Category: Grill Room (page 1 of 5)

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!

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.

More Local Golf News (Sort of)

18th tee at Bulle Rock.  Don't recommend going left.  Not even a bit.

18th tee at Bulle Rock. Don’t recommend going left. Not even a bit.

Now that we seem to be out of this never-ending pattern of cold rain, I suppose it’s time for another local golf news digest of goings-on.  Any opinions are mine and are probably wrong.

POTUS 44 FINDS A HOME

Several reports confirm that former President Barack Obama has been offered a membership at RTJ Golf Club out in Lake Manassas/Gainesville/Don’t You Dare Call It Manassas.  Not to get all snippy, but it’s this kind of reporting that makes me shake the fist of impending doom at people.  RTJ is 40 miles west of Washington DC.  Now, maybe in some circles that’s a short haul, but anyone who lives in a major metropolitan area can vouch for the fact that I-66 traffic is awful on a good day at 4:00 a.m.  I’ve taken I-66 to play in Virginia on weekend mornings, and it’s not pretty.  And not for anything but RTJ is in Virginia.  Mileage wise, it’s similar distance as DC is to Baltimore.

TPC Potomac would have made sense but I guess they couldn’t come to terms.  Well, Obama’s going to get to experience I-66.  So that should end well.

POTUS 45 MAJOR #1

Reminder that the (I’m not making this up) Kitchen Aid Senior PGA Championship is at Trump National DC in Sterling, VA over Memorial Day weekend (seriously, Sterling is near Dulles Airport- IT IS NOT WASHINGTON DC- BUY A MAP).  This course has never hosted a professional tournament much less a major on the Champions Tour.  Maybe let it host a Web.com event first or something just to see how it works in terms of logistics/parking/flow.  Or you know, just kind of wing it because that usually ends well.

This would be a good time to mention my golf-oriented objection to using Trump courses.  Instead of people talking about who might win (go Paul Goydos you spectacular thing you), you’re going to have a week-long discussion of President Trump.  Does he show up over the weekend and completely bigfoot the event?

Come July his New Jersey course in Bedminster will host the US Women’s Open.   So that should be a nice quiet week free of controversy…nothing to see here.  The USGA can’t run a 2-car parade (still waiting to see how they’re going to screw up this year’s US Open at Erin Hills because you know they will) and then there’s the Trump factor.  So the National Championship gets overshadowed.  Again.   The USGA could and should have chosen either Congressional or Merion to host the 2026 US Open (in honor of the country’s 250th birthday) but went with Shinnecock near Long Island.

TIMBERS AT TROY OPENS

After a lengthy remodel Timbers at Troy has re-opened.  I haven’t been able to get out there yet but am hoping to make the short trek sometime in the next 30 days.  The layout was always solid but conditions had gone sideways.  Hoping to see the course at its best.

AT&T NATIONAL GOINGS-ON

Not a bad read on what to expect if you go to the AT&T National at TPC Potomac or if you’ve ever thought about volunteering.  Tiger isn’t going to play, but you should still get a decent field.  I played TPC Potomac in 2012 and it’s a fantastic layout (I never played it pre-renovation so I can’t compare it).   Reminder the event goes back to Congressional for 2018 and 2020.  No word on a 2019 venue (hint: Bulle Rock or Baltimore CC (Five Farms)).

REVIEWS

I’ve been busier than expected of late but I should have the Bulle Rock course review uploaded by the weekend.  I’m also working on an equipment review.

If you’re playing this weekend, hit ’em straight and make those pars and birdies.

SONG OF THE DAY

Do the thing, Reds.  Do the thing.

 

 

 

Easter at Northwest Park

2nd hole at Northwest Park. Pro tip: hit it in the fairway (makes the hole easier).

2nd hole at Northwest Park. Pro tip: hit it in the fairway (makes the hole easier).

Taking advantage of summer-like warmth, your faithful scribe headed out to Northwest Park for my own idea of Easter sunrise service (.  I’ve long touted Northwest Park as having consistently very good playing conditions, and today was no change (their greens have not been punched but were certainly in very good shape).

Having sat through last night’s 2OT win by the Leafs (sorry, local Capitals fans), I was playing on very little sleep (you try sleeping after that- it’s like chugging two cans of red bull, snorting cocaine and then riding backwards on a motorcycle) so I wasn’t really at my best or most wide awake early on.  Luckily, last night we had Leafs Dart Guy (below) providing needed comic relief.

