Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Reasons You Should Visit Topgolf

Oh yes, I've heard my share of whining traditionalists who say Topgolf is overrated and won't help grow the game of golf. Hey Doug Downers, I don't care what you say, I love the place and I think it's a fantastic way to showcase the great game of golf.

Will Topgolf translate to more millennials playing golf in the future? 

Only time will tell, however, everytime I visit Topgolf I see people of all ages (and lots of millennials) smiling and having fun with a game that many people think is just too difficult to enjoy.

Here are 10 reasons you must visit Topgolf:

1. Everybody Is Welcome--Arguably, the biggest reason why people don't play golf is the intimidation factor. For those who've played the game for decades, it's difficult to to comprehend the anxiety non-golfers feel when they arrive at a golf course for the first time. Quite frankly, at Topgolf these neophytes don't have to worry about "serious" golfers smirking or making fun of them (whether those behaviors are real or imagined).

2. Even Non-Golfers and The Clueless Have Fun--People who don't know a golf ball from a croquet ball can have fun at Topgolf without all the angst and pressure. So what, if it takes a few Margaritas, Moscow Mules or Blue Moons and some chicken and waffle sliders to get people swinging a golf club. In many cases, these are the same people who would never even go near a golf course. Geez, about 40% of Topgolf customers have never played golf. You can drum up all the "Let's Play Golf" programs by all sorts of well-intentioned golf organizations, and they still won't get non-golfers excited about the game like Topgolf.

3. Easy way to Play Games--Each 6-person hitting bay has an easy-to-use touchscreen that allows you to play seven different point-scoring golf games. Everything from driving to chipping. One of the best games for groups that have both beginning and experienced golfers is the "Top Scramble", where players split into teams and the best score on each ball is used as the score for the team.  "TopDrive" is popular with the grip it and rip crowd who want to see who's longest off the tee.

4. Terrific Technology--Players hit golf balls containing computer microchips that track each shot's accuracy and distance while also awarding points for hitting large, medium and small targets set on a giant outfield. It's like playing some come-to-life video game, but much more fun and interactive with other players. In Orlando, which opened October 20, 2017, they have Topgolf Toptracer technology, which allows you to trace the track of your shots just like you see on television network golf coverage.

5. Light Shows and Colorful Targets Create a Positive Vibe--The targets are bright and colorfully lit and you get that same sense of fun and frivolity you experience at a state fair or theme park. I don't care if you're a two-year old tagging along with the folks or an 82-year old who just wanted to finally see what this golf thing was all about, the colors at Topgolf will excite you. At night, they have fun and dynamic light shows that are inspiring.

6. Fab Food--While golf is certainly a big draw, I think one of the secrets to Topgolf's overall appeal is its well-prepared, innovative food. The magnet is a chef-driven,  full-service restaurant and all sorts of interesting and delicious apps and entrees. While the Guru is  shanking balls off the tee, some of my favorite things to nosh on are the Bacon Mac "N" Cheese Spring Rolls, Pepperoni Flatbread and the Sunrise Burger (with a fresh egg on top). Make no mistake, food is not an afterthought at Topgolf, but an integral part of the overall experience.

7. Epic Bar and Drinks--The Guru is known to hoist a few, especially after playing a great round of golf. I've also visited my share of pubs, bars and lounges around the world and I'm a big "Happy Hour" guy. That said, hopefully I've established some sort of credibility when it comes to great bars and libations. I love Topgolf's upscale, rectangular shaped, full-service bar. It has sort of an upscale "Cheers" feel to it as well as good craft beer list, a wine list (you can order by the glass, bottle or even can) and some creative cocktails. While my go-to drink is a Ginger Ale and Jameson, a couple of my fave Topgolf Original Cocktails are the Topgolf Tea (Tito's Vodka, Superior Rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin and fresh lemon) and the Tipsy Palmer (Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, Absolut Citron, freshly brewed iced tea and fresh lemon). 

8. Employee Enthusiasm--With all the luxury appointments and smiling and laughing people enjoying golf, it's no wonder the employees always seem to be in a good mood. Gotta feeling they've got a pretty good training program, too.  

9. Topgolf U Lessons--They'll even teach you-- in an non-intimidating way-- how to play golf if you get the bug and want to give the game a go and eventually tee it up at an authentic green grass course. There are excellent classes for beginners, junior and ladies. For intermediate and advanced golfers, there's a 60-minute skills class focusing on proper swing technique and mechanics.

