A new look for 36aday

While I don’t pretend to have formal education and training in communications, I have learned enough to value the importance of a clear and consistent brand.  Visual images can do much to present a brand to people.  36aday is over two years old now and I realized some time back that I wanted to step up the way in which I present myself and this emerging brand.  My engagement in a regular Tuesday evening #GolfChat on Twitter connected me with a digital communications professional who has extensive experience with the golfing community.  Herb McNally (@McTwentyTwo) was a logical choice for me to work with.  He brings technical skill, strong communications and an understanding of golf branding.  The process was relatively quick, easy and iterative.  I shared my philosophy, background around my work, and the central imaging I was hoping to incorporate.  The final product you see as my Twitter avatar is the result of the third iteration of images.

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I can go on and on about the process, value and pleasure it was to work with Herb.  He is a real pro.

But I am most proud of having a brand images that reflect the central aspects of my interests in writing – golf and golf travel in Canada.  Over the next few months I intend to incorporate some of these images directly onto my blog site and into new materials like letterhead and business cards.  I may take this a little further and make myself a couple hats but I’d really welcome hearing from you about what you think of this new visual branding.  Keeping the look within either red or green will allow me to focus in season (green) or off season (red).  All together, I have almost 20 files to choose from and for different purposes.

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Thank you all for your support of my work.  I have some more exciting plans to bolster my blog site over the coming year or two and would like to expand my writing efforts to share insight on golf travel within Canada.  For now, this is a big step and one I am extremely proud to share with you.

Banff Springs – Breathtaking Golf in the Rockies

Banff Springs – Breathtaking Golf in the Rockies

http://www.fairmont.com/banff-springs/golf/

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Another beautiful morning at Banff Springs

One does not have to look very far to locate Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course on top course ranking lists in Canada.  Arguably one of Stanley Thompson’s finest works, this course set adjacent to the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the majestic Bow River.  The golf course is majestic, the views expansive and powerful with the river and the mountains providing a stunning backdrop.  It may well feature the greatest opening nine I have experienced and possesses signature hole after signature hole.  Both Canadian Golf Magazine and SCOREGolf place this course well within their top 10 in Canada.

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Looking back from behind the second green

On a cold spring morning, I was fortunate to tee off as a single where I could take my time, take lots of pictures and enjoy a true, unique golf experience.  The starter advised me holes which I should have my camera ready – 4 and 14.  He may well have said all 18 of them.  After the opening hole, the course faces the mountains and holes 2, 3 and 4 build in magnitude.  The 3rd hole is an underrated par 5, and if not for Thompson’s genius design of the 7th hole at Highlands Links, I would state this to be my favourite par 5 of any I’ve played.   However, the 4th hole is a breathtaking beauty, unlike any I’ve played.  A downhill par 3, aptly named Devil’s Cauldron, this hole is guarded by water in the front and classic Thompson bunkering protecting short and left of the green.  While admiring this bowl shaped design and readying to take my shot, a golf cart pulled up.  They were a touring the course, not golfers.  In asking if they would take my picture following my swing, the gentleman stated he’d be delighted and that he was a photographer.  I marveled at my fortune.  And to close off; my shot – witnessed by tourists both behind me as well as behind the green, the shot landed softly beyond the green and avoiding the traps.  I’ll never forget that.

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A picture I will always cherish – holding the finish on the famous 4th hole.

The course returns to the relatively new clubhouse after nine than moves toward the hotel where it loops around and back, allowing for a stretch of tree lined holes and stout par 3’s before returning back in a more expansive stretch alongside the mountains.  The effort it must have taken back in the 1920’s to build this course is staggering to imagine.  The course offers something for so many; historians, nature lovers and of course, golfers.

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Hard not to get distracted by the scenery

The tranquility of my clear, cold morning allowed me to play a relaxed round and appreciate the genius of Thompson who, once again, used the land exceedingly well.  There are no holes which are too close in proximity to others.  The back nine provides challenge in terms of length and demands a level of accuracy which is less prominent on the front nine.

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The 9th hole runs alongside the Bow River.

