Friday, September 30, 2016

Product Review: Zero Friction ZFT Maxx Tees

American Golfer ran a poll on +Google asking what type of tee golfers used the most. The majority of those who answered prefer wood (55 percent), which wasn’t surprising - after all, wooden tees are cheap, plentiful and have been around for generations.

What was surprising, however, was that 28 percent of golfers didn’t care. Using whatever they pull out of their bag suited them just fine. Golf is an expensive game, but if something inexpensive (like a tee) could improve play, I would think more people would be interested in putting the right one in their bags.

If you’re reading this and keeping score, you know there are 17 percent of responders unaccounted for. Those are the golfers who preferred “performance” tees. I’ve fallen into this group for the last decade, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to take the new Zero Friction ZFT Maxx tees for a test drive.

These 3-prong tees greatly reduce contact area with the golf ball (by 66 percent). The theory behind that - less contact with the ball leads to longer, straighter drives. Who wouldn’t want that? The ball settles inside a traditional tee - adding the possibility of unwanted side spin. Problem solved with these 3-prong beauties.

The ZFT Maxx tees are larger, thicker and more durable than their predecessors. There’s also a height-striping system, which is perfect for those who want consistent placement of their ball.

While they come in both 2 3/4” and 3 1/4”, I’m a fan of the longer. You can always push it in the ground a bit more to lower, but you can’t pull the shorter tee out, obviously. Still ... It’s nice to have options.

Speaking of shorter options ... My sample packs each included a stubby hybrid tee - awesome for par 3s.

For golfers with an environmentally friendly mindset, the ZFT Maxx tees are made of bio-composite and recycled materials. Not only will you save some trees, but you’ll also be kinder/gentler on the mower blades for the maintenance staff.

I hate to contradict myself, but the only negative I can see with the ZFT Maxx is price. Golf Galaxy sells a 24-pack for $8.99. Compare that to a 75-pack of wooded tees for $6.99 and the budget-conscience may have second thoughts. Again, take into consideration the durability of synthetic tees, as well as the added distance and accuracy. Can you put a price on those?

On a related note, because the tees are slightly flexible, there’s a chance they’ll slingshot in front of or behind you. While this adds to the durability, keep that in mind if you’re worried about losing one.

Learn more about the ZFT Maxx or other 3- or 4-prong tees the company offers at www.zerofriction.com.

The Traveling Golfer in Quivira Los Cabos

The breathtaking Quivira Golf Club, often known as the "Pebble Beach of Mexico," takes center stage in this Traveling Golfer. A visual trip to Cabo San Lucas brings viewers to the luxury Quivira Resort.

Devereux Americana Collection Offers Fresh New Layering Looks to Beat the Autumn Chill

Americana Showcases Trendy New Sweaters and ¼ Zips That Keep Devereux Men Warm While Looking Classically Cool

(SCOTTSDALE, AZ) – Devereux, an innovator in properly styled men’s resort and golf clothing founded by brothers Robert and Will Brunner, recently unveiled its Americana Collection layering items for Fall 2016. Americana features an array of sweaters and ¼ zip pullovers that offer a sophisticated and stylish solution for beating the chill.

James Pullover
Complementing the classically cool tops of the Americana collection, Creative Director Robert Brunner, designed the new layering items in a quartet of trendy looks and rich colorways that provide a stylish contrast to the softer color palette found in the tops and bottoms in the Fall portfolio.  

“Designing layering items for resort-inspired looks was a fun challenge for me, because I had to come up with pieces that work with a pair of shorts for a hot look on a boat, but still offer something stylish and practical enough for a weekend at a ski lodge,” said Robert Brunner, Creative Director and Co-Founder – Devereux. “In addition to the classic layering hues of blacks and greys that are quite versatile, we added in pieces with pops of color and subtle design nuances that really make this collection one that stands out from the crowd.  There truly is a sweater for every resort occasion you can think of from a cool dewy morning on the Gulf Coast to a Pacific Northwest mountain cabin getaway.”

Devereux’s Americana Collection layering items include:
Collin Crewneck Sweater  ($120)
· Constructed from 100% luxurious Pima Cotton, this Lux Knit is a lightweight, two-toned, rolled crewneck sweater for stylish men.  It is finished with raw seams and ribbed side vents to provide for an excellent fit. The Collin is the perfect casual layering piece for a day at the resort. Available in Navy and Victory Red colorways.
Edison Shawl ($180)
· The Edison Shawl is made of 100% fine Pima Cotton and provides its wearer with a contemporary shawl look with contrasting color for a cool heather visual effect.   For added style and maximum comfort, the Edison offers a ribbed cuff, hem and neck.  Available in Caviar and Mojave colorways.

