So Long, Sultry Summery Weather

Sitting here, I’m gazing out my window admiring the scintillating weather that we’ve been blessed with here in Niagara. As I write this, the sky is void of any clouds, the sun feels glorious on my aging body, and the temperature is a balmy 27 degrees Celsius. Or for my imperial measurement viewers 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Not bad for 5:30 p.m. on October 23rd.

it was a splendid day weather-wise, which made for an even nicer day for taking my golf clubs for a ride in the truck, my sticks, consequently riding in the “shotgun” position beside me. Occasionally, I’d cop a look over tat them. The plan was simple, my wife would start work at 2 p.m. and after kissing her bye I’d swing by the doctor’s office to pick-up my ultrasound request, and make a telephone call to a Pro Shop, somewhere. Prime golf weather.

Lots of the leaves have fallen. Winter is on the way, but today the weather was stunning.

There’s one golf course… No, that’s a lie, there’ve been several golf courses on my mind lately but there is one, in particular, that I’ve talked about quite a bit recently. That golf course is Niagara-On-the-Lake Golf Club, and it’s the oldest golf course in North America. Without getting into it too much and spoiling a future golf review article, the golf course was established in 1875.

So, after walking out of the doctor’s office, I hopped into my truck and started to ask “Siri” to start making calls to the course. Unfortunately, my phone calls were never answered. So, being the heady, quasi-intellectual that I am, I decided to start driving while calling along the way. Nothing! Bummer! Were there other golf courses that I could have tried to make a te time at? Why certainly, but if there’s one character flaw that I have (there are several) it’s that when I put my mind to something, while I don’t obsess over it, I do happen to wear “blinders”. Total tunnel vision. Think of me as a terrier dog, and if you don’t know much about terriers, they are known for biting and not letting go. That’s me.

I hadn’t given up on playing golf today in this ‘one day only’ summer fling, there were still about three hours of daylight left. But then on the way to my target course, where I still hadn’t made a tee time, a bridge crossing was closed forcing a detour. A sign that maybe playing wasn’t meant to be? That’s life, living on one of the busiest inland commercial waterways in the world. We get nailed with bridges going up, bridges being closed, and then there are the tunnels. Thinking about the tunnels actually exhausts me.

I will be playing NOTL Golf Club soon. (Photo Credit: NOTL Golf Club)

By the time, I made my way around the detour my body took over. I went from feeling generally okay to being at the point where playing golf today was merely a romantic and poetic thought. Health issues are nothing new to me, or my readers for that matter, but whatever is going on with my kidney’s and/or prostate right now, stinks. We’re slowly getting to the bottom of it. Today was a rarity. In a way, similar to spotting a unicorn, Chupacabra, or a Sasquatch. I listened to my body.

Unceremoniously, I turned my jalopy around and headed home. Defeated. Live to golf another day, right? While this might be the last of 80 degree temperatures that I see for a while, in saying that I predict June, this won’t be my last kick at the proverbial golfing can. I’ll have better days where I feel good enough to play, and that’s exactly what I’ll do.

As long as there’s a golf course open, and I have some grass to walk on. I’ll play. So long sultry, summery weather.

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind

2021 PGA Show a “No Go”… Going Virtual

It seems like it was only a couple of months ago when I found myself wrapping up the final meetings at the 2020 PGA Show and I started to look forward to the 2021 edition.

Believe it or not, my planning for the next year’s annual PGA Merchandise Show begins as soon as the sun rises the next morning. Every year, I learn how to manage the giant labyrinth that is the “golf industry Mecca” just a little differently and better. Methods on how to run the floor and handle the Demo Day just a little differently. To maximize my efficiency and proficiency. I am, after all, a one person operation.

But, as the show wrapped up, and I was two days away from getting onto a Frontier Airlines flight back home to Buffalo, New York, my wife Crystal called me out of concern. Apparently some virus called Coronavirus was showing signs of running rampant and turning into something big. We didn’t know much then, but we knew that it hailed from another part of the world, a part of the world that impacts the golf industry and practically every other industry that there is.

January 2020. Headed home from the 2020 PGA Show. COVID-19 was well-established already.