The conditioning of the course is fantastic, complementing the exceptional layout and natural setting.  A true bucket list course, this will not be your most inexpensive round.  But it is entirely possible that it may be your most memorable.

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The 14th hole shows the best view of the Banff Springs Hotel

Aura – 9.5 out of 10 – This is a national top 10 course and top 5 public course.  For many, it is their favourite course in the country and is entirely worthy of planning a trip around.  If blessed with a sunny day, your camera will get a strong workout.

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Value (cost / experience) – 8 out of 10 – Peak fees are $239 + tax.  There are afternoon and shoulder season rates but this will set back many players.  However, I acknowledge value is in the eyes of the beholder.  And for the quality and natural beauty of this course, the chance to play it once (in the shoulder season for me) makes this a solid value pick, not exceptional.  Understand, it’s a golfing experience and a true bucket list course.

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Even the practice facilities are stunning.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – 9 out of 10 –  Course staff were hard at work on the fairways, greens and even the bunkers while I was there in late May. The layout is brilliant, one of Thompson’s strengths, but the conditioning of the course complements the quality setting.  The tee boxes were in exceptional condition.  Greens rolled true and consistent, not too fast for a public resort course which helps ensure good pace of play.  The greenside protection was diverse and penal at times but never unfair.  Fairways were superb.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – 9.5 out of 10 – I would return in a heartbeat.  Understand that you’re in Banff and there is much else to do – hot springs, the town, the hotel – but the golf course stands on as an experience worthy of the investment and complements the scenery of this gorgeous town.

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Highlight (what is great about the course) – For the purposes of managing space, I’ll let the pictures speak to this.  Safe to say practically everything is great about it.

Recommendation (magic wand…what would I change) – aside from moving to Alberta to take advantage of a residents discount, there really isn’t anything specific I would change.  This is a truly special course and well worthy of its prominent places in national course rankings.  As a public play, it is on my top 3 list.

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One of my favourite images is this view of the par 5 3rd hole.

Just So You Know – Practice facilities are very strong.  There is also a 9 hole ‘Tunnel Mountain’ course available to complement the 18 hole Stanley Thompson course.

 

Proud to be a Snell Golf Canada Ambassador

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“Welcome to the Snell Golf Canada team”.

With that email from Snell Golf Canada marketing strategist, Bill Crowe, I was officially a brand ambassador for Snell Golf Canada. Snell golf balls are new to the Canadian golf scene and having tried them recently I was convinced they were the ball for me.  Here’s a link to my recent review.

You’ll see me striping the optic yellow Get Sum balls on courses across the country. The combination of performance, durability and colour are a winner for me. For players seeking a performance ball, you should try the My Tour Ball. Arguably as good or better than the leading balls on the market, experience these for yourself. Can’t decide?  Try the Testing Pack (6 of each to allow you decide what is best for you).

The Snell website shares much about the balls and the story of Dean Snell (which is a great story). Online ordering helps control costs; it’s all about the average golfer and equipping them (us) with a great ball at a great price.  The process is easy and the team is very responsive should you have questions.

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To help set you up, when you order online use the promo code ’36aday’ to get an additional $2 off per dozen. But the real value is in their 6 dozen value packs. Save on shipping with a value pack order. Add the promo code ’36aday6′ and get an amazing $12 off your order.

I want to extend my thanks to the entire team at Snell Golf Canada. Like many golfers, I am loyal and passionate about my equipment. Two rounds with Snell Golf balls made me pursue a permanent change. If we get a chance to tee it up together I’ll share a Snell for you to try. To me, my tag line for Snell Golf Balls are: Play. Better. Value.

See you on the course!

Oh, The Places You Will Go

Oh, The Places You Will Go

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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Dr. Seuss, golf and transformational figures are not topics I’d ever weave into a golf blog post.  Until now, of course.  The author a lighthearted series of children’s books weaves in messages for life for kids of all ages and within the book ‘Oh The Places You Will Go’ I was drawn to comparisons of  someone who I would argue to be the most passionate golfer I have ever met; ‘passionista’ is her term.

