Author: currin290 (page 2 of 15)

FootJoy Hyperflex II 30-Round Review

When it comes to shoes I’m fickle.  I have wide feet with high arches, and unlike most people I don’t pronate (I under-pronate or supinate).  So buying golf shoes can be a bit of a challenge at best.

My new Footjoy Hyperflex 2 Golf Shoes. From the top.

My new Footjoy Hyperflex 2 Golf Shoes. From the top.

I don’t have the Adidas shoes currently (if they made golf shoes in a EEE Width (they don’t) I’d probably buy from them since the one pair I bought was great save for the fact it wasn’t wide enough).  If your feet are normal width they have some fantastic looking product.

For me, I’ve had my best luck with Footjoy.  Not because they give me anything or because they’re nice people (they may well be) but because their product fits my foot and is comfortable.  I got 4 very productive years out of their old XPS-1 shoes (ask your parents, kids) before they started coming apart.   I tried a pair of New Balance shoes (lightweight, but not a lot of ventilation (my feet would be incredibly sweaty after a round)) and didn’t care for them at all, so this past March I went back to Footjoy.

After emailing their customer service team, they recommended the Hyperflex II as the closest thing to my beloved XPS-1’s.  Placed an order, and within a few days they showed up at my house.

From the bottom.  A lot of yellow, and a lot of fantastic grip on turf.

From the bottom. A lot of yellow, and a lot of fantastic grip on turf.

I’ve held off doing a review because initial reviews are rarely that good; most newer golf shoes are well made so they should easily hold up out of the box.  But what about after 30 rounds over the majority of a season?  Would they still feel good in October the same way they do in late March?  Read on.

Comfort:  Outstanding. When I first put them on they felt better than any golf shoes I’d ever worn before.  Slipped right on without any issues.  The last time I wore them a week ago, they still feel great.  Haven’t had any blisters or sore feet after rounds (used to have issues with my New Balance shoes).  The white cushioning is firm (good for bigger lads like myself) without being overly plush.  Even after 30 rounds they still feel good.  The cushioning hasn’t broken down and other than the spikes starting to wear down (expected) they feel as good as they did out of the box.

From the side. The white portion has firm cushioning yet is stable. Bravo.

From the side. The white portion has firm cushioning yet is stable. Bravo.

Waterproofing: Above average.  Morning rounds in dewy/wet conditions haven’t been an issue nor have a couple rounds in light/moderate rain.

Grip: Outstanding.  I’ve never slipped, and even going down steep hills I’ve never had an issue with the shoes.  They have replaceable soft-spike cleats which for the most part don’t leave a big impression on the greens.

Stability: Above average. The soles flare out a bit (it’s one of the things I loved about my XPS-1 shoes) but not that much.  I’d like it if they flared out more (I have a tendency to roll my ankle a bit in my downswing) but that’s my only quibble and it’s a minor one.

Look: Average.  They’re golf shoes.   They’re not a traditional wing-tip or a saddle shoe, but those seem to be going the way of the persimmon driver.  They’re not hideously ugly, they don’t look like Sketchers, and I like the yellow sole.

Overall: Outstanding.  I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive when I ordered these but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  It has some elements of a traditional golf shoe but with lightweight stability a

nd comfort that should be expected.  If you’re in the market for new kicks, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

Song of the Day:

Waking up to hearing about the events that happened in Las Vegas overnight was horrifying.

I have many happy memories of my visits to Las Vegas (I could probably write a novella about them); love, lust, great golf, bad decisions, and a host of other things.  This song always takes me back to a 1992 trip (back when I was living in Southern California).  Driving through the desert at sunset on a hot July evening and hearing this song on the radio.  A simpler time, when everything seemed possible.  The last 25 years have been a lot of things, but more than once I think about that car ride through the desert, hearing this song, and wondering but what if.

The Cocteau Twins were never a major commercial hit.  This is probably their most well-known song.  Always brings a smile to my face.  Hope it does the same to you.

 

 

The Next 10 Best You Can Play

Uphill par 3 eighth hole at PB Dye.  One of my "next 10 best you can play" courses.

Uphill par 3 eighth hole at PB Dye. One of my “next 10 best you can play” courses.

If you’re like me, you eagerly look forward to the spring when Golfweek magazine publishes their annual ‘Best You Can Play’ list for each state.  Their 2017 list appears here however like far too many websites, they have auto-play video and audio that made me want to punch my laptop (seriously- if your website has this make it stop for everyone’s benefit), so if you don’t want have that torture subjected to you, below is Golfweek’s 2017 list for Maryland:

  1. Bulle Rock
  2. Lodestone
  3. Links at Lighthouse Sound
  4. Lake Presidential
  5. Whiskey Creek
  6. Musket Ridge
  7. Worthington Manor
  8. Hyatt Chesapeake Resort (River Marsh)
  9. Queenstown Harbour (River)
  10. Greystone

I have a few quibbles.  Playing conditions at Lake Presidential have been uneven at best and a couple folks I trust have said that while they have improved, I’m not sure it merits being ranked 4th.  Whiskey Creek is another.  When I played it I thought it was okay.  Not blow the doors off outstanding.  Good.   I thought that playing conditions at Worthington Manor were better and I think the layout is a better test (however it does not have a historical relic in the centre of the 18th fairway as a photo opportunity, and Whiskey Creek has that).

The ratings were done by Golfweek and their course raters (and for the record I’m not a Golfweek rater, nor do I play one on television however in full disclosure I am a subscriber to their magazine).

