Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Garmin Approach S2 GPS Watch - a short and simple review by a first time user

Garmin Approach S2 - GPS Watch  ( more photos of features at bottom of article)

I play golf for over 25 years now. Some professional and some amateur golf and I did so using all the basic tools. Golf clubs, balls, clothes and whatever the course offered. That most likely was some distance markers, sprinkler heads with distances and yardage books. Later on I started using satellite imaging to prepare my rounds and then added google earth.

I must say I played well and made my way around the course  in a confident way . playing good scores without caddy.  It was not until 2011 that I decided I will give some technology a shot. So I got myself a range finder A great addition to my game and I  was able to improve my game and learn about my  true club distances. So with  45 I almost got back to where I was in terms of handicap and ability some 20 years ago.

Over the past 2 almost 3 years I was playing well with my gadget and never had any desire to add yet another one. What was interesting to me though, is that most players I was on the course with had a GPS or both  a rangefinder and a GPS . I am talking
about low handicappers mostly. While I was working with pin sheets provided  by tournament organizers most of them seem to use the two gadgets to find their way safely to and on the green. I observed that when in trouble , like trees or similar, those golfers were ready much faster than I was and  seemed to have better results with their shots.

So a couple weeks ago I tried a GPS app on my phone. Free trial. Amazing. Together with my rangefinder I actually played the second best round of the year and that without any practice for 2 months because of a back injury I had to cure.

From there on I checked out GPS products  in stores and online . Funny , but  from the day I had interest in it it seemed to me that on TV they showed nothing but rangefinders The one I saw most often by far, Garmin Approach S 2.  I did not think much about it  and never really got going. 1 week ago though I was sitting with my sponsor talking about how we proceed and what can help me to progress. I  told the story about the GPS golf round after my injury and explained that it seems like that having a GPS in addition to a rangefinder, the yardage book and the pin sheet,  feels like having your own caddie on hand and that not only my confidence goes up when I have better information , but also  I am learning more about my distances with my clubs on the course.

That same evening I looked online for the Garmin  Approach S 2. Found some good reviews and compared to other GPS watches, it came out way ahead.  Checking for prices I found a good offer at Dick’s Sporting Goods online. So we  actually went there right away since I had a tournament round the  next day anyway.

Entering the store, the store professional ,  an old friend of mine, already was at the entrance and he actually had a coupon in hand for exactly what I was looking for. On top of that  the price was reduced another 50 $ . So I ended up getting the  Garmin Approach S 2 for 149  $ plus tax after 50 $ mail in  rebate  and instance store rebate. What a deal . I would have paid 299 $ without even asking and now I paid half.

I was excited to get it ready  to use. The rest of the evening I spend preparing and learning.  It was really easy to go through the manual and learn how the  product works. I charged it  all the way , which took a couple hours or so and then started to check it out. I would say it took me about 15 minutes and I had my new gadget under control .

So, in terms of getting started I have to say, it is easy  and anybody can do it.  Next morning I was scheduled to play a skins game  tournament and  was pretty excited to give this GPS  watch a try. My biggest concern was if I can  handle something  on  my  arm/wrist while playing golf. After all I stopped wearing a watch about 7 years ago  and I  never considered  to wear one again especially while golfing.

So I put it on very early to give it some time. similar to shoes.  Amazingly  I hardly felt it on my wrist or arm. The Garmin Approach S 2 is so light and sits nicely on my  wrist. Felt good  even just wearing it as a watch, which I will do  more often now.

Of I was to the course to give it a shot.  First I thought I might not be able to handle  all the buttons, but I did not have anything to lose.  After all it was a test run.

Coming to the first tee I started my round. It took 30 seconds to  find the satellite and then my course showed up. I selected it and  I was ready to go.   I had absolutely no problem   wearing it. It does not hinder me in any way. Also I had no  trouble  using all the features.

I was able to get all  distances and even checked them with markers and  range finder and they were all very accurate. I used the lay up option  and it is super accurate  and a nice feature to have. It is nice to  know how far you have to move the ball forward to have a 100 yard shot into a par 5 green and it is also nice to know how far you need to move the ball to not overshoot any dogleg. Using the scorecard was easy and actually is kind of convenient. You can even save it on the watch and then print it at home.  I am always skeptical of those things because they mostly distract your game. But this one is so easy to operate, that it had no impact.