Tiffany Chaisson (@tiffchaisson) is active on twitter, loves the game of golf, travels the world, and now – two years into her golf journey – is a CEO of a not for profit to support kids playing golf by removing financial barriers to participate.  This is a new venture for Tiffany and her enthusiasm for Fairways may, (strong emphasis on may) even be more infectious than her love of playing the game.

We met this week for a round at the historic, iconic Ladies Club in Thornhill, ON for a round of golf with head professional Padraig Kelly.  Paddy hosted Tiff and I to a round and a tour of the clubhouse where we learned more about this history of this Stanley Thompson design which is built primarily for women players.  I will share more on the course in a future course review, but the experience we shared on a tranquil July morning is best reflected in this shot.  It is one of my all-time favourite golf pictures.

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Tiffany Chaisson showing her enthusiasm and an impressive vertical!  Love this image, it reflects a passion for the game we should all tap into more often.

Looking back, my reflections of my golfing journey made me appreciate the places I have gone.  And more importantly the people I have met.  New friends and acquaintances drawn together through a love of the game can only make you smile more on the course.  And, as Paddy was right to say, players tend to play better when they smile more.  Makes sense it was one of better rounds in some time.

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Paddy Kelly showing a solid club twirl after his approach on 17.

I will close off with this quote, as I reflect that my own golfing experience is certainly one of ‘fun to be done’!  Thanks for the gracious hospitality to Paddy Kelly and his team at Ladies GC.  And to Tiff, like Dr. Seuss, you have proven to be a transformative teacher.

“Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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New friendships forged through golf.  Paddy, Tiff and I.

Calgary Golf and Country Club – Unique in Design, Beauty and Challenge

Calgary Golf and Country Club – Unique in Design, Challenge and Beauty.

http://www.cgandcc.com/home.aspx

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Standing on the first tee looking up.  A great opening hole.

The website shares a fascinating and detailed account of the history of this beautiful course.   A top 25 course in the country, as ranked by Canadian Golf Magazine, it is a course on a piece of property that will dazzle, amaze and challenge golfers.  A private course, I was privileged to be extended an invitation from a fellow golf writer based in Calgary.  The Golf is Mental blog was identified as one of the top 50 golf blogs to follow by the Scottsdale Golf Blog.  Calgary GCC, located mere minutes south of downtown, offers solitude and privacy from the city which creates a sense of tranquility.  And this is good because the challenges of this unique design will demand your attention.

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The beautiful and tight third hole reflects the challenge for golfers.

The course was designed in by Willie Park, Jr., a Scottish designer who in 1922 completed the development of the course consistent with today’s design.  The course was originally established in 1897.  Adjacent to the Elbow River, a tributary of the Bow River which runs through Calgary, the course utilizes elevation change exceptionally well throughout the course.  An exclamation point to this is seen at the very first hole, a sharp uphill par 5.  Don’t let the yardage from the tips fool you, this hole will require attention with approach shots playing significantly uphill.  And the slope and subtlety of the green doesn’t give players making a successful approach space to exhale.  Greens run true, consistent and quick.  Factor in slope on the greens and hitting the right part of the green is as important as hitting the green itself.  This is not to imply gimmicky or unfair, this is not the case.  But putting on greens will require a little more attention than your local muni; they were some of the quickest I had experienced in some time.

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Par 3 8th hole.  Great diversity of par 3 length and design.

The opening hole is part of a stout opening three holes.  The par 3 second hole is downhill and not overly long, but seemingly any miss will make for a challenging up and down.  Then the par 4 3rd hole, the number one handicap hole on the course is almost 440 yards and demands accuracy off the tee.  Many of the holes are framed exceptionally well off the tee by trees on either side.  Add to the overall tranquility of the course and players will feel they have the course to themselves on the busiest of days.  A par 35 opening nine only measures over 3200 yards off the tee.  Good ball striking is rewarded but subtle elevation change and gusting winds on the day I played made club selection challenging.

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The 9th tee.

