Category: Shag Bag (page 1 of 5)

My Friend Mary Jane

With the country I grew up in set to go full legalization of marijuana and my current state only at the ‘medical’ marijuana state, I thought I’d try to talk like an adult about why I used it, and why I don’t anymore.

Until golf became my full time sport of choice, I played contact/collision sports for years.  Hockey, football and rugby at various stages occupied much of my time.  I still miss playing hockey, and the people I met playing rugby are some of the finest people you could ever hope to meet.

Unfortunately, playing contact/collision sports means that hitting is involved, and hitting (and being hit) does hurt.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit.  I’ve broken bones, had sprains, tears, pulls, charley horses, concussions, and a raft of other issues.  Most mornings, limbs hurt.

Which brings us back to marijuana.  I’ve used it.  I currently don’t because drug tests are very much on the horizon for me (no bad reasons; I don’t have a criminal record of any kind unless you consider 2 speeding tickets in 24 years criminal activity).  It helped me in two areas:

  1. Pain management.  It helped better than pain medication did without concerns about becoming addicted to it.  Unfortunately, I did become addicted to eating more than I normally do, which explains why I’m fat.  I gained weight (I gained additional weight when I gave up smoking cigarettes; if you’re curious nicotine is a great appetite suppressant, among other things).
  2. Stress/Anxiety.  After a long and stressful day at work, it helped me de-stress and be able to relax enough to sleep without hoovering up Ambien like they’re jelly beans.  I slept better on nights I smoked marijuana than on nights that I didn’t.  FWIW, I never woke up with any hangover effects beyond a desire for a hearty breakfast usually involving waffles or pancakes.

As it relates to golf, it would not surprise me to see someone experiment with edibles (if they didn’t want to smoke) if they needed to relax the night before an important round.  Same for someone who might be in pain but doesn’t want to feel drugged up on painkillers.

On a personal note, I think marijuana should be legal in the US.  Period.  It’s not addictive and there’s not a credible study that shows marijuana is a gateway drug.  I used cocaine twice in college before I found marijuana.  I have zero desire to ever use cocaine again (among other things, the paranoia is a TERRIBLE thing for me).  The only thing keeping me from using marijuana is concerns over a potential positive drug test.  Take that out of the picture and I’d probably be using it periodically (either smoking it or as an edible).

 

 

The LPGA in the DMV Makes Perfect Sense (an open letter to Mike Whan)

Your faithful scribe, hard at work.

Dear Mike,

First off, let me congratulate you on the work you’ve done in your time as LPGA Commissioner.  I’d argue that the LPGA is the most watchable professional golf circuit, and the closest thing to a true global circuit.  Leader-boards often look like a UN meeting is breaking out.  It’s good for the global game, and good for the sport.  The women who make up the Tour are fantastic ambassadors for sport and their game.

As you’re probably aware, your cohort (Jay Monahan) at the PGA Tour announced their 2018-19 wraparound schedule, which puts an end to the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, northern Virginia) hosting a professional golf tournament in 2019.  We’re all fully aware you have an event in Williamsburg, but that’s not really an option for most people in the area.  So let’s talk about the market.  When you combine the DC and Baltimore markets, they add up to 3.6 million households (2.5 million in DC and the Virginia suburbs, another 1.1 million from Baltimore and surrounding areas).  If you combine them, that’s the third largest US television market (they kick Chicago out from the 3rd spot), and they have zip to look forward to in terms of professional golf next year.

I should also mention that when you look at the richest counties in the country based on a 2016 survey, the DC area has the top three spots.  Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, Howard County in Maryland.  Overall, the area is home to 10 of the top 25 counties based on median household income.  We play golf pretty much year-round unless the courses are closed.  If it’s above freezing and the courses aren’t snow-covered, people will play.  Same for the swamp-like summers.  I mean, what’s a little heat stroke among friends, right?

Did I mention we like sports?  Washington is a true 4-sport city, and not sure you noticed, but the Capitals won the Stanley Cup this past June.  The entire area joined the players on a multi-day bender afterwards.  We also have several colleges including a service academy nearby in Annapolis.  The Nationals just hosted the All Star Game.  The Wizards are a playoff team.  There’s an NFL team that plays in Landover…yeah never mind (the Ravens in Baltimore have won a Super Bowl this decade).  This area has supported the PGA Tour stop in the face of every possible obstacle including every possible weather event short of snow (that’s this area’s Achilles heel and we know it).  People showed up in the aftermath of a derecho that caused massive problems including volunteers.  Admit it- you’re looking up what a derecho is.  We all learned about this 5 years ago.  We didn’t show up the day after because the Tour didn’t let fans on the course because of safety concerns.  If they had, we’d have shown up.