James Pullover ($100)
· Crafted from a 95% Polyester/ 5% Spandex blend, the James is a performance ¼ zip pullover that is engineered to maintain comfortable body temperature on cool days.  The James is enhanced with a sueded hand feel and camo placket to help you stay comfortable and stylish when layering.  Available in Graphite, Navy and Steel colorways.

Preston Pullover: ($185)
· The Preston is a luxurious, mid-weight ¼ zip made from 100% fine Pima Cotton.  It showcases sophisticated elements with a diamond-knit pattern, Horn buttons enclosure and faux suede detail – making it a stylish statement piece.  Available in silver.    

Devereux apparel is crafted for resort lovers and golf enthusiasts, and features an array of polo shirts, pants, shorts, various luxurious layering items and headwear that is designed to seamlessly transition from the course to the street. For more information on Devereux’s entire selection of proper threads, visit www.dvrxthreads.com.

PGA Value Guide to Host Fall Trade-In Blitz Throughout October

Golfers Can Access the PGA Value Guide to Find Fair Market Trade-In Values for Their Current Golf Clubs

(Raleigh, NC) - The PGA Value Guide, the National Standard for Golf Club Values, announced a Fall Trade-In Blitz program that will run the entire month of October at valueguide.pga.com. Thanks to a flood of great golf club technology in the marketplace and strong trade-in values, golfers can access the PGA Value Guide to find the fair market trade-in value for their current clubs and help offset the cost of a new equipment purchase.

As part of the October Fall Trade-In Blitz, golfers visiting the PGA Value Guide will receive an extra 20% on the value of their existing clubs toward the purchase of new clubs.  In fact, the PGA Value Guide website offers a convenient online trade-in tool which allows golfers to print a free shipping label, ship their clubs in and receive cash or credit for their trade-ins.  Golfers can then visit any one of over 5,000 PGA Professional-staffed facilities in the PGA Trade-In Network where they redeem their cash or credit towards the purchase of new properly-fit golf equipment from the top brands in golf.

“PGA Value Guide is the destination where golfers come to find the value of their existing clubs, as well as past purchases that may be gathering dust in the garage,” said Doug Smith, PGA Value Guide VP – Business Development.  “Today’s high performance drivers, fairway woods, irons and putters are generating a great return on investment in-trade. Fall is the perfect time for golfers to trade-in their existing clubs to help offset the cost of new golf club innovations hitting the market.”

Just like determining the resale value of a preowned vehicle, the PGA Value Guide provides a detailed valuation of existing equipment for trade-in. Consumers have a mechanism to make an easy, turn-key new product purchase. Today, the PGA Value Guide features everything from benefits to reviews, product specifications to pricing. It is recognized as THE Source for providing current fair market values for all golf clubs, as well as in-depth research and information on new equipment in the market.

For more information on the PGA Value Guide’s Fall Trade-In Blitz, visit valueguide.pga.com.

Sports Turf Managers Association to Host 28th Annual Conference & Exhibition

Leading Industry Event Returns to Orlando for First Time Since 2010

(LAWRENCE, Kan.) – Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) – the professional organization for 2,600 men and women managing sports fields worldwide who are critical to the safety of athletes and coaches – will host its 28th annual Conference & Exhibition January 24-27, 2017 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Approximately 1,200 leaders in the sports turf industry will gather at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort for more than 75 hours of cutting-edge sports turf education, dedicated networking functions and exhibitor demonstrations. This marks the first time the event has returned to Orlando since 2010.

Close to 50 educational sessions and panel discussions will feature sports turf managers along with academic and commercial representatives from schools, colleges and universities, parks and recreational facilities, and professional sports stadiums.

With eight educational tracks, sample topics include agronomics, water, professional development, facility management, construction/renovation, industry developments, synthetic, and K-12.

"Each year we look forward to sharing best practices, networking and learning about new industry trends," says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. "We’re excited to return to the ‘Sunshine State’ for the 2017 Conference, which will offer comprehensive educational opportunities and inspire sports turf managers to re-energize for the upcoming year."

