It is that time of the year where we see Santas everywhere doing everything, including Santa golfing! Christmas cards show Santa golfing on snow-covered fairways. There are figurines of Santa swinging golf clubs. Front lawns have decorations of Santa riding in a golf car. Santa’s face is on golf balls. Christmas villages have Santa in their clubhouses. Golfers emulate him by wearing Santa hats and placing jingle bells on their golf shoes this time of the year. There are tournaments called the Santa Golf Classic. So what could this be all about?
There is no doubt that golfing greats are immortalized with statues, logo items and golf tournaments. At the Four Seasons in Texas, home of the Byron Nelson Classic, there is a bronze statue of Iron Byron who, in 1945, had 11 consecutive wins and 18 total wins. Payne Stewart’s statue of his memorable fist pump after winning the US Open is at Pinehurst. Ben Hogan’s statue is at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. A portrait of the great Bob Jones proudly hangs in the Butler Cabin at Augusta National. The World Golf Hall of Fame has bronze plaques of the greats throughout the years: Jack, Annika, Arnie, Nancy, to name a few, all to honor the contributions these players have made to the game. So how does Santa, a golfing unknown, find his way on everything golf during the holiday season? What is his contribution to the game?
Santa was never on tour but just imagine if he were. On the golf channel, Dave Phillips of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) would analyze how Santa’s bowl full of jelly would affect his golf swing. No doubt nutritionists would try to convince Santa to turn in those cookies and milk for a power bar and sports drink. No more letting the reindeer drive him around. The USGA would get after him to walk. He might need a chiropractor trained in active release to work out the right sided imbalance from tossing his toy bag over his shoulder.
From a technology standpoint how would Santa stack up? We could watch in slow motion on swing analysis software how he could get the reindeer flight more accurate by studying the movement of his wrist in relation to elbow motion while tossing the reins. There would be a lot of debate on whether the wooden clubs Santa made in his workshop were better than the latest in titanium. How about his course management? Is GPS better than Santa’s reindeers for maneuvering around the course? Would using elves as forecaddies be allowed by the PGA? The thoughts of Santa on tour are limitless.
Now there is no doubt that maintaining a “jolly” mindset like Santa will help your game. Santa’s genuine smile and enthusiasm for celebrating the holiday season can help your game as well. Research in golf swing mechanics has proven that smiling helps increase range of motion. Research has also found the when we celebrate our good shots we are more likely to repeat them. An additional bonus will be the appreciation your golfing buddies will have when you are celebrating with them in the grill room after an enjoyable round of golf.
No, I don’t think Santa would be on tour. Yet that twinkle in his eye, I’ve seen that before in every golfer’s eye, professional and amateur. That twinkle, as a golfer approaches the first tee full of hope and anticipation of a great round. That twinkle in a golfer’s eye when they talk in detail about a great shot. That twinkle, when they walk into a pro shop ready to make their next purchase. That twinkle, when the golf lesson they have worked on finally straightens their slice.
Maybe that is it! That belief that anything is possible! Maybe that is why Santa is everything golf during the holiday season. Golfers share that common belief in the “possible”: that magical mystery of how a weekend warrior can sink a 40 ft putt just like the tour pro on TV; the magic of making a hole-in-one at any age; the magic of two strangers meeting on the first tee and becoming life-long friends after sharing a round of golf.; the magic of making that perfect swing, if only occasionally. That is the magic of golf that keeps us coming back year after year
To quote a classic “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus.” So this holiday season when you see Santa carrying a golf club keep in mind his spirit is alive and well, not only during the holidays on snow covered landscapes, but over green fairways everywhere all year long. If you are lucky enough to tee it up over the next few winter months maintain a “jolly” mindset and believe that anything is possible as you enjoy the great game of golf.
Golf Balls and grapes are sharing a lot more in common these days. They are both round, both found on picturesque landscapes and more and more golfers are capitalizing on them. Several professional golfers are lending their name to wine labels across the globe making the wine industry take note of more than their swing.
