Monday, January 25, 2016

Take a Golf Trip and become a better golfer at the same time!


Whether it's a once in a lifetime trip, or you go to the same destination annually, sometimes it's those special courses that bring out the best in you.

According to a well-known psychologist named Anders Ericsson, becoming a better golfer requires practicing beyond your comfort zone. That includes changing it up from the same 18 holes week after week. And proper technique goes beyond mindlessly pounding balls in an effort to build muscle memory – because according to Ericsson, muscles do not have the memory, only the brain does.  He further stated that improving your golf game has to be deliberate; it has to be done with purpose and must include a little pain until a golfer finally learns to bend the ball at his will.

For those of you who are seriously aiming to be a better player, here are six drills to help in that process. If you try them at your local golf club before heading off on your trip, or on the trip itself, they will be sure to further your game. They are guaranteed to push you out of your comfort zone and lower your handicap.

Rehearse your full swing.  Take note that mindlessly swinging will hardly make you a better golfer, so make it your goal to do a deliberate practice swing of the particular technique you would like to learn and utilize. For instance, if you are focusing on the backswing, you don't have to jump up to the tee right away.

Take dead aim as a game. Maximize your the of practice tees by using them to your advantage. Kick off by playing an entire nine using a variety of clubs and scoring yourself accordingly. Generally, the first hole calls for driver, then 6-iron, and eventually wedge. Use specific clubs in succession and so that you are able to make use of your equipment in random order.

Improve your chipping distance. Some golfers find chipping a challenge. If this doesn’t happen to be your strength, don’t fret because there are ways to improve on this aspect. Once you're out on the practice green, take five balls and drive chips to your target hole until you eventually knock all five balls to within a club-length of the cup. Repeat this drill until you finally manage to knock them all inside.

Target that straight five-foot putt on the practice green.  When you are on a golf trip, make it your goal to do at least 50 straight five-foot putts. It will be a bit challenging but it will greatly improve your short stroke.

Work on your half wedges. Acknowledge that you can’t always hit wedges at full distances and dedicate some time to improve on this. Do not be discouraged when you hit awkward distances like 35, 50 and 75 yards, instead keep hitting until you land a ball within an acceptable distance.

Blast sand shots! Be extra careful not to mindlessly swing sand shots from the practice bunker. Instead, use this to further improve your skill. Decide on a challenging radius around a hole and practice blasting five balls within your chosen radius. Eventually shrink your radius, send shots from a new distance, and start over again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter Golf Vacation Destinations


Whether you just want to take a break from work and de-stress, or you simply want to tune up your golfing skills, these 3 spots are the best places to go to during this time of the year. 

California
Arguably the most famous and most populous state in all of the U.S., people come here from all over the world not just to visit but to settle, live and thrive. There is no wonder why millions of people choose to be here: impressive beauty, wealth and lifestyle. California is warm during the Holiday Season, making it a perfect place to visit.  It is also home to many top-notch golf courses to to help you unwind, relax and destress. Pristine green and premier accommodations are yours for the taking.

Moreover, California is full of many natural and man-made sights that are frequented by many tourists each year. There are beaches, mountains, lakes, infamous bridges and big city escapes for your post-golf activities. The mixture of many cultures makes this place vibrant and rich of varieties of tastes and cuisines. During the Xmas season, California becomes even more alive and exciting as a lot of people who wish to escape the cold come here.

Mexico
If you are looking for a fun filled holiday retreat where you can party, get lost and play a whole lot of golf, Mexico is the perfect place for you. This country is exquisite, vivacious and very alive. There is so much energy generated around by the locals, expats and visitors and every day spent here is fun and full of adventure. 

They’ve got a lot of outstanding golf resorts here that are favorites of World Champions. The sun, unique flare and the natural beauty (caves, hidden beaches, secret lagoons and more) that Mexico offers makes it easy for golf Holiday trip seekers to choose Mexico over any other place in the world.

Hawaii
Surf and golf holiday combo? If you are looking for a laid back escape to play golf and hit the beach, Hawaii is the top choice for you. Famous for its amazing blue waters, Hawaii’s got great green too. Located in Maui and Oahu, Hawaiian golf courses are surrounded by epic splendor: mountains, beaches, a volcano, palm trees and more! Warm all year, it is the perfect winter destination for just about anyone! 

