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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Repair Your Pitch Marks, Please

I don't know how badly the golf world needs one, but there's a new pitch mark tool on the market. It's The Twister from Pitchfix, which the company says makes repairing ball marks easy while helping reduce damage caused by some other repair tools.

The Twister’s patent pending technology features three retractable metal prongs that are safe to store for golfers. The product comes in eight different color combinations, can be custom-produced for promotional gifts and corporate branding, and retails for just under $17.

According to Pitchfix, when ball marks are repaired with traditional pitch forks, the root structure of the grass can be torn which creates an air pocket under the mark. They also can leave compacted soil at the surface, making it difficult for the grass to regenerate and heal.

Pitchfix’s patented technology allows Twister to work differently. Says the company: the golfer simply pushes it in and out of the affected area, restoring the ground and relieving compaction simultaneously.  This quick and simple procedure, according to Pitchfix, results in better repairs that recover quickly, making it virtually impossible to do damage with the tool.

“Reports indicate that the average golfer leaves about 12 ball marks during a typical round of golf,” says Bart Fokke, Vice President of Pitchfix USA and Canada.  “That can result in more than 700,000 ball marks per year on an average golf course. Add to that the players who do not repair their ball marks and the high percentage of improper repair from conventional two prong divot tools, and the potential maintenance savings with Twister could be as much as ten percent.”

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

Phil vs. Stacy?

I don't think the outcome is as outlandish as you might think.  Check out the last scene of this "match" between Phil Mickelson and Stacy Lewis:

If you want to watch the real deal, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship will have plenty of TV coverage.  Golf Channel will televise the first two rounds on Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET. NBC coverage of the final two rounds is Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET.

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

Sun Mountain Reflex Real Space Saver

Take it from someone with rooms full of golf gear--smaller is better.  That's what makes the new Reflex golf push cart from Sun Mountain a real winner.  It folds and opens easier, has a smaller folded footprint, and weighs less than other golf carts. With its new, innovative folding process, Reflex is arguably the easiest cart on the market to fold and unfold. And at 51 cubic inches when folded and only 17 lbs., Reflex might fold the smallest and be the lightest push cart, too.

Thanks to the marvels of modern engineering, Sun Mountain Reflex folds into a small 25” x 15” x 11” footprint--about half the size of a standard golf bag.  It then easily opens into a full-sized golf push cart with a wide, secure stance. The deluxe accessory console includes a scorecard holder, two padded valuables trays, golf ball storage, and a beverage holder.

The company says Sun Mountain’s E-Z Latch System™ on the Reflex cart simplifies folding and unfolding the cart and adjusting the handle height. The handle on Reflex adjusts up and down and has individual handles with 180 degrees of adjustability for further ergonomic fine-turning. Reflex also features a handle-mounted parking brake and an umbrella mount on the handle to hold an open umbrella over golfer and clubs.

Reflex is available in four color combinations: black, silver, black/lime, and charcoal/red. Reflex carts are available now with a retail price of $259. Call 800-227-9224 or visit www.sunmountain.com to find your nearest retailer.

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

Friday, May 1, 2015

Brynwood Grows the Game

Bringing new golfers into the game isn't just the responsibility of the USGA, PGA of America, and other national organizations. In fact, it's going to happen much more rapidly when local clubs and organizations implement programs to make the game more comprehensible, enjoyable, and fun for non-golfers.  That's why the folks at Brynwood Golf & Country Club in Armonk have undertaken a comprehensive series of initiatives to get more people into the game.

One of the many steps the club is taking is to encourage play by newbies (or just those looking for some fun on the course) by adding an 8-inch cup to each green on the front nine for tee times after 12 noon one Sunday each month. It will be cut in addition to the 4.25” cup, so families and other foursomes with experienced golfers can play together.  Brynwood head pro Michael Mercadante says, "Many of our members have tried the 8-inch cup on our chipping green and found it gave them confidence and lent excitement within the game."

As we all know, even beginning golfers can get from the tee to the green in just a few shots but then their score (and frustration level) balloons when they take just as many if not more strokes to get the ball into the hole. Where's the fun in that?  The club isn't destroying any traditions here, they're just easing the way into the game for those folks who haven't yet mastered the intricacies of reading green contours, grain, and speed.