The course shows great diversity in design with the terrain well utilized to create strong vistas off the tee on many holes.  I was pleased there was so few blind shots throughout the course.  Park was intelligent in drawing on the natural terrain.  The back nine was my favourite of the two nines, but the dramatic effect of the course really took effect on hole 9, a significant downhill par 4 which is only 353 yards.  And while the tee shot is fun and relatively easy, the approach shot is well guarded with a pond front left and very little space behind the hole.  Accuracy is at a premium here.  Tee decks help, as they are extremely well maintained.

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After a tough nine holes this was a true oasis.  A great halfway house right alongside the river.

A halfway house which may be one of the best in golf at a quiet bend in the river awaits players to refresh, regroup and prepare for the challenge and enjoyment of the back nine.  A unique feature I have never seen is an elevator tram which will take players up from the 10th green to the 11th tee.  My legs appreciated the rest and the view from the top, especially from the back of the 11th tee deck is spectacular over the Glenmore Dam and Reservoir and the river valley below.

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Local knowledge extends beyond playing the course.  An incredibly scenic shot of me teeing off by my host and Calgary GCC member Josh Strukoff.

The back nine is unique in that is closes with par 5-5-4-3-4-3 and 4.  The par 5’s are stout with fairway bunkering that demands length and accuracy.  Greens are well protected, making par a good score.  To me, the closing four holes cap off the beauty and challenge of this course.  Par 3’s at Calgary are some of the most beautiful and difficult I have faced on a course anywhere in the country.  The 18th, like the 9th, is a significant downhill par 4.  But much longer and players can determine how aggressive a line they want to take.  For visitors it is a time to take a picture and reflect on a wonderful golfing experience.  If you’re in competition, it is time to breathe and focus on a landing spot.

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The view off the tee on 18.  Stunning…and a little intimidating.

I spent my time at Calgary GCC captivated by Park’s masterful design, challenged by the layout (and also not having my A game with me) but appreciative of the invitation and the opportunity to experience one of the country’s truly iconic, unique and beautiful courses.  Pristine in conditioning, and with staff who are friendly and helpful, the experience at Calgary GCC is one which will remain a highlight golfing experience in 2016.

Aura – 9 out of 10 – Chances to play private courses, and a top course in Canada at that, provides a level of anticipation and excitement I don’t experience with regularity.

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The course provides some incredible scenery throughout the round.

Value (cost / experience) – As a private course it is not possible to provide a rank here.  As is the case with many great private courses, value is a wonderful combination of access, belonging and enjoyment.  I suspect my friend who I was able to tee it up with would place value extremely high on all accounts listed, and rightfully so.

Course Condition (fairways/greens, layout) – As to be expected, the conditioning was flawless.  But this represents a commitment from the superintendent all the way down to each member who respect and care for the course.  – 9 out of 10

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My first elevator ride on a golf course.  Clever and very practical.

Overall Experience (how did the round make me feel; would I return) – Return?  In a heartbeat.  It’s a course which is worthy of its stature and ranking across Canada.  One thing I really appreciated was how as a guest I was made to feel so welcome.  The assistant pro, staff, and my friend and his family treated me like I had been a member for many years.  You can chalk it up to western hospitality but I think there is a pedigree of quality at CGCC which starts with the people. – 9.5 out of 10

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Golf Is Mental and 36aday – aka – Josh and Mike.  After the round we had a chance to visit that amazing patio and reflect on an amazing afternoon of golf.

Highlight (what is great about the course) – There any many holes which are truly unique.  Park was intelligent in his design of this course.  The course built up in both beauty and challenge and culminated with a fantastic back nine with a closing stretch of holes which players can play over and over again and never tire of.

5 Underrated Courses in My Canadian Travels

Playing golf in Canada can be about the journey as it is the destination.  Courses can surprise and amaze in aspects of beauty, quality and fun.  Over my years here are five which I have experienced that I loved.  You likely won’t see any of these on top course lists across the country so I’ve created my own modest list which places these gems front and centre.  Here they are, in no particular order.  The course link will open to my full review:

Waskesiu GC, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

It’s a Stanley Thompson design so right off the top I suspected I’d love it.  I drove direct from my flight to Saskatoon north of Prince Albert to the stunning Waskesiu Lake area in the heart of Prince Albert National Park.  The drive was peaceful and the course was sensational.  The rich history of this course and its iconic Lobstick Tree is worth asking about.  The butter tarts that the course sells may be the best in country but that’s another bucket list in itself.  My only wish was that I could spend time in the resort community adjacent to the lake and play this course again (and again).  Not the easiest course to access, but the memories made the drive well worth it.  My conversation with the Marshall the day I was playing was amazing as he regaled me about the history of this beautiful course.  I felt I had gone back in time.