Looking at this list the other night got me thinking (which can be a dangerous thing) about the best of the rest.  Being opinionated and being someone who tries (when possible) to be an advocate for golf in the state, I decided to pour myself some thinking juice (otherwise known as scotch) and ponder a ‘next 10 best you can play’ in lieu of playing this weekend (Friday and Saturday’s rains meant everything’s pretty soggy and not exactly my idea of fun).  It was hard.  It took two glasses, 30 minutes, and what came of this was a list of courses that I’d gladly offer up as good examples of that ‘next tier’ of great courses in the state.  Rather than rank them I’m going to list them in the order I wrote them down and a comment or two about each one.  Feel free to disagree.

  1. Blue Mash: Why this isn’t in their top 10 amazes me.  Fantastic layout with the toughest stretch of opening holes in the region.
  2. Rum Pointe: Underrated Dye designed course near Ocean City.  Half the price of Lighthouse Sound.
  3. Little Bennett: At one point it was used for Monday Qualifying for the old Kemper Open.  Still a solid test and almost always in great shape.
  4. Northwest Park: Always in great shape.  Classic parkland-style course holds up to big hitters and shorter hitters alike.
  5. Waverly Woods: Blue Mash sister course is the best public course in Howard County.  Period.
  6. UMD Golf Course: Former Nationwide Tour Stop. Everything public golf should be.  I’m not saying this because She Who Is Really In Charge is a Maryland alum, I’m saying it because it’s a fantastic track that’s a challenge but playable.
  7. Maryland National: Fantastic layout just west of Frederick.  Bring plenty of ammo.
  8. Queenstown Harbour (Lakes): Same great conditions as the River course.
  9. PB Dye: Playing conditions have improved.  A few odd holes but overall a great layout
  10. GlenRiddle (Man O’War): Solid layout on the eastern shore that features bermuda tees and fairways.

Hurricanes

If you’re inclined, ABC has put together a list of ways to donate if you want to help out the people in Texas.  I donated through the Houston Humane Society (they have a wish list on Amazon of things they need).

Here’s hoping Irma will stay far, far away from North America and go out to sea and become a fish storm.

Greystone Course Review and a chance to meet SGIC!

From the 2nd hole at Greystone.  A good time to be long and straight.

From the 2nd hole at Greystone. A good time to be long and straight.

As part of my goal to play more courses in Baltimore in 2017, I took a trip up into northern Baltimore County yesterday (August 19th) to play at Greystone Golf Course (located in White Hall, which is north of Hunt Valley for those interested).  Greystone is part of the Baltimore County Revenue Authority portfolio of courses (similar, it seems, to the Montgomery County Golf courses).

3rd hole at Greystone. A long par 3 to clear a hazard and land on a severely sloped green.  The morning mist, combined with the sun coming up made for interesting light conditions.

3rd hole at Greystone. A long par 3 to clear a hazard and land on a severely sloped green. The morning mist, combined with the sun coming up made for interesting light conditions.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Greystone beyond having seen it listed in Golfweek Magazine’s ’10 Best You Can Play’ list by state on several occasions (it’s ranked #10 in their 2017 list).  From my humble abode in Columbia it’s an hour drive up to the course.  Not the easiest place in the world to find, but credit to them for having ample signage along the way (strongly prevent having directions or using a GPS).

7th hole at Greystone.  Lay up and then a long 2nd shot over a hazard to a tough green.  Whee!

7th hole at Greystone. Lay up and then a long 2nd shot over a hazard to a tough green. Whee!

Having finished, I can see why it earns the praise it does and it further shows that a municipally-run course can be well taken care of and hold its own against privately-run courses.

18th hole at Greystone.  Still a long ways to go.  Very much a 3-shot par 5.

18th hole at Greystone. Still a long ways to go. Very much a 3-shot par 5.

WHAT I LIKED:

  1. Five sets of tees.  So many courses only have 3 or 4 sets.  They had five sets.  From the tips it’s just under 7,000 yards and from the forward (red) tees it’s 4,800 yards.  I played the front nine with a husband and wife (she was playing from the red tees and enjoying herself and finding plenty of challenge and opportunity).
  2. Conditions.  The hot, humid and spate of strong thunderstorms that we’ve had must be a nightmare for superintendents and it seems like this year has had its own unique challenges.  So full credit to the maintenance staff for their work.  Greens rolled true.  Fairways were in good shape but the turf was probably in need of a trim so not exactly playing firm and fast, but they were consistent.  Rough was, for the most part, thick and lush.
  3. Yardage poles.  I know that this is a bit of controversy for some, but I like them.  For one, it helps people determine yardages since not everyone carries a GPS device/watch or a rangefinder.  Second, it helps someone see how the fairway is laid out (especially on semi-blind tee shots).
  4. Five par 3’s, five par 5’s.  Don’t see this very often.  Both nines start with a par 5.  The par 3’s vary quite a bit in length (white tee lengths listed) from 130-175 yards (when I played it ran from 120-195 yards).  The closing hole (572 yards from the tips, 541 from the white tees) is a 3-shot deal.  Three of the par 5’s are under 500 yards from the white tees.
  5. Not a lot of housing.  With the exception of a couple holes on the back nine, you don’t see any housing.  It’s pure golf.
  6. A nice sign in the pro shop and a nice link on their website about their aerification schedule.   Well done.
  7. Pro shop was well stocked and had the kind of things you’d expect to find.
  8. Everyone I met that worked there was friendly.  Guy in the pro shop was nice; the guys in the staging area dealing with carts and getting people off were nice enough as well.  I’d also comment that since I left my glove (I do typically go to a new one after 6-8 rounds, so sue me for that) at home I had to buy one there; not sure what it says when the one I buy at a course is $4.00 cheaper than at a retail store beyond thanks for not ripping me off.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  1. Cart path only.  The fairways and roughs weren’t wet other than from overnight dew.  Not spongy a bit.  I understand the par 3’s and hole 15 (tight, tree-lined, clearly doesn’t get a lot of sun) but otherwise I’m not sure about this.  They didn’t get that much rain the night before (according to the NWS).  It really slows pace of play up.  If it were wet I’d understand, but it wasn’t that wet.
  2. Didn’t see a beverage cart all day.  Water stations weren’t plentiful.  I don’t expect courses to have the holy shrines of ice/water machines like Potomac Shores (TPC Potomac also has them) has, but seeing a beverage cart would be nice.  It was warm and humid.  For a course that does a lot of things well, this struck something of an odd note.   Trying to finish quickly I didn’t make a stop at the turn, so I can’t comment on that.  If you do go, you can hit the clubhouse after the 4th, 9th, and 18th hole.
  3. Cart paths were pretty beat up.  Don’t think anyone’s going to talk about how great the asphalt is.  Excusable given the conditions of the fairways and greens.