The point is this- this area loves golf and has a proven record of supporting tournaments in spite of barriers put in front of us.  You should be putting the DMV on your tournament calendar.  Okay, you get the area is lucrative.  But let’s talk where to play; and it’s an impressive list.

Are there decent golf courses that can stage an event?  You bet your ass!  In Virginia, RTJ has hosted the Quicken Loans open and hosted multiple President Cup matches.  Laurel Hill is a public course that hosted a USGA Championship.  Creighton Farms should also merit a look if it has the space for the infrastructure a tournament needs.

Maryland has Bulle Rock (it hosted the LPGA Championship for several years in the 2000’s).  It’s still a tough test.  Closer to DC, you also have options.  Congressional’s list of tournaments and championships is as solid as it gets but their members are an odd lot.  Nearby, TPC Potomac just hosted the men in 2017 and 2018.  The golf course at the University of Maryland hosted a Web.com event for a couple years after a 2008 renovation.  Any dates after school lets out would probably work.  Worthington Manor has hosted US Open qualifiers and is a public course.  Baltimore CC (Five Farms) hosted the inaugural LPGA Crown event and remains one of those classic courses that could host an event on short notice.

Or, if you really want to swing for the fences, let’s talk about the District of Columbia.  Specifically, Rock Creek Park.  Sure, it’s not long or tough enough to challenge professionals.  But think about what might happen if you went into partnership (think the USGA with Bethpage Black)?  At the very least, take a look at it.  Admit it- you’re intrigued because you think big.

Weather-wise, July and August aren’t the best (admittedly it gets hot and humid not to mention thunder storms) but then again- your tour hits south Asia which makes DC heat/humidity look refreshing by comparison.  I know September and October are tough because you’re up against football and I know Portland has the Labor Day slot (and admittedly that’s a beautiful city).  But you could make it work.  May, on the other hand…that’s some fine weather.  Starting to warm up but not yet getting killed with the humidity.

The point is this: Putting a tournament in DC right before/after the Williamsburg event is easy travel for your players, and normally May is pretty nice here as I already noted.  So let’s do this.  It’ll be great.

 

 

Let’s Play Two! A Guide to Golf and Minor League Baseball Day Trips in the DMV

Free stock photo of people, field, grass, crowd

After playing 18 (or 36) holes, few things are as enjoyable as a baseball game with a cold beer on a summer evening.

Now that our seemingly endless winter has ended, the DMV has shifted into Spring (i.e. All of the Pollen) mode, which means summer is right around the corner.  While I’d encourage anyone reading this to take a vacation (they’re awesome), for various reasons it’s hard for some people to take a lot of time off.   Sometimes, the best you can do is a day trip with your buddies.

One of the most enjoyable day trips you can do is to play golf by day, and catch a ballgame at night.  While Orioles and Nationals games are enjoyable, there’s a lot to be said for catching a minor league game.  Tickets are cheaper, you’ll sit closer to the action, and it’s generally a more relaxed vibe.  Luckily, there are multiple options for minor league baseball in the area, with outstanding golf options nearby.

Minor League Team: Potomac Nationals (Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals); Woodbridge, VA

Golf: Options are plentiful.  If you want to play courses in the ‘Best You Can Play’ tier, Potomac Shores is outstanding; you can read my review here.  It’s a real ‘member for a day’ experience.  Laurel Hill is close by and has hosted a USGA championship.  Not bad for a county-run course.  Another option at the higher end is Old Hickory; also in Woodbridge.  If you’re looking for something less costly and not as challenging, Lake Ridge is a 9-hole executive course.  Warning: Traffic on I-95 in Woodbridge is pretty much guaranteed to be awful.  Potomac Mills is there for any retail therapy you need.

Minor League Team: Frederick Keys (Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles); Frederick, MD

Golf: Options are very plentiful.  Musket Ridge is a top 10 you can play course that has one of the tougher opening holes in the area.  Whiskey Creek is also a top 10 ‘Best You Can Play’ that offers the ‘member for a day’ experience (and with the cost).  PB Dye is a Dye design close by that is a bit friendlier to your wallet.  Worthington Manor is another  top 10 ‘Best You Can Play’ course.  Maryland National is several miles west of Frederick and is a challenging and scenic layout.  A few miles south of Frederick has the outstanding Little Bennett.  Not a wallet crusher but a fantastic test that’s almost always in great shape, and the tee shot off the first hole definitely gets your attention.  The course used to be used for hosting the Monday Qualifier for the old Kemper/FBR Open.  Clustered Spires is a bit more wallet-friendly than the other courses listed; I’ve not played it so I’d say check online reviews before you go.

