Friday, April 23, 2010


I am, and always have been a firm believer that the equipment you choose to play will definitely have an impact on your game, either for better or for worse. I hesitate to over-emphasize that point because in today's golf industry there are many high quality options in every piece of equipment one might need, so choosing one brand over another, for most of us, will have little noticeable impact on our game.

Choices in equipment must be made in the apparel, glove, and shoes you choose to wear, the clubs you choose to swing, the putter you carry, and even the sunscreen you decide to trust. With all of those choices, who needs yet another, but is there a more important choice to make than what kind of ball to play? I'll let that point be argued about, but in all seriousness, without the ball, what is golf?

There exist many schools of thought on the golf ball decision. I have heard many say that with their swing, they are just going to lose a bunch of balls anyway, so why spend any good money on them...just grab the cheapest bunch available and swing away. Fortunately for that golfer, there exist options, but if one wants to improve, and have the best chance of achieving success, that mindset needs to change.

In my own experience, I have gradually evolved from that 15-ball bonus pack mindset to playing top line models for most of the last decade. Though I haven't bought them new for more than 2 years now, the staple in my bag has been the Titleist outstanding ball, but one that has, in my opinion, gone beyond the acceptable price limit for a semi-disposable commodity. Additionally, during my endeavor to build the Beaver Golf online store, the Titleist companies chose to pass on allowing me to sell their products to my faithful fans. I was not pleased.

Wilson Golf based here in my hometown of Chicago, IL chose a different business practice, and allowed my to become an online vendor of their products. Over the years I have played a handful of Wilson balls, most recently the "True" back about 5-6 years ago. One of my longtime playing partners religiously used his Wilson irons for many years, and still swings his Wilson SW despite the grooves being worn down to slicks. So, what better time to try out Wilson's new offerings to the golf ball world with their premium 3-piece ball, the FG Tour.

The FG Tour has a simple, clean, and elegant look right from the sleeve. The outer layer feels soft as you might expect, and inspires confidence before placing it on the tee. Off the Driver, the distance and feel might be just a fraction off the ProV1x, but equal to, or better than all other premium balls I have played, such as the Nike One Tour D, Callaway Tour i, Bridgestone B330-s, and the TaylorMade Penta. The slight loss in distance could very easily be attributed to my rusty swing or the colder spring weather, but I think it is about 5 yards shorter than the ProV1x.

Distance is far from everything on the course, however, and off irons and wedges, the FG Tour feels amazing. I haven't noticed any loss of distance off these shots with the FG Tour, and as mentioned the feel is top-notch...soft and buttery, but solid! That feel continues onto the green where I have found the FG Tour to really stand out. Off the putter the soft feel is brilliant, and inspires confidence on long and short putts equally.

One final area where the FG Tour takes a slight back seat is on chips and pitches. The spin is just a little off of the ProV1x, but again, equal to or better than the other premium balls I mentioned earlier.

At a $49.95 MSRP, the FG Tour will impact you wallet right along with its premium counterparts, but you can score big right now at Beaver Golf where through April a dozen will only cost you $34.99, FREE shipping, AND earn you $3.00 Beaver Bucks! I would strongly recommend that you give them a try.

If the premium balls aren't your bag, or you've got a slower swing speed so benefit from fewer compressions, the FG Tour's siblings, the C:25 and D:25 are also on sale now!

Fairways and Greens!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

GOLF COURSE REVIEW: Mistwood Golf Club

We have all heard the old saying, "if it's not broke, don't fix it", heck, we've all probably said it many times ourselves. That sentence has always been one of my favorite idioms for two reasons. First, its meaning is crystal clear. Second, I couldn't agree with it more...especially in golf! There are great examples everywhere you look, perhaps most notably the Old Course at St. Andrews (they haven't changed that course much, right?)

Well, the reverse of the idiom rings as true, i.e. If it is broke, then FIX IT! Take, for example Augusta National, home of the well known PGA major, The Masters. Way back in its earliest years, the nines actually were reversed due to the fact that Amen Corner (then playing as holes #2-#4) was prone to frequent frost delays in the early mornings. Switching the nines created arguably one of the most exciting back nine holes anywhere in the world. Then and since Tiger Woods blew away the star-studded field en route to his first win back in 1997, Augusta has made additional frequent and significant changes to the course to better protect Old Man Par against the massive advances in technology that had nearly reduced the course to nothing more than a beautiful pitch-and-putt. Of course, that is an exaggeration, but I assume you get my point. The changes appear to have allowed the tournament to continually test the players games, often forcing them to hit clubs they are less comfortable hitting into those treacherous greens.

