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Thursday, September 26, 2013

PGA of America Opens Golf Central Office

Here comes the PGA of America. 

The organization is returning to its roots in Westchester by opening a satellite office in Elmsford this fall. The office will be at "Golf Central" on Knollwood Road, which houses the headquarters of both the Metropolitan PGA Section and the Metropolitan Golf Association as well as the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association, the Westchester Golf Association, the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association, and the Hudson Valley Golf Course Superintendents Association (did I miss anybody?).

Kevin Ring, The PGA of America’s chief marketing officer, will relocate to the area to head the office, which will be helpful as the organization gets ready for its Centennial Celebration in 2016 and 98th PGA Championship to be held that year at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.  The office will also be used to build deeper PR, marketing, and communications relationships in the NY media market.

Robert White, a club pro and entrepreneur at Wykagyl CountryClub in New Rochelle, became the PGA’s first president at a meeting of leading pros and amateurs called by Rodman Wanamaker, son of the department store founder, to organize the group at the Hotel Martinique, now the Radisson Martinique, in Manhattan. Wanamaker donated the namesake trophy awarded to the winner of the PGA Championship each year. The inaugural PGA Championship was played in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville.
“We are very excited about establishing a foothold in the New York metropolitan area, near the birthplace of The PGA of America,” said PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua. “New York holds a key to our future and a special link to our storied past. As we drive forward towards our centennial in 2016, the region will play a major role in telling the story of the first 100 years of The PGA and what the next 100 have in store for our association.”

Welcome home!

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Salute To West Point

West Point Golf Course
West Point Golf Course   photo courtesy of the club
As you might expect, it takes discipline to score on the West Point Golf Course, the tough, demanding daily fee course at the U.S. Military Academy. The track is short on the score card but long when it comes to getting the ball on the green, thanks largely to some serious elevation changes and artful use of water and other natural features of the Hudson Valley landscape.  Designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr., also deserves a salute for his slick, roly-poly greens.

West Point measures 5,991 yards from the tips with a par of 70 and course rating/slope of 70.6/136. Like many good mountain courses, though, the long hitter doesn’t need to keep the driver in the bag, especially on the uphill holes like the 390-yard fifth.  The par fives are a varied collection of fun scoring opportunities, ranging from the 442-yard seventeenth that seemingly plays vertically uphill, to the 546-yard seventh, where even a big hitter should think twice before challenging the pond in front of the green on the second shot.

The six par threes at West Point use the topography to its full advantage. The three on the front side all play uphill, so add fifteen yards to each of the 169, 186, and 192 yard measurements. On the back, the 180-yard eleventh plays downhill over water, the 152-yard thirteenth goes from elevated tee to elevated green, and the 163-yard sixteenth is just downright nasty, playing about two clubs less downhill to a partially-blind green with trouble front and back.

It’s entirely possible to shoot a good round at West Point, but local knowledge will help a bunch. Several holes are intimidating off the tee but actually have bigger landing areas than you think. It’s also helpful to see the greens a few times, too, since there are elephants buried on a few of them.

One more great reason to play West Point is the history lesson you get on every tee and at a few other places on the course. Markers describe in excellent detail the many contributions to our freedoms made by our nation’s military—especially West Point graduates—from the American Revolution to the latest operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are worth taking a few extra moments to read and contemplate as you make your way around the course.

Monday, September 23, 2013

ClubCrown Makes Your Driver A Personal Statement

We customize the lie, loft, and shaft of our clubs, so why not the part we look at? I'm talking about the driver head, or course, and ClubCrown is the new product that will really make your driver your own.

ClubCrown is a one-size-fits-all semi-permanent cover that lets you personalize the crown of your driver (and most other woods). It not only lets you proclaim your loyalty to your alma mater or your proclivity for argyle or leopard skin, but will protect your club from sky (aka "idiot") marks and the other nicks and scrapes that come from regular use.

ClubCrowns are installed in ten minutes or so by certified installers, but can be removed by simply peeling them off.  They are also USGA-conforming and will not have any impact on club weight or aerodynamics, although you never know what will happen to your swing when it begins with a glimpse of that atomic mushroom cloud perched behind your ball.

