Get Golf Ready

Written by Andrew Penner

The social media post sends a shockwave through your system. The news is so good, so exciting, you let go a high-pitched “yee haw!” in your living room. Your partner looks over and wonders what’s come over you. “The course is opening in two weeks, honey!” you say, wide-eyed, bouncing from wall to wall – “Gotta get ready!”

Without a doubt, getting ready for the golf season is a prerequisite, an obligation of the obsession, for everyone “in the fold.” And there are many moving parts to consider. For example, what are the latest weapons you’ll want to stash in your quiver? And where are you going to go for a quick, pre-season getaway? Most importantly, perhaps, how are you going to fix those nagging issues with your golf swing? Your flexibility? (Or lack thereof).

So much to do, so little time. 

The Pre-Season Getaway

To whet your whistle and iron out the kinks, a quick pre-season getaway to a place where flagsticks flicker in the breeze is the ideal way to kick off the golf season. Here are a few of your best options.

Vancouver Island – Hop on a one-hour flight to Victoria or Comox and you’re minutes away from great golf. True, it may not be short-sleeve weather in March but, bottom line, you can play golf on Vancouver Island year round. And sauntering along the lush-green fairways of Bear Mountain (two courses by Jack Nicklaus) or Crown Isle (only five minutes from the Comox Valley Airport) is going to put a smile on your face. Especially when you consider your buddies back home are scraping windshields and shoveling their driveways from yet another 10-centimeter dump. www.golfvancouverisland.ca.

The Valley of the Sun – Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa – you pick – are all “can’t miss” destinations for a quick early spring (or winter) getaway. We-Ko-Pa – which features two spectacular desert courses in Fountain Hills – never disappoints. Other upscale retreats – such as The Boulders, TPC Scottsdale, and Troon North – are also awesome places to play. If you need to watch the pocketbook, Papago, a rock-solid city course just fifteen minutes from Sky Harbour Airport, is often considered one of the best bangs for your buck in the state. www.experiencescottsdale.com

St. George, Utah – Just one hour north of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, the golf scene in St. George, Utah is a much more down-to-earth desert golf genre that budget-conscious golfers will appreciate. Dubbed “The Red Rock Golf Trail,” the panoramic vistas, half-dozen dazzling desert courses, and hot dry weather make this one of the most underrated and beautiful golf destinations in North America. www.redrockgolftrail.com            

New Moves

 Let’s be honest, there’s probably a reason (or two) why you’re not on the tour making millions. Yes, that head-high snap-hook could indicate some sort of mechanical malfunction with your swing. And if your “move” needs a makeover, thankfully, there are a number of indoor (and outdoor) golf centres in Alberta where talented teaching pros can sort out your self-styled swat. Here are three of the top year-round golf centres in the province.  

Golf Canada Calgary Centre– With 52 enclosed hitting stalls (40 are heated) and seven full-time PGA of Canada Teaching Professionals, Golf Canada Calgary Centre is the go-to place for pre-season practice in Calgary. Whether it’s a spring tune-up or a complete overhaul, the professional instructors at Golf Canada will guide you into a program or lesson series that can turn your hard-left heatseekers into laser-straight missiles. www.golfcanadacentre.ca. The facility is also home to DM Golf Performance – a first-rate fitness facility that helps golfers perform better through improved motion and strength training. www.dmgolfperformance.com

Grand Slam Golf Academy (Calgary) – If the most technologically-advanced teaching methodologies intrigue you, a session (or five) at the Grand Slam Golf Academy in Calgary should be high on your “to do” list before the season hits. Thanks to the RoboGolfPro – the only one of its kind in Western Canada – students can “feel” the perfect golf swing for their ability and physique. The state-of-the-art teaching and practice facility also boasts the SAMPutt Lab (your putting stroke will be dissected in ways you never thought possible) and the most advanced virtual simulators on the market today. www.gsga.ca

Evergreen Golf Centre (Lethbridge) – Golfers in the deep south of the province have a climate – and a golf centre – that is all their own. This often means the 9-hole par-3 course at the Evergreen Golf Centre in Lethbridge is open on regular greens…even in the dead of winter! This well-rounded, well-maintained facility also boasts an excellent covered driving range (with overhead heaters) and year-round lessons from some of Alberta’s finest instructors. Their $99 “Get Golf Ready” group lesson program is a great way to kick off the year. www.evergreengolfcentre.com 

New Fashion

On days when you don’t want to wear your knickers or air-conditioned kilt (going “retro” can be tricky), you’ll likely want to opt for something a lot more, well, comfortable and contemporary. The trend to high-performance designs and fabrics continues to be a major focus for golf apparel companies. Here’s a look at a few brands to watch for. 

