Meeting Legends – The 2020 PGA Show

The PGA Show is great! I’ve attended every year for the last 8 years and it’s a place where you never know who you’re going to meet or run into. In the past, I’ve met greats like the World Golf Hall of Fame Inductees like the legendary Nancy Lopez, John Daly, Craig Stadler, David Leadbetter and Canadian phenom of the LPGA Tour Brooke Henderson.

In 2020, it was no different. I met a couple of other World Golf Hall of Famers and one other legend from a different sport altogether. This gentleman, is a golf professional in Arizona, is an NHL Hall of Fame Member and owns 5 Stanley Cup rings. When I played hockey, I wore #31 because of him because I idolized him. I also wore my “trapper” (catching glove) on my right hand just like him too. This legend is Grant Fuhr.

If you would have told me that I would meet my idol at the 2020 PGA Show of all places I would have told you that you were criminally insane. (I have two others, Mr. Jack Nicklaus and Mr. Arnold Palmer). We talked hockey, me going all fanboy and profusely apologizing for doing so and of course Srixon/Cleveland Golf. What a down to- salt of the Earth kind of guy. It was sort of funny how it happened, I saw a guy that I thought that I recognized. So I did a double-take. I thought to myself “Jeez, that looks like Grant Fuhr”. Nah, it can’t be. So I take a third look and read the badge. Holy Heck! Grant Fuhr!!! No freaking way!

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On the show floor, I was wandering around on Wednesday. Towards the end of the day, I found myself around the COBRA Golf booth. And who was there? The Shark… Greg Norman. Somehow, I managed to have the chance to meet him for a pic and he was gracious and patient as the COBRA PUMA rep struggled with my phone to take a pic. So he was patient and allowed a selfie with him. From one fly fisher to another I asked him what his favourite species to catch was. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what it was.

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Wednesday, I also visited the Athalonz booth. Have you ever thought of a pair of shoes as a piece of golf equipment? Well, Athalonz is just that. More on these shoes at a later time. While there, I received a hot tip that Bernhard Langer was going to be there on Thursday. While I didn’t necessarily plan on getting to the Athalonz booth that day an appointment led me right past it. That was when I saw Mr. Langer. Honestly, I thought that he was much taller. A legend.

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True story. My wife Crystal met Jan Stephenson in the International Network of Golf room last year. I have wanted to meet Jan for a long time so when Crystal met her and I failed to see her wave me over I was bummed. Crystal told me that she was a total sweetheart. So this year, even though it didn’t happen at the PGA Show it happened on the same trip. I met Jan, and she is amazing! Such a doll.

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All legends. And to all of them, thanks so much for taking out some time from your busy days to let this humble writer (and fan) harass you for a few moments.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Srixon Announces New Soft Feel Brite Golf Balls

If you’re a golfer that has never tried any of the Soft Feel golf balls from Srixon Golf than you might be truly missing out. Even though I have never posted an official review of the Soft Feel I can tell you (my readers) that the Soft Feel is long off of the tee, it stands up fairly well around the greens and is a joy when it comes to feel off of the tee. Not to mention, it’s very wallet-friendly. Bear in mind that the version launched in 2018 is an 11th Generation golf ball and the ball that I’ve played in the past is (according to my figures) is in the ballpark of the 8th or 9th generation.

Today, Srixon Golf announced its latest iteration of the Soft Feel. May I present the Soft Feel Brite. For all of the details of this latest golf ball please see the press release as shared below by Marketing and Communications Specialist Noelle Zavaleta. Many thanks to Miss. Zavaleta for sharing said release.

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeUOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind

 

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Oct.1, 2019 — SRIXON®, a global leader in golf ball technology and innovation, announces the launch of the Soft Feel Brite golf ball. The Srixon Soft Feel Brite is available in Brite Orange™, Brite Red™, and Brite Green™ and is now available in North America.

