Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Manatee County Amateur Championships 2013 - personal recap of 3 days golf at the first version of this golf tournament

Playing in the first Manatee County Amateur Championship - My experience in short

This year was the year for the first Manatee County Open Amateur Championship of golf.
Presented by Pope Golf.

Right when I heard about it about 3 weeks ago or so, I decided that this could be an interesting tournament.

3 days of golf on 3 different golf courses for an amateur title in Manatee County. I liked it from the get go.

So I checked my schedule and found that I would be able to play. My next step was to get the application form. That was easy, as I was playing Manatee County for a skins game to check out the highly anticipated new greens ( which by the way turned out well).

I took the application home without further reading it. Only at home I glanced over it and found that that there was no online sign up or anything like it. Usually we pay all tournaments with CC and so I emailed Ken Powell, the head professional at Manatee County to find out if I could call in with a credit card, which he answered was no problem.

So I did. Gave the CC number and all the needed info to Brian  and was told that I am signed up and ready to go. That was a week before the final date of entry.

Thinking that all is OK , I never gave it another thought and started preparing. A few days before the tournament the tee times for the first round were published on the website. That I found was a good service. Saves time and you can print it out.

Only problem I had was, that I was not on the pairings sheet. Not too happy about it, I emailed Ken yet again and asked him what the deal was. As always he was very fast responding to my question and told me that it is no problem and I will get a tee time the next morning and I am in.

On Friday the 19th I then showed up at Manatee County Golf course. My first way was to the sign in desk, where I was greeted by two very friendly female staff members. They both smiled and it was a nice feeling to be welcome ( I actually knew one of them for years from a different course). I was pleasantly surprised that my name was on the list.

So I received my welcome package, consisting of a bag with a book of some coupons, some cheese crackers, a box with Callaway coasters and balls as well as some advertising for Pope Golf and a drink coupon.

Happy to be in , I made my way to get a cart where I was greeted by a nice gentleman who showed me my cart which was tagged with my name, clean and ready to go.

On the range we found plenty of range balls and I warmed up for a few minutes.

I did not have much time, so I talked to some players and then found my group and introduced myself to my fellow players. We checked in on the tee with Ken, the head pro and he told us that they are a little bit behind. It was about 10 minutes or so, so no big deal.
When our turn came Ken gave us the cards, told us about some rules and then announced each player and off we went

On the course we did not see any tournament staff at all.  Although I found it strange, I was never worried about it. The pace was good and the rules were clearly explained, so we navigated through the entire course nicely and without incident.

After the round I turned in my scorecard and was told that the tee times for Saturday will be posted after 5 pm on the Pope Golf website. I got myself my free drink and was on my way home. So , the first day was nice, relaxed and everything went smooth.

As promised I found my tee time after 5 pm on the website. I like when things happen like I am told they are.

Saturday I showed up a little earlier at Buffalo Creek Golf Course for my second round. Just wanted to have some more time to warm up. There was no check in. The carts were marked and ready to go. So I got mine and started to warm up.

Again we were running late a few minutes. Nothing significant.  Again Ken was at the 1st tee , handing out score cards, explaining rules and announcing the players. We also received our drink coupon for the day.

As the first round, the second round went well and without any incidents. I saw a ranger out there, but there was no work for him at all. We cruised the course nicely and there was no rule questions which we needed help for.

After the round we dropped our card in the restaurant, where Ken and Ryan had a table set up and a big paper  flight board on the wall to post the scores. It all went fast and looked  fine to me even if I expected a little more technology from this company. After all they manage all kinds of good courses and clubs.

Again we were told that the tee times will be on the website after 5 pm the same day, which they were. I really liked that.

The final day we were scheduled to play River Wilderness Country Club. I know the course well and was looking forward to play this track. Showed up early to warm up properly. Everything was in order. My cart was ready and marked, plenty of balls on the range and the chipping green. No sign in table again ( I did not think it was necessary anyhow).
I will not get into the course and range and in what shape they were. Just talking about the tournament in this entry.

Again we were running late. About 15 minutes. No big deal  again. Same scenario. Ken was at the tee box, handing out the score cards, explaining the local rules and announcing the players.

The round went well. We saw more rangers this time) ( maybe it was the same one, but he was around. However, they did not have much to do. The round was smooth and everybody was moving along nicely.

We came in after a fun round and first put our stuff in the cars. Then went in to bring in the score cards in time.  

There was a big room set up with the leader boards and table to sit and sign the cards. There also was a little buffet on one side. Fruit, different meats like roast beef and ham, cheese, salad, blackened prime rib and some bread. It all looked good and the food tasted good as well. It was nice to not find hot dogs and burgers yet again.

