THE AUBURN UNIVERSITY ALMOSTGOLF OPEN turned out to be the type of event we strive for at every tour stop. Thanks to all the hard work of Thomas Burke and his IFC crew, we were able to put on a 2 day event which was part of the IFC philantropy week raising money for the Boy and Girls Clubs of Lee County, AL.
TUESDAY: We set up a driving range to build awareness about the tournament and give everyone a chance to hit some shots, win some prizes and get a feel for the ball.
WEDNESDAY: We set up the course, complete with elevated tee boxes, targets, water hazards, and our famous 'cup-O-sand traps'. The ceremonial first group included various school administration and officials. They said they were only going to play a hole or two, but ended up playing most of the course.
THE COURSE: The course was designed to be played through campus with a number of showcase holes, including the second and third holes featuring elevated tee boxes and water hazards. The fifth hole was a dogleg left around a building, where only bombers could carry the building to cut the connor and have a short shot to the hole. The final hole was a true risk reward hole, players either hit a short punchy lay-up to the middle of the horse shoe or risk bogey by trying to cut the ball through the trees...we certainly saw more players loose this gamble then win it.
The 2008 MESCHEWSKI OPEN: Neighborhood golf will never be the same again. The Meschewski Open has got to be the best example of a backyard / neighborhood charity golf tournament in the world. Every year John Meschewski and his family put on a 36 hole tournament through the neighborhodd. In the last five years they've raised $50,000 for charity.
THE GOLF COURSE: The Open hosts two 18 hole courses that this year accomodated 200 players. The top players from each round went on to a playoff and the winner of the play off wins the tournament.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE OPEN: This is the only tournament of its kind, that we know of, that actually brings out the lawn mowers and cuts the fairways. They then cut the greens, put in a real golf hole and flag, then draw a 5ft cirlce with lawn paint around the hole. So if you land in the circle without getting in the hole, you just add one stroke and pick up your ball. This makes playing the course super fun and super fast.
If you would like to create your own tournament, check out the other blog entries as well as our golf video and teaching/instruction section for more info.
PARKING GARAGE GOLF/THE ELEVATED TEE BOX: We actually found this shot and began pioneering this new way to play golf when we were scouting for last year's Golf Channel commercial. We were looking for football fields to illustrate how high school golf teams can/are practicing on football fields (after school, during lunch etc. like shooting freethrows). But once we saw this amazing structure next to a field, the gears started to turn. What a cool series of shots. First you hit up onto the garage, then work your way down.
PARKING GARAGE GOLF. We quickly started to see how this was a whole new off-course artform. almostGOLF balls are made for this kind of play because they check up really well on concrete and they fly just the right distance of 60 yards on a parking garage or playing field is a perfect distance.
THE ELEVATED TEE SHOT. What I liked about this shot was how you had to hit the perfect landing area or your ball wouldn't hit the green. A little too far right on the ramp and you would hit a gutter ball, but the further left you hit the ball, the better chance you had to get on the green. The other cool thing about this hole and shot is that it's an almost-golf course designers dream. It's a shot no one in real golf has ever been able to create or hit. It was actually really hard figuring out how to set up the course...but that's a whole other blog entry.
A few notes about playing Parking Garage Golf:
PARKING GARAGE PUTTING. Key to Parking Garage Golf is that the ball checks up so you can putt out. Depending on the concrete's stimp, it can be really fast, or really slow. The stimp of a parking garage is generally pretty mellow, but the break is what will get you in trouble because parking garage manufacturers generally rake parking garage concrete to prevent skidding and spinning out when the concrete gets wet. So the new challenge is to read the rake of the concrete. Try parking garage putting and you will definitely improve your green grass golf game. No question.
CLUB SELECTION/STYLE OF PLAY. You can use any club you would like. It's your game, but I prefer an 8 or 9 iron at most. Parking Parking Garage Golf is really a game of accuracy, long chips & rolls and working the ball. It's more like billiards meet pool meets golf because accept for top floor roof shots, you are working your way down the garage and you are not hitting full golf shots. You are hitting knock downs and skill shots to place the ball so it can roll to the hole or the 'set up fairway' for the second shot of a par 4 or par 5. I would definitely say this form of the game falls under the category of 'street golf' and 'urban golf.'