Immediately, I started to think about individuals that I came into contact with, with a focus on those from that part of the world. I immediately figured out my answer, and the answer was actually zero. Perfect! Not a worry, right?

When it comes to large exhibitions like the PGA Merchandise Show that’s put on by Reed Worldwide Exhibitions in Orlando, Florida it doesn’t matter who you didn’t speak to or who you didn’t shake hands with. Because, it’s moot. The reality is that you don’t know who shook hands with the person that you just shook hands with.

Coronavirus or COVID-19 has turned into one Hell of a nasty critter. Claiming the lives of over 1 million while infecting over 41 million people worldwide. The disease has had a crippling effect on the global economy, yet the golf industry has managed and coped quite well. But, I’m not here to talk politics or epidemiology.

For several months I’ve been thinking about the PGA Show in January. If I may channel Shakespeare’s “Ham Omelette”, To go… Or not to go? That is the question. Wondering to myself and my wife if I should go or not. Is the risk worth the reward? In retrospect, what an oddly familiar phrase that is, ironic really since we often use the term to describe going for it or not on a golf hole.

The lights have gone out for the 2021 PGA Show. Going virtual.

The annual PGA Show is extremely important for me. The bulk of my content for the year comes from the two and a half days on the Orange County Convention Center show floor and the Demo Day that’s held at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge. Unlike so many other websites and blogs, I don’t receive many pieces of equipment to try beyond Demo Day. That’s why I write all of the “First Impressions” reviews, because as a self-described opportunist I depend on that resourcefulness to keep Until The Next Tee going.

The hamster in the hamster wheel, that is my brain, has been mulling over whether to go to the show or not. About two and a half weeks ago I contacted the media representative for the PGA Show (Sherry Major) to find out if I had applied for my media credentials. I literally couldn’t remembe if I had or not. Which in itself, is odd. It was then that I found out that registration hadn’t even opened yet, and that they were still deciding whether to have the show commence as usual (in-person) or if they were going to have a virtual show. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t even looked into flights or hotel rooms yet. The latter being something that I typically do by March at the latest. My flight, I’d be booking any time now. Yes, 2020 has been a different year.

As of yesterday, looking for a room got a whole lot easier. Making travel plans became even easier. The announcement came from PGA Worldwide Exhibitions that the 2021 PGA Show was cancelled, nay, they were going to be going with a “Virtual Golf Show”. A decision that I think was very wise and I applaud the decision. As much as it pains me to say it, but, that’s just my inner child coming out. All of those people, congregating in a confined area, no doubt at some point coming into close contact to one another no matter how much physical distancing is employed or sanitizer is spread around. Ultimately, someone will forget to wash their hands, use sanitizer, and/or break physical distancing protocols. Everybody touching all of the golf equipment, apparel, and anything else that you can lay your hands on. It could prove disastrous. It only takes one rotten apple to ruin a bushel.

Even though the decision may be detrimental to my efforts, on the heels of my best year for views ever, I’m also not tone-deaf. I realize that the locals are potentially affected more by this.

While the area of International Drive might feel the effects a little bit from the lack of golf industry invaders, Orlando and that area of “I-Drive” is, of course, a tourism destination. However, for those employed by Reed Exhibitions and those that are employed by the OCCC on the other hand, they might feel a pinch.

People like those that work at the concessions stands, the food and beverage department (catering), security officers, cleaning staff, porters, shuttle drivers, set-up and tear-down labourers, and even the massage attendants out in the concourse hallways. It is they, who are going to be missing valuable hours of work.

I love going to the show and I admit that it’s just not about the networking, swinging the latest and greatest in the world of golf equipment, observing trends in fashion, new ideas in health and wellness, or seeing old acquaintances and friends. I just love to go, period!

No in-person show means no Demo Day. No Demo Day means no Teezy Awards in 2021 and less review pieces. Hope to see you in ’22.

As far as Until The Next Tee goes, here’s how not being able to attend is going to impact me.