Another great initiative is the Family Course, which enables golfers of different ages to play together while giving everyone a course suited to their age and skill levels.  Brynwood is using the US Kids and PGA of America system of Level 1 and Level 2 tee plates for kids and adult beginners along with course markings and a scorecard to encourage use.  The program recently earned the club honor as a "PGA Family Course."

In addition to the regular tee boxes, there are now two additional sets of tee locations with cart path plates to show players where to go and fairways tee markers to tee from. The first hole, for example, plays as a 391-yard par 4 from the Black tees, 369 from the Silver, and 314 from the Red.  The Family Gold tee, though makes it 212 yards and the Family Blue a manageable 120.

In another move to make golf more user-friendly, Brynwood has designed three separate "short course" loops of four, six, and twelve holes in addition to the regulation nine and eighteen.  The "short course" layouts enable players with limited time (or attention spans) to enjoy some golf without devoting an entire day to it.

Mercadante points out that the short loops are great for new golfers. "Would you rather be introduced to golf by playing just a few holes," he asks, "or be faced with the daunting feat to try and conquer all 18 holes?"

Another benefit, of course, is that the "short course" encourages families to play together. Not only can they play just enough golf to experience all the wonders of the game in keeping with their age and attention span, but they can also utilize the forward tees to improve their experience. "We are allowing golfers of all levels to be exposed to the golf course," Mercadante says. "Golf is many things to many people."


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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Crowell In-depth on The Masters

For I don't know how many years in a row, Brian Crowell will again lend his expertise to TV viewers of The Masters.  Crowell, who is the head pro at GlenArbor GC in Bedford and host of the Golf Channel hit "Lesson Tee Live," will provide commentary for CBS on two platforms:

"Masters In Depth" on Direct TV Channel 707: Thurs - Sun 1:00 - 6:00 pm

"Masters on the Range" on CBS Sports Network (check local listings for channel #)
Wed: 9-11am
Thurs - Sun: 11am-1pm

Crowell's a busy guy, but he doesn't scrimp on doing his homework, which makes his commentary some of the most insightful you'll find on the tube.

Full disclosure: Crowell also penned "Slice-Free Golf," which I had a small hand in when it was published in 2011.

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

Pound Ridge Makes April Affordable

Can't wait to get back on the course?  Here's good news to start your season: Pound Ridge Golf Club, New York’s only Pete Dye design, will continue its off-season rates of $150 before 1 p.m. and $100 after 1 p.m. through May 3.

Available seven days a week, rates include golf or pull cart, yardage book and use of the practice facilities. For players searching for a “home” course for leisure or business golf, Pound Ridge recently announced its 2015 Season Golf Plans including individual and deluxe options.

“Whether in search of the year’s first round or checking Pound Ridge off the proverbial bucket list, the off-season rates are a tremendous value and opportunity to play a world-class layout,” says Todd Leavenworth, General Manager. “Spending a few hours outdoors in total tranquility is an ideal way to shake off the remnants of a historically severe winter.”

Pound Ridge also recently launched its new website, featuring a modern, easy-to-navigate interface with embedded video and panoramic images of the course on each page. Golfers are treated to a high-definition, drone flyover providing unprecedented views of the Dye masterpiece. Optimized for mobile and tablet formats, booking tee times and gathering course information is convenient and easy.

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 in determining the placement of the five other sets of tees makes the golf course appealing for every type of player.

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Golf Channel Academy Goes Live


You've watched Brian Crowell, Michael Breed, and Martin Hall on Golf Channel Academy. Now you can get live in-person lessons from teaching professionals of their caliber nationwide.  Golf Channel Academy, a dedicated network of teaching facilities and a hands-on extension of Golf Channel’s Golf Channel Academy prime time instruction programming, will begin to roll out this week with an initial 57 locations in 26 states and Canada. Five of them are within (or near) the NY metro area.