GIVE US YOUR SUGGESTIONS: If you have any ideas for how to play PGG or any other form of the game, feel free to comment, sign up and give us your opinions.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN GOLF COURSE...Almost....anywhere
Last summer at the USC Open event, Perry Wright was our surprise second place finisher. The surprisewas that he is only twelve years old and beat out almost the entire field of 20 something’s. After the event, I spoke with Perry and his parents about how they heard about the event and how he honed his almostgolf skills. His father told me that they bought a box of our golf balls about a year back and Perry has been hooked ever since, adding that his son is sometimes more interested in playing the almostgolf course through their neighborhood, which he and his buddies designed, then going to regular courses. The bottom line is that he has the opportunity to swing his sticks nearly every day , something most golfers of any age can’t do.
SANDLOT GOLF: Perry’s Manhattan Beach, CA couse is pretty tight. He and his friends designed their layout throughout their neighborhood utilizing everything from neighbor’s yards, fences, driveways, and sidewalks. As you can see, Perry did a pretty good job making his course fun, playable, and safe…something we recommend if you want your course to stay around for awhile.
If you have a course around your neighborhood, yard or park, send us some photos or videos of it and we will put it up for everyone to see.
After reading Bill Pennington's column which featured LPGA Tour star Paula Creamer giving her two cents on why more women weren't taking up the game, we figured we would let you hear our thoughts and how we can help change the situation.
We constantly hear about how women are having trouble getting into the game of golf because they are affraid or intimidated by the traditional rules or etiquette. It's also very intimidating for a beginner to 'spray balls' on the driving range and frankly...look like a beginner. I know I didn't enjoy it.
So for any beginning golfer afraid or intimidated by traditional golf courses, we suggest you start out using almostgolf balls around your yard, park or neighborhood. Our balls make learning the game easy and convenient, so when you go to the course you have more fun. Also, our ball doesn't hurt your hands when you mis-hit shots so you really hit a lot of balls.
PRACTICING GOLF IN YOUR YARD OR NEIGHBORHOOD HAS SEVERAL ADVANTAGES:
1. CONVENIENCE: Since all you need to do is walk out your back door, you can now practice more often, get in a lot more swings and improve faster without any stress.
2. MAKE MISTAKES: Now you can 'look bad' and make mistakes without anyone seeing or judging you. It's important to note that everyone learning golf needs to hit a lot of balls before they groove a repeatable swing. Why not do it for 15 minutes a day where no one is watching.
3. EXPERIMENT: Now you can hit as many balls as you would like and discover your game. You can experiment with foot position, different shots and swing patterns without worrying about looking bad or 'wasting range balls'.
4. HAVE MORE FUN: By practicing in and around your yard or neighborhood, you can have a lot of fun. You can include your family and friends. And the more fun you have, the more you will want to play and having fun is what its all about.
HOW TO PLAY GOLF...ALMOST IN HEAVEN: Thanks to all our AG friends around the world, we've just been sent two clips from the FIRST MEGEVE STREETGOLF OPEN. "Megève http://www.megeve.com is an amazingly beautiful little hamlet nestled in French alps. It's got chalets and cobble stone streets and most likely awesome wine and cheese. (At least better than anything in LA) It's one of the twelve best Alpine ski resorts in France and as you can see, they are very into their outdoor "recreation".
When they contacted us back in May about this event I instantly google mapped them and saw that they lived in streetgolf heaven. More so 'Mountain Golf' heaven. (Note that in France, StreetGolf is pretty much what they call almostGolf or off-course golf. In Germany they tend towards the more more rural Crossgolf or off-golf) Of course the mayor of Megeve and I skyped our hearts out. In the end we sent them some AG balls and lots of 'course design' knowledge straight from our LA almostGolf testing laboritories. I am not sure it really helped, since we live in Condo land and they are pretty much 'the sound of music'.
