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Wildlife Encounters on the Golf Course

Over the years I have encountered a variety of wildlife out on the golf course, human and otherwise. In this blog, we’ll focus on the non-humans. We can talk about that foursome in front of you next time.

One of the things I enjoy about being on the golf course is simply being outdoors, tied into nature. A round of golf can turn out to be a great nature walk if you take the time to look around. The type of wildlife you run into will vary depending on what part of the world you live or play in. I’ve been fortunate over the years to not only play in Southern California, where I live, but also in Florida, North and South Carolina, the Caribbean, Japan, China and Indonesia. Every place I’ve played I’ve run into different wildlife, some a little more interesting than others.

In Southern California we have a variety of terrain: desert, canyons, beach and mountains.

 

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Green River Golf Club

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As a result, you’ll often see hawks circling above a course, or riding a thermal up out of a canyon, looking for their next meal. In the early mornings or evenings, it’s not uncommon to spot deer feeding along a fairway. One of the more interesting things I’ve seen was at Mile Square Golf, a public course situated in a large public park. I hit a shot into a fairway bunker. I rolled up to the bunker and found my ball, sitting just a few feet from a fox sunning itself in the sand. The fox had dug a burrow in the side of the trap and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by my presence. I’m pretty sure I was not the first human it had ever seen.

I’ve seen a lot of different types of birds on courses. As I mentioned, I’ve seen hawks, Ibis and tropical birds overseas. On a golf trip to Charlotte, a friend and I played a golf course just over the state line in South Carolina. As we proceeded from hole to hole, a couple of times we ran across a rafter of turkeys.

 

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Our gallery at Springfield Golf Club

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That was a first. Here in SoCal there are the ever present crows, just waiting at the tenth tee for a snack of hot dogs and chips while you tee off!

We’ve all seen the videos and news clips of alligators on the courses in Florida so I won’t go into great depth about them.

It’s Florida, alligators are everywhere!

I’ve visited Singapore a number of times over the years but I never played golf there. Instead, I made multiple day and weekend golf trips to Bintan, a common golf destination for those living in Singapore. The courses there are cut along the ocean and through the jungle.

 

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Keep it in the #fairway on this one. Ria Bintan #golf #indonesia #bintan

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I’ve been fortunate to play both Ria Bintan and Bintan Lagoon. As a result I encountered a new variety of wild life on the course. In addition to the tropical birds I saw (and heard) in the trees, we also ran across large lizards and monkeys. On one round, I recall hitting a nice drive down the middle of the fairway. My caddy and I drove up the fairway and as we approached the ball a large monitor lizard was crossing the fairway. My caddy told me to stop and we just waited for it to finish crossing the fairway. While a common occurrence there, it was a new one for me.

The other new experience was there are monkeys everywhere.

 

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Regardless of where you play #golf, there are animals just waiting for you to turn your back. In #Bintan it was monkeys. #golfcourse

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They’re smart little guys, they wait in the tree for you to venture away from your cart and then they take action. On one hole we were driving up the fairway towards the green and my caddy (a valuable local resource) told me to park in front of the green, which I found puzzling. I asked why and her response was, “Because the monkeys will get in the cart while you’re on the green if you don’t”. Our playing partners didn’t have a caddy, so there didn’t get this valuable piece of local knowledge. They parked on the cart path, not knowing any better. Sure enough, as we putted the monkeys attacked their cart, grabbing anything that looked interesting and heading back into the safety of the trees.

What interesting wildlife have you seen in the course? Have a picture? Put a comment and a link below and share your stories of your golf wildlife encounters.

 

 

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Should I Buy New Golf Clubs?

Lately, I have been thinking it might be time to upgrade some of my golf clubs, specifically my Nike irons. Especially since Nike decided to get out of the golf equipment business and focus on golf apparel. Now, having bought new and used golf clubs over the years I began to think. What approach do other golfers take when they are looking for new golf clubs?

New or Used?

The first question always is, do I buy new golf clubs or do I buy used golf clubs? In a way, golf clubs are like a new car. As soon as you drive a car off the lot, or hit that first golf ball, depreciation sets in. When I first started out playing golf, all my clubs were used. I was not very good; I was still figuring out my golf swing and trying to get more consistent. As my golf game improved, I began to take golf more seriously and I began to think about using better golf equipment.

As a result, over the years I have bought a number of used sets of irons. I have also bought new and used putters and drivers. When I buy used golf clubs, I am selective. I will not buy used clubs with a lot of wear. Because of this, my wedges have typically are purchased new. So what drives the golf buying process, at least for me? Let’s take a look.

