Thursday, September 22, 2016

U.S.A. WILL WIN Ryder Cup 2016

Yeah, I'm going to say it:

The U.S.A. team will win Ryder Cup 2016 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.

Yes, you have my permission to call me delusional, a big-time homer or maybe even an idiot (it won't be the first time) for making this bold prediction.

In the tradition of historic successful predictions made by Joe Namath in the 1969 Super Bowl and Mark Messier in the 1994 N.H.L playoffs, I believe our boys in red, white and blue will bring the Ryder Cup back to American soil.

I can already hear the naysayers out there on the Internet Highway: The Guru's had one too many single-malts, all of the cumulative jet lag has rattled his smallish brain or he's just, well, an idiot.

The Guru understands your skepticism. After all, the Euros have won six out of the last seven and four straight Ryder Cups.

That said, here are my reasons the U.S.A. will be spraying champagne on the final day after the singles matches:

NO IAN POULTER--Due to a foot injury, "Poults" will not be a playing member of the European team, although he'll be a vice captain. Poulter has been the heart and soul of the Euro team with his passion and commitment to Ryder Cup. He rallied his troops at Gleneagles in 2014 with spirited play and timely shots and he was the key player in the amazing European comeback at Medinah in 2012, where he was the top points scorer from either side. Just as impressive is Poulter's incredible run of five birdies in a row to close out his Saturday four ball match with Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson when Europe was trailing 10-4 and seemingly dead in the water. That match pretty much started the miracle comeback.

PATRICK REED IS IN-YOUR-FACE--The pugnacious, irascible Reed is the type of take-no-prisoners player the U.S.A. team has been missing. His famous finger-to-the-lips "shooshing" of the crowd after sinking a putt at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014 is the stuff of legend now. Reed went 3-0-1 at Gleneagles and never once backed down to the crowd or opposing players. Nobody on the American team played better than Reed at Gleneagles. The U.S.A. finally has someone as defiant and passionate as Ballesteros and Poulter and Reed should make a big difference at Hazeltine National.

TEAM U.S.A.WILL FINALLY SINK PUTTS WHEN THEY COUNT--In many ways, Ryder Cup matches evolve into putting contests. The Euros have sunk them in timely moments and the U.S.A. has not. I predict that will change in 2016. This year the U.S.A. is bringing some serious flatsticks to the moss. The U.S.A. team has six players in the top 30 in the PGA Tour's Putting Average (through the weekend ending 9/19/16): Jordan Spieth (T1), Dustin Johnson (3), Phil Mickelson (5), Brooks Koepka (T16), Matt Kuchar (T16) and Brandt Snedeker (26). The top European player is Rory McIlroy at T31, which is where U.S.A Captain's Pick J.B. Holmes is also slotted. I certainly comprehend that several of the European players don't play a full PGA Tour schedule, but the numbers are still impressive for the U.S.A. The putts are gonna drop this year and propel the U.S.A. to victory.

Friday, September 16, 2016

What's New at Golf Resorts

Sand Valley Resort
Another Keiser Beauty

Mike Keiser, the creator/developer of Bandon Dunes in Oregon and Cabot Links in Canada, opened Sand Valley Golf Resort in central Wisconsin on September 1, 2016. Located near the tourist town of Wisconsin Dells, about a two-hour drive north of Madison, the Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design promises to offer Bandon Dunes quality and excitement. Visually stunning, the course is natural looking with exposed sand dunes, ridges and valleys. The front nine is hilly, the back nine plays through valleys and the fescue turf makes it play firm and fast. The 1,700-acre Sand Valley Resort, near the small town of Rome, has a 40-room lodge.

New Davis Love III Design at Sea Pines Resort

Slated to open October 3rd at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island is Love III's newest design, Atlantic Dunes. A 5-time winner of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage Classic on Hilton Head, DLIII knows the island well. Replacing the former Ocean Course at the resort, Atlantic Dunes promises to be very playable for all skill levels with generous landing areas off the tee and huge waste areas. Got a feeling the "Grip It and Rip It" crowd are going to enjoy this one from long hitter DLIII.

The Deuce at Pinehurst Resort

Recently opened is The Deuce, a bar and restaurant overlooking the 18th green of the famed No. 2 course. Featuring a bar with large custom-made windows that open up onto the veranda, the setting is an ideal place to watch all the exciting happenings on the finishing hole. The Deuce serves lunch every day and appetizers throughout the afternoon and evening. An eclectic men features unique items like Crab Hushpuppy Beignets and Loaded Tater Tots. The bar offers a variety of cocktails and local craft beers.

Coming Attractions in Branson, Missouri

Two new courses are set to open in 2017 at this popular, live entertainment capital in the Show-Me state. The Ridge Course, an 18-hole championship layout, is being designed by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and a family-friendly, 12-hole course designed by Gary Player will focus on newcomers to the game and novice players.

