A Challenge in China: Of Golf Balls and Chopsticks With the European Tour

The object of the Chopstick Challenge is quite simple: see how many golf balls you can pick up in 60 seconds... using chopsticks.  Which from the looks of this European Tour video isn't all that easy.

The event took place last week during the Euro tour's yearly China swing and features a diverse array of global golf stars. Not surprisingly Chinese golfer Liang Wen-Chong seems singularly skilled in this particular discipline.

I'm thinking it might be fun to hold a Chopstick Challenge at our house a couple of weeks from now, at Thanksgiving, when we have all those unruly relatives over. By the time the turkey dinner is done we're always in need of some animation... and the golf ball water globe was destroyed at last year's celebration after copious amounts were consumed.


Talking Turkey: A Golf Destination at the Crossroads of Europe and Asia

Traveling Twins In Istanbul                          © Golf Girl Media
Almost two decades ago, I spent spent six fascinating days in Turkey.

It was a spontaneous trip. I was living in Paris at the time, and my twin sister was based in Tokyo... when we unexpectedly found ourselves with the same week off it seemed Turkey might be a perfect mid-way meeting point.

Turns out it was.  From the stunning Byzantine architecture of its bustling capital, to an expansive countryside rich in antiquities... not to mention an absolutely sublime seacoast... our week in Turkey was stellar.

There was no golf on that trip. It was before we'd ever played the game, and in Turkey the sport was then still in its infancy.  However, the return trip we've been planning... for almost twenty years... will almost certainly revolve around golf.

These days golf holidays in Turkey are ultra-easy to plan, and dozens of courses offer a huge variety of playing experiences to golfers of all levels.  The epicenter of the sport is the town of Belek, in Antalya province, on the alluring Adriatic coast. The area now welcomes recreational golfers form around the globe.  Another sign of golf's growth in Turkey... and a testament to the standard of some of its courses... are the professional tournaments that now take place in the country; Lee-Anne Pace picked up her sixth LET title at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open place earlier this year, and in a couple of weeks The Turkish Airlines Open will welcome the world's top players, including Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose.

In addition to the on-course action, Turkey golf holidays offer travelers the opportunity to experience a country steeped in history, with a stunning coastline and a cosmopolitan capital city full of breathtaking Byzantine monuments.  Oh, and the food! Turkish cuisine, with its melding of Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Balkan flavors, is as good as it gets.

I'm hoping to make my long-awaited return trip to Turkey next Spring and I've no doubt it'll be worth the wait.

This post is brought to you by our partner, Golf Escapes , however as always, the story & opinions are 100% my own.


Memorabilia Mystery Solved - A Most Remarkable Little Golf Pencil

That no one came up with the right answer is not at all surprising.  The proportions weren't obvious in the original post, and besides, who would ever think a pencil could look anything like that?

But it IS in fact, a pencil... a golf pencil in the form of a watch fob; the tiny charm that would hang from the chain of a Victorian golfer's pocket watch.

The graphite writing point is described as "a very hard, never ending lead implant" and it certainly looks like it's holding up well... considering that it's been around for over a century.


Rare & Wonderful, But What is It? Another Golf Memorabilia Mystery.

First of all, it's tiny; no bigger than an acorn really, and as you can see, it's made of metal.

It's a Victorian piece, probably from the late 1800's, and though it's meant to be worn, it's also utilitarian.  It serves a purpose... in fact, a couple of purposes... that golfers and non-golfers alike might appreciate, but this was clearly created with a golfer in mind.

That's about all I can tell you about this particular item. Any idea what it is?


Hermès Does Golf: Scarves, Bags & An Impressive Place For Putting

Hermès is known across the globe for its colorful carrés de soie. 

Coveted by fashionistas of all ages, the sumptuous silk squares are an enduring symbol of French fashion finesse, and when you consider that, A. they're still individually hand crafted, and B. the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons is required for each scarf, the several hundred dollar price tag seems... if not affordable... understandable.

Since 1937, Hermès has produced over 25,000 unique designs, a number of them featuring golf. In 1968 there was "The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf" a charming traditional design. A few years later came "Les Balles de Golf", which, despite its assertive golf theme, is probably my least favorite Hermès design ever.  It's basically just a couple of hundred hyper-realistic white golf balls on a colored background.  Sure, the golf balls are artfully rendered... and the background colors are ultra-pure, but it has none of the frothy detail I've come to expect from la maison Hermès.  My absolute favorite Hermès design is Swing Pictured above, it was  introduced in 1979 in several color palettes.  It's geometrically modern, but with a definite nod to the regal designs of the past... and of course it's all about golf.


Critters on the Course - Animal Encounters Add Excitement to Golf

Salem Golf Club, N. Salem, NY                                                                                                                   © Golf Girl Media

A golf course, by its very nature, can be an ideal place to observe wildlife. Whether you play on a traditional seaside links course, a lush parkland spread or an unlikely desert oasis, sooner or later you'll probably have a close encounter with a critter or two.

Autumn with its ripened berries, falling chestnuts and burnished golden foliage, is prime time for nature watchers in the northeastern US; last week, just off a pristine fairway at Salem Golf Club, our foursome observed a white tail deer casually rubbing his antlers on the bark of an ancient oak tree.  It was all very picturesque until he began pounding his hoof on the ground in a blatantly aggressive manner. We collectively conceded that this eight point buck might be the most effective deterrent to slow play... ever.

This past weekend, along with a US victory, The Presidents Cup celebrated... with giddy enthusiasm... a squirrel.  Sammy, as the affable rodent was known, quickly became the team mascot and provided multiple moments of brightness in a competition that took place under consistently somber skies.

Less famous than Sammy, but far more imposing was the female grizzly bear who'd been haunting the golf courses at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in British Columbia for most of the summer.  It seems the ursine interloper was attracted to the area by a berry patch and salmon stream.  She was finally trapped and moved to higher ground ... and wildlife officials made sure to outfit the golf course grizzly with a tracking collar to assure an advanced warning should she again be tempted to try her paws at the Creekside Par 3.