IF YOU GO

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to get there and to come back.  Traffic on the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) rivals its DC cousin, and I-83 can be less than fun.
  2. You don’t need to bring 2 dozen balls but don’t show up with a sleeve and think that’ll get you through the day.  There’s enough holes with forced carries and hazards to give most players pause for thought.
  3. Some of the bunkers are pretty deep so be good with that 56-58 degree sand wedge.
  4. There’s not really much of anything near the course (probably 4-5 miles south on MD-45 until you hit what appears to be civilization).
  5. Have directions.  Once you make the turn from MD-45 for the street to the course, it’s a several miles of 1-lane (in each direction) road.  Watch out for deer and other drivers.
  6. You don’t need to be long, but accuracy is rewarded.
  7. Someone chop that damn tree near the tee on the 8th hole.  Please.

OVERALL

Greystone is a great challenge for most golfers including single digit handicappers.  It’s not quite on the par of a Bulle Rock or Worthington Manor but for a county-run course it’s outstanding.  If it were in Howard County I’d put it on a par with Waverly Woods and above Timbers at Troy or the CA courses.  In short, go.

 

MY PUBLIC DEMANDED IT

Okay, that’s probably not true (and by probably I mean ‘in no way’) but barring an emergency I’ll be making an appearance on Monday, August 21st at the HoCoBlogs event at BareBones Grill in Ellicott City.  Watch me attempt to eat food without spilling on myself.  Watch me consume alcohol.  Listen to me have terrible opinions about golf.  Watch me interact with other bloggers (sorry folks, but She Who Is Really In Charge will not be there- someone has to take care of the dog).

Potomac Shores Course Review

When I think of Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, I think of private country clubs with members who enjoy their enclaves of solitude (Muirfield Village in Ohio comes to mind pretty quickly).  In that I’m decidedly not a member anywhere, I accepted that this was the way things were.  So when I heard about a Nicklaus-designed course down in Dumfries, VA named Potomac Shores being open to the public a couple years ago, I’ll confess I was interested (especially given Potomac Shores‘ rather interesting history).

Driving range & practice area at Potomac Shores.

Driving range & practice area at Potomac Shores.

There’s little question that if there was a Mount Rushmore for American golf architects that Nicklaus would be on it; the sheer volume of his work (I’m convinced if someone wanted a course on the moon that Nicklaus would not only design it but would incorporate his own style along with the natural contours of the moon) and that his work has become as much of a brand as anything else he touches (I haven’t had his ice cream yet but you know it’s probably good).

From the 1st tee at Potomac Shores. Not a handshake hole by any means.

From the 1st tee at Potomac Shores. Not a handshake hole by any means.

Rather than go hole-by-hole with some comments, I’ll separate this into a few different parts:

WHAT I LIKED:

  1. The course is more than playable for low, mid and high handicappers.  I play (not nearly enough but work and life get in the way) with a former colleague who plays to an index in the low 20’s, while my index is closer to 10.  I’m a bit longer off the tee and my years of practice around the greens pays off on occasion.  But you don’t have to be a low-digit handicapper to enjoy this course.  From the silver tees (that we played) it’s less than 6,000 yards but still plays to a 132 slope which is no pushover.  If your index is in the 20’s and you play from the gold tees (because you see just under 6,400 yards and think ‘piece of cake’) you’re going to be in for a long day (and by that, you may want to make sure you have plenty of balls).
  2. Fairways are generous but bad shots get punished.  It’s not impossible to put the ball in the fairway off the tee and leave yourself a decent chance to get the ball onto the green in regulation.  Which leads me to my next point…
  3. Greens are big and require accuracy.  Greens are often multi-tiered and being on the wrong side or wrong tier is, in some cases, worse than being off the green.
  4. Service.  Too many courses still fail to see golfers as customers.  Not the case here.  Everyone I ran into was unfailingly polite and hospitable.  The starter was competent and made us feel welcome.  The people in the pro shop were friendly and helpful.  The course is managed by Troon Golf if that matters to you.
  5. Ice water stations.  The day we played was quite hot and humid.  Being able to stop for a cup of ice water was pretty darn nice.  Makes you wonder why more courses don’t do this especially in the mid-Atlantic.
  6. Beverage cart.  It’s hot, and occasionally you want something besides ice water.  Saw the beverage cart twice (we went out early so I don’t expect to see them early on).  Can’t complain.
  7. Lack of houses.  Even though Potomac Shores is part of a larger housing development, it didn’t feel like it (in 4-5 years this may not be the case).  It felt like a course by itself that was adjacent to a housing development.  I played South River a few years ago (before it went private) and it felt like I was in someone’s backyard.
  8. Free range balls.  We paid $100 each to play which isn’t free.  Including range balls and use of their excellent practice facility is a nice touch.  The range (picture above) was country-club level nice.
  9. Conditions.  Despite the heat wave we were in, the course was, for the most part, in great shape (the photo below you can see some brown spots in the fairway but these were few and far between).
9th hole at Potomac Shores (their 'signature' hole).   Tee is more than a bit elevated.

