The International Game of Golf
Comes to Myrtle Beach World Am

Fifth in a series of daily first-person stories from the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.

By Tony Leodora

Today was Armed Forces Day at the 31st World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach … at least in my foursome.

I played with Gary Skinner from Fredericksburg, Virginia – a 20-year Marine who retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel. He now trains Marines on radar jamming aircraft.

I also played with Charlie Waters of Goldsboro, North Carolina — a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who retired with the rank of 1st Sergeant.

To both, I would like to say, “Thank you for your service to our country.”

It was a pleasure to play the final round of the four-day tournament with both – as it was to play with Bud Cole, an insurance agent from central Illinois.

We played the River Oaks course, at the geographic center of the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand. It is in the third year of a resurrection under new ownership. The new Champion Bermuda grass greens were outstanding and a highlight of the course. The quarter-pound all-beef hot dogs cooked outside on the grill were pretty good, also.

Waters, who posted low score for the flight on Round 3 at Avocet with a 78, continued the torrid pace with a 76. He carded three birdies on the day.

Cole also displayed a solid round with an 81.

Skinner fell prey to a wild driver on this very tight golf course, carding an 88.

After six straight days of play (two practice rounds and the four tournament rounds), my swing also left me … especially the driver. I hit only six fairways all day (after hitting 12 fairways each at Carolina National and Avocet). It proved to be fatal, especially since the rough was extremely penal.

For the first day all week, I failed to card a birdie and stumbled home with an 85. It put me in 11th place out of 42 players in my flight for the tournament. Not horrible, but not what it could have been, considering how well I hit the ball most of the week.

But, with 3,405 golfers competing, I am in the company of about 3,300 golfers who are singing the should-a, could-a blues right now.


The International Game of Golf
Comes to Myrtle Beach World Am

Fourth in a series of daily first-person stories from the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.

By Tony Leodora

Over the years – approximately 12 visits to Myrtle Beach to play in the World Amateur Handicap Championship – there have been plenty of opportunities to play with competitors from other countries.

I have played with visitors from Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Columbia, France, Italy and Spain. Now I can add Portugal to the list.

In Round Three of the world’s largest golf tournament I got to play with Jose Candido Olveira, an attorney and an ultimate gentleman from Portugal. He spoke almost no English and I certainly don’t speak Portuguese. So we conversed in Spanish throughout the round.

Bob Hunter from Kansas City was the third player in our group. We were without a fourth. Hunter and I conversed mostly in the international language of “football.” He played collegiately, first, for Wichita State. After the tragic plane crash that killed most of the team, he transferred to SW Missouri State. The linebacker then spent two training camps with the then-St. Louis Cardinals, coached by Don Coryell. He now owns a tax consulting business.

Our venue was the Avocet course at Wild Wing Plantation. Once a proud collection of four golf courses, Wild Wing now has only one course – but it was always the best of the bunch. Avocet was in superb condition and provided a good challenge.

Unfortunately, I suffered through another totally schizophrenic day on the course. On the plus side there were three birdies (one good for my second skin of the week) and six pars. I hit 12 out of 14 fairways and had a respectable 33 putts.

Those stats should have added up to a very good round … but they were cancelled by way too many compound mistakes. A triple-bogey and four double-bogeys resulted in a disappointing 84 … on a day when I could have moved up the leaderboard. After climbing to 10th place after the second round, I slipped to 12th.

For the third straight day Dale Redger of Tempe, Arizona leads the flight. Rounds of 77-79-81 have forged a seven-shot lead.

Consistency – what a wonderful concept for success in competitive golf.


Third in a series of daily first-person stories from the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.

By Tony Leodora

When people are planning a golf trip to Myrtle Beach for the first time and seek advice, I immediately ask where they are planning to stay. People, especially first time visitors, have no idea of the magnitude of the golf footprint along Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand.

Courses from the far north – just below Wilmington, North Carolina – to courses at the far south – near Georgetown, South Carolina – stretch for a magnificent 90 miles. Lack of coordination in terms of picking golf courses close to the intended accommodations, can create a golf vacation where more time is spent driving the car than is spent driving the golf ball.

Case in point. Despite headquartering in a central location at the Sheraton Convention Center in downtown Myrtle Beach, as I do every year for the World Amateur Handicap Championship, at least one round always entails a long drive.

