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 Apex MB Irons

Our Apex MB Irons are built for the best players in the game. It’s a beautiful classic blade shape with high performance grooves, remarkable feel, and a new weight design. This is a premium muscleback in every way.

Features & Benefits

Tour Shaping and Design – A classic shape and style, with a traditional, thin topline, refined sole, compact blade length and stunning chrome finish.

High Performance 20V Grooves – Precision grooves are designed to promote the high level of control and consistent spin that muscleback players expect out of any playing conditions. The 20V grooves also stand out for reducing fliers from the rough to deliver even more control.

New CG Weighting – We’ve engineered a new weight in the center of the clubhead. This allows us to precisely dial in swingweights without sacrificing CG location.

Pricing and Availability

Product At Retail Date: 10/29/20
Pricing: $185 per stick – steel, $200 per stick – graphite

Callaway Golf Introduces X Forged CB Irons

With the new X Forged CB irons, the goal was simple: provide consistency, control, amazing feel and a beautiful design for the most discerning of golfers. Typical irons in this category are single piece, but Callaway took a different approach. We enhanced the player’s performance iron with multi-material construction using weighting, face technology, and shaping to create an iron worthy of the X Forged name.

A look of the cavity of the Callaway Golf X Forged CB.

Features & Benefits

Precise Control from Multi-Material Construction. These irons are engineered with custom internal and external MIM’d tungsten weighting. The tungsten in the toe aligns the CG precisely behind the middle of the club, while the external tungsten allows us to precisely dial in swingweight while keeping the CG centered.

Attractive top-line, a look that is preferred by the more discerning player.

Signature Soft Feel – The X Forged CB provides incredibly soft feel from a forged 1025 mild carbon steel body.

Spin and Distance Consistency – Our Tour Tuned Face Plate creates fast ball speed while promoting consistent spin rates across the face for the distance control that better players want to see from their irons.

Player’s Shaping – The blade length, topline and offset are all designed to promote pinpoint shot-making and more workability through the set.

Premium Components – The Project X IO is individually optimized for each iron in the set. The Mitsubishi MMT is a player’s graphite shaft with metal mesh in the tip for stability. Golf Pride’s Z Grip features a firm
feel and exceptional traction.

Pricing and Availability

Product At Retail Date: 10/29/20
Pricing: $200 per stick – steel and graphite

Hoodies and Bryson. What if Bryson Too, Wore a Hoodie?

Have you ever just sat back in your chair, minding your own business and just suddenly think to yourself “What the Hell?” I’ve done it and more often than not, it happens in an unprovoked way. Admittedly, I’ve done this more often than I care to say, but it happens.

Now, in a similar situation, while sipping on your morning “Cup ‘o’ Joe” you find yourself immersed in the internet. You’re going through golf websites (and I hope that I’m one of your stops) or through golf social media channels and you see things from the world of golf that make you mildly outraged? Honestly, this happened to me this past weekend. But, not in the way that you might think. I’m actually outraged at some outrage.

2020 has been a strange year as we all know. In a way, I think that it’s messed with our heads, and in a way, for some people, it’s made some of us lose our minds or lost touch with reality. Issues that shouldn’t matter or should be a big deal suddenly are. In my opinion, golf media, or particularly golf social media channels haven’t helped.

Hoodies

Hoodies. Now here was something that caused outrage, or as I worded it over social media “Faux Outrage”. It’s funny, I never thought that in my lifetime hoodies and golf would be the focal point of so much malcontent. Yet, here we are.

This weeks winner on the European Tour (Tyrell Hatton) caused a stir over golf social media because he was wearing a hoodie. Is this really something to be upset over? I mean, have a look around. This is a year where millions have been sick and over a million have died from the pandemic, worldwide.

You go Tyrell, rock that hoodie.

Golfers are a fickle and funny bunch. Is there a group of hobbyists or sportsmen and women that are more closed-minded than golfers? Just think back to when 460cc drivers came out. Then, white-headed drivers came out. “I’m not hitting those” many would say. If something comes out that doesn’t fit the mold of tradition, many golfers shut it out. If there’s something that I’ve learned during my years of golfing and in particular covering the sport. Golf more than ever needs more open-mindedness. As far as I’m concerned, until this year where golf took an upturn, it’s my opinion that the sport was in a downturn and in need of change, in many facets, to draw more players.