9th hole at Potomac Shores (their ‘signature’ hole). Tee is more than a bit elevated.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  1. The horse flies and other biting insects.   If you play here in the summer, bug spray is pretty much a requirement.  Not remotely kidding on this one.  On the scorching hot & humid day we played, you can tack sunscreen on.  Re-apply often.  A hazmat suit might not be a bad idea.
  2. Bunkers.  A few bunkers are good.  A lot is too many.  I know that Nicklaus uses them and that’s fine, but on two occasions I didn’t have a rake anywhere near the bunker.  For a place that does so many things right, this seemed odd.  Did Michael Greller come and take them or something?
  3. Sizes in the pro shop.  I’m big & tall and would occasionally like to come home with a souvenir beyond the logo ball.  I’d have happily handed over money for a shirt if they had one in my size.  I can’t be the only person who thinks this.  This happens a lot at higher-end courses (although if I’m being honest, She Who Is Really In Charge probably likes that I’m not throwing down $60 on a golf shirt with regularity).  But it would be nice to have it as an option.
  4. No GPS in carts.  Given that rangefinders and wearable devices are pretty common, having carts with GPS would help (especially for first-timers) especially with pace of play.  We were first out and finished in 3 hours 40 minutes playing as a foursome (we got paired up with a couple who were members).

IF YOU GO (AND YOU SHOULD):

  1. The course is right off I-95 just south of Potomac Mills.  If you don’t normally trek this way, traffic sucks.  I mean, it really sucks.  So give yourself plenty of time to get there (they have free range balls- did I mention this?).
  2. A yardage book isn’t a bad expenditure if they don’t have GPS on carts, because several holes are target variety and you can (and will) end up in trouble if you don’t know where to avoid.  Measurements are to the centre of the green, NOT to the pin (and the greens are huge so take heed).
  3. Play it forward.  I played from the silver tees and didn’t feel the least bit shame in doing so.  I prefer to hit short irons as approach shots rather than long irons and hybrids.   It’s more fun (not to brag but I made two birdies and should have had 1-2 more).
  4. The greens are huge.  Being on the right side of the green is a huge advantage.
  5. A couple holes have views of the Potomac river (notably from the 3rd tee).
  6. There are several holes that have lengthy rides between holes (even on a cart) so the course really isn’t a walker’s paradise.
Third hole at Potomac Shores. Pro tip: don't get too cute at cutting off the dogleg.

Third hole at Potomac Shores. Pro tip: don’t get too cute at cutting off the dogleg.

OVERALL:

To the best of my knowledge it’s the only Nicklaus designed course in the area that’s open to the public (if you can get on Creighton Farms contact me and I’ll be happy to join you).  I’m not a guru of golf architecture but this course is definitely a Nicklaus design.  Lots of elevated tees and greens, plenty of bunkers, and playable for a variety of levels.  Golfweek has it ranked in the top 10 for ‘Best You Can Play’ in their 2017 rankings for the state of Virginia if that matters to you.    Most importantly, I had a good time and I’d happily come back.  If you haven’t been, it’s worth the drive.

 

Diamond Ridge Course Review

3rd hole at Diamond Ridge Golf Course.  Do not hit the tree branches on the right. Do not hit the...crap.

3rd hole at Diamond Ridge Golf Course. Do not hit the tree branches on the right. Do not hit the…crap.

At the start of 2017, I had a couple goals.  Finally play Bulle Rock, and make a concerted effort to play some of the courses in Baltimore.  Bulle Rock was crossed off my ‘to play’ list in early May, and I’m just now starting to discover golf courses in Baltimore County and city.  I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about what was on offer, but there’s plenty there for a variety of playing levels.

On a muggy and humid morning, I made the trek to western Baltimore County to play at Diamond Ridge, a 36-hole facility that operates two courses (The Woodlands is the second course and one I have yet to play).  The drive heading to the course is a lot of ‘one lane in each direction’ roads that wind through some rural parts of the county (so be careful during certain parts of the year).

Checking in was a breeze thanks to a couple helpful folks in the pro shop.  We loaded up our carts, rolled a few putts (the practice green was not exactly rolling a 16 on the stimpmeter but it mirrored conditions on the course which is sort of the point) and headed off.

If you’re looking for pristine conditions and white-glove service, then Diamond Ridge probably isn’t for you (most public courses aren’t for you either).  But, if you’re looking for a tough but ultimately fair layout with good playing conditions that requires accuracy off the tee (my driving was a gong show and the rough was more than a bit thick and lush), then you could do a hell of a lot worse.  It’s a traditional parkland, tree-lined layout with a mix of holes that are fairly flat and others that have significant elevation changes (most of the holes are fairly close together but the elevation changes can make it a bit of a slog to walk).

A mundane opening hole leads to two holes with elevation changes (the third is a challenging and long dogleg par 4 to an elevated and protected green).

6th hole at Diamond Ridge.  A good time to not go left in front of the trees.

6th hole at Diamond Ridge. A good time to not go left in front of the trees.

On the front side you don’t see a par 5 until the 9th and it’s a test (one minor quibble with what is otherwise a great layout is that six of the first seven holes are par 4’s).  From the tee it looks fairly straightforward but any tee shots that go wayward and you find out that this course has a lot more challenge than you expect.

The back nine starts with a par 3 over water (if you start on the back nine that’s a hell of a way to start your round); it’s just long enough to make you think about the impending doom.

