Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tom Fazio Part of Group to Purchase Forest Creek Golf Club

Fazio’s North and South Courses at highly regarded Pinehurst real estate community have both been ranked among the country’s Top 100

(PINEHURST, N.C.) — World-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio has joined Colony 9, LLC as an investor to purchase Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst. The transaction was completed on December 28, 2017 for an undisclosed price.

One of only two residential golf course communities in the United States to feature two Golfweek “Top 100” golf courses, Forest Creek Golf Club’s North and South Courses are distinctly different, but both are championship caliber gems.

Fazio’s ownership stake in Colony 9 is the first time in his long and illustrious career that he has invested in one of his own designs. No living designer has more credits on Golf Digest’s list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses and Golfweek’s collection of America’s Best.

“Forest Creek is one of the truly elite golfing experiences in this country,” said Fazio. “I was given carte blanche to adapt the two courses to the majestic, rolling North Carolina Sandhills topography and the result was that the layout of each challenging but playable course does not resemble the other.”

Fazio joined two other long-time Forest Creek Members in forming Colony 9, which has initially committed at least $2 million in golf course enhancements in the next two years. “I have always considered Forest Creek at the top of my accomplishments as a golf course architect and look forward to spending more time there while personally overseeing the renovation programs of both the North and South Courses,” said Fazio.

In addition to the two golf courses and related facilities, Colony 9 acquired 112 undeveloped lots in the 1,265-acre master-planned community, which is platted for 750 residential lots. All current members in good standing at the private club were invited to join the new club without any additional fees, and the ownership group has committed to never assess the membership nor increase dues for at least two years.

“This exciting new chapter in our story will allow one of the country’s premier private Clubs to further elevate our overall daily service experience,” said John Buser, Forest Creek’s General Manager and Chief Operating Officer.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

NextLinks, the Latest Indoor Golf Technology, Attends 2018 PGA Merchandise Show

Visit NextLinks at booth #879 to learn about this new multi-dimensional indoor golf alternative

(Santa Ana, CA) - NextLinks, the developer of the latest innovative indoor golf technology experience for consumers, will be showcasing its pioneering golf gaming platform at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, January 24-26.

During the show, PGA professionals, facility operators, media, and attendees will learn how the technology driving NextLinks revolutionizes the indoor golf experience for serious and casual golfers alike. With NextLinks, entertainment venues can attract new players to the game while giving avid golfers an unprecedented, true-to-golf gaming experience.

Fully aware of golf’s long-bemoaned barriers to entry and growth – time, cost, difficulty and intimidation – David Shultz, a veteran technologist and former General Electric engineer, developed NextLinks as a multi-dimensional indoor golf alternative that can be implemented at a wide variety of entertainment venues.

The NextLinks golf experience is powered by proprietary software that seamlessly blends golf simulator play with realistic short game shots and putting on expertly-designed putting greens.

Using patent-pending Pinpoint Spotlight Technology each player’s position in the simulator game is tracked. It allows them to play and putt out from a spot designated by a colored laser mark being displayed on or near the green. The dynamic “Spotlight” system not only allows seasoned golfers a more realistic, immersive golfing experience, it can also guide beginners and non-golfers through a plethora of more fun-based games and lessons.

“Picture popular target-practice games like corn hole, darts or horseshoes. We have golf versions of those that introduce patrons to golf in an unintimidating, entertaining way,” Shultz said. “The system also has golf instruction applications and competitive games that make the surrounding venue very versatile. The spotlight system controls the traffic on the green, so the same space can function as the ultimate golf training facility or the hottest nightclub in town.”

NextLinks is a scalable concept, meaning venue owners with 850 square-feet of space up to 100,000 can license this unique golf entertainment platform. Through a joint venture with Ultra Star Multi-Tainment Center and its business team, NextLinks is now strategically positioned to expand and be sustainable on a global scale.

The first NextLinks facility has opened in Santa Ana, Calif., along with a major project underway at the Indian Wells Resort in Palm Springs, Calif., utilizing the revolutionary high-tech putting experience with real green complexes.  More facility openings, including at golf courses, resorts, casinos and other entertainment venues will be announced in the coming months.

To learn more about NextLinks and meet David Shultz, the founder and developer of this new technology, visit booth #879, or to set up an appointment, email

For more information about NextLinks, visit

Team Secret Golf’s Patton Kizzire Wins Sony Open In Hawaii

Rising Star’s Player Channel to Debut on Next Month
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – Winning is becoming a habit for Patton Kizzire. Two months after claiming his initial PGA Tour title at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico, the lanky Alabama native added a second career victory last Sunday, outlasting James Hahn on the sixth hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. 

