Apr 23, 2015

Environmental Initiatives From Golf That Suburban Homeowners Can Use

Earth Week Comes as the first, shy signs of Spring finally arrive at my home in Connecticut
Here in New England, subtle signs of Spring have finally begun to show themselves.

After a six week snow siege that left our landscape relentlessly concealed in a blanket of white, the reemergence seems especially shy.

Hyacinths and Daffodils are providing the first jolts of color, while the Azalea blossoms still seem reluctant to make an appearance just yet.

My lawn looks the way I feel immediately upon waking from a particularly deep sleep; Tousled and out-of-it.

With Earth Week underway... yesterday was Earth Day... and the Spring growing season in its early stages, this may be the perfect time to consider some environmentally friendly changes to the way we work with our lawns and tend to our gardens.

It shouldn't be surprising (though I'm guessing it is, to many people) that some of the best ideas for creating a sustainable, eco-friendly... and beautiful... environment, come from the golf industry.  From innovative water conservation and fertilization methods, to turf reduction and wildlife habitat creation, golf course superintendents across the US and around the world are focused on sustainability.  Below you'll find 5 environmental initiatives from golf that can be easily applied to the average yard.  

1. Water Conservation - Water is a universal concern for today's course superintendents, and should be for landowners as well. Beneath the pristine fairways of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort runs a complex network of drains and pipes that stealthily collect the rain water that falls onto and around the greens, providing more than half the water needed to irrigate the course. Meanwhile, Pebble Beach Resort, uses 100% recycled water which has allowed them to avoid draining the coveted resource from municipal supplies.

An old fashioned rain barrel... or one of many modern versions... is a way for suburban homeowners to harvest skyjuice for their personal watering needs. The use of drought resistant grasses and plants, and the mulching of flower beds... both common practices at many golf courses today... is another way to conserve H2o in the home garden.

2. Natural Fertilizer/Pinpoint Pest Control - Just 90 minutes north of NYC lies the enchanting Mohonk Mountain Resort, home to the massive Victorian castle known as Mohonk Mountain House... and to one of the oldest golf courses in the US.  The resort has put into place an extensive composting program that converts food waste into fertilizer for use on the historic 9 hole course.  Their pest management program is distinguished by daily hands-on scouting of the course to pinpoint hotspots and gauge outbreaks, allowing a much more targeted response and substantially reducing the use of pesticides.  Both of these initiatives can quite easily be put into place in a home garden and offer an excellent way to engage younger family members.

3. Wildlife Habitat Creation - By incorporating garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife, The Golf Club at Ballantyne in Charlotte, NC, is recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Learn how to take some of the same steps in your own backyard by visiting the NWF website.

Westchester Country Club, which will host the world's top women golfers at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in June, has restored a nearly extinct bluebird population with the installation of bird boxes, and eliminated the need for chemicals like copper, by adding algae-eating White Amur Carp to some of their water features.

4. Turf/Lawn Reduction - Pinehurst Resort cut the irrigated acreage back from 90 to 50 acres during its restoration of Pinehurst No.2, which substantially reduced the need for mowing, irrigation and chemical use.  The typical suburban expanse of lawn can often be reduced by creating no-mow zones in appropriate places and allowing a more natural backdrop to that carpet of green velvet. It's environmentally sound and certainly makes for a less arduous mowing day.

5. A New Outlook - As Golf Course superintendents work to make the courses we play more sustainable, one of their biggest challenges... it turns out... is persuading golfers that a course need not be wall-to-wall carpeted with soft, lush, emerald green to be fun and challenging to play on, and beautiful to look at.  It would behoove home gardeners to shift from fixating on a perfect green lawn the neighbors will envy, to creating an attractive natural space that can be maintained without undue strain on the environment.

These days, having a yard that looks like a golf course may actually be good for the environment.

Apr 17, 2015

Lilly Pulitzer Owns This Weekend, On The Golf Course & At Target Stores

On Course With Lilly via GolfGirl on Polyvore

From the coastal galleries at Harbour Town Golf Links, to the bustling aisles of Target stores everywhere, expect to see more than a touch of whimsy this weekend.

Lilly Pulitzer's fanciful prints, in sun-kissed color palettes that bring to mind a tropical fruit salad or a breezy beach-side bungalow, will shine this weekend at the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage tournament in Hilton Head, SC.

image & quote via LillyPulitzer.com
At this much-loved post-Masters event, plaid may rule... but Lilly will reign. In fact, local fashionistas have called this tournament the best Lilly fashion show anywhereand one Hilton Head haberdasher is hosting a Lilly Pulitzer Heritage Photo Contest. If you're on site in Harbor Town you may wish to grab something Lilly and enter... if not you can vote for your favorite look. View the submissions throughout the weekend on Instagram, with the #lillylovesheritage hashtag.

More monumental for those who love Lilly, is this weekend's debut of the much-anticipated, limited edition Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection.  Somewhat controversial... as are all things that make the exclusive more accessible... the collaboration has sparked consternation in those who feel the lower Lilly price points at Target ($35ish vs $180ish, for a shift dress, for example) cheapen the brand and devalue their past Lilly investments. There was also a bit of a brouhaha when it was revealed that the plus-sized pieces in the Pulitzer collection would only be sold on-line. However, both imbroglios seem to have dissipated in the frothy anticipation that will likely see Lilly lovers camping out in front of Target stores in the wee hours of Sunday morning when the collection is slated to go on sale.