Leafs Dart Guy from last night (a dart is a cigarette, i.e. heater, health stick) who became a Twitter celebrity.  Love this.

Leafs Dart Guy from last night (a dart is a cigarette, i.e. heater, health stick) who became a Twitter celebrity. Love this.

One change I did notice was that several tee boxes and a few areas (not in the fairway or apron areas) had been recently re-sodded (I didn’t take a photo but you could tell with the obvious pattern of sod strips having been laid down).  I didn’t have a chance to play at Northwest Park last year so I can’t comment on what kind of condition they were in last year, but thumbs up to management for addressing the issue and not just letting things deteriorate.

15th hole at Northwest Park. I suggest hitting the green and not hitting some fat chunked shot like I did.

15th hole at Northwest Park. I suggest hitting the green and not hitting some fat chunked shot like I did.

We started on the back nine (a good friend of mine got paired up with two other guys who were nice enough, but they were a bit slow- appreciate walking but when you’re the first group out you’re setting up to drag pace of play down); definitely a bit dewy this morning on the first few holes.  We broke apart from the other twosome after our first nine (I get embarrassed when the second group is waiting on us and get a massive guilt trip) so I didn’t have the time to take more photos on our first nine holes.

5th hole at Northwest Park. Twas a brutal hole location today in the back.

5th hole at Northwest Park. Twas a brutal hole location today in the back.

Playing conditions were good.  One other thing about Northwest is that the people who work there are almost always friendly and polite (it shouldn’t be a big deal but when you encounter indifference or a ‘you’re lucky we let you play here’ mentality being welcomed warmly goes a long way).

I’ve played four rounds in my new shoes; after next week I’ll post a review.

SONG OF THE DAY

Having discovered The Smiths in 1983/84 and having seen them live in concert in 1985, it is rather interesting that they’re getting something of a rebirth as today’s younger set discovers them.  Everything old is new again.  Yes- their songs are rather timeless, but it’s still a three-piece band (guitar, bass, drums) and a lead singer.  No keyboards, no auto-tune.  And no- I don’t want a reunion.

 

Saturday Round and Experimentation

From the rough on the 2nd hole. Not exactly super thick, thankfully.

From the rough on the 2nd hole. Not exactly super thick, thankfully.

Taking advantage of whatever the hell the weather was a couple weeks ago, I played early Saturday 2/25 at Rattlewood.  Played in a foursome, and got around in 3 1/2 hours (note- it can be done) despite a couple guys in our group struggle to start.  You don’t need to play well to play fast.  We played ready golf and used continuous putting which really cuts down on your time (if you’re asking).

From the left rough on the 5th hole at Rattlewood. Caught the slope perfectly.

From the left rough on the 5th hole at Rattlewood. Caught the slope perfectly.

The course was in good shape given that it’s late February.  Greens were rolling pretty quick but that seemed to be a function of our dry weather of late along with a steady wind all day that was blowing in the 1-2 club range.  Given the cold snaps we’ve had I can’t vouch for things right now.  I have a bad feeling that the course superintendents are going to have their hands full over the next several weeks if this rollercoaster keeps up.

3rd hole at Rattlewood. It not only looks long, it plays long.

3rd hole at Rattlewood. It not only looks long, it plays long.

While I’m sure that many courses are thrilled to see tee sheets full this time of year, the guy in the pro shop made a solid point- most courses aren’t yet staffed up yet for the season (and if you’ve seen this weekend’s weather forecast, March can be a rollercoaster).

Really hoping that after this coming weekend’s cold snap that we see a return to seasonal temps since I’m slated to cross a biggie off my local bucket list in a little over a week.

EXPERIMENTATION

Being a blogger and a Twitter user who’s trying to build an audience (why don’t you follow me on Twitter?  Come for the golf, stay for the complaints about Liverpool FC, rugby league (go Canberra Raiders the mighty green machine) and my love/hate relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs (and the occasional music retweets).  If you’re already following me, have I mentioned what good taste you have?

So it was in the spirit of learning, discovering something new and growing that I downloaded the Golfmatch App a month or so ago.  I stumbled upon them on Instagram and it looked simple enough, but as I’m want to do I gave it some thought, and some more thought.  Out of the blue I signed up and downloaded the app.

