are those who do something about it. Put Art Walton, VP of Golf Operations at New Jersey's Crystal Springs Resort, at the head of the second group. He's led the seven-course facility in a major effort to make golf a family affair, the single best way to introduce new players into the game and increase the fun factor so they stay with it.

Family Golf at Crystal Springs
The Ultimate Buddy Trip at Crystal Springs. Photo courtesy of the resort.
It all began when they addedd the Minerals Hotel with its par-three nine-hole course to the portfolio a few years ago. The course was specified as a "Family Golf Club" and several features were added to make it more than a slogan. They cut oversize cups into the greens, provided four-seater golf carts, and put peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the snack cart. Similar steps were taken when the full-length nine-hole Cascades Course was opened a couple of years later. When Cascades was built, a special set of tees was built far forward on each hole and second, larger cups are cut into each green. Cascades, a Roger Rulewich design, can challenge golfers at all levels.

“Kids have done a lot to transform our two nine hole facilities,” Walton says. “It makes it more fun, not to mention easier, and certainly different.” Minerals has a full calendar of parent-junior events throughout the year and both courses offer family-friendly pricing, kids rental clubs, and rookie tee times.  “That took off," Walton says, "and each year our percentage of family golf has increased. It feels good and it’s been good from a financial standpoint, too. We’re growing the player segment.”

The resort isn't resting on its laurels. The Minerals course, a Robert Trent Jones design, is getting renovations to make it even more family-friendly. "The second hole has an elevated green with two bunkers in the front guarding the approach," Walton explains. "We took out one bunker and created a play-up area so you can hit it short and play on up. The par four fifth hole is a dog-leg right with a fairway bunker at the turn. We took out that bunker and created a run-up area for the green."

The single most popular innovation? "The four seater family carts are the best," says Walton. "Everyone in the family can ride together and you don’t have to worry about different sets of clubs."

The results have been rewarding, according to Walton, who points out, "The one limiting factor on family golf is the school year, of course, so you have a compressed season.” They still expect to log 13,000 rounds annually for family play on Minerals and a few less on Cascades.

He sums up the Crystal Springs philosophy perfectly: “You have to make it fun. People play for a lot of different reasons. Some are competitive, some aren’t. Some play for business, others to meet people. It makes you feel good when you try something like family golf and it works.”

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