There are many professional golfers who live in Hawaii, and why not? The way of life and the challenging golf courses is the ultimate combination to make this extraordinary paradise a number one golf vacation destination.

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Holiday Gift Ideas for Golfers


Tis the time to pick out yet another perfect gift for your loved one who also has a love for golf. If you've run out of books to give or they have a wide array of golf shirts, then this list should do the trick. This week we are featuring the hottest golf gear, essentials and accessories that will surely make your golf-loving friends and family the happiest this season.

Tour X-Jolt Rangefinder
The Bushnell Tour X Jolt Rangefinder is a must-have for all golf enthusiasts that love their technology too. It comes with two separate faceplates, one that tells you elevation change, distances, and land grade. The other rangefinder faceplate can be used in professional tournaments. Its key features include DDT (Dual Display Technology), Jolt Technology, Slope Technology, is rainproof, and much more! Every avid golfer will surely want this!

Price: $500

Cork Putter Grips
An eco-friendly, light, golf essential and pocket-friendly option. Cork putter grips are a big hit among professional players. Your golf fanatic loved one will surely like having this too. Designed to perform in all types of weather conditions, this hypoallergenic gadget is quite easy to maintain as well.

Price: $30+

Arccos
Definitely one of the top performance trackers out there, Arccos comes with 13 Standard Sensors and 1 Putter Sensor to track anyone’s game. It can be easily attached to the tip of the club's grip. This gadget will track every shot made from the first hole to the last. Once the tracking app is downloaded, attach the sensors, and you're good to go.

Price: $300

Izzo Callway Tournament Set 
A handy all-in-one kit for any golfer. It includes a 12 ounce stainless steel water bottle, Pro Line Putt Align Tool with 4 ball-identification stencils, and divot repair tool. Also in the set is a poker chip ball marker, 2 Callaway golf balls and 5 performance tees. All essentials for the leisure golfer and not a hefty burden on the wallet!

Price: $30

Golf Trip
And just in case you forgot... There's no golfer who wouldn’t enjoy a nice, relaxing golf getaway. There are so many hot golf trip deals out there that would fit any budget! Anywhere from Scottsdale, to Orlando, to Myrtle Beach or across some water to Hawaii. Don't forget you can go international to places like the Domincan Republic, Scotland, Ireland... and more! The possibilities with Golf Zoo are endless. Booking a trip is easy, hassle-free and are simple for your lucky gift receiver to book their custom package details. It's the perfect gift to let your loved-one really enjoy their love for golf.

Price: Varies by destination and time of travel


Viola! That concludes this year’s gift guide for your/our fellow golf enthusiasts!