Folklore has the beverage of choice of most golfers depicted as a bottle of scotch. In fact, legend has it that golf has 18 holes because that was the number of shots that could be found in a pint. For years the only name attached to a beverage at a golf course was Arnold Palmer. Palmer would often request an iced drink of ½ ice tea & ½ lemonade after a round. It was so popular that golf courses across the country would serve the Arnold Palmer to patrons. Today the Arizona Ice Tea Company mass produces the Arnold Palmer with Arnie’s picture prominently displayed on the can/bottle.
Within the last decade wine enthusiast soon became familiar with golfers like Greg Norman, Arnold Palmer and Annika Sorenstam as they became partners with vineyards and began producing their own labels. I became more interested in the golfer/wine connection as more professional golfer’s names emerged. I soon learned that all wine is not created equal and that there are many ways to classify these wines; player, geographic region, vineyard, type of grape, price, etc. So the journey began.
California is home to many wine labels including famous American golf legends Arnold Palmer and more recently Jack Nicklaus. Although the Arnold Palmer wine market is targeted to high end restaurants like Pebble Beach & Bay Hill, a bottle can be purchased for $15 locally. Jack Nicklaus wine emerged this year and made its public debut at the Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack in Dublin, Ohio at the Muirfield Village Golf Club this June. The Nicklaus wines run between $35 - $43 a bottle.
Players from other countries who have labels from California include Annika Sorenstam. She produced her first label from the Wente vineyard in the Livermore Valley of California. It was a good fit for Annika, who also has a passion for gourmet meals. Annika’s wine ranges in price from $32 o $75 a bottle, but if you want one autographed be prepared to drop $180. Recently she has started the Annika wine club that offers discounts and will feature an insider’s first look at new releases.
Partnerships are also found in the golfer California Wine connection. Both Luke Donald & Jack Nicklaus have teamed up with Terlato Wines from world famous Napa Valley. Greg Norman, who also has Australian wines, has a label from California as well. Not so famous for wine is Memphis, TN, home of John Daly’s label since 2006 with his motto “Grip It & Sip It” priced from $11 - $50 a bottle. Mark O’Mera, along with golfing buddies Curtis Strange, Vijay Singh and Hunter Mahan, are in a new business venture with a new Champagne, called Beau .
A look to the north and Mike Wier, Masters Champion of Canada , has had his own vineyard in the Niagara Region since 2005. Wier uses his winery, the “Mike Weir Estate Winery,” to raise money for his charity the “Mike Weir foundation,” assisting causes who support children with financial, physical or emotional needs. Since his first vintage was released in 2007 over 30,000 cases have been sold, priced from $19 - $23 a bottle.
Englishman, Nick Faldo’s Australian wine label was launched in 2000 as a natural fit to his golf course company, following in the foot-steps of David Frost from South Africa & Australian, Greg Norman who were the first professional golfers to have a wine label bear their name. Faldo’s wine is priced at $15 a bottle. He admits he is no wine connoisseur but as he ages the antioxidants provided in moderate wine consumption are more beneficial than a glass of beer after a round. He is quick to point out that there isn’t much drinking for him on tour, a glass or two at dinner is the most because they have work to do.
Greg Norman on the other hand had a true passion for wine. He is driven to make a quality wine that would compete with the best Australian wines. Greg offers a wide selection from vineyards both in Australia & the United States priced from $14 – 50 and displays the famous “shark” logo on each bottle.
South Africans golfers with wine labels include; David Frost, Retief Goosen, Gary Player & Ernie Els. Although David Frost is known on tour for having the lowest PGA Tour Putting total of 92 putts for 72 holes at the MCI Heritage in 2005, he is no stranger to the wine industry. His family has been in the wine business for over 60 years in South Africa. David first hit golf balls on the vineyard his father owned. David & his brother purchased their own 300 acre vineyard in 1994, “The David Frost Wine Estate,” producing over 7,000 bottles annually.