Finally, there's the now famous fairway fox at Verbier Golf Club in Verbier, Switzerland.  Local residents and golfers playing the alpine course have been entertained... and frustrated... by the playful omnivore since early September. You see, this sly canid isn't content to sit on the sidelines. According to observers, he appears on course each afternoon and proceeds to steal golf balls.  The impressive action is documented in the video below, and has garnered Foxy a share of celebrity; BBC News, CNN and the Huffington Post have all covered his antics.  It's interesting to note that Foxy's course of choice is also a par-3.  Perhaps critters prefer the playability of a shorter course.

With more and more courses focused on sustainability and conservation golfers can expect more frequent meetings with wildlife. Fortunately, for most who love the sport animal encounters only add to its awesomeness.


The Symposium on Affordable Golf: Taking On Golf's Biggest Challenges

For the past three years a diverse group comprised of teaching professionals, golf business people and recreational golfers have met at Southern Pines Golf Club for the Symposium on Affordable Golf, a two day event focused on preserving the health and sustainability of the game.

The 2013 gathering will take place on October 28th - 29th and will feature outstanding speakers from all walks of golf. As in past years, the Symposium is open to anyone with a connection to golf and/or a concern for its future ...and it's free.

I've written about the Symposium on Affordable Golf... and its exceptional founder, Richard Mandell...  in the past, and though I haven't yet been able to attend the event, I hope to eventually change that.  In the meantime the Symposium website has videos of each year's talks. The topics are timely and the exchange of ideas allows one to look at golf's challenges from a variety of different perspectives, which make them well worth watching.

Information about attending the Symposium on Affordable Golf is on their website.


Ryo Ishikawa Has A Birthday... and Earns His 2014 PGA Tour Card

Several years ago he was known as the Bashful Prince, a talented teenage golfer who stormed to the summit of fame in his native Japan and delighted fans everywhere with his sweet, shy smile.

Ryo Ishikawa played his first PGA Tour events in 2009.  Trailed by a constant crowd of Japanese journalists, his abilities impressed many as he lit up the fairways with a whimsical candy-colored wardrobe.

Expectations for the precocious phenom were stratospheric. By the Spring of 2010 more than a few golf scribes were looking for one of golf's alliterative young guns... Rory, Rickie or Ryo... to quickly become that mythical entity known as "the next Tiger".  In retrospect those predictions seem somewhat silly; here we are in waning months of 2013 and Tiger's just captured both the PGA of America's Player of the Year Award and the Vardon Trophy... for the 11th and 9th time, respectively. Even the most committed Tiger detractors seem to accept that we probably won't see "the next Tiger" any time in the forseeable future. Ever.



Today's Top 10: Vintage Golf Treasures You Can Own for Under $50

These days there's a massive nostalgia for the 20th century.  As a result, idiosyncratic objects once considered archaic and uncool, are reemerging from attics and basements.  Vintage artifacts from decades past are being coveted by collectors and sought after by those seeking to reconnect with what now seems a simpler time.

Golf, in a sense, came of age in the 20th century, and as a result it's not difficult to find a diverse array of fascinating items from the game's past.  Whether or not you'd ever want to bring them into your home, it can be comforting to know they're out there... and for those who are so inclined, golf collectibles can be quite accessible.  Check out my top 10 list HERE.



GolfersLust: A Golf Themed Calendar... With "A Touch of Eroticism"

Sexy golf calendars have been around for a while.

Back in the (very) early days of this blog, Natalie Gulbis and Sophie Sandolo were each doing them, while a gaggle of Australian golfers collectively caused some controversy with their daring daybook.

Then, a few years ago, the craze seemed to fade; where sexy glamour shots once ruled, the focus shifted towards sportiness and... golf.  The traditionalists were probably pleased with this development, while fans of the sport's sensual side lamented.
These days however, it seems a carnal calendar renaissance might be underway; The Blair O'Neal Cobra Golf Swimsuit Calender came out this year, featuring the talented Symetra Tour golfer in a multi-chromatic collection of tiny little swimsuits.  Then just yesterday I was made aware...via German golf portal exclusivgolfen ... of a new and ambitious entry into the sexy golf calendar space.

Bavarian business partners Kerstin Maria Stretz and Helmut Grabowski are passionate amateur golfers and their goal with GolfersLust is to build a spirited and exciting golf lifestyle brand in a country where the sport is still perceived by many as... conservative, draconian and totally un-fun!

Inspired by the iconic Pirelli calendar... which for decades has enhanced the image of a venerable Italian tire manufacturer... Stretz and Grabowski were convinced that such a publication could help to sweep away the dusty perceptions many still have about golf.  So they assembled a team that included fashion photographer Ulrich H.M. Wolf and makeup artist Bettina Wolf... both well known for their work in the European fashion scene... and headed to Ibiza. A number of stunning models (and some top of the line golf equipment) were the final ingredients.

The result is GolfersLust, an elegant calendar with... in Stretz's words... "a touch of eroticism".  Golf is the theme, but I think it's safe to say, these photos transcend the game. Oh, the purists will not be pleased, that's for sure, but I don't think that matters much to the team at GolfersLust, they're too busy creating their singular golf lifestyle brand.  The calender can be ordered at the GolfersLust website. 


The Evian Resort Golf Club Course: A Quick Look At The Transformation

While the stunning Alpine backdrop remains unchanged, a slew of "substantial changes" have taken place to the fairways and greens... and bunkers and lakes... of the Evian Resort Golf Club Course.

Work started a year ago and continued through Spring to ensure that the much-loved course would meet major championship standards. That meant changes to all 18 holes with some rebuilt entirely. The video below is your ultra-condensed version of the 9 month construction project.


Epic Backyard Golf Course Has Eight Amazing Holes & A Sustainable Side

Personal putting greens are one thing; a small patch of land and a minimal investment are all that's needed for a basic green ...and installation specialists are relatively easy to find.

We even have a friend who installed his own putting green... over a long weekend. (while his golf-hating wife was conveniently out of town)

When it comes to backyard golf installations however, there are those that go way beyond the basic.  Earlier this year we wrote about some stellar golf homes in the Hamptons  but nothing I've seen there... or anywhere... can compare to the fantasmagorical golf paradise that renowned golf coach David Pelz has created at his home in Dripping Springs, TX. 