Minor League Team: Bowie Baysox (Class AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles): Bowie, MD

Golf: Options exist but not as numerous or close by as Frederick and Woodbridge/Potomac.  Oak Creek (in Upper Marlboro) is a decent upscale semi-private track.  Lake Presidential has been a bit up and down with respect to playing conditions (they addressed some of the issues on their blog last summer, so stay tuned).  The layout is one of the best in the area, but I haven’t played it in a few years and I’ve heard some pointed comments about how they’ve let the course go.  I’ve also heard they are in the process of making improvements, so I’d say look at recent reviews online before you book.  Renditions is similar; if the course is in good shape it’s a great place to play (the ‘Amen Corner’ holes are the pick of the bunch if you’re asking).  The “book” on Renditions is that they book way too many outings that tear the course up, but as with Lake Presidential, allegedly they’re trying to make some improvements.  At the lower end of the price range, Bowie Golf Club is close by and if nothing else a solid value.  The ballpark is right off US-301 which is a huge commuter artery.

Minor League Team: Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (independent); Waldorf, MD

Golf: Potomac Ridge is closed (Atlantic Golf lost Potomac Ridge to development, and South River near Annapolis to going private).  Waldorf isn’t that far from Upper Marlboro, so Oak Creek or Lake Presidential are your best options.

Minor League Team: Aberdeen Ironbirds (Short Season Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles); Aberdeen, MD

Golf: The list has to start with Bulle Rock in nearby Havre De Grace.  Easily the ‘Best You Can Play’ in the state.  My review of Bulle Rock goes into greater detail.  Mountain Branch is nearby and is a solid layout that’s usually in pretty good shape (I last played it in 2014 and it was in great shape then), but hearing a few rumblings so be warned.  A GPS or rangefinder is highly recommended.  Wetlands Golf Course is in Aberdeen and isn’t the wallet-buster than Bulle Rock is.  Well conditioned, decent layout.  The Ironbirds season starts on June 15th.

Minor League Team: Delmarva Shorebirds (Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles); Salisbury, MD (Eastern Shore)

Golf: Your best options for golf are in nearby Ocean City, which is one of the best places to play on the Eastern Seaboard.  I wrote a review about golf in Ocean City that is still accurate.  Note: summer in Ocean City is prime season so if you’re staying, expect to pay accordingly.  The Bay Bridge is a toll bridge (going to the Eastern Shore); Salisbury is a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from either Washington DC or Baltimore (longer on afternoons Thu/Fri, or Saturday mornings).  Warning; Salisbury is home to the Perdue chicken processing plant and the area has a distinct…let’s call it smell.  Ocean City is 30+ minutes from Salisbury.

SONG OF THE DAY:

Departing from golf, the World Cup starts next month in Russia.  It’s become something of a tradition for a band in England to write an official song for the England team (insert joke about futility, losing at penalties, etc.).  New Order were the high water mark of these, which they did for the 1990 World Cup.  Genius work.  They got several players to participate in the video shoot (most notably John Barnes and his ball-juggling and rap skills).  Probably the greatest music video marriage of sports and music.

 

 

 

 

The Oscar For Greatest Golf Infomercial Is Right Here

As you know, I love infomercials.  Golf infomercials are even better.  I thought I had seen true excellence.  While the Golflogix GPS, Perfect Club, and the Brandel Chamblee Quiet Feet ones were all very good, they have been one-upped.  It takes a special kind of spectacle to outperform the Perfect Club, but folks, we have a winner here.

First off, I have to thank Ryan David at RD Golf Media for bringing this to my attention.  You can never predict when you’re going to see greatness.  Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters.  Auston Matthews scoring 4 goals in his NHL Debut in 2016.  Korean barbecue at 2:00 a.m.  The first time my lips were met with the golden nectar of the gods that is single malt Scotch Whisky.  And now, for your consideration, I give you Royal Lifestyle Golf Clubs.

Let’s watch this together, shall we?

0:02: White pants, un-tucked red shirt.  Okay, I’m in.  The pseudo-British accent at Peter Alliss depth tells you it’s working.  And it’s classy.  It’s the new ‘it’s made in Germany- they make great stuff’ line.

0:08: He goes full Men In Blazers ‘The Tingling’ with a ‘WOW!’  It ‘almost’ makes you want to touch your own nipples. Almost.

I get it. It makes me want to touch my nipples too, Rog.

0:16: Note to the ‘Elvis is Still Alive’ folks.  All is forgiven. Mine eyes have seen the light. If that gold medallion could talk, oh the stories it would tell.

0:24: Powered by the Japanese Pachinko Ball!  It’s a metal ball!  But Japanese!  Magic!  Outta my way, I must have All Of The Pachinko Balls!