I signed up for their event next Saturday 3/18 at Bulle Rock (crossing my fingers for decent weather).  To paraphrase, you had me at Bulle Rock.  This course has been on my “must play” list for years so to finally have the opportunity to play it is something I’m really looking forward to.  I’ll be sure to take photos and try to put together a course review that gives you a sense of what to expect should you play there.

SONG OF THE DAY

Just discovered this.  Catchy as hell.  It’s the music that the kids are listening to and damned if I don’t like it.  Give it a whirl.

 

First Practice, First Golfers, and Other Random Crap

Somewhere out there is an improved game. Now I have to find it.

Somewhere out there is an improved game. Now I have to find it.

Amid this foggy, drizzly, and dank Saturday, I trudged off to Olney Golf Park (they have heated stalls) to hit a bucket and try to find that magical something that everyone is looking for.  I like going early for a host of reasons (it’s quieter; towards the end you had a couple Chatty Charlie types show up who were kind enough to share their worldview with everyone within earshot), and their mats are usually in good shape (yes- the bag tag is from Links at Lighthouse Sound).

Hello, friends. I've missed you. Being apart is such sweet sorrow.

Hello, friends. I’ve missed you. Being apart is such sweet sorrow.

Feeling better than I have in recent weeks, I’m trying to get in some practice so that hopefully I can get off to a good start this year and find that form that I last had in the fall of 2015, when I seemed to have found something.  I’m ready to chuck 2016 off and try to pretend it never happened because I’m not sure there’s anything worth salvaging.

In short, now is a great time to get out there and hit a bucket.  It’s not that cold currently, and just think- you’ll be that much further on when the season gets going in full.

FIRST GOLFERS

With Trump’s swearing-in Friday, several golf magazines are putting out special covers.  I’ll leave the wisdom of this to others, but I will point out that the idea that Trump is the only President who’s an avid golfer is ridiculous.  Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon, Ford, Bush 41 (get well soon Pappy, you thoroughly decent man and fast pace of play demon), Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama were all golfers.   In short, a majority of Presidents in the last 60+ years have played to varying levels.

On that point, I was more than a bit disgusted at how Woodmont Country Club in Rockville acted with respect to the idea of a membership for Obama.   They’re a private club (and a good one), but this garners attention for all the wrong reasons.  They’re a private club and if they don’t want to extend a membership to the former President, it’s their business but the optics are, frankly, terrible (rather than go for a grandstand move that makes them look small, simply keep quiet if you don’t want to offer a membership).  I’ve felt (and still do) that Congressional or TPC Potomac (Columbia CC and Chevy Chase are closer but not sure how their membership feels about dealing with Secret Service) are better options (closer to his Kalorama house).  Still, their rationale makes them look downright silly.  It’s exactly what a club that has hosted US Open sectional qualifiers should NOT be getting involved in.  The area already has one private club that has outdated membership policies (Burning Tree); it doesn’t need another one.

As to POTUS 45, a reminder that his Virginia namesake club (former Lowe’s Island club) is hosting the Senior PGA Championship this year, and his New Jersey course is hosting the US Women’s Open.  And yes- I wholly disagree with Trump that golf is only for the elite.  It’s not.  Every weekend every public course in the DMV is filled with golfers of various abilities; we may not agree on politics and our playing abilities may be all over the board, but we all love this wonderful game (I’m lucky to have played with many different people of all walks of life).  He’ll never set foot on a public course, and he’s the poorer for it.

EMPTYING THE BUCKET

I’m glad to hear about Sugarloaf Social Club’s love of West Potomac Golf Course; it would be wonderful to see this course restored and improved.  The location and vistas aren’t available anywhere else.  This course should remain open to the public and it should be one of the gems of the DMV.  There’s no reason this can’t happen.

No word on a re-opening date for Timbers at Troy.  Hopefully the (so far) mild winter is helping them progress to a late winter/early spring re-opening.  The layout remains one of the best in the region; hopefully the refurbishing and repairs will bring course conditions up to par.

 

 

 

My 2017 Predictions (and Wishes)

After saying farewell to a truly terrible 2016 (a year that can be summed up as “well, that’s over”), 2017 is in its infancy which means that the PGA Tour is starting up this week (NBC running promos for the Hawaii swing is equal parts brilliant and torture).  Which means new seasons for the PGA, LPGA and European Tours.  The PGA Tour’s promo video has plenty of visuals to torture you as we endure a cold snap here in the DMV and a couple light snows.

