TaylorMade unveils its Speed Police

They’re kind of like ‘Team America’ but for golf.

TaylorMade introduced its puppet ‘Speed Police’ today via a series of YouTube videos.

I would describe them to you, but it’s best if you just take a look yourself.

Dustin Johnson

Justin Rose

Sergio Garcia

Jason Day (my favourite)


Hack Golf? Or Help Golf?

Prior to the official beginning of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, TaylorMade-adidas hosted an event for approximately 1,000 industry professionals where CEO Mark King, Ted Bishop (the president of the PGA of America), Joe Beditz (CEO of the National Golf Foundation) and Gary Hamel (renowned “business thinker”) made a presentation introducing a new initiative called Hack Golf.

Hack Golf is crowd-sourced platform where the general golfing public can submit their ideas on how they think the game can be improved or changed.

“Innovation stalls when the same people keep talking to each other about the same challenge over and over,” said Hamel in a press release to the media.  “We need to open the conversation up to a wider audience instead of continuing to try and innovate in the same ineffective vacuum.”

In about a month since its inception, the Hack Golf movement has acquired nearly 2,000 followers on Twitter and 420 likes on Facebook. Smaller numbers than they had hoped, perhaps (TaylorMade by comparison has 161,000 followers on Twitter and 371,000 likes on Facebook), but over 750 ideas have been submitted. The most popular idea right now is a pretty good one – it’s basically a proposal of an app that allows golfers to meet up with others in their area – and I can see TaylorMade-adidas getting behind it (they are committing $5 million over the next five years towards the most popular experiments that come from the site).

The conversation has started.

But what is maybe more surprising, Hack Golf has started a trend of other golf organizations and publications asking golfers what they love about the game.

Where Hack Golf is asking what people would like to see changed, Golf Canada, ESPN and Golf Digest are asking the golfing public to speak proudly about the game as-is.

Do you love golf? Then Tweet at @TheGolfCanada using the hashtag #WhyILoveGolf

Snap a great photo of a golf course and post it to Instagram or Twitter? Golf Digest asks that you use the hashtag #WhyILoveThisGame

And hey, they’re even adding a contest element. Share your photos and you have a chance to win a trip to the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

ESPN just announced a new video series and campaign called “Falling For Golf” where they have (you guessed it) asked golfers to submit their stories using Twitter and the hashtag #FallingForGolf explaining how they got into the game.

These are some of the biggest organizations in golf in Canada and the U.S. And I’d argue, are a little more trustworthy to the general public than a multi-million dollar corporation.

ESPN, Golf Canada and Golf Digest are trying to become part of the conversation, while Hack Golf is trying to change it.

But maybe nothing needs to be changed?

Michael Bamberger, the long-time Sports Illustrated and GOLF Magazine writer said it best in a recent column.

“If your goal is to grow the game, you have to start with the premise that the game is great. You have to have confidence in your game, basically as it is. Should it be faster? Yes. Should it be less expensive? Yes. Should your ball be easier to find? Yes. Should shirttails come out? It doesn’t matter. Should making a par on any hole, for any golfer, anywhere, remain the challenge it has always been? Absolutely. Some will be drawn to that. Most will not. That’s our exclusivity. That’s why we are a band of golfers. We are not in the mainstream. We are different. The game is what it is.”

The game’s fun. Cool. Exciting. Frustrating. It’s a lot of different things to a lot of different people. If it needs to be changed, then there’s now a platform for your voice to be heard. But don’t change it for the sake of changing it. It’s pretty good just the way it is.

Canadians can now “Play Famously”

Last year I wrote a blog post praising Mizuno’s “Play Famously” campaign.

It was smart, intriguing and offered a fabulous prize to its 12 winners (clubs, clothing, travel, golf, etc).

But, it wasn’t available to Canadians.

That’s all changed for 2014. Canadian golfers are now eligible to enter for a chance to win one of the 12 spots on “Team JPX.”