Patton Kizzire
A former Tour Player of  the Year, Kizzire’s recent win came in just his third start after his victory in Mexico last fall and now gives members of the Team Secret Golf staff three titles early in the 2017-18 PGA Tour season. Kizzire’s victory in Hawaii also made him the first player to claim multiple events this year. Fellow Secret Golf staff member Pat Perez won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia shortly after the Tour’s wrap-around season got underway last October. 

Kizzire’s win in Honolulu virtually assured him of a spot in The Tour Championship, the season-ending finale for the top-30 on the FedEx Cup points list, and also jumped him into the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings. “The first win was big, and this one is even bigger,” Kizzire said following his recent victory. “Our ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the year. We have a long way to go but a fast start is always positive.”

Golf fans will soon want to look for Kizzire’s private Player Channel, set to debut in February on features some of the game’s best personalities, each giving their unique perspective on golf in their own style.

“We are watching a young man develop in front of our eyes. He’s been a winner at every level and sees himself as such,” said Steve Elkington, the co-founder of Secret Golf. “I think everyone is looking forward to Patton’s Player Channel and now that he’s won twice this year, that should elevate the interest level. He’s kind of an old-school guy, a masterful putter and chipper who understands his strengths and weaknesses but also enjoys the challenges of being a Tour professional.”

Fellow Secret Golf staff member Brian Harman also played well at the Sony Open in Hawaii, finishing T4 at Waialae Country Club. Harman’s own Player Channel will also be ready on in February and golfers of all ages can look forward to learning the finer points of the game from one of golf’s best young left-handed professionals.

In addition to Kizzire and Harman, the lineup of notable players on the Secret Golf staff includes former major champions Jackie Burke, Elkington, Jason Dufner, Brittany Lang and Stacy Lewis, and now has claimed 115 tournaments collectively on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Tour.

Buffalo.Agency Selected by Eyeking for PR, Experiential Marketing of Under Armour Eyewear

(Reston, VA) – Buffalo.Agency has been selected by Eyeking to manage public relations and provide experiential marketing support for Under Armour Eyewear.

The partnership marries a multi-generational eyewear company at the leading edge of quality and design with one of the sport and lifestyle industries’ premier marketing agencies. For UA Eyewear, Buffalo will leverage its deep editorial connections to amplify the brand within the golf, run, baseball, fish and lifestyle verticals.  In focus for 2018, is the launch of the new UA Tuned lens technology, a collection of contrast-enhancing sport and recovery lens offerings.

“Buffalo is part of our ‘dream team’ and an exciting partner to promote our innovative eyewear solutions, including the launch of UA Tuned lenses this year,” says Kristine Robinson, Head of Marketing at Eyeking. “With decades of experience in golf, sport and lifestyle marketing and media, it is clear Buffalo is uniquely positioned to tell our robust product stories.”

“Ripe for powerful storytelling, the new 2018 UA Eyewear products are poised to change the landscape of competitive and amateur athletics” says Rich Katz, Managing Director of Buffalo.Agency. “True to the brand’s ethos, the lenses, frame technology and design elements help athletes improve their game.”

Buffalo’s work for Bridgestone Golf, ECCO, Hydrapak, LIJA, LPGA, PGA National Resort & Spa, Trendy Sports, World Golf Foundation and other emerging and established brands continues to earn rave reviews.

UA Eyewear offers sport and lifestyle models for men, women and youth. With premium product designs that are focused on functionality, durable materials and all-day comfort, UA Eyewear enhances the wearer’s confidence, focus and results. UA Eyewear provides a competitive edge in the sport environment and at rest.

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AirHelp Launches Tool to Allow Passengers to Map Their Trips Visually

The New Compensation Checking Tool Identifies Missed Claims From Flight Disruptions As Far as Three Years Back

(New York) – AirHelp, the leading flight compensation company and air passenger rights advocate in the world, today launched the world's first tool for travelers to check their eligibility for compensation from flight disruptions up to three years in the past. The feature also allows travelers to visually map out their journeys directly from their mobile devices into an adventure map for social sharing. This first-of-its-kind technology will enlighten consumers to compensation they may have never known was available to them.

Available on the AirHelp website and mobile app, the tool is an exciting new dual feature that provides a simple way for air passengers to check their personal flight history for compensation eligibility. Once connected, AirHelp will have the capability to update consumers on future eligibility as soon as their flight disruptions occur.

In addition to quick compensation and notification, the new tool will include a data visualization feature that travelers can use to develop and share a personalized map of their trips across Facebook and Twitter. By analyzing past flight data and including any new flights as they are booked, the tool creates a colorful and engaging map of recent flights, how much money you have spent on flight tickets, how many times you've been to the moon and back, and much more to highlight past experiences in a fun and visual display.