10th hole at Diamond Ridge.  Don't think about the water or the bunker on the right.  Or the trees on the left.

10th hole at Diamond Ridge. Don’t think about the water or the bunker on the right. Or the trees on the left.

The back nine has a much larger variety of holes including 3 par 5’s.  The par 5’s may look easy on the card (I said this and immediately regretted it) but they’re not.  11 is a dog-leg beast (our group collectively blew up on this hole), 14 is not long but is very tight, and 18 looks easy but like the rest of the holes, if you get the least bit wild you’re screwed.

Long birdie putt that I missed, and yes- I repaired the pitch mark. Getting toasty here.

Long birdie putt that I missed, and yes- I repaired the pitch mark. Getting toasty here.

The closing stretch of holes are good- 16 is a short dogleg par 4 that big hitters might think about taking a run at.  17 is a long par 3 to a green with a ton of undulation, and 18 is a par 5 that plays slightly uphill and bends to the left.

Tee boxes, fairways and greens were well maintained (the greens were being hand-watered while we were playing- smart to not shave ’em down given the current weather we’re having).  Pristine?  No, but still maintained and I’d put them as “above average” compared to what I’ve seen from courses in the region this year.  The superintendent deserves plaudits given how nutty our weather has been.s

There’s a fairly decent driving range (mats only), and several practice greens and chipping greens so plenty of space to work on your game.  One minor quibble was that we didn’t see a beverage cart on a very hot and humid morning.  The pro shop was well stocked and though I didn’t avail myself of their grill/bar, it looked as though they had what you’d expect to find (we didn’t stop at the turn which I was wishing we had).

Diamond Ridge isn’t going to appear on Golfweek’s “10 Best You Can Play in Maryland” anytime soon.  And that’s okay- it’s still a well maintained layout that will challenge the vast majority of players.  You should go, and when you do- keep those tee shots in the fairway.

Enjoy your July 4th celebrations.

Bulle Rock RIP?

After hearing from several people through the grapevine that Bulle Rock golf course, consistently ranked as the #1 public access course in the state, may be on its last legs.  An article cites several issues that Harbor East Management Group (who owns the development) has with taxes and abatement charges (read the article).  Lest we forget, they own the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel in the Harbor East development and pay a grand total of $1.00 in property taxes (according to the article).

Here’s the problem- people work at the golf course, and people spend money to play the golf course.  Not just in green fees, but food and beverage (money that gets redistributed in Harford County), and likely helps with tourism given its lofty ranking.

Its closure would signal a massive shakeup in public-access golf in the region, and more worrisome, could have a domino effect of sorts.

This should be a year to celebrate golf in the region as three professional tournaments are being held in the area; the Senior PGA Championship was held over Memorial Day weekend at Trump National in Sterling, this week sees the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac (played it in 2012 and was very impressed), and the seniors return in mid-July to Caves Valley for the Senior Players Championship (if we could just get an LPGA event in the DMV…oh to dream).  Instead, it looks like what is arguably the best ‘course you can play’ in the region may be going away.

IN VIRGINIA…

On the other side of the Potomac River, Landsdowne Resort is being sold to an Asian developer, but according to someone in the know, plans to continue operating the course ‘for now’ which doesn’t exactly sound promising.

OTHER LOCAL GOLF NEWS

Congrats to the fine people at Golfmatch announced that they have entered into a partnership with Troon.  Full disclosure- I use Golfmatch and find it useful.  I played in one of their events and enjoyed myself.  It’s a great way to meet other golfers and share experiences (and as much as I want argue otherwise, the reality is that we all want experiences).  If I didn’t use it I’d still mention it because Troon has one of the more impressive portfolios just from their Americas portfolio.

Long weekend coming up- sure, it’s going to be hot but who cares!  Get out there and tee it up!

The Language of The Game

Remember kids, Aloha Means Hello. And Goodbye.

Remember kids, Aloha Means Hello. And Goodbye.

As part of an occasional series geared towards newer golfers, I humbly present a list of terms you’re likely to encounter on the golf course that may confuse you.  We have a host of ways to describe shots that don’t quite come off the way we planned it.  Some people just throw a club while others will often use various terms of endearment.  Some of these terms are regional in nature, but I find it’s good to have a solid level of understanding.  Others of these are terms I’ve conjured up as a means of not offending people with the usual stream of profanity that I’m frankly quite good at.

Chili Dip: Nothing to do with chili, or dip.  When you are hitting a chip or a pitch shot and stick the club in the ground rather than hitting the ball.

Enter Sandman: When you take more than one shot to get the ball out of a bunker.   Also a famous Metallica song.  You have a hole where it takes you 7 shots to get the ball out of the bunker and you never live it down.

Pinball Wizard: When you manage to hit multiple trees with one shot.  Don’t know what a pinball machine is?  Ask your parents.

El Hozel: Otherwise known as the lateral vomit, la hozela, a hosel rocket, or a word that rhymes with banks that we simply do not say for fear that it will show up.  It’s like a virus.  You go to Tijuana for a fun evening of donkey shows and cheap tequila and you end up with some kind of infection.  El hozel works the same way.  I’ve seen people do everything short of animal sacrifice to get rid of el hozel.

Slice: For a right handed golfer when the ball goes unexpectedly right in the arc/shape of a banana.  For a lefty, the ball goes to the left.  Common miss for most amateurs.  Distant cousin of the power fade.  You can talk to a power fade.  You can’t talk to a banana slice.

Hook: The opposite.  Ball goes to the left for right handed players and to the right for lefties.

Skull: hitting the ball with the leading edge of your iron.  Often results in a ball that doesn’t get airborne and doesn’t go very far.  Used to end up cutting the surface of old balata balls.