Mizuno launched the second year of Play Famously on Tuesday and it runs until July 11, 2014. The product in the spotlight this year is the new JPX-EZ line up.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 11.49.58 AM

The first two members of Team JPX will be selected through a casting-call-format submission campaign conducted by GolfWRX, and unveiled through a national print advertising campaign and video content featured in leading golf magazines and websites.

The remaining 10 “at-large” spot will be selected through an online contest at www.playfamously.com.

In 2013, more than 6,000 golfers submitted entries.

The contest itself hasn’t changed much year-over-year, but I didn’t think it needed to. Mizuno remains an underrated brand in golf, but one that should be taken seriously by consumers. For example, it had five different irons earn ‘gold’ in the recent Golf Digest Hot List ranking, the lone company to do so.

According to Mizuno

If you’re interested in entering, Mizuno is “seeking golfers that not only exhibit an insatiable appetite for game-improvement, but who have found there is more to the game than just what’s on the scorecard.”

“Entrants are encouraged to provide their feedback on the new game-improvement irons along with their submission of a  short essay, photos and/or videos that demonstrate their passion for golf and a specific challenge that golf has helped, or is helping them overcome in their lives.”



What makes a shoe? DNA, of course

For the past month, I received five separate packages from FootJoy Canada, each containing a different piece of its new shoe – set to be released to the public on February 15th – the DryJoys Next Advancement (or D.N.A.).

“To create the most feature-laden golf shoe in our storied history, we needed to explore the anatomy, or DNA, of our premium footwear products and then scrutinize every aspect throughout the design and development process,” said Doug Robinson, Vice President of Design and Development Worldwide in a press release. “Every material and every component was carefully considered in order to deliver a shoe with lightweight stability, a precise fit, superior feel and ultimate performance.”

…and that’s why the shoe was received in pieces. It was a fine marketing strategy that truly allowed for each piece of the shoe to get its moment in the spotlight.

How often do you really think about the tongue or the heel pad?

Below you’ll see each of the pieces in the order they were delivered, and then the final product.

3D FoamCollar for COMFORT
SnugFit tongue for FIT
SnugFit tongue for FIT
NitroThin TPU Outsole for STABILITY
NitroThin TPU Outsole for STABILITY
Xtra-Thick FTF FitBed for CUSHIONING
Xtra-Thick FTF FitBed for CUSHIONING

The shoe
The shoe
More colours (available Feb 15)
More colours (available Feb 15)

The best things to do when travelling to Lake Placid

The focus of a pre-Christmas trip to Lake Placid, New York shifted quickly from skiing at the famed Whiteface Mountain to enjoying a multitude of other things that the quaint town has to offer upon seeing the weather forecast. It called for decent enough temperatures, but unfortunately a rain and ice mix that was to last for the duration of the trip.

Lake Placid is keenly known for its copious winter activities – from dogsledding, skiing (of course), ice climbing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling – however, there is still so much to do in the town even without ideal weather conditions.

With half of my travelling group coming from Toronto and the other from Ottawa, it makes for a idyllic winter vacation spot.

Here are the top three things to do in Lake Placid (even if the weather is less than stellar):

So friendly!
So friendly!

No. 3 – Explore Lake Placid’s main street

If you’re not there to ski, then Lake Placid’s main street is where you’ll spend most of your time. Between quaint markets, local shops and brand name retailers’ outlet stores, you can easily spend an afternoon or two just wandering the strip. There is also a classic movie theatre showing a few (modern) movies a day. It is almost as if you’ve come back in time.

While walking, you can’t help but pause and take a few photos of Mirror Lake. It’s all part of the picturesque Lake Placid experience, and you have a nearly unobstructed view of the lake as you traverse Main St.

