#TeeBoxChatter – May 2nd, 2020

In this episode of “TeeBox Chatter”, I discuss…

  • Golf courses opening/re-opening in the United States, Canada, and beyond.
  • Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 irons and metalwoods
  • A few kind words on golf course staff
  • Golf Balls. Which 2020 model are you looking at if any?
  • Asking for a favour. Don’t worry, it’s not money-related.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Golf Amid the Pandemic

 

Up until right now, I’ve been relatively quiet on my stance when it comes to playing golf amid COVID-19. Before continuing on I need to make one or two things abundantly clear.

  • I’m not an Epidemiologist
  • I love golf. It’s why I write, live, play, and breathe the game
  • If you live in a place where golf has been deemed safe to play, I’m Masters green with envy.
  • Respective governments are much smarter than I am

Chances are that if you’re an avid golfer, you’re likely going to hate my opinion and that’s okay. But in my opinion, golf is “not essential” and nobody should be trying to make it out to be. Period!

Do you know want to know what makes me laugh? The image below where people are trying to compare grocery shopping to playing golf. There’s a basic difference here and in identifying the difference, allow me to ask this. Which one of these two is considered to be essential? One puts dinner on the table and has a pharmacy for medications and one doesn’t? People even suggest playing golf is no different than walking a dog. In 8 years, my Labrador Retriever has defecated a total of 3 times in his yard. He won’t do it, so taking him out is essential. Besides a walk might last 30 minutes, versus 3 to 4 hours for a round of golf (18 holes).

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You see, I’m in a very funny place in the midst of the arguments. In typical Canadian fashion, I’m a bit of a fence-sitter and I see both sides. Regarding my views, I come from a family of nurses. My mother was a nurse as were two of my three siblings. My mother was an Emergency Room nurse, while my one sister worked in the ER and ICU Departments respectively. Once upon a time, she was also on a pandemic team. I know and fully comprehend what our healthcare workers on the front line are facing with this “thing”. It’s brutal, and whether you believe that COVID-19 is a hoax or not, that’s entirely up to you. To draw comparisons to SARS, H1N1 and Influenza A (the latter I had in ’02 and almost died from it) those viruses didn’t spread like a “wildfire” in the midst of a drought. Secondly, due to my Diabetes and Coronary Disease, I’m also firmly entrenched in the “high-risk category”. So because of a deeply-rooted love for nurses and my own health history, perhaps, I’m a little sensitive to the potential for unnecessary burden for our healthcare workers.

Nobody in the world wants it to be “kosher” for golf courses to be open again more than me. I’m more than a golf fan. In my case, like many others out there that work in the industry, it’s my source of income and my livelihood. Courses not being open for play right now has taken an income source away from me and others, which is another argument for the “pro-golf” side of the argument. To elaborate on the importance for me here’s a cute little factoid. Working during the golf season supplements my income of a whopping $758/month that I collect on Canada Pension Plan – Disability. That amount isn’t nearly enough to cover the rent every month. Not to mention other bills like medications, hydro, groceries, etc. I literally NEED that income. Factor in that I love to play the game and that much of my content for this website comes from being on the golf course. MY “need” for golf courses to open is much greater than a guy or girl that just wants to play golf or a member that wants to get their money’s worth.

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The 18th at Scenic Woods Golf Club. I can’t wait to get back.

For many, including myself,  playing a round of golf is a form of release. Golf is a chance to get away from the rigors and stresses of everyday life. I’ve used those same words too. Golf is a release for me and I find it quite cathartic. Heck, I’ve used the term “sanctuary” and said often that golf has saved my life because in a way, it has. I suffer from depression and I have been suicidal too many times to count, but ultimately, I guess I’ve “chickened out” on those occasions. Or maybe I found a will to fight. Golf helps me get through things. But sometimes it’s not enough.

Golf courses that have opened, have taken precautions to keep golfers safe and I applaud the efforts. Including but not limited to inverted cups, not touching the pin (or pins being removed completely), one rider on carts (where applicable), contactless transactions, and maintaining physical distancing. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned through working the golf industry (golf course operations) over the last decade is that golfers (not all) inevitably will screw this up. Pins will be touched, and the “Six-Foot Rule” will be breached. On the best of days, golfers don’t adhere to simple rules like keeping the cart 30 feet away from greens (electing to park on the collars instead) and 90º or Cart Path Only signs being ignored just to name two examples. These examples are offenses that I’ve observed by avid golfers. In fact, members that play more than 100 rounds per year.