Round Two for my flight in this year’s edition of the world’s largest golf tournament was in Bolivia. No, not as far away as the South American country. It was at Carolina National … in Bolivia, North Carolina. The Fred Couples-designed gem is one of the northernmost courses along the Grand Strand. Despite a lack of any traffic at the time of our departure from the hotel (7 a.m.), it still took one hour to reach our destination.

Once there, it was a treat. For the second straight day we played a course in magnificent condition. All three nines of the 27-hole complex contain scenic portions along the Lockwood Folly River.

The weather was perfect – 83 degrees, a nice breeze, brilliant sunshine – and to make the experience even better, I played with three great fellow competitors (a repeating theme in this event).

Don Hanlon is a retired retail exec who grew up in Manhattan, lived for a short while in the Philadelphia suburb of Drexel Hill and now resides in Aiken, South Carolina – just across the river from Augusta, Georgia. He had a bad day on the course, shooting an uncharacteristic 94, but you would never know it. His demeanor kept us all loose.

Art Woehrman lives in Rockville Maryland and also enjoys retirement. After a career in the Navy, onboard submarines, he worked in private industry as a nuclear missile technician. His game is straight down the middle off the tee and he hit some laser-like iron shots. Some troubles on the greens led to an 87. This iss his rookie venture in the World Am.

Mark Dudley, with whom I played two years ago, had a strong putting day – until a couple of late hiccups. The strength of his game also was accuracy off the tee … and it led to an 86. He works for E.I. DuPont in Richmond, Virginia.

If scores seem a bit high for players with a handicap index of 8.1 to 8.5 … they were. The hole locations on the very undulating greens at Carolina National were very difficult. Some bordered on unfair. Nobody in the foursome made any really long putts. In fact, it was almost impossible to get any long putts to finish close to the hole. The crested locations repelled approach shots and caused most putts to roll away at the last minute.

I was extremely proud of the fact that I had “only” 34 putts in my round. Again I hit the ball well (though not as well as the first round) and, again, double bogeys were my downfall. I had three more “doubles” — and what seemed like rather harmless mistakes led to all of them.

I also had two more birdies and finished with a round of 82. That was the fourth-lowest score of the day and boosted me to 10th place, up from 18th. Dale Redger, first day leader with a 77, followed with a 79 and has put six shots between him and second place.


Second in a series of daily first-person stories from the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.

By Tony Leodora

Under absolutely ideal weather conditions, the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship got under way on Monday, August 25. Almost 4,000 players competed on 60 golf courses throughout the Greater Myrtle Beach area – 4,000 players and at least that many stories.

How about George James, playing in the Mid-Senior Division at the TPC of Myrtle Beach. He showed up at the golf course breaking the all-time record for wearing the most golf accessories.

He wore two golf gloves, with two sweat-absorbing wrist bands in place immediately above the gloves, a safari hat with a drape flowing down from the back to cover the neck, an elbow brace, a knee brace and dangling from his belt was a bag that contained his distance measuring device and various other gadgets. He must have started getting dressed Sunday night, in order to make Monday’s 9 a.m. tee time.

And then there was Keith Campbell, who owns a cottage rental management business in Brunswick, Georgia. An affable guy with a strong golf game, he looked like a cross between a member of the ZZ Top band and a character on the Duck Dynasty television show.

He was the polar opposite of another good-natured player in my foursome, Gene Patterson, the spit-shined news anchor for the ABC affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee.

They helped me get through a Jekyl-Hyde round that should have qualified me for schizophrenic therapy.

Our fourth player was Dale Redger, an ultra-serious player who tied for low round of the day (77) on the very difficult TPC Myrtle Beach course. Despite his good fortune, he never cracked a smile throughout the round. The Tempe, Arizona roofing supply dealer actually played with baseball pitching great Roger Clemens two years ago in the World Am. When a comment was made about the apparent excitement of that pairing, he replied with a sour comment, “It was actually very annoying. Television camera people were around all day.”

Back to my schizophrenic round – it featured a birdie, and an eagle that earned $125 from the skins game, a number of nice pars … and, from the other end of the spectrum, a four-putt, three double-bogeys and a triple-bogey.

Despite hitting the ball well most of the day, I displayed the short game of a blacksmith with a nervous disorder. I turned what should have been a lead-contending round into an undistinguished 85 that put me firmly in 18th place out of 42 players in a flight of players with handicaps from 8.1 to 8.5.