Whiff: Making a swing and missing.  Also known as stiff breeze, air shot, 0 and 1, 0 for 1, etc.

Rinsing the Balata: Hitting a ball into a water hazard.  Balls used to be made out of balata.

Teenage Beer Pong: The act of getting on the green in two shots on a par 5 and then three-putting.  Much like teenagers who think it’s going to go great…and then it doesn’t.  Helps if the birdie putt just misses.

Sacrifice fly: A short tee shot that goes very high in the air but not very far.  Often followed by the ‘the runner will score on the sac fly.’  Don’t know what baseball is?  Ask your father.

Swing Oil: Alcohol quickly consumed.  A chugged beer, an airplane bottle of alcohol consumed in one shot.  Not to be confused with actual Swing Oil which is a supplement some golfers take.

La Hozela: El hozel, but for women.  Equally maddening.

Decell: Slowing your swing down on a chip or pitch shot which results in the ball either not making it on the green or just trickling on leaving you with a long and difficult putt.

Hairpiece: The pelt-sized divot that comes from hitting too far behind the ball.  Please replace if at all possible or at the very least fill that crater with some divot mix.  Sometimes called a toupee.

Topper: A topped shot; often a tee shot where you hit the top half of the ball and the ball rolls a few dozen yards.  Sometimes known as Free Toppings, Topper Shutt, Top of the Pops, or Big Top Pee Wee.

Moped: A guy who has a golf swing that looks ugly as sin but ends up scoring fairly well.

Commercial: A putt that ends up in tap-in range is said to be Commercial.  Not to be confused with the ads CBS runs to infinity during their broadcasts (it’s a pity that the golf gets in the way of their never-ending ads).

Donna Shalala: A short shot that goes left.  Named after the former Clinton cabinet member.

Rush Limbaugh: A fat shot that goes hard right.  Named after the conservative talk radio host.

Fat: Hitting behind the ball, causing the ball to not go as far as intended.  The cousin of the chili-dip.

Three Waggle: Taking three strokes to hole out on the green.  Also known as three-putting, going three-Jack City, three hole Monty, or just being bad at putting.

Socialist Roid Rage: A shot that gets hit hard left and long.

One: The thing that you can be guaranteed someone will say if your ball falls off the tee while you’re getting ready to hit your tee shot.  I think it’s required.

Caddyshack: Golf movie of some renown.  Someone is legally required to quote from the movie during your round or someone has to die (I think this is the rule…but I could be wrong).

Mrs. Doubtfire: Professional golfer and Scotsman Colin Montgomerie.  Use Google Images.

All Bag: Term of derision to describe guy that has pro staff bag and matching clubs but couldn’t break 130 to save his life.  The golf equivalent of soccer’s Full Kit Wanker.  Often will wear full Nike stuff with red shirt.  Impossible for him to play in under 5 hours.

Action: Wagering.  Many people will wager during a round of golf because they need ‘action’ to keep things interesting.

Fugly/Fungly: Decent and fun player to play with who has horrible-looking swing.

Sandbagger: See ‘cheater’.  Someone who keeps an artificially high handicap and during competitive events will play much better.  Will often use words like ‘I never putt this well’ or ‘I guess I was due for a decent round’ and the like.  The Brits like the word ‘bandit’ and I prefer cheat.

Man Bun: A generic term to describe something wholly inappropriate.  Think ‘chipping on the putting surface’ or using the word ‘sh***k’ on a golf course.

Evel Kenevel: Famed stuntperson and doer of stupid things.  Used to describe people who think a golf cart makes a great racing car.

Flying Lady: Generic term used to describe lower-compression golf balls some women and older men use.

 

 

 

 

 

Timbers At Troy Course Review 2017 version

2nd hole at Timbers at Troy. Hello, old friend. It's been a while.

2nd hole at Timbers at Troy. Hello, old friend. It’s been a while.

First off, happy Father’s day to all the dads.   My father never played golf and didn’t have any desire to take up the game- he played professional baseball (minor leagues), and prior to my arrival in his world he played doubles tennis but wasn’t a golfer.  While I prefer whiskey, bourbon and Scotch, my father drank a gin martini every night and God help you if you screwed with that (I don’t dislike gin, but I prefer other spirits).   He passed away more than 20 years ago, and I miss the stubborn SOB all the time mostly because we could argue and disagree on a level that I cannot possibly put into words (which happened pretty much all the time).

I mention this because it was on Father’s Day that I went back to Timbers at Troy for the first time in 3 years when the course had fallen into a state of disrepair.  I do remember playing at Timbers on Fathers Day in 2007 or 2008 and getting paired up with a father/son playing together.  I tried to avoid being a third wheel, but the father seemed to gravitate towards me while the son was a weepy, pathetic mess of humanity seeking an “experience” with his father (if you’re that son and reading this, just enjoy each day for what it is.  Be your own man.

When Timbers closed for renovations and repairs last fall, I didn’t know what the next chapter of this course would look like.  The course I remember from 3 + years ago was one with washed out hardpan bunkers, chewed-up tee boxes, fairways that had seen better days, and greens that were inconsistent.  I’ve long complained about the state of affairs for Howard County public golf (the CA courses are at best a mixed bag, Waverly Woods seems to have its act together, while Timbers at Troy is still the big question mark).

So it was on a peak summer-like hot and steamy morning that I made that familiar drive off MD-100 to see what seven months’ closure had done.

Whether you play off #1 or #10, both starters are among the toughest holes on the course; long par 4’s that require two accurate shots to reach the green.  Whatever optimism I had about the state of affairs took a punch to the gut fairly quickly.  The fairway on #1 was a soggy, spongy mess and the area around the green had several spots that should have been Ground Under Repair (the bunkers on either side did look quite good).