10. The Topgolf Crush Series--This is where they bring the Topgolf concept to major stadiums and arenas around the nation. There are giant targets on the field or court and players hit from elevated tee bays. It's a high-energy, festival-style experience with excellent music, food and drink. Among the previous Crush locations are Austin, Kansas City, Nashville, Orlando and Seattle. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

5 Reasons Tiger Won't Be Tiger Again

Ya gotta wonder when Tiger Woods will start introducing himself as Eldrick. 

After all, it's starting to look highly doubtful that he'll mount a serious comeback and return to any semblance of the ultimate dominator he used to be on the PGA TOUR. These days, he's less of a Tiger and more like that graceful but aging house cat that saunters slowly around the house when he used to leap aggressively and effortlessly up onto the couch.

There are lots of reasons why Tiger won't be Tiger again. Here are the Guru's top 5:

1. Multiple Back Surgeries--Uh, you kinda need a good back to play golf. Tiger has undergone four back surgeries and, realistically, he just can't swing with the same force and balance. Add to that a series of knee injuries and Tiger has a body that resembles an 80-year old, not a forty-something. Fact is, Woods might be able to go out and shoot an occasional round in the 60s, but, I just don't see him doing it four days in row in competition against young guys who have no back problems and the flexibility of yoga instructors.

2. Young Guns are Too Darn Good--Dustin, Jordan, Rory, Justin and Rickie are just a few of the phenomenal players on Tour these days. Others Tiger would have to beat are long bombers like Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. These guys all grew up watching and emulating Tiger and there's just no way he can stay with them for four days in a Major or any other tournament.

3. Training Time is Limited--Because of his questionable back, balky knee, family and business obligations, Woods can only put in a fraction of the work he used to when he was No. 1 in the world. Nowadays, he has to be cautious and limit his time so another injury doesn't crop up. While he understandably has cut back on practice time, other pros are hitting thousands of balls and grinding on the putting green.

4. He Doesn't Have Harmon, Haney or Williams--Let's face it, Tiger had the majority of his success when he was coached by Butch Harmon and Hank Haney and Steve Williams was on the bag. All three are not in Tiger's life these days and it doesn't look like he'll have a reunion with any of them. 

5. His Off-The-Course Life is Expanding--It'll be interesting to see how Tiger does in his post-competition phase.  Fellow icons like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman achieved amazing success after their PGA TOUR careers. Under his "TGR" brand, Woods is seemingly looking to follow a similar path. His golf design firm has several projects in development around the world and his sports bar/restaurant, The Woods Jupiter, in Jupiter, Florida is doing well. He also has plans for several new business projects under the brand.

Rest assured, Tiger Woods won't just fade into obscurity. The media and public were enamored with his meteoric success on the course and just as fascinated with his missteps and foibles away from the fairways. He means way too many clicks to the media and, to be honest, Americans can't get enough of celebrities who stumble and fall.

Let's hope there are no more back surgeries and mug shots in Tiger's future.  Golf needs him whether he wins another tournament or not. You don't just cast a 14-time Major winner aside, either. 

Woods-- love him or hate him-- is too much a part of modern golf history to just casually disregard as a broken down golfer who'll never again approach his amazing wizardry on the links.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

10 Absolutely Stupid Things Golf Announcers Say

I admit it. The Guru spends an inordinate amount of time in a horizontal position on my couch watching PGA TOUR Tournaments. While most of the commentary is concise and insightful, there are moments when announcers say the stupidest things.

Here are a few of my faves:

1."He's going to WILL that putt into the hole."--Really? Now how exactly do you execute those powers. I've tried it numerous times and my putts still rush four feet past the hole.

2."You can see it in his eyes, he has the look of  a champion."--How these guys can sit up in their announcers booth and identify the guy with the championship eyes is beyond me.

3."He just wants it more than the other guys."--Give me a break. The rest of the field is out busting their asses hitting balls till the sun don't shine and this one guy wants it more than them. Absolutely ridiculous.

4."He's going to need some birdies down the stretch to pull this one out."--C'mon, everybody on the planet knows you don't win on the PGA TOUR making pars.

5."He's so good with the flat stick."--Uh, you mean the putter. How about the "Texas Wedge"?

6."Wow, what a great golf shot."--I mean, after all, they're on a golf course so it really has to be a golf shot, right?

7."He could hit a bucket of balls from there and not get the ball within 20 feet of the hole."--This, of course, is said right before the pro hits it to within six inches.