The good news is that there are three competitive rounds remaining … and the weather report is excellent for the rest of the week. More golf … more stories.


First in a series of daily first-person stories from the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.

By Tony Leodora

After an entire year of waiting for the chance to redeem my past failures, the eve of the 31st Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap has finally arrived. This beach town is buzzing with excitement as almost 4,000 golfers have descended on the area – all with the same high aspirations for this week of stroke play competition.

The checklists – a necessary bit of preparation if there is even a ghost of a hope for success in this annual test – have all been checked and double-checked.

  • Bring an extra dozen golf balls, out of respect for all of the ponds and wetlands that will be found in Myrtle Beach. Check.
  • Pack rain gear, for those predicted afternoon thunder storms. Check.
  • Bring extra golf gloves. The heat and humidity of Carolina’s Low Country will be at its seasonal worst throughout the week. Check.
  • Pack a few cigars for post-golf relaxation. Check.
  • Bring the audio putting tips, for review throughout the week. Check.
  • Bring an extra putter, in case those audio putting tips do not work. Check.
  • Pack an extra supply of sunscreen and insect repellant. Check.
  • Leave all of those negative swing thoughts back in Pennsylvania. Check (I hope).

Now that the preparation is complete, it is time to start concentrating on the task that lies ahead. That starts with the inspection of my course rotation. From past experience, you can usually expect to play one A-level course, two B-level courses and one C-level course in the four days of competition.

This year, a total of 60 courses are being used for the World Am. By going to the tournament website it is possible to see the course assignments. I quickly discovered that, this year, I had hit the equivalent of the World Am jackpot.

Round 1 – The TPC Myrtle Beach is the only course in the entire area that received a 5-star rating from the readers of Golf Digest. Annually it is in excellent condition. For a number of years it served as the final round for all players who emerged as champions in their flights.

Round 2 – Carolina National. The bad news is that it is one of the farthest drives from my headquarters for the week, the Sheraton Convention Center hotel in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Carolina National is well north of the North Carolina border, in the town of Bolivia. The good news is that the Fred Couples design is a picturesque and solid design, set along the Lockwood Folly River.

Round 3 – The Avocet course at Wild Wing Plantation is the only 18-hole course remaining from what was a 54-hole complex. And it was my favorite. It was designed by the team of Jeff Brauer and PGA Tour player Larry Nelson. It is a player-friendly layout that should provide a bit of a respite after two days of challenging layouts.

Round 4 – River Oaks might be the closest golf course to my hotel for the week. The short commute will be welcome after a week of driving up and down the Grand Strand. The course has a lot of water on it. Hopefully, after a week of practice and playing, I’m hitting the ball straight.

Check this website daily throughout the week to read all about the birdies and double-bogeys, the varied characters encountered during the day at the golf courses … and each night at the World’s Largest 19th Hole.


By Eddie Caiazzo

With Father’s Day approaching fast, not only is getting out to play a round of golf on the top of Dad’s list, but so are the latest gadgets.

At GolfTalk Live, it is our job to make sure dad has a wish-list filled with the best golf products.  Here is the 2014 Father’s Day gift guide:

Alphard Duo Golf Cart
This is a golf bag and push cart combined.
With a two-step setup, go from the trunk to the course in seconds.  Packed with an assortment of features offering unparalleled convenience and comfort, The Duo Cart is 30% more compact than a standard full-size golf bag – and it will also fit with ease in a standard golf travel bag.

More details and an order form can be found at www.alphardgolf.com.  Enter promo code DAD15 at checkout to receive 15% of all orders before 6/15/2014.

Bridgestone Golf Balls
Bridgestone goes to great lengths to ensure players are hitting the proper ball.  The e6, along with their entire premium line of golf balls are made in the U.S.A.  Leading up to July 4th, there will be special red, white and blue packaging to celebrate U.S. Production of the e6.

Go to a Bridgestone Ball Fitting live and in person, or use their data on www.bridgestonegolf.com to determine which ball is the correct one to be playing.

Linda Hartough Golf Landscapes
9th Hole at Pinehurst No. 2 Painting and Green Glory: A Visual Tribute to the Courses of the Majors

This year’s 9th Hole at Pinehurst No. 2 print is the 25th and last image in Linda Hartough’s U.S. Open series commissioned by the USGA.  This collector’s item starts at $225 unframed and in various print types.