  • The lack of Demo Day will limit the amount of golf equipment reviews that I post. My reviews have turned into my “bread and butter” and are what mostly draws views to my website.
  • The lack of Demo Day eliminates my Teezy Awards. I’m surprised by the views that, that little creation has drawn.
  • Content. I will lose no less than 30 articles. How do I replace that potential lost content? What do I replace it with?

It’s that last point that I really hope to get help with, from you, my readers. In the event that I lose out on some reviews, which is all but inevitable, what sort of content would you like to see? More golf course reviews? Which is a content source that I’m just starting to tap. More editorials? More TOUR news? If so, which TOUR(s)? Golf tips? Honestly, I’m an open book. I’m always open to suggestions. Let me know.

Actually, there is one positive thing that will happen with me not traveling to the PGA Show for 2021. I can almost guarantee that I will not develop an illness or foot ulcer this winter. Every year that I go, something bad happens. So I have that going for me, which is nice.

Hey Orlando and the PGA Show. See you in 2022. It’ll be sweet.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

REVIEW – Riverview Golf Course (Fenwick, ON)

The Set-Up

The Niagara Region is home to a stunning number of golf courses. While some have fallen by the wayside due to a sagging economy in Niagara, others have seemed to stay the course. One of those golf courses staying the course is that of Riverview Golf Club in Fenwick, ON. As a matter of fact, for as long as I can remember the golf course was there. My parents would visit the farm next door to get sweet corn from Hewitt’s. Every day during my high school years, I’d pass by Riverview Golf Course while on the school bus.

Some people will contend that it’s geography is in question. Is this golf course is in the metropolis of Wainfleet, ON (where I grew up)? Others will contend that it sit’s in Pelham, or even Welland. No matter where you want to say Riverview Golf Course is located, here’s what you get here. If you were to drive from the Toronto/Hamilton area you would travel along the QEW Niagara, until you got to the Vineland/Victoria Avenue exit. Upon arriving there you’d take the exit and travel due south, straight down Victoria Avenue, which consequently turns into Regional Road #24. If you cross the Welland River, you’ve gone way too far.

The first tee. The first fairway is tight at Riverview Golf Course and it sets you up for the rest of the day.

The Transition

Riverview Golf Course is a regulation length Par-72 golf course that measures just over 6600 yards from the tips (Blue Tees). I tried to do some research to see who the golf course architect was, while those efforts came up empty, I can tell you that this course was built in 1957. The golf course itself is what I would describe as a parkland-style golf course but the two nine’s that compose the golf course are very contrasting.

Golfers might suggest that the front 9 is boring and mundane. Perhaps pedestrian? As a matter of fact, as you drive in from the direction that I described, you’d look at it and just sort of shrug it off. However, looks can be deceiving. Meanwhile, the back 9 grabs your attention more. Rolling terrain, and holes that run along the Welland River. With some awfully tempting risk/reward holes thrown in for good measure.

My round at Riverview Golf Course earlier this season marked the first time that I had played the golf course. When it comes to amenities, the Pro Shop stands alone from the clubhouse in its own separate building, There is a bar and kitchen, however, I didn’t set foot into the clubhouse. There is no driving range at Riverview Golf Course, so getting there really early for your tee time to warm-up isn’t necessary. Ironically enough, this is convenient considering the COVID-19 protocols that we face in 2020. For warming up, there is a short-game area, and as far as locating the practice green, that’s found around the corner from the Pro Shop. If you haven’t been there before you don’t see it until you approach the first tee. Make sure that you ask for it. I wish that I would have.

Riverview Golf Course is a family-run facility. The golf course operates on what I assume is a relatively small budget and the turf crew is quite small. My understanding from Randy (my playing partner) is that the owner’s father is the superintendent. Not to jump too far ahead, but, they do a great job on the golf course with the budget that they operate on.

The golf course itself, plays very fairly. As mentioned, we’re talking about a golf course that really feels like two separate golf courses. The first hole is a 540 yard Par-5 that has a slight dogleg right. A small pond guards the left side of the green, that I’m certain, regularly catches golf balls on approaches that are left short. The green itself is smallish and elongated. You really want to favour centre-right for your approach shot. In general, the greens are pretty small at Riverview Golf Course with the exception of a few which makes striking the golf ball a premium.