0:31: If you’re saying to yourself “umm, the production values are really something” we’re just getting started.  That weave on his head is spectacular, and it’s real muskrat.  Maybe.

0:40: The Royal Lifestyle, and we manufacture The Jumano Line.  Made by Vandalay Industries!

1:04: Hey, this guy’s an engineer by trade!  He should mention that again.  Is it me, or has this guy had a few pops?

1:17: Powered by the Japanese Pachinko Ball!  More oomph!

1:27: It took him 3 years to design this wonderful set of clubs.  Noted.

1:50: I’m an engineer!  Oh, and if someone tells you they’re “probably close to a 0 handicap” you know that you’re on Bullshit Mountain.

2:08: I can think of a few other things that exceed your imagination. But go on…

2:31: “It’s all a bunch of stuff” isn’t the argument we need, but it’s what we deserve and what we’re getting here. If Taylormade or Titleist put out a new line of clubs and said “The Taylormade M10…it’s all a bunch of stuff!” I’d totally buy it.  I’d walk in, take out my wallet and say ‘Gimme that M10 and just take my money’ and I’d have company.

2:34: Brain-warshing?  Oh shit, we’re going full Golf Chemtrails here!

2:44: Reminder…he’s an engineer.  Do you think he likes trains in an unhealthy way?  Just asking.

3:11: Seriously, the production values and the awkward zooming in are straight-up Public Access TV greatness.

3:44: This rationale is some next-level bullshit, but man he’s owning it.

4:00: This guy made engineering calculations, and he went through computers.  Can we stop for a minute and try to imagine the glory and majesty that this guy’s Facebook profile must look like?

4:15: He went in China.  His words.  I can’t even…which apparently, is comprised of boats on rivers.

4:32: Clubheads and shafts are two different things, but really, that’s what they WANT you to believe.

4:40: I was there four…three…hours a day for four hours at a time.  Yup, this totally sounds believable.  Standing there…sitting there…watching.  Would you like to see pictures of his girlfriend from Canada?

5:22: Describing computer testing…my god.  He’s really going all in on this ‘large head is bad’ thing.  So by transitive properties, giving pros tiny heads would…increase distance?  That’s why all the manufacturers keep making smaller heads for the pros.  Got it.

5:50: More Oscar-caliber camera work.  Is the 14-year old that’s doing this on meth or something?  His ‘there’s no spring action’ comments, it must be noted, are pure malarkey.  But keep going.

6:35: I’m not saying he’s making it up as he goes along, I’m saying he’s TOTALLY making it up.  He’s going all in on this. I mean, he’s completely full of it, but he’s committing to the bit.

6:40: What exactly does hitting it with the same integrity mean?

6:57: 110 mph of clubhead speed is approaching tour level.  Just saying.

7:02: Pachinko Ball!!!  More Power! More oomph!

7:08: More Oscar-level editing.  Hot.  Hot I tells ya!

7:38: No sir, YOU are a gift from the gods.  Your entire essence.  Keep going!

7:55: I don’t know who exactly he’s talking to, but can I take ‘Voices in His Head’ for $1000?

8:59: Hermongous?  WTF is that?  Are the drugs wearing off?

9:45: Whack!  Wait…earlier he said you can’t compress the ball, now you can?  I’m confused.

10:04: I’m an engineer and probably a 1, 2 handicap.  Well which one is it?  My handicap card doesn’t say “I’m about a..” it has my index.  An exact number.

10:24: They want to hit it farther and don’t care how straight it is?  Put. The. Crack. Pipe. Down.

10:55: More talk about how a small head is okay.  Compensating much?

11:12: Pachinko Ball!  More oomph!

11:18: Finally, how can I order this flaming pile of crap?  A number AND a website?  Whee I’m hot today!

11:25: The driver is filled with foam and cork?  Sweet holy mother…someone better alert Club Pro Guy!  He’d totally dominate that Mexico mini-Tour!

11:30: Oomph!  Give me all of the oomph!  Someone appears to have dyed their hair a bit darker.

11:38: Two things.  One, he casually drops that he’s making a movie.  Yes, and it’s spectacular.  And two, his other driver is called ‘The Wow Effect’ which is so terrible it’s great.

11:52: TURN AWAY. NOW.  MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP.

12:07: Our host John Jumano has put on the Al Czervik suit.  Baby blue…oh yeah.  Now it’s a sub-commercial for car dealers.  Yeah, give me that 1988 Yugo but you better include those clubs!  The wedges have dots and grooves and I’m pretty sure the putter is an Ol’ Billy Baroo.  I mean, are you gonna trust some guy like Bob Vokey or the marketing machine that is John Jumano?

12:50: More top-notch editing and fading.

12:55: And now, back to old men who own sports cars.  Foam filled cork.  Just let it wash over you.