Wall Street Journal called it the world's greatest backyard and it's easy to understand why.  It's a lush, verdant landscape, spread across two and a half undulating acres and punctuated by sparkling basins of alabaster sand, and I'm guessing its beauty would impress even those with little interest in the game of golf.  For one who plays, there's the added awesomeness of a golf architecture... including faithful reproductions of some of the sport's most famous holes... perfectly suited to taking that all important short game to the next level.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this epic golf environment is the fact that it's made entirely out of SYNLawn, an amazing, hyper-realistic synthetic turf that requires no water, fertilizer, pesticides or mowing.  The Pelz paradise has inspired me to think about installing a putting green in my yard. The idea of a beautiful, realistic, environmentally friendly practice area just steps from my back door is very appealing and with zero time spent on maintenance I'll have lots of time time to spend on my gorgeous green.


A Legendary Golfer Will Dance With the Stars, Presumably in Purple

Dancing Golf Shoes          © Golf Girl Media          
He's the most successful European Ryder Cup captain of all time; an English golf icon with a passion for the game and a predilection for purple.

Tony Jacklin took the golf world by storm in the late 60s and held the British and US Open titles simultaneously in 1970. That remarkable achievement... along with his stellar Ryder Cup record... was an inspiration to a generation of European golfers and was instrumental in the growth of European golf.

These days the "Lion of Lytham" keeps busy designing courses.  He also actively promotes the game as a global ambassador, golf media personality and public speaker. And soon... it seems... the sprightly 69 year old will be demonstrating his hitherto unknown sense of rhythm in the popular British TV show Strictly Come Dancing, the original Dancing With The Stars.  

It may seem like a stretch to go from golf to ballroom dance but it's been done before.  Jan Stephenson did it on the Australian version of DWTS... she even used a golf club as a prop in one of her routines... but to no avail.  She was eliminated in the third round.   Tony Jacklin is certainly hoping for a longer run, and if his tenacity on the golf course is any indication he'll probably get it.  And it's a good bet he'll be wearing some purple.


In Theaters September 20th, "The Short Game" Has Come a Long Way

Getting a movie made... and bringing it to theaters... is a notoriously difficult undertaking, even when a project has all the traditional elements of a blockbuster. But what about when your movie is a documentary... without any known stars... that takes place entirely within the rarefied word of junior golf? 

I wrote about "The Short Game" in early March when it was about to premiere in the feature documentary category at SXSW.

Like lots of golf fans I fell in love with the film... and its precocious cast... the first time I viewed the trailer,  but I worried a distribution deal might not materialize in a landscape where a risk-averse distribution system seems to shy away from movies without extravagant special effects and A-list stars.

Well, I needn't have worried, "The Short Game" ultimately won the SXSW Audience Award, other awards followed during the Spring and Summer, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel signed on as executive producers and in early August a distribution deal was secured. 

 The film will hit theaters on September 20th.


The Secret Lives... and Surprising Metaphorical Possibilities... of Golf Balls

Golf Ball Guts                                        Illustration: Golf Girl Media

Golf balls have been getting a bit of a bad rap lately.

No less an authority than Jack Nicklaus recently stated that he felt golf balls were largely to blame for slow play.  That's problematic when you consider that slow play... for many golfers and golf fans... is the scourge of the game.  Or at least the scourge du jour.

The tiny, dimpled orbs have also taken some flak due to environmental concerns. Probably because it takes hundreds of years for a golf ball to decompose naturally... and because some 300 million of them are lost in the US each year. There are however, some innovative solutions to that problem.

Then there are all the stories about the errant golf balls that make calamitous contact with people and possessions.  Certainly those anecdotes do nothing to enhance the reputation of that much maligned white sphere we chase around our verdant courses.

Leave it to a non-golfing artist to show us the golf ball's gorgeous side... or inside as it were... and allow us to appreciate the unique multi-chromatic beauty hidden within.  The hero is photographer James Friedman, who had the ingenious idea of simply splitting a bunch of golf balls down the middle, presumably with some kind of saw. What was revealed, and artfully presented by Mr. Friedman, was something quite stunning... and rather delightful.

The story's been all over the place these past few days, allowing the humble golf ball to transcend the sport into the realms of tech and design, with Mashable gushing about the golf ball's gorgeous guts, while Gizmodo compared one bisected ball's close-up to... a pint of dragon fire ice cream. I'm not sure, but I think that's a very flattering comparison.

The photographer said it best when he wrote, "To my surprise, what I found inside inspired me to consider that I could discover, in the unlikeliest of places, elegant formal qualities and surprising metaphorical possibilities."

* You can admire each of James Friedman's sexy golf ball portraits (and his other amazing projects) at his website

Golf's Water Hog Reputation... And Its Little Known Green Side

Not surprisingly, when the subject is water usage, golf often finds itself on the defensive.

In communities where water is scarce, the perception of lush emerald fairways and perfectly verdant greens... maintained at great cost for an elite few... often strikes residents as a frivolous allocation of this most vital resource.

Whether the cause of a water shortage is prolonged drought or rapid population growth... or whether there even is a water shortage in a particular area... golf courses are seen by many as the consummate water hogs.  And golfers, by association, are looked upon as self-indulgent, inconsiderate, porcine primadonnas.  Not a flattering image, to say the least.

However as Attaya Anthony points out in a recent article in the Sun Sentinel, many golf courses are actually helping to replenish drinking water.  It's a fascinating piece that highlights the role of turf grass as a natural filtration system ...and the thing is, this is just one of numerous environmental benefits a golf course can provide when managed with sustainability in mind. As more golfers are educated to these facts, the hope is that they'll support those with an eco-friendly focus, and the sport's water hog reputation will ...pardon the pun longer hold water.


"From the Rough": The Upcoming Film & The Amazing Story Behind It

"From The Rough" Help Support an Independent Film 
Golf is a game where unexpected trajectories have been known to produce surprising results.

Whether it be on the fairways and greens, or during the four day grind of a major tournament, that implausible errant tee shot, the putt that seems to defy gravity... those are the kind of things that can quickly lead to an unforeseen reversal of fortune.

Golf can change the path of a career as well. Such was certainly the case for the extraordinary Catana Starks who after working as a swim coach for the Tennessee State Tigers made history when she became the first woman ever to coach a men's NCAA golf team.  The story is all the more remarkable because Starks actually built the team herself, assembling what seemed like a motley group of players and transforming them into a winning force.  Her team secured an NCAA Regional Championship invitation and a Division I-record win the National Minority Championship.