Golf Channel Academy offers a chance to receive personalized instruction from some of the game’s finest coaches. Its primary mission is to bring these top teachers together and make it easier for avid amateur golfers to experience their high-quality instruction. Each location’s teaching philosophy will be based on that coach’s particular proven methods that elevated him or her to the top of the golf teaching profession, but all will be dedicated to the philosophy that learning takes place over a period of time, and the relationship between coach and student is an on-going one devoted to long-lasting improvement.

A directory of all Golf Channel Academy locations and additional information on the facilities, programs, PGA of America and LPGA teaching credentials, and the inaugural group of more than 190 lead and staff coaches can be found at GolfChannelAcademy.com.

“Golf Channel Academy is a natural brand extension of our popular, high-quality instructional programming,” says Mike McCarley, president, Golf Channel. “Our viewers will have the opportunity to interact with Golf Channel’s brand beyond traditional media platforms as Golf Channel Academy facilities open in markets across North America. Golf Channel works closely with PGA of America and LPGA teaching professionals and values their ability to enhance golfer’s enjoyment of the game, which ultimately encourages their students to play more golf. With this goal in mind, Golf Channel Academy coaches are committed to engaging golfers through instruction to make the game more accessible, inviting and fun.”

The inaugural group of Golf Channel Academy lead coaches in our area includes:

Paul Ramee, Jr.Bull’s Bridge G.C., South Kent, CT
Jason Birnbaum, New Jersey Golf Academy, Roseland, NJ
Kelley Brooke, The Golf Academy of Randall’s Island, New York City
Anders Mattson, Saratoga National G.C., Saratoga Springs, NY
Mitchell Spearman, Mitchell Spearman Golf Academy at Doral Arrowwood, Rye Brook, NY

The Golf Channel Academy is yet another brand extension from the multimedia enterprise formed by Arnold Palmer in 1995 and now part of the NBC Sports Group.  In addition to golf programming on television and various digital platforms, Golf Channel operates GolfNow, Golf Advisor.com, and the Golf Channel Am Tour.

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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Els for Autism Teams with BirdieBox

The Els for Autism Foundation has teamed up with BirdieBox to launch the "Els for Autism Box," a limited-edition collection of golf related products associated with Els for Autism’s founder, the smooth-swinging South African golfer, Ernie Els.

BirdieBox will officially debut the package during Autism Awareness Month at their pop-up retail store in Augusta, GA, today through Sunday, April 12th. A percentage of proceeds will be donated to the foundation started in 2009 by Els and his wife Liezl after their son Ben was diagnosed with the disorder.

"Our foundation is committed to helping people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives," Els says, "And we are delighted that BirdieBox, along with my partners, have developed this great new give-back initiative to help the Foundation raise funds and awareness for this important cause. The box has some great items and the timing is perfect as it launches in April – which is Autism Awareness Month.”

These limited-edition boxes are available through BirdieBox.com at three price points ($249.95, $149.95, $79.95) and will include an extraordinary assortment of golf gear with a total value nearly double the retail cost. Among the items included are TaylorMade TOUR Preferred balls, special-edition “Els for Autism” Daphne’s head cover, Els Collection polo, Zero Restriction outerwear, Stable 26 socks and an I-ONICS Power Sport band.

BirdieBox’s donation will help fund a state-of-the-art autism center and hub of worldwide operations for Els for Autism, The Els Center of Excellence. Groundbreaking for the Center took place last year and the first components are due to open in August 2015. Once complete, the Center will provide on-site education for 300 children on the autism spectrum ages 3-21. It will also bring together the critical components of early intervention, transition to adulthood, medical and professional services, and adult services all on one campus. Committed to a global mission, the Center has been designed to facilitate a multi-faceted global outreach program focused on the sharing of best practices and programs with the global autism community and beyond.

“It is estimated that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with autism, a truly staggering figure highlighting the millions of individuals and families affected by the disorder,” says Pat DePirro, CEO of BirdieBox. “We strongly believe in the Els for Autism Foundation and proudly stand by its side as it strives to make a positive difference to the lives of those affected by autism and their families.”

A turnkey solution for club, corporate and charity golf outings, BirdieBox offers event organizers a wide variety of packages for all budgets and tastes. These include numerous pre-configured options and prize boxes, or customers can totally customize their order by selecting from a diverse assortment of premium golf, lifestyle and nutritional products. The exterior of each event box can be handsomely designed to showcase specific logos, imagery and messaging. Brand exposure can be furthered by inclusion of logoed golf balls, apparel, headwear, accessories or other items.

