What’s New from the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show – Part 1

Last week I attended the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. It’s such a huge show. With so many things to see, I always go straight to the new product area to check out the latest golf-related products. There were over 100 new items this year and quite a few caught my eye. I’ll be posting about some of the most interesting over the next few weeks.

Crown Club

Some of the 300 designs were on display.

ClubCrown by Vive

ClubCrown by Vive is for those who enjoy personalizing their golf equipment and accessories. This product was very well-received at the show garnering Golfdigest.com’s “Best in Show” and Golf.com’s list of “Hot Products.”

ClubCrown is a one-size-fits-all “high-tech adhesive 3M film” for your driver, fairway woods and hybrids. They have over 300 designs, from animal prints to solids, camo to flags, flames to tropical. They also offer several college logo’s and are in discussion for pro team designs.

I watched as they installed a print on a driver and it took a mere ten minutes. The film covers is guaranteed not to peel or bubble and is removable so you can change designs or remove when selling or trading in you clubs. Another benefit is that it saves your clubs from nicks and scratches. The covers conform to all USGA Rules and is an easy way to customize your equipment.

Crown Club

Showing the application process.

Another interesting aspect of ClubCrown is the opportunity to create a custom design. With a minimum order of only 12, you can have your own design. This would be a great marketing tool for businesses, social causes, schools and teams of all kinds.The covers have to be applied by a “Certified Installer.” So although you can order them online, you have to visit a participating pro shop or golf retailer to get them applied. A list of locations is on their website at www.clubcrown.com. The MSRP of an individual cover is $39.99 which includes installation. Unfortunately, there are no locations in the Tampa area yet, but I would check back often if you are interested.

 

 

 

Conditions Much Improved at Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club

Heritage Isles - 16th hole

The 16th is a long par 3 with water left and sand right.

It’s been over a year since I last played Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club. I was pleasantly surprised with the improved shape of the course as the last round I played here was a little disappointing. The tee boxes and fairways were all cut and in good shape. While the greens seemed a little fast, they were running true. The sand, like last time, was hit or miss with some traps raked and others not.

Heritage Isles isn’t a very long course with four sets of tees measuring just under 7000 yards from the gold tees to just over 4800 yards from the red tees. Where this course shows its teeth is in the par threes. Three of the four par threes reach almost 200 yards from the blue tees and the other is still over 170 yards. Par on these holes will save your round. But the challenges don’t stop there. Although there are generous landing areas on most fairways, be careful of several well placed traps and water hazards that can make for a long day.

The staff was friendly at check in and they have an aqua driving range and putting green behind the pro shop. There is also a bunker area for sand trap practice. The starter was got us off on our scheduled tee time and a ranger on the course keep pace of play moving. They also had a beverage cart on the course which we saw several times. We played on a weekday afternoon and finished our round in three hours and the price was great at $28.  The rates and pace of play will vary depending on time and day of play.

Overall, Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club is in much better condition and well worth playing. For more information on tee times and rates and directions contact 813-907-7447 or www.heritageislesgolf.com or check out my previous post Heritage Isles Not Up To Par For Holiday Play (4/25/11).

Lexington Oaks Golf Club Provides a Challenge

 

Lexington Oaks Golf Club: 2nd hole

The 2nd hole is a long par 3 with lots of water to carry.

I played Lexington Oaks Golf Club last week. It has been a little over a year since I last played there. You can tell from my past posts that I like the course and the challenges it offers.  Winding you through the Lexington Oaks subdivision there are a good variety of dog legs and straight drives. You are also challenged by a number of sand and water hazards as well as wetlands to carry.

The course is not the longest with five sets of tees ranging from 4400 yards to just 0ver 6600, but watch out for the the par 3s. Three of them are over 200 yards long if you go from the tips. The course is in overall good shape with well mown tees and fairways. The greens were rolling a little fast, but it seems like they always keep them a little fast. The sand traps are in good shape also.

The staff was friendly at check in and the starter informed us of  pin posistions and any course condition updates. They also have an aqua driving range, which was busy, and a putting green to warm up. The carts are good, but no GPS.

We had an 11:35 tee time and started a few minutes late. It took us 4 1/2 hours to get in 18 holes. Winter golf rates are in effect and range from$19.95 for super twilight to $44.95 on a weekend morning. So a little more expensive than usual but still a good deal.