SOFT FEEL 11 Package_BRITE RED“Soft Feel Brite offers everything you love about Soft Feel,” said Brian Schielke, Marketing Director at Srixon. “It delivers distance, exceptional feel, and now, enhanced visibility from tee-to-green to form a high-quality matte golf ball.”

 The Srixon Soft Feel Brite is a golf ball designed specifically for golfers who want to maximize their distance off the tee, while still providing better feel and control. Featuring new Matte Visual Performance, players of all skill levels can easily track the flight of the golf ball with an enhanced visibility cover.

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Soft Feel Brite features Srixon’s Energetic Gradient Growth Core, which starts softer near the center and gradually becomes firmer around the perimeter to maximize ball speed while maintaining that satisfying feel. Srixon’s tour-proven, 338 Speed Dimple Pattern reduces drag and maximizes lift to allow Soft Feel Brite to fly true, even in the windiest of conditions. The soft, thin cover on every Soft Feel Brite golf ball provides ample spin for more control on all greenside shots.

Distance never looked so brite with the new Soft Feel Brite from Srixon.

 Key Technologies:

·       Matte Visual Performance: Enhanced visibility cover in three brite, matte color options.

·       Energetic Gradient Growth Core: Provides a low spin, high-launch trajectory for more distance with an ultra-soft feel off the tee.

·       Soft Thin Cover: Delivers more greenside spin and softer feel on all pitches, chips, and putts.

·       338 Speed Dimple Pattern: The 338 Speed Dimple Pattern offers less drag and more lift to boost overall distance, while flying straight even in the toughest wind conditions.

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The Srixon Soft Feel Brite golf balls are now available at a MAP of $19.99 per dozen.

Srixon Unveils Z-FORGED: Next Generation Tour Performance

Just in time for the 2019 PGA Show Demo Day.

Srixon releases new Z-FORGED irons. A beautiful muscle back blade with aesthetics to burn. Designed for better players… and even though I’m not one of them I’ll be swinging these on January 22nd. Stay tuned right here to see what my first impressions of these irons are.

Thanks go out to Noelle Zavaleta for sharing this press release. For more details about these iron please read the press release below.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Jan. 21, 2019 — SRIXON®, a global leader in golf equipment and innovation, introduces Z-FORGED, a muscle back blade iron crafted for the best players in the world. Srixon’s Z-FORGED officially launches in North America on February 1, 2019.

 

Z-FORGED begins with two sharp lines at the back, one from the toe and one from the heel, which form its signature double curve design. Z-FORGED elevates iron performance with its forged construction delivering an unrivaled soft feel in a crisp, explosive profile. Designed for the ultimate ball-strikers yet engineered to perform, Z-FORGED is the ultimate blade iron, realized.

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“The new Z-FORGED irons are the most compact, most workable irons in our line,” said Dustin Brekke, Engineering Manager. “They were created to give professionals and advanced amateur golfers confidence to hit every shot, while featuring a sole that glides through the turf for better contact and stable spin under any condition.”

 

Key Technologies:

  • Muscle Back Blade: Classic blade shaping optimized for maximum workability and unmatched feel.
  • Updated Tour V.T. Sole: A newly redesigned Tour V.T. Sole provides more consistent ball striking while maintaining enough versatility to execute any shot.
  • Forged Construction: Forged from a single billet of soft 1020 carbon steel for exceptional feel.

 

The Srixon Z-FORGED officially launch in North America on February 1, 2019, at a MAP of $142.85 for a single iron, $999.99 for a seven-piece set, and $1,142.84 for an eight-piece set.

PGA Championship Prognostication

So, that was some round turned in by Srixon Golf staffer Hideki Matsuyama today to win the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational. Matsuyama fired darts (Srixon Z-Star XV) into pins, striped his Srixon Golf Z 945 irons and Cleveland Golf RTX 2.0 wedges and rolled the daylights out of the ball with his TaylorMade Golf TP Collection Mullen putter. Impressive course record tying by the 25 year old. Is it just me or is there a serious youth movement going on in professional golf? Just to give some of the other guys a chance the PGA Tour needs to almost set up something for the 35-49 age group. Anyways, it’s time to shift our focus to the final Major Championship of the year. The PGA Championship.