As we speak, golfers from all over are signing petitions urging their respective governments to open golf courses. In Ontario, it’s no different. In some cases, it’s the golf course owners or National Golf Course Owners Association(s) that are lobbying so hard to re-open. I have no issue with golf courses being open when it’s safe to do so. I also agree that when it’s safe to do so, golf courses should be near the top of the list of services/attractions to re-open.  Let’s not kid ourselves though. Golf courses don’t want to re-open to let you enjoy the air, seed, and grass. Golf is a business and it’s all about their bottom-line. Owners associations will try to convince the government that they can help with unemployment rates. But I have a question. How does this help in the case where clubhouses are closed and no pro shop or restaurant staff is required?

It’s one thing to be a golfer and enjoy the game and it’s another thing to actually work on the golf course operations side of things. Golfers on social media have mentioned going with “no staff”, contactless pre-paid times. Theoretically good ideas, but from a practicality standpoint it’s foolhardy. Many courses offer their Starters and Marshals golf privileges in lieu of their services. Now we’re entrusting our health and well-being on these “volunteers” to wipe down the carts with sanitizer wipes. Many don’t even do their job correctly in the first place without the additional “work”. So “Walking Only” you’re suggesting next?

With no staff in place, imagine a golfer out there suffering a cardiac arrest or a massive stroke with no employees in place. Oh, the liability issues that would ensue. Even if you have a cell phone and it’s a playing partner of yours (or you stumble upon someone that was out there by themselves that shouldn’t be). You’re a twosome and someone needs to get out to the parking lot or clubhouse. Why? They need to wave down the first responders and then direct them out to the spot on the course where the person suffered the attack. During this time, the victim is left unattended and valuable time has been wasted which could be instrumental in their survival and/or recovery. Believe it or not, golf courses have these sort of contingency plans in place but they’d never work with insufficient staff. Find me an insurance company that would insure a golf course with no staff in place. Sign a waiver? Sure, but good lawyers will find a loophole when there’s a multi-million dollar lawsuit on the line.

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If this isn’t okay, how could golf be? A conservation authority operates the access here.

Here’s another angle that I’m emotionally invested in. In Ontario, as it stands, fishing is okay. Why would fishing be okay and playing golf isn’t? Well, I have a simple answer to that riddle. Fishing can potentially place dinner on the table. However, access points run by conservation authorities like the one pictured above are closed. Riddle me this. With a fly and fly line whipping through the air, who the heck is coming near me? This picture was taken last fall and I was literally the only one on the stream. Much like the current situation with golf, I don’t like it but it’s just how it is.

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A sign of the times.

Golfers aren’t the only ones “suffering”. If anything, in many ways, golfers are showing themselves to be “entitled”, “elitist”, “tone-deaf”, and “above” everything. This is a bad optic to “outsiders”. To me, at this point in time, it’s the children who can’t play in a park or use a skatepark while maintaining physical distancing that are suffering. It’s important in their development both physically and psychologically. Suffering are our first responders, frontline, and healthcare workers working long stressful shifts more than is typical. My wife, Crystal, just started a new job working at a grocery store and that too, is no easy ggi at the moment. The elderly and infirm living in long-term healthcare facilities or those living in palliative care who can’t see their families, they’re suffering thus affecting their mental health and well-being or een will to live.

If you think that playing golf could be considered practicing physical-distancing I would tend to agree, IF everyone was to abide by the rules. In a perfect world, everybody would but this world is quite imperfect. One day, the freeze will lift and we’ll all be back on the golf course again complaining about the pace of play, ball marks that aren’t fixed and so on. For the record, with nothing but speculation to base this on, I have a feeling that golf in Ontario will resume mid-May. Take care, stay safe, stay home and stay healthy.

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The frost of golf ceasing will rise. Photo taken October 18th, 2019 at Scenic Woods Golf Club.

