How I Fell In Love With Rugby League (and why you should as well)

Mal Meninga. Gigantic, fast and a legend.

I love playing golf, and I love watching hockey (well, the Toronto Maple Leafs).  While this would be enough sports for most people, there’s one other sport that does it for me and that’s rugby league.  So how do I, your golf blogger and high functioning alcoholic, come to love a sport whose popularity is primarily centered around two areas (Australia and the north of England)?  Perhaps you follow me on Twitter and wonder why I’m clicking ‘favorite/like’ on some odd sport and occasionally retweeting highlights?

Blind luck and an eventual bad relationship.

Flash back to June of 1994 and I’ve been seeing someone for a year or so on a long-distance basis and we (as young people often do with bad results) agreed to move in together (we would part ways after a few years).  Specifically, she decided to pack up and move into my studio apartment in San Francisco.  She found out that I don’t have cable TV (I’ve never had cable TV at this point of my life), and she was rather insistent that we have it (without sounding old, this was when MTV showed actual music videos- The Real World was a cultural touchstone but otherwise it was mostly music videos).  Being the thoughtful person that I am, I called our local cable TV provider and schedule an installation on Friday since she was moving in on the next day (Saturday).

This will work out pretty well (I thought at the time), since this Friday in question was the start of the soccer World Cup and she mentioned liking soccer (her older sister had played for her high school and college teams) and was excited at seeing games since the US was the host country.

I took the day off from work, got a haircut early and was back in my apartment during the late morning appointment window.  They showed up on time, were done within 30 minutes, and I now had the wonder that was cable television.  Being someone who likes sports, I meandered towards the sports channels.  ESPN was showing the US Open (it would be Arnold Palmer’s last round at a US Open) with cutaways for soccer and the New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup parade.

Then I happened upon one of those lesser known sports channels and they were showing some weird sport I’d never seen before. It “looked” like rugby (I knew of it but hadn’t really watched much), but the playing field was laid out more like an NFL field with yardage lines and numbers.  There was a team wearing lime green shirts that said “MILK” in the front (and in the back)…okay, I thought, is that like a sponsor (I knew a lot of soccer teams had big sponsor logos in the front) or something?

The other thing was that after a player was tackled he’d get up, set the ball down and “play” it backwards to someone else while the team on defense would retreat what looked like 10 yards (found out later it was 10 meters).  The rugby I knew would have a bunch of people fighting over the ball.  This wasn’t like that.  Also you’d see a graphic pop up of “5th” tackle.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Didn’t know what this was.   Is this like 4th down in the NFL? Figured it out pretty quickly.

One last thing.  This team in lime green had an absolute mountain of a man on their team who could seemingly run through anyone or anything.  He wasn’t just big, he was fast.  And powerful.  His name?  Mal Meninga. He looked to be about 7’8″ tall and 350 pounds (nothing close but he looked it on TV).  He ran over people if not through them.  Later I’d learn he was a legend in the game and he’d be retiring after the season.  It was everything I loved about collision sports, without all the stoppages in play.  Simple rules and not overly complicated and played at a breathtaking pace I’d only seen in hockey.

I was hooked, but what was it?  This was before the internet had become as common as oxygen…so I had to look it up on the channel listings.  Something called “rugby league (listed as Australian Rugby League)…whatever that meant”.  It was a condensed highlights program from the games of a week prior (as I found out later).  The team in lime green were the Canberra Raiders.  They were playing a team called Eastern Suburbs or “Easts” in the score graphic. Wait, what?  I knew soccer teams had weird names, but here was an Australian sport with American style nicknames (there were teams named the Steelers, Bulldogs, Tigers to name a few).

The day this happened was June 17, 1994.  Unfortunately, June 17, 1994 took on a host of other meanings and history will show that it was the night that OJ Simpson went on his infamous Ford Bronco chase, causing the world (it seemed) to stop and watch.  And while everyone remembers the chase, I remember watching it unfold on CNN and also being excited because I had discovered this really cool sport.

The following Sunday, I drove down to the news-stand near my apartment, since they sold international newspapers (again- this was pre-Internet).  I found a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald, and immediately pulled out the sports section.  I’d find out that the Raiders had lost their most recent game to the Panthers. The Panthers! Damn you Panthers! We’ll get you next time.  I was hooked. Paid six dollars for the newspaper (I wasn’t always a genius).

It pushed me into rugby and eventually gave me the idea to play (I played several years for club teams in the Bay Area and DC; I wasn’t any good but it was fun playing a team sport again with some truly great lads).  I’m better for the experience and for learning something new.

If you like the NFL but can’t stand games taking 3 1/2 hours to play and only seeing about 14-15 minutes of action in a game, consider watching. No padding except for neoprene headgear that a few players wear, and it’s pretty much non-stop action.  13 players a side, 4 substitutes (not rolling subs- teams have a limit of how many changes they can make in a game).  Try (touchdown) worth 4 points, conversions or penalty goals worth 2 points, drop goal (i.e. field goal) worth 1 point. That’s it. A video review system that, while not perfect, is better than anything in use in North America.  A national announcer as polarizing as Joe Buck, Mike Emerick or Jim Hughson….why, yes!

Celebrities?  Russell Crowe owns one of the teams.  A Tina Turner song has turned into an anthem of sorts.  Take a listen:

This is 30 years old (made in 1990).

The national broadcaster recreated it for this year.  Stick to what works.

I still watch rugby league and still support the Canberra Raiders (followed last year’s Grand Final loss on twitter on a red-eye flight back from vacation…probably for the best that I couldn’t scream during the late game controversy). The NRL season normally runs March-early October (this year it’s getting extended due to COVID-19…like a lot of sports that had to shut down in March).  I know that right now there are those that think sports are dumb and unnecessary.  Maybe.

My hometown of Toronto now has a team in the England Super League (they’re still shut down due to COVID-19); they’re in their 4th year of existence and I’m hoping their games will be televised when they return.

But I still love it. And I’ll still get up in the middle of the night to watch games and get strange looks from people when I wear my Raiders jersey.  And it started on a flash-point day in American history because I got cable installed.

Foot-Joy 2020 Pro-SL Shoe Review

2020 Foot Joy Pro SL (Spikeless) fresh out of the box

***Please note that I was not compensated in any way by Footjoy nor did they contact me to write this.  I bought the shoes through a well-known online specialty golf retailer.  This review is entirely my opinion.

After 3 years and more rounds than I can count (somewhere between 65-75), my existing ProSL’s were starting to wear out so I figured it was time to replace them.  As I have pointed out in other posts, I’m a fairly big lad and I’m aware that this means shoes break down quicker and it means they don’t last as long as would be ideal.  Because their sizing hasn’t changed I knew what size I would need.

One tip: Unless you know your size by brand/model, I strongly recommend trying shoes on in-store BEFORE you buy. Ideally, at the end of the way, wearing socks that you’d wear when playing. Shoes aren’t cheap so you want to make sure that you’re not wasting money.