8."He's the hardest worker on Tour."--Now, how, again, do they measure who puts in more hours on the range and in the fitness trailer?

9."He's got a draw with a fade wind."--How about a fade with a draw wind? Just hit the freakin' ball.

10."He needs to keep it in the short grass."--You mean, no doubt, the fairway. Great advice announcer guy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

UPDATE: Topgolf Orlando On-Schedule for Early Fall Opening

It's almost ready...

I swung by the Topgolf Orlando project yesterday for a progress check and everything seems to be on schedule. Topgolf is still reporting an "early fall" opening so I expect them to open the doors and those amazing hitting stalls in the next few weeks. 
The opening comes right before the busy holiday season and Topgolf Orlando, no doubt, will be in fine form with a well trained staff by the PGA Merchandise Show in late January 2018.

Here's a brief overview of Topgolf Orlando:

--The three-level complex will encompass a whopping 65,000 square feet.

--There will be 3,000 square feet of private event space and meeting rooms.

--The 102 climate-controlled hitting bays will host up to six players at one time.

--More than 200 high-definition flat-screen TVs will be situated throughout the complex.

--There will be a full-service restaurant and bar and rooftop terrace and fire pit.

--The drinks and food selections will feature an upscale menu highlighted by specialty drinks like the Tipsy Palmer and Strawberry Jalapeño Margarita, craft beer selections, wine by the bottle or glass and delicacies like Bacon Mac 'N Cheese Springs Rolls, Pulled Pork Sliders and Char-grilled Steak Flatbread.

The location (9295 Universal Blvd.) is a prime one at Convention Way and Universal Boulevard, directly behind the Orange County Convention Center near International Drive. 

Currently under construction in front of Topgolf is the Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, an amazing facility with high-speed electric karts on a multi-level, banked turn track, as well as a ropes course with a zip line, VR racing simulators, laser tag, bowling, theater and restaurant and bar.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort in Florida Will Re-Open in October

The Guru loves oceanside courses, yet, oddly enough, there aren’t that many in my home state of Florida. You’ve got lots of layouts near the ocean, but really only a precious few directly on the ocean.

That’s why I’m so excited about the re-opening on October 12, 2017 of the Ocean Course, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Design, at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, about 28 miles south of St. Augustine.

If the date sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because it marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked havoc on the Ocean Course. High winds and storm surge from hurricane made the course almost unrecognizable.

Now, following an extensive 12-month restoration project, the Ocean Course is returning better than ever.

Staying true to Nicklaus’ design, the Ocean Course restoration and enhancement encompasses the re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough with the salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, and the reconstruction of each tee box, bunker and green.

“By replacing Bermuda grass with salt-tolerant Platinum Paspalum, we will now offer golfers one of the purest surfaces in the game,” says Brad Hauer, director of golf at Hammock Beach Resort. “And, in addition to improved playing conditions for golfers of all levels, the views of the Atlantic Ocean are simply incredible.”
The Ocean Course’s dune line, which is more than a mile long, continues to be carefully restored to state conservation specifications. Newer and stronger dunes are forming, which offer greater environmental protection while also offering golfers some of the most stunning ocean panoramas on the East Coast.

Renowned for its six Atlantic Ocean-hugging holes and finishing stretch dubbed “The Bear Claw”, the Ocean Course is challenging, fun and oh so photogenic. Originally opened in 2000, the Ocean Course has multiple tee settings and plays as short as 4,100 yards and as long as 7,201 yards from the back tees.

While you’re at Hammock Beach Resort, definitely play the resort’s other highly-rated layout, the Conservatory Course, an exceptional Tom Watson design. 

Once the Ocean Course re-opens, the resort will be able to double its efforts to introduce young players to the sport through its Family Fairways Program. Designed to bring families together through golf, the daily program provides special rates for adults and juniors along with complimentary club rentals for children from 3:00 p.m. until close.

Guests are invited to be among the first to play the Ocean Course during the Grand Reopening Weekend, starting on October 12. It will feature several events, dining and entertainment. Golfers can also register to win a weekend at the resort by visiting the Ocean Course’s countdown page.
 Starting this fall, Hammock Beach Resort is offering golfers a JUST GOLF PACKAGE with rates starting at $179 per person, per day. The package includes one round on the Ocean Course, one round on the Conservatory Course and $20 daily breakfast credit. Pricing is based on midweek, two-night stay with four people sharing a deluxe three-bedroom villa. Rates, which are subject to availability, do not include taxes and service fees.