Green Glory: A Visual Tribute to the Courses of the Majors is a coffee table sized publication featuring all of the courses where majors have been held since 1950.  The text, images and paintings are by Linda Hartough, and the photographic images are by Patrick Drickey.

The book costs $75, and both items can be found at www.hartough.com.

Mantis Golf
Original Mantis Mallet Putter
New Mantis “B” Blade Putter

Mantis putters were a “Tony’s Top 10” winner, as selected by GolfTalk Live host Tony Leodora, and featured in “Eddie’s Closet,” as previewed by Eddie Caiazzo.  The Mantis line of putters have a patented green finish to match the color of the green.  This is to maximize attention to the ball and line of the putt.  Both putters produce a smoother putting stroke with more consistent results.

Both putters are only $159.99 each, and available at www.mantisgolfco.com

Nexbelt
The belt with no holes.

The Go-In series for golfers was a featured Product of the Month in 2013 on GolfTalk Live, and the success has continued for Nexbelt.  The company took home a national award from the 2014 PGA Show.  With more than 90 designs and the unique quarter-inch ratcheting system, they are offering a Father’s Day sale of 20% off all men’s belts.

Sale ends on midnight, 6/15/2014.  Go to www.nexbelt.com, place your order and enter the word FATHER at checkout.

Personal Golf Fan
“Isn’t it about time comfort was par for the course?”
The slogan of the patented Personal Golf Fan tells the story.  With the days heating up, this product is sure to keep golfers cool throughout their entire round.  The Personal Golf Fan fits almost every golf cart manufacturer cup holder, generating the equivalent to a 20 mph wind.

Go to www.pgffan.com to order, use promo code FAN to get free shipping.

With so many great golf products to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find exactly what Dad is looking for.  Make it easy by choosing one or more of the items on this list.  Be sure to check the GolfTalk Live homepage each month to see the Product of the Month.

Featured this month is a beautiful Bulova Accutron II watch that can be picked up for over $100 off the retail price at Inside Jewelers on West Chester Pike in Broomall, PA.

For more product features, follow @TLgolftalklive on Twitter and “Like” GolfTalk Live on Facebook – Listen to GolfTalk Live every Saturday morning at 7 on www.wntp.com.


By Tony Leodora

For the past three years the team of Ken Gibson and Jeff Ploppert have shown the ability to rise to the occasion. They proved it again when the GolfTalk Live Winter Invitational Series invited the best-of-the-best to compete in the season-ending Tournament of Champions at Play-a-Round Golf on Lancaster Pike in Malvern.

The tandem combined for a record-setting net score of 11-under-par 25 in the nine hole final, winning by six shots over a field of teams that qualified with strong performances during the year.

Ploppert contributed with a pair of timely birdies on the only holes where his partner struggled, but quickly admitted that the team’s success was really a one-man show.

“Ken was absolutely on fire today,” said Ploppert, after Gibson shot a 38 gross/28 net on his own ball. “I honestly don’t believe he can play any better than that.”

Gibson shrugged it off by saying, “Some days it just all falls into place.”

Finishing second was the husband-wife team of Jim and Eileen Whitmore at net 31. Third place went to the duo of Jim Woodward and Artie Schenck.

As always, the management team of Steve Graves and Steve Graves Jr. hosted the event, set up the course (back 9 at TPC Sawgrass) and provided the scorekeeping.

“This was, by far, the best year we have had for the Winter Invitationals,” said Graves Sr. “We were almost sold out every week and had a tremendous group of people playing. It was a nice mix of the old standbys and a number of newcomers. We are already looking forward to next season.”

The GolfTalk Live Winter Invitationals are held on a number of Saturday mornings throughout the winter, immediately following the live broadcast of the award-winning GolfTalk Live radio show. The show began its eighth year on the air March 1 and is hosted by Tony Leodora.


Tony’s Test Drives
One in a series of occasional reviews of courses, destinations, equipment or products by our traveling golf writer and host of the GolfTalk Live radio show.

By Tony Leodora

I can’t hide it any more. I must make a public admission.

I have been conducting a 20-year affair with a temptress who has a large legion of other lovers.

How could I resist. Her beauty is beyond explanation. Her allure is sexy and seductive. She has given me an enormous amount of pleasure – for the last 20 years.

And also a fair share of frustration.

But I never get tired of the experience. The passion still burns bright.

My 20-year love affair is with Caledonia Golf and Fish Club – located at the south end of Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand.

