Sep 16, 2014

Watermelon Gazpacho Cocktail - A Sublime September Tipple



With September firmly in its second half, the days are decidedly getting shorter.  Our New England foliage is beginning to feature some lively licks of color, and the morning chill no longer allows for a sleeveless stroll to the mailbox.  That the official end of summer is still several days off is of little solace to those lamenting the approach of winter.

I used to be one of those lamenters.  I'd get all gloomy at the first hint of fall; pumpkins depressed me... so did chrysanthemums and cornucopias. Especially cornucopias.  An irrational dread of what the winter might bring had left me unable to appreciate the unique awesomeness of fall.

It was a desire to extend the abbreviated Connecticut golf season that finally led me to stop sulking and embrace Autumn. Once I did, I found myself looking forward to this season on steamy summer days.  I now relish the last months of each year; for the spectacular changing colors, the cooler temperatures... and the less crowded golf courses.  There's also the prospect... once Autumn is well underway... of an Indian summer, bringing us a final taste of warmth before winter takes hold for good.   This endearing weather singularity is quite common in New England, and it's the inspiration behind a unique drink I developed for our annual fall golf classic.  It's a blend of the season's most delightful ingredients and the end result is both sweet and savory, just like the special season that inspired it: The Watermelon Gazpacho Cocktail.

Sep 11, 2014

The Birdie Sisters Continue to Create A Unique & Inspiring Golf Narrative




In the Autumn of 2009, when I first met up with Myah and Erica Jackson they were just 9 and 11 years old, but already the prodigious pair was well-known in Midwestern junior golf circles.

In fact, the Chicago-based sisters... having started playing golf at age four... had by that time become The Birdie Sisters... and not only did they regularly win golf tournaments, they also excelled at other disciplines; their family YouTube channel... in addition to golf and talk show clips... featured the girls (and their younger brother) participating in Taekwondo competitions and performing in music recitals.

Flash forward to the Fall of 2014: Erica is now16, Myah 14. Both have continued to compete... and excel... on a local, national and international level, despite the extraordinary cost involved.   They now attend Chicago's prestigious Jones College Prep where they play on the boy's golf team.  And, in case you're wondering, the Jones Prep boys don't really have a hard time when The Birdie Sisters beat them, because... they're kind of used to it.

The video above features the Birdie Sisters in their recent appearance on top Chicago talk show, Windy City Live.  They talk about how they started playing golf, what they've achieved in the sport, and where they feel golf may eventually take them.

It's an ultra-inspiring story and there's clearly much more to come.  Keep up with The Birdie Sisters via Facebook and Twitter.  Past posts on The Birdie Sisters.


Aug 26, 2014

On National Dog Day: Golf's Top Dogs And Their Cute Calendar

When someone says "golf pin-up" or "golf calendar model" it generally brings to mind images like like this.  Or perhaps, this. In other words, you picture a shapely lady in a revealing outfit... with maybe a golf club or two in the mix.

Well, earlier today I discovered a totally different kind of "golf pin-up". One with a slightly less... libidinous... aesthetic.

TurfNet.com is a site for golf course superintendents, the often under-heralded professionals who manage the labor, time, materials and financial resources needed to care for the fairways and greens of the courses we play on.  In addition the tutorials, job boards and equipment listings, there are myriad blogs and articles that provide an interesting and enlightening look and the extraordinary effort required to keep even the most modest golf courses up to par.  It's a fascinating glimpse into the multi-faceted world of a profession that we golfers depend on for our favorite recreational activity... but that most of us know very little about.  Then there's the calendar, and this is a feature that delightfully transcends golf.

"Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr... and Tank; just a few of history's most popular pin-up models." 

It's the TurfNet Superintendent's Best Friend Calendar. Every year since 2002, 14 fabulous golf course dogs have been selected to grace the pages of this very special calendar.