Since I really liked my old pair and had good luck with them, when it came time to buy a new pair I was always likely to stick with Foot Joy.  For one, their last fits my foot very well.  I learned the hard way that every company makes a slightly different last, plus I tend to under-pronate which makes things even more difficult.  The Foot Joy shoes don’t make this worse which is more than I can say when it comes to a couple of other brands.

Other brands, you ask?  Adidas has made some changes and their current range really doesn’t fit.  Plus, they don’t make an extra-wide and they’ve narrowed their existing wide a bit.  Nike shoes have never felt good on my feet (I bought a pair of their golf shoes in the 90’s when they were just starting to get into the market; they never felt great and broke down very quickly).  I tried New Balance once but wasn’t impressed.  Made my foot sweat something terrible and waterproofing was bad (I play a lot of early morning rounds so my feet were often wet after a few holes).  I wear ASICS sneakers as they fit my foot fairly well; haven’t tried their golf range yet (been hard to find).

Comfort: Excellent. Most modern shoes “should” fit well right out of the box with synthetic materials.  Not like a shoe from 30 years ago that you’d have to break in.  These fit great the second I put them on.  They make a BOA model for $20 extra, but I prefer the regular lace-up.  The foam is highly dense but still provides plenty of cushion.  It’s not as spongy as some other models, but for me, it was very good.  One note: Foot Joy tends to run a half to one full size smaller than my regular shoes.  I wear a 10 1/2 in ASICS, New Balance and Mizuno but I wear a 10 in Foot Joy.

Removable sockliner is a great added feature if you wear inserts or orthotics. Plenty of cushion but not overly spongy.

Grip: Excellent. This was a bit of a revelation for me.  I always thought (wrongly) that spikeless shoes would have bad grip on turf.   My Pro SL’s have better grip than my old shoes with softspikes.  No slips, no issues on side hills or going up and down mounds.  During my swing, it feels like my feet are anchored down which is what I want.

LOVE how the sole flares out a bit for added stability. Channeling the old XPS-1 shoes that I used to have. Great job.

Stability: Excellent.  The soles flare out a bit from the foot, providing additional stability.  It’s one feature that my old XPS-1 shoes had that I loved.  Full swings from the tee box, shots from the fairway or rough…felt very secure.

The additional support from the synthetic strap going from the heel to the top of the lacing area is a nice touch for added stability.

Look: Average.  If I have one complaint about these shoes, it’s the look. They’re not exactly a modern looking shoe. My first thought when seeing them was that they look like bowling shoes. I do wish they’d adopt a more modern look that other brands seem to be doing.  With that being said, I’ll sacrifice looks for performance.

Overall: Excellent. Foot Joy does one thing well, and that’s golf. To their credit they don’t try to get into other sports or make some ‘training’ shoe.  Unlike companies that see golf as one line on an org chart, Foot Joy only does golf.  And they do it very well. They make widths from extra narrow to extra wide (I really wish Ecco would make wide widths but they don’t which means they’re a non-starter for me).  They don’t introduce new lines every year for every model, which is not the norm in the industry.  Overall, they’re outstanding shoes and I’m looking forward to getting plenty of rounds out of them.

Song Of The Day

Johnny Marr’s solo records have a distinctive sound their own.  Bit of social distancing here from a few years ago.

Golf Course Closures Explained

One of these things isn’t like the other one. See if you can guess.

I’m angry.  There.  I said it.  I’m angry at bullshit hucksters like Malcolm Gladwell who thinks golf should be “banned”, and Silicon Valley douchebros (I worked in Silicon Valley; there isn’t anything these morons can’t ruin with their “ideas”) who hate golf (because they’re not any good at it (unless they’re a member at one of the more exclusive private clubs in the Bay Area), and they want golf courses turfed so they can fuck the land up with their own stupidity and incompetence in the same way they’ve operated for the last 25 years).

Golf is a form of outdoor exercise and is a sport.  It can be played with social distancing and with next to zero risk to anyone playing (a number of course maintenance teams have come up with genius level ways to avoid making contact with things, including not raking bunkers).  Green fees mean revenue which means employees get paid and the money circulates within the state.  Pretty simple, really.

I’m angry that with all this (alleged) intelligence we’re staring food shortages in the face because with all of their brainpower and whatnot, and they can’t figure out how to safely process and deliver food (you have millions of pounds of potatoes left to rot and meat shortages because nobody thought to spend a few bucks on food safety or the people feeding the country).  The most basic and simple thing in the world and we’ve fucked that up in less than 2 months.  Bravo.

And I’m angry with our Governor (Larry Hogan), who seems too busy getting dolled up to go on TV and pump his own tires to see the bigger picture (the makeup and glasses show you care, I suppose).  Winning two races against poster children for “how not to run a gubernatorial campaign” shouldn’t count for much but here we are.  But this is a golf website.  Onward.

If you look at the map above, you’ll notice that 45 states currently allow golf in some form or another, and 5 that don’t.  Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and of course Maryland because reasons.

This is not a “but muh golf” complaint.  It’s pointing out that Larry’s measures are like trying to stop a train with a fishing net.  I’ll stick with facts:

  1. I “could” be wrong, but near as I can tell, there isn’t a Simpsons Movie style dome over the state which means that travel to and from other states is permitted.  Let’s go on, shall we?
  2. If I’m on the Eastern Shore, I can play at Baywood Greens but none of the Ocean City courses.  We’re talking about 15-20 minutes distance (by car).  Is the environment at Links @ Lighthouse Sound that bad by comparison?  If it is, then by all means keep it closed!
  3. Bulle Rock is closed, but all of the courses in Philly are (mostly) open.
  4. Greystone in northern Baltimore County…nope.  Keep going another 20-25 minutes up I-83 and courses are open in PA.  Does Pennsylvania have magic non-COVID air that they’re hoarding?  Damn air-hoarders.
  5. Lodestone in far western MD is closed but again, I can truck into WV, OH or PA and tee it up.  Who’s right and who’s wrong here?
  6. I could hop in my car, cross a bridge and be in Virginia where courses are open.  Some mighty good tracks in the commonwealth.
  7. Same for North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey.
  8. I could fly out to California or Arizona where courses are, for the most part, open.  Flights are bookable as are hotels.
  9. The entire midwest and it’s vast array of really good courses.  Willing to wager places in MN, TX, IA, etc. would gladly take my money.  Assuming that I don’t decide to live there for the rest of my life, how exactly is this keeping people safe?

My point is that there’s no consistency on how things are being applied (and the devil is ALWAYS in the details).  Either golf is an outdoor activity that can take place or it’s unsafe and should be shut down.  Both arguments have validity but you can’t have both.  Just pick a lane.  That’s all I ask.

 

COVID-19 updates (what courses are and aren’t open)

My new weekend morning scripting.