Soft drinks were for free. Beer and liquor was available for payment.

I enjoyed the food and the fact that there was some guys hanging out to talk golf and exchange experiences. After a while Ken marked the results of our flight and told us to be ready for a photo.

I came in tied for second but after count back I finished 3rd. At least I won some money, so I was happy. There was no big announcement or celebration . Everything was fast, organized and simple.

That was it. My experience of the 1st Manatee County Amateur Open Championship of golf.

Here are my thoughts.

The experience was a nice one. Everything was well organized and the tournament was running very smooth. I have to say that K. Powell , the head professional , was on top of everything . From sign up to finish and in between. Ken had answers and got things done.

The courses were in good shape, although I believe that did not much extra preparation for the tournaments. However, they were good and offered a good test. We played blue tees, but often had pins towards the front, which made the course shorter than shown on the scorecard.

The entry fee was fair. 125 $ for 3 rounds of golf with cart,  range balls,  welcome bag with  gifts, 2 free drinks on the first two days ( 1 each day and no alcohol), all you can drink soft drinks and a small buffet on  the final day and prices for the first three per flight.

Gift bag included :
1 sleeve Titleist Velocity ( app. 7 $)
1 Callaway coaster gift set ( app. 18 $)
1 bounce back coupon for Manatee ( value is not exactly clear but I would say savings of
  about 40 $?)
1 coupon 20 % of at the clam factory of entire check
1 coupon 10 % of any non sale item at Manatee
1 free order of Selmon Brothers wings
Some coupons for Dicks Sporting Goods

If you add it all up, green fees, bag, drinks and food. 125 $ is a great  deal.
I won 60 $. If you minus that from the 125 $ I actually had a great golfing weekend  with competition for free.

All staff members were very friendly and read to help at any time.
I was disappointed about the turnout. There was not enough players to make it a great tournament and although it is true that we are in off season and that it is a new tournament, I strongly believe that it was bad advertising that caused this to be a small tournament instead of a big tournament. No doubt in my mind , that there could have been double the players.

I only knew about it because of a friend. Without him, I would not have played as well because of not knowing about it. A further drawback might have been that the first round was on Friday. But there was plenty of players there. So why not get double ?

However, it is not my job to analyze why there was not enough players. Fact is , that I was satisfied for the price and that I will be playing next year if I am able.

No doubt , that the company will learn and evolve until next year and  change  what needs to be changed. I believe , that this could be a huge tournament with hundreds of players and I also believe that with this head pros lead, they can make it happen.  

Find an update of this tournament next year. Meanwhile I hope to get some comments  and maybe some players who read this entry share a little about how they experienced this tournament.

Thank you very much for checking out this review.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peridia Golf and Country Club - short review of playing golf at Peridia Golf and Country Club

Peridia Golf and Country Club - 4950 Peridia Blvd. E , Bradenton, FL 34203

Find more photos below the review including the scorecard!

I drive by this entrance sign for 4 years now. Also I saw the advertisement for this club on TV for years. Yet, I have never driven into the complex nor did I play or visit the pro shop there.
Amazing to say the least. After all , I worked in golf wholesale and visited hundreds of locations all over Florida.

So why did I not stop here at a course which is only 15 minutes from my home? The answer is simple. I have no idea! I just did not. Maybe because it is an executive course or maybe because I just did not think there was a course worth my time there.

But let us leave this behind. I am lucky to work with a friend, who is an artist, once in awhile on some projects in neighborhoods across the area. This time it happened to be a project right in this country club.

So there was my chance to finally drive in there and see what homes are there, what course was there and so on.

But I got even more lucky. The last day of our work in this complex my friend asked me if I would like to play a round on this course. I was excited right away. Although I by then knew that it was an executive course, I strongly believe that all courses are fun to play and even executive course can be a great challenge and of very good quality.

We had a tee time for 12:26 pm on a Thursday. Weather looked good even though cloudy, so I was sure we will make it without getting wet.

I did not go into the pro shop for check in. Since I was invited I totally forgot to take a look just for my writings. However, I will add a comment about the shop when I actually was in there. Same counts for restaurant and other parts of the club.

We got the cart fast. It was clean and ready to go. The cart boy was friendly from what I saw and we were told to tee off whenever we are ready. We went over to the water station and got ourselves fresh water with ice, as we did not know if there is any water on the course. Which there is.

Right beside number 1 is a putting green and we took some time to putt, but  it was  sanded and not in best shape. So we decided to take off.

The tee boxes all over the course are acceptable. You find level stance on each one of them even though at some you have to take a good look.