So impressive are Catana Starks' accomplishments that her story has now been made into a full length feature film due to be released this year.  One look at the trailer (below) convinced me... and will probably convince you... that "From the Rough" is going to be a compelling, ultra-inspiring movie experience.

The thing is, even though the film is complete and ready to be released, getting it wide distribution and is going to be a challenge... as it always tends to be with independent films... because of the cost involved: over $1,000 to get it onto just one big screen!

To increase awareness and get "From the Rough" into as many theaters as possible, the producers have launched a funding campaign via Indigogo.  There are various participation levels, each with nice perks for funders.  Have a look at the campaign, and at the film's website. If you can't participate in the funding part, you can support the movie via social media.  Like, follow, friend, etc... and encourage your contacts to do the same.  Then watch for updates so you can see "From the Rough" when it comes to your town.

From the Rough on Facebook ... Twitter ... YouTube


A 4th of July Weekend Dedicated to Golf, Garden & Garage

At its best, the 4th of July is the quintessential summer holiday. Saturated seasonal color complements the pure, primary tones of the US flag, while warm weather lends itself to outdoor activities of all sorts. That's the ideal, anyway.

Of course we've all lived through less-than-perfect Independence Days, because in reality, many parts of the country are subject to the possibility of heavy rain or extreme sweltering heat at this time of year. However it's the perfect ones we tend to remember. Fortunately.

Here in CT, 2013 has presented us with a 4th we won't soon forget.  Pretty close to classic, it may have been a tad too hot/humid for some, but after an extremely wet month of June, the past couple of days have been sunny and dry.

This fortunate turn of meteorological events has allowed us to put a dent in our perceived golf deficit - playing twice in three days will make up for those couple of golf-less weeks in June.  Unfortunately, we've also been running a bit of a deficit in the home and garden departments, thus numerous hours of digging in the dirt and a much-postponed mucking-out of our massive garage are also on the menu. Such pains pleasures of home ownership often sometimes make us consider the whole "downsizing to a condo" concept.  I can't dwell on that however as I fully intend to continue my weeding chores head to the course for a quick nine.


Women's Golf: The Babe, The Queen Bee and Who's Coming in Second

There's probably not a competitive female golfer in the world who doesn't aspire to be a Babe.

That's Babe with a capital B, and the Babe in question... the one everyone wants to emulate... is the legendary Babe Zaharias.

Now there's a contemporary golfer who's actually achieving those aspirations.

With her US Women's Open win yesterday, on the undulating greens of Sebonack Country Club,  Inbee Park reached a level of... well, Babedom... that hasn't been seen since 1950.

Like the iconic Mrs. Zaharias did in the mid-20th century, the 24 year-old Korean has won the season's first three majors.  If Park wins next month at the Ricoh Women's British Open she'll actually be able to best the Babe by winning the season's fourth major.

Mind you, there were only three majors back in 1950.  Had there been more, The Babe would have had them in her sights and I suspect she'd have won them. One of her best known quotes, reflects the confidence that would likely have taken her there: "The Babe's here, who's coming in second?"

At Sebonack fellow players spoke about Park's performance with amazement. Brittany Lincicome went so far as to say it seemed she was, "...playing a different golf course,"  and Paula Creamer asked, "What are you going to do when you go against someone that hot?"

I have a feel next month at The Old Course in St. Andrews I'm guessing we might hear that famous Babe Zaharias quote adapted for the 21st Century: "The Queen Bee is here, who's coming in second?"


Stop in Harris, MI on "Road to the LPGA" is Much Loved by Players & Fans

Sweetgrass Golf Course                                                       Photo via @SweetgrassGolf
Avid fans of women's golf... as well as those who "only watch the women occasionally"... will no doubt be focused on Southampton, NY this weekend, where Sebonack Golf Club is hosting the 68th U.S. Women's Open.

The world's top female golfers are playing, though right now all eyes are on the Queen Bee, as she attempts to achieve a history-making win in the singular coastal setting. A compelling weekend of golf is all but guaranteed.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles away on Michigan's upper peninsula, another women's golf tournament is taking place in an equally sublime... but decidedly different... setting.  The Island Resort Championship is an event on the Symetra Tour; the tour known as the "Road to the LPGA".  It began today at Sweetgrass Golf Club in the township of Harris, MI.

Among players, The event has become one of the most popular stops on tour. A welcoming community, enthusiastic fans and a stellar course in top condition, are some of the things that make The Island Resort Championship such an anticipated tournament. In fact, here's what Canada's Nicole Vanderware had to say about the crowds at yesterday's opening round:
“This might be the most fans I’ve ever seen out here supporting us,” said Vanderware. “There are so many out here on nine and 18, clapping and cheering for you. It’s been awesome. I’ve never been here before and it’s been great, everyone is so friendly.”
Similar sentiments have been expressed by Symetra Tour players since the tour first started coming to Harris in 2011.

Far from the glitzy, high profile Hamptons, the fans and host families in this pristine, upper-peninsula enclave, are inspiring future champions. Inspiring the women who spend endless hours on the road, and practice relentlessly in pursuit of LPGA dreams.

Follow the Island Resort Championship via the Symetra Tour website and on Twitter via @road2lpga  Also, check out the Symetra Tour Facebook page.


Top Women Golfers in "The Land of Aahs" - 2013 Women's US Open

photo credit: Alessandro Barbini                                           via photopin cc
Long Island, New York has an extraordinary golf history. As the US mainland's biggest island, it's home to a number of the country's oldest and most iconic courses.

There's no place on the island that captures the imagination more than the south fork, and the area known as the Hamptons.  Frequently featured in film, television and literature and the very mention of its name evokes wealth, celebrity and over-the-top excess. It's no doubt that aspect that inspired Vanity Fair to refer to the Hamptons as the Land of Aahs. The area's pristine natural beauty and quaint architectural style provide a perfect juxtaposition to the perceived debauchery.

This week the LPGA will be there, at Sebonack Golf Club, for its 2013 U.S. Women's Open Championship, and the consensus is that the high profile nature of the tournament combined with the singular nature of the location will be uniquely beneficial for the profile of women's golf... and for golf on Long Island.