It was love at first sight.

I first visited Caledonia just a couple of months after it opened, in January of 1994. The late Mike Strantz, had just finished work on the course – his first solo venture after a number of years working with the design team of acclaimed golf course architect Tom Fazio.

The creative artistry of Strantz had dominated many of Fazio’s projects in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s – and it was quite evident at Caledonia.

Strantz painted a work of art on the landscape canvas that once was a bustling rice plantation at Caledonia. Amidst the abundant live oaks, draped with Spanish moss, and the scenic low country wetlands, Strantz seemed to concentrate as much on beauty as he did on strategic golf.

Walking the property with Strantz, and talking about his debut solo project, there was a lot of conversation about the merits of Caledonia. He pointed out some of the construction challenges, highlighted the design strengths and commented on the finishing touches – such as ornamental plants and flowers, wooden covered bridges, and the wrought-iron and brick overpasses that allow golfers to manipulate their way through the wetlands.

At one point, Strantz stopped dead in his tracks and gazed out at the impressive landscape. In a comment that seemed more inspired by genuine amazement, instead of a lack of humility, he said, “I think we’ve got something very special here.”

The thousands of golfers who have visited Caledonia over the last 20 years agree. So do the golf course rating panels.

Caledonia has been rated in a number of Top 100 lists – including Golfweek’s Top 100 Modern Courses, Golf Magazine’s Top 100 You Can Play, and America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.

Bob Seganti is the director of golf operations at Caledonia – as well as the neighboring sister-course at True Blue. He expanded his duties from True Blue, taking over both jobs after the death of longtime Caledonia Director of Golf and best friend Todd Welden last fall. Seganti is a native of the Philadelphia suburbs, but came to the Pawley’s Island area in 1995. And never gave moving away a thought.

“I fell in love with the area right from the start,” said Seganti. “And the same thing with the golf courses. Caledonia is just a classic beauty and just an outstanding rout. It’s almost a floral garden, with all the feature trees and landscaping. True Blue is like its naughty sister. It is a challenging course that is loved by hardcore golfers.”

For 20 years Caledonia has served as one of the leaders with regard to golf excellence in the Myrtle Beach area. People still regard it as the jewel of their annual golf trip. Even if they are staying on the northern end of the Grand Strand, the long drive to Caledonia, on the very southern end, is never too long.

“People never seem to tire of this golf course,” Seganti reported. “They come early, they stay late. They sit on the rocking chairs on our back porch and watch the golfers trying to deal with our 18th hole.”

While the 18th hole is one of the most memorable tests at Caledonia – because of the demanding tee shot and even tougher second shot to a green that is staunchly protected by water – it is only one in a memorable collection. It has been called “a collection of 18 signature holes.”

And it’s hard to believe it has already been around for 20 years.

“We have a number of special things planned for this 20th anniversary year,” said Seganti. “There are some specials we will be running, and some special events we are planning.”
It is a year-long birthday celebration for a course that definitely deserves celebrating.

And, after the latest rendezvous, there seems to be no reason to break up this 20-year love affair.


Tony’s Test Drives
One in a series of occasional reviews of courses, destinations, equipment or products by our traveling golf writer and host of the GolfTalk Live radio show.

By Tony Leodora

In recent years, the big word throughout the golf industry has been “contraction.”

Especially in the United States, the number of golf courses has been contracting rapidly. During 2013 a total of 158 golf courses closed in the U.S., compared to only 14 courses opening.

There are very few areas in the world that have shown golf growth. Everyone points to China as the leading example. And, certainly, there has been great growth in China.

But that country pales by comparison to the growth that is taking place in another country. Within the next couple of years, the amount of golf courses on the tiny West Indies island of St. Kitts will triple.

Dating back to 1976, when architect Robert Trent Jones first brought golf to the island with the opening of the Royal St. Kitts GC, visitors had only one option. That is changing rapidly.

Kittitian Hill, an upscale residential and opulent cottage hotel property, plans to unveil a dramatic golf course designed by Masters champion Ian Woosnam in December of 2014.

Another spectacular project, Christophe Harbour, also is underway. It will combine luxury residential properties, with several five-star hotels and a mega-yacht marina – all complemented by a Tom Fazio-designed golf course. Target for opening is 2015.

In advance of the new developments, the original Royal St. Kitts GC also underwent a major renovation that established it as an excellent example of resort golf. It is an extremely enjoyable layout, yet the ever-present trade winds can add enough challenge for any level of golfer.