Laura Katen, President of Katen Consulting, has been tapped as the event's highly anticipated keynote speaker. A New York-based professional development training company, Katen and her team travel nationally conducting seminars for Fortune 500 companies to not-for-profit companies. Katen will address the topic of professionalism, and how communication at an individual and organizational level influences how you are perceived by your peers, employer and community.

New additions to the Conference include Chapter Board Members' Reception, multiple “Fun Run/Walk” times, led by chair Tom Nielsen of the Louisville Bats, and an educational track created specifically for K-12 sports turf managers

Returning for 2017, the always-popular “Seminar on Wheels Tours” will visit Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Practice Facility, Barnett Park, the Citrus Bowl and Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Conference attendees can also take advantage of continuing education units from the American Sports Builders Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, National Association of Landscape Professionals, National Recreation and Park Association, Professional Grounds Management Society and STMA.

The SAFE Foundation – STMA’s charitable arm enriching communities by championing safe, sustainable sports and recreation fields – will host a variety of fundraising activities throughout the Conference. It also presents awards to the winners of the Student Challenge, a competition between teams of undergraduates in turfgrass programs with two groups taking home $5,000 each.

Registration for the Conference opens Saturday, October 1. Receive complimentary entrance with new membership dues. Be sure to book online before January 6 to take advantage of “early bird” rates.

For more info: www.stma.org, www.twitter.com/fieldexperts, 800.323.3875.

Dramatic Renovation of The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club

The Jack Nicklaus redesign is in collaboration with noted architect John Sanford; Renovation began in April, and will be completed this November

(NAPLES, FL) – Interested in taking a getaway?  Then you should consider heading to the AAA Four-Diamond The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Southwest Florida. Set on 125 lush acres, complemented by seven miles of pristine white sandy beach, the 319-room resort is Southwest Florida’s only resort directly on the beach with an on-site championship golf course, a world-class spa, and an award-winning tennis center. Want more reason to visit? The resort will complete the dramatic renovation – almost reinvention – of its championship golf course this November. The resort’s course is being redesigned with input from golf icon and acclaimed course designer Jack Nicklaus, who has a historical tie to the resort.

The Jack Nicklaus redesign is being done in collaboration with noted course architect John Sanford of Sanford Golf Design. This major $9 million project follows $50 million in impressive renovations and enhancements at the resort over the last few years. The total redesign of the resort’s course began in April, and the entire project will be complete this November, with the course fully operational and reopening on November 17, 2016, according to the beachfront resort’s General Manager Jason Parsons. According to Parsons, this is almost a month ahead of schedule.

Jack Nicklaus is helping to celebrate his past and that of The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club by reshaping the future of this iconic golf course. It was in 1951, on a family vacation to Naples, Florida, and a friendly round of golf alongside his father, that the Ohio native accomplished the very impressive feat of first breaking 40 over nine holes on the resort’s course, shooting a 37. At just 11 years old, he came within a shot of shooting par, and just one year after he picked up golf clubs for the first time. This round, in particular, is what drew Nicklaus to the project–the scorecard is even archived in the Jack Nicklaus Museum, the 24,000-square-foot facility on the campus of The Ohio State University.

“Being back at The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club is like a walk down memory lane for me,” Nicklaus said. “Returning to the same course where I broke 40, with my father by my side, brings back a lot of very special and very fond memories. At the same time, I am enjoying the opportunity to work with John (Sanford) on this rebirth, if you will, of a wonderful layout. I think we have some great ideas and people will be excited about the end product.”

The resort’s golf course brings together two of the world’s finest designers, who celebrated the grand opening of their collaboration on Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, New York, in 2015. Sanford served as project manager for the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, and among the many honors bestowed on the design, it was named to Golf Digest’s Best New Courses 2015 and recognized by Golf Magazine as the Best New Course You Can Play. It was also a top-three global selection by Golf Inc. as Development of the Year.

“We are very proud and excited about the completion of the dramatic renovation and redesign of our 18-hole championship golf course,” Parsons said. “The redesign is a unique collaboration between the greatest player of all time Jack Nicklaus, who also is one of the world’s most celebrated golf course designers, and the very talented John Sanford. It truly has been a pleasure to see them collaborate on this totally new, par-71 course, which features five tees, ranging from 4,800 yards to over 6,900 yards. Our guests, groups, and golfers of every skill level will absolutely love the truly beautiful new course. The new course will be a terrific addition to the experience for our guests.”