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Photo Credit: edition.cnn.com

This year the PGA Championship is being contested in Charlotte, North Carolina at the famed Quail Hollow Club. The course was founded in 1959 and has been home to the PGA Tour in the past (Wells Fargo Championship). The course originally designed by architect George Cobb has seen modifications by Mr. Arnold Palmer  and two redesigns  by Tom Fazio. Quail Hollow is also home to the “Green Mile”. Looking at the scorecard the 7,600 yard Par 71 golf course seems to favour some of the longer hitting guys on tour. With that said… who am I going to jinx by picking them to win? Honestly, anyone could win this week.

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Photo Credit: pga.com

I mentioned on Twitter (@UntilTheNextTee) that it was only a matter of time before Hideki Matsuyama has a Major breakthrough. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be his week. He really “golfed” the ball around this weekend and I just don’t think he’ll have enough gas in the tank. Look for him to be finishing with a Top-10 regardless. Rory McIlroy has beat up Quail Hollow in the past. His power is obvious and his putting when on is good. But in my estimation he’s been inconsistent this year and he won’t be hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. Dustin Johnson. Look for him to be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday. Those at the top of the leaderboard will be glancing over their shoulders and at the scoreboards looking for the World #1. Yes we all know the swagger is there (I compare him to a Wild West cowboy) but I think his “six-shooter” is going to misfire on the draw. Of course I am referring to his putter. Jordan Spieth. I think he’s the sentimental favourite and personally speaking I would love to see him win the “Career Grand Slam”. He didn’t really exert himself this week and it’s almost like he and his caddie Michael Greller decided to dial it back a little. He is coming off a decent week and it was a short 3 or so weeks ago that he hoisted the Claret Jug. Other guys that are going to be lurking are Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. So who am I going to pick?

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Photo Credit: jordanspiethgolf.com

So here it is… as much as I want to say that it’s going to be long-hitting featherweight Justin Thomas who could torch any golf course at any given time I don’t think it’s him either. I’m picking Charley Hoffman and here’s why. Hoffman always threatens in the Majors. He’s coming off very good finishes the last two weeks (2nd and 3rd place) and finds himself outside of the Top 10 in the FedEx Cup rankings. His 296 yard average off of the tee makes him long enough. Even though he is middle of the road or worse in a number of statistics I have no reason to pick him. But something happened Sunday. He vetoed his caddies decision and said that “I’m tired of finishing second”. He got aggressive and assertive and I feel that Charley has lit a fire under his own arse. This little ‘X Factor” could be the fuel that feeds the fire leading to victory.

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Photo Credit: titleist.com

So there you have it. Charley Hoffman for the win.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

Srixon Announces Newly Redesigned Q-STAR Golf Ball for Better Balanced Performance

Srixon Golf has been on a huge run with their golf ball offerings. Earlier this year I had the chance to test and review their new range of tour level golf balls. All of them tested very well and you can check out the review here https://untilthenexttee.blog/2017/03/13/review-srixon-golf-balls-2017/

Recently the Huntington Beach, California company sent out a press release announcing a new version of the two-piece Q-Star. The original Q-Star was an intriguing golf in its own right so it should be fun to see what the new and improved recipe delivers. Spin Skin Technology, lower compression, an attractive price point and a dimple pattern  that allows the ball to be easier to control are some of it’s features. Below is the press release that Srixon Golf Marketing Communications Specialist Noelle Zavaleta shared with me.

This ball sounds like it’d be a fun golf ball to put to the test. What say you?

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Photo Credit: Srixon Golf

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — July 17, 2017 — SRIXON® announces launch of the newly redesigned Q-STAR® golf ball for golfers who demand balanced performance from a more durable, two-piece ball offering. The Srixon Q-STAR is available in Pure White and Tour Yellow and officially launches in North America on August 18, 2017.