The same rings true at Mistwood Golf Club, located in the Southwestern Chicago suburb of Romeoville amidst a collection of courses that, in my opinion, are easily the best bang for your buck anywhere in the area. Mistwood opened back in 1998 and though it was a enjoyable layout, conditioning was lacking, customer service sucked, and the price was a bit high making nearby alternatives such as Prairie Bluff and The Links at Carillon much more appealing. I played the course two or three times back then, but learned that it simply wasn't worth it at some point, and consciously avoided the course for several years. I wasn't the only one. Mistwood went through some pretty hard times and had loads of financial problems leading to partner, Jim McWethy to become the primary owner of the course in 2003.

Since then, Mistwood has made several key changes. They put a tremendous effort into improving course conditioning, and it shows. The greens are fast and true (though it doesn't seem to help my putts drop), the fairways are in great shape, and the hole designs have always been a lot of fun to play. Next, they changed customer service philosophy, treating guests like...well, guests! The bag boys greet you in the lot with exuberance, and insist on bringing your bag to the front even if you are walking. The starter (I've got to remember his name next time) is extremely pleasant, and accommodated our foursome before Noon on a Saturday, despite half our group being almost 40 minutes late (inexcusable). Finally, and not to be underestimated, they changed the routing on the front nine. What used to be holes #7, #8, and #9 are now the opening three holes, and though they aren't pushovers, provide a much more gradual start to the course in terms of difficulty. I really like courses that give you a few holes to find you swing before featuring areas where a wayward shot can devastate your score, and the change of routing allows that at Mistwood.

Their value is off the charts, especially right now as they chose to extend their special spring rates, and on a Saturday morning it costs $40 to walk! For a course of this caliber in Chicagoland, $40 is an absolute steal! It defies comprehension that Bolingbrook Golf Club, just minutes north of Mistwood somehow gets away with charging over $100 at the same time of day. I don't think I could even begin to listen to an argument over which course between the two is more fun, more challenging, and more interesting to play, and for 40% of the price, c'mon!

So, how about the holes themselves? It is hard to think of a single one that doesn't have something interesting and different to it. Risk/reward abounds at Mistwood. Between mounding, doglegs, well-placed hazards, and out-of-bounds on a few holes, Mistwood really forces you to think your way through the entire course.

Though most of the Par 4s measure less than 400 yards, none offer simply a straight shot up a flat fairway. Notable among them are the fourth hole (formerly the 1st before the re-route) which runs like a chasm between large mounds on either side of the fairway. It is a relatively mild dogleg left that look more severe than it is due to that mounding which almost blocks your view of the pin from the tee. The bunkering that must be carried to cut off the dogleg seems to cause missing to the right quite common, and poorly struck balls landing on the mounds on that right side will very often leave a severely side-hill lie and a long tough shot to the green. The short 12th hole protects the front of its two-tiered green with a deep gaping pot bunker that demands every bit of ingenuity and skill to get out of, in fact, hitting backwards away from the green might be the best escape from there. Don't fall asleep on 16! Though the wise play off the tee is a mid to long iron, the green is guarded in front by water (more good changes happening right now) and falls off sharply behind. The green is tough to hold, and if you miss it, recovery is no picnic.

The Par 5s are all reachable for longer players, but like their shorter siblings, all come with some degree of potential peril. The 3rd hole has a ridiculously tough green guarded by a creek directly in front. The 8th, which might be their signature hole, has a split fairway, and though the right side might offer a good chance to get home in two, it brings you dangerously close to the water all the way up the right side. The 15th is a severe dogleg left, and forces the player to avoid water guarding the entire left side from tee to green. Though it can be fun, the 15th might also be my least favorite hole on this course because it feels a little forced into the corner of the property. Finally, the 18th doesn't allow for any late round letup as shots to the large green must carry another creek to be safe, while woods, and a small lake guard the right side against wayward drives and poorly struck layup shots.

The Par 3s are probably the easier holes collectively, but the 200-ish yard 14th hole will take your breath away with almost the entire flight from tee to green over the corner of the 60-plus acre, Lake St. James. When a northwesterly wind is howling, you might just want to cross the bridge to the drop zone and hit your third saving yourself the ball.

The clubhouse and practice area are adequate, and the service from start to finish is outstanding at Mistwood. I highly recommend this course not only as an incredible value, but as one of the most enjoyable and challenging tracks in the Chicago area. I hope for their sake, that Mistwood's staff continue their current path to success, and not forget the lessons in their past. With all the quality options in the area, they need to keep their service high and their prices reasonable. They are winning on both counts right now, so get there, and let them know what you think! If you haven't played Mistwood since before 2003, trust me, it's time to come back for another try, you will be impressed with the change.

