TravelTech: This Pill Probably Won’t Cure Your Putting Woes


The Pill Golf Single Shot Training Aid
by The Pill Golf
Available on Amazon.com
Although small and lightweight enough to easily carry while traveling, $13+ for one “ball” seems a bit excessive. It is likely made in China and probably costs less than $1.00 to manufacture, so a 1300% mark-up is pushing it based on what you get. 
Under the best conditions (a flat putting or hitting surface), the product’s design does not readily indicate where you are aiming, requiring frequent repositioning if you are aiming at a specific spot such as a golf hole. If it does what they claim it does, it will indicate whether or not you applied a square clubface to the ball at impact, but if you plan on aiming at a hole on a putting green with any break whatsoever, good luck!
I find the product useful for ensuring that the clubface is square at impact, but the lack of paper instructions (there are training videos on their website, thepillgolf, but they are commercials disguised as aids) and excessive markup make it a poor value. In the $3.95 to $5.95 range, I would rate it in the 8-10 “Bomb” range (4-5 Stars), but at nearly $13 for just one …
CombatCritic Gives The Pill Golf Single Shot Training Aid 5 Bombs Out Of 10 (Rounded Up To “3 Stars”)


Five Bombs Equates To:

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Title:  TravelTech: This Pill Probably Won’t Cure Your Putting Woes

Key Words: The Pill, Golf, Shot, Training, Aid, Pill, Golf, Surlyn, ball, putt, chip, shot, club, Amazon.com, amazon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, review

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”
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Wild Goose Chase, Then Premature Closing Left This Weary Traveler Unimpressed


United Club
O’Hare International Airport – Concourse F
Chicago, IL 60666
My experiences with United Airlines are hit-and-miss, occasionally brilliant, but more often than not disappointing.
 
After being told by the agent at the United luggage transfer desk in Terminal 5 that my connecting flight would leave from “Terminal 1, Concourse C”, I made the mistake of believing him, finding out once there that it was actually leaving from Terminal 2, Concourse F, a 30-minute walk away. By the time I finally found my gate, I was not a happy camper, so I decided to waste one of my two United Club passes I get each year on their Chicago O’Hare (Concourse F) facility. 
 
With two hours before my departure just a few gates away, I asked the woman at reception what time they closed and was told “10pm, giving me a little less than two hours before I had to board my plane. Tired after nearly 20 hours of travel and 30 minutes of unnecessary walking, I decided to use my last pass and what a mistake that was!
 
What little food there was available (olives, hummus, pita chips, cheese cubes and Skittles) was mostly depleted at 8:15 when I arrived. An hour after I arrived and 45 minutes before their scheduled closing they started putting food and alcohol away as I was told “last call” by the bartender. Seeing little reason to stick around during the commotion and chaos of employees eagerly preparing to flea work, I decided to leave.
 
I asked the women at the front desk why the employees were shutting everything down well before closing time and with several customers still in the club, but was told “they want to go home”. I said, “yes, but you told me they were open until 10pm and it is only 9:15”. One of the women said, “you can make a complaint on the website if you aren’t happy”.
 
The only reason they get two stars is because of the free booze (well drinks, bottled beer, and wine), the place was clean, and the employees relatively friendly (a rarity in Chicago O’Hare).
 
CombatCritic Gives United Club (O’Hare – Concourse F) 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Read This Review And More On Yelp!

Title: Wild Goose Chase, Then Premature Closing Left This Weary Traveler Unimpressed

Key Words: United Airlines, United, airlines, airline, fly, airplane, United Club, club, Chicago, O’Hare, airport, terminal, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

Kansas City Yelp Elite ’14 Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures


Kansas City Yelp Elite ’14 Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures

The Palace Cinema is on the second floor of an indoor mall on the Country Club Plaza. There are several theaters showing a variety of films, but this event was in the “VIP” theater, an appropriated place for yelp’s Elite ’14!


I was finally able to meet Matt E., our Kansas City Yelp Community Manager, and he was very welcoming. Unable to attend the three previous events since becoming an Elite ’14 due to travel and illnesses, I was very pleased to be able to attend this event and meet some of the wonderful folks I have only known by name and photo.