Custom Search

The fairways were all in good shape and for the most part the ball finds good lies.

All the greens were in good shape as well and although not the fastest, it was nice putting them. Seems like they try hard to make them as pure as possible.

The landscape of the course is nice for how it was build. There is ponds and trees and some brushes. All of them adding to making this course a decent challenge.

It was nice to see that the course is well taken care off. Surely they have a good greens keeper and a crew who pays attention to detail when they work on the course.

The par 4s are interesting and although not long, they offer a tight landing zone and lots of trouble around it.

Par 3s are of different length and have a good layout.

There is not much more to tell about the course. It is a  short executive course in  very good shape offering challenging holes and a nice landscape.

To me the atmosphere was friendly and I can see it being a very busy place in season.

We paid 11.95 plus tax for 18 holes including cart, which is a great deal. I am not sure about the price in season but will add the info later.

I must say, that I was pleasantly surprised and am excited to have this course so close by. There is no doubt, that I will return if I can. It is a nice practice course and always good for a fast afternoon round for a good deal.

Not sure what they offer in terms of memberships, but know that the advertise it heavily on TV as the best executive course deal around.
If you are in the area and look for a fast round of golf on a good executive course for a  fair price, stop by at Peridia Golf and Country Club.

Scorecard of Peridia Golf and Country Club

Back side of scorecard of Peridia Golf and Country Club

Hole 12 at Peridia Golf and Country Club

Hole 15 at Peridia Golf and Country Club

Hole 17 at Peridia Golf and Country Club

Sunday, September 15, 2013

IMG Academies Golf and Country Club - A short review after a Sunday round of golf in September 2013


IMG Academies Golf and Country Club  - find some more photos all the way at the bottom of this article .

After a few weeks I was able to play the IMG Academies golf course again. After playing a lot of wet and not in so good shape golf courses, I was looking forward to play a course with good drainage.

I just wanted to have some dry fairways with good lies and some roll and some greens which are actually true and not soft. Further some sand traps which are not hard as concrete.

We had tee times beginning at 8 23 am. Early start. So I was not sure if I will get a chance to practice on their facility and warm up properly. I have played this course many times before and was never disappointed at all.

I go there in time and found about 25 cars on the lot. That was a great sign because it meant there were not too many players out there, which I like. It gives  you the opportunity to play golf and not rush through the course.

Since I parked , I did not have contact with the cart boy at the bag drop. But I did notice, that he did not say good morning although I walked by him and said just that.

The pro shop was empty. As a matter of fact, it was only a girl behind the counter and what seemed to be the assistant professional or professional. That came in handy to me as I wanted to go and warm up a little. I told them with what group I am . The girl was very friendly, confirmed and asked for my name. She then told me the price, which came too about 29 $. That is a good price including cart.

Went and picked up my cart and the cart guy was friendly as well. I drove to the water station to pick up some water and ice. I knew they have water stations, but not how many and if it was cold water. The machines is a little beat, but works fine.

Next of to the practice area of which I forgot to take a photo , but will try to add that later. The just redid the area and I was looking forward to see it.

It looks great. There is the mats which they had before and to the left there is grass tees from which you can chip on. Looks all very nice and well taken care of at this point.

There were plenty of range balls available which are  included in the green fee. So I warmed up a little bit. Also tried the bunker to see how the sand was and found it dry but very fluffy, which I was not used to.

From there I went on to the driving range. They put down new green there as well, which is artificial grass but very nice. It looks good and feels good. Still wondering why the entire range is kind of downhill. You now can hit all your clubs including your woods. That was not possible before because the range is limited of length. But with the range balls most amateurs have plenty of room here.

The starter was waiting for us already and we checked in. He was friendly.

We had to start from 10 today. That was also fine with me. It is a par 5 and so you can get going easily.

All tee boxes were in excellent shape. You find level spots so you can focus on a great tee shot instead of compensating for bumps and so on.

In the pro shop we were told to use the 90 degree rule as much as possible, but it was not mandatory. Right on the first hole I could see, that despite all the rain we got over the past weeks, the fairways were in great shape. Actually the fairways on all holes were good. On a few spots were muddy. But nothing significant. It was nice to get some roll and bounce on your drive.

That makes a round of golf much more enjoyable.  

3 shots found the bunkers. My first bunker shot was from a fairway bunker. This trap was dry, as all the once I saw, and the sand was not to fluffy. So it was not to difficult to put it on the green.

The two green side bunkers I was in were in great shape, but compared to the fairway trap very fluffy. Both off my balls very buried deep. I am not sure if that is the intend or not, but it sure makes for tough bunker shots for amateurs or beginners.