Golf Course Architect John Sanford said, “The course has been redesigned to challenge the best players but also be enjoyable for all golfers. The redesign takes advantage of the sandy soils so the course will play ‘firm and fast.’ The ball will roll out so tee shots will be longer and approaches are open to accept running shots to the greens. The greens are gently contoured to allow for multiple hole locations but have continuous movement that will challenge all skill levels. Many of the large trees were cleared to ‘open up’ the course and various types of palm trees have been planted to extend the beachfront character of the resort. We are very excited about the reopening of the course in November.”

Sanford added, “We have a number of great new holes at the resort course, which includes the ‘signature hole’ #16. It is a medium length ‘Redan’ par 3. The green is a peninsula with water in front, on the right and behind the green. It’s not long but will require accuracy to hit the green.”

In addition to the new course, the resort has added a 300-yard practice and teaching range, and will have new golf carts with GPS tracking systems to aid golfers with yardages on each hole, thus helping pace of play.

“The completion of this renovation will bring our golf course in line with the rest of our AAA Four-Diamond resort and enhance the overall guest and group experience,” said Henry B. Watkins, co-owner of the resort. “The added bonus of having Mr. Nicklaus collaborate on the redesign of the course where he first broke 40 for nine holes is wonderful, and further enriches the deep history of our property.”

Rich in hospitality and tradition, The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club has been part of the Naples community since 1946. Owned and operated by the Watkins family for three generations, the resort also features: 1,000 feet of soft white-sand beach; the world-class spa; a fitness center; the Mary C. Watkins Tennis Center with six Har-Tru courts; Beach Kids Club, a complimentary daily recreational program for children ages 5 to 12; retail shops; beach rentals; 34,000 square feet of meeting space; and a variety of picturesque outdoor venues for receptions and events.

In addition, the resort features multiple restaurants and lounges. The selection includes:  the signature beachfront restaurant HB’s on the Gulf; Broadwell’s, serving breakfast daily and providing panoramic views of the golf course; and the Seminole Store, which serves deli sandwiches, ice cream, gourmet coffees and a variety of freshly baked pizza, pastries and desserts in a café atmosphere. The Sunset Beach Bar & Grill has been recognized as the “Best Place To View A Southwest Florida Sunset,” and was named “Naples’ Best Beach Bar” by Travel Channel.

Guest rooms and suites feature cool tropical-colored linens, fabrics and carpeting; flat-panel televisions; patios or balconies (with a view of the Gulf, the golf course or the lush resort interior); coffee makers; and refrigerators.

Among the recent enhancements was the November 2015 replacement of the brick balconies in the main Tower Building with beautiful glass balconies to showcase the gorgeous Gulf views.

Situated just blocks from Naples’ renowned shopping districts of fashionable 5th Avenue South and historic 3rd Street South, the resort is also within minutes of shopping at Venetian Village, Waterside Shops, Bayfront and Tin City.

Guests can further experience the area by taking tours of the Everglades, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, Corkscrew Swamp, The Botanical Gardens, or the Conservancy Nature Center. Boat and fishing trips can also be arranged at the hotel. Other leisure-time activities can include Naples’ outstanding museums, theatres, and art galleries.

Providing a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, the resort is an exceptional tropical getaway. Guests always benefit from no resort fees, complimentary self-parking and valet parking, and complimentary access to the resort’s fitness center. The resort is located at 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. North in Naples, Florida.

For reservations or for information about rates, contact the resort’s Reservations Department at (800) 237-7600 or (239) 261-2222, and visit NaplesBeachHotel.com. For golf rates and tee time information, as the course will be open to the public, contact the resort’s Golf Pro Shop at (239) 435-2475.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Four Teams Tied for the Lead at USGA Men's State Team Championship

Defending Champs Among Teams Tied at the Top After Round 1

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) - Birthday magic, local knowledge and some good old-fashioned shot-making all went a long way on Wednesday in the first round of the 12th USGA Men’s State Team Championship.

Ohio, Missouri, Connecticut and Texas each took advantage of at least one of the aforementioned elements to finish in a four-way tie for the lead, posting 2-under 140 on the 7,162-yard, par-71 West Course at the Country Club of Birmingham.

The United States Golf Association conducts the USGA Men’s State Team Championship on a biennial basis. It features teams of three players from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Eighteen holes of stroke play are conducted over three days, with the two lowest scores of the three individuals counting as the team’s score for the round. Following Thursday’s second round, the field will be cut to the low 21 teams and ties.