The VIP Lounge was small, but comfortable with a full bar (soft/mixed drinks available at an extra cost – my wife’s Coke was $4.99) and COMPLIMENTARY beer, red wine, and treats (mini-popcorn balls dipped in chocolate, M&Ms, Gummy Bears, and cherry Twizzlers).There was also a gift bag available for all, containing a yelp super ball, peppermints, and chapstick in addition to a coupon for a free small popcorn and a ticket for free entry to one Kansas City Film Festival film.


The film, “Doomsdays” (a pre-ecliptic comedy following “the misadventures of Dirty Fred (Justin Rice) and Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick), a pair of free-wheeling squatters with a taste for unoccupied vacation homes in the Catskills”. Their commitment to the lifestyle is challenged, however, when a runaway teen and an aimless young woman join their ranks”) started promptly at 6:30PM with an intro by Matt E.

The seats in the VIP theater were big and comfy with a small table between every other two to stow our sweets, drinks, and popcorn. Seating only 80 or so Yelpers,it was an intimate affair. The movie was interesting, an “Indie” film and winner of a couple small film festival awards, and entertaining.

We had a great time and the event was well worth the 50 minute drive from Lawrence! I hope to attend more Elite Events in the future, POSSIBLY ONE IN LAWRENCE IN UPCOMING MONTHS!

CombatCritic Gives “Elite Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures” and “Matt E.” 10 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT!


Key Words; yelp, elite, event, kansas city, Missouri, country, club, plaza, Palace Cinema, palace, cinema, theater, VIP, lounge, Doomsdays, film, Kansas City Film Festival, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Alvamar Golf and Country Club … Mostly Friendly Faces, Fair Prices, Decent Facilities


Alvamar Golf and Country Club
    1809 Crossgate Drive
    Lawrence, KS 66047
    (785) 842-1907
    http://www.alvamar.com

    Having been unable to play much golf in recent years due to bad knees, now that arthroscopic surgery has given me the ability to walk long distances with less pain (note that I did not say “painlessly”) it was time to join a club.

    View of 18th Hole (Member’s Course) from Clubhouse

    We moved to Lawrence, Kansas last August and I gathered information on local golf and country clubs in order to make an informed decision. After visiting the top-3 last Autumn, I narrowed down the field to two after I received an unwelcoming introduction to Lawrence’s city course, Eagle Bend:

    It was a blustery day in October when I dropped by Eagle Bend to inquire about annual memberships. I was hoping to play the course as a “single”, never having had ANY DIFFICULTY getting on even the most popular courses in the world last minute, including St. Andrews and Carnoustie (Scotland), Cog Hill (Chicago), Torrey Pines (San Diego), and Princeville (Kauai) to name just a few.

    The two men behind the counter acted as if I were an alien, grudgingly taking the time to answer my questions about spending close to $1500 per year to play golf on their course. When I asked about getting out as a single that day, the course was busy but not overwhelmed, I was told it would be “impossible”. “Really” I said, thinking they were joking, but they were as serious as heart attacks. I asked if it was always so difficult getting on as a single and they confirmed that it was, something I had not heard in 50 years of playing golf as a single, so I left, never to return.

    I stopped by Alvamar Golf and Country Club on my way home and was impressed by their friendly, easygoing nature and welcoming attitude. The Head Pro, Paul Hooser, answered all of my questions and told me that getting on as a single at Alvamar is NEVER A PROBLEM. Their pricing was better than Eagle Bend and practice facilities as good as I have seen anywhere, so I waited for Spring to finalize my decision.

    I contacted Alvamar and Lawrence Country Club ($220 per month – golf/social/pool/tennis membership) via email in mid-March, inquiring about a possible tour and opportunity to play the courses. Alvamar’s Ryan Spencer (Director of Golf Membership) was quick to get back to me, Lawrence Country Club never did.

    Enjoying Sunday Brunch

    Brian Minnis, Director of Operations and one of the owners, met me when I arrived and personally gave me a tour of the facilities and introduced me to the staff. I was very impressed with the facilities and staff, but even more so with the University of Kansas (KU) Affiliate Membership. Normally $240 per month ($2,880 per year) plus a $300 initiation fee, Brian told me that KU Staff and their families get a golf/dining/social membership for just $150 per month ($1,800 per year, a savings of over $1000) with no initiation fee and access to all of the facilities for my wife included … SOLD!