14:00: “I love you baby” and yes, he kisses it.  12/10 level creepy.

14:31: A movie he’s producing, it’s called Titanic Johnson.

The man has his own cologne. Don Draper couldn’t have done better.  Stare at it…let it wash over you.

Oh, but wait, there’s more.  Yes, there’s a movie trailer.  If you don’t watch the entire 7 minutes of brilliance you are missing out.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2017 SGIC Plays Santa Awards You Didn’t Want

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

What a year it’s been in golf.  Until things went completely sideways for me, I was set to make my personal goal of playing in every month of a calendar year (so I’ll have to settle for 10 months).  Sergio won a major, Lexi got robbed of one through a call-in rules violation, Jordan Spieth won a crazy Open Championship, Justin Thomas won a major and the FedEx Cup, the US won the Presidents Cup, Lexi won the CME Race to the Globe, and there’s optimism of another comeback from Tiger Woods (he fired his coach last night so there’s that).

Breakfast of Champions. Accept no substitutes.

If it’s late December and close to Christmas, it’s time for my annual Single Golfer In Cart (SGIC) plays Santa day!  Unfortunately I can’t claim it has the cult following of Drew Magary’s annual Haters Guide To The Williams Sonoma Catalog.

After having given this much thought (a few glasses of whiskey), I’ve put on my Santa costume while Santa is delivering presents to good boys and girls and have decided to grant some wishes throughout the world of golf (a mix of local folks in the DMV and on the pro tours).  These gifts aren’t returnable, by the way.  Suck it up.

For Jason Day you’re getting a copy of “Pace of Play and You” which I’d politely suggest you put to use.  I know you’ve had a rough year but you make early 2000’s Sergio Garcia look fast.

For Golf Channel, Santa is giving you the rights to air “Dead Solid Perfect” which remains the finest golf movie ever made.  Every time I have to see Matt Damon or Shia Leboeuf swing a golf club I fear for my own swing.  And seriously, can you air these films unedited?  You’re a cable channel so you’re not under some FCC bullshit decency coda.  Please.

Lake Presidential Golf Club, you’re getting improved playing conditions.  I know you made some improvements but some trusted spies say it’s still not great.  Earn that top-10 “best you can play’ ranking Golfweek keeps giving you.

Phil Mickelson, Santa has decided to give you that US Open win you keep asking for as long as you agree to go immediately into the booth when you finish playing and agree to be the same candid self you are now.

Golfweek Magazine, I’m getting you a new crop of raters.  Your “best you can play” lists are fairly stagnant.  Also, start showing actual reviews and speak to the methodology.

Worthington Manor Golf Course, Santa is giving you intermediate rough.  Use it.  You’re a great track, but seriously- embrace intermediate rough.

The LPGA was very good this year so you’re getting a few things.   Santa is getting you your own video game.  Also, some of your tournaments are getting new formats (a 6-hole event, a 2-player team event, a Stableford event, and a match play event or two).  Lastly, you’re getting a partnership with Top Golf to help get young people exposed to your products.

Timbers at Troy golf course, Santa is giving you improved drainage.  Your course still drains at the rate an 85-year old man pees.  The new bunkers look great.  Do something about the drainage.  I’ve played there on dry mornings when we haven’t had rain for 2 weeks and it’ll still be squishy fairways.  Or stop overwatering.  Seriously.  Do something about it.

The PGA Tour is getting a map of the DMV from Santa.  You’ll notice Virginia, DC and Maryland.  Look at the population, average income, and ask yourselves why you insist on jobbing this area as often as you do.  I mean, the LPGA doesn’t get closer than Williamsburg or Atlantic City.  The area event has constantly been plagued by a litany of issues, and yet every year people show up in large numbers.

The Guys Who Call In To Report Rules Violations are getting a lump of coal, a beating with a bag of hammers and a kick in the groin.  Stop it.  You’re not a rules official, so just stick to watching.

Brandel Chamblee is getting his own “hot talk” or talking head show from Santa.  First guest is Jason Duffner.  I don’t mind Brandel being a bit of a bomb thrower; it’s better than everyone unafraid to have a controversial opinion.

The USGA and the R&A are both getting pocket dictionaries from Santa.  If you turn to the page I’ve flagged, please read the definition for the word Bifurcation.  Study it.  Memorize it.  Live it.  Roll back the ball for the US Open and Open Championship.  The women don’t need this, nor do 99% of golfers.  And while you’re doing that, we’re getting rid of the OB rule for us mortals.  Play it as a lateral hazard.  No more walking back and hitting 3 from the tee.