Beyond the company’s event services, personal monthly subscriptions that remove the hassle from shopping and gift-giving are available at BirdieBox.com. Packages include a selection of the hottest golf, lifestyle and nutritional items from major brands. Offered in one-, three-, six- and 12-month options, subscriptions start at $49.95 per month while retail value of each delivery is $100 or more.

The Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Ernie and Liezl Els to focus on the issue of autism. The Els son Ben is profoundly impacted by the disorder, which affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S.

The Foundation’s overarching mission is to helping people on the autism spectrum fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.  In the U.S., to help fulfill its mission Els for Autism is currently building a state-of-the-art Center of Excellence in Jupiter, FL, on a 26 acre campus with a local, national and global reach and is in the middle of a capital campaign to finance the development. Once completed, the Center will host a uniquely designed, on-site educational program for 300 children on the autism spectrum ages 3-21 and bring together the critical components of early intervention, education, applied research, transition to adulthood, medical and professional services, and adult services all on one campus. Having all the essential components on one campus, with the integrated programing and continuity of service that this allows, will not only be a game-changer for the children in the local area, but positions the Center as the perfect hub for a global outreach program; that will ensure its influence is felt far beyond the boundaries of its walls.

Groundbreaking for the first components of the Center, the Lower School and the Auditorium Building, began in March 2014. The Lower School is on schedule to welcome its first students in August this year, and the Auditorium Building is also on track to become the new home of the Foundation this summer, enabling the team to further develop its global outreach programs using this magnificent, and fit-for-purpose building as its base. In the meantime, the Foundation continues its fundraising efforts to ensure a continuous build schedule for the remaining components of the Center; the Upper School, the sports facilities, the medical and professional building and the adult services component.

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Best Golf on TV Sunday? Drive Chip Putt at Augusta

A pair of local youngsters should be on everyone's radar Sunday when they compete in the Second Annual Drive Chip & Putt Championship this Sunday prior to the start of the Masters.

One is Matthew Camel of Greenwich, CT, who racked up the high score in the nation in the regional qualifer, scoring 169 total (69 Drive, 40 Chip, 60 Putt) out of a perfect maximum score of 225.

Camel, who plays out of Round Hill Club, was a consistent performer in Met PGA Jr. events last year, accumulating 4,295.76 points toward a rank of ninth in the player of the year race in 18 events. He won twice, once at Powelton Club, again at Rockrimmon.  He qualified for the Drive Chip & Putt in the Male 14-15 year-old division at Apawamis, then Eisenhower Park's Red Course, before advancing to the regional event at Bethpage Green.

Jennifer Rosenberg of Laurel Hollow, NY, will compete in the same age group but in the Female division.  She started her qualifying at Harbor Links Golf Course.  Rosenberg teed it up on six Met PGA Jr. events last year, and won four of them, finishing second in the player of the year competition.   In 2013, she won the Long Island Girls Championship, played at Glen Cove Golf Course.  Her home course is Glen Oaks.

Eighty young golfers in four age categories will compete in the Finals Sunday.  If you can't make it Augusta, be sure to tune in to the Golf Channel.  If last year is any indication, this may equal the Masters itself in entertainment value.

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Champion Course for Champions at PGA National

Planning a trip to PGA National Resort and Spa? Be forewarned: the Champion Course, home of the Honda Classic, is a hard, hard golf course. That's not say you shouldn't play it--it's a great golf course well worth the exertion--just keep your expectations under control.

Remember that the course was really designed for professional competitions. It opened in 1981 and hosted the Ryder Cup two years later, followed by the PGA Championship in 1987. It was the home of the Senior PGA Championship from 1982-2000.  After a major renovation, it became the home of the Honda Classic in 2007. It's interesting to note that during those last nine years, only twice has the winner pushed the final score to double digits below par for four rounds.