10th hole at Timbers at Troy.  A good time to hit one straight.

10th hole at Timbers at Troy. A good time to hit one straight.

Unfortunately, the 1st hole was fairly consistent with what I saw most of my round.  Either heavy overnight rain or over-watering (I didn’t have any rain at my house yesterday but I suppose it’s possible that Timbers got a deluge) made most of the fairways fairly wet and heavy.  The tee boxes were a mixed bag; some were in great shape and others looked like they’d been used by a rugby team for scrum practice.  Roughs were also inconsistent, however several areas had the obvious signs of being re-sodded.

13th green at Timbers at Troy.  As you can see some areas are still in need of some TLC.

13th green at Timbers at Troy. As you can see some areas are still in need of some TLC.

If there’s hope with the course conditions, it’s on the greens.  The surfaces were hardly US Open level speeds, but they were smooth and consistent (which  99.9% of golfers will gladly take).  Hopefully, others will make sure to repair pitch marks and ball marks (if you’re not then shame on you).   I was impressed with the greens.

The layout is unchanged.  It’s certainly not the longest track in the area (from the tips it’s under 6700 yards, and from the blues it’s less than 6200 yards but has a rather stout slope rating of 133) but it demands accuracy.  For all of its shortcomings, it’s still a great layout with a nice variety of holes and lengths.  The longest par 5 is just over 510 yards from the blue tees but wild shots are punished.  The elevation changes aren’t overly dramatic other than the 14th hole (a shortish par 3 that plays 1-2 clubs shorter), but they are noticeable.

From the 18th tee at Timbers at Troy. More uphill than it looks.

From the 18th tee at Timbers at Troy. More uphill than it looks.

One other improvement was the staff.   The pro shop, the starter and even the ranger/marshal were all if nothing else friendly (and I firmly believe this goes a long way).  This was not always the case; more than once I can remember going to the pro shop or dealing with the starter and thinking I was an intrusion and not a customer.

So overall, conditions are improved at Timbers but they have some work to do.  The bones are there; now they just need to take it to that next level.

 

Back To Where It Started (Needwood Course Review)

3rd hole at Needwood. Pretty straightforward.

3rd hole at Needwood. Pretty straightforward.

It’s hard to believe it’s been as long as it’s been since I packed up and headed east.  From the time that I made the long drive to the DMV I’ve aged a fair bit, grey hair has impeded where I still have hair left, and my limbs are showing their age and years of abuse.  When I first moved here, I didn’t know the lay of the land at all, and finding basic information on where golf courses were located wasn’t easy.  So after driving around looking for a course to play at after settling in here, I stumbled upon Needwood Golf Course.  I didn’t really know anything other than that it was a golf course and I was able to walk on.  I don’t remember much about the round beyond seeing they had a 9-hole executive course in addition to the 18-hole regulation course (and it was a sunny warm (but not humid) day.

Fast forward far too many years, and I decided to go back.  After a few weeks of playing some of the state’s toughest tracks, I needed something that wasn’t going to punch me in the face relentlessly which was the feeling I was getting at Bulle Rock and PB Dye (which are marvelous tests).  After paying, the other people in my group were no shows, so the starter, in a rare bit of generosity, let me play through the foursome in front that was the first group out which meant I could play at my own (rather fast) pace.

6th Hole at Needwood GC. Straight is the way to go.

6th Hole at Needwood GC. Straight is the way to go.

I breezed through the first couple holes; one thing I noticed was that the greens were in really good shape.  They rolled pretty good (they have a board near the first tee with the stimpmeter reading- they were rolling a 10 according to the board (kudos for the “Augusta National speed is a 14”)).  Actually, they rolled fantastic (this was after I officially put my Odyssey 2-ball putter on notice (and yes I’m aware that a fat guy lecturing a putter is the kind of imagery that must draw people to the game by the thousands).  Really smooth and consistent.  Fairways were in pretty good shape, tee boxes and roughs were also in good shape.

Layout wise, the front side (other than the 2nd hole) is fairly flat.  If you like tree-lined fairways that are fairly generous, you’re in luck.  The back-to-back par 5’s are shortish (even from the tips they max out at under 515 yards).  If I have one complaint, it’s that the par 3’s are all longish and are all similar distances.  It finishes with a tight (but short) par 4.

From the rough on the 10th hole. The photo may not accurately show the elevation change.

From the rough on the 10th hole. The photo may not accurately show the elevation change.

The back nine has much more elevation change with only one par 5 (for the blue or white tees, the course is 36/34=70) and 3 par 3’s on the back.  A par 4 with a very uphill second shot followed by a longish dogleg right par 4 starts the back nine off.  The only par 5 is 13, which features an elevated tee box to a tight tree-lined fairway.

13th hole at Needwood from the tee box.  Hit it long and hit it straight.

13th hole at Needwood from the tee box. Hit it long and hit it straight.

The 18th hole is everything a closing hole should be; a longish par 4 (420 yards) to a green protected by a lake to the right with the clubhouse, practice green and 1st tee in full view (which means your catastrophic failures are on display for any remotely interested party to watch).  In my case, I was able to get up and down from a tricky lie to save par which felt better than good.

18th hole at Needwood. Just be straight on both shots and don't think about the big lake front/right of the green.

18th hole at Needwood. Just be straight on both shots and don’t think about the big lake front/right of the green.