“We realize now how important golf can be to the total tourism capability here on St. Kitts,” said Ricky Skerritt, St. Kitts Minister of Tourism. “The beauty of the island is the main attraction, but playing golf on such a beautiful island is very appealing to a lot of people.”

Mike Cole is a PGA professional who grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Twelve years ago he moved to Jamaica and ran the golf program at the famous White Witch GC. In 2013 he followed the renovation at Royal St. Kitts GC and moved to the island.

“I saw the tremendous potential that exists here,” said Cole. “The quality of life is absolutely great. As soon as more people learn about this island, it will become the hottest thing in the Caribbean.”

The renovation of Royal St. Kitts GC by Canadian architect Thomas McBroom established it with modern drainage and the latest technology with regard to turfgrass and agronomy.

There is a links-style feel to the course, as few trees dot the landscape and the seaside back nine is whipped by the ever-present trade winds. However, golfers are able to find almost any shot they hit. That factor aids pace of play, often a point of contention at resort courses that were designed to be too difficult for the caliber of everyday player.

The new Kittitian Hill course should be quite the opposite. Located on a former 400-acre sugar plantation, the golf course has more than 200 feet of elevation change. Also, there are a series of “gaughts” or ravines that are caused by extreme storm water runoff. Golfers will have a total of 10 forced carries across the hazard areas.

The course plays up the side of a mountain, affording spectacular water views and panoramic vistas of the countryside. The entire project is being planned with the environment in mind.

“The plan is not to use any insecticides or pesticides on the course,” explained Bob Harrington, the golf course project manager. “There are going to be a number of areas on the property where organic farming will be practiced. A farm-to-table culinary style will be part of the culture here. As a result, great care is being taken to preserve the natural condition of the property.”

At Christophe Harbour, the scale of everything is grand. The project covers 2,500 acres of cliffs and waterfront on the southeast tip of St. Kitts.

“This is one of the most spectacular projects I have ever been involved in,” said renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio, who has been involved in a number of world-class golf properties. “The only word you can use to describe every phase of Christophe Harbour is ‘spectacular.’ It is absolutely breathtaking.”

With regard to the golf course, which is currently under construction, Fazio had the same impressive assessment. “Take the best holes at Pebble Beach and put them on cliffs about 100 feet above the sea,” said Fazio. “That’s what the entire course will be like.”

With that kind of quality golf situated on a small island, there is a substantial amount of attraction for the traveling golfers of the world. If that is not enough, there is always the sister island of Nevis, just a short ferry ride away. A Robert Trent Jones II golf course, with more spectacular views of the Caribbean and Mt. Nevis, is located at the impressive Nevis Four Seasons Resort.

All of this development will enhance the natural beauty that exists on St. Kitts – one in a string of Caribbean islands that share a volcanic origin.

“I hear a lot of people comparing the look and feel of St. Kitts to Hawaii,” says Tom Jaronski of The Golf Connection, a Royersford, PA-based company that runs pro-am golf tournaments throughout the Caribbean and Mexico. “The golf is great. The scenery is great. The weather is great. The biggest challenge St. Kitts faces today is that not enough people know anything about it. Once they come, they’re hooked.”

Getting hooked on a beautiful island like St. Kitts is a given. Getting hooked on St. Kitts Golf is the next project of the 40,000 inhabitants, known as Kittitians. And they are off to a flying start.


By Tony Leodora

At some point, on the way down to the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, the thought crosses the mind: “Is it really possible to come out with something new? Haven’t they exhausted all of the innovative possibilities? After all, we are just talking about hitting a ball with a stick.”

And every year there is another wide range of innovative new items at this “Super Bowl” of the golf industry.

True, this year there was no knock-you-down kind of product – like the first metal wood, or the first oversized driver. But there were plenty of new wrinkles to keep people busy for three days – four days, if you count the rain-shortened Demo Day.

So, your trusty reporter compiled all of his notes, hit golf balls until his hands ached, walked miles and miles of the giant convention center … and interviewed just about everyone who had some sort of new-fangled golf invention.

After all of that exhaustive research, here is another addition of a much anticipated report from the PGA Merchandise Show – Tony’s Top Ten. It represents the 10 items that caught my eye, and imagination … while, at the same time, presented a real possibility of making a difference in the game of golf.