It's not like the inhabitants of the Hamptons are lacking for golf however, in addition to their uber-exclusive country clubs numerous homes in this exclusive bastion include personal putting greens, and practice areas... some even feature their own private golf courses.  Check out some of my favorite Hamptons golf homes.


Weekend Starts With A Stellar Leaderboard at the Travelers Championship

The 2013 Travelers Championship                                                                                                  Photos: © Golf Girl Media

As the first official weekend of summer gets underway at the 2013 Travelers Championship, an impressive leaderboard and a fine forecast are promising to make this year's event the most memorable ever.

Earlier this week several pro ams... and numerous fan-friendly events... entertained crowds, while funds and awareness were raised for the many charities the championship supports.

I spent Wednesday at TPC River Highlands and, as always, enjoyed the relaxed vibe and pastoral setting that make this tournament unique.  A mini golf tournament and the celebrity pro-am animated the day.

For me personally, the highlight of that day came in the form of a portly, middle-aged Asian woman... wearing a jaunty straw bucket hat.  She stood at the top of the rather steep hill players climb from the 18th green and greeted Angel Cabrera with, "Hey Baby, I watch you all the time and I really like you".  The popular Pato was somewhat winded by the time he got up to where his admirer was standing, but did acknowledge her with a tip of his hat.  It was a pretty awesome scene.

Bubba Watson currently tops the leaderboard with Padraig Harrington two back, I'm looking forward to getting back up to Cromwell on Sunday.


Multichromatic Magic - Probably the Most Inspired Golf Gift Ever

Father's Day has a special significance when it comes to golf.  Dads and golf often go together, particularly in suburban America, where on summer weekends the average course sees a disproportionate number of such pairings. In addition, Father's Day is traditionally when the US Open is decided.

It's totally natural therefore, that when the subject is Father's Day gifts, many Dads will be hoping for golf gifts.

That said, the most inspired golf gift I've ever seen comes from France, where gift giving is taken very seriously.  Having lived in Paris for several years... and having been married to a French man for a couple of decades... I know this to be true.  So, when storied French sportswear company Lacoste celebrated its 80 birthday recently I wasn't surprised when I heard that, the gifts were epic.

In that spirit, I invite you to check out this ultra-impressive, multi-chromatic example: Twenty-seven golf tees in colors inspired by Lacoste's own iconic polo shirts.  The set was gifted by Bernardaud, venerable French purveyor of exquisite porcelain and was bought to my attention by Jean-henri Bernard, a French friend who lives golf on course and through his writing, photography and art.  Happy Father's Day.



US Open 2013: Inspire Your Style With Merion's Red Wicker Baskets

Merion-Inspired Red Wicker Bags                      via TheGolfGirl on Polyvore
When you're universally known as the "toughest test in golf", you've clearly got a reputation to uphold.

Each year the US Open attempts to ensure its fierce singularity with a shifting roster of venues and a wide variety of course set-ups.

Firm greens, narrow fairways and unforgiving rough are among the arsenal put into play to have players confronting a formidable adversary time and again.

It can all seem a bit... well... draconian, and when the whole "small offences/heavy punishments" thing becomes wearying, it's got to be nice to have an element of lightness and whimsicality to focus on.  This year, at moist, marshy Merion Golf Club, the whimsical element comes in the form of wicker basket. Eighteen of them to be exact. They come in both red and orange, and sit atop the steel pin at each hole on the historic East Course, replacing the more conventional cloth drapeau. The "wickers" provoke an endless stream of commentary and a general sense of ... well something like wonderment.  There are several theories as to how Merion came to favor these iconic woven "standards".  The New York Times' Bill Pennington explores a couple of them in his article on the topic and James Achenbach provides additional details in his informative GolfWeek story.

I won't be surprised to see a few weekend spectators accessorizing their gallery garb with some red woven whimsy. I, for one, feel that would be a stellar style statement for the 113th US Open.


Kate Spade Introduces Ideal Accessories for the Stylish Golf Spectator

In the Gallery at the Golf Tourney w/ Kate Spade       via TheGolfGirl on Polyvore 
I've got to admit it, from April to October, most of my waking hours are spent in golf clothes. Plus, I tend to write about golf fashion quite regularly.  So it's no suprise,  that I receive numerous inquiries regarding fairway fashion.

Newcomers... and even those who've played the game for a while... want to know which golf apparel brands are the most stylish, comfortable and performant, and they want to know where to find the best value for their golf apparel/accessory dollars.

After all, by its very nature a golf course can be an intimidating place, and no one wants to make it more so by wearing something inappropriate.  In addition, as club dress codes become less restrictive... and more designers dabble in golfwear... a player can go in numerous directions style-wise.

What often surprises me however, is the number of inquiries I get from prospective golf spectators.  Golf spectating, it seems, comes with its own distinct set of sartorial uncertainties.  Is a dress too dressy to wear to a tournament... are jeans too casual?  Would a lady wearing a tank top (or a tube-top or a halter top) be frowned upon... how about a guy in cargo shorts?

Spectators Can't Compete with Rickie Fowler         photo: ©Golf Girl Media
The fact that a golf tournament takes place outdoors, across thousands of yards of undulating terrain and tends to draw spectators from one viewing area to another... distinguishes it from most other sporting events and makes it important to give some additional consideration to: A. the weather, and B."ambulatory comfort factor".

My take, having attended many professional golf tournaments, is that there's quite a bit of leeway when it comes to golf spectating style.  As long as your outfit is reasonably casual and neither excessively sloppy nor exceedingly sexy, you'll be fine from a fashion standpoint. As far as footwear is concerned, assume you'll be walking quite a bit... and won't necessarily have pavement underfoot. Beyond that, what's comfortable is quite subjective.  Spike heels and platforms are rarely, if ever, a good idea at a golf tournament... but if you're comfortable in flip-flops, they're an option. As are other flat sandals, ballet flats, topsiders and just about any kind of running shoe. Some will tell you golf shoes don't belong outside the ropes, however I don't think they're considering some of today's golf shoe styles which look... and walk... like street shoes.

We're working on an eGuidebook for golf spectators, with lots of fun features and additional ideas on what to wear when you're off to watch the pros. In the meantime numerous fairway fashionistas are obsessing about Kate Spade's stellar line of accessories for golf spectators... the collection is a one-stop-shop for those who wish to stand out in the golf galleries this season.