There are hundreds of designs with new ones added almost weekly. Choose from racing stripes, wild patterns and animal prints, or proclaim your loyalty to a branch of the US armed forces or your favorite university. At $39.99, ClubCrown is an affordable way to put a little whimsy into your 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, September 20, 2013

Sprain Lake Rewards Accurate Tee Shots

Sprain Lake, the Westchester County course in Yonkers, is unique in that your tee shot will likely determine your score on almost every hole. Most courses put greater emphasis on the approach shot, but this Tom Winton design rewards the player who puts the ball in the fairway on their first shot by allowing for simple approaches to the generally accessible greens.

That's not to say the 6,110-yard par 70 layout is a complete pushover. Those tee shots require more than just a good wallop with a driver. In fact, even when you do use the big stick off the tee, you need to shape your shot with a fair degree of finesse to keep the ball on the short grass.  Fairways are narrow, many of them are tree-lined, and most of them slope decisively. There are numerous doglegs and water hazards to navigate, too, and even on holes that seem straight, like the 346-yard eighth, it's easy to hit through the fairway if you don't put a gentle fade on your drive to hold it against the hill.

The seventh hole, a 399-yard par four, is a perfect example of the need for intelligent driving.  The hole turns strongly right about 225 yards from the tee, with water just a few yards beyond the outside turn. A moderately-long driver of the ball will end up with a ball in the hazard unless he or she can fade it precisely off the tee.  On the back, the 459-yard seventeenth hole, a par five, looks like it should be a birdie fest but a creek bisects the fairway at about 250 yards downhill, forcing most players to lay up off the tee and leaving a long, uphill second shot.

The back nine plays significantly longer than the front. At 3,270 yards (versus the front's 2,840), the incoming nine features a 530-yard uphill par five, a 400-yard water-carry par four, and the challenging 440-yard par four finishing hole.

Westchester county invested heavily in Sprain Lake in the past year, extending the fairway on the treacherous third hole, expanding tee boxes, re-routing and improving cart paths, and tweaking a couple of greens. Sprain Lake may be short, but its steep greens and tight fairways make it a fun test for the thinking golfer.

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Did It Cure My Yips?

Most of us fight errant swings from time to time. Heck, some of us consider a swooping slice a perfectly NORMAL ball flight! We curse, grimace, or just shake our heads in dismay when the ball doesn't go where we intend or hope.  Everywhere, that is, except on the green. Then, we expect--as we should--that every putt is going to go in or stop near the hole. Especially the short ones.

That's why the yips can be so devastating. There's nothing more debilitating than standing three feet from the cup and watching your ball scoot four feet past without even a sniff of the hole. I've had that feeling several times this summer and my scores have certainly shown it. I tried different putters, numerous techniques and drills, and have twisted my hands into so many grip configurations I couldn't begin to count them, let alone repeat one that works.

Then I put a Secret Grip by Boccieri on my favorite mallet. I don't want to speak too soon, but I think the yips may be gone. I've played three rounds with it so far and seen my putt count sink decisively.  Coincidence? Maybe--but I don't care as long as I get relief.

The Secret Grip weighs 155 grams, or a little more than twice as much as a regular grip. It has a 17-gram tungsten back weight in the tip and uses a 40% heavier compound for the grip itself. It's also somewhat oversized, although not as big as the fat grips many players use. I asked my buddy Steve Kurnit at DD Custom Golf in Elmsford, NY, do some before and after measurements when he put the grip on my putter and he reported that my wand weighed 18 3/8 ounces with my old grip and 20 7/8 with the new one. The swing weight changed from C-8 to B-4.

I felt the difference right away, of course. The club head felt lighter even though the grip was heavier, which sent a signal to my wrists that they don't need to give the club a little extra "umph" as the head approaches the ball. The idea is that the heavier grip encourages you to use the larger muscles in your body to make your stroke. That helps quiet the finer muscles in your wrist that gives your stroke the twitch that we define as the yips.

I found that the heavier grip took a little getting used to, but the more I use it, the more I like it. Distance control is steadily improving and, best of all, those spasmodic jabs have disappeared. Do I make every putt? Of course not--but I feel like I can.