One thing which you have to pay attention to is that  the GPS sometimes jumps to a different hole. That is because some of the tee boxes are so close together with greens and other boxes, that the GPS needs to pick one. and at times picks a different one.   But, if you are paying attention  before  you start playing teach hole or each shot this is not a problem. Check the hole and if necessary scroll down or up to the hole you are on.  Not a big deal.

I have to say , it is so easy to use and so  practical, that even after the first round I was  very excited about my new GPS watch. There were several situations I was not able to use a rangefinder and was far away from any distance marker. The GPS told me how far to the front , middle and back and I was able to get the ball to or even on the green even out of trees. Nice.

I did not use the shot measure feature yet.  Just did not want to focus on that.  My focus was more on the game itself. But I will do so this coming  Friday  and I am sure it will work fine and give me some good idea about the true distances of my drives. Also I did not use the Odometer. Again, no doubt it works great and I will try to use it  this coming Friday or Sunday.

When I came home I checked the battery status and found that I used about 50 % of my power. So I think , I can play about 2 rounds with it. That is close to what I have read in reviews about that matter before. Some writers even said you might be able to play 3  rounds. Not sure about that, but I will try it in the  near future.  

So I have to say, the Garmin Approach S 2 lived up to  all my expectations and does exactly what the website tells you it will .You still need to play your ball, but the info you get  can help  you to make better decisions.

Meanwhile I played another round and  this time it was even  better.  Love  this  product.
The fact that I have it on my wrist is actually super positive. I can not lose it, I can  not leave it behind in the cart while going  to my ball and  it is very safe in that place.

In my mind, most amateur players should have a GPS. It would make their round more pleasant and would help regulate speed of play. No more  distance marker searching, yelling, guessing and so on.

A GPS can be bought for as low as 129 $. Prices vary and there is differences  between models. But one thing they all tell is front , middle and back of the green and that is  the most important.

The Garmin Approach S 2 comes in a nice box with manuals in many languages. It
also comes with a USB charging cable which is easy to operate and also  serves as connection to your computer to transfer data. I was a little disappointed that they  did not include a outlet adapter so I would not have to charge it on my computer. But I can live with that and just buy one along the way. It is extremely easy to get started with this GPS  and you are ready  to go  after you charged it all the way.
The numbers are easy to read and  it even has a light feature ( which I will not use much because of power usage). The buttons are easy to press and of good size. The watch sits light on your arm and after a little while I  did not even notice that it was there any more.
The wristband is soft and looks good.  The Garmin Approach S 2 has all the features you really need.

This GPS watch is easy to handle and will help you to  learn about your distances , make better decisions and ultimately play better scores. With over 30000 courses pre loaded and no monthly or annual fee or upgrade fee, the Garmin Approach S2 is simply an incredible machine.

The way it looks I even will wear it as a watch.

I love this GPS watch and think it makes a great gift for any golfer in any handicap bracket.

Hole view giving you hole number, front, middle, back and the little dots show you what is par.

Dogleg lay up view. Shows the end of fairway and a layup distance.

Par 5 lay up view. Gives you different options for laying up a ball to a distance you like. Goes down while you are moving forward.

Score card view. Gives you hole #, par and a box for your score which you can easily move up or down.

Time view. Nice big numbers. Indicator for GPS running and odometer running.

The Garmin Approach S 2 comes in some nice colors. I think there is a color for everyone and I think you can actually buy different wrist bands. But for that you need to go to the official website.

Let me know if you have a GPS watch or GPS and what you think. Always good to hear different stories and opinions.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eastwood Golf Course in Fort Myers, FL - Driving Range practice on November 18th 2013