Just as we were getting into the start of the season, things have taken a horrible turn with the pandemic from the Coronavirus (i.e. COVID-19).  PLEASE follow the new guidelines set in place and anything from the CDC.

So real quick, here’s what is (and isn’t) open in terms of local courses as of 3/17/2020.  Not trying to persuade or dissuade anyone from playing, but I’d suggest verifying specifics.

Waverly Woods: currently open.

Fairway Hills: closed

Hobbits Glen: closed

Timbers at Troy: currently open.

Baltimore County (Greystone, Rocky Point, Fox Hollow, etc.): open (Greystone grill may be closed)

Baltimore City (Forest Park, Mount Pleasant, Carroll Park, etc.): open for now.

Montgomery County Golf (Northwest, Little Bennett, Rattlewood, Hampshire Greens, Poolesville, Laytonsville, Sligo Creek, Hampshire Greens): Open for now (no on-course water, credit cards only, no rakes, flags stay in).

Links at Challendon: currently open

Compass Pointe: currently open.

Renditions: currently open

University of MD golf course: closed as of 3/18

Oak Creek: currently open

Lake Presidential: currently open

Blue Mash: currently open.

Worthington Manor: currently open.

Musket Ridge: currently open.

Maryland National: currently open.

Whiskey Creek: currently open.

PB Dye: currently open (aerated greens 3/2-3/4)

Hopefully you’re able to get out there and tee it up.  Stay healthy and be safe.

Hope to see you out there.  I’m not normally Mr. Grumpy Pants.

Sports Movies You Should See, Ranked

First off, to say I’m thrilled that the area will be hosting the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship in August 2021 at Caves Valley is an understatement.  Not having a regular tour stop in the area has been awful, so I’m very pleased that for at least one year we will see the best of the PGA Tour.  You know what would be even better?  A regular LPGA tour stop in the area, or even a Champions Tour slot.  As you were.

So I had this movie-themed piece in my head slated to go because I thought the Oscars would be in late February, but for some reason they were earlier.  Rather than put some half-ass effort into it, I decided to wait, and put something out that would be up to the kind of quality you’ve come to expect.

Mention sports movies and immediately people think of the tried and true.  I suppose that they’re okay, but as with most things, I find that by digging deeper you find better.  You find complexity, storytelling, and everything we love about movies.  No particular order here.  Just nine sports movies you may have not seen that you should consider watching:

  1. Fever Pitch (1997).  Take the 2005 baseball-themed remake starring Jimmy Fallon and light it on fire.  The original “should” be on any soccer fan’s ‘must watch’ especially if you’re newish.  Taken from Nick Hornby’s excellent book (with some significant departures), it details Colin Firth’s character as a schoolteacher by day/obsessed fan of Arsenal in during the 1988-89 season, which includes mentions about the Hillsborough disaster.  Great soundtrack.  Other films have done pieces about obsessed fans but they’re much darker.  This one is almost comedic.  Good enough to make you forget that they tried to make another version that was baseball centric.
  2. North Dallas Forty (1979).  Taken from Peter Gent’s excellent novel (but with one super-major part of the book deleted).  Nick Nolte plays a broken-down wide receiver on the mythical North Dallas Bulls.  First sports film to highlight rampant drug use (recreational and prescription), alcohol abuse, etc.  Not kid friendly.  The game scenes are at best not good, but it was the first film to show you how the sausage was made.  So many films owe a debt of gratitude to North Dallas Forty.
  3. The Damned United (2009).  Michael Sheen plays football manager Brian Clough; the film jumps around but centres around his 40+ day stint replacing Don Revie as Leeds United manager.   Sheen is nothing short of amazing as Clough as is Colm Meaney as Don Revie.  A great look at life in the 1970’s.  Game scenes are pretty good despite a couple minor errors.  Sheen looks, sounds and walks like Clough.  As good as Kurt Russell did playing Herb Brooks in Miracle, Sheen’s role of Clough is better.
  4. Dead Solid Perfect (1989).   Someone at Golf Channel/Comcast should acquire the rights to this.   It’s largely a mystery film at this point.  Taken from Dan Jenkins’ novel, it does a better job of storytelling than the other golf films.  Some of the production work isn’t great but it’s about 1000 miles better than a lot of golf movies.  Actually it’s the best.  Randy Quaid is outstanding, which isn’t something I would ever think I’d write.
  5. Goon (2012).  As someone who loves hockey, I admit that most hockey movies don’t do it for me.  Slap Shot’s hockey scenes are terrible and the sequels are beyond terrible.  I’d rather eat sand than watch the Mighty Ducks films (again-the hockey scenes are terrible).  Miracle was underwhelming despite having access to the actual game footage/audio.  Goon is…good.  Two scenes in particular; the bus scene after a loss hit a nerve, and the coffee shop scene (though a dead lift from the beyond outstanding ‘Heat’) was well done.  The on-ice scenes are good and the drinking/drug subculture was dealt with sufficiently well.
  6. The Final Winter (2007).  Was introduced to this film third-hand; rugby league film that deals with then-professional team Newtown Jets and how the lead character deals with his club (and the game) changing on him.  Anyone who’s felt that the changes in the game of their preferred sport will appreciate it.  Beautifully shot.  Any fan of a team that has been close to folding/moving will relate.
  7. Raging Bull (1980).  Sorry, Rocky.  This film (perfectly shot in black & white) is everything sports films aspire to.  DeNiro is outstanding.
  8. Personal Best (1982).  Deals with a track and field star (played by Muriel Hemmingway) dealing with a raft of issues as she tries to make the 1980 US Olympic team (that would end up boycotting the Moscow Olympics).  Again- not a family friendly film in any possible way (there is a ton of nudity and sexual content), but it tells stories that were previously not discussed.  Really shows the psyche of an elite athlete.  Bonus content for using Charley Jones during the Olympic Trials scenes.  The voice will be familiar to older viewers.
  9. Bang The Drum Slowly (1973).  Adapted from Mark Harris’ novel from the 1950’s.  Baseball scenes aren’t the best, but it’s terrific storytelling that is authentic and doesn’t feel contrived.

Honorable mention: The Natural (1984), The Rocket (2005), The Wrestler (2008), Any Given Sunday (1999).

The Second Annual SGIC Airing of the Grievances

Screw cookies and milk. I prefer bourbon. And a dozen ProV1’s.

What a year 2019 has been in golf.  The top story depends on where you’re from.  If you’re in the US then Tiger winning the Masters probably tops it.  European audiences may think Shane Lowry winning The Open at Portrush is the bigger deal.  Asian audiences may look towards the LPGA Tour for their bigger story.  There’s much to celebrate.

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And yet, a year later and boy, do I have some problems with a lot of you people.  So sit down, pour yourself a drink, and get comfortable.  Don’t even think about taking me on in feats of strength.

