My Golfing Goals for 2018

My handicap factor is 10.6  I came off a year with some minor health issues and for most of the season I struggled feeling comfortable – with my game and my new golf schedule.

I am inspired by Golf Is Mental who set what I saw to be some very realistic goals and it gave me pause for reflection on my own goals for 2018.

 

1. Focus on process – I worked hard on putting in 2017 and I was pleased with the results. So much so that one of my playing partners said to me, “you’re one of the best putters I have ever met”.  I joked he doesn’t get out much, but a focus on rolling the ball well and not worrying about it going in helped it go in more.  I am falling in love with my wedges and putter and want to adopt a fearless and enjoyment-based approach off the tee.   Realigning my thinking to process versus product will help me have more fun and when rooted in strong fundamentals, hopefully help the bottom line too.

 

  1. Hakuna Mutata – Sorry, when my daughter was young we watched the Lion King movie daily. The idea of ‘no worries’ is a positive one for me, especially for someone who’s prone to take myself too seriously and doesn’t relax as well as I’d like.  The game is meant to be fun.  Success or failure will not have an impact on my tour earnings or world golf ranking.  Even with winter practice I am trying to smile more.

 

  1. Focus inside of 100 – Golf Is Mental set a realistic schedule of once a week for practice and I will adopt this too, but I want half my time to be spent on the short game part of the range working on wedge distances and different shots.

 

  1. Embrace competitive play – I loved my club championship experience last season and look to play it again this year. I would love to explore other options for competitive play like our club’s Match Play bracket too, just to get more experience under pressure.  It makes the game fun for me (which sounds counter-intuitive but is true).
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“Golf is meant to be fun” – Jack Nicklaus

 

This time of year I am usually chomping at the bit and looking at golf with sky high (and unrealistic expectations) for myself.  This year, it’s going to be simplified.  Smile more.  Try hard.  Prepare with purpose.  It’s only a game and goodness knows it’s been a long enough winter so let’s get at it!  I’d love to hear your goals for 2018.  Keep it in the short grass!

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2018 Winter Giveaway – Thanks!

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Every day on the golf course in 2018 should be a great day for us!

We made it.  Winter is almost in the rear view mirror.  We’re about a month away from The Masters and courses across Canada will be opening over the coming months to kick off another season.  We’ll be trading in our snow shovels for sand wedges and winter boots for golf shoes.

Congratulations to Week 9 winner Bethann Dekoker.  She was one of 157 entries which I tabulated over the previous 8 weeks.  You’ll be mailed a Snell Golf Canada hat and 6 golf balls!

I want to thank you all – past followers and new followers – for making the past 9 weeks fun and enjoyable.  Congratulations to all the winners, in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta and a couple in the USA – South Carolina and Massachusetts.  You’ll be rocking some great new hats and playing excellent golf balls.

Special thanks to my friends at Snell Golf Canada and the great guys at 36 Golf Co. for their fantastic products.  I’m going to reflect on this but feel this should be an annual tradition.  I hope we can keep engaging around this game which we love.

Special thanks to new followers who won five of the nine weeks, that’s awesome!

I hope 2018 is your best golf season yet.  Short grass all year!

Sincere thanks, Mike

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Impressions of the 2018 Toronto Golf Show

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It has become an annual tradition and an important step closer to the start of the golf season in southern Ontario.  Having attended this show for almost 10 years now I have seen some significant changes over the years; mostly good.  This years’ show was a favourite of mine and I feel the organizers are always working for a strong balance of exhibitors to reflect both the golf and the travel components.

My purpose for attending the show has changed over time.  In my early days, before I was writing about golf, my sole intent was to seek as many free rounds of golf as possible and hoard information on courses in Ontario and destinations across Canada which I dreamed of playing.  Those early days (for me) provided more significant giveaways.  Today, there are less opportunities for free rounds but many more opportunities to win – rounds, trips and more.  What is more important for me now is making and maintaining connections with people in the golf industry whom I have gotten to know.

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The rule has never changed – don’t touch a trophy unless you’ve won it.

I was surprised when I left that I had only been there less than three hours, but I could see the people I wanted, meet some new people, grab information which is still relevant to me and walk the floors and up and down each booth to get a feel for the energy and buzz of the show.

My first surprise was when I arrived; with less than an hour to opening I was about 100 in line.  A cold rainy morning is likely to blame, but this was a far cry from years past where the line snaked around and went out the door.  The line was so manageable that I queued up for free golf.    A popular promotion, many Ontario courses offer up free twosomes early in the season.  With a limit of 5000 rounds over the three days, this is a popular aspect of the show.  With the time and a decent space in line I felt fortunate to get a course which while not on my bucket list has been of high interest for me to experience.  Less than hour after opening the floors were packed with visitors so my good fortune was not at the expense of overall crowds for opening day.

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Friends may wonder why I didn’t spend my entire afternoon here.