Eastwood Golf Course 4600 Bruce Herd Ln, Fort Myers · (239) 321-7485
(find more photos at the end of article)
We are on the road a lot. Mostly for business all over Florida. One of the places we visit often is Fort Myers. Since most of the work is done by my partner, I find time to practice along the way. I try to visit different places to learn more about the golf courses in different cities.
This time I did a online search trying to find a range which was close to our hotel and public.
I found Eastwood Golf Course. We called them to find out if it is public and if I could practice there for a while. We were told that it was no problem to come by and use the range.
I arrived at the course around noon . It was not very busy. Walked into the pro shop and was served right away. Not too friendly and not unfriendly. I was told about pricing and where I could find the balls. I bought two tokens at 3$ each. That gave me about 65 range balls.
The range was wide open. Of the app. 20.stalls only 4.were occupied. I picked one towards the left side or lake side. The boxes had good room. Also they had some plastic stand for clubs and bag. They had grass tees only, which I prefer.
Unfortunately the grass was not in good condition at all. There was some grass, but mostly it was sand and soil. Not very nice for iron practice.
They had about 5 targets of low quality, but at least they had some.
The range balls were old and used. So do not expect to do your distance chart there.
I did a good practice session with what I had mostly working with woods.
After the range I found the putting and chipping green. It was of great size and they had a smaller one a little bit offside the building. I stayed around the bigger one. It had all kinds of elevations, great view on the lake and 6 holes. Spend a good amount of time chipping and there was never more than 3 players. Did some putting as well.
The green looked good and had good speed. You cans do all kinds of practice there. Only the huge presence of ants I did not like at all. They did not do a good job in terms of pest control. But, I stayed away from them and was fine.
They have a snack bar there with hot dogs and refreshments. Since I did not buy anything I can not write about it.
The range is not of best quality and the balls are certainly very old. However, it was nice and quiet and for 3 $ a bucket it is a fair deal. If I am in the area again I will go there again. Next time I pick a different spot and will check out the grape they have for practice.
Worth to be mentioned was the pro shop. They had a good selection of items considering they are a city course. Following are some photos I made.
Eastwood Golf Course Driving Range is nothing special, but it works and the price is reasonable even in season. So I might visit again. Really liked the views around me.
That was my view from my tee box on left side of range
Looking to the right from the same tee box
View to the left from my tee box. Pretty nice.
This was my tee box. Not of the best. Mostly sand.
View from my tee box to large putting and chipping green
Large putting and chipping green
For rates and further info about the course visit the official website of Eastwood Golf Course


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is the Nike Sport II Golf Bag a good golf bag? - short review on the Nike Sport II Golf Bag

The Nike Sport Cart Bag II

( you find some more photos from my own bag in this short article).

After a few years with a staff bag and then with a cart bag from the company I worked for I was tired of those huge heavy bags. I needed something I can put on a cart and also carry on my push cart. Something light, with plenty of compartments, looking sporty and for a good price.

I got lucky. When playing the Sarasota City Championship I was able to win my flight and win a pretty good gift certificate. When I went shopping there I looked for the bag I wanted and  got lucky again, I found just the bag I needed and described above.

It happened to be the Nike Sport II Golf Bag. I liked it right away. The color, the weight  and all the compartments. Pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

So I decided to get right away and what I deal I got. 139 $ plus tax.  I did check online and found prices from 139 to 169 plus shipping.

It has been a few months now since I got this bag. I play and practice every day. So I can assure you, my bag gets plenty of usage. On the course and on the range. I walk and I ride carts.

First the compartments.

This bag has plenty of them and they are nicely organized. I can hold everything I was holding in my large staff bag with ease. But I make it a point to only take what I really need. What is really nice is, that this bag looks slim ,but if you want to take more stuff  the two large compartments extend and let you put plenty of items in it. I really like the cooling compartment on the side. Also the pencil holders are convenient. I play tournaments often and need to carry enough balls, rain gear, snacks, drinks and so on. No problem whatsoever.

Club area

I always was thinking about getting tubes. But this bags has dividers right build in. So you can sort your clubs nicely. The dividers to not go all the way down. so if you want to really separate your clubs, you need to add tubes. But I am totally happy with the set up as it is.


This bag is super light. I love it. Many round I actually walk using my push cart and at times it got really heavy. Not with this bag. I can make it as light as I want by not carrying my closet with me. No doubt that I could carry this bag for the entire round.


I think it looks sporty, fresh and streamlined. Just as I wanted. I like colorful on the course and do not like boring golf bags. This bag you see and it is not imposing.

Quality of product

For the price you get a decent golf bag. Because it is a light sporty bag, the material is thin and it is more build like a stand bag. However, the material they use works for me. It all depends on how you treat your bag. I might play all the time and use the bag all the time and even travel, but I do take care of my bag and do not throw it around and watch where it stored. Also I have a pro travel case to protect it.

