Paradise Found

By January 23, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. -- Driving down narrow country roads on the outskirts of Orlando, I suddenly see a mass of cars as the signs direct me into Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge, site of Golfweek's 2006 Golfest.
 
Jammed into any space available - real parking space or otherwise - liscense plates show that people have flocked to the event from all over the Midwest and up and down the eastern seaboard - Michigan, Maryland, Vermont, New York, Tennessee to name just a few.
 
2006 Golfest
Golfweek's Golfest 2006 had over 60 exhibitors that were open to the public.
Bumpers stickers read from, 'I'd rather be golfing' to 'Golfer on board' to 'I'm a Golf Addict.'
 
They have come to the right place as the massive circular practice facility is crowded with over 60 exhibitors. An official event of the PGA Merchandise Show that will get underway in just a few days here in Orlando, this is the third year the general public has been treated to what is billed as a 'golf lifestyle extravaganza.'
 
Along with the usual suspects of the large club manufacturers such as Ping, Callaway and Nike, many other booths fill the area.
 
There was the Flordia Hospital Wellness Pavillion which was offering massages, blood pressure checks and joint screenings that were geared toward the avid golfer. An added bonus upon walking into the tent was seeing The Golf Channel's 'Big Break IV' contestant Thomas Blankvoort, who chatted up visitors who wandered into the tent.
 
Speaking of names, throughout the day appearances were made by world-renowned golf instructor David Leadbetter, the PGA Tour's Skip Kendall, Suzy Whaley and 2004 World Long Drive champion Dave Mobley.
 
Fans at Golfest were also treated to a trick-shot performance by Peter Johncke, who blends quite a bit of humor to go along with his impressive array of trick shots.
 
After hitting a few balls from a couple of different types of new drivers, I made my way over to the putting green to test out the slew of putters that were made available to the public. Between all the drivers, the irons, the hybrids and the putters to choose from, I started to feel that the rule of having just 14 clubs in your bag at once just seemed way too low.
 
Following a quick stop at the beer garden for a refreshment - which ironically was located right next to the wellness tent - I headed back into the fray and stopped by the Edwin Watts Golf Shops tent. What was basically a mini-version of one of their local stores, the booth had shirts, shoes, clubs, bags among other golf equipment for sale.
 
'This (Golfest) is a good way to promote the game of golf and we felt being here was great idea. It lets the people see the new equipment and test out the clubs,' said Edwin Watts sales rep Bill Blanchard, who was enjoying talikng and helping the passing crowds of golfers. 'Some people don't think you get a true feel of a club when hitting in the store, so this offers them a chance to see the whole ball flight when hitting the clubs.'
 
2006 Golfest
PGA Tour player Skip Kendall put on a clinic for the fans who turned out at Orange County National Golf Club.
Many golf courses from in and around the Central Florida area were also using the event to help promote their courses, as were existing and new resort and golf housing developments.
 
One such booth was Florida Space Coast Golf, which is touting the area as an alternative golfing destination to Las Vegas. Located on the east coast of Florida, the FSCGA (Florida Space Coast Golf Association) promotes eight golf courses in and around Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach. With a couple of gambling cruise ships docked at nearby Port Canaveral and plenty of sunshine and sandy beaches, it sounds like a win-win situation.
 
Said Executive Director of the FSCGA Mike Floyd, ' What's better than a little R&R with a little G&G (golf and gambling) thrown into mix.'
 
But the best thing about this event is that due to its recent success the show will hit the road and start touring around the country. Stops include Ft. Lauderdale (Feb. 4-5), Houston (Mar. 4-5), Charlotte (Mar. 25-26), Raleigh (Apr. 1-2), Atlanta (Apr. 21-22), Chicago (Apr. 29-30), Dallas (May 6-7) and San Diego (May 20-21).
 
PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW COVERAGE:
Thursday, Jan. 26 ' Saturday, Jan. 28
LIVE from 1 ' 3 p.m. ET
Replays 10:30 ' 11:30 p.m. ET
 
Related Links:
  • Buy the Big Break V Calendar
  • Full Coverage - 2006 PGA Merchandise Show
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.