"Raising awareness of air passenger rights and identifying new ways to be a consumer advocate has always been our priority," says AirHelp CEO and co-founder Henrik Zillmer. "Over nine million air passengers are entitled to compensation for disrupted flights every year, yet most of these travelers don't know that they are eligible or understand how to pursue a valid claim. Our new tool will produce compelling content for today's social media-driven consumers, while building a platform for automatic notifications about compensation eligibility. We're excited to educate even more travelers about their rights in a fun, interactive manner with technology."

This new tool continues AirHelp's mission to offer passengers the most advanced and consumer-friendly travel solutions worldwide by combining the knowledge of hundreds of legal specialists in air travel with world-class artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. This latest tool joins a growing list of travel-tech innovation in 2017 for the company following the launch of AirHelp's Boarding Pass Scanner and the debut of Lara, the company's newest artificial intelligence (AI) powered lawyer focused on increasing the efficiency of determining court success viability. AirHelp is compatible with iOS and Android operating systems and currently works with Gmail, Hotmail and Microsoft Outlook servers.

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Payne, Lewis and Els honored by Golf Writers Association of America

(HOUSTON) – Billy Payne, who retired last fall as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club after 11-plus years of progressive and dynamic leadership, has been voted winner of the Golf Writers Association of America William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf.

Payne will be joined by LPGA star Stacy Lewis and Hall of Famer Ernie Els as award winners at the 46th ISPS HANDA GWAA Annual Awards Dinner presented by The PGA of America and USGA Wednesday April 4 in Augusta, Ga.

Lewis will receive the organization’s Ben Hogan Award given to an individual who has overcome a physical handicap or serious illness. Els will receive the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for his long-time cooperation with the media.

During his time as chairman of Augusta National, Payne was a leader in expanding the game around the world while continuing to enhance Augusta National and the Masters tournament. He joins Clifford Roberts as the only former chairman to win the Richardson Award. Augusta National Founder Bob Jones was also honored with the Richardson in 1958.

Under Payne’s leadership, the Asia-Pacific Amateur and the Latin American Amateur were created and became significant global events. Payne also was instrumental in the creation and success of the annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship which culminates on the Sunday before the Masters at Augusta National.

Payne also led the club and the tournament into new digital ventures while continuing the mission of Augusta National’s founders, expanding the club’s facilities and improving the patron experience at the Masters.

“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the entire Golf Writers Association of America for this amazing honor. So many of this award’s recipients were an inspiration to me, especially Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts,” Payne said.

“Like these two great men, I believe golf teaches so many important and rewarding life lessons. Their commitment to the game motivated me every day I was privileged to serve as Chairman of Augusta National. Whatever successes occurred during my tenure were a direct result of the pursuit of excellence they alone established.”

Lewis overcame long odds to become the No. 1 ranked women’s player in the world and a two-time LPGA player of the year.

When Lewis was 11, she was diagnosed with scoliosis and she wore a back brace for seven years. She wore the brace for 18 hours a day, taking it off only when she played golf.

Lewis eventually had back surgery to have a rod and five screws implanted. She gradually returned to competitive golf and went on to win the 2007 NCAA individual championship and 12 LPGA tournaments, including two major championships. Lewis lives in the Houston area and when she won the 2017 Cambia Portland Classic a week after Hurricane Harvey hit, she donated her winner’s check to hurricane relief efforts.

“It’s a real honor to win an award with Ben Hogan’s name on it. I always felt like what I went through was for a reason, that there was always a purpose. While I wouldn’t wish what I went through on any other kid, I wouldn’t change what happened to me,” Lewis said.

Els was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 for a sparkling worldwide career. A four-time major champion, Els has won 19 PGA Tour events and 71 tournaments worldwide. He was also honored by the GWAA in 2010 with the Charlie Bartlett Award for his commitment to Autism through his foundation and The Els Center of Excellence.

A former No. 1, Els has been named European Tour player of the year three times and has developed an open and long-standing relationship with the media.

“Thank you to everyone at the Golf Writers Association of America and ASAP Sports for this honour. What a nice gift to start the New Year,” Els said.

“Jim Murray was a brilliant, funny writer and obviously a legend in his field, so it’s nice that this award is named after him and, from my point of view, it makes the award more special.

“I’ve always enjoyed a good relationship with the golf media. In fact, many of the writers, pundits and commentators that travel the world with us have become good friends of mine. They have a pretty tough job and I have a lot of respect for what they do. That’s why I’ve always tried to be honest and ‘give it straight’ in press conferences, which I think they’ve appreciated over the years.”