Patrick Reed: The dunce cap in human form.  Blatantly cheats during a limited field tournament in the Bahamas and provides the kind of bullshit story that no partially sane person with eyes would believe.  Then goes to Australia for the Presidents Cup and doubles down.  His caddie ended up shoving/pushing a fan.  Once a cheater, always a cheater.  He did this crap in college and is replicating form.  There’s no more benefit of the doubt with this clown.  Have cameras on him during every hole of every round because there’s no way you can trust him.

Bryson Dechambeau: May you lose majors after rightly getting hit with stroke play penalties.  Speed the hell up.  2 1/2 minutes for an 8 foot putt?  You should be forced to eat that stupid Hogan flat cap after it’s been dunked in Donkey Sauce.  You and JB Holmes should be forced to play together and be permanently on the clock.

USGA: Hey, you managed to not screw up the course at Pebble Beach.  Hooray!  Granted, overcast skies and cool temps with light wind helped.  Maybe take a trip to the Open Championship to see what they do.  No trickery, and no obsession over protecting a score.  Set up the course to be tough but fair, and what happens, happens.   Gary Woodland was fantastic tee to green at Pebble Beach and earned the win.  Winged Foot is similar; the less you do, the better.  Don’t overthink it.

European Tour: With Ireland picked to host the 2026 Ryder Cup the next one should go to the Old Course.  They last hosted in 1969.  This is a no-brainer.  Everyone knows the course.  17 and 18 are as great as it gets for match play.  DO IT.

R&A: You did a good thing by taking the Open to Portrush.  A rota of the Old Course, Royal Liverpool, Royal Troon, Royal St. Georges, Portrush, Carnoustie, and Muirfield (Lytham and Royal County Down as ‘secondary’ options) should do just fine.  Prestwick, Sunningdale can be added for the women’s rota.

PGA Tour: Can we talk about marijuana?  Please?  It’s time to take marijuana off the banned substance list.  Guys are using CBD, and as a former pot smoker, it’s not a stimulant.  As I’ve said before, I smoked it to help relieve stress at night so I could sleep better.  It’s legal in several states and this is all going in one direction.  Join the 21st century.

PGA Tour Rules Officials: Can we stop with the ‘won’t someone think of the children’ as an excuse to not enforce the rules?  So we give player X the benefit of the doubt who then knocks Y and Z out of the top 125 and back to the Korn Ferry Tour?  Either enforce the rules as they’re written or find people who will.  Looking at you, Slugger.

CBS: Just put Frank Nobilo into the 18th hole chair next to Nantz.  Please.  I’d take Nobilo 8 days a week over Azinger.

FOX: Just admit you’re not very good at this and move on.  You’re the drunk guy at a bar who’s pissed his pants, can’t stand up and still thinks he’s good to drive home.

NBC/Golf Channel: Quit screwing around with your LPGA coverage.  Live coverage on weekends is the absolute minimum, and this gong-show you keep doing with their Tour Championship is asinine.  On weekends, CNBC should become Golf Channel Plus (I don’t think people will mind losing a seventh rerun of some episode of Shark Tank).  You’re welcome.

NBC/Golf Channel: What part of “show live golf” is beyond you?  The Presidents Cup coverage was worse than terrible.  Showing people standing around looking at yardage books during the “playing through” bit doesn’t cut it.

New Media: There are outfits who do a great job (none of these folks I have any kind of relationship).  Looking at you, No Laying Up, Shane Bacon, Stephanie Wei and several other well-run blogs and websites that produce some truly great stuff.  Quality content is quality content.  Don’t steal content or fail to provide attribution and then get whiny when you get called on it.  You know who you are.  Also- you aren’t the story (and if you don’t get this, then get out NOW).  So don’t make yourself the story.

Time Rosaforte: Happy retirement but you’re leaving a giant hole in coverage.  One of the true “good eggs” out there who was always worth tuning in for.  You’ll be missed.  Dammit.  Rosaforte and Nobilo leaving at the same time is…not good (I’ve been a fan of Nobilo for some time).

University of Maryland: Quit screwing with the golf course.  Leave it the hell alone.  It’s a true hidden gem and a great test of golf.  Plus it’s open green space.  You can’t just pave everything over.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Festivus, Happy Winter Celebration.  Enjoy some great holiday music.  Miss you always Kirsty.

 

SGIC’s Rage-Fueled Guide to the 2019 Golf Digest Holiday Guide

Linus is hoping everyone enjoys the holiday season!

What a year 2019 has been.  Stop for a moment and let’s reflect on everything that has happened over the last 12 months.  I’m sitting here by the fireplace having a cup of hot cocoa* (I’m drinking my fifth tumbler of rye on the rocks but calling it cocoa) while my dog snores and farts.  What could possibly make this frigid evening better?  Why it’s the arrival of the 2019 Golf Digest Holiday Gift Guide!  Behold!

Unlike last year, there are no leggings or pantaloons of any kind.  I DEMAND PANTALOONS.  In tartan, of course.  I want tartan everything.  GIVE ME YOUR FINEST TARTAN!  MOISTURE WICKING TARTAN!

Since there is no tartan, the people at Golf Digest have been busy at work putting together a list of items that they believe are what golfers want for the holidays (they are, as usual, wrong).  So let’s take a look at the fine offerings that have been curated for my discerning taste, shall we?

And like last year, much thanks to Drew Magary for inspiring this.  Hopefully you land on your feet and are blessed with many ramekins of delicious treats.

Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones

Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones

Price: $200.

They say: A look, feel and sound that’s bold— even if your music isn’t. The fine-tuned acoustics will make any track bounce.

SGIC says: The human clown car wearing headphones that appear to be from the Guy Fieri collection is going to be an absolute delight for that 7-hour round, but that’s okay while Logan listens to some godforsaken world music while taking 4 minutes to miss a six-footer for a triple bogey.  The social skills of a fence post, four practice swings, taking pictures of EVERYTHING (for the ‘gram, naturally) and the inability to break 120 come standard with these.  Unless you’re dropping that bass at the club during your DJ gig these are a total waste.  It’s as bad as assholes who wear Apple Air Buds everywhere.

Demerbox Game Day DB2 Speaker

Demerbox Game Day DB2 Speaker

Price: $349

They say: Built into a durable pelican case, this waterproof outdoor speaker delivers storage and professional-grade sound quality in an ultra-portable design.

SGIC says: To quote from Judge Smails, CUT THAT OUT!  $350 for something that looks like an emergency repair kit you’d keep in your car?  Is listening to Nickelback really that big of a deal?  I point this out because it’s an absolute guarantee that people who insist on taking something like this with them to the course have terrible taste in music and will be hard of hearing ensuring everyone gets to listen to their dirge.  Sure glad it’s ultra-portable though.  Portable just isn’t enough.

Psychobunny Aaron Windbreaker

Psycho Bunny Aaron Windbreaker

Price: $198

They say: A packable, wind-and-waterproof jacket that will pop even under the darkest skies.