The layout of the space – and it is expansive – is well thought out.  Equipment manufacturers occupy a large area, complete with space to try the latest product.  PGA Ontario offers, as they have for years, 10 minute lessons with certified teaching professionals.  Golf Canada and Golf Ontario are prominent, as they have been for years as well.  Travel destinations – local, national and international (and not all golf related) occupied significantly more space than past years and it is nice to see an increased balance to the Travel aspect of the show.  Of course, golf courses and resorts, along with golf marketing bodies, are core business and these take up most of the space.  Many exhibitors offer excellent specials which one can only access at the show.  Regions are smart to provide package specials and stay and play offers to entice a Toronto audience away to experience golf further than they may normally go to play.  The value options are outstanding.  Friends I have gotten to know from Golf PEI, Golf North and Golf Cape Breton were all in attendance.

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Always a pleasure to meet Jay from the Thirty 6ix Golf Co.

An influx in exhibitors in other areas of the game – apparel, history/memorabilia, nutrition, fitness, and even the official beer of 36aday, Triple Bogey Brewery – reflects the increased diversity and a more holistic approach to exhibiting options.  There is a food court and a few high profile discounted golf retailers around too.

The show also profiles speakers and instructors throughout the weekend.  You may recall last year I had an opportunity to meet Dean Snell who was a key presenter on the Friday and Saturday.

I left with less than a quarter of the information and swag I used to bring home from my early years.  But I did get what I wanted from the show; a couple new business cards and important conversations with friends; two rounds of golf and some apparel options for the upcoming year.  Most importantly, I left with a sense that this may have been the best Toronto Golf and Travel Show experience I have had in my 10 years of attendance.  I can’t see how anyone would leave not feeling pleased, there really is something for everyone there.

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Didn’t take long after opening for things to get busy.

Click here to read about my 2017 visit.

Click here to read about my 2015 visit.

 

 

 

 

Underrated Provinces for Golf in Canada

Underrated and underappreciated golf in Canada.

The simple fact is there is not a Cabot Cliffs or a Banff Springs in every province in Canada.  With respect to the quantity and quality of golf options, provinces across Canada are simply not the same.  The PGA of Canada and Golf Canada co-authored a report, Golf Facilities in Canada 2017, which provides data and information on golf facilities and development in Canada.  One thing that is interesting to this report is their provincial breakdown on the quantity and type of courses available – 6, 9, 12 and 18 hole courses, including resorts, public and private clubs.  http://golfcanada.ca/article/golf-canada-and-the-pga-of-canada-publish-golf-facilities-in-canada-2017-report

In late 2017 I had set up a Twitter poll asking followers to identify the province they feel is most underrated and underappreciated in terms of the quality of public golf available.  Results were modest and by no means provide any scientific data, but do provide insight to the hunch I had that a valid case can be made for all four of these provinces as being underrated and underappreciated.

 

Saskatchewan

With about 10% of Canada’s course offerings there is considerably more to choose here than one might think.  Saskatchewan is only second behind Ontario in 9-hole courses and the ratio is courses to the population base is quite high.  But add a qualitative component to it and only Dakota Dunes appears as a consensus top 100 course in the country.  Perhaps this just proves the point though, as courses like Waskesiu, Kenosee and Moon Lake (among others) are admired by those who play them.  I have a business trip this spring in Regina and will aim to get 2-3 rounds, so look for more insight.  I’ve played Waskesiu and as a Stanley Thompson design, it’s a sensational golfing experience.  Dakota Dunes is rightfully situated well within the country’s top 100 courses, it is fantastic.  It’s a region I would love to spend more time playing.

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Lobstick Tree at Waskesiu in the first fairway

Newfoundland and Labrador

Not exactly top of mind when one thinks golf in Canada and that alone can sway opinion.  But what they lack in terms of quantity they more than make up for in terms of quality.  With only 22 courses/facilities available in the province a focus on two will help make the case for those who voted NL.  Canadian Golf Magazine, in 2015, voted Humber Valley Resort as the 37th best course in the country.  Located on the western side of Newfoundland, south of Deer Lake and north of Corner Brook, this course is a must play for visitors to the Island. The course website has some of the most incredible visual images of the course which will make you want to book your travel for next year.  Within St. John’s, Graham Cooke designed Clovelly Golf Club has two courses but it is the Osprey Course which players will want to experience (likely more than once).  In a pinch for time in St. John’s?  Try Pippy Park which has 27 holes.  Admiral’s Green is their 18-hole course and the view from the par 3 7th is worth the green’s fees alone.  A long fall season will allow players chances to often play well into November.  But to me, Newfoundland will always be an underrated province for golf.  With a few strong, quality options it is certainly underappreciated.

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Minutes from the airport, Admiral’s Green at Pippy Park will give you some incredible views of St. John’s

 

New Brunswick

Here, the challenges seem to be the rather large shadow cast from the quality of golf in Nova Scotia (the Cabot courses alone are driving a boom) and the marketing machine and marriage of value and quality of golf in Prince Edward Island.  Yet that aside, New Brunswick with a population just over 750,000 has over 50 golf facilities available (54 to be exact).  The provinces geography is such that courses are likely no more than an hour away for anyone.  Algonquin holds the mantle of the best course in the province and rightfully so in my opinion.  Rated 77th in Canada in 2015 by CGM (and underrated at that), like Saskatchewan this is the only course cracking the top 100.  But other courses like Royal Oaks, Kingswood, Gowan Brae and unique Herring Cove all add merit to New Brunswick being high on this list.  Worthy of its own accolades, New Brunswick complements the quality of golf in the Maritimes and in so many ways merit its own unique praise.