With Nike out of the hard-goods equipment business (that’s clubs, balls, bags), it’s been interesting to see how the former Nike players shake out.  Rory McIlroy has gone to a multi-brand approach (notably back to a Titleist ball); and a fist bump to the fine fellows at No Laying Up for breaking the story (I’d call them competition but they’re 1000 miles ahead of your humble scribe).  Tiger Woods is doing something similar, but honestly for him it’s about being physically able to complete 72-hole stroke play tournaments.  I don’t think it’s crazy to think that, if healthy, McIlroy will have a very good year.

I’ve played Ko’olau on Oahu.  This sort of captures why this is remains one of my two favorite places I’ve played.  The video is a pretty good indicator why.

The other big player has been PXG.  Only in their second year of existence, they continue to add players to their stable; focusing on the LPGA at the moment (Lydia Ko and Christina Kim are solid names to get under their umbrella).  I’ll admit I was skeptical of their approach last year, and it’s curious that they’re staying out of the big-box/online retailers to this point.  With that being said, their clubs are striking in appearance.  The question that others have asked is reasonable- is a $5,000 set of clubs worth it (and is there really a market for this)?  I don’t know, but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see how it shakes out (full disclosure: my website is hosted by GoDaddy which was Bob Parsons’ company- I pay for the hosting and have not accepted any compensation from PXG or GoDaddy).

Former #1 Jason Day made news this week by saying he’s going to play even slower than he has been because he felt he was rushing things.  I will start a GoFundMe for the first official who hits him with a stroke penalty for slow play.  If it’s taking  him more than 35 seconds to hit a shot, then he’s clueless about what he’s doing.  My fear is how many people are going to watch him go from glacial to stationary and think “that’s what I should do!” and then wonder why 6 hour rounds are commonplace at public courses.

In terms of majors, the men visit an unknown entity in Erin Hills for the US Open (so having Fox on the broadcast makes me fear the worst since they have nothing to go off of), go back to Royal Birkdale for the Open Championship, and to Quail Hallow in Charlotte for the USPGA Championship (the Wells Fargo championship skips Quail Hallow for Eagle Point GC in Wilmington).

I’m still not a Joe Buck fan and I still think that Fox does more wrong than right, but there are a couple things I do like about their telecasts.  For starters, they use a ProTracer or something similar on most shots (this should be the standard by now), and Paul Azinger is a competent 18th hole tower analyst.  They still get way too much wrong, but Azinger and Brad Faxon are good at what they do.  For Fox’s other three high-profile events (US Amateur, US Women’s Open, US Senior Open), it’s to Riviera (fantastic call) for the US Amateur, Trump National in New Jersey for the US Women’s Open (so the best women in the world will be upstaged by the venue’s name when it should be all about the players), and to Salem Country Club in Massachusetts for the Senior Open).

NBC/Golf Channel will cover the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.  They did everything you could have asked for at the 2016 Open Championship (and the Olympic tournaments).  Wall-to-wall coverage, and on Sunday got out of the way and let that memorable Mickelson-Stenson duel play out (which can be the hardest thing to do).  Nothing against Dan Hicks but if Hicks were to move on, Mike Tirico is tailor-made for the 18th tower and probably becomes the best in the business (better than Buck and yes- even better than Jim Nantz).  If they can figure out what to do with David Feherty (seriously), they’d be near perfect.  I still don’t know what the best use of him is.  Is he a tower analyst?  Raconteur?  Replacement for Roger Maltbie?   One suggestion for David- when you ask guests on your show a question, don’t frame it to give them an easy answer.  Frame it to make them think about an answer.  And then follow up.  Saying you’re something and actually walking the walk are two different things.

CBS will have the Masters and the US PGA Championship.  For me, CBS remains something to watch this year.  Their coverage has gotten stale (if not out-and-out bad), and frankly their problems start with Nantz and Faldo.  Nantz sounds like a guy phoning it in (I’ve said I think the issue for him is his workload is way too heavy), and Faldo seems to be perfectly happy to go months without saying anything remotely interesting.   The problem is that they’re not going to blow it up (they should), which means another 6 months of Nantz on autopilot, and Faldo droning on about nothing.  Meanwhile, Peter Kostis and Dottie Pepper do great work and get lost in the shuffle.

Golf Channel will have the bulk of the LPGA season.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Judy Rankin is outstanding on their coverage (her and Terry Gannon have good chemistry).  She knows how to inform the viewer and be critical without being bombastic (we used to call this “being smart”).

Note to Michael Breed: Love your work…have you considered cutting back to 1 or 2 triple espressos a day?  If nothing else, you clearly have a passion (which is good).

For Golf Channel- please, pretty please give the endless loop of the trilogy of golf movies a rest.  Develop original programming geared towards average golfers.  Showing Tin Cup or Caddyshack 27 times a month isn’t serving that need.

Major Predictions (use at your own risk): Mickelson (Masters), McIlroy (US Open), Shane Lowry (Open Championship), Dustin Johnson (USPGA).  For the women, Christina Kim (ANA Inspiration), Brooke Henderson (US Open), Jutanugarn (USLPGA Chp), Piller (Open Championship), Lydia Ko (Evian).  Again- using these at your local wagering house is your decision, not mine.  Most likely they’re all wrong.

Some wishes:

1) Both tours (men and women) decide to start seriously cracking down on slow play.  If this means handing out penalty strokes, do it.

2) The LPGA continue to gain traction and grow their TV audience.  And while they’re at it, add an event in the DMV (Williamsburg doesn’t count).

3) The R&A take over as the sole body for rules, and that they bifurcate the rules.  The cutoff can be national amateur and above competitions.  Let average golfers have a few advantages.

4) The tours agree to roll back the ball, which will negate the need for 8,000 yard courses.

5) The USGA does not decide to fiddle about with golf courses at their national championships.  Less is more.  Stop worrying about protecting par.  If someone goes lights out and shoots -15 it’s not a bad thing (see Tiger Woods 2000 at Pebble Beach).  People want to see great shots and birdies.

6) We see Tiger Woods healthy at the start and finish of the season with a healthy sense of humor.

7) The Solheim Cup is contested with passion and great golf, and is remembered for the quality of golf and not a dispute over a rules issue.

8) We see no more ‘scripting’ of outfits for majors.  Make this stop being a thing.

9) We see a return to professional tour rounds finishing under 4 hours.  No exceptions.

10) That everyone have their best season possible, and if you see me lumbering about, say hi.  It may not appear to be the case but I’m not as cantankerous as I appear to be.  That the DMV continues to grow and thrive and become a region with strong public courses that do well.  Hit ’em straight and make those putts.

Enjoy some pre-2000 Tragically Hip.  Forgot they played Woodstock 1999.  Courage.  Much thanks to Mike in Toronto for posting all 4 hours of The Hip 30 from the Strombo show.  I was too busy watching the Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day to tune in.

 

Revealed- What Really Happened at the Nicklaus Ryder Cup Dinner

If you missed it, during the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic in March, Jack Nicklaus hosted a dinner for Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and 40-or so hopefuls to make the 12-man team.

The American side had lost 3 straight Ryder Cups prior to this year’s win at Hazeltine, and hasn’t won in Europe since 1993 and only two wins (1999, 2008) prior, and the 2014 Ryder Cup didn’t exactly end well and by not ending well, it was a disaster.

So as you might imagine, the goal for the American side this year was to win back the Ryder Cup.  Rather than have another Task Force, Jack Nicklaus thought it would be nice to have a bunch of hopefuls at his house for dinner and a chat.  While the media wasn’t permitted, SGIC spies were there and took notes for me.  I was embargoed from writing this up until after the Ryder Cup.  By all accounts, it was a lovely evening and everyone had a good time.

Smile if you thought Tom Watson was a terrible Ryder Cup captain.

Smile if you thought Tom Watson was a terrible Ryder Cup captain.

They event took time out to enjoy some delicious Jack Nicklaus ice cream, and having stolen a pint, I have to say, it is delicious.

That moment just before Nicklaus knocks the spoon out of Fowler's mouth and says "ice cream is for closers, Rickie".

That moment just before Nicklaus knocks the spoon out of Fowler’s mouth and says “ice cream is for closers, Rickie”.

You might have heard that Tiger Woods was the first to arrive.  This is true, since he had to get a lift from Secret Tour Pro and Secret Tour Pro had to hustle to get to the European meeting that night, where European captain Darren Clarke got some of his lads together and took a slightly different tack on dessert.