Defending champion Texas was the lone team to post an under-par score during the afternoon wave, led by a 3-under 68 from Joshua Irving, who was celebrating his 30th birthday. Competing in his first Men’s State Team, Irving, of Dallas, carded six birdies during his round, with four of them coming during a five-hole stretch between Nos. 8 and 12. Feeling the pressure of representing a state that owns a record four titles, Irving made an 8-foot par save on No. 1 and then watched his 40-foot birdie try on No. 2 roll down a slope and sneak into the hole. His round, especially on the greens, gained momentum from there.

“It was a really special day. It kind of hit me last night during the [flag procession] ceremony how special of an occasion this was. It was the most pressure I’ve felt in a golf round in my amateur career,” said Irving, who has advanced to the quarterfinals of the last two U.S. Mid-Amateurs, including earlier this month at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa. “[The putt on No. 2] went in and everyone cheered and I raised the putter and it just got me into the zone of really competing.”

The putt would foreshadow the key to Irving’s round, as he also made birdie putts from approximately 30 and 25 feet on his way to matching the low individual score of the day. His lone rough stretch came on the inward nine, when his tee shot on the par-3 13th hole went into the hazard to the right of the green, leading to a double bogey, and he followed that up with a bogey on the par-4 14th.

Texas’ second counting score came from the lone returnee from the Lone Star State’s 2014 title squad, Zach Atkinson. The 34-year-old from Colleyville shot 1-over 72.

Irving’s 68 was matched by Connecticut’s Geoff Vartelas, who parred the first 11 holes before making birdies on Nos. 12 and 13. The recent Penn State graduate capped his round by dropping an 18-foot birdie putt on 18. Vartelas, along with his two Connecticut teammates, are all first-time Men’s State Team competitors, and Connecticut is the only team among the four leaders without any previous experience nor someone who played in the  in the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Birmingham.

Vartelas substituted experience for steady play and good shot-making.

“I just played really solid today. I hit a lot of greens, just played a lot of really good iron shots, and kind of got lucky. I put it in the right spots on the greens out here. There’s a lot of undulation [on the greens] and you’ve got to put it in the right position to give yourself a good look, and I managed to do that pretty well today,” said Vartelas, 22, of Cromwell.

Teammate John Flaherty posted 1-over 72 for the squad’s other counting score. “I got on a little bit of a roll on the back nine,” said Flaherty. “It was just a really solid round, didn’t hit many bad shots, and just took advantage of some opportunities.”

Missouri and Ohio were able to take advantage of previous West Course experience. Ohio’s Bill Williamson, who shot 2-under 69, was the runner-up to Michael McCoy in the 2013 Mid-Amateur, and was happy to relive the good vibes he got from his deep run three years ago.

“I’ve got a good golfing memory. I remember everywhere I hit it in every match. Just being comfortable on the property helps,” said Williamson, 39, of Cincinnati. “I hit it close a lot, which is good. That [birdie putt on No. 18] from maybe 15 feet was the longest putt I made.”

Jeffrey Scohy, 39, of Bellbrook, Ohio, missed the cut in the 2013 Mid-Amateur in 2013, but managed an even-par 71.

Missouri’s Richard Berkmeyer also missed match play in the 2013 Mid-Amateur, but was very comfortable on Wednesday, firing a 2-under 69. The 42-year-old from Wildwood has also competed on the Donald Ross layout in several other competitions, and used the experience to card four birdies.

“The great thing about this course, the greens can be a little confusing at times, but it’s pretty straightforward from tee to green,” said Berkmeyer, who combined with teammate Brad Nurski, the 2014 Mid-Amateur runner-up, for the Show-Me State’s two counting scores. “It’s firmer and faster this year, and that’s better for my game. If you hit it on the fairway, hit it on the green, that makes it a little easier, and I did that today.”

Pennsylvania, which features five-time USGA champion Nathan Smith, 2015 U.S. Senior Amateur champion Chip Lutz, and 2016 U.S. Open qualifier Chris Crawford, is two strokes behind the co-leaders at even-par 142. Crawford, 22, of Bensalem, led the way for the trio with a 2-under 69, one of just six individuals to break par in Round 1, joining Vartaleas, Irving, Berkmeyer, Williamson and Delaware’s Jay Whitby, who posted 2-under 69.

Host state Alabama struggled to an 8-over 150 and currently sits outside the cutline in a tie for 26th.