As always, I enjoyed the challenge of golfing Lexington Oaks Golf Club and the great conditions. For more information contact www.lexoaks.com or check out my previous posts:

Lexington Oaks Golf Club (5/2/11)
Update: 12/6/11
Update: 7/1/11

Last Minute Golf Gifts

It’s that time of year when I realize that I’ve left my gift buying to the last minute. Again. While my wife does the bulk of the shopping, I try to pick up something for my friends that they would like without breaking the bank. Since all my friends golf, it’s straight to the local golf shop. With just a few days left before Christmas, here are some quick golf gift ideas for the golfer in your family, or friends in your foursome.

Gift Cards. These are always popular with lazy shoppers like myself, but you can’t go wrong. Not only can you get gift cards from the major golf stores like Edwin Watts or Golfsmith, if you can make it to your favorite golf course, you can purchase gift cards for a round of golf.

Callaway Gift Packs. Another hassle-free gift idea. I found these at Edwin Watts with prices ranging from $15-30. They included everything from branded tees, balls, carrying cases, and even cigar carriers.

Golden Tee Golf video game. I found this gem at Golfsmith priced at $19.98. Based on the popular video game found in most drinking establishments, this version just hooks up to your TV.

Range finders. On the higher end of the price spectrum, but guaranteed to be a big hit. Good prices can be found if you look and I found the popular Garmin Watch GPS on sale for $169 at Edwin Watts.

Swing training aids and golf nets. If you’d like to get your friends to improve their game, there are many nifty training aids and golf nets available. Prices range significantly, but many can be picked up for under $50.

I hope this list gives you a few holiday gift ideas for the golfers on your list. Happy Holidays!

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Pebble Creek Golf Club Delivers Another Nice Round

Pebble Creek Golf Club - 10th hole

The 10th hole is a dog-leg left par 4. Very narrow off the tee, a straight drive is required.

It’s been six months since I played Pebble Creek Golf Club so I thought it was time to check out the current conditions. Pebble Creek is one of my favorite courses and provides good value for money. The course is not the longest par 71 you will play at just over 6400 yards from the back tees to slightly under 5200 yards from the front, but it’s still challenging course. With water on 17 holes, some narrow, tree-lined fairways, and well-placed sand traps, Pebble Creek Golf Club can play hard.

As expected, the course was in good condition. The tees and fairways are and in good shape, as were the greens which were rolling nicely. The sand was also in nice condition and all raked. I headed over on a late weekday morning and was able to get out as a single thanks to the friendly staff. The pace of play was good although I eventually caught a twosome on the ninth and continued to play with one of guys through the back nine. I had to leave on the 17th fairway, but it was about a three-hour round.

Pebble Creek Golf Club also offers good amenities although they recently got rid of their driving range. Carts have GPS which is always nice when trying to find your yardage.  And the price is right, I paid $24 which is a great. With the peak golf season around the corner, I suggest you get out now and enjoy the cool weather and lower rates. For more information go to www.pebblecreekclub.com and check out my previous posts:

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Eagles Golf Club, Forest Course – Thanks for The Renovations!

Eagles Forest Course - 16th hole

The 16th hole can be a long par 3, depending on your tee selection. Any shot that misses the green will roll off due to severe slopes.

Looking to get in a Thanksgiving round of golf? If you’d like to try something a little special, try the Forest Course at the Eagles Golf Club. They completed renovations over the summer and I tested out the new conditions last week. The last time I played this course it left a lot to be desired but after hearing it was now playable and in good condition, I was eager to see the changes.

The Forest Course demands accuracy with both water and tree-lined fairways for you to navigate. There are four sets of tees that range from 6700 to 4900 yards. Choosing the right tees is important as there are both long tee shots long second shots that need to carry water. There are also drives that need to get past trees on severe dog-legs both left and right. If you get frustrated, stop and take in the scenery. The course is set in a beautiful landscape full of wildlife. During our round we saw several alligators and my friend counted a total of eleven deer and seventeen turkeys.

I am happy to report that the Forest Course is now in good condition. The tee boxes and fairways have all been redone and are in good shape. The greens were also replaced, and although they were rolling fast, they are also in good condition. After the first few holes I was able to adjust and it wasn’t a problem.  I also noticed the sand traps were newly done and in excellent shape, nice white sand and well-raked. Unfortunately, I became aware of this by hitting into a few.  Your butt might also appreciate that they re-paved the cart paths all the way around.