The entire bag is made light and not as durable as in the days. But hey, for that price? What do you expect. Some people might have this bag for a couple years and it will be gone. I easily will get 5 years out of it and only have regular wear.

Only thing I could find as not that great was on the small bags where you put your wallet etc. Look at the photo:


When you look at the zipper area you will find there is some spots which are frayed. That is poor quality. So I am not to happy about that. But that is the only spot where it occurs.

One thing which really did and does not help me is, that the bag does only stand upright on a very flat service and if not loaded. Otherwise it tips over often.

When I go practice for 3 or 4 hours around the green, I need to lay it down. That is not my favorite here in Florida, with all the ants and stuff. However, I got used to it and can live with it.

I am not sure if I would buy the bag for 169 $. But The Nike Sport II Golf Bag is otherwise a good bag for the player who takes care of his things.

Here are some more photos.


Find even more info on the Nike Website

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Update of my review of IMG Academy Golf and Country Club from September 15th 2013

I had the pleasure to play this course again last weekend, being October 13th 2013.
Everything I wrote in my review about this golf course on September 15th 2013 still applies. However, there is two things I can add now.

This time I actually ordered myself a sandwich at the half way house. First I thought about a hot dog. But at 4 $ and with what I saw she had as fixings, I thought I am better off with a sandwich. It did not look to good.

I decided to get a ham sandwich with all the fixings on rye. In my mind, she had those ready to go and I thought it will take me a second to get it. That would have been great, because it was my turn to tee of first. However, she did not.

She asked what I want on it. I told her, everything she has available. Meaning, mustard, mayonees, ketchup, tomato. lettuce and onions.

Next I saw her taking out the bread and putting mustard on it. next the ham , then lettuce and tomato. I am not even sure if there was onions on it. For sure there was no mayonnaise. But I did not say anything because I had to go.

So I waited for her to get it done and bring it. Which she did after cutting it and putting it on one napkin. How should that work out for me? I am playing golf, riding a cart and have birds trying to get it. I can not believe the did not wrap it. I  actually had to ask for that and the lady did seem surprised.

I paid my 5 $ plus a 1 $ tip and was off to tee off.

The bread was OK, a little dry. The mustard was plenty, but I missed my mayonnaise and my ketchup. The lettuce was brown on all sides , which was not inviting. But being hungry, I ate it anyway.

Overall I will not buy a sandwich there again.

After the round I went in the club house. This time I was able to have a beer. They have some good drafts. The beer was cold, glass was clean and server friendly. I had Stella which is a little more. Totally forgot the mandatory service fee, which they apply to members and non members alike. Not a good thing because it is almost 2 $, but not a surprise also. I still gave the server an extra tip. Not exactly a cheap beer, but if you sit with friends after a round of golf, why not. Some guys ate something.

I saw a couple cheese burgers with fries. The burgers looked great, the fries looked like they were a kids portion. Since I did not have them I can not tell you more about it, but surely will update that once I get to it.

The view from the bar and restaurant was perfect on that day and I am sure that is why you pay a little extra. It would not be a place where I would sit for longer.

I have to mention, that I was a member for one summer at this course. The food which they serve on events for members was always very good, so I want to believe it is good at the bar. But after the half way house experience with this sandwich, I would not bet on it. Next time I will eat something and let you guys know.

If you have eaten there, let me know or write a comment.

Venice City Championship - 19th Annual amateur golf championship of venice

Sign up Sheet for the 19th Annual Venice City Championship in Venice , FL
Presented by Lake Venice Golf Club (seems like they used last years entry form )

( find more photos at the end of this article!)

I started playing at Lake Venice in a Friday game a few months ago. Referred by some friends who played in games all over for  years. They told me that the course is not the best, but it is not an easy track and in a great location.

Unfortunately I started to join this group in summer time, which here in Florida is the rainy season and did it rain this summer.

Which led to soaked courses and tough conditions. I for sure was surprised when I one Saturday found out about the 18th Annual  Venice City Championship which was scheduled for October 5th and 6th. An individual stroke play tournament.

I started to ask about it right away. The pro shop assistant told me I have plenty of time to sign up and there will be no problem to get in.

So I talked to some friends who play here for years and they all told me, that this is a good tournament to play in.