PUMA GOLF – Make no mistake, there is nothing “foul” about Rickie Fowler in golf gear. And PUMA is more than happy to have him (and Lexi Thompson, Graham DeLaet, and many others) flaunt the goods. PUMA GOLF’s Spring Summer 2018 Collection features bold and fresh colours, cutting-edge technologies, and dazzling patterns. Known for fusing off-course trends with high-tech performance, the Botanic Polo – complete with eye-catching micro-floral print and Puma’s DryCELL technology – is a fine example of what this brand is all about. $75.00 www.cobragolf.com/pumagolf 

Bradley Allen – Looking to wear clothing with a Canadian connection? Look no further than Bradley Allen. Founder Brad Franklin – a former PGA of Canada Assistant Golf Professional – has become one of the most respected clothing designers in the game. “Rooted in golf’s traditions yet informed by the present,” the sophisticated yet functional line features men’s polos, knits, layering pieces, pants, and shorts. The PrimaLoft Graphite Melange Vest – with unprecedented warmth-to-thickness insulation – is perfect for Alberta’s unpredictable wind and weather. $149.00 www.bradley-allen.com

Sunice Golf – When over 60 PGA and LPGA pros (including phenom Brooke Henderson) choose to wear your gear (for no endorsement dollars!), it’s a pretty good indication you’re doing something right. And, for over 40 years, Sunice has been doing manythings right. Especially for golfers who want lightweight, breathable, flexible, and waterproof clothing that will protect them from the elements. Their vests and jackets – including the Ladies’ Bianca Duotech Softshell Stretch Jacket – are a prime example. $115.00 www.sunice.com

New Clubs

While your laminated woods might work well for kindling, they probably aren’t getting the job done on the course anymore. If you’re due for an equipment upgrade, heed the advice of professionals. See your friendly-neighborhood golf pro. Demo different clubs to find what you like and what works. And get fitted!

That said, there are, literally, hundreds of premium golf clubs out there that can give your game a nudge in the right direction. While you can’t “buy yourself a golf game,” with properly-fitted, state-of-the-art sticks your swings are going to be sweeter. And you willsave strokes. Here are a few clubs worth trying in 2018.

PING G400 –PING founder Karsten Solheim started making clubs in his garage in California back in 1959. Today, nearly sixty years later, the “love” he put into those experiments is still evident. PING’s latest installment – the G400 series – is yet another example of the passion and precision this company was founded on. The G400 Driver – the fastest and most forgiving driver ever created by the company – features a forged face, tungsten backweight, and a drag-reducing shape that will have you bombing it by all your buddies. www.ping.com 

PXG– Created by GoDaddy founder and billionaire, Bob Parsons, PXG (“Parsons Extreme Golf”) is causing a major buzz in the golf industry. Although extremely expensive – a full set will run you about $5,000 – these stylish and progressive clubs feel like butter. With more and more touring pros (and beautiful Instagram celebrities) signing on the dotted line to play and promote PXG, it’s safe to say this fast-growing company is here to stay. www.pxg.com  

TaylorMade – Since 1979 the mission at TaylorMade has remained constant: to produce the best performing golf clubs in the world. And, like all the major manufacturers, their product line is deep and wide. Although TaylorMade is widely known for making some of the best drivers in the game in the past couple of decades, their irons have also become top-calibre tools built for every skill level. For discerning “players,” the P790 irons combine forged construction and, thanks to their SpeedFoam technology, enhanced speed, feel, and forgiveness, all for $1599.99 www.taylormadegolf.ca  

New Gadgets

Not surprisingly, given the age we’re in, hi-tech gadgets are blazing new trails in the industry. From awesome apps to sleek GPS watches – and everything in between – there are hundreds of smart little devices that can help you bag your birdies and track your tee shots. Here are a few of the best new gadgets out there.

Arccos 360 – Dubbed as “The World’s Smartest Golf Performance Tracking System,” the Arccos 360 system – thanks to 14 individual sensors that are inserted into the butt-end of each club – captures all your performance data in real time. It then uses GPS, advanced analytics, and Artificial Intelligence to provide detailed information on how far you hit each club, which club to hit in every situation, what to practice, and much more for $360.00 www.arccosgolf.com 

TLink Watches – What’s the quickest and easiest way to get your distance to the front, middle, and back of the green plus all the hazards in your line of fire, you ask? Easy. Just glance at your watch. That’s the premise behind Tlink. You can also track your stats and your fitness with these sleek and stylish watches for $99.00www.golftlink.com

Swing Caddie SC200 – Not long ago launch monitors – which instantaneously calculate ball speed, clubhead speed, carry distance, smash factor, and more – were thousands of dollars and could only be accessed at high-end golf training facilities. Not anymore. The Swing Caddie SC200 is a portable and affordable personal launch monitor (about the same size as your phone) that provides instant, voice-enabled feedback on all the key numbers you need to know after every shot for $349.99. www.voicecaddy.com

Best of luck as you hit the course this Spring!

Get Golf Ready

This article was originally published in the 2018 edition of The Alberta Golfer Magazine. To view the full magazine, click here.

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