    I joined Alvamar on March 13, 2014 and played my first round that day, 10/18ths of a round anyway. As I putted-out on the 10th green of the Member’s Course, a tight, tree-lined  layout that meanders through large custom homes and gently rolling hills, I turned to return to my golf cart … BUT IT WAS GONE! While just 30 yards away putting, it turned out that three teenagers drove off with my electric cart along with my new iPhone and golf clubs valued at over $1700. I recovered my iPhone, which they tossed from the cart as they drove down the 13th fairway, using Find My iPhone in the Pro Shop. I also found two of my golf clubs in the bushes across the street from the 13th green where witnesses had seen the boys fleeing the scene but everything else was lost.

    Alvamar staff reacted immediately and superbly, doing everything they could to help me, including wading through knee deep sludge in a drainage ditch and combing the woods for any sign of my possessions. They was absolutely nothing they could have done to prevent this bazaar theft and went above and beyond after, a testament to the commitment to outstanding customer service I have witnessed so far.

    Eggs Benedict, Quiche Lorraine, Hash Browns, Biscuit and Gravy


    I have since had a chance to play both courses and have been impressed with the layouts and conditions even though the grass is still dormant. With the exception of a few holes, the courses are both very walkable. The Member’s Course is much tighter than the Championship (public) Course, a 7,000+ yard test which reminds me of the Robert Trent Jones designed “Blue” Course at the U.S. Air Force Academy where I was a member while on the faculty from 1988 to 1993.

    Brunch: We attended the Sunday Brunch last week early on and enjoyed our meal. At $16.50 per person (coffee $1.50 extra), the brunch was a decent value. Along with the expected breakfast fare (eggs, a great omelet station, bacon, potatoes, biscuits, gravy, waffles, and pancakes), you can choose from Prime Rib (which looked more like roast beef to me), a fish casserole, assorted vegetables, Au Gratin potatoes, and an assortment of fruit and store-bought muffins and pastries.

    Pete’s Omelet and Bacon


    Pete, the chef at the omelet bar, does an excellent job and the omelet was superb. Beside fresh eggs, you can choose from bacon, ham, cheddar cheese, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Everything else was fresh and flavorful with a few exceptions. The English muffins in the eggs Benedict had obviously been there all morning and were so difficult to cut with my butter knife that I finally gave up. The “Prime Rib” was actually pre-sliced roast beef (no carving station) in a Bordelaise sauce, tender and flavorful, but not Prime Rib. My only other suggestion would be a dew more dessert options other than slides fruit and store-bought muffins and breakfast pastries, possibly homemade cheesecake, chocolate cake, or pie/cobbler ala mode.

    Alvabar

    19th Hole: The Alvabar and Grill is a large, well-appointed, cozy environment with wood paneling and numerous TVs for viewing sports while enjoying a post-round beverage. A nice selection of draught beers, including Guinness and local craft beers, daily specials, full menu, and reasonable prices make the Alvabar a great place to wind down after a round of golf.

    Food: The menu is eclectic and so far I have tried the Reuben sandwich (corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing on marbled rye with choice of side – seasoned French fries, cottage fries, mashed potatoes, etc – $9), the original mel’t (4 cheese grilled cheese sandwich with melted cheese on top, accompanied by choice of side – $8), the chicken fried steak (flaky, breaded, grilled beef with mashed potatoes and veggie 0 $12.50), the blackened burger ($9), and the taco special (Thursdays – 2 tacos for $3).

    Taco Special – 2 for $3

    The Reuben was good, but not any better than any I have had at a coffee shop for $6-$8 and nowhere near a true Kosher deli sandwich piled high with corned beef. The french and cottage fries are good, but likely frozen. The original mel’t is super cheesy, but in a good way and if you love cheese, this is the sandwich for you. The chicken fried steak has been the highlight so far, a crunchy, flaky, perfectly grilled piece of breaded meat about the size and shape of a Kansas City strip, but half the thickness.

    The blackened burger was “OK”, nothing special. And the tacos were a huge disappointment, even at a buck-fifty a piece. On prefab, store bought corn taco shells, a smattering of overly greasy, seasoned beef, very little (melted) cheese, and a wisp of lettuce barely filled the shells (not the large variety) halfway. The salsa appeared to be Pace or some other commercial variety, not homemade and the big cup of sour cream was wasted on a taco aficionado who would never think of putting sour cream on anything, well maybe a baked potato, much less a taco. I can walk to Fuzzy’s Tacos on Massachusetts Street and get a top-notch taco with shredded beef (ground beed, pork, and chicken available), abundant cheese, lettuce, and fresh tomato on a crispy handmade corn shell for only $2, so these were very disappointing.