Last, and certainly not least, Santa is giving local courses a short winter, a good growing season, and a 2018 playing season that runs into December.  And for all of the marshals, teaching professionals, superintendents and their staffs, Santa wishes all of you a very Merry Christmas (or the holiday of your choosing) and a prosperous 2018.

SONG OF THE DAY

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame continues to ignore some highly influential bands and everything that came out of the 80’s New Wave era.  Duran Duran, The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, and Depeche Mode hold up incredibly well.  Three decades later you still have kids ‘discovering’ this music.  At some point they’re going to run out of mediocre old white dude bands and start to induct the New Wave era bands.  Now would be an ideal time.

Good Things Come In Threes (or more)

Torrey Pines (South) 3rd hole.  Nothing is needed here except you.

Torrey Pines (South) 3rd hole. Nothing is needed here except you.

Despite the fact that the 2017 season has all but ended here in the DMV, your faithful scribe is still chugging along.  This blog came from inspiration from two of the people I follow on Twitter who deserve a generous concession; Mike at 36 a day and Beltway Golfer; two fine folks whose work is always worth a read (and if the Beltway Golfer (BG) is reading this and needs a partner to play at Congressional my DM’s are open, and I’m only begging a little bit).

It was Mike who posed the question about best 3-hole stretches for courses in Canada (I’ve not played outside Ontario so as much as I’d like to write 5,000 words about Cabot and Highlands Links I can’t do so with any level of knowledge) that got me thinking, and BG for pointing out (correctly) that Arthur Hills has done some fantastic projects in the area.  I’ll admit I’m not a subject matter expert on golf architecture, although if asked I’d lean in favor of people who don’t try to fit courses in areas they don’t work and letting the land dictate how the course will look (so I suppose I’m a minimalist).

But Mike’s question got me thinking; what are the toughest (my extrapolation) 3-hole stretches in the area among public courses here in the DMV?  As always, I took some time to ponder this by looking at reviews I’ve written, made a few overtures, and did some research (research is what I call “drink two double scotches”, if you’re curious), and put together a list.  I haven’t played every course in the DMV so take that with a grain of salt, but from courses I’ve played these are the toughest stretches I’ve encountered.

  • Blue Mash (Holes 1-3): As tough of a opening stretch as any course in the area.
  • Bulle Rock (Holes 16-18): A tight par 4, a par 3 over a hazard, and a par 4 with water left the whole way.
  • Fairway Hills (Holes 16-18): A tight and long par 4 1/2, a par 3 over water and a par 5 straight uphill.
  • Rum Pointe (Holes 16-18): Three tough holes with water in play, and a closer with a well-protected green.
  • Lighthouse Sound (Holes 5-7): Two toughies and the signature hole along the bay.
  • Potomac Shores (Holes 7-9): Looks easy on the card.  It’s not.  The 9th alone can wreck a card.
  • PB Dye (Holes 14-16): A not-easy par 3 and two sneaky-brutal par 4’s.
  • UMD Golf Course (Holes 11-13): A long par 3 over a hazard, a tight par 4, and a sneaky-hard par 5 (holes 1-3 are no slouches either).
  • Waverly Woods (holes 12-14): Par 4 with a carry over a ravine to an uphill green, a long par 3 to a well protected green and a long par 4.
  • Worthington Manor (holes 1-3): two forced carries off the tee to well protected greens and a long par 4 with a second shot over a hazard.  No easy start here.

TIGER, TIGER, TIGER

I believe I’m legally required by the Golf Blogger Regulations Handbook (2017 version) to write about Tiger Woods’ latest comeback (this weekend at the not-at-all ironically named Hero Challenge).

How many of these comebacks has he had (looks at old results)?  Haven’t we been down this road before?  Oh, wait, this time is different.  Oh, the same dirge was being uttered last year (remember that 2nd round 65 he fired last year at this event?) before it went off the rails.  And the time before that, and the times before that.  So you’ll excuse me if I don’t turn into a mouth-breathing goober over this.

Except this time, he’s coming out of legal trouble (he plead guilty to reckless driving in late October) and drug rehab, which his enablers and fanboys (of which there are far too many) would very much like to sweep under the rug and pretend it never happened.  Except that it did.  Part of being an adult is making choices.  Choosing to hoover up a bunch of pills and go for a drive at some ungodly hour is a choice (it’s not like he had no way to get home; he could have called any number of his enablers and they’d have driven him home).

Was he taking painkillers last year during this event or at the start of the year?  I’ve no idea, and without proof you’d have to give him the benefit of the doubt (nobody has asked him if he’s taking anything now, which seems a fair and reasonable question).  Or, everyone just kind of puts their head in the sand and pretends everything’s peachy keen jelly bean.