These items also air – with interviews – in the Feb. 1 GolfTalk Live radio show.

  1. Bridgestone True Balance Putter – Putter designer Steve Sax goes all the way back to the Carbite putter days. He brought his expertise to Bridgestone and came up with something new. The True Balance Putter features the game’s lightest grip and shaft. As a result, all you feel is the head. And there are a number of popular head styles.

    www.bridgestonegolf.com

  2. 4 Yards More Hybrid Tee – Philadelphia-based inventor Frank Carroll has been coming out with a number of great golf products, starting with his Greenkeeper spikes. A few years ago his 4 Yards More Tee made quite an impression, and has been a strong seller ever since. New he has answered the call of golfers and come out with a 4 Yards More Hybrid Tee. It follows the same basic theory of the standard tee – less friction equals longer, straighter drives.

    www.4yardsmore.us

  3. Antigua Women’s Line – Antigua has been one of the fastest growing golf apparel companies in recent years. A lot of the success is owed to the Desert Dry Xtra Lite fabric used in many styles of shirts. “We felt it was time to expand our women’s line of clothing,” said president Ron McPherson. “We did it using the same technology that has been successful in the men’s line and the same bold, bright colors that are in demand today. Bottom line: peak performance, plus appealing style.

    www.antigua.com

  4. Tour Edge Exotics XCG7 Fairway Wood – This is not the first time Tour Edge has made Tony’s Top Ten. And not the first time it made the list with a fairway wood. Acknowledged on the professional tours as one of the best fairway woods available, Tour Edge keeps adding wrinkles that improve on what is already the best. The CB Pro model of this fairway wood is now available with a Slip Stream sole that allows the head to maintain maximum speed through impact. The beta titanium cup face provides the hottest ball launch on the market.

    www.touredge.com

  5. Bridgestone B330 Golf Ball Series – Bridgestone has been making good golf balls for a number of years. But it also helps to be a little bit lucky. In developing the new B330 line of golf balls – four varieties that can be fitted to the needs of every golfer – the research team stumbled into something very interesting. By adding a secret, high-tech ingredient – WATER – to the composition of the core, they achieved amazing results. Now known as the ball with Hydro Core Technology, Bridgestone has a ball that is extremely long, yet it performs well off the tee.

    www.bridgestonegolf.com

  6. Putting Stick – Pro Model – The Putting Stick made last year’s list and really attracted a lot of attention. Former LPGA Tour star Alice Miller called it the best training aid at the show. But inventor Vlad Gribovsky wasn’t finished. He came out with a new Pro Model that is more portable, easier to use and provides a bit more feedback than the original model. One thing is still the same – no training aid teaches the art of putting better. Visitors to the booth at the PGA Show were amazed at how simple the principle is.

    www.tpkgolf.com

  7. Eye Loc Eyewear – This might have been the most innovative item at the show. The fact that it addresses one of the most common problems in the game – keeping the head still or swaying – is a welcome adjustment. Inventor Vinny Lamorte has teamed up with PGA Profession Tony Vos and marketing expert Mark Zander to bring an easy-to-use training aid that focuses the eyesight on the golf ball and provides immediate feedback if your head is moving off the ball.

    www.eyeloc.com

  8. Golf Buddy – There are a lot of laser distance measuring devices on the market but the Golf Buddy is voice activated. It can be transformed easily from a wrist watch to a small device that clips on a golf cap or another accessible form of clothing. It measures distance to the front, middle and back of the green. It is extremely accurate and easy to use.

    www.gpsgolfbuddy.com

  9. Mantis Putter – The Mantis Putter came out last year and immediately grabbed the attention of the golf world. Its distinctive green color blends in with the grass on the green, allowing maximum concentration on the golf ball. In addition, the original mallet head design provided excellent balance and feel. Now Mantis has added a blade putter to its line and the reception at the PGA Show was loud and united. This putter combines traditional feel and weighting with a new technology that produces a relaxed, smooth putting stroke.

    www.mantisgolfco.com

  10. Swing Shirt – Most training aids designed to promote a connected golf swing are either too restrictive or too hard to put on … or both. The Swing Shirt is an incredibly simple design that promotes the feeling of a connected swing by used of zippers that connect the sleeves of the golf shirt to the body of the shirt. The constraint can be tightened or loosened with a simple zip of a zipper. Golf professionals everywhere have given an immediate endorsement to this product.

    www.swing-shirt.com