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

Monday, September 16, 2013

Balls of Steel

When it comes to golf balls, I've tried plenty of different brands and model, but I keep coming back to the tried-and-true. Recently, though, I played a round with something different and I have to confess it caught my attention.  It's the OnCore EVO, billed as the world's first and only hollow metal core golf ball. These guys are on to something!

I immediately noticed two differences from my normal Pro V1x: the OnCore EVO flew straighter and it came off the irons hotter. I only played one round with the ball and certainly can't claim scientific certainty, but what I saw definitely was not a figment of my imagination.

I can't say that I got much more driver distance, but there was obviously less spin on the ball. My typical ball flight is a draw that starts right and comes back to my aim point. The OnCore EVO, though, would start right but then draw back only about half as much as usual. I kind of like that since it gives me a little better chance of staying in the fairway on holes that call for a fade while still letting me get that extra roll from a draw.

There also was no question that I picked up some distance with my irons, although that was a double-edged sword. I was not only a full club longer in the air (a good thing), but couldn't get the ball to bite on the green (a bad thing), probably because of the reduced spin. Regardless, I could see scores dropping after I get used to the performance characteristics.

What I saw is what the manufacturer promises--gee what a concept! The idea behind the technology is that the hollow core and polymer composite mantle layer shifts the ball's weight to its perimeter, both increasing the Moment of Inertia and reducing spin. I don't know if the USGA has approved it (and suspect they may have some concerns about the MOI), but the OnCore EVO is without question a ball worth trying out.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Morales Shows Strong in First Links Test

Nicole Morales
Nicole Morales at Royal St. George's    photo courtesy of the DOY.
Nicole Morales, the 17-year-old standout playing out of GlenArbor GC, was the highest-finishing girl player and tied for fourth overall in the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy played at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England this week. Boys and girls compete for the same trophy in this event. Her 221 total strokes for three rounds over the British Open venue represents another stellar performance for her this year.

Morales carded 75-76-70 during her first try at links golf. "It was very tough, very windy. I found it was a mental grind, especially as I have never played links style golf before," said Morales. “On the whole I played very well. It was all about staying patient and never giving up. You can hit a great shot but one wrong bounce and the ball can go anywhere. I guess that’s links golf.

The invitational tournament featured a field of 55 boys and girls aged 18 and under who are either national champions or have won a significant event. This year, 31 countries were represented. Morales won the Thunderbird International Girls Championship in May. The winner was Italian Guido Migliozzi.

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

Carnivorous Golfers' Delight

KINGMADE Jerky may not be a household name, but it’s quietly been building a legion of fans on both the PGA and LPGA Tours thanks to professional caddie Jeff King, who created the product and owns the company. King, a caddie for the past 16 years, admits it was out of total boredom one weekend that he decided to try making his own beef jerky in his kitchen in McKinney, Texas. What resulted after weeks of tinkering with recipes and cooking methods was a frenzy at every tour stop with players and caddies lining up to buy the product.

"I always enjoyed eating beef jerky but the stuff I found in convenience stores and gas stations was terrible," said King "I knew there had to be a way to make a premium grade jerky and satisfy the health-conscious tastes of the players out on tour." Such was King’s instant success, that he found he was making over 170 pounds a week to meet demand.

Today, over 100 tour players eat KINGMADE Jerky. Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Candie Kung, Yani Tseng, Azahara Munoz and Jane Park are just a few who enjoy the healthy, high protein snack.

"It’s hands down the best I’ve ever had," said Matt Kuchar.  "I’ve always enjoyed going around the country tasting handmade jerky, and nothing’s close to this stuff for its flavor and tenderness."

The company says it's product is "Superior Sustenance for Active Sophisticates" and marketing efforts will focus on attracting the active consumer who enjoys outdoor activities and needs a convenient and healthy snack to fuel their athletic pursuits.

What makes KINGMADE Jerky so delicious is that King uses one hundred percent flank steak with spices. Importantly, KINGMADE has five times less sodium and sugar than any of its competitors and does not add any MSG or nitrites.

King no longer makes the jerky in his kitchen. Instead, he sought the expertise of C&C Processing, a well-established, family-owned meat processing plant in the Midwest. C&C worked with King to produce the exact same jerky that came out of King’s kitchen. With C&C overseeing KINGMADE’s production, King was able to get back to what he loves the most, caddying on tour.