SGIC says: Confession: I own a psychobunny tshirt.  Pretty plain, tiny logo.  Overpriced.  Exactly how I feel about this.  For $200 I can buy something from Zero Restriction that I know is actually waterproof.  Plus, it wasn’t designed for golf so how well it holds up with a golf swing is up for debate.  Who’s Aaron, by the way?

Mont Blanc Sunglasses

Montblanc Sunglasses

Price: $2,020 (not a typo).

They say: The subtle map design on these titanium glasses is only visible from the outside, giving them a crisp, out-of-this-world look.

SGIC says: When I spend two grand on sunglasses three things happen.  1) She Who Is Really In Charge does not react well and gives me the death stare 2) I look like a complete dipshit 3) I will drop them and ruin them.  I spent $220 on a pair of custom golf-specific Oakley sunglasses 7 years ago and still question the decision (I still have them and like them).  But wow, I never bought sunglasses that have a subtle map design that’s visible from the outside before.  I bet wearing these will impress Aiden, Muffy and Trevor at the club while we complain about the poors and drink Dr. Pepper from $200 stemware.  And when I think of sunglasses, I always want to go with a company best known for making pens.  Christ- it’s like someone from Golf Digest thinks that your average reader is thinking “I mean, I could spend two grand on a golf trip to Myrtle but man I need sunglasses that make me look like a douchebag!”

Blair’s Belts Alligator Belt

Blair's Belts Alligator Wallet

Price: $295

They say: A luxe leather cash cover to keep your green safe and stylish.

SGIC says: You can’t buy this unless you get the matching belt and shoes.  BTW, you know who could totally pull this off?  Phil.  I’m sure that when he’s in Saudi Arabia it’ll go over well with the Sheik at the Palace.  That’s it.  You, me, anyone else?  Hell no.  Who buys someone a $300 wallet other than people who read the Robb Report and complain how it’s gone all mainstream and think Wheels Up is tacky.

Casio Pro Terek Smart WSD-F30 GPS Watch

Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F30 GPS Watch

Price: $549. Not a typo.

They say: A quality outdoor watch with the golf and smartwatch features you need. Get hole layouts and yardages via the Hole19 app, track activity, receive notifications and review forecasts on a compact-yet-vivid design.

SGIC says: Eat shit.  I’d rather listen to the 877-KARS-4-KIDS song in a broom closet with the two goobers from MVMT watching JB Holmes lose pace to an ice floe than spend $550 on a Casio watch.  It’s a watch.  It tells time.  You know what works great for a GPS device is your smart phone with the Hole19 app, or a rangefinder.  You can watch porn on your smartphone (from what I hear).  Casio watches should never cost more than a case of PBR.  Hell, they should come with one.  SGIC 2020, buy a case of beer, get a free Casio watch!  Plus, you know that the asshole using this thing will need three minutes to get his yardage nailed down so he can duck hook a 3-wood into a hazard.

Bluegrass Fairway Waxed Canvas Valuables Pouch

Bluegrass Fairway Waxed Canvas Valuables Pouch

Price: $38

They say: Handmade in the United States, this water-resistant pouch is lined with a soft, tartan fabric to keep your valuables protected inside and out.

SGIC says: Tartan fabric, people!  Now we’re talking.  I NEED TARTAN.  I’m a supporter of BIG TARTAN.  But $38?  Someone should buy this for an office gift exchange just to make the “you can put your balls in it!” joke.  You know what’s cheaper and better?  A Crown Royal pouch (my personal option).  And with the pouch, you get a free bottle of Crown Royal!  Put the Pine Valley or Masters logo on it and they’ll fly off the shelf.  This thing looks like it should have a bolo tie in it or something.

G/FORE Pray For Birdies Beanie

G/FORE Pray For Birdies Beanie

Price: $120

They say: A soft cashmere-wool hat to keep you warm and under par all winter long.

SGIC says: It’s a toque.  Skull cap…sure.  Beanie sounds like something Flounder from ‘Animal House’ would wear to try to pledge Delta House.  There’s a guy named Trevor or Hunter in Brooklyn who will totally buy this.  Serious golfers?  No chance.  It’s golf apparel for people who don’t play golf.  Pass.

Crab & Cleek Turkish Towels

Crab & Cleek Turkish Towels

Price: $32 each

They say: For a unique and elegant addition to the bag, these customizable Turkish cotton golf towels have a terry-cloth liner that will keep your clubs fresh.

SGIC says: Some poor bastard is getting this for Christmas along with a set of neoprene iron covers and a set of naked lady tees right before they decide to ditch golf and take up lawn darts or huffing glue as their preferred recreational activity.  I mean, do you really need TURKISH cotton?  Is Pima or Egyptian cotton not good enough anymore?  I used “borrowed” gym towels that worked great.  Think about what you use your towel for; do you really need fine Turkish cotton?  No.  You do not.

Theragun Liv

Theragun Liv

Price: $249 and your pride

They say: This massage gun uses percussive therapy—or rapid, repetitive strokes—to stimulate blood flow and heat for more effective muscle recovery, pain management and stress relief.

SGIC says: This thing looks like someone duct-taped a Hitachi Wand on a triangle.  I mean, I bet a lot of people can use this for stress relief and to stimulate blood flow (hey-yoooo).  I totally get that.  But…THIS LOOKS LIKE A VIBRATOR.   Like something you’d see on an Adam & Eve infomercial (something I’d never, ever watch).   And $250?  No, I don’t know what size batteries this uses nor do I know if you can some how link it to your smartphone.

Hay Sowden Bottle

Hay Sowden Bottle

Price: $35 (12 ounce) $40 (17 ounce).

They say: Make hydration more appealing with this stainless-steel bottle that’s suitable for hot or cold drinks and looks like a work of art.

SGIC says: They look like giant salt and pepper shakers that are plotting revenge.  40 bucks for a water bottle that holds less than 20 ounces?  GTFO.  Buy a Yeti.  Cheaper, bigger and they work great.  This looks like something you’d use on your Peloton (presumably beating your husband with it for blowing 2 grand on an exercise bike).  Oh, and those ‘videos’ you can watch with the instructors?  I hate those people.  If  you ever see me inside a Soul Cycle call 911 because I’ve been kidnapped.

Imperial The Breck Rope Cap

Imperial The Breck Rope Cap

Price: $30 and all the ridicule you can handle

They say: This customizable corduroy hat was inspired by a piece in the company’s 1988 collection—bringing enduring style and refinement to winter attire.

SGIC says: You should get a free bowl of soup with this, because at least then you’d have soup.  When I think of refinement in haberdashery, corduroy isn’t what I’m thinking of.  Rope hats are ugly so by all means let’s bring them back.  Throw this thing into an active volcano.  Seriously…corduroy?  On a hat?

J Lindberg Clint Wool Coolmax Sweater

 

J.Lindeberg Clint Wool Coolmax Sweater

Price: $225 (therapy not included)

They say: A moisture-wicking, breathable wool-blend layer that will add class, color and warmth to any outfit.

