Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Cradlz Smartphone Holder - Is it a good product?

The Cradlz Smartphone Holder
Technology in golf is moving on and I now start moving with it. It took me a while to read up on all my options on how to help myself and my game in a professional matter.
There is a few things I integrated in to my practice routine. One of them is videotaping my practice as often as possible.
I began with a JVC video cam and was not unhappy with that even though it was complicated. At least I thought it was. Then I learned that there are several sports analysis software applications for Smartphones on the market. After some research I found and purchased one and was pretty excited and looking forward to get to the driving range. Once there and ready to start however, I discovered that I had a challenge.
I was alone!
This represented a problem. Since I usually used a tripod or had a partner with me. Both were not available. So when coming home I started looking for a solution right away.
On one of my favorite golf shopping websites I found exactly what I was looking for.
The Cradlz Universal Smartphone holder.
I purchased the item and within a few days I had it on my doorstep. I unpacked it right away and was on the spot surprised on how solid the item felt. Pretty solid. Instructions were simple. All you need is a practice stick and you are ready to go.
Took it out to the range for a first session a couple days later. First I tried it with was chipping. I put the stick in the ground, opened the application, placed the Smartphone in the holder and secured it.
At that point I noticed that the screen was showing towards the back of the holder (away from you). That made not many functions on the screen accessible, but the record button was easily to reach, which is the most important thing.
I taped several swings through my application which made the above mentioned challenge even more obvious. Then I taped a couple sequences with my Smartphone camera feature and without the application. For that I was able to turn my phone around and use the front cam which had the benefit that I could see myself. Interesting thing, which I thought will be very useful in the future.
I then took the stick and went over to the range. Worked on my driver. First I taped some swings from behind and then from head on. All worked well.
The Cradlz Smartphone holder was really easy to operate.
It took seconds to attach it to the practice stick. Clips on really easy. I was able to secure the phone easily and take it out just as easy.

At the end of the day I can say the following about the Cradlz Smartphone Holder.
It is light but durable.  You can attach it in any height which enables you to shoot videos even on just over ground level, which is great for putting and fitting.
The cushions on the inside of the Cradlz protect your device. So you can use it with or without your Smartphone protection case ( I find it better without because it fits better and more tight ).
They write it fits most Smartphones. I carry an HTC and there was plenty of room for wider phones. I would check before you order it.
Overall I think that the Cradlz  Smartphone holder lives up to what they say it will do and look forward to work with it.
I paid 29.99 $. Not sure if that is the best price you can get it for. Surely you can shop around.
Great product. Somebody has the same item in use? Share your experience or opinion.
Couple more photos of the stick and the holder.
 Cradlz Holder on Practice Stick from front
 Cradlz from behind on Practice Stick
Backside of package with some professionals who used it. Front shows Bill Haas who said he likes it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Florida State Golf Association - One day tournaments

I am playing tournaments for many years and just about 3 years ago I decided to start again on the amateur circuit and work my way towards other tournaments. There is all kinds of different golf tours I am playing, but today I just want to write a short overview about the FSGA ( Florida State Golf Association).
It was only last year when I first heard about this organization. I think the reason was that I played mainly skins game events in the area for which I never needed a handicap. So the first couple years I actually never signed up to get a GHIN number. Only when I joined the Golf Channel Amateur Golf Tour I got myself a handicap again.
Last year I was not to eager to actually play any tournaments in stroke play format. That changed towards the end of the year and so I decided to actually join the FSGA.
They have different levels of membership which you can find on their official website. I picked the 50 $ a year membership. This level gives you the opportunity to play tournaments and that is all I was interested in. The other membership levels give you other perks, but naturally they have their cost.

It was pretty simple to sign up. Just went to the website and used my credit card to get going. Got confirmed very fast and was ready to sign up.

That is exactly what I did. Signed up for my first tournament at the Longboat Key Country Club, Harbor Side. They had two one day events right after each other and since I only played one of the two courses (Island side) so far I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.

Entry fees for those tournaments are were 50 $ each. That included play, cart, range balls and prize fund. What a deal. If you sign up after the entry due date, you are charged an extra 10 $ if you still can get in.

Considering the golf courses they play, this is a great price to get into competition, considering that most of the tracks you play are private and pretty expensive. Most of them you can not play at all unless you are a member or a guest of such member. Most of the  time you can play a practice round for cart fee. That is another great bonus when playing on the FSGA. There is however some golf clubs who do not allow practice rounds. Although I think that is strange and there is really no good reason for it, we have to respect the club members wish.

I showed up for my first tournament at Long Boat Key Country Club about 1 hour before tee off. Sign up table was outside and easy to find. Jeff had all the info and I was checked in and ready to go within seconds. Paid money into the skins game fund ( it was and always is a reasonable 10 $ ) and started warming up with my free range balls.

I left my bag on the cart which was actually marked with my name and the name of my cart partner. We were told to be at the cart about 15 minutes before the shot gun start. But we did not have to watch the time since they actually made an announcement a few minutes before that time and again at exact 15 minutes before starting time.

The tournament director then welcomed everybody and shared information  about rules and course rules. It all went down very fast and all was easy to understand. You also get a little sheet with info on it.
Staff members of the golf course then lead all players in direction of their tee box. After we arrived at ours we started right away. There was no horn or shot gun shot.

We got 4 hours and 30 minutes to complete our round. There were times for each hole printed on the score cards.

Penalties were to be given when you were caught causing slow play. Actually the entire group would have gotten a penalty ( I think there is a warning before that, please refer to the FSGA website).

I loved this part. In my mind there is no reason in tournaments like that or any tournament for that matter to play 5 hours  or more. This particular course ( harbor side) we played in 3 hours and 58 minutes. We did not rush at all and took our time when looking for balls, getting ready or putting. It was fun.

Sometimes the FSGA representative checked groups and asked how things are going. I also liked that. They wanted to make sure that the tournament ran smooth and without incidents.

We came in , compared cards and brought it to the FSGA tournament director. The score was posted and even entered into the GHIN system right away. This is exciting. You do not have to do anything other than play golf. Because it was a shot gun start, groups came in pretty fast and all was done without long waiting times. The results were posted clearly on large boards and shortly after they announced the winners and gave out the pro shop certificates and paid out the skins.

All very simple, clear, easy. The second event at Longboat Key Country Club Island side was no different and as professional as the first one. As a matter of fact, the third event I played happened to be at Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club and was consistent with the others. I even heard that they offered some breakfast.

The FSGA offers one day events, Championship events and team events for men and women. You play with your handicap and even have the choice to play in the gross division. So there is plenty of opportunity to compete against players of the same ability or better.

If you come to Florida and are interested in playing competitive golf for a good price in a fair and old fashioned matter, the FSGA is a great thing to be part of. FSGA tournaments are professionally organized, not expensive and you get to play on premier golf courses in the area.

I will play on this tour whenever I have a chance and when the events are close to my home or in reasonable travel distance.

Have you played on any FSGA golf tournament before? What was your experience?

If you have never heard of the Florida State Golf Association  and want to check it out visit the official site below.