The Science of Golf
“One of the biggest advantages we have in the time we spend with our students is working on the game the way they’re supposed to work on it.”
—Stefan Carlsmith, lead instructorBy Vartan Kupelian // Photography by Tony Demin
Dave Pelz takes a cue from fishing when he talks about his short-game philosophy.
“I’ve always said part of success is ‘fishing where the fish are,’ ” Pelz says. “You have to set yourself up for success.
“When you’re practicing golf, it’s important to note that 80 percent of the shots golfers lose to par occur inside of 100 yards.”
Be assured, Pelz knows the stats. A former senior scientst at NASA with a physics degree from Indiana University who aspired to a career as a professional golfer, he transitioned to golf instruction instead.
His focus on the short game produced the national best-seller, The Short Game Bible, in 1999, and he is widely recognized as a leading expert on the subject. Over the years, Pelz, a contributing writer for major golf publications, has worked with leading tour professionals including Phil Mickelson, who is renowned for his short game.
The Dave Pelz Short Game and Scoring Schools are pivotal parts of his short-game efforts. In 2017, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa was one of 14 golfing hotbeds in the U.S. to offer the learning experience. In addition, there are seven European destinations — among them England, Ireland, Spain, France, and Germany — and another in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The reach of Pelz’s approach reflects its popularity and success.
SIMPLE AND PROVEN
Pelz’s method and teaching schools share simple but proven approaches to success. Some are no more complicated than this advice: Always attempt to hit putts 17 inches beyond the hole. That optimizes the chances of making the putt; if it doesn’t go in, 17 inches certainly is in the circle of friendship — a euphemism for conceded putts.
“Two-thirds of the shots you’ll hit in a given round will be (inside 100 yards),” Pelz says. “Once you realize how critical the short game and putting are to your scores, it changes the way you practice. You want to learn those nifty pitch shots around the green; you want to be the best sand player or lofted-wedge player in your foursome.
“And everyone who’s played the game long enough wants to be the best putter. That explains our focus on short-game shots and putting. Our students leave our schools with a working plan and very useful skills and practice regimens for playing every key shot on and around the greens. It’s amazing what it does for your confidence to be a good wedge player and putter.”
At Grand Traverse Resort, the Pelz Scoring Game School is a very good fit.
“For golfers, the Traverse City area is heaven,” Pelz says. “We knew we had to be a part of it. People think you’re overselling this area when you say ‘paradise,’ but if you’ve been here, you know it’s the real thing. It’s breathtaking.”
It’s the best of Pure Michigan.
LEARN LIKE THE PROS
The schools teach amateur and recreational golfers of all levels the same way Pelz and his staff teach top professionals.
“The fundamentals are the same,” Pelz says. “The pros have just been working on those fundamentals for many, many years, and their refinements to their techniques are smaller. They’re more detailed. But they’re still working on the same fundamentals.
“We always focus on helping to improve the golfer’s techniques to provide better impact.”
The Pelz school offers three variations. The premier is a three-day Scoring Game School that includes putting, chipping, pitching, and wedge and sand play instruction, with video analysis.
The two-day program focuses on the wedge; there is no putting instruction. The goal is to teach solid mechanics in the short game plus essential skills from 100 yards and in. Video analysis and practice with continuous feedback are included. Both the three- and two-day schools offer 4-to-1 student-teacher ratios.
The one-day Scoring Game Clinic revolves around six hours on the basics of the short game and putting. Students take away a renewed understanding of the key shots necessary to begin on the path to better scoring. Student-to-teacher ratio is 6-to-1.
Stefan Carlsmith is the lead instructor of the Pelz Scoring Game School at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
“Through Dave’s extensive research, we have found that most of our shots are going to be lost in that part of the game,” Carlsmith says. “That’s what’s going to make you score better.
“One of the biggest advantages we have in the time we spend with our students is working on the game the way they’re supposed to work on it. It’s challenging to get the instruction you need in 30 minutes’ worth of work with your pro even if they’re the best pros around. If people can leave our school practicing the way they’re supposed to practice, the sky is the limit on what they can really achieve.”
The Pelz method focuses on turning three shots into two with more consistency. When that happens, scores and handicaps go down.
“There’s nothing more fun than playing your best,” Pelz says.
That was the goal for Bruce and Barbara Browne. New to golf, the Saline, Mich., retirees who play between two and five times a week wanted to begin their education with a solid foundation to the short game. What they experienced at a three-day Pelz Scoring Game School in July was a treat.
“It was very helpful, the hands-on experience,” Barbara says. “Our class was small and we got a lot of individual attention. Really very rewarding and we’re very motivated.