SGIC says: A huge epic fail.  No big and tall sizes because J Lindberg is made for 12-year old boys who resemble a match stick, plus it’s the kind ugly where you need two of these: 1 to shit on, the other to cover up said shit with.  Who’s spending $225 to look like you eat crayons because they taste good?

Seamus X Denton Watts Skull & Crossbones Field Book (scorecard holder)

Seamus X Denton Watts Skull & Crossbones Field Book

Price: $95

They say: Ready to record the deadliest of scores, this white-leather scorecard holder can double as a passport protector.

SGIC says: If you wear a white belt with black socks and play from the tips despite your 22 index, have we got a deal for you.  No.  Absolutely not.  When the economy craters next year (consumer debt is at an all-time high per capita) people are going to look at crap like this and question their judgement.  As they should.  The first person to DM me will get a free scorecard holder that came with a purchase from TGW.

Jones X Buscemi Slide

Jones X Buscemi Slide

Price: $200. For slides.

They say: Handmade in Italy, these limited-edition slides offer the simple elegance your feet deserve after 18 holes.

SGIC says: Huzzah!  Tut tut…surely Trevor and Lord Shinytaint will not have someone wearing these in the Members Grill after 18 holes.  The humanity!  One exception: wear these bad boys with knee-high black socks and see what happens.  But hurry…they’re limited edition!  You don’t want BIG SANDAL getting over on you, do you?  Does buying a pair of these get you lunch with Steve Buscemi?  Asking for a friend.  Can you wear them while getting sun on your bunghole?

Hillrock Estate Solera-Aged Bourbon

Hillrock Estate Solera-Aged Bourbon

Price: $100

They say: This groundbreaking New York State bourbon hangs with Kentucky’s best.

SGIC says: What does Solera aged mean?  Bourbon is aged is wood casks.  There is literally no solera involved.  Bourbon is Solera-free.  I could recommend a half-dozen bourbons that would be much better (and cheaper) than this.  It’s like one of their staffers was in the Hudson Valley and stumbled upon this.  It’s like claiming the best crab cakes come from Oklahoma.

That’s it.  You’re not buying any of this garbage.

What if, say, you’re reading this and you want to get your favourite golfer something for Christmas?  A few really good options:

  1. Go to your local golf course and buy 1-2 dozen of their preferred make/model of balls.  Super easy, and they’ll be happy.
  2. Treating them to a round or two at a great course that they have wanted to play.  They’ll think of you…it’s a win-win!
  3. If they’re new to the game or want to improve, a lessons package at your local course (or some place like GolfTec) is a great option.
  4. Are they in the market for new clubs?  Schedule them a fitting at said local course or a club fitter in your area (use your search engine of choice).  It’s a great way for them to maximize those dollars and again- they’ll think of you when they’re getting fitted and start hitting your mid-irons stiff on a regular basis.
  5. If you have deep pockets, treat them to a weekend getaway somewhere nice that has golf that they can use come spring.  The RTJ Golf Trail, Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island, Charleston SC, Scottsdale/Phoenix, Orlando are all great options with plenty of non-golf things to do.

Happy shopping!

The Other Palm Springs Version 2.0

1st Hole at Desert Willow Mountain View. The beginning of the trip. In the rough.

As father time continues to creep on me, more and more I find the laid-back vibe of the Palm Springs area much to my liking.  So with She Who Is Really In Charge and I both needing some r&r (and I needing a serious dosage of golf) we scheduled a vacation with morning golf for yours truly before enjoying some quality pool time in the afternoon.

SATURDAY: We flew direct into LAX because I’m nervous as shit about my clubs and I wasn’t sure about ShipSticks (nothing against them).  If anyone has used them with success please let me know.  I had an early AM Sunday round so I was nervous; figured a direct flight was going to minimize my chances of having any issues (very happy to see them rolling out).  Stopped in Orange County to visit my mom because I’m not a complete asshole, but not before stopping at Sidecar Donuts in Costa Mesa.  Growing up in suburban Toronto I have an admittedly stupid attachment to Tim Hortons but a maple glazed still brings back memories.  The donuts at Sidecar are more expensive and better.  Holy shit.  After visiting with my mom and a late lunch that was mediocre at best, we made the drive out to the Coachella Valley.  We stayed at La Quinta Resort (full disclosure: I have a secondary-level business relationship with them); we’ve stayed there before quite happily; we got in late, we were both exhausted and I had a sunup tee time on Sunday.  So it was an early to bed night.

SUNDAY:

6th hole at Desert Willow Firecliff. Yeah, that’s water if you’re short.

Up early for my tee time and drive to the first stop on my Tour Du Golf 2019 (Desert Willow).  I’ve played there before and was blown away at their hospitality, service and course conditions.  I had made a 6am tee time, and realized I was going to have an issue when it was dark at 6am.   I was supposed to play the Firecliff but they had called me to tell me they were switching their overseeding schedule and that I’d be playing the Mountain View over a month ago (which I really appreciated).  The pro shop let me know I’d be going out at 6:30 a.m. instead when there was ample light.  Played with a guy from Vancouver and we got around in just over 2 1/2 hours.   This despite a pretty strong wind that kicked up and was a legit factor on the entire back nine.  Didn’t play well but wasn’t really expecting much.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Desert Willow is a fantastic example of what public golf can be.  Yes- you can have great playing conditions AND people who are service-oriented.  It’s a must-play.  Period.

Fairway on the 18th hole at Desert Willow Mountain View. I’d suggest not going right.

Dinner was at Eureka; burgers, charcoal lemonade (try it) and their mac & cheese balls for an appetizer.  Being hungry, we went to Lappert’s for dessert (had the Dole Whip which is outstanding).  We’ve eaten at Eureka before and the food was once again really good.  Lappert’s is a must-stop for dessert; they have a ton of ice cream options but the can’t-find-it-anywhere-else Dole Whip remains my preferred option.

MONDAY: The last 2 times I’ve been in the desert, Silver Rock has been closed for overseeding, so finding them open was a pleasant surprise.  I had heard good things and I was very excited to play this course.  Driving out there, I was hoping to be delighted.  I wanted to be delighted.  I really, really, really wanted to love this place.

1st hole at Silver Rock. It’s beautiful.

I wasn’t.  The trailer that was their pro shop (they’re building a resort on the property) didn’t really bother me; in fact the lady in the pro shop was probably the highlight of the day.  She was nice enough and was incredibly nice.

5th hole at Silver Rock. Be accurate or you’re in serious trouble.