No. 2 – Take in Lake Placid’s Olympic history

Lake Placid hosted both the 1932 and 1980 games (including the ‘Miracle on Ice’ hockey match between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the latter, a game that Sports Illustrated dubbed The Greatest Moment in Sports for the 20th Century). Remnants of both those Olympic games are prominent on the streets and in the shops of Lake Placid’s main drag. It gives the town some character and is a fun reason to explore. Most of the excitement can be found on Whiteface Mountain, but in downtown Lake Placid you can head to Herb Brooks Arena – where the Miracle on Ice occurred – and have a free skate (not actually ‘free’, it’s $8 for two hours) on the outdoor Olympic oval. You can also check out the Lake Placid Olympic museum or go down the bobsled track.

No. 1 – Fine dining and finer drinking 

There are so many great places to eat and drink in Lake Placid with endless choices of cuisine and price ranges. There are suitable establishments for families, for couples, or for friends. A few of my “must-tries” include:

Wyatt’s Tex-Mex — You’re probably thinking there’s no way you could find decent Tex-Mex this far north, but Wyatt challenges that. The burrito was one of the best I’ve ever had, anywhere. The quesadillas are baked fresh and were met with no comments from my dining companions. Why? Because they were too busy enjoying the cheesy, meaty, fresh veggie concoction. It’s a hole-in-the-wall spot with only enough room inside for eight to 10 diners, but it’s worth it. And sometimes, aren’t spots like that the best?

Delta Blue — It’s a street-level restaurant in the Northwoods Inn, and it came with an interesting story. It’s a southern-style restaurant with items like alligator(!) if you’re brave enough to try. A very solid place for a snack like wings or nachos and a beer, with multiple local beers on tap (and even Molson Canadian, if you just can’t stand to try something new). It’s a comfortable setting with live music and a handful of televisions. The bartender – who I believe is also part owner – is filled with stories and good cheer.

Lisa G’s — It’s also down the main street past the outdoor Olympic oval and the owner, Lisa, is as fun and quirky as the menu. I really liked the saying that Lisa G’s had typed on their menu:  “that place where locals hang out and out-of-towners flock to enjoy great food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere with a tab that won’t break the bank.” I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

Lake Placid Pub & Brewery — It’s designed in an old church, and this multi-tiered brewpub has been getting glowing reviews from publications like the New York Times and USA Today, along with visitors and residents of Lake Placid for almost 20 years. The food was amazing, and the local beers were fresh and top-notch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention anything about the desserts. I had a slice of their delicate, rich and decadent chocolate cheesecake that is infused with their famous Ubu Ale. The highlight for many is the tableside s’mores. I can think of few things better après-ski (or shopping, or sightseeing) than that. You’ll just have to try them.

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Lake Placid

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The Top 5 Canadian golf stories from 2013

Ten years have passed since Mike Weir captured The Masters on a fateful Sunday in Georgia. He remains the sole Canadian to win a men’s professional major title, and 2013 marked a changing of the guard in the landscape of the sport for this country.

Weir, as relevant as ever and still a Canadian golf hero, began to fade from the forefront of the professional golf ranks – although his 2013 campaign was much improved over his 2012 and 2011 seasons – and Canadian golf fans saw new stars to cheer for, and hope that there may be new winners on some of the world’s biggest golfing stages sooner rather than later.

Here are the top five stories in Canadian golf in 2013.

Mackenzie Hughes and PGA Tour Canada’s inaugural season

The former Canadian Tour was nearly bankrupt, an afterthought for most journeymen who were toiling on mini-tours. That all changed early in the year when the PGA Tour added the Canadian circuit under it’s umbrella. It was rebranded as PGA Tour Canada, had eight tournaments this season (and added two more for 2014) with purses totally $150,000 each, and produced a fine inaugural Order of Merit winner in former Canadian Amateur champion Mackenzie Hughes. Hughes, who won back-to-back Canadian Amateur titles in 2011 and 2012, started the season with no formal status. But on the heels of three top-3 finishes and a victory in Cape Breton, he won just north of $52,000 for the year and comfortably won the Order of Merit by nearly $10,000. With his finish to 2013, Hughes, just 23, earned a promotion to the Web.com Tour – just one level below the PGA Tour. One year removed from being an amateur and college graduate, Hughes is now one step away from his ultimate goal – playing on the PGA Tour. With more tournaments, more money and one year of experience under their collective belts, there’s lots of deserved excitement for what – and who – PGA Tour Canada will produce next year.