The 2013 calendar is viewable as a pdf on the site  and the models, I might add,  are real cuties. There's also a video on the site that presents a number of beguiling golf course canines in all their photogenic glory. The variety of different breeds and the diversity of the courses they inhabit is remarkable, and the way the dogs pose... and project ownership of their respective domains... enchanting.
 
So when you've got a bit of time to spare head over to TurfNet, and check out the awesome golf course dogs.  I guarantee they'll lift your spirits.

Today is National Dog Day. I wrote about this unique canine calendar a couple of years ago and thought this might be a perfect time to revisit it. Enjoy!

Jul 10, 2014

Ryo Revival: Ishikawa Gets A Long Awaited Win & A British Open Entrée

Relentlessly Stylish Ryo           photo: callawayapparel.jp
At first glance, age 22 would seem preposterously young to be talking about relaunching a career, but for some of today's professional golfers, the concept is not so far fetched. They take up the game as children and achieve early success; winning on increasingly important stages, collecting ever more impressive trophies and piling up precocity records. 


Youthful achievers fascinate fans, and as a result they often inspire the proverbial "media frenzy", which brings with it the prospect of lucrative sponsorship deals. 


But precipitous fame can be distracting, and a global golf career implies an exhausting travel schedule. Then comes the inevitable winless spell.

The stretch can last a year or two... or ten... it can come after multiple major wins or a handful of tournament victories, but either way, it's a burden for the player to bear. Once the long awaited win finally comes we hear the word relaunch... even when the player in question is implausibly young. 
This is certainly the case for one of our favorite golfers... a golfer we've written about on many occasions: Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.

As a 15 year old amateur... in his first tour appearance... he won the Munsingwear Open KSB and became the youngest ever to win on the Japanese Men's Tour.   From there, his rise was meteoric; Ryo Ishikawa was soon being called Japan's Tiger Woods and hailed as the face of golf in Japan.

The ensuing years brought multiple wins on the Japan Tour, and in 2008 the newly christened Bashful Prince became the youngest player ever to reach the top 100 of the Official World Golf rankings, in 2009, the youngest ever to reach the top 50.  MORE -->

Jun 27, 2014

5 Connecticut Courses That Challenge Golfers With Island Greens

With its massive purse and unofficial "fifth major" status, the Players Championship is a perennial favorite of golf fans, but most would probably agree that it's mainly the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass that allows this tournament to transcend golf... and capture the attention of the masses.

There's something about an island green: the prospect of a sudden watery demise can play on the nerves of even the most experienced golfer...  and drama will often ensue.

It's a good bet there's not a golfer anywhere who's watched the Players Championship without imagining themselves poised on that 17th tee, aiming for the island.

If a trip to Ponte Vedre Beach isn't currently in the cards for you, chances are you may be able to find a island green right in your own home state because... contrary to popular belief... island greens aren't all that rare.

Though they're not a traditional feature of golf course architecture, they've become quite popular since the mid-20th Century.  In fact here in Connecticut, without doing much research, I've already discovered five, so you may want to see what your state has to offer.  Meanwhile for those living in, or traveling to, the "Nutmeg State" this summer, here's what I've found:




Vineyard Valley Golf Course • 34 Brayman Valley Road • Pomfret, CT - It used to be a vineyard, now it's a 9 hole golf course... and the finishing hole on this scenic, steeply sloped course is an island green.
"The ninth hole is what Gus Loos, the designer of the course, considered to be eastern Connecticut's answer to the famous island green at the 17th hole at Sawgrass in Florida. Playing anywhere from 120 to 160 yards, the green is fronted by a watery marsh that has been and will continue to be the graveyard of many a good score."  
Chanticlair Golf Course • 288 Old Hebron Road • Colchester, CT 06415 - The 9 hole Chanticlair Golf Course has been in operation since the early 1970's in the scenic town of Colchester.  The island experience greets golfers on the 4th hole here.  • • MORE CT ISLAND GREENS

Jun 16, 2014

2014 Travelers Championship - 10 Tips for Savvy Golf Spectators

Here in Connecticut we've got the perfect antidote to your yearly post-US Open hangover; it's called the Travelers Championship and it's an event we nutmeggers look forward to all year.