When Jack Nicklaus took on the renovation in 2002, he basically designed a new golf course, attempting through modifications of the fairway and green contours to make it a little more forgiving for the average player.  While that was accomplished, little was done to change the routing and the heavy influence of water hazards on play.  Coupled with thick, sticky rough, the course well deserves its high ratings and slopes.  From the 6,719-yard gold tees, those are 73.4/145. Most of us will tackle the Blues, which play 6,367 but carry a 71.8/138.  For a real indication of how tough the course plays, though, look at the White tees.  Many players will ignore them because the card shows they measure only 5,934.  The 69.9/129 rating/slope, though, is more like many 6,300-yard courses I've played around the country.

Looking for a challenge? The Champion Course is it. Fifteen of the holes have water in play that dictates strategies both off the tee and during your approaches.  Another caution: the green surrounds generally don't release a short approach shot unless it's a briskly-struck bump and run, so don't expect to trickle a lucky miss onto the putting surface. I played the course this year while the fairways were still narrow after the tournament, so I got to experience plenty of play out of the rough.  It wasn't particularly long, just thick and sticky, so digging out with a short iron is almost always your only option.

The famous Bear Trap gets all the TV coverage, but there are plenty of other tough holes on the course.  Number 6, which looks like a pushover 468-yard par five on the scorecard, plays as a par four for the pros.  Water lines the entire left side just a few yards away from the fairway and bunkers encroach on the right off the tee.  The green has three levels, too, so distance control is paramount on the approach. Number 7, a 186-yard par three, plays downwind but has a front bunker that makes it all carry.  The green is long with a Biarritz-like swale in the center just to make it extra interesting.

One of the strongest holes on the course is Number 11, par four at 395 yards from the Blue tees. Getting off the tee isn't a big problem, but the approach is a killer.  Water runs from the landing area all the way to green on the right. The green itself sits diagonally to the fairway, making for some interesting pin positions. If you overshoot the green, you're left with a shot from a treacherous bunker back toward the water.

Water and wind are hallmarks of the famous Bear Trap, holes 15 through 17.  The two par threes are relatively short (153 and 155 from the blue tees), but both play all-carry with water wrapping around the right side of both greens to drown slices.  Sixteen, 391 yards, calls for an iron or hybrid off the tee to stay in the short grass, but that sets you up for a long approach over water to an elevated green. How tough is it?  Even the bailout for the second shot is over water!

The finishing hole is a classic double dogleg par five that provides all sorts of excitement. It truly is one of the best finishing holes in the game, playing 527 from the blue tees and forcing the player to negotiate fifteen bunkers and water on every shot.  A strong drive sets up a wonderful risk and reward second shot, too.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Champion Course is not an easy walk in the park. It's hard. But for golfers who want to challenge a real player's course, it can't be beat.

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Antigua in the High Cotton

I don't know about you, but I've never been fond of the "plastic" feel of the typical high-tech fabrics used in golf shirts these days.  Granted, they have advantages, but they also make me feel like I'm trying to swing while covered with Saran Wrap.  Antigua has just released a solution: Desert Dry Performance Cotton.  It adds fine cotton fibers to the synthetic filaments that promote moisture wicking. The result is dry comfort with a natural feel against the skin.

Ron McPherson, President and CEO of Antigua, explains the company's thinking in this short video:

I reviewed the Antigua Spring Collection earlier, but hadn't tried the Desert Dry Performance Cotton at that time. I have now, and can say that I found it very comfortable and almost retro in the way it feels against the skin -- Retro as in what golf shirts used to feel like before they started making them out of plastic. Maybe I'm getting too particular in my old age, but I'll leave that conclusion up to you.  By the way, I don't wear Spandex when I ride my bike, either.

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gary Player Reaps Award from Met Golf Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Disabled Vets to Learn Golf Free with Met PGA Pros

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

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

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

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

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

Interested participants should contact the Met PGA to learn more.

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Squeeze -- a Sure Bet Golf Movie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mitchell Spearman Joins Golf Channel Academy

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

“I’m very excited to be among the first teachers associated with the new, dynamic Golf Channel Academy,” said Spearman, member of GOLF magazine’s “Top 100 Teachers in America” list since its inception. “This is a chance for golf instructors to work together, learning from one another and adopting best practices in both teaching and the business of teaching. I think it’s going to propel the coaches and coaching forward in a big way.”