There are two things about these golf videos to let wash over you. First, they are playing through the cobblestone streets of an amazing town that was most likely created 500 years ago. Now they are turning it into a golf course. Now that is progress. The second is that they live on the side of the alps. And that is not just any mountain. In Europe, they cross purpose their mountains by growing with grass. (Geee, how novel is that?) So in the summer the cows get to chow down to provide everyone all that great French 'fromage'. But what this really means is that Megeve may some day allow us to create the most amazing down hill mountain golf course you've ever seen.
Competition wise the tournament definately wasn't the British Open, but who cares. It must have been an amazing day of having fun. As I watched, I yerned to be there, sipping on a glass of wine and keeping score for my streetgolfing breathern. As you can imagine, Megeve is officially on the almostGOLF 'we have to go to this event next year' calander list. And having spend a lot of time in France, I highly recommend trying to get to Megeve and the entire region. The food, wine, people and atmosphere is hard to beat anywhere in the world. Also, as a golfer you definately need to check out their legit Golf du Mont d'Arbois, the golf in the French Alps mountains. What else could be better. Bottomline, definately go to Megeve if you ever go to France.
THE PUMA OPEN: Tustin Ranch Golf Course, Los Angeles, CA June : The almostGOLF Hail Mary shot: As you all may know, the almostGOLF ball is a limited distance golf ball designed to hit over your house or fade around the jungle gym. It's not necessarilly a "golf course" golf ball. So when Puma Golf, our college campus tour clothing sponsor, gave us a shout and asked us if we would come to their Puma Golf Open series of on-the-golf-course events, we said...(in our best Californian)....LIKE-A-YEAH! Then it hit us, what are we going to do in the world of the real golf ball? What could we offer?
All it took was a Saturday morning bike ride, round of golf and a chill in the LA hot tub to come up with the answer. Basically, what is the difference between the almostGOLF ball and a traditional golf ball? The traditional golf ball flies a mile, it's amazingly awesome to hit...but it will kill you if it hits you. But the almostGOLF ball flies a human distance of about 50 yards with a 9 iron and you can catch it.
YUREKA!...WE FIGURED IT OUT: The first ever 'HAIL MARY' Golf Shootout: So we created a contest. No, we created a whole new way to 'play' golf where the best ball striker gets in the 'hitters box' and the other three or four players go to the catchers box and tries to catch as many balls in a row. Well the video pretty much explains it. Everyone had a blast because when they drove up to our hole, it was something they never expected. It was active, involving and a definate challenge. It's really not that easy catching any object, much less a 'golf ball' from fifty yards. We had players digging for shots and diving over benches. I can definately say, Puma golfers know how to go for it.
OTHER PUMA EVENTS AND VIDEOS: Learn more about how to get involved in Puma Open events and to check out their clips.
THE ELEVATED PARKING GARAGE GREEN: Getting up onto the parking garage is the first step in learning how to play Parking Garage Golf. We found this field and garage as we were scouting our Golf Channel Commercial. Once we walked around it, we knew we had to try some cool shots.
YOUR ALMOST-GOLF COURSE DESIGN: As we looked at this playing field, track, grand stands and parking garage, it became clear that the garage was a showcase. We'd turn the track into both water hazard on one side of the course and an actual fairway on the other. But hitting up onto and off of the parking structure was key to creating an eye popping and very exciting almost-Golf course.
COURSE DESIGN INTEGRATION: Integrating the garage into your course to create impact wasn't easy. We chose to hit the 'between the uprights' shot for the course. (but they were replacing them the day we came in to shoot) We wanted to create the most dramatic entrance to the parking garage section of this course. So why not through the uprights.
SELECTING THE RIGHT PUTTING GREENS: Though we have a killer Astroturf putting green we've used at events like the USC Open and the LMU Tri-Delta Open last year, this course required a green that was fast to install and easy to hit. When and if we can use this location to do a full tournament, we will bring our best greens, but simple Home Depot indoor/outdoor turf does pretty well.
JUDGING THE DISTANCE: Key to creating such a dramatically elevated green is club selection and distance. Since you are choosing one club for the competition or golf tournament, you need to spec out how far you can hit shots to their apex and not total distance. Here we are just on the edge with a 7 iron. Any further and most players would not be able to make to the top level of the garage.