There’s a decent range (mats only), a good sized practice green, and there is also a 9-hole executive length course which is perfect for beginners or novice golfers (or anyone who just wants to play 9 holes).  They also have an indoor

Nobody is going to put Needwood on a ‘Best You Can Play’ list.   It certainly lacks a signature hole and the design, though classic, isn’t going to blow the socks off of anyone (it’s a classic, parkland style course).  With all that being said, what it does it does well.  A well maintained course (in spite of some fairly significant challenges this year) that offers plenty of challenge to most golfers that isn’t in the stratosphere cost-wise (I paid $64.99 to ride- of that, $15.00 was a cart fee) relatively speaking.  They have a snack bar which isn’t going to earn a Michelin Star but it serves its purpose.  They have an indoor studio open year-round and the last few years were offering indoor leagues on their simulator.

I had fun, and was able to  break 80 (which I haven’t done all year).  Sure- the course isn’t exactly a beast even from the tips (less than 6,300 yards from the tips), but I had fun and remembered all the things I love about this game.  That’s worth something.

NON Golf Commentary

Go Preds.

SONG OF THE DAY

London and Manchester have had a rough go of it.  Wishing both towns courage, peace, and hope.

This Smiths video has 2 songs; The Queen is Dead and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.  Some of their better work; jarring, beautiful, and imagery that runs the spectrum.  Not bad for 4 kids from Salford (a Manchester suburb) who weren’t together very long but while they were made songs that still hold up 30+ years later (and quite well).

Fake News v. Your Own Eyes

From the 18th fairway at PB Dye.  Don't go left.

From the 18th fairway at PB Dye. Don’t go left.

I played Waverly Woods last Sunday 5/21.  Course was in good shape, I’m happy to report.  A couple wet spots here and there but I’d put that down to this never ending spate of wet weather we’ve had.  The fairways were running pretty good; the greens weren’t exactly US Open fast but they were consistent (as much as I’d like to blame them on my putting woes, the truth is that my putting woes are on me).  Went out in the first group with another rabbit, and we finished in three hours.  Roughs were thick but not overly so.

My one minor quibble (a suggestion, really) is this- the driving range runs parallel to the 10th hole.  I know that the large and tall netting isn’t exactly attractive, but given the dozens of range balls that were in the 10th fairway, it would sure help people playing the 10th hole to know which ball is theirs.  My playing partner and I were on a damn Easter egg roll looking for our balls amid the sea of range balls.

I took a flier yesterday 5/27 and played PB Dye out of curiosity.  A few weeks ago, someone who seemed to be on the level said that the course was in terrible shape and that they had let it go.   I hadn’t played there in a couple years so I felt like it might be a good time to see what was what.

11th hole at PB Dye.  So anywhere not short, left or long works.  Or right.

11th hole at PB Dye. So anywhere not short, left or long works. Or right.

While I can’t (and won’t) try to speak to what someone heard or saw a time ago, I can say that the course I saw and played yesterday was in great shape, despite intermittent rain.  The greens were as good as anything I’ve encountered all year.  Tee to green I played well, but once again my putter went completely off the rails (took 38 putts and three putted when on in regulation on three occasions).  It was completely my fault.

I know Dye’s work isn’t for everyone but it’s still one of the better tracks in the area.  You’ll encounter friendly people and at least when I played there, good conditions.  Not to belabor the point, but this is one thing I don’t get- it doesn’t cost money to be friendly.  A friendly starter goes a long way as opposed to some wannabe drill sergeant who treats players as if they’re invading his sacred territory.

TIGER AND THE DUI

I started writing this before the news of Woods’ DUI arrest hit on Monday.  Worse than the never-ending avalanche of Hot Takes were his sycophants and loyalists that are defending this.  It’s indefensible.  That he wasn’t drinking doesn’t mean it’s okay.   Woods made a decision to get behind the wheel when he was under the influence (from a legal perspective it doesn’t have to be alcohol).  Several lawyers talked about the legal ramifications so let me speak from personal experience.

More than 20 years ago I served as a juror in a DUI trial.  The particulars of the case were this- the driver was in the driver’s seat, keys in the ignition and the car was running.  Most jurisdictions have that as a standard for ‘operating a vehicle’ (an attorney and a police officer both told me that if you get in a car and realise that you’re under the influence to get in the back seat and put the keys in the front seat as this would typically meet a standard of no intent to operate the car).  The driver refused a breathalyzer and failed field sobriety tests.   He parked in front of a fire station with the car running.  However, we voted guilty and it took less than an hour to come back with a guilty verdict.

That Woods’ car had two flat tires on the driver’s side and rim damage (along with what the police described as ‘fresh damage’).  He didn’t know where he was and had fallen asleep.   Even if his toxicology reports come back completely clean most jurisdictions have statutes about drowsy/distracted driving.  A jury is not going to be overly sympathetic (and not for anything but if Woods’ car damage is from hitting a vehicle with occupants this gets really bad in a hurry).

If Woods were in bad shape, a call to a friend, a cab, or a shared ride would surely be a better option than getting behind the wheel.  It says here that if he’d called his agent and said “Steiny I’m at location X and I need a ride” you can bet your ass they’d have a ride there tout’d’sweet.  He’s a 40 year old man and not some 23-year old.  He has 2 kids (and not for anything if he’s that concerned about being a good father for him, then square that with his behaviour).

As someone who’s gotten pretty banged up on multiple occasions, I was (for once) smart enough to find a bar walking distance from my apartment during my period of heavy drinking (oh, sure, I probably had some fantastic conversations with light poles and mail boxes but at least I didn’t try to drive home).

If it comes to pass that he has a problem with prescription medication (hoping this isn’t the case and this was just a one-off), then I hope like heck he gets whatever treatment he needs.  Even if he never plays golf again, he still has to be a father and for him and his kids’ sake I hope he gets to do that.

Older posts Newer posts