KINGMADE Jerky comes in three flavors: Sweet Chili Pepper, Classic and Buffalo Style. The product sells for $8.00 for 2.25 ounces, and also is available in one pound bags.

As King likes to say, "We are a premium protein for a different kind of carnivore."

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

Friday, September 13, 2013

Powelton Club Is Short and Sweet

The Powelton Club #16
The Powelton Club proves conclusively that seven thousand yards is NOT the minimum length required for a challenging round of golf. The 6,193-yard, par 70, Deveraux Emmet design in Newburgh, NY, will test all parts of your game--especially those that don't require an extra dose of testosterone.

The front side is a good warm up for the more interesting back, although there are plenty of holes on the outward nine that hold your attention. Among them is the 187-yard par 3 seventh hole, which is all carry from an elevated tee to an elevated green protected by a serious bunker in front. You'll also enjoy the 430-yard par 4 ninth hole, where trees and fairway bunkers squeeze the landing area and the green has endless subtleties.

The incoming nine is one memorable hole after another. At 374 yards, the tenth is a short hole bisected by a dry streambed and featuring a testy elevated green. The eleventh, a 498-yard par 5, is reachable with a precise second shot but quite punitive (OB, bunkers, and deep rough) if you don't hit it perfectly. The twelfth hole plays 425 yards but the green sits far above the fairway at an oblique angle that makes it one of the hardest second shot holes you'll ever encounter.

The finishing three holes at Powelton are an exciting trio. The sixteenth, 171-yards, plays downhill but is fully exposed to the wind and is well protected by sand and water. The fairway on the seventeenth hole, a 413-yard par 4, is crossed by a creek that will devil the longer hitters in the group. The home hole is a tantalizing 304-yard almost drive-able par 4. It plays uphill, though, and you'll have to shape a masterful fade to get there.

The Powelton Club was established in 1882, making it one of the oldest in the Hudson Valley and certainly worthy of its place on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. It's a relaxed, congenial club where kids can learn the game while Mom and Dad are competing in a full slate of fun competitions.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sun Mountain Expands Popular H2NO Bags in U.S.

Sun Mountain has expanded the H2NO collection of bags to include cart bags and carry bags for 2014, with selections available now from your favorite golf retailer. First introduced in 2007, the H2NO bags are constructed with waterproof fabric, taped seams, and waterproof zippers. Prices range from $259 to $289.

Sun Mountain’s most popular bag in Europe, the H2NO carry bags feature tops with integrated handles for ease in picking up and setting down, a top-molded stand attachment for stability, Sun Mountain’s proprietary E-Z Fit Dual Strap System for a balanced carry across both shoulders, patented Roller-Bottom stand mechanism for easy leg activation, and for those rounds that you ride, H2NO stand bags feature leg lock straps and a cart-friendly bottom that will fit into a cart’s bag well.

H2NO carry bags feature ample storage space, too, including a full-length clothing pocket, a velour-lined valuables pocket, and multiple accessory pockets.

The 2014 collection of waterproof carry bags includes the H2NO Lite ($259), H2NO Ultra Lite ($229) and the H2NO Staff.

The H2NO Cart bag features a larger diameter, individual club-divided top, and waterproof pockets to include two full-length clothing pockets, multiple accessory pockets and a velour-lined valuables pocket ($289).

The waterproof pockets and rain hood on the H2NO bags feature the same waterproof construction as Sun Mountain’s line of rainwear to include waterproof fabric, taped seams, and YKK® waterproof zippers. The extra technology required to make a bag waterproof will come in handy for golfers who carry items like cigars, mobile phones, and range-finders. Additionally, when used with the matching rain hood the waterproof protection of the H2NO bags extends to the clubs

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

Southward Ho Discovers Two Tillinghast Features

Golf architect Ian Scott-Taylor and Tillinghast authority and biographer Philip Young have made a discovery of significant historical importance at Southward Ho Country Club in Bay Shore, New York.  They found both a "Reef Hole" and a "Hell’s Half Acre" hazard are very much in evidence at this 1923 Tillinghast gem, which notably is his only true seaside links project.  The two features have never before been seen on the same Tillinghast design.