Until the Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

Club Champion Launches Gift Card Promotion

Club fitter encourages getting golf ready from home with new bonus card offer

 

Willowbrook, IL — In an effort to bolster excitement and hope for the 2020 golf season, the nation’s #1 club fitter and builder has introduced a new gift card promotion. The promotion offers a $50 bonus card to anyone who purchases $100 – $500 in Club Champion gift cards. Purchases over $500 will be entitled to a bonus card in the amount of 10% of their gift card purchase (i.e. a $1,000 gift card would earn a $100 bonus card). This is a limited-time offer and the bonus card expires June 30, 2021.

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Like many businesses in golf, Club Champion has been affected by nationwide mandates asking people to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is looking to find the best way to serve their customers remotely. This gift card promotion is intended to help customers plan for future fittings and helps Club Champion continue its mission of better golf through custom equipment.

“The health and safety of our team and customers is the most important factor for us right now,” said Nick Sherburne, Club Champion founder. “We wanted to find a way to reward our customers for supporting us during this time without asking them to leave their homes. This gift card promotion was a great middle-ground.”

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Club Champion’s business model revolves around Tour-quality custom club fitting and building. They have 45,000 hittable head and shaft combinations in each of their 74 stores nationwide to serve every level of golfer. A Golf Digest Top 100 Club Fitter 10 years running, the brand has epitomized club fitting for a decade.

The bonus card offer is a rare promotion for Club Champion; the brand usually hosts one promotion per year. The offer runs through April 30, 2020 and is best claimed online. For terms and conditions or to purchase, please visit clubchampiongolf.com/giftcards.

2020 Teezy Awards (Equipment Edition) – Fairway Metals

Fairway metals are an important golf club in a golfer’s arsenal. We use them on shorter, tight par 4’s where we need that blend of length and control from the tee. Heck, with a good strike using a fairway metal, we have a chance of reaching Par 5s in two.

The time has come to announce the winners of the 2020 Teezy Awards for the top golf equipment that I experienced during the 2020 PGA Show Demo Day. The Demo Day was held at a very cold (for Florida) and blustery Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge.

 

  1. Performance (Tee)
  2. Performance (Off of the deck)
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Sound/Feel
  5. Price Point

 

Gold – COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE (46.5/50)

COBRA Golf has itself a terrific fairway wood in 2020. Just edging out the runner-up. The SPEEDZONE fairway metals from COBRA Golf offers golfers great performance from the tee and off of the deck. The latter is really aided by the “Baffler Rails” on the sole of the golf club. Turf interaction is minimal and it just cuts through the turf. The “Split Rails” are hollow which leads to more flex that increases the sweet spot by 70% from heel to toe. Off of the tee, it is a mini-driver. Long, penetrating trajectories. There are three models to choose from. I loved the smaller footprint of the SPEEDZONE Tour.

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Silver – Tour Edge Golf Exotics EXS 220 (46/50)

The Exotics EXS 220 fairway metals from Tour Edge Golf are clubs that should be on golfers’ radars for 2020. If you’re looking for a new fairway metal, look no further. Boasting all of the same technology as it’s bigger sibling the ball rockets off of its face. “Diamond Face Technology” is a key technology here. A 6-gram weight towards the trailing edge makes the EXS 220 a very forgiving fairway wood from the tee and fairway lies. Speaking of which, from fairway lies the “SlipStream Sole” leads to smoother turf interaction.

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Bronze – Callaway Golf MAVRIK (44/50)

Callaway Golf fans and other golfers will no doubt embrace the MAVRIK fairway metal if they swing it. Like the driver, it’s an understated performer meaning that due to its muted sound, you almost don’t realize how hot the face is. The weight is low and back making this fairway metal very forgiving. It features the same “Jailbreak Technology” and “Flash Face technology” as seen in the driver. The MAVRIK fairway metal produced easy baby draws in tough conditions. I found this club to be very strong off of the tee but I noticed a slight dropoff off of the deck. Just a little more than the others higher on the podium. I really enjoyed swinging the MAVRIK fairway wood.

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Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

The 2020 Teezy Awards – Equipment Edition (Drivers)

The time has come to announce the winners of the 2020 Teezy Awards for the top golf equipment that I experienced during the 2020 PGA Show Demo Day. The Demo Day was held at a very cold (for Florida) and blustery Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge.