Having said all of that, he’s the greatest talent of generations and has a record of on-course accomplishments that may never be touched (at one point he held all 4 major championships and the Players Championship at the same time).  Winning the US Open and the Open Championship at two of the most well-known courses in the world (Pebble Beach, Old Course) in the dominating fashion he won them in is unlike anything we may ever see again.

I suppose it is possible that this time will somehow be different, but I’m still skeptical.  If he can, it’ll be a great story and would certainly ‘move the needle’ as the marketing people like to say.  But even as he’s playing a practice round, I’m waiting to see how he holds up over multiple tournaments.  Just because it would be a great story doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.  So I’ll hold my powder for now.

SONG OF THE DAY

Something to get you going when you need a pick-me-up.  Ready to go run through that wall now.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Where I Break Down The Alien Wedge Infomercial

Today is December 26th, so depending on where you are you might be doing a host of activities.  If I were back home in Toronto we’d be drinking heavily while planning backyard rink skates (since unlike last year it’s cold enough) and watching the start of the World Junior Hockey Tournament on TSN.  People in Australia are watching the Boxing Day cricket test (and drinking heavily), while people in Britain are watching soccer (possibly rugby) and drinking heavily.  Here in America it’s post-Christmas sales, college bowl games of middling consequence (locally, Maryland is playing in something called the Quick Lane Bowl although given that She Who Is Really In Charge (SWIRIC) is a Maryland alum I’ll not joke that much about it), and trying to get all those electronic games and toys to work (hint- when in doubt, a glass of bourbon works wonders).

Photo courtesy Johnnie Walker

The finest tool for putting together those Christmas toys.  Trust me.

While SWIRIC is out shopping with her friends today (it’s a holiday tradition and I’m thrilled she’s doing it), I’m revisiting a classic infomercial from the days when Golf Channel used to air these all of the time.  Previously, I recapped the genius that was the Perfect Club, then the GolfLogix GPS.  Today, it’s the Alien wedge (full admission- I bought one years ago after a particularly brutal day when i seemed to find the sand on every hole and my playing partners started calling me Sandman).  Unfortunately, the commercial is for British audiences (thus the price in pounds sterling); not sure why but the US version isn’t on YouTube.  Let’s watch this, shall we?

Let’s be honest; infomercials were almost made for golfers struggling with their game (or 99.99% of them).  You’re at home half in the bag at 2:00 a.m. and maybe you don’t have Skinamax or ShowMeAGoodTime.  So you watch Golf Infomercials (somewhere, there’s a Golf Infomercial cosplay group and I will believe this until I’m dead).  So let’s review this bad boy, shall we?

0:02: Oh god, it’s a real alien!  Oh may gawd!  It’s coming for the world!  Oh, it’s just the Alien Shotsaver Wedge.  Watch as it blasts through sand…shot in glorious standard definition!

0:15: Somewhere there is a large group of men with nondescript British accents whose only jobs are voice-over work, because if you can’t have a great product, have a guy with a British accent describing it.  It’s a wedge!  A sand iron (which is a term nobody uses)!  It’s…the Alien Wedge!

0:25: Deep roughs?  Who uses that term?  I’ve heard it called rough, cabbage, tall stuff, junk, “you’re screwed” and ‘yeah, good luck finding that one’ but never roughs.  And who hits the ball off a cement cart path?  Oh wait, nobody.  You drop it closest point of relief no nearer the hole.  That’s a fantastic way to break a club and/or a wrist.  Maybe if the paths are hard-packed sand (or shells) you give it a go, but otherwise…use the rules.

0:35: Now we get to the regular golfer focus group portion.  Young guy with British accent?  Check.  Middle aged dopey white guy?  Check.

0:45: This isn’t the original Alien wedge (that I bought in a store) it’s the NEW Alien wedge.  It looks slightly less ridiculous (hint- if someone has one of these in their bag it’s a small cry for help…and I was that guy for a while).  The one I had didn’t have grooves; it had dots.

1:00: They show all of these shots out of various lies but they don’t show but one or two actually landing on the green.  Kind of makes you wonder.

1:11: Was wondering when the nondescript female golfer would show up.  You better believe she has a southern accent and a big straw hat (I can’t wait until this becomes a thing again).  You know, 20 years ago she’s got a pack of Virginia Slims in her pocket.  My aunt (god rest her soul) could break 80 in her sleep and could manage a dart and a razor-sharp short game better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  The curb-stomping she delivered to a pair of idiots who didn’t want to play with a woman (especially one who could say ‘bless their hearts’ and mean go f**k yourselves in a way I’ve yet to see replicated) is the stuff of legend.

1:16: And we have the young junior male golfer.  See kids- you can be cool too if you buy one of these.  No, really.  Do you think Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler had one of these?  I feel like if Rickie Fowler had one he’d use it to play motorcycle polo.

