Fall a great time for gear at Aspen Lakes

20161015_105136.jpg Significant discounts offered for gear and apparel

Fall in love with golf and play the game long enough and your garage will eventually look like the inside of the golf shop at Aspen Lakes. For golfers, that eternal optimism is motivator enough to find the club that will help you hit the ball just a bit further, or at least the shirt that will at least help you look a bit cooler.

When to buy all that great stuff is another matter. The best time of year to load up on golf apparel and equipment is subjective.

  • Is it in spring when all the latest and greatest merchandise first hits the shelves? Certainly there is a lot to be said for getting in early.
  • Is it summer, when the golf season is in full swing? True, there is nothing quite like taking that brand new club out for a spin for the first time.

It all depends on what you are looking for in the end. But unequivocally, the best time to find a great deal from Aspen Lakes is now.

To shop for a favorite golfer, the close of the peak golf season often marks the beginning of some of the best deals of the year for both golf gear and equipment. That is certainly the case here at Aspen Lakes.

Aspen Lakes has discounted all of its apparel 20 percent, including golf shoes and logo polo shirts. That includes gear by many of the biggest names in golf, such as Nike and Adidas. More than that, golf equipment is marked down to at least 25 percent, and sometimes even more.

This is all in addition to Aspen Lakes’ clearance rack, which offers even steeper discounts for items such as logo shirts and shorts.

“There is no doubt that if you are a bargain shopper, now is an excellent time to buy,” said Rob Malone, director of golf at Aspen Lakes. “Whether shopping for a Christmas gift or just to stock up for the 2017 golf season, our fall clearance sale typically offers some of the best deals of the year.”

Speaking of the Christmas season, Aspen Lakes will soon offer a discount on golf, too. Beginning after Thanksgiving, Aspen Lakes will again offer its $55 gift card good for one round played anytime of the year ($68 with cart), including during the peak golf season.

In 2016, the peak summer rate at Aspen Lakes, a favorite among golfers in the state of Oregon, was $78.

“The annual gift card sale has really become a tradition onto itself,” Malone said. “It does make sense for gift-givers. The card locks in a low price for golf played literally any time of the year, and every golfer appreciates the gift of golf itself.”

The pro shop is open daily for much of November. After that it will be open Thursday through Sunday.

For more information: call 541-549-GOLF or visit www.aspenlakes.com.

 

Perfect storm of fantastic golf on the horizon at Aspen Lakes

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Already in excellent condition, fall rates are now on the horizon

Within each Aspen Lakes golf season comes a sweet spot. A time when peak golf conditions, smaller crowds, fantastically mild weather, and budget-friendly fall rates come together to create a perfect storm of great golf.

By the fall, Aspen Lakes’ peak conditions have been around for months. But now the summer tourist season is a memory. And sunny, pleasant weather is the norm. Beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 12, fall rates kick in, too, creating a narrow window that lasts until the weather turns.

“There really is no better time of the year to come out and play than right now,” said Rob Malone, director of golf for Aspen Lakes. “This is the time of year when we see a lot of local players, because they know well just how good this part of the season can be for golf.”

One of the values of fall golf comes with the adjustment of what constitutes prime time. In the summer, the mornings are the most desirable tee times, obviously as a way to beat the summer heat.

The fall is different though. With cooler overnight temperatures, the afternoons become more prized with highs that average in the high 60s this time of year.

That syncs well with our rates, which drop by $10 at 1 p.m. and another $16 after 3 p.m.

“I love playing in the afternoons in fall,” Malone said. “The weather is typically great, and the course is at its most beautiful as evening begins to approach. It is a really peaceful time to be out here.”

Aerification, a process that is critical to the long-term health of the turf, of Aspen Lakes greens begins on Oct. 17. Despite its importance to the golf course, the term “aerification” can send chills up the spine of a fall golfer.

But golfers can rest assured that the aerification process at Aspen Lakes is far less obtrusive than it once was.

The Aspen Lakes maintenance staff punches much smaller holes, making the holes less noticeable and more playable when the greens reopen. Plus, the staff now uses a drag brush, which allows the maintenance crew to use less sand to top dress the greens and apply it more evenly than a more conventional metal drag.

Finally, the staff will roll the greens and irrigate well to get the sand into the punched holes and smooth the surfaces.

“Our aerification process is about as nonintrusive as you can get,” said Josh Knapp, superintendent at Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “We always try hard to balance the needs of the turf with the playability of the golf course.”

Aspen Lakes will remain on summer rates through Oct. 11. Beginning Oct. 12, primetime green fees will drop to $48 per round, which is a $30 discount off of Aspen Lakes’ prime summer rates. Nine holes can be played for $28. (Prices do not include cart or GolfBoard rentals.)

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

 

AimPoint instruction at Aspen Lakes can help golfers read the greens better

Aspen Lakes pro the only certified AimPoint instructor in Central Oregon

Putting can be one of golf’s great mysteries. It seems so easy. What’s so hard about slowly rolling a ball toward a hole down a relatively smooth surface, right?

Yet, it is on the greens that so many amateur golfers struggle most. According to research in Golf magazine: “High handicappers require about 30 percent more putts — or roughly 8 strokes — per round than pros do.”

For amateurs, the culprits are many, from poor strategy to less-than-ideal speed to an inability to “read” the greens correctly. Perhaps the key to improving on the greens is to whittle that list of culprits down.