So 2 weeks before the date I called them up. I told the person on the other line that I want to sign up. It was very simply. I just needed to give my name, handicap, address and the size I need for my shirt ( which I did not know  was included).  I wanted to pay over the phone right on that day, but was told that I do not need to pay until the day I get there.

I also was told to call a couple days before for my tee time. This was easy and I got friendly service.

2 days before the tournament I called and asked for my tee time, which I got within a  minute and then I told them I would like to pay over the phone right now because a third party will sponsor me. That was no problem as well.

The day before the tournament I received a call from a lady asking me if I could play earlier than the tee time I was given. I told her that this is tough for me and so she said I should not worry about it and was really friendly about it. I liked that, because my travel time to the tournament was about 1 hour.

I showed up about 1 hour before my tee time. Just to sign in and so on. I was greeted by a few people on the table, got my shirt, my scorecard and was send of to play. Easy, fast and no questions.

The starter was the same as always and he was happy to see me and informed me that we are up after the next group and that so far only three players were present.  I warmed up and got ready. On the tee box I greeted the other two players.

I was by myself on the cart.
The course was not prepared differently than the weeks before on Saturdays. Meaning, they did not do anything special to make it better, the greens faster or whatever could have been done. This was not very good, but it was what it was.

As a result we had to deal with lots of mud on golf balls which we had to play down and with greens which had no consistency at all. Somewhere fast, some where not.

The pace at first was slow, but then picked up and we played our 18 holes in a reasonable amount of time. That I found amazing, considering that I did not encounter one single Marshall throughout the round. It speaks for all players.

After the round we brought in the cards and our results were posted on a big board outside. Asking about my tee time for the next day, I was told to call after 5 pm that same day.

I did just that and received my tee time right away.

Sunday morning I came in about 45 minutes before my time. Again I was greeted friendly, got my scorecard and was told I had plenty of time before we are on the tee. I believe that breakfast ( donuts and coffee) was included, but I do not eat any sweets and so I do not know how that turned out. Looked good.

Before going out I went back to the tournament table and asked about the pin placement. I was wondering if they had color code because there was no pin sheet. To my surprise I was told, that the greens are so small, that whenever I hit the middle of the green I have no more than 15 feet to the pin. That was interesting and not satisfying. Considering the fact that I can put the ball closer to any pin if I know where it is and it has other impacts on how you approach the green. However, considering the tournament and the fact that I know the course, I moved on without questions.

We were right on time yet again and again we were only three players. This time I decided riding with someone. Again I saw right on the first hole that the course did not get any special additional treatment as  you would expect.

On the second hole my cart buddy put is drive in a muddy area. Getting there he looked at it and then turned to me and asked if he can drop it. I was hesitant, because we played it down and so we called our third player and asked him. He was not sure either.

We decided to call the pro shop and confirm with the pro. We reached him right away and he said that if there was tire marks ( which my partner said there was ) , then he can move it.

After taking another look, we agreed that he can drop. What I liked in that case was , that the pro was immediately available to answer the question. We moved on and again we played a relatively fast round of golf without any further incidents or hold ups.
Coming in we turned over our score cards and were told that the food was ready and we could go ahead and eat.

They had pasta, sausage , some sandwiches, beans and salad. Nothing out of the ordinary. The sandwiches were OK. The pasta was very good and the meatballs were very good. Salad was simple salad and I did not try the beans.

Got unlimited soft drinks. We started eating right away. I was good with it.
While eating the pro came up to me and gave me a certificate and congratulated me to my 2nd place in the 1st flight. Fast , easy and no big show.

He did that with all winners including the champion and runner up. I thanked them and they thanked me for coming.

Overall I have to say, that for 100 $ entry fee, that is a tournament which is on my schedule for next year again. You get two rounds of golf, some breakfast, prices ( they paid out 5 spots, 1st place got a golf bag on top of it ), a very nice golf shirt and  a good lunch.

The people are friendly and very easy to deal with. All is relaxed and without any stress or pressure. The course I think could be prepared better for such an occasion. There were many spots which should have been ground under repair, there could be a pin sheet or at least they could use colored flags to mark the location. The greens should be cut and rolled to make them consistent. I am not so sure about the pick , clean and place rule. We had lots of very muddy balls on day one. Day two was better, but that could have been because I had better lies.