Using a little play on words, Reitief Goosen’s wine labels “The Goose Expression 2005” and “The 2009 Gander Shiraz” reflect the old saying “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” The Goose is a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon while the Gander is a unique blend of black currant, ripe cherry, spice, chocolate, and subtle cigar box smoky flavors.
Ernie Els has both a smooth swing and a smooth wine. His first vintage was produced over 10 years ago and today includes 6 different blends ranging in price from $39 - $99 a bottle. Els also combines his love of golf and wine with his South African heritage by offering travel excursions including golf, wine tasting at the vineyards and a safari.
The game of golf definitely delivers. Throughout my life I can attribute some of the best experiences I have had to the game. There have been a variety of people, places and things that golf has introduced to me that are without a doubt exceptional. Among them is my new found appreciation for wine. Truth be told for most of my life I would have passed on a glass of wine for a milkshake for the calories any day of the week. However, once again, golf expanded my horizons by introducing a few of the wines that now bear the label of professional golfers.
Golfer’s across the country are gathering their foursomes for wine tasting parties. Themed parties include wines by country, players who have won the Masters, etc. Bottles from favorite players are served along with local favorites. Of course as always, there is a pitcher or two of “Arnold Palmer” for the designated driver so that we can all continue to enjoy the great game of golf.
Golfers across the country will be taking advantage of Play Golf America’s Annual “FREE” 10 –minute lesson promotion and you can too. Simply go to the Play Golf America website at www.playgolfamerica.com , type in your zip and locate contact information for a LPGA or PGA professional who is participating in the program.Golf is a fascinating game that offers challenges to players of all ages & skill levels. You do not have to have aspirations of being on tour in order to enjoy the great game of golf. The game itself has a system built in that allows for fair competition between players with differing skill levels and abilities. Beyond competition golf provides endless hours of social interaction, beautiful scenery to rejuvenate the soul, exercise for the body and challenges for the mind. Learning to play golf can be a rewarding experience of self discovery and will be enhanced by the guidance of professional instruction. If you have never taken golf lesson before this is a great way to meet a LPGA or PGA Teaching Professional in your area and see how they can help you with your game. Members of these two leading world-wide professional golf organizations have gone through extensive training to help you enjoy and improve your game. From the practice range to the golf course LPGA & PGA Professionals can assist you with not only how to swing the club but also on tips of etiquette and rules.If you have taken a golf lesson before you know how a trained eye can help you start the season off on the right foot. One of the great things about the game is there is always something to learn and enjoy about the game. Learning to control and perfect your game from the first tee to the last putt is an exciting process and adventure you can share with your local LPGA or PGA Pro.Golf Swing mechanics for shots like; putting, chipping, pitching, sand bunker, fairway and tee shots are among the common requests for golf instruction. Yet, there are many other specialties that can be explored to help your game like; golf course management, playing from uneven lies; uphill, downhill or side-hill or unusual conditions like wind, cold weather, playing out of a divot, buried lies in a bunker, ... the possibilities are endless. Unlike a golf tip from a friend or one that you view on line, read in a magazine or book that may or may not apply to your situation, a personal lesson with a LPGA or PGA Teaching Professional will apply specifically to your golf game. A local LPGA/PGA Teaching Pro will sort thought the vast amount of training they have had to find the improvement strategy that is most effective for you.Think about the problem areas of your game and let your local LPGA/PGA Professional help you acquire the skill necessary to make this an enjoyable part of your game. No longer will you find yourself fearful or frustrated when faced with the shot that causes you concern. Simply, identify what you are struggling with and take instruction in that area, practice your lesson and beginning playing with confidence one shot at a time, one lesson at a time. Soon “your game” with be full of shots you can depend upon.For the first time golfer you can be introduced to the game, a casual golfer can pick up a tip that will help you enjoy the game and if you are an avid golfer you can learn a way to fine tune your game. Your local LPGA and PGA Teaching Professional is here to help you and the Play Golf America website offers many promotional opportunities to benefit golfers everywhere and it is all just a click away.Start your golf season on the lesson tee this year and learn a new ways to bring enjoyment and success throughout the season. Play Golf America! Take a lesson with you local LPGA or PGA Teaching Professional and enjoy the benefits all season long.