Brooke Henderson is not your regular 16-year-old

While most in the golf world have their eyes on another teenage sensation – Lydia Ko, the 16-year-old wunderkind who won the last two Canadian Women Open’s on the LPGA Tour and just recently turned professional will special permission from the Tour – Canadians are well aware of the talent and promise that Brooke Henderson holds for the future. The native of Smiths Falls, Ont. enjoyed a strong 2013 campaign. She won three amateur titles including the Canadian Women’s Amateur that earned her a spot in the Canadian Women’s Open. She played in the U.S. Women’s Open (a major on the LPGA Tour) and made the cut, tying for 59th. She also played in the other Canadian LPGA Tour event, the Manulife LPGA Classic, and finished tied for 35th. At 15, Henderson has not yet made any University commitments, nor has she commented about turning professional, as she continues to play in junior events (against competitors her own age) and with the LPGA Tour stars. Henderson will once again be a member of Golf Canada’s national team for 2014, and she capped 2013 with a five-shot victory at the Junior Orange Bowl, an international junior event that concluded December 30th in Florida. Not bad for someone who doesn’t yet have her driver’s license.

Corey Conners’ magical run(s)

Corey Conners finished 2013 as one of Canada’s top-ranked male amateur golfers – at no.41 in the world – but a slew of high finishes in college events coupled with strong performances in amateur events through the 2013 season gives reason to believe that next year could be even better. Conner, who attends Kent St. University in Ohio (the same school that Mackenzie Hughes graduated from) made two magical attempts at greatness this summer. First, he nearly made the cut at the RBC Canadian Open, and would have become the sole amateur to do so had a few late bogies not derailed his chances. Then, perhaps more impressively, he plowed through the competition at the U.S. Amateur (after a second place finish at the Canadian Amateur) and made it to the semi-finals. Had he won, he would have become only the third Canadian in the 112-year history to capture a victory.

SportBox Entertainment Group shakes up the Canadian golf scene

Tuesdays during a PGA Tour tournament are usually the busiest day of the week with vendors, coaches and trainers all meandering around inside the ropes chatting with Tour players and media. Tuesday at this year’s RBC Canadian Open was busier than usual. Danny Fritz, who was formerly the co-Managing Director of IMG Canada, announced he was starting a new representation agency immediately called SportBox, and SportBox had acquired the golf ‘assets’ of Landmark Sports Group. On the surface this may not seem like a big shakeup, but it’s far from a mere business transaction. SportBox now represents all of the top male talent in Canadian golf including Mike Weir, David Hearn, Adam Hadwin, Graham DeLaet and Mackenzie Hughes – not to mention a handful of other players in its ever-growing stable. The team at SportBox is also in discussions to bring a Web.com Tour event to Atlantic Canada that would help drive economic growth and interest in golf in the region. There’s much else in the works at SportBox, and considering they have access to all of Canada’s top professional golf talent, it could mean quite the shift in the Canadian golf landscape.

Graham DeLaet’s coming out party

If there is an image that sums up Graham DeLaet’s 2013 season, it’s that of him giving an emphatic double fist pump after chipping in on the 18th hole at the Presidents Cup. DeLaet had arrived. He finished 3-1 in the biennial team competition and had analysts and golf pundits finally realizing what we Canadians had known for a while. DeLaet was good. He didn’t win on Tour in 2013, but he had a career year none-the-less. He earned just shy of $3 million in 2013 on the heels of seven top-10 finishes, and moved to a career-high 36th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Many in the golf world now consider DeLaet a lock to win on the PGA Tour in 2014 and International Team captain Nick Price (a major champion himself) said this about DeLaet after the Presidents Cup had concluded: “He’s a hell of a player. I think Canada has a lot to look forward to the next ten or 12 years watching him play, because he’s definitely major championship material.” Hello world.