I was able to save one of the holes with tremendous skill.

The greens of this course are all looking great. Today they were not exactly fast, but had a true and good roll to it. This is nice and it shows you, that courses of this class simply have better drainage and care. Very enjoyable to play on those greens, even though I missed some fairly short putts.

So I am very pleased with the condition of the course and for that price, this was a great deal.

In terms of amenities there is room for improvement. Although there is water stations on the golf course, the water is warm and does not taste good. Even Manatee County has by far more and better water available.

There is a kiosk on the course where you can buy all kinds of things, get ice and water as well as use the restrooms. This is OK, but for a course of that quality it is pretty poor.

The girl waiting for customers was very nice and had a big smile to show. That is always nice and gives you a feeling of being welcome.

Using the restroom there was OK. Nothing too special, but clean. I used another one on the course , which looks old and could use a do over, but was also clean.

The speed of play was very good. Took us about 4 ½ hours to get done and we did not rush one time. Surely it helped that it was not very busy. That might chance in season though.

I did not go to the restaurant this time and am not sure if there was any changes from last time. So I will wait with any comments on that one.

I dropped of the car ( I need to mention here, that our cart barely made it to the clubhouse. The batteries were clearly not full when we got it, so make sure you ask) and took a peek into the pro shop. It was well stocked and looks inviting. Since I did not check any prices or merchandise, I will need to add to that later or write a separate article.

Overall , IMG Academies Golf and Country Club is a course worth playing, especially in off season when the price is as low as it was today.
Because the IMG schools bring their students out here and it is a championship course, this course is very well taken care of and in excellent playing condition. Surely the greens could be and will be faster in season and in tournaments. If you want to play a course which is in good shape even in rainy season, IMG Academies Golf course is a great choice. It is not too busy, has good service and a very good challenge. It is not an easy course and yet, there is plenty of room.

A nice feature to mention here is the GPS attached to every cart. So you know exactly front, middle and back from every point where you are at. I checked it with my laser device and it matches nicely. Both of them together help  you greatly.

So , if you get a chance to play, even for not the best deal, go and do it. This is a nice experience and you will see how much more enjoyable golf can be if played on a good golf course.

If you played there, share your experience if you like. I will certainly write updates after future visits.

Here are some  of the photos. Although this course is practically a city course, the landscape is pretty nice and offers trees, ponds and all kinds of plants.

General view

Birds eye view on greens 10 (front) and 17 of IMG Academies Golf and Country Club

View towards the gulf over the 10th fairway of IMG Academies Golf and Country Club

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We look for blogging friends

Ok, since I started blogging, I realized, that I actually love it. Still need to learn plenty about it, but I simply love to create content. Meaningful content. Content which might help others, warn others or motivate others.
There is plenty of reviews waiting to be written, I just need to learn on how to be more productive and more helpful. One of the steps I would like to take is to create a partner page.
This partner page for blogger shall be a page where I post a blog with s short description of the content of this specific blog.

In return the owner of this specific blog will post my link on their page. I am sure this is not new to many of you and probably I am really behind times. But I am ready to learn, ready to connect and ready to get things done.

So here is what I would like to do. You message me with your suggestion. I will check it out and then we connect. Please remember, I am looking for golf related blogs.

They will be posted in order of interest. Meaning. Travel, shopping, reviews and so on and so on. Not sure how big this list will be, but I am willing to work with whatever I will find out.

If you know someone who owns a blog or own a blog yourself, you are the person or persons I am looking for to connect.

Thank you very much. I am looking forward to meet many new friends.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

SKLZ Smash Bag - a short review of an impact training aid - Is the SKLZ Smash Bag good?

The SKLZ Smash Bag  - great impact trainer

Official website quote:

Learn the feeling of the correct ball impact for your swing with a high quality impact trainer. Hitting into the Smash Bag helps eliminate fat and thin golf shots, helps cure slices and improves overall accuracy.

The most important moment in golf is without a doubt the impact. I think we all agree on that.
You will see all kinds of different swings on all Professional Golf Tours. But all pro players have one moment in common: The Impact Moment.

There is a simple reason for it, if you are not in proper position with your clubface at impact for the shot you are attempting to execute, you will not be able to do so. You swing can be pretty and technically perfect, but if you are not square at impact your shot will be a miss hit.  

So how do I arrive at the correct impact position ? By entering and exiting the impact zone in proper timing. This zone is only a few inches long. Yet , those few inches are crucial to your  golf game and can make a huge difference to your score.

There is a long list of training aids and instructional books and videos which are  covering this matter and I have to agree that some of them are very good and helpful.  Surely I will write about some of them in the future.