Golf Drivers

Let’s start with the club everyone loves to hit on the golf course, the driver. I have gone to golf outlets and bought used drivers out of the bin and I‘ve bought new ones. I purchased a used Cleveland driver a number of years ago that I absolutely loved. I could hit it straight, my distance was good and I felt confident with it. I used it for 6 or 7 years because every time I would try a different driver, my accuracy or distance suffered (or sometimes both!). I would hit new and used drivers; try out my friends drivers on the golf course, always looking for something better. Finally, I bought a new Ping driver that I use today. Again, I am accurate with it, my distance improved over the older driver and I am confident off the tee. As a guy who started golf with a big banana slice, that is huge!

Golf Irons

I have typically bought my irons used, not new. When I am looking for new irons, I will visit the various golf warehouse stores near my home and try out different styles and brands. When I find something that feels solid, I will start shopping. If the local golf warehouse has the irons I want, they are not heavily worn and the price is competitive I will typically buy from them. One major plus of buying from the local golf warehouse is there is typically a 30 or 60-day period where you can exchange the clubs for different ones. Often what feels great in the store does not feel so great after a round or two or on the golf range.

I have also bought clubs online. When you shop for used golf irons online they are typically rated as to how heavily used they are. I am always going to select the most lightly used clubs I can find if I go that route. The times I have done this, I have been quite happy with the results.

Golf Avenue Golf Avenue

Wedges

Unless they have come with a set, I have always bought my wedges new. Normally my Pitching Wedge and my Gap Wedge are part of the iron set I purchase, but I also like to carry a Sand Wedge and a 60 degree wedge. That means I am buying at least two wedges. The ones I have purchased new have typically been Cleveland wedges. I cannot tell you why I started down that path but I like them and I continue to use them today. I do not recall every buying used wedges.

Putter

Last but not least, certainly not least, is the putter. I have always preferred a heavier putter, even as a kid heavily into mini-golf. This led me to using a large head putter. For a long time I used a Ping Craz-E putter with great success. I bought it used out of the bin at an outlet warehouse.

Then for a Christmas gift one year, I got to pick any new putter I wanted. For some reason I went to a different style putter, a smaller mallet head that was not as heavy. As a result, my putting suffered. I never had the same confidence I did with the Craz-E. After using the Christmas gift putter for a number of years, I decided to make a change. I went back to a larger head Ping putter that I bought new online. I have seen good results with it and feel much more comfortable. As a result, my confidence on the green has risen again.

Summary

So, what is your approach to buying new golf clubs? Brand-new? Used? A mix? Have you bought clubs online? Any concern in doing so? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments section.

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Play Smart Golf, Focus on the Shot!

When you hear a great golfer talk about their game one of the words you always hear is focus. They were thinking through the shot. They’ll say:

  • I visualized what I wanted to do
  • I went through my normal pre-shot routine
  • I focused on the shot

Today, we will look at two aspects of this, thinking through the shot and playing smart golf.

Thinking Through the Shot

When you step up to a shot, what is going through your head?

  • Ignore the water
  • Don’t hit it in that bunker
  • Don’t over swing
  • Keep your head down

selanee henderson puttingSounds a lot different doesn’t it? Developing a pre-shot routine that you use before every shot keeps you focused on the task at hand. If you watch much golf, you will see that every golfer goes through a consistent set to steps before they step up to address the ball. This is true for their tee shots, their fairway shots, their hazard shots and their putts. If they are interrupted, they step back, reset and begin the routine all over again.

How many times have you been on the tee and you don’t feel right or you get distracted. Rarely do we back off the tee. We all do the same thing, hit it anyway. It is no surprise our results are mixed, more often than not on the negative side (my friends might tell you all my shots are with mixed results, focused or not).


Over time I have tried to develop the same routine for tee shots and fairway shots:

  1. Take an easy swing or two to loosen up the back and get a feel for the lie
  2. Stand behind the ball and think through what I’m trying to do
  3. Identify my point of aim (a tree top, building, or some other landmark)
  4. Address the ball and check my alignment against my point of aim
  5. Take my swing

This helps me focus on the shot at hand and not worry about a million other things. On the green, I do something similar and repeat that routine every time I putt.

Smart Golf

For a long time, when I would walk up to a shot, I would simply grab the club that would get me the longest distance down the fairway: driver, three wood, five iron, etc. I didn’t stop to think about the shot after that one.

golfer

As I progressed in my golf game, I became pretty good at understanding my iron distances, how far I hit each one and the gap between them. I also recognized where my strengths, weaknesses and comfort zones were. I began to realize I was much more confident and consistent if I was 110 to 150 yards from the pin then if I was 70 to 90 yards. That started to affect my club selection. I’m not a big hitter, so if I’m 250 yards out I’m not going to power a 3 wood on the green unless I’ve got a great lie and I catch all of it (and maybe some roll). I am better off hitting a mid-iron to my comfort zone distance and then a short iron on approach. I will consistently be closer to the hole than taking the other approach.

Now, having said all that, do I occasionally grab the three wood and go for it? Or will my buddy hit a driver ‘off the deck’ when he really shouldn’t? Hell yea! Because we are out there to have a good time. When you pull those off you feel like a million dollars! But more often than not, you know how that works out.

Conclusion

Just taking some simple steps like visualizing your shot and having a consistent pre-shot routine can have a visible effect on your game. Think a bit more strategically about the shot you are about to hit and the one to follow. You might be surprised at the results.

Do you have a pre-shot routine you always follow? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below. Be sure to swing by our store and auction pages before you leave. Pick up some training aids to help with that course alignment, or a GPS or other golf electronics to help with your yardage!

 

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Why Volunteer at a Professional Golf Tournament?

golf tournament

In my last post, I wrote about what it is like to attend a professional golf tournament. To summarize, it’s fun and you should absolutely do it! However, if you want to take the experience to the next level then I would recommend volunteering at a professional tournament near you.

It takes many people to staff a tournament. As you walk around you will obviously see the players and caddies, the tour officials, media, coaches, industry reps and others. But, you will see many other people filling various roles as well.

Did you know many of the people you see working at a professional tournament are actually volunteers? These workers are not paid by the tournament sponsor, the tour, or a network. They are local people, volunteering and working out of their love of golf and the experience of being there.

As you walk around some of the jobs you will see staffed by volunteers are:

  • Walking scorers – walk with a group capturing and entering scores into a hand held device. Request rules officials or other assistance as needed
  • Standard bearers – walk with a group carrying the portable scoreboard for the group
  • Admissions – sell tickets and distributes credentials
  • Merchandise – work in all the merchandising tents
  • Transportation – shuttle tournament guests and players as needed, drive the volunteer vans and on-course cart shuttles
  • Practice green attendants – assist players and caddies as needed, help with crowd control
  • Driving range attendants – assist players and caddies, answer crowd questions
  • Marshals – crowd control for spectators and players, spot balls for players
  • Tournament Office – volunteer in the tournament office helping with whatever is needed
  • On-course services – refresh coolers, deliver materials to course locations
  • Scoring – validate scores, update computers, communicate with the walking scorers

I have been fortunate to volunteer a few times for the Kia Classic, a Southern California LPGA tournament. Mainly I have worked as a walking scorer but also served as a Marshall a couple of times. I’ll focus on that the rest of the blog.


I like the scorer’s job because I enjoy being out on the course with a group of players, observing up close their approach to the game and the different situations (and emotions) encountered during a round. For the most part, you remain in the background unless something is asked of you, like calling a rules official or you help in looking for an errant shot. You have to pay close attention to, and mark, each shot, keep your standard-bearer updated and call in scores for each golfer after every hole. The standard-bearer updates the sign with the players names and score so the gallery can see their current score as you come up a fairway or approach a green.

Working as a Marshall I’ve been assigned to a hole for the day which I also found enjoyable. I split my shifts working the green half the round and the tee box the other half of the round. That gives you the opportunity to see many of the groups come through and observe their shots up close. You can also watch the golfers interactions with the crowd as they come through each hole. It is you who is responsible for keeping the crowd quiet and still while the players are hitting their shots and getting the plays in andd out of the hole in an efficient manner.

You can work as many days as you like, including helping out during practice rounds and the pro-am, in addition to the tournament. The players I have had the opportunity to work with have been pleasant for the most part and appreciative of the volunteers. I have had players who have had bad rounds or holes be in rather bad moods, but as golfers, I am sure we can all relate. I know I’m not the friendliest person after hitting one OB either. Plus, they’ve never directed their frustrations at me.

If you have the chance, take the plunge and volunteer. If you don’t know what tours are out there, read my blog, “Just How Many Golf Tours Are There?“, then visit their tournament websites. If you like golf, you will enjoy the experience regardless of your volunteer role. And they can really use the help!

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Tips From the Gallery (or Why You Should Attend a Professional Golf Tournament)

If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend a professional golf tournament, I highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of golf there is nothing like seeing the best players in the world up close and personal. It’s a whole difference experience than what you see on Golf Channel or the networks. I’ve had the opportunity to attend the US Open, the LPGA KIA Classic and the Toshiba Classic PGA Champions events. If you have the time, I would suggest taking in multiple days, at least one tournament round and one practice day.