Honourable Mention – Hearn just misses

It was as tense a scenario as any this year on the PGA Tour. 20-year-old phenom Jordon Spieth chipped in from a greenside bunker on the final hole of the John Deere Classic to force a playoff with Zach Johnson and Canadian David Hearn. Hearn then had a putt of less than 10 feet for the win on the fourth playoff hole. It lipped out, and the rookie Spieth went on to capture the victory. For Hearn, who flew under the radar this year with DeLaet making most of the Canadian PGA Tour headlines, it showed that he too has a good a chance as any on the PGA Tour to win on any given week.

Some 2014 Predictions…

Last year I wrote in my year-end blog post predicting what would happen in the world of golf for 2013 that I wanted to “try to evolve this blog and what I write about in the world of golf for next year. Should be a lot of fun.”

Little did I know that I was about three months away from joining the world of golf communications and media full-time. A big prediction for myself and one that I’m glad came true.

With respect to the golf world. I did alright. I was really off regarding Rory McIlroy, but a couple of solid thoughts on the world of Canadian golf and the Presidents Cup.

Without further delay, here are my predictions for 2014 (even though they’re pointless)

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year!


Who will be no.1 in the world at this time next year?

2013 prediction: Rory McIlroy (Actual: Tiger Woods)

2014 prediction: Rory McIlory. Can I keep the same prediction? He seems to be rounding into form again, and more time with the new equipment – and hopefully the rest of the off-course distractions will be minimized for 2014 – will only allow McIlroy to dominate the game once again.

How many times will Tiger win?

2013 prediction: Twice, including the Open Championship (Actual: five wins, no majors)

2014 prediction: Three times, including the PGA Championship

Will any of the ‘Best to Never Win a Major’ win a major?

2013 prediction: Yes (Actual: None of my picks were correct. But with Adam Scott, Jason Dufner, and Justin Rose capturing big ones in 2013, I think they count)

2014 prediction: Yes

The winners of the Majors will be?

2013 predictions (in chronological order): Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, Bo Van Pelt (Actuals: Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner)

2014 predictions (in chronological order): Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods

Ryder Cup?

My prediction for the Presidents Cup: The U.S.A will bounce back from its Ryder Cup disappointment; however, it will be a lot closer than many think. The International side is coming into good form. (Actual: I was pretty much bang-on here. Although it felt like the U.S. drummed the International side, the scoring was close, finishing 18.5-15.5)

For 2014, the Ryder Cup returns to Scotland for the first time since 1973. Although I’d like to say that Tom Watson will light a fuse for the American side, I feel that team Europe is just too strong. And, playing on their home soil will be a big advantage.

PGA Tour Player of the Year?

2013 prediction: McIlroy, again (and I predicted he would win three times). (Actual: Tiger Woods, on the heels of his five victories)

2014 prediction: Adam Scott, but it will be close with Tiger.

Major I want to attend the most?

Last year I said the U.S. Open at Merion, and this year I’d again have to go with the U.S. Open. Pinehurst is such an iconic spot and I’d love to see the new course layout. Plus, there is going to be such a palpable buzz all week with Mickelson going after the career slam. What a victory that would be.


 My 2013 predictions were:

  • James Lepp will get an exemption into the Canadian Open
  • Brad Fritsch will finish 108th on the money list, with two top-10s, and regain his PGA Tour card for 2014.
  • A Canadian will win on one of the major tours. Smart money is on the Web.com Tour (with the LPGA a close second)
  • Mike Weir will go on a run at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey – 10 years after his near-miss against Vijay Singh – to help spark a somewhat successful 2014.
  • Cabot Links will be announced as host of the Telus World Skins Game for 2014.
  • You’ll start hearing more about Chris Hemmerich in the world of Canadian amateur golf.