Monday, October 12, 2015

CP's Top Ten Scottsdale Courses - Fall 2015

#16 - TPC Stadium Scottsdale
Planning a trip to Scottsdale this winter? Here is my opinion on the best 10 choices when it comes to golf here in the Valley of the Sun. I chose my Top Ten based on these (what I consider to be the most important) factors:
  • Layout
  • Playability
  • Scenery
  • Service
Remember when reading this that I'm pretty much a hack. I'm about a 14 handicapper, so I'm not what you would call a golf "purist" when it comes to course design, etc. You'll never see me on the practice range hitting 3 irons. (Do I own a three iron?)
I tee it up to have fun, take in the scenery, and hopefully take some of my buddies' pocket change. If you're of the same persuasion, this Top Ten list is for you. It's been a year since I did this last, and happy to announce a few changes.
Here we go:
  1. Gold Canyon - Dinosaur Mountain - still my all-time favorite. It's about a 40-minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale, but well worth it. The dramatic elevation changes, fantastic scenery, and interesting layout make this the best spot in Arizona.
  2. The Golf Club at Eagle Mountain - Probably the best staff and friendliest environment in all of Scottsdale - I'm also a Scott Miller fan - lots of elevation changes, and bowl-shaped fairways where a hack like me will get a few forgiving bounces now and then. #18 in my opinion is the best finishing hole in the state of Arizona.
  3. SunRidge Canyon Golf Club - Somewhat brutal at times, but one of the more interesting hole-by-hole tracks. Also has the best 3 finishing holes in Arizona - three-shot par 5, then a ridiculous par 3 over the canyon shot of 220 that you're supposed to STOP on a dime. Yeah right. #18 is a wicked dog leg left par 4 up the hill to finish out one of the tougher back nines in Arizona. They've been closed all summer to install brand new greens as well. "We made it! I need a cocktail stat!"
  4. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club - Cholla Course - Another Scott Miller gem. You definitely have to think your way around this course, and Cholla (and Saguro) are very unique in that they're built on an Indian reservation, so there are ZERO HOMES anywhere on the golf course. Makes for scenery that's tough to beat. They used to be "cart path only", but we convinced them to change, and they did. Well done boys!
  5. Grayhawk Golf Club - Talon Course - The Raptor course is where they host the PGA Tour's Frys.com Open, but I have always preferred the tamer sister course, Talon. It's a little more forgiving off the tee, and #17 is an island par 3 - kind of a "Mini 17th at Sawgrass" - great hole for gambling. (It's only a 9 iron, or a big wedge...) Also, Phil's Grill is one of my all time favorite places to enjoy a couple dozen cocktails after Grayhawk whips me into submission.
  6. TPC Stadium Course - Home to the PGA Tour's Waste Management Open. Yeah sure, I agree that by itself the golf course is a little overrated, but what can I say - it's fun to play where the pros play, and after watching the tournament on TV, you'll want to get it in. The last 4 holes are the reason you pay what you do, ($250+ in peak season) and they are as fun to play as they are to watch. Service in all aspects is exceptional, and the restaurant is one of the best in Arizona to have a nice breakfast.
  7. Troon North - Pinnacle Course - The atmosphere in the clubhouse is a little stuffy, but I play this one at least once a year for one reason - the greens are the best in Arizona. Both Troon courses (Pinnacle and Monument) are extremely difficult for me, but the putting surfaces are simply perfect in the winter - fast and brutal. Lots of fun, and a few 3 or 4 puts along the way...
  8. Rancho Manana Golf Club - This one is more my speed. I can play Rancho from the tips, and rarely have anything more than a 7 iron in on the par 4s. But don't be fooled by the relatively short length. This one is tricky. Rancho is just north of Scottsdale, in Cave Creek, where it's very mountainous, and I'm simply an elevation change junkie. One of the more scenic courses, and the Tonto grill would be in my all time Top 5 restaurants. Great staff - very laid back.
  9. Ocotillo Golf Club - Ocotillo cracked into my Top Ten this year, replacing The Raven at South Mountain. Although I still love the Raven, for something a little different, and a more traditional feel, Ocotillo is my new favorite. With 3 distinct 9's, great conditions, and maybe the best spot in Arizona to have lunch after your round, you can't go wrong. Another advantage (or disadvantage) is that there is a lot of water which sets in apart from most of the dry, desert layouts here. The staff is laid back and friendly, and make time for lunch afterwards. Sit outside on the patio, listen to the waterfalls, and enjoy.
  10. Quintero Golf Club - Yep - Quintero cracked into my Top Ten this year. Yeah, it's in the middle of nowhere. From Scottsdale, expect a 45 to 60 minute drive. IT'S WORTH THE DRIVE. Every hole is different, and offers a new challenge - the layout is what gets me excited about this one - it's just a really, really FUN track to play. The Clubhouse is a disappointment, but drive out anyway - the course will blow you away. 
O.K. gang - there it is - "CP's Top Ten" - If you're planning a trip to Arizona this year, you can't go wrong with any of these great venues.
Feel free to call me at 888-867-6911 for more details...

You can also check out CP's Previous Top Ten Scottsdale Courses here.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Take A Closer Look: Bermuda - A Golf Paradise

Golf Vacation Alert:  Take a Look at the Bermuda Islands

Looking for a different golf trip destination this coming Fall or Winter?  As you begin planning an upcoming golf trip, consider a Bermuda Islands package that includes perfect golf weather, great accommodations, spectacular golf and now best value through Golf Zoo!

Having visited this unique and beautiful place, playing golf, touring various hotels, Resorts, and Bermuda recreation spots, I clearly see how the Island will become a popular golf trip destination!  The key to a great Bermuda golf vacation is to travel between November - March time frame. Your trip will be great as the weather during this time is comparable to Florida, Arizona and Caribbean Island destinations, plus golf courses are in great condition and costs are lowest during "low season". Don't be fooled by the low season description - it is considered low season because majority of typical vacationers travel to other destinations for warmer beach settings.  But, as golfers, we simply are looking for good accommodations, great golf, daily sunshine and temps in the upper 60's to 70's and good value!

Beautiful Bermuda - A Golf Paradise

Located in the middle of the balmy Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda is only 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina, and about a two-hour flight from many eastern U.S. and Canadian cities. This little oasis of rolling terrain, pristine golf courses, pink-sand beaches, and turquoise-blue waters is a combination of slightly British, slightly American and very Bermudian. 

With seven top-end Golf Courses, this tiny island has the highest concentration of courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world.  Golf Zoo can include all seven courses in a custom golf package for your group. 
                                             
Belmont Hills Golf Club    Mid-Ocean Club   Oceanview Golf Club   Port Royal Club
Riddell's Bay Golf Club    Turtle Hill Golf Club    Tucker's Point Club
#16 at Port Royal Golf Club

About The Golf Courses

Small, elevated greens are often guarded by sand traps to catch a wayward approach shot. Bermuda's topography is very "hilly", or actually a quite rugged. Very little flat land can be found.
Elevated Greens and tees provide spectacular views of the ocean, rocky shorelines, cliff tops and pink sandy beaches.  Irrigation is very limited so the greens and fairways are always firmer and faster than those found elsewhere around the world. And as you would imagine, water - the Atlantic Ocean and various ponds that dot courses, play a huge part in the layout of almost all of Bermuda's golf courses. Windswept cliff tops, steep ocean drop-offs, and breathtaking views are the highlights of play everywhere.  
#1 Tucker's Point Club
# 18 and Riddell's Bay Clubhouse

Port Royal Golf Club - The first six holes roll through steep hills and tropical vegetation, but the par-5 7th turns left toward the Ocean and rises to an elevated green with only blue water as backdrop.  The 160-yard (white tee), par-3 8th will require an accurate shot as a ball hit to the right, or long will find its way down the steep, craggy cliff to the beach and ocean below.  But the signature hole is the 235-yard (tips) 16th, which sits on the edge of an ocean cliff, and simply requires a precision shot...after the group photos complete.

Turtle Hill Golf Club at Southampton - Perhaps the world's best 18-hole par-3 course, in fact, Golf Digest gives this scenic hillside course a 4-Star Rating.  A challenging short course, but very fun to play and perfect for a departure day morning round!

Riddell's Bay Golf Club -  Bermuda's oldest Golf Club - built in 1922. This par-70 links-style course winds along a peninsula between Bermuda's Great Sound and Riddell's Bay. Shot-making and ball position is key to scoring well at Riddell's Bay, especially the #1 Hdcp par-4 8th green (surrounded by water), and the par-3 17th that requires an uphill tee shot to a severely sloping green surrounded by pond and deep bunkers.

Belmont Hills Club -  A "sneaky long" 6,100 yard course requires good tee shot placement and precision short iron shot-making.  Many holes offer great views of Bermuda's Great Sound and Hamilton Harbor, especially the steeply downhill par-3 17th that drops nearly 80 feet to a small green.
  
Tucker's Point Golf Club - Significant elevation changes create a challenging and incredibly scenic golf round.  A great risk/reward course with several par four holes that will make you want to "gamble".  The 315-yard steep downhill, dog-leg left par-4 12th hole is drive-able; miss the green left and you could get a favorable right bounce to the green, but miss right and you have donated to Harrington Sound.  Play the par-4 17th from the back tees (315 yards) for the incredible island and ocean view.  Go for the green.  Even if you don't pull off the shot, you have the view, and only a short shot to the green.

Mid-Ocean Club - The holes playing along the rugged edges of the ocean such as the 200-yard par-3 17th, and the 420-yard par-4 18th will test any player skill, especially if the wind is blowing.  Most holes play across, and up-and-down considerable elevations leaving various blind shots.  Built in the early 1920's, and continuously ranked among the Top-50 Courses in the World, Mid-Ocean has a long and storied history.  Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower favored playing the course, and Babe Ruth is said to have carded a double-digit score on the difficult, 430-yard par-4 fifth.

Places To Stay

For good accommodations with great location and top-end amenities we recommend Fairmont Southampton, Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Newstead Belmont Hills Resort, Tucker's Point Resort, and Coco Reef Beach Resort.   Full profiles and property pictures can be found on the Golf Zoo website.  I have stayed at all these properties and each one is unique in style, comfort, offer great dining and lively lounges, and all share excellent, friendly Bermudian service.  

Dining/Nightlife

Bermuda has a wide variety of dining choices that is North American and European influenced, but fresh seafood dishes and Bermudian special dishes are hard to beat.  Wherever you choose to stay in your golf package, the lounges are energetic and the locals very friendly.  You will also be "required" by the locals to try two Bermudian specialties - a Dark 'n Stormy (Gosling's Black Seal Rum mixed with Ginger Beer)...and the Bermuda Rum Swizzle!

Getting Around The Island    

Rental vehicles are not available, the best way to get around is by taxi, or local transport van shuttle (for larger groups).  The government regulates taxis, so most are very clean, air-conditioned and very friendly and knowledgeable drivers.  If you like a particular driver, get a business card .  The driver will pick you up whenever, or wherever you need a ride.

Let's Go...

I am glad to share some information on my experiences in Bermuda.  Simply, the destination is a great golf trip destination, and economically-speaking, a comparable value October-March to U.S. and Caribbean warm-weather destinations. Give us a call for additional Bermuda golf package details and ideas.  Through our continuing commitment to destination knowledge, we take the 'unknown" factor out of golf travel for you.  As such, Golf Zoo is proud to be the leading golf package provider for groups traveling to Bermuda!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Golf vacation essentials: 5 free helpful golf apps


These apps will come in handy during your next golf vacation, whether you’re using Android or iOS.

Golf Rules App

Be familiar with the rule of the game before heading to your next golf trip. This Rules of Golf by R&A app will serve as your quick guide to the rules of the game and the good news is, it's free! This app provides the official, fully-illustrated rules right up through 2015. This app is available for Android and iOS users.

GPS And Scorecards App

A GPS rangefinder and a digital scorecard all in one app?  Sweet!  Swing by Swing Golf is free for both Android and iOS users. This app also allows you to sync your data with a website for a detailed review of your stats. For $77/year, you can also get some upgrades for a comprehensive evaluation of your swing.

Weather App

Free yourself from worries of getting caught in the middle of a bad weather during your golf trip. With 1Weather app on your Android devices, real-time local weather forecasts are just a few taps away. This app also tracks storms with its live, animated weather radar, provides warning system, and gives you 7-day extended forecasts.  It lets you save multiple locations as well for easy access, so you can keep track of the weather wherever you are.

For iOS users, the AccuWeather app is for you. It keeps you updated with hourly, daily and weekly weather forecasts. This app also lets you to upload forecasts on your phone's calendar and remind you of the incoming snow or thunderstorm.

Golf News App

Can't get enough of golf? Golf Channel Mobile app will serve you right whether you're using an iOS or an Android. This app keeps you in-the-loop with the latest news, articles, blogs, and analysis from various professionals and insiders. Plus, you can watch videos, stream the Morning Drive, keep track of your favorite players, and get some tips from best instructors of the sport.  All of these are free with Golf Channel Mobile.

Mobile Golf Game App

In the mood for tee time but it’s raining outside? Well, playing golf in your smartphone isn't a bad idea at all. Try this mobile golf game called Flick Golf and it will give the golf game you’re craving for. This app is in high resolution, 3D, fully detailed and equipped with tricky courses. You can also keep track of your scores through the in-app leaderboard and see how well you do with your game. This is FREE for both Android and iOS users.

These are just few of the apps that could help you during your golf vacation. So what are you waiting for? Give them a try and see it for yourself.