Spring is in the air and it is time to dust off your golf clubs and head out to the golf course. Before you do, this is a great time to be sure your golf clubs are fit for your game. Golf clubs come in all shapes and sizes just like we do. You should consider a change in equipment when there’s a change in your physical condition, whether it is for better or for worse. A sure way to tell it might be time for a change is those aches & pains. If you have to swing like a contortionist to get the ball to go where you want it, chances are you need to change your equipment.The PGA has designated April as Club Fitting Month and fortunately for you many PGA & LPGA Professionals are offering free 15 minute club fittings. Simply go to www.playgolfamerica.com to find a participating professional in your area. Typically there is a professional fitting fee for this service that takes approximately an hour. The free fitting obviously will not be as detailed as a regular fitting but it will help you better understand how your clubs are affecting your swing and if changes could help.Basically, there are three main parts to your golf club: the grip, shaft & head. There are many options within these three parts with literally hundreds of combinations to make the right club for you. Pick the wrong combination and the game will be harder than it has to be. The grip is the body’s only connection to the golf club. You want a grip that sits properly in your hands. If you are a little or a lot arthritic, your grip should be adjusted for your comfort. In addition, it is so very important that your grips are still tacky. Smooth worn out grips will cause you to hold the club tighter; this creates tension and tension kills the golf swing. Before you replace old grips take the time to see if they are a proper fit for your hand size and physical condition. Once the proper size is determined, there are many material choices and color preferences to decide upon. The club shaft is also a very important consideration. The proper length, material, flex and kick point are all considerations for optimum ball flight. What does all that mean? Again, golfers come in all shapes and sizes. We have different levels of strength and coordination and the shaft of the club should work for us and not against us. A word of caution here: be wary of someone who tries to sell you a golf club because of your gender or age. Some people are in better physical condition in their senior years than they were in their 40’s because they have the time to exercise and focus on proper nutrition. I think it is a major injustice to golfers when manufacturers tend to classify equipment this way. I know quite a few people who have been misguided in this area and their golf games are suffering because of it.Clubhead composition and style are also key to improving your performance. Some club heads will assist getting the ball in the air and others are more forgiving to miss-hits, some are made to add to control and others distance. With the technological advancements you can find a product out there that will help you with your specific needs. Remember the old saying if you need to purchase golf equipment: “Buyer Beware!” Be on the look-out for knock-offs. You may think you are getting a good deal, but if there is a big price difference chances are you are not getting the material or quality control that is associated with the major golf brands. In addition, how all of these components are put together is very important. The lie angle of the club, the weight distribution and swing weight all contribute to performance.Club selection is important to your success as well. Rule 4 of the USGA Rules of Golf allows golfers to carry a maximum of 14 clubs. Just because you are allowed 14 doesn’t mean you have to have 14 clubs in your bag. I often suggest to new golfers that it is better for them to have a few properly fit clubs than to have 14 that do not match their swing style. Also, if you are trying to walk the course for exercise a lighter bag may make for a more enjoyable round.If you are still debating the need to get fit for your golf clubs try thinking of it this way: if you were going to run a marathon you would want shoes that fit you. Imagine running that marathon in shoes that are 2 sizes too big or too small for you, too narrow or too wide, with an arch too high or too low. How would that impact your performance? Or how about using a bowling ball that is way too heavy with finger holes that are too small for your fingers? It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does it? The same thing applies to people when they play golf with equipment that does not match their body type and range of motion. Golf is a game to be enjoyed for a lifetime, so take the time to select the golf clubs that will compliment your personal style!