Life is about making choices, and that was something that Tyrell Hatton did. He made a choice to wear an Adidas hoodie, and I have no problem with it, nor do I care. If you as a recreational golfer want to wear one, live your best life. I’ve worn hooded long sleeve t-shirts at the range. They don’t bug me. The hood might get in the way when the wind is to your back, but it’s something that doesn’t affect me.

If hoodies became more prevalent in the golf apparel industry, I couldn’t care less. It’s just another option for when the weather turns cool. Would a golf course operator turn down revenue because a golfer is wearing a hoodie? No way, as long as there aren’t gaudy graphics or suggestive, profanity-laden wording on it. I have a hoodie or two that I would love to wear on the course, one of them being “Mossy Oak” camouflage. I won’t wear it on the course though, because, I feel that the camo is too underdressed, and not to mention that I want to be seen by golfers around me so I don’t blend in and get hit by more errant golf balls.

If there’s an in-person PGA Show in January, any bets that we see golf-specific hoodies on the show floor? Heck, hoodies are youthful, functional, and trendy. But they aren’t for everyone. Say, are you anti-hoodie or anything new? If that’s the case, why don’t we go back to tweed, shirt and ties, and knickerbockers or “Plus Four’s”? Ladies, you aren’t getting away unscathed either. How about dressing like Babe Zaharias did back then from now on? Toss those tights, yoga pants, and short mini-skirts aside. Take that “Golf Babes”.

Well, at least Tyrell Hatton didn’t change his shoes in the parking lot.

Oops… My bad!

Bryson

When it comes to Bryson DeChambeau, I haven’t been quiet about my opinion of him. I’ve never been shy about saying that I used to like him a lot. His fresh, different, non cookie-cutter approach to the game was great for golf. This year, he’s taken the golf world by storm. He’s pulverizing the golf ball in a way that we’ve never seen on the worldwide tour’s. Driving greens, sometimes at will, like we saw during the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital Open this weekend.

He also went Iron-putter on a 300 yard Par-4.

Here’s my final take on Bryson DeChambeau and his distance. Actually, I don’t think that I’ve expressed an opinion on this yet. In general, I find that the PGA TOUR has become boring to watch, Major Championships notwithstanding. There’s really no sense of them working or golfing their golf ball. “Bomb and Gouge” isn’t new. Moreover, it’s here to stay. What I have touched on however is, that the current generation of player is more athletic now than ever, with a plethora of resources at their disposal. Equipment, shafts, balls, launch monitors, agronomy, scientific research have all contributed to the “arms race”.

There’s been a lot of discussion whether or not what Bryson DeChambeau is doing is good for the game. He’s been called out by some of his peers. As far as long-term, overall, the jury is still out. From a viewer standpoint, it might be a hung jury. While some love the “shock and awe” others simply don’t like it. I’m not a fan, but it’s not just solely Bryson, it’s just in general. “Bomb and Gouge”. It’s for this reason why I prefer to watch the LPGA. Yes, the ladies are getting longer too for the same reasons, but they still work the golf ball and manage the game like we’ve customarily seen.

Mathematics, science, and working out has been great for Bryson and no doubt, it’s an approach that not many other’s can take. I appreciate his hard work and the time that he’s put in. The dedication and commitment. Heck, many of us could stand to follow in his footsteps in that regard. As long as the mass/muscle gain was clean, I have no issue with him and his “beefed-up” physicality. However, what I do have an issue with when it comes to Bryson is his pace of play, his antics, and the bad habit of taking it out on cameramen when he’s playing poorly. Quit deflecting Bryson, it’s you and your poor play doesn’t give you the right to be a bully. Which is exactly how you and your caddie come off.

Mathematically and scientifically speaking, Bryson, is there any way that a hoodie could help me or others play better golf, whilst hitting the ball longer? Is there any chance that you’d consider wearing a hoodie? You’d drive the masses off of the edge of a cliff like lemmings.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee