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Scott Yates Florida - 10 Essential Things to Keep in your Golf Bag

10 Essential Things to Keep in your Golf Bag

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To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail to paraphrase the great Benjamin Franklin – a lesson we should apply to all aspects of our lives; not least when it comes to golf. Your golf bag should be a cornucopia of all that you need, but you don’t want to have to haul around a bag equivalent to a ton of bricks.  Admittedly, we are all guilty of overloading our bags, but remember you don’t need to fill every pocket, sometimes less is more.

So, what are the essentials you are going to need without being underprepared? Obviously you need your clubs, but that is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fundamentals:

  1. Tees – You don’t require hundreds of these, it is dependent on your game. If you break a tee every time you swing, then obviously you’re going to need more. When it comes to the type you carry, again this is personal to your game. Plastic, wood, whichever you prefer. Just make sure you bring enough – and then a few more just in case.
  2. Golf Towel – This needs to be specifically designed for its purpose, not just borrowed from your linen closet.  You can choose from a versatile soft cotton material or microfiber for super-fast drying. Either way, it does the job of ensuring your clubs and balls are clean the whole course.
  3. Divot Tool – in order to preserve the integrity and caliber of the course for all those that follow you, be a conscientious golfer and always have a divot tool close to hand. It keeps the green in shape for everyone, and you can even purchase multi-tools that encompass a divot tool and a ball marker in one.
  4. Ball Marker – Speaking of, a ball marker is another fundamental part of kit, whether this be a specific marker made for the purpose or a coin.
  5. Gloves – That’s right, more than one – after all they take up hardly any space and gloves can be easily lost/effected by rain/sweat/might even rip.
  6. Water Bottle – Seems like a no-brainer, but there is nothing worse than being parched trekking around the course. Although most clubs provide water around the course, it is better to be on the safe side and have your own just in case.
  7. Sunscreen – Another addition that will help you on those hot and humid days, apply before and throughout your game, depending on your sensitivity to the sun’s rays.
  8. Insect Repellent – In places that have a more tropical climate, like Florida, this is another important addition to your bag, you want to be comfortable and focused in your game, not bothered by bugs.
  9. Umbrella/rain protection – This is ONLY if needed – if there isn’t a cloud in the sky, there is no point in hauling around enough rain protection for a tropical storm.
  10. Golf Balls – The most basic of basics needed when playing a round, of course you need your balls! Try and bring the appropriate amount for your handicap, and then a few more just to be safe.
Scott Yates Florida - Chip Tips for Beginners

Chip Tips for Beginners

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As a beginner, you need to get the basics down before you can even consider attempting more complex swings. These include the fundamental chip swing.

Chips are a crucial swing to have in your arsenal; however it isn’t one you are going to use on every hole. These are most likely to be used when you are around the 20 yard mark or closer, and are most usually made using a wedge – although you can chip with any club. The type of swing causes the ball to fly briefly into the air, then to hit the green and roll to where you need it to be. The general aim of using this shot is to get the ball rolling if it is in a difficult spot, for example it could be stuck in the fringe or the rough, which will make you unable to putt. Think of it like this, a chip shot will be more on the ground than in the air.

So now you have brushed up on when to use a chip swing and what it is, what are some tips that will ensure your chip shot it always tip top?

  1. This is a short swing, so you need to get your hands and the club in a position where they will be at maximum impact. Your set up in this shot is extremely important; you should have a narrow, open stance (around 12 inches), your shoulders should be open also. Your body should be pre-rotated forward towards your target.
  2. Place about 80 percent of your weight on your left side, and lean forward if you are comfortable enough to, as this will assist greatly in the accuracy of your shot.  The ball should be around 2 inches to the left of your right toe.
  3. When taking the stroke, it is integral that your left wrist remains flat for the entirety of the swing – just like when you putt.  Keep your left shoulder down and the clubhead below your hands.
  4. After impact, your body should return to the original, leaning position. Turn your body through and ensure your wrist is still flat when done.

The good thing about chip shots is that they are able to be practiced in a small amount of space, even your very own yard, so you have no excuse not to improve on this integral swing. Set up a target up to 20 yards away and start practicing!

Scott Yates Florida - How to add distance to your drive

How to Add Distance to your Drive

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Your drive is an incredibly important part of your game; your long distance shot sets the tone and are something that needs to be constantly improved and evolved.  You want your drive to place you as close to the green as possible, maximizing the power and using your legs and hips to ensure your swing is as perfect as it can possibly be. It boils down to flexibility, technique and form.

So, what can you do to keep your drive progressing? Here are some top tips:

  • Club

Your club makes a real difference to the success and accuracy of your shot. If you’re a beginner, you should try and find a club that is more forgiving to your errors but is still smartly designed.  A great example of this is the Callaway X Hot Driver. It is a great price and is a popular a well-celebrated club, having won many awards and being highly recommended. This is thanks to its speed frame face, making the balls fly with some real haste, rising quickly and flying high.

  • Your Technique

Make sure your body is titled behind the ball, making it easier for you to transfer your weight. Your weight should shift, moving it to your front foot – do not place it all on your back foot. If you do this, it means your weight is in the incorrect place and you are not going to get the most out of your swing. Yes, your spine should stay back, but your body should move towards the target. When you are in the downswing, you should turn your body, using your front leg as a post. This will give you the optimum swing, combining accuracy and power.

  • Specifics

Most players who struggle with their drives are making one of three fundamental mistakes:

  • Poor Shoulder Turning

You need a full shoulder turn if you are going to ever get the most out of your drive. You ideally want a 90 degree turn to the target line. Put a club across the back of your shoulders and then rotate to the right; see how far it is comfortable for you to go.

  • Not Accelerating Enough

Your swing should be extremely fast, with the speediest part being at impact. In order to get the elusive ‘woosh’ you need some practice at sequencing your body. When you are in your downswing, your lower body need to turn and pull your midsection, after which your shoulder arms and club is pulled down with all the force.  You can practice drills of this sequence to help you improve.

Scott Yates Florida - How to Step Up your Putting Game

How to Step Up Your Putting Game

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Putting is one of the most exact and challenging parts of the wonderful game of golf.  We putt when we want to make moderately short and low-speed shots, with the aim of rolling the ball in from a small distance away. On the whole, we putt when we are quite close to the hole on the green and our putter is arguably one of the most integral clubs we need for golf – hence our putting game needs to be on point.

So you have got your pride putter, but what is the best way to hold it in order to get the most exacting shot?  And what kind of style should your putt be? Well, this is dependent on what kind of shot you are doing and your skill level and style – study the below, test them out and see which one you think will suit you.

Different styles:

  • Body Putting

Widely recognized as one of the best styles of putting, this stroke is stable and allows for a steady control of both distance and speed.  It is a pendulum motion, with the golfer placing their body either side of the ball, two inches forward of the center stance. Find a comfortable length for your body, with the butt of your putter tucked lightly against your stomach, neck or chest. Put both of your hands together at the bottom of the grip and stroke.

  • Long Putter

This is another pure pendulum motion, and is a good choice for consistency on short putts. This style also has tremendous direction control, but is not recommended for long putts or in windy weather.  If this seems like your kind of putt, all you have to do is use your lead hand to anchor the butt of your putter into your chin or your chest – making sure the putterhead is off the green and up. Your other hand trails to supply the swinging motion you will need.

Get A Grip:

Your grip is completely down to preference, just like your style. You can go for a traditional grip, cross handed, palm facing, the pencil…the list is endless and your choice is down to inclination, type and distance of shot and club being used.

Scott Yates Florida 2016 Best Golf Clubs

2016’s Best Golf Clubs

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Looking back on 2016, one things for sure is that it hasn’t been boring. The same goes for golf clubs; 2016 has offered a veritable feast of designs for the golf enthusiast. Let’s take a look at some of the best on offer now the year is drawing to a close:

  • Drivers

Designed to hit the ball the farthest, a good set of drivers are essential to your club collection. You don’t just need distance, you need accuracy too. The Ping G boasts ‘Dragon Fly’ technology, meaning it increases launch more easily and is more forgiving of errors. It is smartly designed to decrease drag, meaning you get more speed for your muscle.

  • Woods

Woods are a very versatile club as they can be used as a driver if need be. You want to provide a high launch angle with a low spin. The Nike Vapor Fly is a good example of this; it has saved a great deal of weight by thinning out the face, crown and sole of the head. This helps to increase distance and the design helps with less proficient golfers.

  • Hybrids

A relatively recent fashion within golf, hybrids have becomes very popular of late. They bridge the gap between a fairway wood and an iron, as long irons are notoriously difficult to hit. Why not try the Mizuno JPX EZ; it helps you hit low and get more distance. You also get have a stable hit – more forgiveness when needed.

  • Irons

Your irons can help you progress your game to no end, you can get specific game-improvement irons, super-improvement irons and players irons. One of the best sets out right now is the Cobra King F6. The designers spent a great deal of time creating a complete set that harmonizes beautifully; hollow, high strength in the long irons to muscle-backed gap and sand wedges – this is an incredibly adaptable and intelligently created set.

  • Wedges

Used for your powerful, short shots and to get you out of sticky situations, a solid wedge is a must. Try the Callaway Mak Daddy PM Grind, with a unique shape it is specifically designed to reduce variation and has a 35% larger groove area, so you have more of a cushion for error/ It is cleverly weighted and also had a slightly wider sole to give a solid second bounce.

  • Putters

Finally, to get that ball in the hole you need a decent putter. For a blade putter, try the Bettinardi BB Series. This classic got a refurb this year, but still exudes the same classic style. It boasts a brushed nickel finish on the shaft with a honeycomb pattern. If a mallet putter is what you are searching for, the Odyssey White Hot RX is a prime piece of kit. It has a polymer face with a soft interior. Its design was created to effectively grab the ball, making for less spin.

Scott Yates Florida Keys Golf Courses

Florida Keys Golf Courses

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The Florida Keys make up a stunning, biodiverse archipelago to explore. Famed for their natural scenery and ecotourism, a trip down to the Keys holds a myriad of different activities to undertake in gorgeous surroundings.  Of course, diving is a major draw to this area, as is fishing as well as the numerous national parks and wildlife. But we aren’t here to discuss all these wonderful ways to spend our time – we are here to discover something more important…the golf courses available to you in this idyllic paradise.

Firstly, let’s begin with the newly renovated Key West Golf Club, located on the most populace island in the Keys. Built in 1983, this par 72 course is constantly improving and boasts beautiful scenery to surround yourself in while you play. It is pretty much a perfect vacation course, moderately challenging but still great fun, with tropical landscapes surrounding you to further add to the experience.

Moving further north to Key Largo is the Ocean Reef Club. This high-end golf club has not one but two championship 18-hole courses: the Hammock and the Dolphin. Both offer a distinctly different experience – challenging golfers of all abilities – in picturesque settings. The Dolphin Course is a par 71 and has water hazards without being too challenging, thanks to its generous fairways.  The Hammock course is partly located in a lush wildlife sanctuary of mangrove, giving golfers the opportunity to view rare species of tropical flora whilst playing the course.  It is another par 71 course and is known to be the more scenic of the two. It also has water hazards on 14 of the holes – so make sure you bring your A game.

Lastly, if you’re in the middle of the Keys and looking to play a round, there is the recently rebranded Florida Keys Country Club (previously known as the Sombrero Country Club). This was built in 1960 and is par 71. This isn’t in perfect shape, but it is still good fun and has a solid pace of play, is a respectable price and is in the process of improving.

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Top 4 Golf Courses in Clearwater, Florida

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It’s hard to be far from the sea anywhere in Florida; and this rule is never truer than in Clearwater. Just a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico, you will be forgiven for choosing to spend a few hours relaxing on the famous beaches, undertaking some watersports or trying some delicious seafood. Clearwater also has some amazing golf clubs for you to while away your summers in the relaxing Florida heat (which as we know lasts pretty much all year round).

Let’s take a look at some of the top courses and clubs in Clearwater – whether you’re here all year round to enjoy the tropical climate or just for a holiday:

  • Belleview Biltmore Golf Club

A historic and picturesque place to play, Belleview has been in business since 1925. Steeped in history, you have the chance to play a classic, challenging 18-hole championship course designed by the celebrated Donald Ross.  Step back in time and enjoy fast and true greens with intelligently placed bunkers on this par 71 course.

  • Dunedin Golf Club

Partial to another Ross creation? Well why not sink your teeth into the Dunedin Golf Club! Constructed just a year after Belleview, this par 72 is just as exiting to play a round on. Conveniently located, it exudes that classic, country club atmosphere and is perfect for everyone – from beginners to the more experienced golfers amongst us. It plays hard and fast, so can be a challenge, but it is designed with such intelligence you’re bound to enjoy yourself.

  • Chi Chi Rodrigeuz Golf Club

Now to a well-loved course in the local area which may not have the history above, but still boasts a fun and interesting round: the Chi Chi Rodrigeuz Golf Club. This has a par of 69, narrow fairways, water hazards and bunkers to tackle. Its scenic surroundings are the perfect backdrop to a thoroughly fun round – and it is excellent value for money.

  • Clearwater Country Club

Finally, another historic course to add to the bunch is Clearwater Country Club. Originally built in 1920 and designed by Herbert Strong, it was reworked in 1940 by Perry Maxwell and his son. The result is a course that provides an exhilarating test for any skill level. It is par 72, has friendly staff and is well-maintained.

Scott Yates Florida - Top Golf Courses St. Pete

Top 4 Golf Courses, St. Petersburg, Florida

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Nicknamed the ‘Sunshine City’ in the ‘Sunshine State’, there’s little doubt that you’re in for a clear day when you play a round in St. Petersburg.  After exploring some the award-winning beaches, the famed Salvador Dali Museum and sampling some of freshest and most delicious food around, try out one or all of these excellent golf courses in the area:

  • Renaissance Vinoy Resort

This historic venue has been operating since 1925, and was thankfully saved from destruction in the 1980s. Is was then reopened, impeccably renovated and is now protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It has continued to excel as a location to visit, celebrate in and golf. The course continues to be improved, ensuring you a fun, fast, demanding game. Lots of water hazards and an ever-present wind present a fair challenge for even the average golfer.  It also has a driving range, practice putting green, bunker and chipping area to assist with improving your game.

  • St. Petersburg Country Club

Moving on to another historic course, the St. Petersburg Country Club is a demanding par 72 course, intelligently designed in 1924 by Herbert Strong. It features water hazards, bunkers and undulating greens to test you, and is a peaceful place to play with well-maintained greens and helpful staff. All in all, great value for money in classic country club surroundings.

  • Mangrove Bay Golf Course

This is a less well-known course, but is well-liked by locals thanks to its reasonable prices. It is the only championship municipal golf course in the area, and it is of a very high standard. Natural mangroves frame the sides of the course, close by to the water’s edge, which make for a scenic atmosphere within which to play. It can be busy at times, so be patient as this can be a long round – this only further attests to how popular the course is. This is a par 72, has practice areas to hone your skills and is suitable for players of every ability.

Scott Yates Florida - Top 3 Golf Courses in Jacksonville, Florida

Top 3 Golf Courses in Jacksonville, Florida

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The bustling city of Jacksonville is not only the largest in the state, but also in the whole of the Southeast of the country. As a major cultural area, be ready for Jazz, art, museums – as well as of course a variety of different sports available, including golf. The PGA holds The Players Championship here at the TPC at Sawgrass, and there are a huge range of great courses for all types of golfers on offer in this region.

Firstly, one the most celebrated course in the area is The Golf Club at Northampton in Fernandina Beach. This tricky course was designed by none other than Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay in 2001, and is the perfect choice for advanced golfers who really want to challenge themselves.  Difficulties include bunkers, forced carries and water hazards, and it plays quite quick. Excellent conditions and greens that roll fast and true, this is a five star experience that will test even the most skilled golfers. In short, if you are a real lover of golf and you’re in Jacksonville, this is a must.

Next another relatively new course, St. Johns Golf and Country Club, located in St. Augustine to the south of Jacksonville. This par 72 course is definitely worth the drive however. Great value, a testing course designed with bunkers, water hazards and undulating greens as well as well-maintained; it ticks all the boxes for any golfer.  It is a course that from your first visit, begs to be repeated and is a real asset to the area.

Onto our third course, and we couldn’t possibly talk about golfing in Jacksonville without mentioning TPC Sawgrass, The Players Stadium Course. This course is a great one to tick off the bucket list, and was designed with balance in mind so as not to favor any player type. The home of The Players Championship, there is a great deal of variety running throughout the famous course, and it has been consistently ranked as a great course in the country as a whole. If you’re a diehard fan of golf and watched the championship in the past, this is a real opportunity to live out your dreams (if only for an afternoon) by playing a round here.

Scott Yates Florida

Top 4 Golf Courses in Miami, Florida

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Miami immediately conjures up images of palm trees, nightclubs, art deco buildings, vacations and of course beaches. Well, you might also like to know that Miami offers up some excellent golf courses in stunning surroundings and that famous tropical weather. So don’t get distracted by all the lights – or if you do make sure you wake up early enough to play one of the great courses that Miami boasts.

Starting with a course which comes highly recommended by many players – the Melreese Golf Club at International Links. It has a convenient location, is excellent value for money and is constantly improving. It is a good choice for all different abilities and the greens are really in the best condition.  The 3.9 million used on the renovation here in 1997 was well spent and the course excels in every area.  Both challenging and forgiving, this is a course any golfer should try.

Next up is the Miami Shores Country Club, a semi-private establishment designed in 1939. The course is impeccably maintained and the greens have a slight elevation, running fast and true. The course is demanding at times, but still fair. The price is reasonable, and the course has a classic, old school design that keeps you thinking throughout the duration. All in all, a great, historic course that is fun to play.

Thirdly, we have the Trump Doral Miami, which plays host to four different courses: Blue Monster, Golden Palm, Red Tiger and Silver Fox.  All are unique and hold their own demands, with Red Tiger being the firm favorite for most. This is a par 72 that boasts scenic vistas alongside the water hazards, bunkers and undulating greens to contend with. A real test for the expert player, and there are often deals on offer to make the price more affordable – the other three courses are equally as unique and challenging.

Last but not least is Normandy Shores Golf Course; a course steeped in history and a favorite for locals and visitors alike.  Excellent value for money, this course has an excellent pace of play and can be somewhat demanding but it not a huge challenge for the expert player, making it a good choice for beginners and those who are not as advanced.