Actuals: Lepp didn’t get an exemption (although I still think that would have been cool). Fritsch finished just outside of the Top 125 but he did regain his PGA Tour card and got one top-10 (so 50% right on that one). No Canadian won on any of the major U.S. tours, and Canadians actually performed the worst on the Web.com Tour (whoops). Mike Weir went on a “sort of” run at the Canadian Open (shooting 67 in round two) and will be back on Tour in 2014. The Telus World Skins Game is caput, but in its place is the potential for a huge event in Atlantic Canada. Finally, I had a little to say about Hemmerich (see this story), but he also won his second OUA Championship in a row and will re-join Team Canada for next year.

My 2014 predictions:

  • Half of Team Canada’s Men’s team will turn professional before the end of the summer next year
  • Atlantic Canada will host one of the most impressive Canadian golf events ever next year
  • Graham DeLaet will win on the PGA Tour. My money is an early-season event. He’ll make the cut at two of the four majors
  • An unexpected name will be low Canadian at the Canadian Open.
  • Brooke Henderson will challenge at an LPGA event
  • A Canadian will once again be Player of the Year on PGA Tour Canada. Maybe Cory Renfrew.

Six trends for golf course owners for 2014

As we get to the end of another year, it’s a great time to explore some trends that I feel will be more prevalent for golf course owners through 2014.

I’ve had a great opportunity this year to chat with golf course operators internationally – from the coast of Northern Ireland to a town of 1,000 in Saskatchewan to Myrtle Beach to New Jersey to Arizona and back home to Ottawa and Toronto – and I’ve seen first-hand how different golf courses manage different socio-economic issues.


The golf consumer is changing, and that means the golf courses offering a particular product must adapt as well.

The issues and problems that I’ve seen, appear to be more focused on courses in North America, though. The linksland, perhaps only in my own eyes, seem to be immune to the issues that we face on this side of the Atlantic.

These are not predictions – predictions are pointless – but instead, these are six trends that I feel will become more important for golf course operators as the year goes on.

1) More cooperation amongst facilities 

A common story I heard this year, whether it be from golf course owners themselves or at various conferences or speaking with people in the industry is that there are too many golf courses in Ontario for the number of golfers. It’s survival of the fittest out there, which usually means golf courses have to heavily discount in order to attract customers. The more they discount, the less revenue they’re actually able to bring in, and before long, they will be out of business. I feel that if businesses began to partner with one another to attract golfers – especially golf courses that are further away from city centres – they’ll have more success. And, they won’t have to rely on discounting (not a marketing strategy).

I’m unsure if this means more courses will join membership-based groups like Executive Golf in Ottawa or ClubLink in Ontario & Quebec, but I’m a fan of the model and we’ll see if more people think about joining a group and trying to stretch their golf budget and play as many courses as possible.

2) An increase in the mobile space

Golf courses are businesses, and businesses are going mobile. There has been a long-standing argument in marketing  that it’s a three or even four-screen world (television, computer, mobile, tablet) and it’s impossible to attract customers who barely pay any attention to your message. However, Mitch Joel (President of Twist Image and author) says that it’s really only a one screen world. The “only screen that matters is the one in front of you,” he says. And that one screen, more often than not, is a smartphone. Joel continues to say that a smartphone is the “remote control of your life,” which is a little sad, but true. The global average for how many times a person checks his or her phone in a day is 150 times. 79% of Canadians expect a good mobile experience from a brand. A golf course is a brand. I’m predicting more golf courses will develop some kind of mobile presence – either an app or a mobile website.

3) Private clubs will develop mass advertising campaigns

Last year I saw ClubLink do a six month campaign (approximate) across traditional and digital media as part of its 20th anniversary. I also saw the uber-private Beacon Hall do a media buy in the Toronto Star and on television. I couldn’t believe that private golf clubs were advertising in this manor, I always had the assumption they had membership waiting lists miles long and it was word-of-mouth that got more bodies in the door. If a club like Beacon Hall – ranked in the top-10 of the best courses in the country – would reach out to the general public with a “join” message, I would not be surprised to see one or two other clubs follow suit.

4) Alternative revenue ideas – beyond golf – will take off

Golf courses have always focused on, well, golf. And why not. But now more than ever golf course owners are facing money-making issues. I’m betting that more courses step up their food & beverage services to compete with local restaurants, and look to other ways to take advantage of their facilities. Cardinal in Newmarket is a perfect example. They have a ton of different dining options through the week, and even show a movie on the driving range in the summer. It’s a great way to bring the community together and, considering a lot of golf courses in Ontario are outside of city centres, the golf course would be wise to become a focal point for dining and entertainment in a particular community.

Golf courses have also not been afraid to adapt their facility for different sports. Whisky Run in Niagara is in the midst of building a disc golf course that will be ready for play in 2014. Muskoka Highlands was featured in a CBC News story earlier this summer talking about its FootGolf course. I just played a course in Arizona where I rode a Segway around with my bag attached. Old Tom Morris may be rolling in his grave at the thought of these things, but they are very real alternatives for golf courses that will likely provide very real revenue.

5) A successful LPGA means a lot for women’s golf

It’s not hard to see the state of the LPGA is the healthiest it’s been in some time. Commissioner Mike Whan – who is a great, smart dude – has a vision and has executed on it. There are 32 tournaments scheduled for 2014, up from a dismal 23 just a few years ago. More importantly, the developmental circuit, the Symetra Tour, has increased its schedule by five tournaments as well.

Not only that, but the quality of play is fantastic. Although there is still much conversation about Asian women dominating play, there is a crop of young, international talent that is ready to challenge week in and week out.

If the LPGA is able to secure some main network TV coverage – which they are attempting to do from what I understand – you may see the game pique the interest of more women next year.

6) Success of Canadian pro golfers will influence people to play more

In 2003, Mike Weir won The Masters. I can recall exactly where I was, and exactly what the shots were that allowed him to win that day. It’s ingrained in my memory. It also helped to inspire me, as a 15-year-old, to go out and play more golf. Although Weir has had his struggles, he is still a champion for Canadian golfers. That said, Graham DeLaet has taken Weir’s place as the most prominent Canadian on Tour. I’m confident that DeLaet’s success in 2014 will help to inspire another generation of Canucks to play more golf. His coming out party was the 2013 Presidents Cup, and the whole golf world is predicting big things for him next year.

Golf Canada CEO Scott Simmons is a big advocate for the importance of heroes in Canadian golf. Graham DeLaet will emerge as a hero in Canadian golf in 2014, and there will be a spike in people playing because of it.


“Where y’all from?”


“Oh, we love Canadians!”

This was the first exchange between locals, my girlfriend and I as we arrived in the small South Carolinian town of Myrtle Beach via a quick WestJet flight. We were greeted with stereotypical southern hospitality almost immediately in Myrtle’s newly renovated airport – where any trip to the Grand Strand should begin.

The airport is bright and clean – a sign of its $100 million renovation project that began in 2011 – and upon exiting, we were greeted by palm trees and warm, salty air.


I’ve been playing golf for nearly my entire life, and living in Canada you’d think there would have been some opportunity to escape the snow and replace it with sand. But alas, it just never happened. I never had the chance to visit the number one golf destination in the world.

Until now.

I finally journeyed to the famed vacation location in mid-October with my girlfriend alongside – who was easily swayed by the notion of swapping scarves for sandals.

Besides the aforementioned WestJet, Porter also flies to Myrtle Beach from the Toronto Island. Both operators only offer seasonal flights – ending in October – but give Canadian travellers ample time during the year to venture south.