The staff was friendly at check-in as was the starter when getting our cart. The carts are new and now have a cooler with ice and bottled water. They have an aqua driving range and putting green which is now located in the front by the parking lot. The beverage cart came around several times, which is nice considering that the Forest Course doesn’t bring you past the clubhouse after the first nine. As a twosome we were able to finish our round in just over three hours with a late morning tee time. We could have been quicker, but we stopped to take in the wildlife.

Overall I was really pleased with the upgrades and plan on playing the Forest Course again. I also want to go back and play the Eagles Golf Club’s second course, the Lakes Course. The  Eagles is slightly tricky to get to but is centrally located between Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.  Located off Race Track road in Odessa it’s about a 1/2 hour from downtown Tampa. For more information go to www.eaglesgolf.com and also check out my previous posts:

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No Change is Good at Cheval Golf and Country Club

 

Cheval Golf & Country Club: 2nd hole

The 2nd hole is a nice dog-leg right, par 4. Watch for water on right.

 

 

 

I played at Cheval Golf and Country Club last week, almost exactly one year since my last visit.  It was like I had never left. What I like about this course is that it doesn’t change. It is consistently excellent and lives up to its reputation as one of the best private/public courses to golf in south Florida.

The course is still challenging. Cheval can play long depending on your tee selection which range from over 7000 yards to a little over 5000. Choosing the right tees will help you better enjoy your game as this course can be difficult. Each nine has plenty of challenges with dog-leg holes and strategically placed water and sand hazards. Then, on holes like the 11th, you think you might have a short easy hole with a nice wide fairway, until you realize how small the green is.

It’s still in great condition. The tee boxes are cut, the fairways are in good shape, and the sand on the course is nicely raked and playable (not washed out, no foot prints). The greens ran true. It was just two of us and with a late morning tee time and we got around the course in just over three hours. This will change depending on when you play.

The staff is still friendly at the bag drop at check-in. They have a nice driving range and two greens for chipping and bunker play. If you have time you might want to practice your sand play, I noticed at the turn there were a couple of guys doing just that. It also has a nice size putting green for you to get the speed of the greens down.

The one thing that changed is they have a new well-stocked Pro Shop, and a restaurant and bar overlooking the practice green, but that is for the better. It was under construction last time I was here.

If you get a chance to play Cheval Golf and Country Club, do it. Non-members can play by becoming “Member For a Day” and must call for prices and tee times as they don’t offer online booking options. Prices are a little higher than for most courses (averaging about $70) but you know that you will be playing an excellent course and that you will get value for your money.

Cheval is conveniently located north of downtown Tampa in the Lutz area. For more information go to www.chevalgcc.com

Lights Are On At Terrace Hill Golf Club

 

Terrace Hill Golf Club: Lit nine-hole course

Terrace Hill is a 9-hole course with lights for night play.

 

 

 

Terrace Hill Golf Club is a practice facility and nine-hole executive-style course. What makes this facility stand out is that it is fully lit.  Not lights for just the driving range, but also for the nine holes. You don’t often see golf courses with lights, and this is the only one in Tampa Bay.

If you’re a beginner (or know one), Terrace Hill Golf Club is a great place to get out on a course for some real-world experience before trying the more intimidating courses. They offer a full range of lessons given by Ken Juhn who is the local PGA Pro and the instructor who helps out my Dad.

Terrace Hill: Covered tees for driving range.

Terrace Hill features covered tees on their driving range.

It’s also great place for the die-hard golfer to practice on the range, or play a round of golf under the lights after dinner, easily making their final tee time at 8:45 pm. The course has six par threes and three par fours to help you practice your short and long iron game. There are sand traps near the greens to keep your game accurate. It is a short course, ranging from 1500 to just over 1850 yards with three sets of tees. The driving range features covered tees and a putting green to practice your stroke.

The staff is friendly and helpful. Depending on when you play you can get around the nine holes in just over an hour. The price is also a deal at $9 to $21 depending on if you play nine or 18 holes. Taking into account the price, the course is in pretty good shape. Nice tees, fairways greens and sand.

Centrally located in Temple Terrace, Florida, you can call 813-985-4653 or visit http://thgcgolf.com/Terrace_Hill_Golf_Club for more information.

For the Love of Golf

My Dad working on his putting stroke with Ken Juhn

My Dad working on his putting stroke with Ken Juhn

 

 

 

 

My Dad taught me the game of golf 40 years ago. Some of my best memories growing up, and as an adult, are on the golf course with my Dad. He was a good golfer, but even when I was younger he would never let me win. As I got older he still beat me regularly, but I was able get him a couple of times (I still have the scorecards). He often gave me advice on my golf game and life, unfortunately I didn’t listen to either very often.