In honor of this thoroughly Lilly weekend... and with a nod to my passion for golf... I created the above montage featuring some Lilly Pulitzer golf-inspired items I've admired over the years. Yes, I'm officially a Lilly lover. Happy Weekend.

Apr 16, 2015

Masters Virginity Lost... In A Screaming Spiethgazim!

Cathleen Hannigan  
So, I'm officially heading back to work after a heavenly masters week golf vacay with my twin sister Patricia (who you know as Golf Girl) and her dedicated husband Nick, who I refer to as her "other-other half". ~ It was a superlative experience from the start, with practice round spectating at the ethereal Augusta National, followed by a stay and play at the lovely and historic Pinehurst Resort.

While watching the round and playing some beautiful courses, I thought of a new term to describe my condition prior To April 6th 2015: I was a "Masters Virgin"!  Hoping it was an original title, but suspecting it was not, I immediately googled it... and just as I thought, my moniker was far from unique.

I found an early example... dating back to 2001... when sports columnist Tim Guidera, used it in a piece about first timers at the storied tournament . In 2012 John Garrity of Golf.com casually dropped it into an article about the best places to view the Masters.

Then I discovered that the eloquent Tony Korogolos was no stranger to the term either, Mr. Korogolos of the long-running blog, Hooked on Golf is also credited with inventing the term Spiethgazim... specifically "premature spiethgazm"... to describe how, in their continuing quest to coronate a successor to an increasingly tenuous Tiger, the golf media collectively erupted in frothy obsession for Justin Spieth after his first round 64.  In the end, however, Mr Korogolos conceded that Spieth is the real deal.

And to hear the screams of excitement from the audience... myself included... while Mr. Spieth worked his magic in the final round, I think I can officially declare that I lost my Masters Virginity with a Screaming Spiethgazim!  Well, I'm pretty sure that line is original... and needless to say, the experience was beyond thrilling. 

Apr 12, 2015

Of Stellar Pairings and Historical Possibilities: Happy Masters Sunday.

Six days ago, at the start of Masters week, it was anyone's guess.  It always is, early on.

That the final round leaderboard features such names as Woods, McIlroy, Mickelson and Spieth is certainly enough to satisfy the highest hopes of many. While the Woods-McIlroy pairing probably packs the highest level of star power, Jordan Spieth's dominance during the first three rounds... and his history-making potential to break Tiger Woods' 72-hole record... has the world rather riveted. To say the least.

Today promises to be a fabulous final round, one that'll most definitely be remembered, though once again, exactly what will happen is anyone's guess.

So sit back, preferably with a pimento cheese sandwich, and enjoy your Masters Sunday.

Apr 7, 2015

A Trip To The Masters - Memories That Last Forever

New Yorker Cover April 2011           Bruce McCall 
My Masters memories were made in 2011, during a sweltering week that finished with a flourish. 

That year eight players, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, held a share of the lead in the last round, and the collective excitement was beyond anything I'd experienced at a sporting event anywhere. Charl Schwartzel was the champion that year, not the most memorable winner, but one who produced an amazing finish under tremendous pressure.

With The Masters, it's the details you want to remember... the details that make it so distinct: The lushness of the course and the total absence of any commercialism are two that surprised me.  Then there was the otherworldly quality that hangs in the atmosphere around Augusta National Golf Course.  Experiencing it all, expecially for the first time, is likely to be an emotional experience.  

I'm on my way back tomorrow to Augusta National tomorrow, and I'm delighted, though I suspect I won't be so overwhelmed as I was the first time.  I'm also guessing I'll notice things I didn't on that first visit, and that's what I'm looking forward to.                                                                                                                                                                                           

Apr 1, 2015

What Size Is A Winner? Masters Champions Come in Many Sizes.

Professional golfers come in an impressive array of shapes and sizes. 

One need only look at the men who've won The Masters to see the disparity:20th Century extremes were 6'6" George Archer, the
1965 champion, and 5'4" Ian Woosnam, who donned his green jacket in 1991.

The size disparity hasn't been quite so massive in recent years, but there's been a fair amount of variation. 

Modern Masters champions range from the diminutive to the statuesque... with a bit of portly thrown in for good measure. 

And speaking of measureHave you ever wondered how a perfectly sized green jacket always manages to be available to the winner... almost the minute he sinks his winning putt?  Well wonder no more, Brent Kelley at About Sports has the answer to that and other pressing green jacket questions. 

So how do you measure up when it comes to golfers and their green jackets? Can you accurately size up the 21st Century Masters champions? Why not test your skill with my little match game above. 

The answers can be found on this brilliant interactive Masters infographic created by our partners at Ticket City. Enjoy the challenge.

Mar 28, 2015

Women in Green Jackets - How to Master an Augusta-Inspired Look

Some years ago, golf writer Doug Ferguson posted one of the first photos of Condoleezza Rice in her green jacket. The accompanying tweet read, "Condi looking rather dapper in green."

I don't think there are many women out there... and correct me if I'm wrong... who'd take kindly to being called dapper. To me it's a word you'd use to a describe stylish elderly gentleman, and quite frankly the basic green jacket that corresponds to Augusta National and the Masters is somewhat boxy and quite masculine looking.

That said, there are many other ways to wear a green jacket, and with a bit of inspiration from Pinterest and Tumbler it shouldn't be hard to come up with something more stylish. However, if you're heading to Augusta National in your emerald frock, you'll probably want to adhere to the tenants of a not-overly-sexy, not-in-any-way sloppy, golf casual aesthetic. This basic dress code leaves plenty of room for sartorial creativity and will ensure that you avoid unwelcome consternation on the part of more traditional patrons.