Depending on the tournament you attend, the crowds will vary. A PGA event easily has the largest galleries, and if it’s a major (like the US Open) then they’re even larger. If Tiger is playing the gallery following his group swells accordingly. That means you need to plan ahead. Look at the pairings to see which groups are in a string you want to see. Then park yourself in a grandstand or next to a green and watch 3 or 4 groups come through. Then strategically move to another hole on the course and do the same thing. If you can find a hole where you can see a tee box and a green from one spot, you’re golden! I’ve seen many folks bring portable stools they can carry from hole to hole. The galleries for LPGA or PGA Champions events are smaller, which means you can get closer to the action on each hole. You don’t have always need to map out where you need to be to see your favorite player. You can simply follow a group from hole to hole, or park and watch groups come through when you get tired of walking. Then jump ahead 5 or 6 holes and do it again.


When you attend a tournament, remember these players are out there trying to make a living. There is money on the line with every shot, so be considerate. Here are a few simple things you can do to make it more enjoyable for you and the players:

  • When a player is setting up, putting or swinging, no moving around or talking!
  • Wait until the swing or stroke is finished to take pictures or yell encouragement.
  • Put your phone on mute and/or vibrate. That includes the camera sound when taking pictures.
  • Wait until all the players in the group putt out before moving around the green or running to the next hole

If you want to say hi to a player or ask for a ball, catch them as they move between holes or are entering the tee box. However, realize if they just bogeyed the previous hole, they may not be in the friendliest mood at the moment. So try again later.

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is watching the players in the practice areas. It’s a fantastic learning experience. Stand around the practice greens and you will be up close to the pros as they practice and warm up. You can watch the different putting drills they go through to improve their stroke. You’ll also see the practice aids or golf gadgets they use. Alternatively, walk over to the chipping area and do the same thing, observe and learn as they go through their various pitch and chip drills. Here again you’ll find various golf practice aids in use. I find the range a bit boring but you can pick up tips there or just marvel at the consistency the pros have. They will hit shot after shot on the same track. At the US Open, I recall watching Vijay Singh warming up and something about what he did struck me. After each shot, he would move back just a little bit. He ended up cutting these long straight divots into the grass. Since then I’ve tried to emulate that when I warm up or practice. It gives you a good indication if you are coming through the ball the same way every time.

As I mentioned above, if you have the time, take in a Tuesday or Wednesday before the tournament begins. The pros are practicing on these days and the Pro-Am may be going on.  The atmosphere is far more relaxed and the golfers are more willing to interact with the fans. You might even score an autograph or a selfie if you ask.

If you like professional golf, I strongly recommend going to a tournament. Check the various tour schedules (and there are a lot of them, see my previous blog) for a tournament near you and get out there! In my next blog, I’ll take a look at volunteering at a tournament.

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I Love Rock and Roll…But on the Golf Course?

I’m a music lover. My tastes in music run the gamut: Classic Rock, Progressive Rock, Reggae, Latin, Ambient, Alternative and more. Depending on the time of day and my mood, anything could pop up on my music list. With the quality and low cost of Bluetooth speakers, combined with various streaming services, it’s become easy to take your music with you anywhere. I listen to music around the house, in the car, at the lake or beach, working out, on a plane, get the idea? Pretty much everywhere…except on the golf course.

Why not? A lot of driving ranges now have music playing in the practice area. They’re trying to make practice less boring and more entertaining and pull people in. I don’t mind that and frankly enjoy it when I’m hitting balls. Lately though, I’ve encountered more and more golfers with music streaming out of their carts when I’m on the course. Now, we’re not talking Rodney Dangerfield – Caddyshack volumes but often it’s loud enough to hear if they’re in the group behind or ahead of you. Most golfers are respectful and turn it down when they pull up next to you but occasionally I’ve heard someones tunes blasting from another fairway or green.


I enjoy being out on the course. In my area we have some courses that wind through different canyons and you get a chance to see and hear nature in the wild. In those environments, I don’t think music adds much to the experience. Other courses I play wind through housing tracts and you get to hear leaf blowers, power tools, cars and trains going by, you get the idea. And there are the ever present cell phones. There, I’m not sure you’d even notice the music.

So whats my point? While I’m not a fan of music on the course in my group I’m not saying that should apply to everyone. I read an article the other day commenting on how courses need to pull in younger golf crowds as today’s golf population ages to maintain a healthy business and grow the game. One obvious way to do that is make golf more fun and that includes music on the course, night golf and glow balls and other new draws. If you listen to your tunes on the course, just be aware of the surroundings. During the week when it’s open and no one’s around, have fun, crank it up and enjoy. On busier times when its crowded, be respectful of your fellow golfers. If you wouldn’t be talking while someone’s teeing off, don’t blare your music either.