New Gil Hanse Course

Hanse, who got rave reviews for his design of the Olympics 2016 course in Rio, is designing Streamsong Black at Streamsong Resort in central Florida. Scheduled to open in Fall 2017, the course will be the third at this resort near Lakeland.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

10 Emerging Millennials Golf and Travel Trends

Remember Tiger Woods? While golf's injured supernova has been sitting on the sidelines, Millennials like Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson have moved to the forefront of the game signaling an upcoming seismic shift in the sport on and off the course.

Millennials, who range in age 16 to 34 years of age, are just beginning to make their impact on golf and travel. If you're involved in either one of these industries, or both, I highly suggest you start preparing for the onslaught of the Snapchat and smoothies generation. There are 79 million of them in the U.S. and they spend $600 billion dollars a year. In five years, the oldest of the generation will be pushing 40.

Here are 10 top Millennial trends important to the golf and travel industries:

1. Social Media is an amazing Millennial influencer--Whether it's viewing a dramatic picture on Instagram or reading a favorable tweet about a hotel or golf course on Twitter, Millennials are heavily influenced by reviews and comments on social media. Quite simply, if you want to reach Millennials and impact their golf and travel decisions, a strong presence on social media is absolutely imperative. 
 It's estimated that 75% of Millennials post while they're on vacation. If you want to reach Millennials, you can forget about old school paper brochures, newspaper travel articles and cheesy magazine ads. 

2. Why Millennials travel--Millennials love to travel with a purpose. They want to experience new cultures, cuisine and activities. Moreover, they want to visit interesting destinations where they can post pictures that get lots of attention and "likes". Millennial golfers want to play on courses that are both challenging and photogenic so their buddies back home can see what they're missing via social media.

3. Millennial golf trends--While the Baby Boomers cry was "Let's Play 36!", Millennials are more prone to saying "Let's Play Golf in Many Different Ways." Increasingly popular are playing nine holes or less, pay-by-hole, night golf and golf simulator competitions. Many Millennial golfers don't want to be locked into the traditional 18-hole golf experience. A hugely popular
 off-site golf activity, Topgolf entertainment complexes appeal to tech-addicted Millennials with point-scored electronic golf games that anyone, regardless of skill level, can play. In a plush sports-bar-style environment, players hit a golf ball containing a personalized microchip into a series of targets ranging from 20 to 240 yards away. Topgolf, which has an upscale food and beverage menu and can host group events, has locations that include Scottsdale, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Houston and Austin, Texas, and Alexandria, Va. A new, expansive Topgolf is under construction in Orlando, Florida.

4. What Millennials LIKE at resorts and hotels--There are an increasing number of hotel chains such as Aloft, W, Kimpton and Hyatt Centric that cater directly to Millennial needs.  Millennials desire large spacious lobbies where they can spread out and lounge with their electronic devices, coffee bars, lounges with big selections of craft beers, sports bars teeming with large screen televisions, lawn games like corn hole and bocce ball, a large number of charging stations in the lobby and hotel common areas, outdoor lounging spaces with comfy chairs, couches and connectivity and healthy food choices.

5. What Millennials don't like at resorts and hotels--They DISLIKE hotels that charge for Wifi, don't have mobile check-in and don't have texting communication with guests. Millennials also could care less about a mini-bar, pillow chocolates, old school coffee makers, overpriced room service, iPod docking stations and a newspaper in front of the door.

6. How Millennials select destinations, hotels and restaurants--This is HUGE. Traditional advertisements aren't nearly as effective with Millennials. Millennials rely on each other's opinions on social media to make travel decisions. Instead of a flashy ad or video, Millennials are more likely to access user-generated recommendations on popular review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Airbnb and Oyster to help make their travel decisions.

7. New Millennial amenities at golf resorts--The traditional golf cart is evolving to appeal to Millennials. In Scottsdale, Ariz., the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa offers specially designed Segways to ride and transport clubs on their golf courses. Resorts such as Tetherow in Bend, Ore., Boyne Highlands in Michigan and Princeville at Hanalei on the island of Lanai in Hawaii feature Golfboards, an easy-to-ride electric board equipped to carry clubs that allows golfers to surf the fairways and feels similar to snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding. Millennials love food trucks and you'll increasingly see them at resorts. The PGA National Resort in Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and Ocean Reef Club and Resort in the Florida Keys now have food trucks.

8. Popular Millennial golf and sports activities at resorts--It's becoming increasingly clear that Millennials will consume the game of golf much differently than Boomers. Fitness is an integral part of the Millennial lifestyle so it's not surprising that pursuits like Footgolf, a hybrid game of soccer and golf on the course, has caught on.  Resorts like Crystal Springs in New Jersey, French Lick Resort in Indiana and TreeTops Resort in Michigan offer Footgolf. You also see an increasing number of Millennials jogging on golf cart paths early in the morning before the course opens.

9. Millennials love to validate their experiences on social media-The "If you didn't post it, it didn't happen" generation love to tell their friends and family about their travel experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare and other platforms.

10. Millennials want more connectivity everywhere--It's a no brainer that hotels better have great connectivity, but Millennials also want to be connected on the golf course, too. While many Boomers find it annoying, Millennials don't want to turn off their cell phones on the golf course. Some golf resorts are responding with charging stations on golf carts, increased Wifi access and golf apps.