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The signature hole at Algonquin is their par 3 12th.  Sensational and part of a fabulous stretch of golf holes.

Manitoba

I must confess, I have never golfed in Friendly Manitoba.  And while this is about to change this summer with a visit to Winnipeg.  No one better to connect with on this then Jeremy Kehler of Prairie Golf Magazine.  He was quick to point out that the omission of Granite Hills from top Canadian course rankings is confusing.  Just over an hour outside of Winnipeg it seems he is not underselling this based on my conversations and preliminary research on this course.  Other courses identified, like Minnewasta and Falcon Lake show a level of quality which should not be surprising given the province boasts 130 golf facilities.  Included in this is the country’s only 6-hole course!  After the summer is complete I will have an informed opinion to share but for now I will let Jeremy and others beat the drum for Manitoba.  Fact is it was tied for first with 30% of responses citing Manitoba most underrated and underappreciated.

The winner of this debate is the public player.  Shining a light on the provinces (and great courses within) that don’t get enough golf love provide us chances to get off the beaten path and identify our own golf destinations and courses which we want to play.

Let me know if there is a course you know in any of these four provinces which should be on players and visitors radar.

2018 Winter Giveaway – Week 1

My attitude toward Canadian winter has been sour and bitter for many years and as an avid golfer this forced break has not been well received by me.  But this year, I am resolving to change my attitude and embrace the winter season.  The test to this, of course, has been an extended stretch of unseasonably cold weather.  But like a bad weather day on the golf course when we dress for the weather it doesn’t feel so bad.  I am here to help!  Over the next nine weeks I will feature weekly giveaways.  And featured prominently will be a new 36 A Day product, a custom toque made by my friends at the 36 Golf Company.  This Canadian company has their own spin on golf wear and I love the quality of the product and the energy they bring to their work (and play).  Also, I will be sharing some product from Snell Golf Canada.  My relationship with Snell is a couple years old now and I feel that this company really understands the everyday golfer.  Making quality product with exceptional value, their direct to consumer model has been well received.

The first giveaway is simple.  Within the blog, I need to hear what is your New Year resolution when it comes to golf.  All responses received before 5:00 pm EST on Tuesday, January 9 will be eligible to win.  A random draw will determine the winner and only one entry per person please.  Let’s enjoy winter, keep warm and get ready for a fabulous 2018 golf season!

Happy New Year and thank you for supporting my blog!

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Share your New Year golf resolution in the comments section to win this prize as Week 1 of the 36 A Day 2018 Winter Giveaway starts!

2017 in Pictures – Tower Ranch

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The par 5 15th hole at Tom McBroom designed Tower Ranch in Kelowna is as good as it gets.

The Story – It took me a few years to truly take advantage of annual business travel.  Tack on an extra day and often it affords me a chance to play 36 in a location I can’t easily get to.  My plans to venture to Kelowna before a work conference was a highlight of the 2017 season.  Tower Ranch was visually stunning, incredibly challenging (for someone who neither brought their A or B game) but so, so much fun to play and experience.  It would be a very tough course to walk and with a four hour drive back to Vancouver planned afterward I didn’t want to push it.  The views of the city and the lake are flawless.  If you’re fortunate enough to play here make sure your camera is well charged, it will get a great workout.  This tee shot from 15 is one of several on the back nine which I look back at with great regularity.

Click here for my full review of Tower Ranch.

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It’s easy to get distracted by the views at Tower Ranch

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The back nine at Tower Ranch moves to the highest part of the course and brings spectacular golf holes like this into play. 

 

2017 in Pictures – Gallagher’s Canyon

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Mere steps away from the 9th tee is this sign…and this view.  Gallagher’s Canyon is aptly named and was a sensational golf experience in Kelowna, B.C.

The Story – A four-hour car ride from Vancouver to Kelowna gave me time to realize I had actually played Gallagher’s before, many years before actually.  Likely around 1993 and while the memories were vague at best, it was nice to get back to this area and play this championship course.  My full review shares more of this fabulous experience but given the fact I arrived just after a shotgun tournament and it was later in the afternoon I seemingly had the course to myself.  There were many photos I could have used here but this one more than any other takes me back to the very early days of my career when at a conference a local resident and I took a well earned afternoon off to play golf.  I had no idea it would take me 24 years to return.  I can assure you I will be back, and it won’t take me 24 years next time!

Click here for my full review of Gallagher’s Canyon

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In just under two hours I went from a mountain pass snowstorm to a tranquil tee shot at Gallagher’s Canyon.  I loved the drive in from Vancouver.

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On the first tee at Gallagher’s Canyon.  Just awesome!