Historic Merion Will Certainly Be This Week's US Open Golf Star

Merion's Iconic Red Wicker Baskets               photo credit: Penn State Turfgrass via photopin cc
While the weather in Haverford, PA looks a bit questionable, there can be no doubt at all that Merion East... with her "white face" bunkers and red wicker baskets... will be much discussed as US Open week gets underway.   

Fans, players and media will surely be awed by the course's history, but will also be weighing in on the venue's ability to accommodate a 21st century major.  We can also be assured of a copious dose of opinionating on the changes that have been made to the venerable course to ensure that the "grand old lady" can stand up to the way modern technology has affected the game. 

Bill Pennington's New York Times article on the "US Open's Audacious Experiment" presents an overview of what's at stake this week on the fairways and greens of Merion East, and how it may affect future debate on the future evolution of golf.

I won't be in Haverford this week... much to my chagrin... but I'll certainly be soaking up the golf history vicariously through those who are, and closely following their conversations on Merion's 21st century challenge.  In the meantime I'll be reposting some of the many bits I've written on Merion over the years.  


Revolutionary Mixed-Sex Open Has Golf Couples Competing as Equals

Mixed Sex Golf Competition         photo credit: byronv2 via photopin cc
Have you heard the latest news out of Barnham Broom?

I'm guessing you may not have, so let me fill you in: it seems Barnham Broom Golf Club, a pastoral Norfolk (UK) golf destination, will be breaking with tradition later this summer and hosting the region's first mixed-sex open tournament.

Initially, this news may not sound significant enough to be labeled "revolutionary". However, the fact is, mixed-sex competitions... where female golfers compete directly against their male counterparts... are extremely rare.  There are many reasons for the sex segregation, some of which are cultural, based on tradition established in the infancy of the sport, while others involve measured physiological advantages men have over women... in golf among many sports... particularly at top levels.

While I won't go into detail here (for fear of alienating anyone new to the game) I'm guessing that widespread confusion/contention surrounding handicap adjustment when playing from different tees, also plays a role in the general distaste for mixed-sex golf tournaments.

The golf director at Barnham Broom however, appears to feel the time is right for an on-course revolution. The new format, that'll take place over five days, across two championship courses, will involve both strokeplay and matchplay.  More details (including info on how to enter) can be found on the Barnham Broom website, as well as in Lewis Pacelli's recent story for Golf Monthly.


The Powerful Passion... and Possible Perils... of Golf and Marriage

The Fairway to Marital Bliss... or On Course for Divorce? It depends.        © Golf Girl Media 
I didn't marry a golfer. I married an erudite Frenchman who'd never before set foot on a golf course.

The man I fell in love with all those years ago a few years ago was a competitive recreational tennis player, and when we traveled... which we did quite extensively for the first several years of our marriage... he tended to select our hotels based on their tennis facilities.  He also learned to make sure the properties featured an impressive swimming pool for his sedentary, sun-worshiping wife.

Golf came later, for both of us after we'd settled down in my homestate of Connecticut.  The landscape that now surrounded us featured many beautiful courses including one in particular where his newly minted suburban friends spent most of their free time.

Of course learning golf... and developing a (relatively) respectable game... is a real challenge, particularly for an adult male in the US, as he'll often find himself surrounded by men who've been playing since childhood ...and some of those men fail to see the humor in the myriad missed shots of a mature newbie.

But my high handicap husband has never been one to let such things deter him and, for the most part just about everyone he met... at the range and on the course... was welcoming and receptive.  Within a year he was comfortable... and addicted... enough to seek out golf when we traveled and it was almost a decade ago, on a trip to France, that he introduced me to strong-armed me into trying the game.  Needless to say, I took to it.

Last weekend at a neighborhood cocktail party I witnessed a somewhat tipsy suburban matron launch into a diatribe about her golfing husband and his all-too-frequent absences.  Then, later on the same evening, I overheard the bombastic hedgefunder from two houses down complaining that his wife had started taking golf lessons and now wanted him to take her out on the course.  Clearly golf doesn't enhance all marriages.

It does for ours however, and at this point I can honestly say that golf plays a major role in our conjugal happiness. Both of us agree that Chi Chi Rodriguez put it best when he said, "Golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off".


Reflections on Weather at the Start of the Summer Golf Season

Lucky my husband had a spare fleece vest in the boot.  XXL but warm & toasty.
                                                                           Photo: © GolfGirlMedia

Here in the US the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, a federal holiday to commemorate men and women who've died serving our country. Both solemn and festive, we celebrate it with parades and ceremonies.

Meanwhile, Memorial Day weekend has become something of an unofficial soft launch for the summer season.

While school may still be in session, and the northern solstice won't actually occur until June 21, the final weekend in May... in the minds of many... is when summer actually starts. After all, the shops are laden with flirty summer frocks and the weather is often warm and balmy. Often... but not always.

This past weekend was definitely a mixed bag weather-wise here in southwestern CT. It began with a cold, gray, rainy Saturday but ended on Monday with blue skies, brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70s.

In between them was Sunday, the day we'd selected to play golf. It looked promising early on, but as we drove up interstate 84 towards the town of Oxford the once feather-like clouds turned threatening and leaden. The wind picked up dramatically and my husband's grumbling became more annoying assertive ... as though I'd obliged him to accompany me.

By the time we reached the course at Oxford Greens a light drizzle spritzed sporadically and gusty gales made it feel more like Carnoustie than Central Connecticut. Before long our playing partners arrived... and the chorus of complaints intensified. I refused to join in, first of all because I've had precious little time to play this year... in any kind of weather. In addition, I know how negativity affects my game and finally, to be perfectly honest with you, I really don't mind playing in windy conditions. In fact, I rather like the challenge of unique weather, as long as it remains unique... I wouldn't want to play in high winds every week, but once in a while, it can be interesting and enlightening.

"Vista", is hole #2 at Oxford Greens. It's a par 3 with an undulating green, protected by bunkers and water. Par for me.
                                                                                                                                          Photo: @ Golf Girl Media

So we tackled the challenging course and battled the 25mph winds. The guys played reasonably well (plus they had a perfect excuse for any mistakes) and I... played better than ever.  Turns out the very features I normally lament in my game (my low trajectory, wide stance, compact backswing) can be quite helpful when the wind blows. I think the thing I like best about playing on a cool, blustery day is the way I feel after my round, it's an awesome kind of exhaustion and it absolutely ensures an excellent night of sleep.