Six years ago he had stroke. The stroke effected his left side and he has little movement in his arm and leg. Since then he has not golfed. Throughout his rehabilitation all he talked about was golfing again. He used to golf every morning, five days a week. He actually golfed the morning of his stroke. He missed golf so much that we would go to the golf course and he would ride in the cart while I golfed, still telling me how I should play a certain shot or what club to hit, but he still couldn’t play himself. I know this was really bothering him.

Recently however, he discovered a PGA Professional by the name of Ken Juhn who works at the Terrace Hill Golf Club. For about ten years, Ken has been helping the disabled to either learn the game, or enjoy the game of golf again. Mostly he works with disabled veterans, a program that was started in November of 2007. Ken has a core group of about 12 golfers that play every Friday and also provides weekly VA clinics. His classes are always well-attended and he jokes that on a rainy day, his golfers will be the only ones out there.

The clubs they use are donated and then adapted to the needs of each individual golfer. Depending on their disability, clubs may need adjustments in length, lie angles and grip, or use more flexible shafts, depending on their stance and strength. But the piece of equipment that makes the most difference is the specially designed golf carts called “SoloRider.” These are single-rider golf carts that have seats with seatbelts that can turn and lift the golfer into a hitting stance. These were originally donated with the help of the James A. Haley Hospital to help disabled veterans.

My Dad hitting off the tee with Ken Juhn coaching

My Dad hitting off the tee with Ken Juhn coaching

Ken shows a lot of patience with my Dad. Taking him through basic drills and then heading out to the short nine-hole course to play a few holes. Talking about what equipment will help him most, whether it’s shoes, gloves, or adapted clubs. It’s clear he loves what he’s doing and believes that in spite of anyone’s physical, emotional, or mental challenges, they have the ability to play. Ken works with another PGA Professional Dave Windsor out of Sarasota and together they formed the Adaptive Golf Academy (www.adaptivegolfacademy.com) with everything from lessons, workshops and equipment that help the golfer adapt to how to play the game with their disability.

Thanks to Ken, my Dad looks forward to every Tuesday. I sometimes go and play with him, just like old times. Since my dad has only the use of his right arm, I too play with only my right arm. I don’t let my dad win, because he would not want that, but after a few holes, sometimes I’m hoping he might let me win. Just like old times. I think this program is a great opportunity for any golfer with a disability. I know it has helped my Dad. And me.

Ken’s classes are open to the public, he also provides private lessons to both disabled and abled golfers. If you’re interested in more information, you can contact him at the Temple Terrace Golf Club, 813-985-4653, via his cell phone, 786-326-2719, or email kj4golf@yahoo.com.

Plantation Palms Golf Club Still Up To Par

Plantation Palms Golf Club: 4th hole

The 4th hole is a par 3 that plays downhill. Sand on the left and behind the green. Sand can come into play depending on pin position.

 

 

 

 

Plantation Palms Golf Club was my first post over a year ago. At that time, the course was in great condition and I was excited to play it again. I am happy to see that although the course has undergone a management change, the course has not changed. In style, it is similar to many of Tampa’s residential courses. What makes it special is that Plantation Palms is in consistently excellent condition and provides good value for money.

The course features several elevated greens and other hole elevation changes that are challenging. Both open and narrow fairways add variety, but watch for fairway bunkers. Greens are well protected by surrounding sand. And, oh yes, some well placed water and waste areas are guaranteed to keep you focused from tee to green. After double-checking the score cards, the only thing I did notice (maybe a little trivial) is that the course is a little shorter. There are still four sets of tees, but they now range from just over 6700 yards from the back tees, to just slightly over 5300 yards at the front. The difference is about 100 yards different per set of tees.

As before, the course was in great condition. The tees and fairways were all cut and in good shape and the sand was still in “Clearwater Beach” condition despite the summer rains. The greens, although in good shape, were a little slow. The practice range was also in good shape as was the practice sand bunker, chipping  area and putting green. The carts all have a GPS systems and have a cooler with ice and water. With temperatures cooling, you can start later in the afternoon and take advantage of empty courses and cheaper rates. We played last Wednesday afternoon, teed off at 3:30 pm and finished in three hours. The price was also nice at $25.

Plantation Palms Golf Club is located in Land O’ Lakes just off Hwy 54 on Collier Parkway. For more information on tee times, rates and directions go to www.plantationpalms.net

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