Tastes like Victory!

The official dessert of Ireland, in pint form.  Tastes like winning.

The rest of the players either drove over or took Uber.  Davis Love III greeted each player as they walked in, and thanked them for coming.  Dinner, as you’d expect, was casual (burgers, chicken, and steaks on the grill- Jack runs a mighty fine grill but he will stab you in the eyes if you so much as look at his spatula or tongs), as Zach Johnson found out.  Tiger Woods immediately gave the dinner 4 stars on Yelp; you can see his review called “it’s good but not as good as my restaurant in Orlando!”

Ian Poulter drove by in one of his Ferrari cars with the “Ole, Ole Ole Ole” song blaring out of his car.  Jack was heard to say “impressive stuff from a guy with as many majors as Sergio Garcia and Barbara.”  I’ll leave this here for Poulter to enjoy:

After dinner, Jack gathered everyone in his family room for a friendly chat.  After the players all sat down, Jack asked everyone why they think they keep losing in this event but continue to do well in the Presidents Cup.

Tiger: Well, Jack, you notice I wasn’t on the 2014 team and I think having me there can make a huge diff…

Jack: Really?  You have one more Ryder Cup team win than my sons. You were 0-5 in 2012.  Try again.  Can you even walk 18 holes without breaking apart?

Jordan Spieth: Mr. Nicklaus, I think it’s down to confidence. We think…

Jack: Sure…YOU have confidence in your swing. I have confidence you’ll be Jim Furyk bald by the time we get to Hazeltine.  Seriously kid, here’s some Propecia and the number for Hair Club for Men.  Thank me later.

Patrick Reed: I don’t know what y’all are talking about. Didn’t you see me shhh those Haggis-eaters in 2014?

Jack:  Remind me who won. And seriously, those slacks you wear…Ian Poulter tweeted that he wants his look back. I better shut up because if he sees this it’ll be Twitter diarrhea from him.

Dustin Johnson: With my long game I think I would be helpful in the foursomes and four-balls.

Jack: True, but this means someone will have to break your leg with a tire iron to keep you off the course on Sunday, because your record on Sunday is uglier than a hat-full of assholes.

Rickie Fowler: Mr. Nicklaus, look at what I did last year at the Players Championship.  I know I can replicate that form at Hazeltine.

Jack: What form is that- making out with some pretty young thing after you won?  Too bad Skinamax isn’t showing the tournament.  Great job in Phoenix by the way.  You choked as bad as Cam Newton did in the Super Bowl.  You’ve got to figure out how to beat these guys when it matters.

Webb Simpson: I know I didn’t have a great Ryder Cup, but…

Jack: You were terrible.  Barbara, tie him up and make him listen to the audio book of my autobiography.

Barbara: Jack, I’m not sure that’s necessary…

Jack: You know that this idiot blogger we’re doing this for thought Webb Simpson was a good idea.  BRING HIM TO ME.

Bubba Watson: Mr. Nicklaus, I appreciate what you’re doing but I think we just need to have some good ole’ American spirit in the room and we’ll be fine.

Jack: Says the guy who drove around in The General Lee car…you do realize that nobody likes you for a reason, right?  Seriously fellas, it’s not that hard- why is it that you can play great week to week but you go up against a bunch of Europeans you fold up like Arnie used to fold up after I beat him in the 1962 US Open.  So there I was on 18, about 145 out from the pin…

Everyone: SHUT UP JACK!

Jack: Sorry…old habits die hard.  So anyway…you guys do great at the Presidents Cup, and they’ve got Jason Day, Adam Scott, and some other guys who can play.  So why do your collective sphincters tighten up at the Ryder Cup?

Jason Dufner: My sphincter is just fine…getting sleepy (he then fell asleep).

Jack: Anyone awake want to comment?

Woods: Freddie Couples didn’t do any of this crap.  We played ping-pong at night and then went out and played…that worked pretty well.  We made some suggestions….

Matt Kuchar: Did someone say ping pong (ambient noise and Kuchar gets up with two ping-pong paddles)?

Phil Mickelson: It’s on, chrome dome (sound of a ping pong table being rolled in, and several bets being placed).

Jack (to everyone): It’s okay, let ’em play ping pong as long as we don’t have to hear about any..