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Lobstick Tree at Waskesiu in the first fairway

Stanhope GCC, Stanhope, Prince Edward Island

I have written much about my 2015 golf trip to the gentle island.  PEI is a golfer’s paradise, providing exceptional value (possibly the best in Canada) with variety, quality and diversity of post-golf activity to make everyone happy.  Stanhope didn’t make my top 5 list of courses on the Island but that speaks more to the quality and value options than it does about any shortcomings at Stanhope.  A true community course, this course brought a level of enjoyment and relaxation on the Island I had not experienced.  Add to it a stunning back nine, with a stretch of golf holes from 12-16 which may be the most underrated golf on the island in terms of sheer beauty.  With a breeze off the ocean on a peaceful afternoon, it was a golfing experience I need to get back and relive.

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A late afternoon sun shining down on the back nine at Stanhope

 

Talking Rock Golf Resort, Chase, British Columbia

The Thompson-Okanagan golf region of British Columbia provides more diversity for golfer than one might expect.  My spring 2016 trip west included an early morning drive (very early!) from Surrey to Chase for a morning round at Talking Rock.  First, the drive is amazing through the mountains – so peaceful and relaxing.  Arriving in Chase, just north of Kelowna, and the Little Shuswap First Nation community is the Quaaout Lodge and Spa which also houses the Talking Rock Golf Resort.  The large log-cabin style conference centre, pro shop and clubhouse set a tone for a tranquil and peaceful golfing experience.  The closing holes, notably 15 and 18, are jaw-dropping showstoppers and reflect the natural beauty of the region.  It’s well worth the visit.  Playing most of the round as a single created a sense of calm and peacefulness I appreciated.

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Teed up and ready to play the stunning 15th at Talk Rock overlooking Little Shuswap Lake

Batteaux Creek GC, Nottawa, Ontario

The Niagara Escarpment cuts along southern Ontario from a swath from Niagara to Tobermory and at various points along the way shows impressive prominence in the landscape.  Such is the case in Nottawa, south of Collingwood, where Batteaux Creek Golf Club has existed since 2002.  While not an annual play, I do try to make time in the fall season to travel the almost two hours north from Toronto, to enjoy this course in all its splendor.  Immaculate conditioning, diversity of golf holes, natural hazards and a stunning fall backdrop with leaves changing in golds, reds, oranges and yellows throughout the property and west along the escarpment.  It’s more a spiritual exercise than it is a golf game.  And for anyone who has experienced this course in the fall, you will know why it makes my list of underrated golf gems in Canada.

Early morning at Batteaux Creek on a flawless fall day.

 

 

Osprey Resort, Guysborough, Nova Scotia

https://36aday.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/osprey_andy2.jpg?w=660This is a rustic, 9-hole course set on Chedabucto Bay in scenic Guysborough, Nova Scotia.  The Marine Drive from Halifax to Canso is simply a must if you have the time.  From Canso, simply head west to Guysborough.  Don’t miss the Rare Bird Pub where after 9 holes (or 18…even 36) you can look over the water and lose yourself in the beauty of this part of the province.  The course is simple in its layout and players of all skill level will be welcome.  Take time to enjoy the views, what I think to be some of the best you will experience in eastern Canada.  My advice for travelers who have time; stop here to get your golf legs and your fix of seafood before making your way north to Cape Breton Island where you will find some of the greatest courses in the country and the world.  I love this course, its people and community.  It reflects everything I love about golfing in Canada.

 

Osprey 5th Hole

Beyond the 5th hole at Osprey, overlooking Chedabucto Bay.

 

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are more courses I’ve played I would categorize as underrated.  But I would love to hear your experiences, learn about your courses that would make your list (and that I’d need to add to mine!).