The one thing that I really noticed on the front 9 was how tight the fairways were. The trees are everywhere! On the front nine, I would say that my favourite hole was the Par-4 5th. My eye liked everything about this hole. A slight dogleg left, water just to the left of the green. I just thought that it was a pretty golf hole. The Par-3 holes on the front nine aren’t slouches. The 4th hole has a large landing area in front, a bunker guarding the right side of the green and plays around 160 yards. However, on the date of play, the yardage was around 135 yards. The green here is very accessible. Meanwhile, the 9th hole is a bear that plays into the prevailing south/southwest wind that makes this 185-yard play like significantly longer. Standing on the 9th tee, the hole looks longer, much longer. Water is short and right. Did I mention that there’s no shortage of water hazards to look at during your round at Riverview Golf Course?

As mentioned, the back 9 is located on rolling terrain that runs along the Welland River. Many of the golf holes are located in low-lying areas, so periods in the spring, or periods of heavy rainfall will be effected by the river. On occsion, the back nine will flood and this is something that I recollect going by on a school bus, oh so many years ago. I love the back nine!! As a matter of fact, if you were to survey golfers that have played Riverview Golf Course will almost tell you to a man or a woman that they prefer the back. The Par-3 11th is another bear of a hole that measure 225 yards. The green is elevated and reminds me a little bit of a turtle shell. Miss the green in any direction, and you’ll find yourself down a serious slope and scrambling to make a bogey (best-case scenario) or worse.

My favourite hole on the entire golf course is with no doubt in mind, the 12th hole (pictured above). A risk/reward Par-4 with plenty of options from the elevated tee you can either lay up to one of the multiple patches of fairway (which is the definite safe play) or , you can try to drive the green. There’s trouble just short, right, and long of the green. My tee shot found the little creek that lies just in front of the green. I needed 290 yards to cover, I got 280 yards.

The rest of the golf holes are quite nice, I loved the 13th hole, the green of the Par-3 16th is a pretty immense two-tiered (or did it have three tiers) green. The 17th hole is so pretty looking from the green back towards the tee. While the finishing hole is a short, 300 Par 4 that is uphill the entire way and plays into the prevailing wind. Honestly, the hole plays closer to 400 yards than 300 yards. Try to cut the dogleg along the right side, and you’ll catch the strand of trees.

Looking back from the 17th green at Riverview Golf Course.

The Finish

My round of golf at Riverview Golf Course was quite enjoyable. The pace of play was excellent. I enjoyed the holes and to be frank, Riverview Golf Course is a very fun golf course to play. You have to golf your ball and hit golf shots to score here. My striking was off and I paid the price.

The greens are in very good shape, although they were rolling quite slow. If I were to guess, on the day that I played, I’m not certain that they were rolling at 7′ on the stimpmeter. Downhill putts failed to make it to the hole. But the greens are visually appealing and not overly scarred from poor golf etiquette.

The tee decks are, generally, in good shape as are the fairways. There are however, some rough areas on the fairway that could be considered “ground under repair”. Outlying areas of the fairways are rough and very hard from the clay-based soil that we often see in Niagara. If you don’t want to deal with it, make sure you hit the fairway.

There are downfalls. The bunkers here are in rough shape and are in dire need of work to repair them or do away with them totally. Perhaps the consideration of filling them in and going with grass bunkers instead is an option. I feel obligated to point out that it appeared that they do have plans to address the bunkers. Also, when there’s nowhere to have the option to strike a couple of golf balls (whether into a net or a range) I tend to view it as a shortcoming.

My round cost me $50 CAD + tax for 18 holes w/cart which is the median price point in the area. As long as the greens are in good shape, I’m happy. After all, we pay greens fees and do not pay “fairway fees” or “tees fees”. If you’re in the area, Riverview Golf Course might be a place for you to try.

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind

Callaway Golf Introduces Player’s Utility – The X Forged UT

Utility Irons are a popular choice on Tour, especially as a “fairway finder” off the tee and a versatile club into the green on Par-5s. And our new X Forged UT Irons are packed with Callaway’s best technologies in a confidence-inspiring, hollow body construction. For the better
players who want a new go-to club in their bag, this is the player’s utility you’re looking for.