One of the greatest and oldest training aids however is the impact bag ( not the product  with that name itself, I just used the term), which comes in all kinds of different models made by different companies, endorsed by different top golf teachers.

That should make a point right here. Different top golf  teachers recommend this tool and endorse it.

After years of watching the commercials and reading about it I finally decided that I need to add this tool to my top 10 collection. That decision came after I began struggling with my turn, timing, opening my hips too late and not being in the correct position at impact, which resulted in plenty of bad shots costing me tons of strokes.

After some research online I decided to go for the SKLZ Smash Bag endorsed by Rick Smith ( one of the great teachers out there). But I have to admit , that my decision to buy this specific product was not  because of Rick or the brand, but simply because it looked good and the text read well.

I also liked the fact, that it had the wanted impact position on the bag as a target.  This really helps and makes it much better then a regular sports bag. Further I liked the shape of it. Round and of good height.

When I received the package I was a little surprised about the size. It was much smaller than I expected it to be. Opening it and reading the instructions  explained that very fast.

When you order the SKLZ Smash Bag you get an empty bag which you need to fill with old clothes or blankets. This worked out great for me as I was about ready to bring plenty of old clothes to the Goodwill Store. So I planned to use those clothes to fill it up.

I filled the Smash Bag  fairly fast ( still need some more ) and was ready to go in minutes.

Filling the SKLZ Smash Bag with old clothes and securing it with the durable looking zipper.

While doing that I was able to touch and examine the material and it felt very strong and actually pretty good. It is some kind of plastic. It is thick, which it needs to be when you consider that we hit irons and woods with tremendous force into it. Somehow reminded me on material they would use for boats.

Reading the instructions I new I need a wall, fence, block or something to put it against to start using it, as it would move when I hit into it.

Also they wrote , that there is a little loop or hook on the back side of it , which can be used to pin it down on  a lawn or the driving range with an old cut of club ( steel shaft)  or any pole you might find which works.

First I tried it against a wall,  both inside and outside.

The SKLZ Smash Bag in my little garage

SKLZ Smash Bag against the outside wall of our house

It worked great in both spots and really did not require a lot of room and I found it exciting that I can use it in my garage, as my garage is small and converted into an office space with some storage. My first swings were a little on the weak side because I did not know what to expect. But it felt great and so I started taking full swings and really liked the feeling of it. Much better than hitting and old tire, which does not look that great in the house either.

Next I used it on the driving range while I went out for a long practice session. Here the strap it has on top really comes in handy. When  you walk from your car to the range with a golf bag on one shoulder and balls in one hand you can carry the SKLZ Smash Bag easily like a sports bag. But watch out, with all the clothes it is pretty heavy.

I pinned it down with a cut of iron club ( steel shafted) and was ready to go in seconds.

See how I used an old steel shaft club to pin it to the ground through the loop.

SKLZ Smash Bag on the range

Here I would go and hit about 5 times into the Smash Bag and then go and hit a few balls. Then do it again and so on. You do not have to do 5 times, but that is what I did at this point.

It felt good and helped me reinforce the feeling I seemed to have lost over time. I really liked the fact, that the bag did not move one inch after I pinned it down.

So in both situations the SKLZ Smash Bag delivered exactly what it said in the description.

The material is strong and the bag well made. It looks good and seems to be very durable.
As for the benefit, I can not say yet a 100 % because I only have it for a couple weeks and only used it  a few times. What I can say  is that my turn and my  timing opening my hips improved already. My timing was great before and I truly believe using the SKLZ Smash Bag did and will further improve my timing and positioning at impact and bring me back to my old me.

Next I will see if I can improve my swing speed and  square up my clubface  at impact with it. But for that I will have to write an update in a few weeks or so.  

I think the SKLZ Smash Bag is a great training aid for a good price. The quality of the product is good for the amount you pay. It seems like a durable product which  will be usable for a longer period of time.

It also is much safer to hit into a Smash Bag than to hit into an old  tire. There is no or little risk for injuries. Also I think that it is better than using an old sports bag. Those bags are simply not designed to withstand that force to many times and again you might have the potential for injuries as a result of not having a flat impact zone, zippers, handles and so on.

In my mind there is not a doubt, that the SKLZ Smash Bag will help you to improve your game when following the instructions and working with it over a longer period of time and a regular base.

At this point I can not compare it to other products of similar kind simply because I did not try them yet, but will write an article as soon as I get my hands on a different product.

Prices for this product differ from store to store and website to website. It is a matter of searching and comparing shipping options and shipping charges.

As I always I look forward to get comments and hear about experiences.

Buy it for a good deal right now.