I'm guessing that was probably the last of our wintery weather... and if this is a typical CT Summer, we'll soon be complaining about the heat and humidity.


The Travelers Championship Means Much More Than Golf to Nutmeggers

The Travelers Championship - A CT Golf Event That Transcends Golf    via

While the golf is certainly stellar, for Connecticut residents, the Travelers Championship is also synonymous with history, community and charity.

For over fifty years the PGA Tour has come to the Hartford area for this annual event. It brings together sports fans of all stripes for a celebratory week of activities; a week that transcends the game and touches the lives of many. The Travelers Championship is Connecticut's largest professional sporting event and as the infographic above illustrates, 100% of the proceeds go to local charities.

For 2013, Travelers Championship week will run from Monday, June 17th thru Sunday, June 23, and the field is getting deeper by the day, with commitments coming in yesterday from Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Fredrik Jacobson and Padraig Harrington.

And... the tournament's world class Cromwell venue, TPC River Highlands, is right on schedule to receive the PGA Tour stars. We played there yesterday as part of the Travelers Championship media day, and though our team was less than impressive on the fairways and greens, conditions were great, and all the elements that make the Travelers Championship so compelling to watch (the natural amphitheaters, the many greenside bunkers, the spectacular finishing holes ) also make the course fun... and challenging... to play.

Tickets for the Travelers Championship are available on the event website and you can get the latest news leading up to the tournament by following the Travelers Championship on Facebook and Twitter.

@TravelersChamp on Twitter
Travelers Championship on Facebook


Turfpath: An New Social App for Homeowners and Golf Course Managers

Turfpath: a mobile-social app for grass lovers      photo: © Golf Girl Media
A lawn is defined as, "an area of land planted with grasses which are maintained at a short height and used for aesthetic and recreational purposes". 

Now to me, that sounds a bit like, well, a golf course... and if you happen to be a golfer who owns a home in a continental climate zone, chances are you often spend spring, summer and  autumn torn between the competing demands of your lawn and your game.

Just as area courses begin open for the season's first rounds, a plethora of spring lawn care tasks present themselves; raking, liming, over seeding, fertilizing ... and pulling up those perennial dandelions. It all must be done if you want to maintain decent lawn, and if you do, you'll inevitably find yourself sacrificing some of your early rounds and practice sessions for days of utilitarian yard work.

Other days you'll hit the course, which has hopefully been aerated, top dressed, nourished, trimmed and spruced-up for spring.  Good golf course maintenance makes early season playing a pleasure, but the vivid, lushness can also provoke some serious "lawn lust" because let's face it, we all want our lawns to look like our golf courses, right?  It's even been said that today's lawn care industry was actually born in the Spring of 1967 with the first technicolor broadcast of the Masters, when suburban America saw Augusta National, in its verdant glory, for the first time.

Now available at the Google Play and iTunes app stores
With that in mind, who better to liaise with when your goal is a gorgeous green lawn than golf course managers and turf grass specialists?  And that's part of the premise behind Turfpath, an ultra-promising new app now available in the Google Play and iTunes app stores.

Created by John Kaminski, an associate professor at Penn State (and a multi-faceted renaissance man) who understood a couple of years ago that a mobile social network would be a stellar way to allow anyone with interest in growing grass... anywhere in the world... to connect and exchange information.

The app features a growing gallery of images and descriptions of the various weeds, diseases and insects that can be problematic for grass growers.   Turfgrass professionals, golf course superintendents, landscapers and lawn-lusting suburban home owners can then add to the galleries with their own photos and information, and can exchange ideas on how to control these turf trouble-makers and prevent future infestations. The app will also contain live, geo-specific infestation alerts.

Adding to the social factor is a system of points and badges one can earn for posting, sharing information and interacting with others.  I happen to be one of those golf-loving, lawn-lusting suburbanites I described earlier, so I downloaded the app this morning and I've already identified a couple of the annoying weeds that have recently appeared on my lawn.. and gotten some eco-friendly advice on how to handle them.

I'm pretty sure Turfpath will soon be one of my favorite and most frequently used apps and I'm guessing I may have a greener lawn and a better golf game by the end of this summer.


Jordan Baker: Golden Age Glamour Meets Golf in "The Great Gatsby"

Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker       Photo:Warner Bros Pictures

Name: Jordan Baker

Age: 23

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Occupation: Professional Golfer

Body-type: Slim, Athletic

Pet Peeve: Carelessness

Controversy: Accused of moving her ball from a bad lie to win her first tournament

Quote: “It takes two to make an accident”

When The Great Gatsby opens later this week it'll undoubtedly influence fashion and decor trends... and will inspire themed parties, weddings and events... across the globe.  The jazz age excesses portrayed in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel... and made larger-than-,life in the most recent film version... will always be tantalizing. The story features excessive wealth and reckless abandonment and the allure of that combination transcends generations and jumps national borders. 

The fact that Jordan Baker... a significant secondary character in Fitzgerald's literary classic... is a professional golfer probably means there'll be numerous Great Gatsby Golf Tournaments this season as well. 

At first glance, Ms Baker is not a particularly appealing personage. Beautiful... but haughty and cold... she drifts through the narrative, tainted by rumors a cheating scandal, never fully explored. In retrospect however, she's seen as something of a trailblazer; an independent woman in the 1920's, when that concept was relatively rare. 
I think it's safe to say that she's the preferred female character for the majority of contemporary women who read the novel

It'll be interesting to see how this golden age golf girl is presented in the new film. Early reviews of the Baz Luhrmann's version of The Great Gatsby, hint at a dazzling production that's a bit short on substance, but from what I've seen of the trailers, I'm guessing that when it comes to Jordan Baker, it'll be hard not to be "halfway in love with her" by the movie's end.

For a bit more on Jordan Baker's magnetism check out Matt Cooper's piece at


Of Wing Tips & Weekenders - New Golf Shoe Styles From 'Equipt for Play'

Just a few of the new styles from "Equipt for Play" 
It's Springtime in Connecticut and as you may know from reading Tennyson (and from perusing this blog) in Spring, "a fuller crimson comes upon the Robin's breast ... and a young man's this golfer's fancy turns to thoughts of love golf shoes".