"Long Island’s Southward Ho presents two unique golf holes that no other Tillinghast course has today," stated Scott-Taylor.  "This is an astonishing discovery and the club was unaware of its good fortune in having preserved the original design of Tilly’s remarkable par-3 ‘Reef Hole’ while possessing vestiges of the devilish ‘Hell’s Half Acre’ great hazard."

A.W. Tillinghast is one of the game’s most prolific Golden Age designers with work on some 265 courses to his credit.  He designed such venerable courses as Winged Foot, Newport Country Club, Quaker Ridge, Baltusrol, San Francisco Golf Club, Bethpage and many others.

Tillinghast's Reef Hole
According to Tillinghast expert Young, the genius of the "Reef Hole" design allowed golfers of various skill levels the chance to score par by approaching the green from four different routes with only one of them being a direct single shot to the guarded green.  "In this single hole concept, the brilliance of Tillinghast’s ability to design a hole to be playable for the average or lesser player, while also challenging the talented one, stands out for all to see," explains Young. "Southward Ho’s 14th long par-3 ‘Reef Hole’ is a fine example of Tilly’s template and every significant required feature of this innovative hole design can be clearly seen here."

The discovery also of a Tillinghast "great hazard" at Southward Ho is equally important to students of classic golf course architecture.  He coined the phrase to define a specific style of large hazard and he also invented one of the great examples of a "great hazard" which Tillinghast called the "Hell’s Half Acre Hazard."  The name originated from a notoriously dangerous and unsavory area of Philadelphia, the city’s Hell’s Half Acre, the last place any decent person would want to find themselves.

A true "Hell’s Half Acre Hazard" incorporates a combination of numerous mounds, rough of all sizes and types, sand both in regular bunkers and/or waste areas, scrub grasses and/or bushes, especially on the outer portions, and it would range in size from 20 to 60 yards in length and always cross the entire fairway from one side of the rough to the other.

"When Ian excitedly informed me that he discovered Southward Ho had a ‘Reef Hole’ and we subsequently visited the course with club members and officials, I was astonished to identify and verify that they also were in possession of a ‘Hell’s Half Acre Hazard,’"exclaimed Young.  "That Southward Ho has these two incredible original Tillinghast signature design features on its course makes both the course and the club unique and most special.  It’s a discovery of great magnitu hs course makes both hthe course and the club way from one side of the rough to the other.would rde and exciting for all admirers of Tillinghast’s work."
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Friday, September 6, 2013

From the Battlefield to the Caddy Yard

Joseph Page at Century CC
Joseph Page
This summer, Joseph Page returned from the battlefields of Afghanistan eager to resume civilian life and provide for his young family. His first stop? The caddy yard at Century Country Club in Purchase, NY. The Purple Heart recipient told me, "I took a week off, then started caddying. It's a good way for me to keep only good things in my life."

Page was in the thick of the action in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Purple Heart for the injury he received while riding as a gunner on a truck that hit an IED while on patrol and was hospitalized for three weeks. Two other squad members were injured as well and their Afghan interpreter was killed by the explosive device. Page served two tours in Logar Province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom as a squad leader in B Company, 2-30 Infantry, Fourth Brigade, Tenth Mountain Division.

The 29-year-old found refuge on the pristine fairways of the quiet Westchester club. They were a welcome contrast to the constant danger he endured in the stark landscape of Afghanistan. "I love the game," he says, "It's also a relief not to have to watch your back all the time."

Page had caddied at the Garden City Golf Club as a youngster. He graduated from Hempstead High and went to college on a partial football scholarship. When it became clear that his dream of becoming a professional quarterback probably weren't going to be realized, he enlisted in the army. "I wanted to do something for myself and for my country," he explains.

Page receives Purple Heart from Major General James Richardson
Today, even on the golf course, Page wears a constant reminder of this price of freedom. It's a KIA bracelet, a tribute to his comrade Sgt. Keith Ruzinski, who was killed on April 7, 2011, while on patrol with Page.

While he enjoys looping at Century, the steady young man hopes to find a more permanent career with the NY Police Department. This summer he took both the NYFD and NYPD exams and scored near the top on both. His ambitions get wholehearted support from his wife, Divisay, and sons Joseph, 10, and Joel, 4.

"In the military," Page says, "the mission is always first. Now, my mission is my family."

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