Short Description: X Forged UT Irons are packed with our best technologies in a confidence inspiring, hollow body construction. Built for better players who want a new go-to club.

Features & Benefits

High Ball Speeds – Our A.I.-designed Flash Face Cup creates a sophisticated face architecture, for high ball speeds with outstanding spin robustness.

Extremely Soft Feel – Forged 1025 mild carbon steel and hollow body construction combine with our proprietary urethane microspheres for pure feel.

Enhanced Launch and Control – Our external MIM’d tungsten weighting allows us to precisely locate the CG position for optimal trajectory and launch. A longer blade length and a wider sole versus a traditional long iron
provide forgiveness and control.

Premium Components – The Project X U is specifically designed to work with utility clubs for stability and control. The Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black HY is a player’s graphite shaft designed with low torque for aggressive swingers. Golf Pride’s Z Grip features a firm feel and exceptional traction.

Pricing and Availability

Product At Retail Date: 10/29/20
Pricing: $250 per stick

THE SWING PLATE LETS YOU PRACTICE WITH PRECISION

Designed to make one of golf’s most effective training aids even more versatile, The Swing Plate is revolutionising the use of alignment rods for practice. The brain child of U.K. PGA Professional Jamie Brittain, the Swing Plate secures alignment rods in a static horizontal attachment for alignment and an adjustable swing plane attachment that provides a corrective guide for several of the most common faults in the golf swing. Combined with tutorial videos available at http://www.theswingplate.com The Swing Plate can
help golfers of all abilities get the best out of their practice.

Photo Credit: David Wheatley (Medi8 Golf)

PGA Professional Jamie Brittain used alignment rods in many of his lessons but felt that they could be deployed to better effect by both coaches and golfers. He explains, “Walk down any golf range, from a local public course to the PGA Tour, and you will see players practicing with alignment rods. Whether laid flat or pushed into the turf at an angle, these visual guides for the swing are incredibly useful. It occurred to me that by adding adjustability and precision, you could use them more effectively and also to practice different parts of the golf swing.”

The Swing Plate is a robust, high quality portable unit that fits in a golf bag. The free-standing unit needs no anchoring, even in windy conditions, and is ideal for use on grass, artificial golf range or indoor studio It features two 8mm attachment points that are compatible with all standard sized alignment rods. The horizontal attachment is fixed, and acts as a guide for alignment in the traditional manner associated with alignment rods. The adjustable attachment moves from vertical through to horizontal and fixes in place at whatever angle the golfer or coach needs for any particular drill. The unit is currently being used on several Pro Tours including by brand ambassadors, European Tour coach Liam James and recent Ladies European Tour winner Amy Boulden.

Photo Credit: David Wheatley (Medi8 Golf)

The use of angled rods is most common as a guide to swing plane for golfers who might have a shallow or steep path. The adjustable attachment on The Swing Plate can be set to the precise path for golfers to follow, promoting the desired plane and a consistent swing, but the applications of the unit do not stop there as Jamie continues, “Because The Swing Plate can be moved around the practice area and be easily set to precise angles, I’ve developed several drills that I show on my website. With a few simple adjustments you can set up the Swing Plate to guide the correct swing plane, promote a positive weight transfer, eliminate a backswing sway, improve body rotation and minimise head movement. These are key features of a great golf swing and The Swing Plate can help with them all.”

The success of The Swing Plate in just a few months since its initial design has been phenomenal, with coaches and golfers all across the world using it to hone their technique. The Swing Plate has even made it on to the Tour. European Tour coach Michael Welch has commented, “I’ve used The Swing Plate for some time now. Very simple aid which can be used in multiple ways. A must have in every golfers bag.” While fellow European Tour coach Liam James said, “The Swing Plate is an invaluable tool for every level of
golfer. It is both portable and versatile”

The Swing Plate can be purchased for $89.99 via http://www.golftrainingaids.com and users can access drills that Jamie has designed at http://www.theswingplate.com

Photo Credit: David Wheatley (Medi8 Golf)

Follow @theswingplate on social media for the latest drills from coaches and golfers around the world