It’s hard to ignore how golf-mad Myrtle Beach is. There are 92 courses in the area, and the town’s population is just north of 30,000, giving the area the distinction of having one of the highest golf course-to-population ratings in the world. The number of golf courses is staggering, but this fiery competition gives travellers so many affordable options. I played two fine courses that were both in impeccable shape.

First was the Witch Golf Links, which is part of the Mystical Golf family (five courses total) and requires golfers to traverse through a Carolinian forest. It called for precise shot making, but was also forgiving enough for those just looking to have fun. The standout hole was the par-3 7th, with water up the right side of the hole and across the front of the green. The green is almost on an island, so beware of the alligators (a first for me) if you do drop your tee shot in the pond.

The Witch

Playing Glen Dornoch, the second course on my itinerary, was also a treat. It’s part of the Glens Golf Group (four courses total) and is adjacent to the Intercostal Waterway – a feature that makes both the par-4 9th and par-4 18th truly memorable (and difficult) holes. The final three holes at Glen Dornoch claim to be the most-talked about in Myrtle Beach. After playing them, it’s tough to argue with that notion. Costal golf courses in South Carolina are usually flat, but this site challenges that. There are several natural elevation changes that slope down towards the aforementioned waterway. Both courses are less than 30 minutes from the boardwalk.


The boardwalk is really where Myrtle Beach shines. Beachfront activities are endless: waterparks, grandiose miniature golf courses, arcades, restaurants, fishing, sightseeing, shopping, beachcombing and museums are at your disposal. However, you’d be missing a key element of the Myrtle Beach experience if you didn’t see it from above.

The new SkyWheel allows visitors to do just that. The new attraction is situated right on the boardwalk, adjacent to the Landshark bar and grill – part of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville franchise. The SkyWheel is a 200-foot-high Ferris wheel-style ride complete with gondola seating and gives riders a full view of the ocean and the boardwalk strip. My girlfriend and I rode it at sunset before dinner, but at night, it features a lights show with 1 million LED lights.


We thought the SkyWheel allowed us to capture beautiful panorama views of the Grand Strand, but its vastness and picturesque aesthetic was not fully clear until the next day, when we hovered above it.

Ocean Watersports – run by the outgoing manager, Jim – allowed us to experience the landscape of Myrtle Beach from a parasail 300 feet above the ocean. After being transported to the parasailing boat from the shore via an unexpectedly thrilling banana boat ride, we were strapped into a harness in front of a giant, colourful parachute. Then, as the boat pulled away, we were hoisted up in the air to our spectacular summit in the sky.

Ocean Watersports, as the number one watersports company in the region, usually opens in mid-March thanks to some persistent Canadians, Jim said, who convinced him to open early after explaining the timing of our March Break. Offering jet-ski rentals, longer banana boat rides and, of course, the parasailing, this is one unique opportunity a Myrtle Beach trip wouldn’t be complete without.


Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the dining and nightlife in Myrtle Beach. There is no shortage of buffets (pronounced by some in the same way as Jimmy Buffet’s name, which was hilarious to hear), fresh seafood joints, ice cream parlours and – to our surprise – an astonishing number of pancake houses. There were of course, the typical chains like Chick-Fil-A, Olive Garden and TGI Fridays, but we perused local gems on the beach instead.

Our favourite meal was enjoyed at the Sea Captain’s House on Ocean Boulevard, where we indulged on succulent crab cakes, crisp salads, spicy jambalaya, pecan-encrusted snapper and house-made key lime pie. I can’t forget to mention the inexpensive beers on tap, either.

As part of the entertainment offerings, we enjoyed a fun evening of comedy thanks to the troupe at Carolina Improv whose take on Whose Line is it Anyway skits left us grinning ear-to-ear. The stage is located in a shopping mall, but the small space delivered big laughs for the sold-out crowd.

If Myrtle Beach is trying to shed its past image of being purely a golf destination, then it’s doing a strong job so far. It’s hard to deny that golf is the focal point, but between the sand and surf, the dining and the entertaining activities, the there’s much more to Myrtle Beach than “y’all” may think.