Review – GelTees

Is there a sport (other than hunting and fishing) that is more in touch with nature than golf? For the sake of argument we’ll say no (although rock-climbing and surfing come to mind). When you think about the beauty that is golf much of it has to with the fact that for 4 hours we’re outdoors. The smell of freshly mowed grass, the sights like new magnolia blossoms, the sound of the birds chirping. Golf is quite simply organic and in a sense in touch with Mother Nature.

The golf industry has become increasingly more conscious of its effect on our planet. Slowly but surely golf courses are dropping the ways of gas-powered carts and moving to efficient electric golf carts. No longer are carts spewing out blue smoke from their exhausts and of course you have golf courses that get listed as being Certified Audubon Co-operative Sanctuaries. The industry truly has become Planet Earth aware. So what better product to write about on this “Earth Day Eve” than “the world’s only 100% bio-degradable golf tee”?

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Photo Credit: Capsuline

GelTees are the brainchild of Capsuline CEO and President  Jonathan Gilinski. Mr. Gilinski founded GelTees in 2009. While in Orlando for this past January’s PGA Merchandise Show I was informed by Irlianna Samsara and Holly Geoghegan of Golf Marketing Services about an exciting new product called GelTees. Upon learning of what the product was it really intrigued me as I am conservation minded. So I went to pay their booth a visit. While visiting the booth I learned a few things. GelTees are the end result of five years of research by Pompano Beach, Florida based company Capsuline. Capsuline is involved in the pharmaceutical company and if you’ve ever swallowed a capsule you might have swallowed their products. With Capsuline’s extensive knowledge in gelatin and the material’s ability to biodegrade Capsuline set out to make use of leftover by-product of the manufacturing process. The end result was the first ever true 100% biodegradable golf tee.

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Photo Credit: geltee.de

The premise behind GelTees is quite simple. By producing the tee out of the gelatin that dissolves when you swallow medication the golf tee simply dissolves after it breaks. Within a few days GelTees simply decomposes and disappears thus leaving no evidence of the tee being there in the first place. Through literature received through a press release from GelTees I learned some significant information. The production of 2.8 billion wooden golf tees (in the U.S.A. alone) comes at the cost of 70,000 trees per year. The production of wooden tees also represents an astonishing 1,600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere annually. Moreover, wooden and plastic are responsible for taking away from the budgets of superintendents as more time and money is spent on repairing mower blades and of course cleaning up tee boxes that have been littered by broken golf tees. Eyesores really.

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Florida testing.

After reading the information behind GelTees the product truly sounds like they are a “green” golf product to the “nth degree”. But there really is only one way for me to pass judgement and that’s to test them. I was able to get my hands on a few at the PGA Show Demo Day and then again while on the floor of the show where representatives of GelTees gave me a box of golf tees to try. I actually used a couple as I visited different booths hitting product until I turned blue in the face. The first thought that I had as I used them was that I likes the profile of them (the top in particular is streamlined) and that the GelTees were easy to stick into the ground. However, with those pro’s came a con. The breakage. Even though I understand the reasoning behind GelTees I wasn’t sure how the golf consumer would view them. Post-show I played some golf before returning home and I would also use them more back at home for winter golf and again in March on a second trip to Florida. While using them in January I readily admit that I became somewhat irritated by the fact they broke so consistently… but this is by design. Upon breaking, a quick step on the leftover fragments breaks down the GelTees even further which potentially speeds up the decomposition time. By the time I had gotten through my March trip to Florida and consequently a round upon arriving home I was sold on GelTees. From “hate to love”. Believe it or not… the tees will last more than one shot when using driver. As a matter of fact, I had one GelTee last 9 tee shots (driver) recently until it flipped up in the air and got lost in the grass. On the plus side… that tee will not leave a footprint behind. Will some consumers balk at purchasing them? It’s totally possible because some golfers may not like the idea of always replacing a tee so frequently.

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The dissolvability of GelTees. (Photo Credit: Capsuline)

In a separate news release that I received came some impressive news. To celebrate Earth Day GelTees is launching “an extensive sampling program across the country inviting private and public golf courses and resorts to test the eco-friendly tees”. Among some of the golf courses taking part in the Earth Day celebrations is the very well reputed Cog Hill Golf & Country Club located out of Chicago, Illinois. An honor that is well-deserved for GelTees and its CEO Tiger Summers. GelTees retails $1.99 USD for a pack of 20.

Golfers… the time has come to help Mother Nature one drive at a time. Hit it and crush it! Also, GelTees “mission is not only to lower the environmental impact of the game, but to help fund charitable organizations that improve lives through the game of golf. We’re changing commodity into community”.

For more information check out their website at www.geltees.com. Happy Earth Day!!

Until The Next GelTee!

Remembering Harbour Town

I know that for most golf fans the week after The Masters can be a sort of “lunchbag letdown”.  Especially when you look at this years edition of The Masters and the fact that it will go down in golf history as one of the best ever. This week the PGA Tour leaves behind the majesty of “Magnolia Lane” and heads 2.5 hours southeast towards Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The home of Sea Pines Resort and Harbour Town Golf Links. This weeks stop on the PGA Tour.

For me, it’s one of the tournaments that I look forward to the most every year. This is the one stop each year where I watch the event and I can “relate” to the golf course and the players. Right on the heels of what I describe as “our worst family trip ever” we were traveling home when we saw a sign for Hilton Head, SC. My wife asked me if that was the place where the one tournament is played (she also knew it from Tiger Woods on Playstation) I said yes and we decided to check-in to a hotel on the island. I was curious to see what the green fees and availability was like (July) and much to my surprise they had an opening or two towards the end of the day. So I made the reservation to play golf.

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A Nicklaus/Dye creation. (Photo Credit: Crystal Toth Photography)

I love this golf course as the co-designers Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus built a golf course that was intended to be “played”. Meaning you simply have to play golf and hit golf shots. Bomb and gouge need not apply when playing Harbour Town. As I sit here writing memories of that round come flooding back to my mind. On this particular day I was informed that because I was the last one to tee-off I would not need a Forecaddie or Caddie. I was going to be playing by myself which was the perfect elixir after a stressful trip.

Upon checking in for my tee time I took in some of the sights around the clubhouse. I took in the champions plaque listing all of the Heritage Classic’s past champions. Names like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart. Names where the word “greatness” quickly comes to mind. After striking range balls on their very spacious driving range I headed over to the first tee to commence my round. While the golf course isn’t beastly from a yardage standpoint the tips (Heritage tee) still offers golfers a golf course that’s 7,099 yards. The Dye tees (Blue) offers a very fair 6,681 yards. Of course, playing the tees that best suits your ability is highly recommended. As I stood on the first tee I actually stood in awe that I was playing a course that was on my “Bucket List”. I sort of shook my head and proceeded to drive my yellow Srixon Z Star down the right side of the fairway into a cluster of trees just off of the fairway. There it sat… nestled in the pine straw. Having only one option I hit a punch shot that escaped the trees and ended up just short of the green. From where my ball lied I had an option on the false front. The first was to take a wedge and chip it close or I could take a putter and play a “Texas Wedge”. I opted for the second option and holed out for birdie.

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From the 9th fairway. The heart-shaped bunker.

One thing became apparent as my round continued. Harbour Town is a golf course that allows the player to use his or her imagination and a huge credit goes out to Mr. Dye and Mr. Nicklaus. I loved the green complexes at Harbour Town. On the front nine there is one green complex that sticks out for me. At the end of the short 332 yard Par 4 9th hole awaits a heart-shaped green that’s guarded by a bunker in front and three smaller bunkers in the “crevice” of the heart that await any shots long. I played the hole smart as I selected hybrid off of the tee and a wedge for an easy green in regulation. This hole although not being much of a hole from a length standpoint was one of my favorites at Harbour Town.

Something must be said for the customer service that I received at Harbour Town. As mentioned, it was a day in July. I remember walking out of the hotel earlier that day and the weight on my chest from the heat and humidity at 8 a.m was mind-blowing. I don’t recollect which hole I was on at the time but I do remember the moment when one of their Player Assistants (Ranger) approached me. He asked me if I would like a water and a cold towel which I graciously accepted. As great as the water was it was the cold towel that struck me the most. The feeling of pulling out that ice-cold towel from the cooler full of ice water was magical. That might not seem like much of a big deal to most but for someone like me who had never dealt with that sort of service before on a golf course… It was big! Honestly, it blew me away. To that end, everybody that I had encountered during my time at Harbour Town was enthusiastic, kind and you could tell that they loved their job.

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You might see the steps going into the bunker far right. That was where my ball rested. (Photo Credit: Sea Pines Resort)

While, I won’t give a shot by shot replay of my round what I will do is give a re-creation of sorts of the last several holes. In front of me was a foursome with a forecaddie and caddies so as a single I really sat back and took my time to absorb the experience. On Hole 13 there is a massive bunker that guards the green. I really screwed up my approach shot and not only left it short and right (in the bunker) but right against the timber that lines the wall of the bunker. There was about 8 inches from my ball to the wall. My friends, it was then that I hit the best bunker shot of my life and as far as I’m concerned it involved no skill but pure luck. I executed the perfect blast and landed my ball inches from the pin. Likely, the best up and down I have made in my life. A caddie for the group in front of me witnessed the shot and he came back to where I was and said “I’ve worked here a long time… that shot you hit there is the best that I have seen from that bunker” . I neglected to tell him that it was luck. The Par 3 14th is by far the prettiest Par 3 that I have played… ever. Water is in abundance here and it is a forced carry over water with a bail-out left. I was enamored with this hole and it is said to be one of the toughest holes year-in and year-out on Tour. I remember teeing off of the 16th hole (a Par 4 dogleg left) and landing my ball in the middle of the dogleg. When I arrived at my ball I had a clear look at the green and beyond that the Par 3 17th and my first look at Calabogie Sound. It was at this moment when I realized that my round was coming to an end. I made my way to the 17th and just stared. The sun setting to the west. As I walked off with par I slowly walked to the cart and drove towards the 18th tee.

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The Par 3 14th. Take a little more than you think. Trouble front, right and long.

I hesitated a long time before I was able to tee off #18. Part of the story that I left out earlier was that it hadn’t been much time since my mother had passed away. This was in 2010 (my father passed away in 2004) and even though my siblings and I knew that our mother wasn’t selfish, we just began to realize how selfless she was after her passing. Ultimately, it was because of her that I had this opportunity to play this round at Harbour Town. As I started thinking about my mom and dad and how atrocious the vacation had been I took it in. Staring at the lighthouse down the fairway there I stood… driver in hand…crying. Thanking my parents. As I did this I saw some Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins frolicking out in the sound. The scene was perfect… setting sun. I remember this massive yacht sitting in the marina. So I hit my drive… tears streaming down my face. My drive went right… real right! Off of a house that lined the fairway. Of course there was somebody there and I drove over to apologize to the woman who sat on her back deck. She merely laughed it off and told me not to worry about it. She then told me that I got a lucky bounce and pointed at my golf. There it sat just off of the fairway. I laughed, hit my approach and landed it perfectly into Calabogie Sound. Yes the tide was in and I took the penalty. I walked off of Harbour Town with a double-bogey to end my round and a total of 77.

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The perfect 18th Hole. The sights, sounds and smells make everything right.

If you’re ever in the area of Hilton Head than consider trying to get onto Harbour Town Golf Links. It’s where the PGA Tour plays and you can play there as well. Maybe in a way… you might find it cathartic.

Until The Next Tee!

The Master of The Masters

So I was going to follow suit with what I was doing earlier in the week. After doing a re-cap for the first two rounds I decided not to write a round three re-cap. Admittedly, I was too enthralled watching my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs clinch a playoff spot last night. Something they haven’t done in an extremely long time. After watching the Third Round though all I could think about was how exciting the Final Round would be. Then again, when it comes to The Masters is there ever a Final Round that isn’t exciting?

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I got distracted. (Photo Credit: National Post)

We’ve seen a lot of fireworks this week from Augusta. Blistering rounds turned in by Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman with the latter being in contention from day one. High winds and cooler temperatures made themselves a part of the event this year but Masters Sunday looks to be a little more like it. So speaking of fireworks what about journeyman and the man with 73 starts in a Major without having won a Major?

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Winless in 73 Major starts. (Photo Credit: golfweek.com)

Sergio Garcia. The brash Spaniard whom people have loved and utterly hated over the years. A man who it seems has been on Tour since the beginning of time. We’ve seen Sergio at his immature worst and now a more refined, sophisticated Sergio. Actually, while those two adjectives don’t fully describe the current version I think that many can agree that he has matured… just a little. but here it is Sunday at The Masters and he currently sits -8 and in the lead as he tees off on number 8. Today is a day where it just seems like he can do no wrong and maybe just maybe he will get his Green Jacket and the “Major Monkey” off of his back. As he has been in “cruise control” we have seen other contenders after “Moving Day” start to fall back. Jordan Spieth has dropped a few strokes and at the moment Justin Rose has bounced back after losing ground and Rickie Fowler just got back to -5 after a recent birdie. If there is one thing that we can say about Augusta National a lead of 2 or 3 is definitely not safe. One minute you’re ahead by four and then you blink and you could suddenly find yourself down 1. Then of course there is the aptly named “Amen Corner” which is always magical and full of drama on Sunday. What I’m trying to convey is that at the moment there is a ton of golf to be played. With that said… Justin Rose now sits tied at the top of the leaderboard with Sergio Garcia as they head to the ninth. Lots of golf left indeed!!! Suddenly I heard Chubbs’ voice (Carl Weathers) singing “We’ve Only Just Begun”

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We’ve only just begun. (Photo Credit: Happy Gilmore)

So speaking of Justin Rose. What can be said of him? Yes he won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. Last year in Rio he won the Olympic Golf championship by hoisting the Gold Medal for Great Britain. Justin has definitely shown the wherewithal proving to the golf world that he can win on any stage. Who remembers his first Open Championship? In 1998 as a 17-year-old he finished the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 4th place. You knew then that major things were going to happen then. Here we are 19 years later and he’s alone in first place on the 13th exiting “Amen Corner” clear of Garcia by two strokes.

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Rosey makes a move (Photo Credit: telegraph.co.uk)

As I sit here and watch I made a comment on Twitter (@UntilTheNextTee) just recently. Watching these two (Garcia and Rose) is like watching a heavyweight fight. Both become rubber-legged after absorbing a heavy blow from their opponent and then they show nothing but raw intestinal fortitude and resilience while bouncing back. Rose who looked like he hurt something on 15 tee and Garcia hit a great shot into 15 getting an Eagle. As the two of them walk off of the 15th green here they are deadlocked at -9. Writing, I am thinking to myself that it’s a shame that one or the other will not win this tournament. Yes only one jacket will be awarded to the winner but I cannot help but think that millions are winning on this “Sunday at The Masters”. Golf and its fans are winning and are the winners on this day.

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Sudden Death. (Photo Credit: GolfWeek.com)

As the round is finishing up both players sit on 18 in regulation tied at -9. Rose hit an approach shot that looked to be errant just see a terrific bounce. His putt just missed and just as the door was opened for Garcia to win with a birdie putt… Garcia missed as well. Truth be told over the last three holes Garcia’s putting stroke has looked tentative… at best. His putt on 18 never stood a chance. Sudden Death playoff it is. The nerves that both players must be feeling I cannot even imagine. Based on putting alone… at this point “Advantage… Rose”.

In the end, the 2017 edition of The Masters is going to go down as an “instant classic”. Two of Europe’s most popular players slugging it out for Major glory. Huge congratulations to the victor… Sergio Garcia on winning your first Major and The Masters. Something my mother always said comes to mind. “It pays to persevere”.

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Photo Credit: SportCenter

Until The Next Tee!