Golf Channel Academy is the first network of its kind devoted to efficiently growing the business of golf instruction. With 44 charter locations already committed, Golf Channel Academy will be inviting additional coaches to become part of the network as it officially launches in April 2015.

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

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

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

Spearman and his coaches will benefit from a wide-spectrum of business consulting services and products addressing marketing, sales, technology and back-office solutions needs, as well as shared best practices across the network. Coaches also will have the opportunity to appear on instructional programming across Golf Channel’s television and digital platforms. Students at Golf Channel Academy locations will be able to track their progress using advanced software to measure specific goals under the direction of their personal coach.

“Golf Channel Academy will align the top coaches from across the country to run their business within a robust, collaborative operation,” said Todd Wilson, CEO of Golf Channel Academy. “Our members will have a unique opportunity to tap into best practices and proprietary data that will assist each member instructor and academy operation to grow their business while operating under one unified brand.”

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

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Andrew's Adds to Teaching Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Antigua Features New Fabric Combo for Spring

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

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

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

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

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

Worthington Named to Trump Ferry Point

Brad Worthington
Brad Worthington, well-known (and liked) local golf professional and past president of the Metropolitan PGA was hired today to become Director of Golf at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, according to Donald Trump.

Worthington’s professional career includes serving as Head Golf Professional at Brooklawn Country Club (1994-2014) in Fairfield, CT and Atlantic Golf Club (1991-1993) in Bridgehampton and Assistant Golf Professional at Winged Foot Golf Club (1988-91) and Rockaway Hunting Club (1985-87).

"It is an honor and privilege to be appointed to the position as Director of Golf at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point," Worthington said. "I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact The Trump Organization has made to the game of golf and with Mr. Trump’s support I look forward to working with the City of New York to make sure the golf experience here is both exceptional and memorable."

Worthington joins renowned golf instructor Michael Breed and a staff of dedicated professionals at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point headed by General Manager Joe Roediger.

One of Worthington’s main priorities is to introduce the golf experience to new players with a special focus on youth and women. Worthington was a member of the PGA of America National Diversity Committee from 2009-2010, encouraging diversity in golf and increasing opportunities for women.
Worthington was a major contributor in organizing The First Tee Program in Bridgeport, CT, and strongly supported Suzy Whaley’s successful campaign to become Secretary of the PGA of America. Whaley became the first woman since Babe Zaharias (1945) to qualify for a PGA Tour event, earning a spot to play in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open.

Worthington played for the University of Houston and was teammates of 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples and top CBS golf announcer Jim Nantz.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Trump Ferry Point Ready to Play

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point
Finally! As of tomorrow, March 11 at 10 AM, you'll be able to reserve a tee time to play Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point. The much-anticipated official first day of play is scheduled for Wednesday, April 1, weather permitting. Golfers can reserve tee times by visiting www.trumpferrypoint.com, calling (718) 414-1555 or emailing info@trumpgolflinks.com.

Donald Trump said, “I’m thrilled to bring what will be one of the country’s great courses to New York City, something residents have been looking forward for decades. Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point is truly a world-class, wonderful and exciting course and can be played by golfers of all skill levels. We expect to have many major championships at Trump Golf Links – just minutes from Manhattan. This will be a tremendous economic development engine for the City of New York. Once the Trump Organization took over the development, I am glad we were able to get it open so quickly.”

Jack Nicklaus, designer of the course and winner of a record 18 major championships, believes Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point quickly will become a New York City signature sports facility.
"Ferry Point was created to be a unique public golf experience and it is our collective hope that the golf course will add to New York City's global reputation, enhance New York's reputation for quality golf, and give its proud residents a place to play and call home,” Nicklaus said. “Donald Trump has a deep-rooted love for New York City and he deserves a great deal of credit for getting Ferry Point to the finish line and for delivering it to the golfers and golf fans of New York."

“The official opening of this new premier public golf course at Ferry Point gives us the opportunity to showcase the City’s golf facilities on a national stage," said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. "NYC Parks' 14th golf course will offer New Yorkers and visitors a unique recreational experience on the City's first tournament-quality golf course, free summer programming, and has transformed what was once a landfill into a regional destination."