We know instinctively that the more time we devote to the practice green the better our putting stroke will be. But learning how to properly read a green is a skill not many higher handicappers possess. That is why learning how to read greens using the AimPoint Express method can be so valuable.

Pioneered by Mark Sweeney, an amateur golfer who himself struggled with putting, the AimPoint Express method works to simplify reading greens by teaching golfers how to feel the slope of the green with their feet and how to use your arm and fingers to aim. AimPoint Express has quickly gained favor on the professional tours, used by such players as Adam Scott and Christina Kim. (If the name sounds familiar it might be because AimPoint Technologies, which Sweeney founded, produces some of those graphical marks that show viewers the line of a putt during professional golf broadcasts.)

It is a method that Aspen Lakes’ PGA Director of Player Development Howie Pruitt, the only certified AimPoint instructor in Central Oregon, knows well.

“AimPoint is just a simple way to read greens,” said Pruitt, who earned the certification in January 2015. “You will still have hit the putt at the right speed and on the right line to be a successful putter. But by eliminating one of the factors that lead us astray on the greens, most golfers quickly save strokes.”

Trusting that gravity is a constant, AimPoint attempts to define the correct putting line by relying on three basic factors: distance from the hole (calculated by pacing), the amount of slope (which is usually a 1 percent to 4 percent grade, judged by feel and practice), and the angle of the putt across the slope (uphill, downhill, etc.), according to a Bend Bulletin story.

It might sound complicated, but in actuality AimPoint is a relatively simple method to learn, at least with the right instruction. In fact, Pruitt says it only takes about an hour for a golfer to get reasonably proficient.

Once adopted, the benefits become clear. By understanding the basic physics of putting, golfers gain more confidence. In turn, that confidence can lead not only to a better line toward the hole, but more consistent strokes that improve pace and lead to better decision-making around the greens.

In other words, it will save strokes.

“As a player, it definitely improved my confidence,” Pruitt said. “ I knew exactly what the ball was going to do once it started to roll.”

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.

 

Tip: It takes more than just hitting golf balls to make perfect

Aspen Lakes professional says simple drills will help get the most out of a practice session

The scene on the Aspen Lakes Golf Course practice range is a familiar one: Golfers in line sending golf ball after golf ball into the blue Central Oregon sky, then watching as the white spheres come crashing down on their emerald-green resting place.

Golfers working on their games like this can be seen at most any practice facility. But for Howie Pruitt, Aspen Lakes PGA director of player development, he sees a different kind of practice session … something less productive.

“I walk the line and ask what they are working on, and I usually get a blank stare from golfers,” Pruitt said. “But for a practice session to be productive, you can’t just be spraying balls down the range. Every shot has to have a purpose.”

What’s a golfer to do to get more out of a session? Well, Pruitt suggests a few easy drills.

It starts with a simple training aid: driveway markers. With driveway markers, or at least a suitable replacement, golfers can:

  • Practice their alignment by setting up a single stick to align the stance.
  • Set two markers up, one for your stance and another set up parallel to the first stick, create a target path for each shot.
  • Set up two sticks perpendicular to one another to check ball position.

In addition, golfers should set two golf tees along the line of the range and then place a golf ball between the two tees. Then golfers should practice hitting the ball with the goal of not touching either tee. As a golfer improves, the tees should be moved closer to one another until it is at a width just longer than the clubface.

The idea of each drill is to retrain yourself to think differently on the range.

“You want to get away from thinking about the results of the swing, and instead focus on the process of the swing,” Pruitt said. “That is where real improvement can be made.”

Of course, every golfer should devote more time to practice their short games.

“I see so many golfers go to the range, hit balls, and then walk right past the putting green,” Pruitt said. “That is a mistake.”

Remember what Vince Lombardi said: “’Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.

 

Short putts make easy path to fewer strokes

Howie Pruitt suggests simple drill to improve your accuracy inside 8 feet

Every golfer, from beginner to grizzled PGA Tour veteran, asks the same question: “How can I save strokes on the golf course?” The question is the very essence of golf.

Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is actually quite simple.

“You gain strokes with your putter,” Howie Pruitt, Aspen Lakes director of player development, says flatly.

The path to better putting is nearly as simple. In fact, success can often be found by improving your performance on the easiest shots in a given round: putts inside 8 feet.

Yet, short putts are a skill few amateur golfers pay much mind to. They should. Working on these putts is not particularly complicated and it can pay huge dividends on the scorecard.

A time-tested drill begins on a flat piece of practice putting green. Set up four balls around a hole, each set about 4 feet away. Then work your way around each ball, trying to make each putt.

If you make all four putts, then set up four more balls, this time 8 feet away from the hole. If at any point you miss, you must start over with four new balls set 4 feet away.

The drill might sound overly simplistic, but it actually helps golfers improve in two ways.

“What it does is build confidence for you,” Pruitt says. “It also helps you deal with some of the stress on the golf course. I assure you that when you get to putt No. 4, and you’ve made three, you won’t want to start over again. So there is a pressure to make that fourth putt.”

The drill is nothing new. In fact, some of the best in the game have made the drill a cornerstone of their work on the greens.

“Phil Mickelson is an example. He will come out here and keep doing it until he makes 100 in a row,” Pruitt says. “I’ve never made more than 15 or 20 in a row, so I can only imagine what it’s like to come out here and make 100 4-footers.”

Give it a try and see how many you can make.

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.