Phil: Before I beat Kuchar like a bowl of eggs, I put together a presentation that will show where we lost in 2014 and a detailed analysis showing coefficients and regression data that my girls put together…as you can see clearly…

Everyone: DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP!

Patrick Reed: I bet FIGJAM is his safe word.

Phil: See, that’s where you’re wrong.  Amy and the girls drew up this analytical chart, that shows exactly how we should prepare.  We’ll need the following items…a rock from the moon, two bars of soap, a leather belt, the phone number to Ladbrokes, and….

Everyone: WE’LL LET YOU WIN THE US OPEN IF YOU STOP TALKING.

Phil: I’m not sure…I mean, I spent a month on this.

Tiger: Four words…your own In-N-Out restaurant.

Phil: Done (sound of laptops being closed and equipment being put away).

Jack: What we need is that intimidation factor.  Someone who, when they see him, they’ll be intimidated.  Think about how Seve used to be intimidating…even Colin Montgomerie, in Ryder Cups, was nearly unbeatable.  We need someone to be that 13th man, that person who’ll scare them.

Tiger: Well, since you asked…

Jack: Not you.

Jordan Spieth: Mr. Nicklaus I’m happy to be that leader for the team.

Jack: That’s nice but you don’t scare anyone.  I mean someone REALLY scary who will do whatever it takes to win.

Zach Johnson: I’m proof that size doesn’t matter.

Everyone: Should we tell him…nah…

Jack (yelling into one of the guest bedrooms): No…look can you just come out and get this over with.

Arnold Palmer (walks out shirtless, crushes a beer can on his chest, rips chest hair off of his own chest and punches two holes in a wall and eats an entire steak with his hands): Do it for me.  Please.  Thanks fellas.

I think we know how this ended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golftec is Coming to Howard County

While we’ve enjoyed pleasant weather for the first half of November (allowing courses to stay open), the weather people are saying we’re supposed to have a cool-down and it’s looking highly unlikely we’ll have a repeat of last year when we were playing in December and around Christmas (let’s all pause and think about how great that was even if it didn’t make for a particularly festive setting for Christmas).  However, we can always hope!

Coming soon- a Golftec in Howard County.

Coming soon- a Golftec in Howard County.

Once it gets cold and courses start closing for the year, options become limited.  Some ranges stay open year-round, but that means battling the elements.  One option that’s coming for Howard County golfers in Golftec, which has a location in the works in Ellicott City.  While driving on MD-108 this past Sunday I saw a sign for Golftec but wasn’t sure if it was real or if I was hallucinating.  So after a workout this morning, I stopped by to take a further look and was pleased at what I saw.

Golftec is not a retailer in the vein of Golf Galaxy.  They specialize in lessons (they have indoor facilities) and club-fitting which are two things that we lack in the area (I’ve had a club-fitting at Golf Galaxy that was okay, but I was mostly decided when I walked in the store).  For Howard County golfers this option currently doesn’t exist, which means it’s trek to Montgomery County to one of two Golftec locations or Needwood GC who have an indoor simulator (they offer indoor leagues through Montgomery County Golf).

So in the same shopping center as the Coal Fire Pizza, the Glamour Shots, and a Cold Stone creamery, there will be (see the picture above) a Golftec moving in.  When I was there, two guys went inside the store (you can see their cars in the photo).   And if that’s not enough motivation, you can get Glamour Shots once you’re done (I’ve often wanted to recreate the Jan Stephenson bathtub photo- see below), and then grab a meal at Coal Fire Pizza, Urban BBQ or Starbucks.  Jokes aside it’s very close to Timbers at Troy (right off of MD-100) and is fairly convenient to Hobbit’s Glen or Fairway Hills as well.

I'm going to recreate this at Glamour Shots.  You're Welcome, Everyone.

I’m going to recreate this at Glamour Shots. You’re Welcome, Everyone.

As with my tweet I sent out on Sunday, no update from Golftec’s website about anything official or an opening date.  But, signage at the shopping center as well as front door signage bodes well.  Your faithful scribe will stay on top and continue to provide updates.  In the meantime, hit ’em straight.

 

 

Dreaming of Something Great

And now, it’s back to golf and waving the flag for golf in Howard County from your intrepid blogger.

Majestic

Exterior of Hobbits Glen and The Turn House at night.