    I was talked in to trying the baked Ziti ($14) by Pauly, who as a Bostonian should know good Italian food. I have to say that the dish was not bad, probably a bit overpriced (it should come with garlic bread or a salad for that price). The mozzarella cheese on top was baked to perfection (see photo). The store bought pasta was al dente as it should be and the accompanying peppers, onions, and sausage were tasty although there was a bit too much sauce. Overall, the dish was decent, not great.

    A new veal dish, Veal Scaloppini Francesca ($22.00),  parmesan battered veal with gnocchi dressed in boursin cream and served with a vegetable medley recently caught my attention. Being a lover of all things veal, I had to try it. The photo is deceiving, but there were more vegetables than either veal or gnocchi on the plate. Maybe 3-4 ounces of veal max, it was lightly battered. tender, but appeared and tasted frozen. The gnocchi, all seven of them, were hidden under the sauce and mushy, overcooked. The sauce was tasty enough, but drenched the plate and obscured what little veal and gnocchi were on the plate. At $22, the dish was disappointing. A price in the $14 range or a few more ounces of veal and gnocchi would make the dish more palatable.

    Golf: The golf courses are challenging although not as well maintained as I would expect from a “country club”. The fairways are mowed too tightly, offering poor lies in many places where a fairway shot should be rewarded. The local “muni” also has zoysia fairways, but they are much more plush and forgiving than Alvamar’s at this point in the season. Alvamar’s greens are challenging and in good shape except for the dozens of ball marks on each green from the (too) many tournaments held weekly and self-centered people whom obviously care less about anybody but themselves.  

    The member’s driving range is an utter disappointment. Very large with plenty of room to move the tees around, the grass is so poorly maintained that it is difficult to find a decent lie to practice from. On the other hand, the “public” range is well kept and plush, having recently been verticut and reseeded, telling me that members are not as appreciated or respected as well as non-members. 

    Original Mel’t – $8

    Staff: Management, who are mostly indifferent to me as a whole and cater to the more affluent and influential members, aside, staff at Alvamar are wonderful. Valerie in the front office is very nice and helpful anytime it comes to sorting out the discrepancies on my bill. Travis, the Alvabar Manager, and his staff, including Hillary, Libby, Lizzie, Carena, Troy, Tatania, and Pauly are all friendly and customer oriented, making spending my money there almost a pleasure. Sammy, Cody, Eric (Clemson), Larry, and many of the other golf course staff are also very customer service oriented and helpful. THANK YOU ALVAMAR STAFF!

    Conclusion: Early on in our membership, I can say that Alvamar Golf and Country Club is a pretty good value, providing good customer service and individualized attention from most employees. The food is adequate, fairly reasonable in price, but for what you would expect from a “country club” … a bit “below par”. 

    Having joined Alvamar to meet people in a new town, I have to say that management does not practice what they preached during my initial tour, catering mostly to the more affluent, socially connected, better golfers at the club. They rarely have a word to say to me, talking at length to those sitting beside me while ignoring me for the most part. The Alvamar Ambassadors, those key members tasked with making new members feel welcome, dropped the ball after our first Bounty Night (Friday night cash and prize drawings), virtually ignoring my wife and I ever since. Members, while mostly pleasant on the surface, are cliquish and isolationists, avoiding talking, much less asking new members to join them for golf, or otherwise interacting with those they deem cool enough for their attention. A few key members, one who staff and members refer to as “Lord” SoAndSo, are apparently so impressed with their golf acumen and/or social status that they have refuse to even acknowledge my existence after several attempts to interact with them by simply saying “hello”. It would have been nice to feel included for the hundreds of dollars a month we have been sacrificing to try to meet people in a new town, but after six months we have no more friends than when we joined in March. We will be taking that into consideration when our membership is up for renewal next March.

    CombatCritic Gives Alvamar Country Club 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!