Our state's biggest sporting event has a colorful history and charitable tradition, with benefits that extend well beyond the yearly week of golf festivities.

Today's opening ceremonies at TPC River Highlands launch a week of activities leading up to Sunday's final round.  The field is fantastic and the forecast is fine, so if you're anywhere in the area this week, a trip to Cromwell is something you'll surely want to try for ...and to make your Travelers Championship experience all the more stellar I've got some tips for you.

Provided by the experts at TPC River Highlands... who've hosted the tournament for thirty years... these pointers will ensure that you get the most out of your spectator experience:


1.  “Watch players warm up. It’s a great way to get close and see how good the pros really are when they are hitting shot after shot exactly how they want to. ” * you'll definitely want to watch swings and short game drills at the impressive practice facility but there's also a practice green next to the club house and leaderboard where players tend to practice earlier in the day. I've observed some interesting drills... and amusing interchanges... there over the years.

2.    “Keep an eye out for property maps and pairings guide as you enter the grounds and make a plan for the players or groups you’d like to see throughout the day. Having a map of the facility will make it easier to jump to different locations.” * Check the large video boards in numerous locations throughout the course to see which pairings are approaching the green... and to keep up with a changing leaderboard.

3.   “The best holes to watch and learn are holes 15-18.  This is a great final stretch to watch the TOUR players handle the pressure and finish off a great round. You will pick up tips on how to play difficult shots and/or use proper course management.”

4.   “Check out the merchandise tent early in the week, specifically Pin Flags – they are the first to sell out. Too many people wait until Saturday and Sunday thinking they’ll restock, but the best selection is found earlier in the week.” * Last year I bought an awesome wide brim visor, I'm pretty sure those are going to be popular this year as well.

5. “The best spots to watch the most amount of golf is behind the 4th green so you can see the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th hole or between the 15th and 16th hole for some awesome action.”  • • MORE TIPS -->

May 31, 2014

Pinehurst 2014 - Two Tournaments, Three Logos & Some Sweet Souvenirs

2014 US Open Championships
 Some of the 2014 US Open Championships merchandise you can find at USGAshop.com 
It was almost three years ago, back in the summer of 2011, that Pinehurst Resort and the USGA presented the logos for this year's US Open and U.S. Women's Open Championships.  The men's logo features the whimsical "Golf Lad" with his oversized bucket hat and hanging suspenders, while the women's logo stars the state bird of North Carolina, a bright red Cardinal.

2014 seemed so far off back then, and the history-making prospect of back-to-back men's and women's U.S. Opens, at a single venue, was still somewhat abstract.

Flash forward to now, as the unprecedented joint get's underway, and everything comes into focus.  The course,  Pinehurst No. 2,  has a championship golf legacy that makes it a perfect choice for this historic U.S. Open doubleheader. Over the years, it's hosted the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup and a couple of U.S. Opens... as well as the most prestigious senior and amateur events.  Meanwhile the village of Pinehurst has become a destination for travelers seeking stellar golf in a historic setting that also offers excellent dining, cultural and shopping experiences.

On that last note, let's get back to those logos. What I didn't mention was that a separate "joint logo" was created, in addition to the two logos described above.  Designed by renowned U.S. Open artist Lee Wybranski, it artfully combines elements of the men's and women's logo to commemorate the consecutive championships. Featuring the two trophies, side by side, "Golf Lad's" floppy hat sits jauntily on the men's cup while the Cardinal perches precariously on the women's, this dual logo whimsically represents the historic melding of the two events.

Those attending the tournaments will find all three logos well represented in the merchandise pavilion, on a wide variety of apparel and accessories.  And for those who can't make it to Pinehurst, USGAshop.com offers an expansive array of items featuring each of the three logos... the a perfect way for anyone to own a small piece of golf history.