In addition to Roberts and Jones, past recipients of the Richardson Award, named for The New York Times’ William D. Richardson who was instrumental in the founding of the GWAA in 1946, include Tim Finchem, Dottie Pepper, Judy Rankin, Doc Giffin, David Fay, Jack Burke, Jr., the Harmon Family, Furman Bisher, Maj. Dan Rooney, Pete Dye, Louise Suggs, Nancy Lopez, Sandy Tatum, Dan Jenkins, Judy Bell, Babe Zaharias, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, President Dwight Eisenhower, Patty Berg, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Harvey Penick, Peggy Kirk Bell, Frank Hannigan and Lee Trevino.

Former Hogan award winners include Rankin, Gene Sauers, J.B. Holmes, Tom Watson, Sophie Gustafson, Barbara Douglas, Jarrod Lyle, Ken Green, Erik Compton, Denis Watson, Hubert Green, Bruce Edwards, Scott Verplank, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Casey Martin, Paul Azinger, David Meador, Trevino and Ken Venturi.

Previous ASAP Sports/Jim Murray winners include Palmer, Nicklaus, Lopez, Ben Crenshaw, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Brad Faxon, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington, Juli Inkster, Jim Furyk, Nick Price, Jay Haas and Laura Davies.

Bridgestone Golf Experiences Record Growth in 2017

(COVINGTON, GA) – Bridgestone Golf – innovator of premium golf balls, clubs and accessories – posted the most successful year in company history in 2017, setting records in total sales, advertising reach and number of golf ball units shipped in a calendar year.

The company experienced a significant increase in sales at some of the nation’s largest off-course retailers. This substantial growth is largely attributed to Bridgestone’s continued commitment to innovation across the entirety of its product line, as well as an aggressive marketing campaign. The latter featured appearances from brand ambassador Tiger Woods and encouraged golfers to break away from the herd mentality and switch to the superior Bridgestone golf balls for a competitive edge.

"I attribute a record setting 2017 to our ability to outpace all competitors in terms of technological innovation that helps players of all skill levels find their edge," says Angel Ilagan, President and CEO of Bridgestone Golf. "While some reports of the health of the industry are not always positive, Bridgestone's commitment to producing the best balls on the market have allowed us to grow at record rates."

An enhanced focus on digital marketing helped to increase brand awareness and product trial among a larger audience. As a result, Bridgestone saw a significant increase in web traffic and quadrupled the previous year’s advertising reach.

"Our success in 2017 came from trial; we know that once someone tries Bridgestone balls the superior performance and results are clear," says Corey Consuegra, Senior Director of Marketing for Bridgestone Golf. "A greater emphasis on digital marketing has allowed us to share our targeted message in an effective way that gives players the confidence to try Bridgestone and ultimately convert to the better ball."

Among the most important product introductions of the year, was the new TOUR B Series of golf balls, which represents the brand’s most technologically advanced offerings to date.  Each of the four models – X, XS, RX and RXS – was developed for a specific player type using data from more than 3 million in-person and online ball fittings, combined with insights from leading third-party industry sources.

The use of data mining and third-party validation is an unprecedented approach to R&D and helped not only bring the TOUR B Series to fruition, but also informed Bridgestone on how to better position its entire golf ball portfolio to fit different player buckets. Low-to-mid handicap golfers will benefit from one of the TOUR B models, while the e6 SPEED and e6 SOFT help mid handicap players hit more fairways thanks to lower side spin from a more forgiving gradational compression core. Lastly, the Extra Soft and Lady are for mid-to-high handicap players and provide best-in-class distance and accuracy as a result of increased ball speed and lower side spin.

"One of the driving forces behind our record setting number of golf balls shipped in 2017 is the wide range of superior product options we offer," says Elliot Mellow, Marketing Manager for Bridgestone Golf. "While our competitors try to shoe-horn golfers into their most expensive offering, we have proven that fitting customers into the best ball for their game delivers on-course results and creates brand loyalty."

The company’s commitment to fitting players to the ball that best suits their game remains the highest priority.  In March, the company introduced the BFIT golf ball fitting launch monitor app designed to help players quickly identify the Bridgestone ball best suited to their game. This real-world understanding of players’ needs has informed numerous technological breakthroughs. More information about the company’s ball, club and accessories offerings is at

Bridgestone Golf’s trajectory has not gone unnoticed by the industry, as the NGF recently released its inaugural list of the Top 100 Businesses in Golf and included the company. This biennial list recognizes the successful companies, organizations and associations that are of fundamental importance to both consumers and facilities involved in the game of golf.

Bridgestone Golf’s professional staff includes 14-time major championship winner Tiger Woods, FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, Olympics bronze medalist Matt Kuchar, Masters winner Fred Couples, rising star Bryson DeChambeau and more.

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