In any case. If you are in the area and like to play tournaments for a good value,  The Venice City Championship for Amateurs is an event I would suggest you should enter. I know I will play for sure next year again.


1 week after the tournament I went shopping with my certificate and it was as easy as it gets. Although the shop does not have lots of things, they have some good deals of which I could take advantage. So the 100 $ I won for my second place made this tournament pretty much a plus event for myself and I met some very nice people I will play with again for sure.

They used a simple leader board with markers, which was sufficient.

Lake Venice Golf Club Gift Certificate - was as simple as the complete tournament.


Nice polo shirt. Dry fit with nice embroidery.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

FootJoy ProDry Golf Socks - how good are they? Unbiased review of FootJoy golf socks

FootJoy ProDry golf socks low cut - # 1 sock in golf ( statement by FJ )

To play your best golf, you need to feel comfortable.

When I say comfortable, I mean you need to like the way you feel about your equipment, about your preparedness and what most people forget about your clothes.

When talking about clothes I am not suggesting that you necessarily need to like the looks of what you are wearing nor that you need to buy the newest fashion or most expensive brands.

What I mean is that you need to feel comfortable in what you play. It does not matter if your shirt is 20 years old or if your shorts are a no brand , burned out  shorts you own for many rounds. As long as you feel great in what you wear, you are good to go and the better you feel, the better your situation.

However, there is one piece of clothing which I never did pay enough attention too and honestly never thought I have too.


Believe it or not, for the most part of my life I was simply buying the best deal wherever I could get it. Markets, department stores and so on. The cheaper the better. It did not matter to me if they were worn out fast, because they were cheap. So I just bought new socks.

A couple weeks ago my sock attitude changed. I won some certificate at a tournament and when I went shopping in the pro shop I was told I should try the FootJoy Pro Dry Golf Sock.

I was not too excited about it. 12.99 $ for two pair of golf socks? Not exactly the deal I was looking for. But I decided to give them a try. After all I just bought very good shoes ( refer to my Ecco Biom Hybrid Golf Shoe review from a few weeks ago) and was very happy  about the fact that  my feet did not hurt one time since I bought those shoes.

So why not buy some higher end socks and see what they can do for me.

Here is what I read on the back :

1. Dry Sof Moisture Control Technology throughout the sock
2. Comfort Seam Toe Enclosure for a comfortable smooth fit
3. Double -Layer Reinforced Heel for added durability
4. Fully Cushioned Sole for added support and maximum support

I tell you, all of the above sounded very good but I had no idea really what it all means. Sounded like a high tech sock. The lady referring it to me simply told me they feel great and are good.

That was easier to understand.

I now have those socks for 2 weeks and played several rounds with them.

Here is what I think:

The FootJoy Pro Dry Golf sock is a great sock, period.

It feels very comfortable. The cushion makes you feel like walking on a cloud ( at least that is what I thought),  since there is no seam, there is no strange feeling inside the shoe anymore.

I was sweating in Florida’s heat, but the socks felt nice, dry and breathing. It is my believe that this is due to the material which they call Lycra Spandex.

In all, my foot actually had a better fit in my shoe and the sock was like a glove on my foot. No slipping and gliding. Just a solid good feel. Love the fact that my ankles are not covered which I always hated the feeling of my other socks doing it. On top, I get more tanning when out in the sun.

Compared to some of my 6 pair for 10 $ amateur socks, this was a huge step forward towards feeling even more comfortable.

That is exactly what I was looking for. When I put on my socks and then my shoes, I feel like I can walk a marathon. Combined with my new other clothing, I feel confident and comfortable.

I have to agree, that the price is higher and I am not even sure yet how long they will last. But for the time being, the FootJoy ProDry golf socks are without a doubt a winner and I would recommend them without hesitation.

Surely you will find sales for it. But I would even try them at original price. Your feet are very important. In golf and in everything you do. So it is important to treat them well. With good shoes and good socks.

The fact, that those socks are Made in China is not the most exciting fact. However, I am looking for other high end socks and who knows , I might get lucky and find some Made in USA, which I would prefer by far. Suggestions and comments are as always welcome.
Give me a few more rounds and the socks a few more times in the washer and I will write an update.