    Key Words: Alvamar Golf and Country Club, Alvamar, Golf, Country, Club, Lawrence, Kansas, 66047, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

    Genesis Health Clubs (Lawrence, Kansas – North/South) DID NOT DO THE RIGHT THING


    I joined Genesis after a miserable, humiliating experience at The Summit, which is just a couple blocks from our home in Old East Lawrence, yet eons away in terms of values and how they treat their customers. I was hoping Genesis would be focused more on compassion, integrity, dignity, and respect, but I am starting to have my doubts.
    I was lured into signing a one-year contract, an obsolete practice in the fitness industry for decades, by a young salesman who told me that my “wife can join for just $10 extra per month”. Considering that my monthly payment is close to $50 per month, that information sealed the deal and I joined that day.

    When I finally talked my wife into joining after years of begging, we went to sign her up ONLY TO BE TOLD BY LISA THAT IT NOW WOULD COST $20 per month … NOT the $10 I was quoted before enrollment. Lisa, the young, female manager, did not offer to honor the price we were originally quoted, but instead offered a two-week trial membership available to the public at-large. 

    I informed Lisa about the poor public perception of Genesis’s practices, particularly on Yelp where I am an Elite ’14 member, but she did not seem in the least bit concerned, a potentially fatal flaw for a business in a college town like Lawrence where students use Yelp (and other social media apps), making or breaking most small, local businesses.

    I am considering canceling my membership due to false advertising and breach of (oral) contract, but will wait to see if my wife wants to join and if GENESIS HAS THE INTEGRITY to honor the price quoted prior to enrollment.

    GENERAL COMMENTS: 

    1) Even though $50 per month is the most expensive gym membership in Lawrence by far, Genesis offers fair value due to the fact that the other fitness centers in town do not compare in terms of facilities, equipment, amenities, and classes offered. The equipment, while somewhat dated and dirty, is sufficient in number to accommodate patrons without having to wait and the classes (yoga, spin, Pilates, cross fit) offered are abundant and varied enough to fit anybody’s schedule.

    2) With only one drinking fountain at the Lawrence – South facility, with a prostate problem at that, BRING YOUR OWN WATER … filling your bottle in the bathroom with the smell of poop lingering in the air is disgusting! A couple of Culligan water dispensers in one of the back exercise rooms would cost $100 a month at most, increasing sanitation and hydration for customers.

    3) The men’s locker layout in the Lawrence – South location is sub-optimal in that there are only two benches and they are situated by the entrance so that traffic to the shower and toilets must pass between the benches and lockers, a logistical nightmare for the few people lucky enough to have a seat and one of the sparse number of lockers available.

    4) The Lawrence – South facility has only two showers and no sauna, steam room, or whirlpool, so exercise is all you are going to get there. The North facility has all three, but the steam room is never hot enough, the sauna is broken more times than not, and the whirlpool, beside being a little too hot, is so chlorinated that it burns the eyes and lungs.

    Beside the concerns addressed above, I was pleased with my membership even though both facilities are somewhat dirty, until I found out I was lied to during the registration process. As a retired military officer, honor and integrity are paramount in my life and I do not frequent businesses which fail to practice those core values. We will see if Genesis holds the same values and whether or not they choose to DO THE RIGHT THING, honoring the price I was quoted prior to enrollment. 

    UPDATE  – April, 2 2014:

    Sad … not for me, but for the shortsighted owner of Genesis- Lawrence. Not only will Lawrence South Manager Lisa NOT HONOR THE PRICE I was quoted before signing-up, she had the nerve to insinuate that I, a retired military officer, Veteran, and customer, was trying to game the system! Extremely be ad decision on her part. 

    I will pay the additional $10 per month over what I was quoted before signing the contract because $10 is not going to break the bank and I do not want to go through the hassle of suing Genesis for Breach of Contract. Genesis, on the other hand, now has a very unhappy customer, one who has provided them with FREE AND MOSTLY POSITIVE check-ins, tips, and reviews up until now. As I told Lisa, I cannot in good conscience continue to support a business that neither treats customers with dignity and respect NOR DOES THE RIGHT THING … IT IS CALLED INTEGRITY FOLKS!

    CombatCritic Gives Genesis Health Clubs (Lawrence, Kansas) 2 OUT OF 10 BOMBS (based on the lack of truthfulness prior to enrollment and poor customer service) AND THAT IS GENEROUS … BOMBS ARE GOOD!










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    Key Words: Genesis Fitness, Genesis, gym, center, exercise, workout, yoga, integrity, honor, truth, lies, membership, CombatCritic, TravelValue