What are your thoughts? Do you listen to music on the course? Ever had anyone complain or object? Feel free to comment below and let us know your thoughts. I’m really interested in other golfers perspectives.

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Just How Many Golf Tours Are There?

Ever hear about a golf tour and wonder,  “What tour is that?” Most of us know about the PGA Tour, the Champions Tour and the LPGA. But did you now there are a number of other professional tours out there? I did a little research to find out just how many there are. This isn’t a comprehensive list, I don’t always use the formal, proper name, nor do I go into great detail on all of them. If I did this would be one of the longest blog posts you ever read! But here’s a fairly comprehensive list. If I missed any, drop me a note on the Contact Us page.

PGA Tour – The professional golf tour we all know and love today. Easily the most popular tour out there in terms of both fans and sponsor dollars. Also garners the most TV coverage on Golf Channel and the major networks.

Champions Tour – When the players many of us grew up watching began to grow older, the idea of a Seniors tour was born in 1980. You’ll find lots of familiar names out here if you’ve watched golf for any length of time. You’ll often find their events on Golf Channel.

LPGA Tour – The leading women’s tour, hosting tournaments around the world. The galleries may be smaller but but it has a more intimate feel as you walk the course at a tournament. You’ll find LPGA events televised by Golf Channel and on rare occasions by the network.

LET – The Ladies European Tour hosts 17 tournaments this year throughout Europe, Australia and India. In the US you’ll rarely get coverage of the LET unfortunately so check out their website.

European Tour – The major mens tour outside the United States. They host tournaments around the world and you’ll spot a lot of familiar names on their leaderboards.


European Senior Tour – Known as the Staysure Tour, this is the European Senior Tour. Tournaments are held throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Web.com – The stop before the PGA tour for many professional golfers. Win enough here and you’ll get a shot at the PGA Tour.

Symetra Tour – The developmental tour for the LPGA. Many of the golfers you see on the LPGA tour today have spent time on the Symetra Tour.

Asian Tour – Hosts tournaments throughout Asia

PGA Tour China – Affiliated with the PGA Tour, hosts tournaments in China and Hong Kong

Japan Golf Tour – A Japanese sponsored tour with tournaments in and out of Japan. The English website is a bit bare but the Japanese site is pretty detailed.

LPGA of Japan Tour – The LPGA of Japan has been around for a long time. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be an English website.

LPGA of Korea Tour – The Korean LPGA women’s tour. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be an English website.

Ladies Asian Golf Tour – Promotes women’s golf in Asia with a focus on countries where there is not a local LPGA presence

PGA Australia – Sponsors tournaments in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific

Latino America Tour – affiliated with the PGA Tour, hosts tournaments in South America, Central America and Mexico

Sunshine Tour – Men’s professional tour based out of South Africa

Canadian Tour – Currently known as the Mackenzie Tour of Canada

Korea Professional Golfers’ Association – The Korean Professional Golf Association, associated with the PGA. There doesn’t appear to be an English website.

Professional Golf Tour of India – The men’s professional golf tour of India

I told you there were a lot! And there were others I discovered in compiling this list. The bottom line: If a country loves golf there is probably one or more active organizations in it promoting professional golf.

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A Competitive Ten Million Dollar Turkey Day

coins

Update 10/25: Per GolfWeek  the match is at 3 p.m. Eastern time on Nov. 23rd and will be available on pay-per-view for US$19.99. Distribution will be through a variety of channels including AT&T’s DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon and Altice in the U.S. and Rogers, Shaw and Bell in Canada through In Demand and Vubiquity. Check your local listings. Are you going to watch? 

It was announced today that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will play a competitive head to head golf match on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23 or 24) for a reported US$10 million. Both golfers have earned over US$40 million in 2018 (per Forbes) so it’s a substantial raise in this years earnings for either of them.

The location is reported to be Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, NV. The format hasn’t been announced nor has either played signed a contract. The event is scheduled for after the Ryder Cup event in late September. And for any of you who have been in Las Vegas in the summertime (105F average), you know the weather will be a lot more pleasant in November.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited for this style of format? Will you be watching? It takes me back to the days  of the old ‘Skins Game’. The Skins Game was a made for TV event with 4 golfers competing in a match play format playing for US$1M total. Not bad money for the 1980’s and 1990’s.

And for those of you from outside the USA, ‘Turkey Day’ is slang for the Thanksgiving Holiday in the United States. Why? Because the typical main course is a roasted turkey with all the trimmings.