True to form, several red-breasted avians have appeared in our pear tree and I've got my eye on the season's latest golf footwear options.

To be honest, my quest has just begun as Spring's late arrival had me in my winter golf uniform... black jacket/sweater, black pants, black shoes... till the end of April.

Though temperatures aren't yet high enough for shorts and sleeveless, I've happily transitioned some color back into my closet and I'm very much looking forward the multi-chromatic months ahead. And how fortuitous that a copious collection of new golf shoe styles from Equipt for Play is now available for preorder, with delivery expected by the end of the month.

I wrote about this extraordinary line... and its fabulous founder, Annie Jaroszewicz... in the fall of 2011, shortly after it had officially launched.  Since then the company has more than doubled their sales and the collection is now available across the US and Canada.  A year ago Equipt for Play scored the ultimate ace, making the prestigious "O List" as one of only 9 products Oprah Winfrey deemed "Guaranteed to Make You Feel Good".

The 2013 collection includes new "Wing Tips" that meld madras with leather in whimsical color combinations and "Spectators" that are both elegant AND stylistically unexpected.  The classic Oxford comes in suede and leather, in a plethora of shades.  Then there's the Weekender, a driving loafer that's equally at home on fairways and highways.  In fact, all the new styles feature an innovative comfort-traction sole that's perfect for golf or street wear.

The only problem with the new "Equipt for Play" line is that you'll undoubtedly have trouble choosing just one pair. I'm working on that right now and I've managed to narrow it down... to about eight.  H/T ShiShiPutter


Miss Georgianna Bishop, The Connecticut Golf Girl Who Won at Merion

Georgianna Bishop
In just a few weeks the 2013 U.S. Open Championship will tee off at one of the country's most iconic golf courses.

Merion Golf Club is a National Historic Landmark and its East Course... where a hand-woven, red wicker basket tops each pin... has hosted the Open four times.

The scene of some of golf's most memorable moments, fans of the sport tend to associate Merion with names like Hogan, Jones, Trevino and Nicklaus. Few, however, connect Merion with Georgianna Bishop.

Miss Bishop, who can be observed in photos wearing ankle length skirts and swinging hickory shafted mashies, was a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and in 1904 she won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at Merion.

Yesterday, the USGA launched, the official website of the 113th U.S. Open.  The site contains myriad interactive features to provide live video, real-time scores, news and highlights throughout the championship. In addition there's a wealth of content on the rich history of Merion  and its past champions. That's where I encountered Georgianna Bishop for the first time, because despite my own Connecticut origins and my interest in women's competitive golf, I was unfamiliar with this inspiring lady golfer until now.

Georgianna Millington Bishop was born in Bridgeport in 1878 and played for Brooklawn Country Club.  Having taken place before there was an LPGA... before the advent of professional golf for women... Bishop nonetheless managed to carve out an impressive place for herself in CT golf history. Though she never again won the national championship, for a period she dominated women's golf in the nutmeg state. Winning the Connecticut Women's Amateur four times between 1920 and 1927, Georgianna Bishop was inducted into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 1959.

The USGA's Rhonda Glenn has written a wonderfully evocative account of Bishop's win at Merion, that I'd highly recommend to anyone interested in golf history and the early days of what was then known as Merion Cricket Club.


Meeting Wendy Byrne, Top Dog at Global Golf Apparel Brand "Poodle Golf"

With Wendy Byrne at Golf Girl Media World HQ
A couple of weeks ago... as the Masters was getting underway in Augusta... Wendy Byrne was traversing New England.

On a whirlwind trip from her adopted home in the Netherlands, Wendy was visiting family and friends in Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and by the time she pulled into my driveway she'd covered hundreds of miles.

Wendy grew up in New Milford, CT just down the road from my home here in Danbury. A transfer to Holland to manage operations at an international language academy took her across the Atlantic over a decade ago for what was meant to be a temporary stint, but additional opportunities presented themselves.

These days Wendy lives in Amsterdam where, in 2008, she founded Poodle Golf, which has quickly become a leading independent provider of ultra-stylish, highly functional women's golf apparel.

I first wrote about Poodle Golf when the company was a sponsor at the 2010 Tenerife Ladies Open. That's when I got to know Wendy... virtually... and found out about her CT origins. Since then Poodle has been present at LET events all over Europe and beyond. They proudly... and tirelessly... support women's golf with tournament, team and player sponsorships. Recently in a multi-year agreement with the Russian Golf Association Poodle Golf became the apparel sponsor for the Russian National Team.  

Then there's Dogleg Media. Wendy's husband, Robin, is a stellar photographer who shares his wife's commitment to the global growth of women's golf.  Together they created DogLeg Media to promote and provide targeted, high quality media coverage for professional and amateur women's golf.  Their archives contain thousands of extraordinary photos from tournaments and events, that they provide to businesses and publishers at very reasonable fees. Both Wendy and Chris are extremely skilled in graphic arts and content creation, and they've created  a unique, highly engaging brand.

My Poodle Golf Ivy is Perfect for Spring
Needless to say I welcomed the opportunity to have Wendy visit Golf Girl Media World Headquarters on her recent trip stateside, and when she arrived that chilly spring morning it was quickly clear that we had more in common than the shared geography of our childhoods and our mutual affinity for golf and fashion.

We consumed multiple cups of coffee in front of the fireplace that morning. Wendy shared some of Poodle's latest designs as well as some of the marketing initiatives she's planning.  Expect to see ice blue and lemon yellow, plush outerwear, and some unique customer events, among other things. As far as expanding Poodle Golf's distribution in North America, that's something that's in the cards as well... and something that'll make golfing ladies in these parts very happy.  Wendy's stay was brief, as she had to catch a flight back to Amsterdam that afternoon, but I have little doubt I'll be seeing her again soon, and in the meantime I look forward to keeping up with her... and her stellar global golf brand... where we originally met, on the internet.

Poodle Golf on Facebook • • • @poodlegolf • • •  Poodle Golf on Pinterest
DogLeg Media on Facebook • • • @DogLegMedia • • • DogLeg Media on Pinterest 
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