“In our class, we had one professional golfer, a golf instructor from China, and another person who lived in Oklahoma City. The instructors made it right for all of us. We never felt out of place. We just had a grand time.”
Barbara was familiar with the Pelz method, having read his book. Bruce was not, but after attending the school, he started to read it. Bruce would like to attend the school again to fill in some blanks in his short game.
The Brownes were sent home with plenty of information — including what Bruce described as “before and after” video to study.
You can bet the “after” images from the Dave Pelz Scoring Game School are always better.
A Family Favorite
Mom, dad, and the kids head due north to escape Texas summerBy Becky Kalajian // Photography by Tony Demin
Cooking up the perfect family getaway is a simple recipe. Mix equal parts kids with water, sit back, and enjoy the show.
The Hidalgos — Kristin, Ben, and sons Henry, 4, and Teddy, 18 months — make an annual six-week trek from dusty Dallas to the cool climate of Northern Michigan.
Leaving Dallas for several weeks is never a problem, says Kristin, a patent attorney. “It’s so hot the kids are mostly inside because of the intense heat,” says the native Michigander, who has been coming north since she was 5 years old. “We love being where the water is clear and cool, exploring the woods, getting dirty, and being where there’s no venomous snakes.”
The convenient direct flight from Dallas to Traverse City makes it a “no-brainer” for the family, Kristin says.
“That direct flight was a total game-changer for us,” says Kristin, who flew to Dallas twice during her vacation for client meetings. “Now all our Texas friends want to come up.”
A few did just that, visiting the Hidalgos at The Shores, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s cluster of family-friendly condos located directly on the sandy shores of East Grand Traverse Bay waterfront. They chose The Shores because of its access to beach and outdoor pool fun.
"It’s nice to walk to the beach and to the creek, to walk on the bridge, or go to the pool,” Kristin says.
Since golf is big in Texas, Kristin and Ben treated their friends to a round at The Bear, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course ranked as the 18th toughest in America, according to Golf Digest.
“In Texas, our golf courses are just scrub grass, so our friends were blown away with how cool, beautiful, and green everything was,” she says. “And the restaurant there was great because you get to sit right next to the golf course while the kids play.”
It’s Great Outdoors
Kristin and Ben, who met on a Dallas street in 2009 while both were walking their golden retrievers, squeeze as much outdoor time in as their schedule allows.
Their oldest child is cut from the same cloth. Born naturalist Henry spent hours collecting frogs and grasshoppers near Acme Creek, which spills into East Bay on The Shores’ beach.
“Acme Creek, right next to our condo, was an incredible find this trip,” Kristin says. “We spent hours playing there.”
After water, there was fire. On Saturday nights, the boys roasted marshmallows at the Beach Club bonfire.
When the family did eventually make it back inside, the boys’ sweet teeth led them straight to Dylan’s Candy Bar at the Resort’s Tower Gallery of Shops. What they chose was beyond even their mother’s wildest imagination: one giant milkshake stuffed with key lime pie and the other loaded with s’mores fixings.
When the family needed to shake the sand off their feet, they took advantage of kid-friendly day adventures available out the Resort’s back door. They hunted for fairy houses and tepees behind the Grand Traverse Commons. They fished at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and at the DeYoung Natural Area in Leelanau County. A family favorite was a day trip to Mackinac Island, where Henry biked 11 miles.
Time Out for Parents
Since Ben, a commercial real estate developer, and Kristin each own their own firms, the Resort’s 2,000-square-foot Cub House and other area camps gave them a welcome break now and then.
“Since we are here so long, I really needed child care, so the Cub House was a pretty great thing,” Kristin says. “We also utilized a lot of the local day camps so Henry could go on field trips, hunt for fossils, and hike in the woods with other kids.”
When Ben and Kristin were finally able to sneak away for date night, they chose to play The Wolverine again after enjoying drinks and appetizers at the Clubhouse. Says Kristin, “Getting away together like that was great for Ben and me.”
As the family prepared to head back to Texas, they were leaving with no Petoskey stone unturned up north.
“My favorite childhood memories were playing on the beach, Petoskey stone hunting, getting dirty in the rivers, and canoeing the Crystal River,” she says. “I’m so happy that Ben and my boys are experiencing all of that, too.”
As Natural As The Surroundings
New spa menu offers up the best of Northern MichiganBy Cymbre Foster // Photography by Tony Demin
It took months of planning and practice, but Spa Grand Traverse has created an updated menu guaranteed to relax, renew, and rejuvenate.
“We worked on it for four straight months, tweaking it, trying different things,” says Dawn Olsen, spa director. “The staff has poured everything into this.”
The result is a comprehensive menu that not only mirrors the beauty of the Northern Michigan landscape, but incorporates organic and all-natural products into the spa’s head-to-toe offerings.