Srixon is a tour-proven golf manufacturer with premium golf balls and club offerings popular with golfers around the world. The Q-STAR golf ball utilizes the same premium technologies found in Srixon’s higher-priced tour balls but offers them in a 2-piece construction that is more durable and affordable.

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Photo Credit: Srixon Golf

The new Q-STAR features a lower-compression Energetic Gradient GrowthTMCore, a new third generation Spin Skin™ coating, and a new, more efficient 338 Aerodynamic Speed Dimple™ Pattern. These three technologies combine to deliver balanced performance: longer, more accurate driving distance, better iron control, and improved greenside spin.

“The Q-STAR’s built-in tour technologies should help golfers see great performance in every aspect of their golf game,” said Michael Ross, Senior Product Manager at Srixon. “This is the golf ball for players who seek maximum playability from a more durable, 2-piece design.”

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Photo Credit: Srixon Golf

The key technologies inside the new Q-STAR include:

·         Lower-Compression Energetic Gradient Growth Core. Q-STAR’s core technology uses variable stiffness to deliver better feel and exceptional distance on every shot.

·         Third Generation Spin Skin Coating. This latest iteration of Srixon’s proven ball coating is more elastic with less bonding points so it produces more consistent spin from any lie — especially the rough.

·         Aerodynamic 338 Speed Dimple Pattern. Along with more control in the wind, this dimple pattern reduces drag to maximize distance.

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Photo Credit: Srixon Golf

The Srixon Q-STAR golf ball officially launches in North America on August 18, 2017, at a MAP of $24.99 per dozen.

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 Masters – Round Two

Friday at The Masters…. what a great way to enter the weekend! The only way that it could be greater is if we were in attendance to catch the tournament. On the heels of my Round 1 recap I thought… what the heck. How about a Round Two report. So here we go.

For those that read my lead in to the week I made a few picks… or at least guys to look for. I admit that I never gave the name William McGirt a thought and to be totally frank I never considered Sergio Garcia to be at or near the top of the leaderboard. But, lo and behold it’s “Moving Day Eve” and there sits Garcia atop the leaderboard in a four-way tie with Round 1 leader Charley Hoffman whom was nice enough to answer my question from my Round 1 recap. He came back to the field. This isn’t to take away from the fact that the rounds turned in by Thomas Pieters, Garcia and Rickie Fowler  were impressive.

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Sergio… in contention. (Photo Credit: golfchannel.com)

Fowler would card the low round of the day with an impressive -5 (67) as he surged towards the top. Over and over again I have become more and more impressed with Rickie. However, it isn’t for his play but for the class he has shown over and over again. Apologizing to fans for not signing autographs, then signing autographs after a recent victory into darkness and lastly yesterday. There he stood in attendance with all of the patrons taking in the Honorary Starter’s tee shots and tribute to our “Dear King”. Rickie… Arnie is watching down on you and he’s loving everything that you’re doing. It seems that you are truly embodying Mr. Palmer. In a time in the world where there is so much strife and people only care about themselves you’re a breath of fresh air. Karma can be a great thing.

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The surging Fowler (Photo Credit: augusta.com)

Speaking of great things. Also in my Masters lead-in I mentioned a couple of other names to watch out for. I mentioned Jon Rahm as being a name to watch this week and he’s coming through. While Bernhard Langer missed the cut as did Patrick ReedJason Day snuck in as the last player to make the cut and Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama are in striking distance. But my boldest pick was that we would see magic out of Fred Couples. Today the former Masters Champion at age 57 came through with my prognostication. After two rounds one of the field’s elder statesmen sits T-6. Can you only imagine? I know that if he’s in the hunt after moving day the grounds would be utterly electric. Turn back the clock Freddie!

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Freddie turning back time like Cher. (Photo Credit: golfweek.com)

The leaderboard is stacking up and the weather this weekend is looking ideal. Masters Sunday magic… it’s coming. you can already hear the roars echoing through the pines, dogwoods and azaleas.

Until The Next Tee!