The day itself was a perfect day to test. The less than optimal weather allowed the cream to rise to the top. The conditions were sunny however it only reached a high of 59*F but it felt more like 45*F. While some of the manufacturers had the advantage of having a tailwind others, of course, did not. Having said that, that was a variable that I took into consideration.

I changed things up a little bit this year. I decided to go with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal winners instead of a Winner and a Runner-Up. All of the points were awarded out of 10 points and the parameters were…

  1. Performance
  2. Aesthetics
  3. Sound/Feel
  4. Innovation
  5. Price Point

As I tallied things up, some of the results were eyebrow-raisers. Some of the winners last year, weren’t even finalists this year. So the time has come. Here are your 2020 Teezy Award Winners.

 

Top Driver

Gold – Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 (46/50)

Make no mistake about it. Tour Edge Golf is on the rise. Last year, the Exotics EXS lacked a little bit leaving it short just behind the top two. This year, the EXS 220 is the winner. The EXS 220 is a serious stick. It has a terrific blend of looks and performance. The ball just jumped off of the face and the acoustics and feel were top notch. The EXS 220 is packed with innovation and technology (Diamond Face Technology and the Sound Diffusion Bar to name a couple). But what sets it apart from the rest? The MSRP. This is a premium driver, with premium technology, and a consumer-friendly price tag of $349.99.

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Silver – COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE and SPEEDZONE Xtreme (45.5/50)

In 2019, COBRA Golf somehow was not a finalist. Yet, the F9 was impressive. SPEEDZONE and SPEEDZONE Xtreme drivers are to be taken seriously in 2020. Yes, their “Infinity Face” is CNC-milled and they have the best-looking face in the industry. Their design has its inspiration driven from the motorsports world. It looks fast sitting on the rack. I absolutely loved the sound and feel of this driver. It’s a driver that will make you smile at impact. COBRA Golf has a tailwind at their disposal and the golf ball just seemed to carry. The Xtreme was highly forgiving and I don’t suggest that the SZ isn’t. It is!! These drivers are fun to swing. Remember, the SZ has two adjustable weights for optimizing spin and launch.

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Bronze – Honma Golf TR20 440 (44/50)

Leaving Demo Day, I thought that when all was said and done the TR20 was the winner. The TR20 was the last driver that I made swings with at Demo Day. It performed very well right into the “teeth of the wind”. That was until I tallied up the points. Winning the Bronze medal was the 440 CC version of the TR20. It’s a very attractive driver and I loved the footprint in the address position. A 440CC head is so refreshing. The Honma TR20 driver has a ton of innovation. It scored a 10/10 in that part of the evaluation. Why a 10? it has all of the adjustability that you might want, a carbon-wrapped body, and a non-rotating hosel that keeps the shaft spine perfectly aligned through all adjustable loft-lie settings. Up until this weekend, Justin Rose was gaming the 460CC version.

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Bronze – XXIO X (44/50)

The XXIO X driver was a very pleasant surprise and it was the second driver that I hit at Demo Day. The first driver that I made swings with, was its sister. The XXIO Eleven. There’s a lot of good going for the X. This is a driver that offers lightweight performance, has good looks, a cup face for better ball speeds, and their Weight Plus Technology in the grip. With Weight Plus Technology you can really feel your hands get through impact.

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A Special Note About Callaway Golf MAVRIK

*** In case you were wondering. Finishing just off of the podium scoring 43/50 was the Callaway Golf MAVRIK. MAVRIK left me in a really weird place after Demo Day. MAVRIK really is a good stick. Another carbon-fibred crown beauty from the Carlsbad, California golf giant. Flash Face Technology is back for a second year. When I made swings with MAVRIK using shafts that I thought were my profile I struggled real badly. I could not control this driver. It took a lot of work and an accident to find the right set-up. Had I not accidentally grabbed a 70-gram X-Stiff flex, I would have left the Callaway Golf booth thinking that they took a real step back from last year’s runner-up the Epic Flash. If you find the right shaft, the potential is there for the MAVRIK to be a beast. Understated power partially because its acoustics are muted. The most-muted in this 2020 class. It ended up being very impressive in a very hard left to right crosswind. Had I even suspected that I needed that shaft, who knows, the MAVRIK might have been the winner. 

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Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee