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A NEW DAY FOR GOLF CARD
On March 1, Golf Card was sold by Affinity Group to Simmons Venture Group in a move that can best be described as a blessing for Golf Card, its members and affiliates. The ownership group, which has a successful history operating RV and camping clubs across the country plan to revitalize Golf Card with not only a financial commitment, but also a vibrant energy and re-dedication to customer service. “We have been a leader in club marketing for the past 20 years, currently serving over 200,000 members,” said owner Vernon Simmons. “We are excited to bring our knowledge of club memberships and dedicated customer service to the golf market through Golf Card.”
You will notice the new direction in the redesigned, user-friendly website which makes it easier to locate affiliated courses and identify them on an interactive map. This will make trip planning much easier!
Also in the works are national marketing efforts involving some of Simmons’ existing partners such as NBC, ABC, CBS, Golf Channel, ESPN and Clear Channel. Teaming with these communications giants, Golf Card is targeting expansion of its national base of courses and members.
More than anything, the new ownership wants to deliver on the original mission of Golf Card – to provide golfers with substantial discounts at quality golf courses nationwide and year round. Bringing in more quality courses that offer a meaningful reduced fee for Golf Card members (while eliminating those that are “below par”) is the number one immediate priority. In addition, look for Golf Card member tournaments (especially in the Catskill/Poconos corridor) to continue as well as Grasshopper clubs and monthly e-newsletters. Those popular member benefits will be expanded and complemented by new privileges and perks.
“You will definitely be happy with the new Golf Card,” said club president Kenny Nicholson. “We will be here to make sure that you can play golf at good courses for good value."
COURSE SPOTLIGHT – The Country Club at Woodloch Springs (Hawley, PA)
First things first: Woodloch Springs is a semi-private course open to the public when times are available. In the early spring and fall, you should have clear access. And that’s a treat for anyone who was not able to play this 4 ½ -star jewel in the northern Poconos when it was totally private. Woodloch is known for its picturesque layout and its extraordinary service. According to head professional John Pillar, “Our first and foremost goal is to give people a well-conditioned, well-maintained golf course and make sure they get taken care of as if it were their home club. Everyone receives the same level of service whether they are a member or our guest for the day.”
Anyone who has participated in Golf Card’s Member-Guest Tournaments at Woodloch the last two years can attest to the all-out service Pillar and his staff provide. Last year, on a dreary, rainy day the Woodloch staff was out there with extra towels and conveyed a positive, sunny outlook throughout a less-than-ideal day. They simply didn’t miss a beat. Of all the tournaments that The Golf Card has run in its long history, this was perhaps the most satisfying because of the Woodloch way. Owner John Kiesendahl calls it the “Woodloch Magic” – a combination of enthusiasm, concern and friendliness that creates a special ambiance.
In general, golfers will experience a heavily wooded, target-oriented course with lots of elevation change. As Pillar says, “length is not an issue. However, the toughest round anyone ever has at Woodloch is their first because you need to know where to play the ball. Driver isn’t the play on every hole.”
That’s not the case if playing from the back tees where there are plenty of 200-yard carries to contend with. The signature 14th hole requires a dramatic carry over "Hell's Gate Gorge" which was carved by a rushing stream some 200 feet below. In fact, water hazards come into play on 16 holes, many of which feature footbridges to carry you across. Routing a course around water is something up-and-coming architect Rocky Roquemore has become extremely adept at doing. Woodloch was no doubt part of the reason his later works, including water-laden Gray Plantation in Lake Charles, La., receive the highest accolades and awards.
Most of Woodloch’s 6,579 yards is comprised of fern-carpeted forests, lush wetlands and broad upland meadows. Unlike other mountain courses, Woodloch features bent grass on its tees and fairways as well as its greens, providing golfers with the ultimate in conditioning. A year after it opened in 1992, the course was named one of the top-10 best new layouts by Golf Magazine. And Met Golfer recently called it a “rare find.”
In 2012, Woodloch is offering some new and exciting programs for kids, women and family through the PGA’s Golf 2.0 Initiative, an effort to keep golf desirable among consumers who have more entertainment options and less money to spend. Woodloch Springs is also involved with Get Golf Ready, which runs May-September, teaches golf-readiness after 5 lessons by teaching new golfers the basics (i.e. how to drive a cart, club types). Additionally, Woodloch participates in PGA Family Tees, and the Family Tee yardages are included on the actual course scorecard. Furthermore, kids golf free after 3 PM.A Family Resort
The golf course is part of the Woodloch Pines Resort, an inviting family destination. This lakeside retreat located about an hour north of the Poconos has an entire staff just dedicated to activities. Whereas other properties give you a rec room with a few broken ping-pong paddles, Woodloch offers scavenger hunts, family Olympics, horseracing, carnivals, take-offs of popular game shows and other creative family activities. That’s in addition to a ton of traditional sports, water sports, and outdoor pursuits.
Most of the energy and buzz at Woodloch is concentrated at the Pines area of the resort. The Pines features 165 rooms (125 face Lake Teedyuskung around which the resort was built) ranging from traditional hotel rooms to rooms with living areas to multiple-bedroom suites.
The Pines also houses the main dining room – the fulcrum of the entire resort. It’s much like your kitchen or dining room at home, where families meet up after a long day of activities for storytelling, reminiscing and of course, unbelievable and unlimited food.
Another unique feature about Woodloch is that it offers entertainment every night of the week. The Heritage Nightclub at the Pines is a 500-seat venue for theme shows, comedians, magicians, musicians and other acts. It should be noted that the theme shows – which have covered Broadway, The British Empire, Music Festivals and more are produced and performed by in-house staff.
Woodloch Springs, located just five minutes away, is a residential community comprised of rent-able homes, the golf course, clubhouse (with two restaurants), indoor/outdoor pools and a fitness center. It’s ideal for those seeking a quieter scene or corporate groups that prefer to stay in one of the 50 two- to five-bedroom houses.
Wherever you stay or whatever you do at Woodloch, everything always comes back to the “unrivaled hospitality.” Talk to guests who have been coming to the resort for decades and they will tell you Woodloch has an uncanny ability to make everyone feel at home and comfortable no matter what the conditions. Even last summer when Hurricane Irene knocked out power for four days – the resort operated seamlessly and flawlessly.
From a marketing perspective, Woodloch appeals to just about everyone, whether it be a family destination, a golf getaway or corporate retreat. And now, with their new destination spa featuring the latest in massage and homeopathic remedies, 60 new rooms and an on-site restaurant, it also caters to those who simply want to relax.
Directions From Interstate 84 East Get off 84E at Exit 8 Mt. Cobb (formerly #4). Turn left at end of exit ramp. Go to intersection and turn right onto Rt. 348. Take Rt. 348 to Rt. 590E through Hawley. Follow General Directions B listed below. Turn right just beyond Settler's Inn and Bingham Park and continue on Rt. 590E. Woodloch Springs is approximately 5 miles off Rt. 590E on your right. To go to Woodloch Pines Resort, continue to stop sign, turn left, and continue 1.4 miles to the main entrance. From Route 80 Take Rt. 80W to New Jersey Exit 34B (Sparta, NJ). Take Rt. 15N to Rt. 206N. Cross Delaware River Bridge at Milford; turn right onto Rt. 209/6W. Follow General Directions A listed below. Continue on Rt. 6W approximately 13 miles. Turn right at Exxon Station onto Rt. 434N to Rt. 590W through Greeley, Lackawaxen, and Rowland where Rt. 590W makes a right turn at the general store. Follow Rt. 590W 3.6 miles to intersection. To go to Woodloch Pines Resort, continue straight approximately 1.4 miles to the main entrance. To go to Woodloch Springs, bear left at intersection continuing on Rt. 590W 7/10 of a mile to the main entrance on your left.
SAVE THE DATE The Fall Member-Guest Tournament will be held at The Country Club at Woodloch Springs on Wednesday, October 17. Registration will open in June – we will provide details in next month’s newsletter.
TRAVEL SPOTLIGHT – New Jersey
There aren’t many Golf Card affiliates in New Jersey (something the new ownership will be looking to change), but there is quality. Of the 14 network courses, 9 are rated three stars or better by Golf Digest – including four four-star gems. Three of them are located within 30 miles of each other at the southern tip of the state. The fourth course, High Bridge Hills, was recognized as the number one course in Golf Card’s Favorite 50 published in 2008
Avalon GC (609-465-4389; www.avalongolfclub.net) in Cape May Court House is nestled between Ocean City and Wildwood, along the Jersey coast. Measuring a short 6,325 yards from the back tees, players contend with narrow fairways, lots of water and plenty of wind.
McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links (609-926-3900; www.mcculloughsgolf.com) in Egg Harbor Township has drawn high praise since opening in 2002. Said Golf Digest’s architectural guru Ron Whitten: “Emerald Golf Links “has it all.” The Stephen Kay design is a links-style layout featuring close replicas of holes at St. Andrews, Turnberry, Carnoustie and Royal Troon. The seventh hole was named one Golf Digest’s Most Fun holes to Play in 2011. The triple-option fairway is patterned after a hole Alister Mackenzie designed to win a magazine contest in 1914, but never actually built.
High Bridge Hills Golf Club (908-638-5055; www.highbridgehillsgolf.com) in High Bridge Hills has emerged as Northern New Jersey's best true links course. The par 71, 6,700 yard layout, is a classic links style course with vast open expanses and elevation changes overlooking the beautiful Spruce Run Reservoir. The dramatic par 3, 8th hole drops 100 feet over a natural gorge from tee to green. Several Golf Card readers who have played High Bridge Hills call it a “great golf course.”
Town and Country Golf Links in Woodstown (856-769-8333; www.tcgolflinks.com) is another links style course in south Jersey not far from the Delaware border. The front nine is more generous with wide fairways and big greens while the back nine narrows and calls for accuracy and shot-making. Both nines are identifiable by deep rough and tall fescue framing the fairways as well as challenging combination of wind, water and sand.
COURSE REVIEWS Here are some Golf Card courses you might want to check out – by recommendation of your fellow Golf Card members.
Wisconsin: Beaver Dam CC Location: Beaver Dam Phone: 920-885-6614 Website: www.treasurecay.com Golf Card fee: $24(wkdays anytime; wkends after 12 pm) Member comment: “Very nice course…friendly staff.”
Hickory Hills CC Location: Chilton Phone: 920-849-2912 Website: www.hhccgolf.com Golf Card fee: Complimentary greens fee Member comment: “Nice variety of holes, short and long. Greens well kept, fairways in excellent shape.”
Indiana: Sandy Pines GC Location: Demotte Phone: 877-987-3611 Website: www.sandypinesgc.com Golf Card fee: $26 (wkdays); $35 (wkends and hol) Of special note: Rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest Member comment: “I live about 35 minutes from this course. It is the best course in the NW Indiana area by far for the price. New management put a lot of money into the Course. Challenging course with nice fairways. If you are in this area, it is a must see, must play course. I play all over this area and except for private courses, this is the best!
Pennsylvania: Skytop Lodge Location: Skytop Phone: 570-595-8910 Website: www.skytop.com Golf Card fee: $26 (wkdays); $35 (wkends and hol) Of special note: Rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest Member comment: “Great Golf Card value.” We encourage all members to submit reviews of Golf Card courses they have played. Just go to golfcard.com, log on, go to Course Directory, select a specific course and go to the Course Review prompt. You will be asked to rate a course on playability, conditions, amenities and whether you would recommend it to a friend. You can also offer personal comments.
We will publish many of the reviews in this online newsletter.TECH CHECK – Srixon Z-Star optic yellow golf balls
Srixon’s Z-Star yellow golf balls (actually they are a mix of yellow and green) have been on the market for almost two years now, and while there are only one or two tour pros using the ball, the research and science suggests it’s just a matter of time before more go yellow. The balls were developed by Srixon Sports' Research and Development team to tap into the psychology of color effect on the human brain. Just like Tiger wears red on Sundays to instill confidence, optic yellow is a color of calm and visual sharpness. According to Srixon, science has proven that yellow is the most visible color in the color spectrum and psychology has correlated green with stress relief. Based on these findings Srixon has combined the two colors to provide sensory and emotional advantages. Essentially Srixon is saying that not only is a yellow ball easier to find, see and hit, it subconsciously relaxes the golfer at address. It wasn’t long ago when tennis changed the color of its tournament balls from white to yellow. At first there was a lot of resistance from the players, but gradually they noticed the obvious visual benefit and it became the dominant color of all tennis balls produced. Softballs have followed as well as football goal posts, soccer balls and even archery bull's eyes. This recent history of switching to yellow is all about gaining an optical edge. As Srixon says, “what you see better, you play better.” Golf tends to move much slower, so don’t expect all golf balls to be yellow anytime soon. But if more tour pros start using the ball and experience success, the yellow-ball craze could sweep golf like it did tennis. The Z-Star ball itself is a multilayer ball with low compression and soft feel. For more information, visit srixon.com
JUST SAYIN’ – Ken Cohen
It’s sad that 22 percent less people watched this year’s Masters than last year’s. And it had nothing to with Charl Schwartzel’s fantastic finish – the first time anyone has ever birdied the last four holes to win a major. Nor did it really matter who was contending this year – even if it was Phil who was right there when the final round began. No, television ratings have everything to do with one Eldrick Tiger Woods and that’s truly a shame. Not just because ratings ultimately have an impact on sponsorships, and television contracts, but because they’re not reliable barometers of who’s actually watching. The numbers are correct – when Tiger plays, 20 percent more people watch.
But who are those 20 percent? They’re my mom, my sister and other casual fans who don’t play golf, don’t follow it and really have no impact on anything to do with golf except its television ratings. That’s why the Tour doesn’t get too concerned anymore when ratings drop in the non-Tiger tournaments, either when he does not play or is not a factor. The true golf fans – the ones with the high demographics and disposable income that advertisers and sponsors love – are watching Tiger or not. Golf has been through the phase of trying to court the fringe Tiger viewers. That’s one of the reasons we have lots of foreclosed courses, bankrupt equipment manufacturers and struggling retailers who committed heavily to the Tiger followers only to watch their investments crash when there was no true commitment in return. So I have to agree with Bubba Watson when he told Charlie Rose that golf is in a great spot. Not because Tiger is back playing and attracting new interest in the game again. But rather that the core golf fans never left when Tiger sputtered out of sight. There were enough McIlroys, Bradleys, Donalds and incredible finishes to latch on to.
RULES SCHOOL – Un-playable lie in bunker
During the Valero Texas Open, Derek Lamely took a rare un-playable lie in a greenside bunker. His second shot to the 10th hole in the final round plugged so deeply, that only a few dimples could be seen. After first removing enough sand under the rules to identify his ball (then pushing the sand back over the ball to return it to its original position), Lamely decided to take an un-playable lie, which is perfectly allowable in a bunker. The only difference between taking an unplayable in a bunker and elsewhere on the course is that the ball must be dropped in the bunker. The option of going back as far as you want keeping the ball between you and the hole is limited to remaining in the bunker. Lamely decided to take his relief within two club lengths of where the ball lay (wisely dropping on the slope of the bunker so his ball would not plug again, instead rolling down to a flat area in the bunker, but still within the allowable distance a ball can roll when dropped). From there, he hit a beautiful bunker shot, almost holing it for an improbable par, but nonetheless settling for a satisfying bogey. It was a smart play by Lamely, who coincidentally took an un-playable lie from a fairway bunker earlier in the year at The Puerto Rico Open.
MEMBER’S TEE – Hooking an iron around something After watching Bubba Watson’s amazing shot in the playoff at The Masters and replaying it over and over, I couldn’t see anything noticeable that made him hook the ball 40 yards. If I want to play an intentional hook around a tree or some other obstacle, what should I do? Stan Phelps Dublin, OHGolf Card Instructional Staff;
We can’t tell you how Bubba did it because the way he plays, only Bubba knows! But in general if you want to hit an intentional hook with a wood or an iron there are a few keys. First, you need to understand what causes a ball to hook – counterclockwise spin or overspin. In order to impart such a spin on the ball, the clubhead must approach the ball from the inside, gradually turning over through the shot, much like a topsin forehand in tennis. To help facilitate this movement of the club, it’s helpful to start with a slightly closed stance that is aiming right (or left if you are a lefty) of where you want the ball to go. The clubhead should be aiming where you want the ball to go, which means if you are aiming right of the target for a righty, the club should looked closed when you address it. As you take the club away, try and keep it to the inside so that it’s easier to roll your right forearm over your left wrist at impact (left over right for lefties). As with any shot, it’s crucial that you accelerate through the ball and complete the swing. Many amateurs fail to pull off this shot because they don’t fully commit to it. As much as any physical technique involved, you have to think and visualize hook. Someone once asked Tom Watson how he hits hooks and he said" I just think about hitting a hook."
If you have a swing problem or other flaw with your game, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a brief description of what your tendencies are, what you want fixed and our Instructional Staff will consider your submission for response.