Snell Golf Balls -Welcome to Canada!

Snell Golf Balls – Canada, there’s a new ball you need to try.

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First try using the Snell Golf optic yellow Get Sum ball was a birdie at Glen Abbey’s 1st hole.

Golf balls are the one of the only pieces of equipment we use on all shots.  Ensuring you have the best ball for you is worth investigating.  I have read and heard much about Snell Golf Balls.  Dean Snell’s story is a fascinating one.  It did not go unnoticed to me when Snell opened up Canadian operations, essentially providing easier access to a new brand of ball built by one of the brains behind the Pro V1/V1x.  The opportunity to try these two different balls – I’ve played them for two rounds now – has me thinking it is time to make a commitment to something that is better aligned with my needs from a golf ball.

Overall, the performance was surprisingly high.  Snell has two ball options – their ‘tour’ ball model called My Tour Ball.  It is a three piece ball.  Their other ball, Get Sum, a two-piece design, is available in white or an optic yellow.  I tested the yellow version.  Both balls have a quality, clean look.  My testing also included sharing the My Tour Ball for test play with a mid-handicapper and a low-handicap player to get their feedback as well.

The name does not bring a level of recognition (yet) but having two others play the ball sight unseen, their impressions were both of surprise and pleasure.  The low handicap player was curious if this ball was more to specs of a Pro V1 or Pro V1x.  My answer was a bit of both.  My rationale for this is the softness and performance of the My Tour Ball around the greens.  They seem to mirror the quality of the Pro V1.  However, with added durability it may borrow from the strengths of the Pro V1x.  The mid handicapper noticed the durability and clean look.  One critique shared was the logo sizing and use of font, but I like to putt with the blank side of the ball showing and truthfully have never looked at a ball through this aesthetic lens before.  As a 10 handicap player myself, the only real difference was around the greens and on approach shots but these differences were negligible to me.  The balls performed extremely well and I would be pleased to put these into play on a regular basis.  I’ll review each ball in more detail:

Get Sum

This was an underrated performer.  As a two-piece ball it showed surprising and impressive feel around the greens and quite possibly the best feel with any ball I have putted with, ever.  The option of an optic yellow colour is something that really appeals to me as the colour helps me track the ball better off the club.  And to me, Snell has created the most vibrant yellow colour on the market.  The release on my approach shots (9 iron) was between 5-10 feet which is acceptable to me.  The ball is very durable, having played two over two rounds and they stand up well to the inconsistencies of my game.  The ball has one side which is branded GET SUM along with alignment arrows around the name.  The ball created a level of comfort and confidence for me which I valued and appreciated.

My Tour Ball

This ball comes in a pure white finish and like Get Sum, has the name on one side and the other blank allowing players options to aid in alignment on the greens.  There are two distinct aspects of this ball which I have noticed in two rounds; the durability is fantastic and is much better than Titleist.  Attacking this ball with wedges will not scuff the ball.  I regret to say, like all balls, it is not immune to a cart path kiss.  The second distinctive feature to this ball is how it felt softer the closer to the green I got.  Greenside chipping or pitch shots responded very well.  Off the tee and with approach shots, my efforts to shape the ball worked well.  On approach shots (8 iron) there was next to no release (2 feet).

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Left: Optic yellow Get Sum.  Right: My Tour Ball

Overall, I would grade these balls extremely high.  I plan to visit the Canadian team in person; to learn more about their growth plans in Canada and place my first order.  The combination of visibility, performance, durability and value make this hard to argue.  It is much easier for Canadian players to access Snell golf balls.  While it is true that these are not available at leading retailers, on-line order is easy and the Snell team in Canada is engaging and responsive.  Can’t decide what to order?  Don’t.  Order the testing pack – 6 balls each of My Tour Ball and Get Sum.  Are you a value conscious golfer?  Get their 6 dozen value packs to save the shipping costs.  Want to engage the team directly?  They’re active on social media and are very responsive in communications.  This is good because I’d like to make a request for My Tour Ball in optic yellow, please!

Snell golf balls are here Canada.  Based on their performance it won’t be a secret for much longer.

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