Their starter/marshal was fun in the same way a colonoscopy is fun.  I just wanted to hit a few chips and roll a few putts before my 6:30 a.m. tee time.  Which he moved to 6:50 “because” (his words).  I explained that I had made the time, and that there was plenty of light.  Didn’t care.  “You made it on the internet…you could have made that up for all I know.”  At this point I felt like I was part of a Club Pro Guy skit.  So we had to track out over hill and dale, which was fine.  I asked about using the putting green by the first tee and was told “it’s under repair” (no signage that would indicate this).  His attitude was that of your average DMV employee being asked to do something at 5 minutes before their shift ends.  Not really sure what the guy’s deal was, but it’s a terrible first impression.  At the first tee I got paired up with an old guy with the shakes, the guy in my cart, and Vinny who ticked every possible box for a guy named Vinny down to the yellow convertible sports car.  Vinny was beyond terrible, insisted on playing from the tips, and was painfully slow.   On two occasions I got a lecture from their player assistant as the group behind us was riding our asses and I had politely tried to suggest we pick up the pace a bit.  If I was in my own cart I’d have bailed after nine holes.  It was that bad, but Sargent Golf Police paired us up and the 9th hole is nowhere near the clubhouse. Finished the round only to get hustled by their staff; look I appreciate the “let me wipe your clubs down” but maybe ask first?  Also, if I decline the offer (mostly because it took over 4 hours to play PLUS starting 20 minutes late because your starter has a tiny penis) don’t get huffy with me and pull the “self righteous indignation” card.  If you hadn’t pissed me off and I’m not short on time I probably say have at it.  After this?  Get bent.

16th hole at Silver Rock. Don’t be short. Or right. Or long. Or very left.

The course itself?  A whale of a track.  A challenge if you don’t know it.  Very easy to get into trouble if you get wild, and very few week holes.  Swap out their existing staff for the Desert Willow folks and you’d have something truly amazing.  Keep Sargent Golf Police and it’s a hard pass from me.  This hurts because trashing a place isn’t my style.  I came here hoping to be blown away and my standards are pretty low.  I wasn’t. After picking up SWIRIC after her massage (I didn’t want to make her late) we ate at Rubio’s (don’t have them here so it doesn’t violate my “don’t eat what we can get at home” rule), and had an outstanding dinner at Cork & Fork.  She had the prix fixe, I think I had one of their brick oven pizzas.  We both had a Spanish Cava that was outstanding.

TUESDAY: Went to lunch at Elmer’s over in Palm Springs (she had the German pancake, I opted for an omelet).  I know it’s a coffee shop/diner but damn their food is great.  Even my biscuit was perfection; light, fluffy and just a bit of sweetness.  Didn’t play since my body isn’t currently set up to handle 3+ consecutive days of play.  Did a bit of shopping at the outlets and had dinner at French Rotisserie Cafe in La Quinta and was reminded that a simple roast chicken and frites can be wonderful if cooked correctly (they were).

Roast chicken and frites (Rose wine not pictured) at French Rotisserie Cafe. Yum.

WEDNESDAY:

Their lit putting course at Indian Wells Golf Resort. This looks like it could be really fun.

After Monday’s disappointment, I was cautiously optimistic that Indian Wells (Celebrity) would be better.  It was certainly more expensive.  Happy to say it was worth it.  Very much worth it.  It’s amazing how, when you’re treated like a customer and not like a problem things can go.  A warm welcome from everyone at the course which didn’t match the weather; it was downright cool when I got there and I was glad I brought my wind-shirt.  Almost smart of me.

2nd hole at Indian Wells (Celebrity) course. I’ve just chunked my 7 iron and will be carding another bogey. As you were.

I got paired up with brothers from Montreal (their Canadiens stuff was a dead giveaway) and a local.  Their pace of play wasn’t great but since I was riding solo I broke away from them and got around in my usual speedy pace.

10th hole at Indian Wells. Found the fairway, and managed to card a decent score for the back nine.  It hasn’t been overseeded yet.

On the 11th hole I ran into a player assistant and I immediately feared getting a dressing down for breaking away.  Nope.  “Who cares?  You’re having fun, we’re happy you’re here, have a great day.”  This?  This right here?  This six seconds of not being a jerk?  You won me over.  Sure, I paid $149 to play at Indian Wells and only $82 at Silver Rock, but that difference is the difference between being treated like a valued customer and an interruption of one’s day.  You had me at “we’re happy you’re here”.  I’m really that easy to please.

Yes- as you can see parts of Indian Wells (and my final round at TPC Stadium Course at PGA West) were a bit burned out (they were overseeding their other course but as of today’s publication date both have been done).  I’ve come to expect as much this time of year.  It happens.  Still playable.

15th or 16th hole at Indian Wells Celebrity Course. Stay out of the bunkers and the water. But that view. HELL YES.

Didn’t play well on the front side but on the back side, I found my groove.  Birdied 18 to finish the back nine at one over.

From 150 to the pin; hit it to 12 feet and drained the putt for a closing birdie. A nice finish to a great time out.

After finishing up we had an early lunch at Louise’s Pantry in La Quinta; very golf-themed (tons of autographed golf photos on the walls) and a solid breakfast/lunch menu.  My patty melt was exactly what I wanted; the fries were piping hot and well-cooked (nothing is worse than lukewarm fries).

After lunch and logging some pool time, we headed out to dinner.  For dinner we celebrated at local favourite LG’s steakhouse.  The steaks were as expected; we split a bottle of red blend wine that we like.  The au gratin potatoes were a bit buttery for my taste; probably go with the mashed potatoes next time.  They weren’t bad, but they definitely didn’t go light on the butter or cream!

THURSDAY

2nd hole at PGA West Stadium Course. Good luck finding a level lie out there.

 

Woke up not feeling great which happens to coincide with how I felt the last time I played at a PGA West course (then it was the Nicklaus tournament course).  Luckily, a regular coke over ice helped to soothe things.  I was playing the Stadium course and I had no real expectations on how I was going to do other than I hoped to not completely embarrass myself.  The staff were incredibly courteous, helpful and friendly (special nod to the beverage cart driver; we saw her 4 times and she couldn’t have been nicer).  You “could” argue that for $119 off-season they should be nice, but I came away impressed with the service.

7th hole at PGA West Stadium Course. Don’t go right. Seriously. Not even on your 2nd shot. DO. NOT. GO. RIGHT.

Got paired up with an older guy who played there quite a bit and he helped more than a bit since he knew a couple danger spots that helped me out in terms of strategy.  I didn’t play great but I did manage to par the last 3 holes (including 17; their infamous island green hole).    The course was in “okay” shape (several burned out spots) but it was slated for closure in a few days for overseeding (fair credit to this information being posted).  Didn’t bother me that much but some might feel otherwise (the greens were in great shape).

17th hole at PGA West Stadium Course. This will make your butt pucker. Happy to say I hit the green and 2-putted for a par. No real bail-out area.

