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.

May 24, 2014

Talent, Story & Spirit Make Lizette Salas a Most Marketable Athlete

Lizette Salas shares her passions on social media... purple is a predominant color
With her maiden professional win at the Kingsmill Championship last weekend, Lizette Salas added a significant element to her already impressive personal brand.

Along with a uniquely inspiring story and an endearing personality, the 24-year-old Mexican-American now has an LPGA Tour win.  The Kingsmill victory allowed Salas to crack the Rolex Ranking's top-10, placing her solidly among the game's uber-elite.

The 2014 LPGA season has seen some exceptionally exciting winners: Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Paula Creamer to name just a few. However, the Salas story transcends golf in a way we haven't seen in a while.

Lizette Salas grew up in working class Azuza, California, a place where golf "was not what you did",  but with relentless support from her Mexican immigrant parents, Lily found a way around that perception... and her trajectory includes remarkable anecdotes that touch the essence of the American Dream and personify the perennial perseverance of the improbable winner.

The sense of sincerity in her smile, backed up by a well documented desire to give back, make Salas an inspiration well beyond the fairways and greens, and have attracted sponsors beyond the world of golf:  global management consulting firm MLC & Associates, (We sponsor Lizette because she epitomizes our mission of empowering performance) and international automaker, Toyota, (From her humble beginnings at the Azusa Greens public golf course, to securing a spot on the LPGA Tour, Lizette has such an inspiring story) are both Salas sponsors,  Lizette is also among the LPGA golfers sponsored by Pure Silk. It's hard to imagine a company seeking to be identified with empowerment, perseverance, generosity and family values that wouldn't be interested in an alliance with Lizette Salas.  In addition, her radiant Latina looks... often highly noticeable in a sea of blonde ponytails... present women of varying backgrounds with a female ideal that's both aspirational and accessible, which is where just about any and every brand is trying to land.  Antigua, Titleist, Footjoy and Trion:Z are Salas golf and apparel sponsors and all have been quick to respond to Lizette's passion for purple creating a variety of products for her Purple Saturday tradition. Yet another fun visual that makes Lizette Salas so distinctive.  -- Read MORE >>

May 2, 2014

Golf ClubSox: Custom Covers Put My Golf Clubs On The Best Dressed List

My Custom Golf ClubSox               @ Golf Girl Media
Here in New England, the weather is still cool and blustery. Leaden skies hang low over the lush, spring landscape perpetually signaling the possibility of showers.
But...we're out there. We're finally playing golf again after a prolonged winter respite.

Earlier this week... wearing multiple layers of wool and fleece, with rain gear in tow... we spent the afternoon on the verdant fairways of TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT.

Though the chilly weather preempted the launch of my own spring/summer '14 golf wardrobe, my golf clubs were looking exceptionally stylish in their new Golf ClubSox.

You may remember the random, ragtag collection of golf club covers I found myself with a few weeks ago when I first took my clubs out for the Spring... the one that included a boorish, cigar smoking dog from a Vegas bachelor party? Yes, well then you may also remember that the folks at Golf ClubSox came to the rescue with an invite to try their knitted club covers... and customize them with my choice of colors.

So that's what I did.  I hopped onto their easy-to-use custom club designer, picked my pattern (dots), background color (white), main color (lime) and accent color (pink).  Then I selected the club numbers I needed; in my case that meant Driver, 3W, 5W, 4H and 7H ...and that was it. It took me just a few minutes to create exactly the covers I wanted... in my colors.

Golf ClubSox are knit with wool, made in the USA and have a distinctive retro-futuristic look, with ribbed sleeves and oversized pompoms.   --READ MORE-->

Apr 27, 2014

Creative Crafters Give New Life to Old Abandoned Golf Balls

My own "Golf Ball Crafts" pinboard is one of many.
Golf balls have come a long way from their humble beginnings in 15th century Scotland.

Over the years, a smooth, solid wooden orb has morphed into a be-dimpled, multi-layered sphere of high-tech resins and rubber.

This impressive evolution has contributed to a substantial increase in distance... in both professional and amateur players, hitting both woods and irons.  Which is good,  as distance is prized by most golfers.  However, there's a downside... or two... in the modern golf ball's supernatural powers.

Some surmise that the longer ball flight has led to longer courses and longer, more expensive rounds.

There's also the fact that while the modern golf ball's nearly impenetrable polymers take hundreds of years to decompose, today's balls still fall victim to wear and tear. With regular use, their aerodynamic performance will eventually become compromised by nicks, scuffs and abrasions.  Never mind that the average golfer would be unlikely to ever notice the minute inconsistencies that occur, many are quick to abandon even a slightly bruised ball.  Add to that the fact that golf ranges replace their battered golf balls regularly, and you've got to wonder: what happens to all these prematurely discarded globes of impermeable plastic?

Most of them are recycled;  they're donated to junior golf programs and sent to soldiers serving abroad or sold to players like me; recreational players who buy used... refurbished, refinished... balls for casual rounds because we accept that the less-than-pristine condition of our golf balls is not going to affect our often abysmal scores.  And because we tend lose a couple/few each round.

There's also a small but creative group of crafters who are upcycling old golf balls in all kinds of interesting ways, creating everything from original art to home accessories. As with all things DIY, Pinterest is the place to start for inspiration. There are dozens of pinboards, dedicated to golf ball crafts, and most of the projects are easy, family-friendly and fun.  So if you happen to have some old unwanted golf balls, you may want to see what you can do with them.  Or you can just send them to me.