Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bird Golf Schools Personalize the Experience

Turnberry Isle Miami Resort, Bird Golf Schools Site
In my many years as a golf writer, I've been to numerous group clinics and golf schools around the world. What I've learned--other than I have a lousy grip, a short, too-quick back swing and poor tempo-- is I don't enjoy group sessions. I thrive, like most golfers, with personal instruction and lots of give-and-take with my teacher.

A strong proponent of this personalizing philosophy is Bird Golf Schools, which was rated as one of the nation's best golf schools by Golf Tips Magazine.

While Bird Golf Schools might not have the immediate brand recognition like other golf  schools, its philosophy of personalized instruction at some of America's great resorts is tailor made for the golf traveler who wants to enjoy his/her vacation and sharpen their golf skills. 

Everything Bird Golf Schools does is customized and personalized for the student. Essentially, you pick the time and place (and, believe me, there are some beautiful places) and the area of your game you want to work on or, for those struggling mightily, a complete overhaul.
Sedona Golf Resort in Arizona, Bird Golf Schools Site
Offering the antithesis of the group teaching approach, at Bird Golf Schools the instruction is one/two students with your own PGA/LPGA Bird Golf professional. Their philosophy is a simple one emphasizing that every golfer is unique with different body types, movement dynamics and states of mind. Consequently, they don't teach a single swing methodology. Bird's highly qualified teachers are well versed in several methods and styles and can teach each person accordingly.

Before you get started, you'll complete a Player Profile that tells your instructor about your game, objectives and goals and the best way you learn (visually, kinetically, verbally etc...) so you can achieve the highest level of retention. They don't forget about you once you leave, either. You can follow up with your pro on a regular basis for reinforcement of everything you learned.

Bird Golf teachers are exceptionally experienced and have worked with just about every golfer imaginable. All of the Bird Golf Professionals have been PGA or LPGA Professionals for a minimum of 20 years. Some have been Tour winners and the staff includes an LPGA National Teacher of the Year, PGA Master Professionals as well as six members of various Golf Halls of Fame.

Each package includes video and digital analysis, daily on course playing lessons, mental game instruction, course management instruction, unlimited practice and play at the host course, lunch each day and unlimited coaching follow-up after the completion of the school. There are several three-four-and five-day packages with six to eight hours of instruction each day.

Aside from improving your golf game another appealing aspect of Bird Golf Schools are the amazing resort sites around the nation in 11 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee). A cursory review of their line-up features impressive venues such as Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass near Phoenix, Paiute Golf Resort near Las Vegas, Seaview Resort & Spa in Atlantic City and Foxfire Golf Resort & Club in Pinehurst. 

I'm especially impressed with the superb sites in Florida, my home state.

The Florida Bird Golf Schools menu, please:

Turnberry Isle Miami (North Miami)--Named one of "World's Best Resorts" by Travel + Leisure Magazine, this 300-acre resort is dripping with amenities in setting with beautiful palms, waterfalls and spectacular flora. It has two 18-hole courses originally designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and later re-designed by Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd and a state-of-the-art, private practice area.

Mission Inn Resort & Club (Near Orlando)--This Central Florida resort, a Golf Magazine Silver Medal Resort, is set on beautiful rolling countryside dotted with mature oak trees, tall pine trees and lakes. Located about a 30-minute drive from Orlando, it's situated with easy access to the area's big name theme parks. The golf facilities-- which encompass 36-holes of golf and superb practice areas--are highlighted by the iconic El Campeon Course.

The Club at Boca Pointe (Boca Raton)--Combining a private 18-hole Jack Nicklaus designed course with the uber-luxurious Boca Raton Resort, a Waldorf Astoria property, this venue allows you to fully immerse in the enviable South Florida lifestyle. For a nominal upgrade, Bird Golf Students can also choose to stay at the resort's sister property, the Boca Beach Club.

Old Corkscrew Golf Club (Fort Myers)--Bird Golf students stay at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, a luxury hotel overlooking the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. Instruction takes place at Old Corkscrew, a lush, spectacular Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course that weaves through oak, pine and cypress trees. In addition, there's an incredible clubhouse and top-notch practice facilities.

The Shores Resort and Spa (Daytona Beach)--You can take a dip in the ocean each day after a full day of golf instruction at this amenity-loaded, beachside property, the only AAA 4-Diamond hotel in Daytona Beach. Bird Golf School is at the Club at Pelican Bay, a beautifully maintained 36-hole complex with private teaching areas and multiple greens and chipping areas.

So, if you want real, sustainable improvement in your golf game, I suggest a Bird Golf Schools experience with a highly experienced teacher in a luxury resort environment. 

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.