HammockBeach Resort has everything the Guru likes in a golf resort with challenging and drop dead gorgeous golf, luxurious, spacious accommodations, superb amenities like multiple restaurants and bars, a spa and fitness center and a terrific golf director who knows what golfers like.


Monday, August 14, 2017

10 Annoying Things About Golf

Laying on my couch this weekend watching the PGA Championship and U.S. Women's Amateur, I had a few minutes during commercials to write down some of the things that annoy me about golf these days.

1. I absolutely love Topgolf, but the golf media should please stop saying it'll bring more Millennials to golf. Noshing on upscale appetizers and copping a buzz from fancy cocktails before you hit some electronic golf balls is not really golf.

2. Enough already with dumb ideas like high-top golf shoes, golf sandals and track pants. Hey folks, we're supposed to be playing golf not shooting hoops or hangin' at the beach.

3. Hey LPGA and USGA, please stop having 12 and 13 year olds compete in your major championships. It just seems so sad to see these whippersnappers beat the heck out of your pros and college golfers.

4. Hello LPGA! Stop with the dress code. These are grown women. If Lexi Thompson, Belen Mozo and Paige Spiranac want to work out and wear form fitting clothing on the golf course, what's wrong with that. What you should outlaw is all of the boring outfits many players wear during tournaments.

5. Speed up play on the PGA Tour. Enough with the six hour rounds. My gosh, I've seen scramble tournaments with beer swilling participants play faster than some of these guys.

6. Attention PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and any other professional tour. Please don't use golf courses that have ridiculous false fronts on greens. I despise seeing golfers hit the green and have the ball roll off 20 yards back into the fairway. 

7. Leave Tiger Woods alone, golf media. I know he's worth millions of clicks and viewers, but let the man live in peace till he decides to tee it up again. And puh-leeze don't run that mug shot again. 

8. Hey PGA Tour, try to find more players like John Daly and Beef Johnston to counteract all of the lifeless robots playing on Tour.

9. At professional tour events, please instantly remove any fan that yells "Baba Booey", "Cheeseburger", "Mash Potatoes",  "in the hole", "you da man", etc. Especially "you da man" (that's so 1990s)

10. Hey adult fans (kids are ok), please stop trying to hand slap PGA Tour players as they walk from one hole to the next. It just seems so sad to see adult jock sniffers be so desperate.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Get Ready for Spieth Slam

Will 24-year-old Jordan Spieth achieve the career Grand Slam by winning the PGA Championship (August 10-13) at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina?


While there will be no shortage of young guns vying for the Wanamaker Trophy such as Rory McIlory, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler to name a few, nobody comes into the last major of the year with more mojo and confidence than Spieth.

His comeback from a crash-and-burn round at the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, was, as Jim Nance would say, "one for the ages". My gosh, after Spieth's disastrous first twelve holes, I thought they might start etching Matt Kuchar's name on to the Claret Jug.

Quite possibly, that one miraculous Spieth swing from the driving range next to a couple of equipment trailers, while playing the 13th hole, might have erased all the negative thoughts from blowing a three stroke lead and maybe allowed him, in the big picture, to finally put the 2016 Masters debacle in his rear view mirror.

Soon after hoisting the Claret Jug, Spieth said, "This is as much of a high as I've ever experienced in my golfing life."

Spieth is rapidly advancing to the rarified air of Nicklaus and Woods. In fact, Spieth and Nicklaus are the only players to win three different majors at the age of 23. The numbers don't lie, either. On the PGA TOUR, Spieth is No. 1 in scoring average (69.080), No. 2 in greens in regulation (70.58), No. 1 on the Official Money List and No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings. He's also tied with his friend Justin Thomas with 8 top ten finishes this season.

Arguably, the most impressive number is that Spieth wins 9% of the time, which is absolutely phenomenal when you consider the best players in the world only win around 5% of the time.

When you consider Spieth's momentum, confidence and statistics, he must be considered the consensus favorite to take home the 2017 PGA Championship. Enhancing his chances is an out-of-this-world, clutch short game, amazing prowess on putts over 15 feet and Michael Greller, who many consider to be the best caddie in the game and very experienced in major championships.

A win for Spieth would be great for golf. After all of the bad news concerning Tiger's troubles on and off-the-course, a victory at the PGA Championship to capture the career Grand Slam will give the golf world a huge headline and further enhance Spieth's status as the face of American golf around the world.