1:22: Graphics.  Probably done on a Commodore Vic-20.  To quote Ben Wright and Peter Alliss, majestic.  No expense spared.  The 12-year old who did these was well worth the 50 dollars they gave him.  Earned every penny of it.

1:30: Sound effects are off.  Don’t use the sound of an iron shot from the fairway for sand shots.  You hear that from someone in a greenside bunker, I’d suggest ducking and protecting your “one meat, two veg” if you catch my drift (or at the very least try to help the guy find what hole his ball ended up on).  You want that thump sound.  Any golfer knows that.  And hey, look, it’s old man in a straw hat…come on down!  Greg Norman looked good in that.  Maybe Jim Thorpe (because I’m afraid to tell him it looks bad).  Nobody else does.

courtesy National club golfer

The only man who looks good in a hat like this.

1:42: If you can’t trust someone trying to pull off the Bryson Dechambeau look long before he did, I’m not sure what you can trust.  You know who looks good in the Hogan/newsboy hat?  Hogan.  You know who doesn’t?  Anyone not named Hogan.  Stop trying to make this a thing.  Between this and the flat-bill hat thing, can people not wear a regular hat?  While we’re on the subject, you know who didn’t wear a hat for years?  Arnold Palmer.

courtesy GolfWRX.

Bryson Dechambeau and his Hogan hat. Want to make a personal statement? Win tournaments. As you were.

courtesy GQ

No hat. No gimmick. Just here to kick ass and take names.

Arnie’s gimmick?  It’s called winning and being one bad ass mo-fo.  And being cool as hell.

2:00: More shots from a variety of lies, and yet, you don’t see them land.  It’s almost like…no, that can’t be true.

2:07: Five bucks says the goober that takes that giant pelt of a divot doesn’t replace it, and then complains if his ball ends up in a divot.  Any superintendent sees this must be quietly sobbing in a corner.  Bad enough when the pros do it, but when a 20-handicapper takes a hairpiece-sized divot and leaves it (not even filling it)…inexcusable.

2:16: Hey look- old white guy in a straw hat!  Gee, I wonder who he voted for in the last election (gonna take a wild guess he’s not a BernieBro).  I’m surprised he took the big cigar out of his mouth long enough to use words.  Unrelated, you know this guy is a total Judge Smails at his club.  While we’re at it, let’s just say that the chances he says “Happy Holidays” are zero.  You do you, Tex.  Hook ’em Horns.

2:23: Cargo shorts on a guy whose grip is something out of a What Not To Do seminar whose knees are locked…must turn away and not see…must turn away.  Next to popped collars, my other men’s fashion choice I’d like to kill with fire is cargo shorts.  Most regular shorts come with two back and two front pockets.  Other than a survival mission in the Sahara Desert, you can get by without cargo shorts.  Put your keys in your golf bag along with any coins (please- the noise is distracting to the other players in your group).  An extra ball in one front pocket and some tees, a divot repair tool and a ball marker in the other front pocket.  Your phone goes in the bag (on silent/vibrate).  Take a photo by all means and then quietly (and quickly) put it back.  Hell for me is a world where every guy wears cargo shorts and every woman wears leggings and ugg boots.

2:35: Free top-quality headcover?  Take my money!   Headcovers on irons and wedges are morally wrong.  Don’t.  Those neoprene things?  Don’t.  No serious golfer has them.  It’s like having a stroke counter tool.  Save your money; that beer you buy at the turn will do your game a world of good more than a stroke counter tool or iron covers.  If I see a guy in a cart with neoprene covers on his irons, the following things will be undoubtedly true:

1) He will have a ball retriever in his bag and will be better at retrieving balls than he is at playing (oh, and if you hit one in the drink I promise you he’ll fetch it for you…and five other balls).

2) He will get indignant if you mention “we should pick up the pace a bit”…because he’s got nowhere to go and all day to get there but if he gets close to the group in front of him he’ll complain about how slow they are.

3) He will want to keep score for you even if he doesn’t know you and will ask you what you had.  Especially if he doesn’t know you.

4) He will give you a swing lesson that he heard from someone that will make no sense.  Probably a scramble tournament.

5) He will have a poker chip that he uses to mark his ball.

2:45: The “act now and you’ll also get…” portion.  Discount vouchers!  And it comes in a box so the UPS/FedEx/DHL delivery person knows you’re a golf junkie who buys stuff from infomercials.  It’ll look good next to the two ball retrievers you have in your bag, and that’s what counts.

So enjoy the trip back in time to the days of standard definition and Infomericals.  As I find more, I’ll post recaps because if we can’t laugh about them, then what’s the point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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