For some great 360 degree photos of Mistwood, check out here:

Fairways and Greens! (by the way, I lifted that ending from Mistwood)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beaver Golf is now selling Piranha!

I have mentioned several times that back in January, I and my ad hoc sidekick, Brad, attended the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL. The show is the granddaddy of all golf shows with oodles of vendors showing many thousands of their wares, everything from razzle-dazzle golf carts to virtual golfing simulators to custom tees and training aids that would make your head spin. We were exactly like kids in a candy shop...overwhelmed but very excited!

While there were lots of cool things at the show, some of which I have mentioned previously, one booth in particular really stood out with both Brad and I. The booth of which I speak was Piranha Golf's, manned by their charming and loquacious Chairman, Antonio Gelonesi. I will spare Antonio another biography detailing all the wonders of his life, but suffice it to say, the man knows golf, and is an unbelievably successful businessman. His manner was welcoming, and he oozed passion, pride, and excitement about his Piranha Golf products. Here is an ad they ran last year that sort of captures their spirit.

Founded in 1997, Piranha Golf has been around for a few years, but is still relatively unknown here in the States. My personal prediction is that won't last very long. The Piranha products are amazing! Their aesthetic is more than appealing, their form and function solid, and their logo and branding is downright cool - almost as cool as The Beaver! Personally, the V-Blade Irons are the cream of the crop, but I'll leave it to you to decide which of the Piranha collection you like the best. These are serious clubs designed with both improving your game, and the environment in mind.

Yes, I said the environment! Here is their environmental policy straight from their mouths:

Piranha Golf takes enormous pride in its environmental and sustainable practices.

Our Carbon Footprint:

Significant levels of energy are used when forging club heads in our factory and we have determined the amount  of that energy as well as the relative energy used and the carbon emissions created during transportation and assembly. As a consequence, Piranha Golf has purchased "off-setting contracts" to "zero out" our carbon footprint and we can accordingly offer our clients zero carbon clubs.

In addition, by using an “air blow” process to install our grips, rather then traditional methods, Piranha Golf limits the use of processing chemicals and this is a manufacturing process that we strongly advocate and encourage others to adopt. If we do need to use any acetone, we have developed a lemon acetone variant of equal efficiency but which has significant environmental benefits for both our staff and the planet.  Piranha Golf will happily provide this lemon acetone to all club makers “at cost” to promote  better practices and to demonstrate our willingness to meaningfully assist in achieving a cleaner environment.

What do you think of that? I think it's admirable, and well worth giving these guys your consideration if you are in the market for some new golf equipment, and really, who isn't?

So, check out the latest addition to the Beaver Golf family of products now at Piranha. Be the first in your foursome or club to put these works of art into play!

Fairways and Greens!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BEAVER GOLF is open for business!

Today is a day that I will long remember in my life, it is the day I opened my first business...Beaver Golf! Yes, of course, I have been writing the blog with purpose for going on a year now, and I did make a very small amount of money via Affiliate Marketing and Google Ads, but the brand new online store supporting my growing community of fans on Facebook and Twitter is a real honest-to-goodness business venture, and I intend to make sure it succeeds.

Success, of course is not an easy thing to achieve in the business world. I believe the odds are more in favor of my failing than succeeding, but that is just a statistic. I have already, and will continue to put a ton of effort into ensuring that my store delights my fellow Beaver Golfers on a regular basis. The satisfaction that I am able to bring to my customers will ultimately determine how long this little store of mine will thrive, so I am counting on all of you to keep me up to speed with just how satisfied you are with the site, and what you would like to see from it.

To that end, I'd like to give you a brief tour of the store and what we have to offer, without dwelling too long on any specific items, saving those in depth product reviews for the near future. No good business begins without a mission, and ours is this - Beaver Golf strives to be your virtual clubhouse, complete with comfort, conversation, and a store in which you will find stylish, unique, and innovative products all designed to enhance your enjoyment of the game of golf. I am very pleased with the simple and pleasing aesthetic of our site design, and I love our logos. I hope that you all share this sentiment, and that the clean and simple design makes your shopping with us more pleasing.

This blog will continue, and even expand, creating one of the several "rooms" where conversations about all aspects of the game will take place. I have always, and will continue to encourage interaction and participation from all who choose to read the blog, follow our Facebook Fan Page, or keep up with us on Twitter (I like hearing myself talk, but I like hearing all of you talk much more). On the blog, I will continue to write course reviews, but will begin to feature more significant product reviews, and eventually service reviews as well. Talk is cheap, so I can only hope that you will all come to trust that despite my product reviews often being intended to drive a sale, I will always be honest and forthright about my real feelings about a product or service. If I haven't "experienced" the product or service myself, I will not write about it - and if I don't like something, I will tell you so. I ask that you all will share your experiences as well, with courses and the like on my various Social media portals, and with products by posting reviews right on the product pages of my store. Please be honest, I will not remove bad reviews, but will remove any that include profanity or distasteful commentary.

As for the store proper, I'd be lying if I said I have used every product I sell - I do sell women's apparel after all, and I have yet to play the game as a cross-dresser (though if it'll get me onto the forward tees without shame, perhaps I should give it a try!). I have made an effort to ensure that I carry products that are high quality, innovative in design, and more often than not, have aspects that will help you to play better golf, or at least look and feel better while playing. I, and my ad hoc assistant, Brad, spent the better part of two plus days at the PGA Merchandise Show back at the end of January scouring all that the world had to offer in the business of golf. At that show I learned quite a bit about the industry of golf, and where my biggest challenges would be. I also saw some of the most interesting apparel and equipment there was to see, and from the hundreds of vendors, chose a select few to begin my store with. More selection will continue to make its way into the store, and some may work its way out based on the feedback, both direct and indirect, that I receive from all of you.

You will notice, for instance, that my store is heavy in apparel right now. While there are several reasons for this, the biggest reason is that this is an area where there is a great deal of innovation, and much of this innovation can not be found at your local Pro Shop or big box retailer. On Beaver Golf, you will find some familiar clothing brands like Antigua, who utilize a great feeling performance fabric that they call Desert Dry, but also some lesser known brands that I hope you will give a try. 

Beyond The Links is a small apparel company owned by Joe Skovron, who also happens to caddy for one of the PGA Tour's young guns, Rickie Fowler. The clothing from Beyond The Links is slightly edgy, but very clean, and is constructed from performance fabrics to aid with your comfort on the course. Check out his shirts, caps, and a sweet belt featuring their great logo!

Hawke & Co. is a company with a history in the apparel business, but very new to the golf world. Hawke initially caught my eye with the colors they presented, and was the very first booth we visited at the show in Orlando. All of their apparel is designed with comfort in mind, and features technologies that wick moisture, move and stretch with your swing, utilize recycled materials, and resist odor as well as UV rays. Hawke also caught the eye of PGA Tour Pro Jim Furyk who wears their shirts on tour...take a closer look at Jim next time you watch him play.

Puma has been around in the athletic apparel industry for a long time, though their foray into golf has come more recently, they are really making a splash. With Golf Digest cover boy Rickie Fowler sporting seemingly everything that the Puma designers can think up, they may be around for many years to come. With some fresh designs, and quality fabrics, Puma will surely catch your eye, and if you like it, hopefully a few of your dollars! Puma is currently my only brand of shoe offered, though both the Puma shoe selection, and overall golf shoe collection should expand throughout the year. I am particularly fond of the women's shoes on the store, so check them out ladies!

Straight Down is not new to the golf scene, but may be new to you. I first discovered Straight Down on the very same trip to Bandon Dunes that helped launch the original idea for Beaver Golf. I still wear a fleece vest by Straight Down with the Bandon Dunes logo that I purchased out there on a subsequent trip. Straight Down has some excellent tops and bottoms, but really excels at making some stylish outer wear for those post-round drinks out on the clubhouse porch evenings - a nightly occurrence at Bandon Dunes!

With all due respect to the other great brands we carry, Sunice might be the one that makes me stop and stare the longest. Sunice specializes in outerwear, and makes some of the best use of Gore-Tex fabric in the world. While their Gore products are unbelievable, they feature a stepped selection of products with varied features and degrees of water and wind resistance so that they have a solution for almost any weather condition that ails you. I am particularly intrigued by their use of silver fibers woven directly into the fabric of their X-Static products. The silver fibers contain some "big word" properties such as thermal conduction and reflection, moisture transfer, anti-microbial, anti-static, and visible technology...altogether they mean you will feel great and odor will never be a problem! Guys and gals, check out the Bowen and the Evelyn respectively for two of the more exciting pieces in my opinion. I'll be personally reviewing the Bowen as soon as I can!

After doing some pre-show research back in January, Tattoo Golf was a company I sought out at the show. If you haven't seen their styles, you are missing out. I am one who likes to bend the traditions a bit when it comes to apparel (after all, my store is called Beaver Golf), so one look at Tattoo Golf, and I knew I had to offer them a home in my store. If you like to make a statement, but still want the high-performance fabrics and design in your shirts and accessories, take a good look at the Tattoo Golf section on the store. I am even selling their bottle opener and Koozies for those who like to sneak a tasty adult beverage or two onto the course!

An important part of our mission at Beaver Golf is to embrace the women -- y'know as part of the golf community! I hear often from the women in our group how limited the selection is for good women's apparel, so want to remedy that on the store. We are nowhere close to that goal as we open our doors, but our selection from Tracey Lynn is an excellent peg in the ground (again, no pun intended there). Tracey Blake, the founder and CEO of Tracey Lynn has an inspiring story of her own after recovering from a rare and serious illness, she dedicated herself to making women's golf apparel that used high-performance fabrics and did a better job of flattering a woman's figure. Take a look and see for yourself.

My club selection for "off the green" strokes is limited to be sure as this is easily one of the toughest nuts to crack in this world of handshakes, longtime relationships, and old-school rules, but do not let that take away from the quality I was able to find and offer from my hometown of Chicago's own Wilson Golf. Wilson is one of the oldest and most experienced club-makers in the world, and is showing no signs of letting age get to them. Their equipment is played by many pros including 3-time major Champion Padraig Harrington, and PGA Pro Ricky Barnes who had himself quite a Masters tournament after finishing 2nd in the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Their clubs are highlighted by their FG Tour Irons for better players, and their new Hybrid-shafted D-FY Irons which will benefit anyone trying to hit the ball straighter, higher, and longer. Along with their world class irons, we carry their FYbrid club system designed to help you better optimize the fourteen clubs in your bag, their Smooth Driver, their TW9 Tour Milled Wedges, 88 Series Putters, balls, gloves, bags, you name it! We have some exciting surprises on the way to help expand our club selection, but trust me, you can't go wrong with Wilson, and our prices through April are incredible!

Putting is a BIG part of the game, and is all too often overlooked. How many people do you see carrying a $400 Driver that they will swing at most 14 times per round, then pull out a cruddy old stick with a steel block on the bottom that they found at a garage sale somewhere with which they play a third of their strokes? Beaver Golf believes in bringing technology to putting, and very proudly features three brands who do as well. Along with the aforementioned Wilson, please take a good look at the putter selection from Rife and Yes! Both Rife and Yes! use different methods to achieve the same result...immediate forward roll on your putts, eliminating the initial hop and backspin to create a more consistently accurate result. Both of these are world-class brands and have very notable Tour wins among them on many of the major Tours.

Practice makes perfect, and arguably the most successful and well-known swing trainers available today is the Medicus Dual-Hinge club. The patented design of the dual hinge clubs helps you to quickly determine where the flaws in your swing path are, and correct them...AND you can hit balls with them! Along with the dual hinge, Medicus offers several other helpful aids that you should explore and purchase to help keep your game in shape.

Though Asher Gloves are a small part of our store, I'd hate for them to be overlooked. Asher makes premium golf gloves with exciting and uniques designs. I am particularly fond of The Birdie with a subtly effective placement of a bird graphic on a certain finger! Buy one of these gloves for the fun factor, and you will not be disappointed in the quality, which together could help you play a more relaxed and better round.

Last, but by no means least, is the ruletwentyone from RuleGolf. The r21 is a durable terrycloth towel with a waterproof back side that easily folds over itself and fits in your pocket keeping your pocket dry while the towel side stays wet and allows you to clean your clubs and ball no matter where you are on the course. A clean club face and ball has been shown to deliver a more consistently accurate shot time and time again. With this little beauty available to you, why play another dirty shot again!

That rounds out our initial list of brand partners. Though I am very pleased with and proud of the products we have already brought to you, there is more variety on the horizon, and with it more opportunities for exciting specials and savings! Of course, we will have a selection of products with our own Beaver Golf logo as well, as some of you are already wearing. These products will be a mix of store essentials such as tees and gloves, but also limited edition designs on shirts, hats, and much more.

I hope you will make the time to browse our store, and fill up that shopping cart. My intent is to stick around for a long, long time, but without your patronage, that simply won't materialize. So please let me know what you like, AND what you don't like whenever you have the chance so we can make this the comfortable virtual clubhouse it is intended to be.

Thank you!

Fairways and Greens!


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