As maddening as supporting (and advocating its advancement) golf in Howard County can be, I firmly believe that the county can, and should, become a golf destination.  Adding a couple courses and working together towards a larger goal can put Howard County on the map.  I believe that Howard County can, and should, work to replicate what Montgomery County is doing (and done correctly can one-up our friends in the MoCo).  It’s only impossible if they don’t try.

To that point, you don’t do this at once; you do it by making a million small steps that always push towards that larger goal.  Last night, I saw first-hand what new thinking looks like, and what might well be a game-changing improvement to apres’-golf dining.

I won’t pretend that I haven’t been critical of Hobbits Glen in the past.  The last time I played there the pro shop looked like something from the 1970’s and their bar/grill was a dark, dingy place that was the polar opposite of inviting.  I never saw the ill-fated CoHo Grill, but my spies weren’t impressed.  The course itself should aspire to be the gem for Howard County golf, a title that sadly must remain vacant for several reasons (that’s a different column that requires a lot of alcohol).  Now the pro shop is larger and is more inviting, and that then-dingy bar and grill (now named The Turn House) sets a new high water mark for golf course dining.

Oysters, tartare, and a great cheese plate. Far better than your standard golf grill fare.

Oysters, tartare, and a great cheese plate. Far better than your standard golf grill fare.

Last night while attending a HoCoBlogs event, I saw what golf course dining can and should aspire to in the form of The Turn House (@theturnhouse).  It doesn’t (nor should it) have to be gloppy chicken wings and frozen, pre-packaged burgers, chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks.  The beer doesn’t have to be the boring national brands who make uniformly bad product.  Between Manor Hill and Jailbreak, Howard County is making some damn good beer that you’d actually want to drink.  The Turn House, under their new chef Thomas, plans to serve both Manor House and Jailbreak along with some other Maryland favorites that aren’t Natty Boh (Natty Boh is made in Wisconsin, if you’re curious).

The proverbial 19th hole, where you (hopefully) celebrate a good round or commiserate over a bad round, does not have to involve eating poorly.  Golfers can, and should, want to eat better.  If you’re going to eat a mediocre burger, why not eat a good one that has that nice beefy flavor?  If you’re going to enjoy a cold beer (and after a round a cold beer is one of those simple things that lets us know we’re alive), why not drink something that actually tastes like beer (a Manor Hill Katherine’s Kolsch or a Jailbreak Feed The Monkey are both great warm-weather beers made right here in Howard County).

Those are cupcakes topped with bacon. I did manage to NOT eat all of them.

Those are cupcakes topped with bacon. I did manage to NOT eat all of them.

The Turn House has several rooms (including a bar with several TV’s for watching a ballgame if that’s your thing) and has some of the best outdoor seating in the area.  Even if you don’t play golf, sitting outside on a how-is-this-November evening enjoying a cold beer is a great way to pass the time.   The space looks to work great for weddings and similar functions, and there are plans to have an outdoor beer garden in the warmer months.  It’s all part of asking questions about what’s possible, rather than accepting what is.

Montgomery County still has better courses that are better conditioned, but I defy you to find a better restaurant/bar at any course in Montgomery County.  It’s one step, but it’s an important one and one I’d like to see replicated.  The food at the MoCo courses is forgettable and the beer offerings are the same national brands that seem to be made for people who don’t really like beer all that much.

Their dinner menu holds promise and can hopefully become a place people might hope to dine at.  After a round, why not stick around and enjoy a cold beer or two (or a properly-made cocktail) in a brightly-lit bar with great views of the course?  Have lunch there while you’re at it!  They’re hosting a Bourbon and Cigars event on November 14th that holds promise and an example of what is possible.

Fresh oysters, a cheese board, a Pimento cheese dip that had a nice kick (and wouldn’t make a bad sandwich), and some locally sourced sausage were all outstanding examples of elevating things.  Bacon-topped cupcakes were a nice mix of sweet and savory (it took no small amount of discipline to not grab the tray and run for it).  For golfers, under a GM who comes from a hospitality background (and a local-boy done great chef in Thomas Zippelli), the plan is to upgrade the offerings at the course’s halfway hut (also named The Turn House) and add a hot dog, a burger, and local beer offerings and cocktails to the beverage cart.  If you can drink a Jailbreak or Manor Hill, why would you ever drink something else?

 

 

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