“I’m very pleased,” says Sandra Umstead, a spa employee for nearly 18 years who was instrumental in the facial and nail care portion of the new offerings. “This is our best menu yet.” Their goal was to create services that best accommodate guests’ wishesand ensure that the products all work well together, says Becki Thomas, a licensed cosmetologist and massage therapist who helped design the new body care services. The menu also accounts for differences in client schedules.
“The new menu has several different options, whether you are on the go or want to spend some time here,” Umstead says. “Our products are so wonderful and individualized to each person.”
When reconfiguring the menu, the staff agreed that sticking with a holistic approach, using all-natural and organic products, was a priority.
“We are combining the finest botanicals with locally harvested ingredients that will invoke your senses and deeply relax your body while offering you unparalleled healing benefits," Thomas says.
The new menu incorporates the highest-quality products, including a line of organics.
“We use facial-grade masks on the entire body, including hands and feet,” Thomas explains.
The Spa’s go-to products include Eminence Organics — both in treatments and for sale. The company uses sustainable farming and green practices, planting a tree for every product sold. To date, Eminence has planted more than 8 million trees around the world.
“We’re very passionate about giving back to the community and this is the way for us to do it,” Umstead says. “Not only are we maximizing luxury in each skin care service, but when we use these products, it’s a way to give back to the community.”
The Spa also uses Body Bliss, an aromatherapy line made with all-natural materials, Thomas says.
The products are free of parabens, animal by-products, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, harmful colorants and fragrances, mineral oils, petroleum, and other harsh chemicals.
The latest menu also effortlessly combines new natural and organic products with locally sourced items so guests can experience the full gamut of what it means to be “Up North.”
“I thought about those transient clients and that this might be their first taste of Northern Michigan,” Umstead says. “We love cherries here, but we are so much more than that. There are a lot of fantastic elements here and it comes down to aromatherapy and finding those individual notes that enhance certain sensations and feelings like when you are out walking in the woods and seeing all those textures and colors.
“It becomes so much more than just another spa treatment. We want to give you that feeling of being away and disconnected from everything.”
Some of the scents guests might experience include clary sage, cedar, lavender, and arborvitae — known as “The Tree of Life.”
The Spa also expanded services. Its body care options are more plentiful than before, for example, New Northern Nature treatments include organic wild sage and lavender. The light herbal bouquet recalls the purity of Northern Michigan air and promotes healing and relaxation.
In under an hour, guests can indulge all of the senses with the Northern Nature Body Glow, an immersion in the purifying herbal scents of turquoise sage that concludes with a luxurious application of turquoise sage body butter.
The Northern Nature Body Masque is a wrap in purely moisturizing and soothing locally harvested raw organic honey. As the honey opens the pores, guests receive a refreshing facial and scalp and foot massage. That’s followed by a scrub with turquoise sage fossilized salt. Once the scrub is washed away, turquoise sage body butter is massaged for the ultimate rehydration, leaving skin feeling soft and luminous.
The Organic Body Indulgence employs stonecrop, an exotic succulent that dramatically increases skin’s moisture content, soothes irritations, and delivers antioxidant benefits, Thomas says. A gel wash is massaged into the back, followed by a warm body masque. A face wash and masque are applied, followed by a cooling face massage. Guests then relax with a scalp and neck massage as the body wrap melts away muscle tension with the rhythmic torrent of a Vichy shower. Both sides of the body are then thoroughly exfoliated using a pear and poppy seed polish, and hydrating moisturizer is applied during a light Swedish massage.
Benefits and treatments featured in a new Woodland Wellness menu include a “mélange of forest woods and resins” wrapped around uplifting citrus notes of the Tree of Life scent, specifically designed to recreate the tradition of “taking in the forest air for health.”
The 100-minute service includes a clay masque applied to the body, a scalp and face massage, a body scrub, and full body massage.
The Tree of Life scent is also incorporated into Northern Serenity Nail Care. This customized manicure and pedicure include soaking fingers and toes and a stress-relieving scrub followed by a hand and arm massage or foot and leg massage and nail color.
Both Umstead and Thomas love working with and using the natural and organic products.
“The Citrus & Kale Potent C+E serum is my absolute favorite product,” Umstead says. “It’s basically a salad for your skin. Concentrated vitamins and antioxidants protect against free radicals, reduce redness, and increases hydration and elasticity.
“Healthy skin should be a top priority in any home routine and this product makes it easy to accomplish.”
Client response has been enthusiastic. The fact that some treatments have been expanded from 80 to 100 minutes has been especially well received.
“We’ve really been able to put our hearts into this,” Umstead says. “The result is exactly what we wanted.”