The Stadium Course is still used as the ‘main’ course for the PGA Tour Desert Classic in January when I’m guessing it’ll look fantastic.  It’s a tough course for us mortals, and I’m dead certain the pros will go low; a reminder that they’re more than good.  After finishing up we had lunch at nearby Heirloom Kitchen.  It was really good; my breakfast burrito was exactly what I wanted.  If you’re vegan they have several vegan options (I’m not, but I’m glad that they have these options available).  After lunch we headed into downtown Palm Springs for drinks at the Tonga Hut (a Tiki bar that is completely sans irony; just a great place that has preserved the days of Tiki which isn’t a bad thing).  Our mai-tais were delicious; we watched the street fair set up and then walked around a bit and did some shopping for friends back home. Dinner was at Toscano’s Italian Sports Bar; my pizza was much better than I was expecting and the breadsticks were good (very buttery).

I always enjoy the vibe of the area; it just feels different than most of Southern California.  In a good way.

FRIDAY:

Time to pack up and head back over the mountain to see some extended family.   We always have a great time in the desert and some day, I’d like to hang my hat there and call it home.  The heat doesn’t really bother me (at least it’s not swamp-like), and not having to worry about snow removal and ice storms would be nice.  The next time out I’d consider flying into Palm Springs airport just to see what it’s like (I’ve heard good things).

APOLOGY:

Work has kept me really busy after I got back from vacation so there’s been quite a delay in getting this out.  Weather here in the DMV went from warm to winter pretty much overnight, so this is pretty much it for 2019.  Clubs were taken out of my car.    I’ll still write, but the odds of me playing again this year are pretty slim unless we get some kind of a warmup (waiting for frost delays isn’t really my idea of fun).

Got a few things in the proverbial cooker but for now I will keep them under wraps.

 

 

 

 

Labor Day and Something’s Missing

From the 2nd tee at Rattlewood. I make a long shadow at sunup. Can’t really explain that it looks like my arms are out. They’re not.

Hope you’re enjoying your Labor/Labour Day.  After running a bunch of errands I had something of a brain cramp because I was convinced that today was the final round of a Playoff event, but thanks to the Tour’s new schedule, your only option is the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship (which I’d like to see get elevated to NBC for the final two rounds).  The Champions and LPGA Tours wrapped up on Sunday as did the European Tour.

9th hole at Rattlewood. All about getting your second shot close unless you’re a REAL bomber and can hit a draw that stops on an elevated green that slopes hard from right to left.

Not to beat a dead horse but there’s no reason for the PGA Tour to avoid Labo(u)r Day weekend, but we digress.  I’m not the first one to suggest this, but a West Coast Tour Championship (whispers softly…use Riviera on a mini-rota with Olympic Club, LACC and maybe Chambers Bay) in prime time over Labor Day weekend gets you eyeballs you’re otherwise not getting.

No golf next weekend as I’ve got commitments both days but I plan on playing the following two weeks before heading on vacation.  Plus, I’ll admit to being a bit gun-shy about potential impact from Hurricane Dorian (all the best to everyone in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas).

I played Saturday at Rattlewood fearful of rust from not having played in two weeks; no issues.  Got off to a good start and had as good of day with my irons as I’ve had in some time, with 11 GIR.  Didn’t convert much (1 birdie and 35 putts), but a 78 is never bad.  Had a bit of a blow-up on 18 where I had to make a 15 foot putt to save bogey, but overall a good round.

12th hole at Rattlewood. Just over 225 from the blue tee; playing 230+. Hit a 3 wood to 18 feet, putt to tap-in distance for a very satisfying par on a hole that’s closer to a par 3 1/2.

Less than four weeks before I head to the desert on vacation for the first time in two years.  Looking forward to it.

SONG OF THE DAY

 

Dog Day August Mornings

Finally playing decent enough to use this bag. It took long enough.

Played each of the last 2 Saturday mornings.  Let’s go to the tape:

From 8/10 at Falls Road. It was actually cool- glad I grabbed a wind-shirt. The guy with the Patriots bag was great to play with. No comment about his lifestyle choices.

Played 8/10 at Falls Road.  On a rare Saturday morning that was crisp, cool and felt like a taste of fall, I had my lowest score in over 3 years, posting a 77 that could and should have been lower.  Falls Road is a course that still holds up as a decent challenge despite lacking length.  I remember playing a golf league there through a former employer and having many happy 9-hole rounds during summer evenings.

My gallery approving of saving par from the bunker on 14.

The course, like pretty much everyone, has taken a beating from our two-month long heat wave with several holes having burned out spots that were spongy with rain from storms.  Greens were in decent shape for the most part.  I played with a couple solid citizens who were Pushcart Mafia members.  Great guys.  My knee, ankle and hip problems have made walking a non-starter, but I’ve got all day for Pushcart Mafia members.  You’re always aces in my book.  Falls Road is not a crusher walk-wise.  The only change of note is that the tennis club that was near the 10th-11th-12th holes is gone.  Looks like home construction but couldn’t confirm anything.  10 and 12 were cart path only (luckily my tee shot on 12 was pretty close to the path so I didn’t have to repel down to the fairway.

Played 8/17 at Poolesville.

Just teed off on #1. Two members of the Pushcart Mafia are ahead of me while I stop to tie my shoes.

If you discount that Google Maps can’t seem to find the goddamn place much less get me back home coupled with having to run to the first tee to make my time (I hit my tee shot on #1 with my shoes untied), getting lost on the way home because Google Maps seemed to think I wanted to go home by taking my car through Virginia (talk about going around your elbow to get to your asshole), it wasn’t bad, I guess.

 

Unlike the previous Saturday it was hot, humid and buggy.  Very humid.  I finished the round a quart low, if you will.  So if you play Poolesville, bring bug spray.  They have water stations but the water wasn’t exactly ice cold and refreshing.  More like tap water, which is frankly a million miles better than nothing, but still.  Honestly the Outbreak hazmat suit might not be a bad option.  I used bug spray and still got a few bites so be warned.  The greens were in good shape (not exactly lightning fast, but they rolled true).  Some of the tee boxes were pretty beat up, which I’d attribute to the weather.  You water to keep the grass from dying, and naturally you get thunderstorms which turns the burnt-out turf into swampy marsh.

3rd shot into the 12th hole after I chopped out of the junk. Nothing like draining a 20 foot putt to save bogey.

The layout is, with one exception (#11) all out in front of you.  No blind shots.  Fairways were a bit furry which I’d attribute to not wanting them to burn out.  They tend to be narrow; most holes are tree-lined with fairly wide roughs before hitting the tree line.

16th hole at Poolesville. Wanna hit one straight? Aim right and try to play a draw. I ended up dry but difficult. I am a stupid sometimes.

Work commitments will keep me away next weekend so Labor Day weekend will be the next time I tee it up.  Hopefully we will get a long-term break from the heat and have an early start to fall.  Please.

I will probably miss most of the final rounds of the Tour Championship, which is fine given that the format is asinine.  As I noted previously, I’m looking forward to the team with the best record in the Super Bowl getting a 2-touchdown lead, and the team with the best record in the World Series getting five outs in the first three innings.

Hit ’em straight.

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