The city’s newest golf facility is located in the Bronx with easy access to all five boroughs, just minutes outside of Manhattan and situated at the foot of the Whitestone Bridge.

“We are excited to be working with Donald Trump and a golf legend like Jack Nicklaus on this project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.   “This world-class golf course will help re-brand The Bronx as a premier golfing destination, and I am proud to support it. I look forward to welcoming new visitors to our borough as they not only play a round of golf, but shop in our stores and dine in our restaurants.”

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point will offer a public golf course comparable to the nation’s top-ranked private and public courses. Golfers will enjoy a state-of-the-art, lighted practice facility overseen by highly-acclaimed instructor Michael Breed and the Michael Breed Golf Academy. Breed is recognized as the number one golf instructor in the state of New York and 13th on Golf Digest’s list of the Top 50 Instructors in the United States.

In 2016, a $10 million clubhouse designed by the noted architectural firm of Hart-Howerton will greet golfers on their way to playing this memorable 7,400-yard course.

Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point is part of a city-funded redevelopment project. The 18-hole links-style Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, designed in consultation with Sanford Design, will be operated by the Trump Golf team and will be a part of the global golf portfolio of native New Yorker and avid golfer Donald Trump. The course is designed specifically to take advantage of spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, East River and the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges. Trump Links at Ferry Point will be the city’s 14th public course and first course built since 1964 when Robert Moses oversaw the opening of the Robert Trent Jones Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn.

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

Brynwood Extends Hospitality to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf

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Brynwood G & CC will be the new home to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf of Rockland and Westchester this season. The program to introduce girls 7 to 17 to the game will hold instruction clinics, practice time on the range and short game area, and mentored play on the Armonk course under the tutelage of head pro Michael Mercadante.

In addition to the rudiments of the golf swing, participants will learn the rules and etiquette of golf, course safety, and, most importantly, how to have fun with the game.  Members of the Westchester chapter of the Executive Women's Golf Association will mentor the students on the course.  In addition to instruction and play, participating girls will have the opportunity to attend local tournaments and fairs as well as play in local competitions.

Registration is required, as is a small fee to cover costs.  For complete information, contact Anne-Marie Brillantes, Site Director, at amb.girlsgolf@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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

KPMG Women's PGA Championship Field Begins to Fill


Eligibility criteria has been announced for the field that will compete in the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, to be conducted June 9-14, at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship features a $3.5 million purse, among the highest in women’s golf. The Championship will be operated by the PGA of America in partnership with the LPGA and broadcast in partnership with NBC and Golf Channel.

The 2015 field has begun to take shape, with several players entered as of March 1 including defending champion Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Jean Bartholomew and Liz Caron.

The 156-player field will be determined as follows:

Active LPGA Hall of Fame members (To be considered Active, an LPGA Hall of Fame member must have participated in 10 official LPGA tournaments within the 12 months prior to the commitment deadline)
Past winners of the LPGA Championship
Professionals who have won an LPGA Major Championship in the previous five (5) years (2010-2014) and during the current year
Professionals who have won an Official LPGA tournament in the previous two (2) calendar years (2013-2014) and during the current year
Professionals who finished top-10 and ties at the previous year’s LPGA Championship
Professionals ranked No. 1-30 on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings as of May 12, 2015
The top eight (8) finishers at the 2014 LPGA T&CP National Championship
Members of the European and United States Solheim Cup Teams in 2013
Maximum of two (2) sponsor invites (Invitees must be ranked within the Top 200 on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings at the time of the invitation.)
LPGA Members who have committed to the event, ranked in the order of their position on the 2015 Official Money List through the conclusion of the Manulife LPGA Classic.
If the event is not full, the remainder of the field will be filled by Members who have committed to the event, ranked in the order of their position on the 2015 LPGA Priority List as of the commitment deadline.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship brings together a world-class, annual major golf championship with a women’s leadership summit and an ongoing community initiative to inspire and develop new generations of female leaders.

Golf Channel will televise the first two rounds of the championship, Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET. NBC coverage of the final two rounds is Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET.

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