Category: Shag Bag (page 2 of 5)

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2016 SGIC Plays Santa Awards- The Falling Down Drunk Edition

photo from William Kendall Books

Dead guy, meet imaginary guy. So you see where this is going.

So, 2016 has been something in the same way that having the stomach flu and the norovirus at the same time is something.

2016 summed up quite succinctly.

2016 summed up quite succinctly.

Santa is listening to a 7-hour mix tape of Duncan Sheik, Joy Division, and Werner Herzog Polka so he’s a bit tied up (he’s also just finished eating 7 Arby’s Beef N’Cheddar sandwiches in one setting after butt-chugging a bottle of Jim Beam).  Before Santa passed out while choking on that 7th Beef N’Cheddar he asked me to hand out some gifts to the local golf community.  So here we go…

So how was 2016 for you?

So how was 2016 for you?

For the Public Courses in Howard County, Santa brought you a comprehensive social media campaign!  The Twitter accounts at most Howard County courses are the equivalent of Twitter eggs.  The Facebook pages aren’t much better.  It’s a great way to engage with your existing players and…wait for it…hopefully find new players!  If you haven’t sent out a tweet in over 12 months, what exactly is the point?  Not saying you should be posting a dozen times a day, but weather-related updates, specials, or the occasional promotion is exactly what you should be using these tools for!  And while you’re at it let’s give that photography a touch up and have something done that looks professional.  People are visual.  Have recent, relevant and professional photos (and while you’re at it, buy a drone and take some flyover photos of holes).

For Willow Springs Golf Course, Santa got you a new clubhouse.  Seems the least he could do what with the old one having burned down.  And don’t worry, it’s got a fully stocked pro shop and a grill with local beers on tap.   A great option for golfers who want something shorter but still challenging.

For Hobbits Glen Golf Course, it’s a new bridge to replace the one that got damaged in the July storms that damaged downtown Ellicott City!  No more backtracking!

Hey there Compass Pointe!  For tweeting out cart path only on Christmas Eve (makes sense in the rain), you get an increased maintenance budget!  So let’s really make your courses shine.  Offer not valid on #1 on the South/West routing.  It gets a big lump of coal.

For Waverly Woods Golf Course, Santa got you your very own Pace of Play program!  Use this, and watch pace of play improve!  Be amazed at on-course marshals enforcing pace of play guidelines and helping groups move along faster.  Watch as weekend morning groups complete their rounds in four hours or less!  You’ll be shocked when the slow-poke groups get named, shamed and moved along!

For the local area, Santa dug deep and got you an LPGA Tour stop!  For a few years the LPGA had an event at Bulle Rock up in Havre De Grace, but that’s no more and the LPGA hasn’t been back in almost a decade.  It’s time to end that.  Williamsburg, VA and Atlantic City are NOT the DMV so quit trying to pass that off.  Between UMD Golf Course, Laurel Hill, TPC Potomac, and Worthington Manor there are several fantastic layouts.  Ideally, you’d have an event after the Williamsburg and before the DMV event and then go on to Atlantic City afterwards…so a nice mid-Atlantic swing.

Timbers at Troy…you’ve been naughty more than you’ve been nice of late, but Santa is going to give you karma and plenty of dollars to get your badly-needed bunkers and restoration work done.  Let’s hope for a completion date in time for what Santa hopes will be an early start to spring.  Golf in Howard County is best when you have everyone working to be the best.

Sligo Creek, Gunpowder, and Patuxent Greens…you get extended leases.  Losing Sligo Creek or Gunpowder would hurt a lot of aspirational golfers in the area.  Patuxent Greens is a tricky layout; I’d like to make it a point to play it in 2017.

For Renditions Golf course, you’re also getting some money to put into maintenance and signage.  Seriously.  Your course should be in better shape.  Make it happen.

Enjoy some Christmas music (the first few seconds are off- then it gets better), and your holiday.  A year-end roast and another Infomercial Review are forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

A Guide to Driving Ranges and Practice Facilities in the HoCo

Since I’m talking about practice facilities, the Blogger’s Code of Ethics requires that I post at least one pop culture reference.  Click on the video to hear Allan Iverson talk about practice.

Now that this bit of informality is out of the way, with December here (allegedly; wouldn’t know it with the 70 degree temps we had briefly this week as November bid adieu), it’s a surprisingly good time to hit the range.  It’s not as crowded, you’re not dealing with heat and humidity, and hopefully you’ve had a good season so hopefully this is about taking that next step in knocking a few strokes off of your index.

If, like me, you live in Howard County and want to stay in Howard County to practice, your options are limited but they do exist.  In pursuit of golfing mediocrity, I have personally tried and reviewed each facility.  You’re welcome.

Rocky Gorge Driving Range: Website rockygorgegolf.com is for sale (don’t ask)

Address: 8445 Old Columbia Road (Rt. 29).  Open 9:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. (unless this changes)

Vibe: Mini-golf meets batting cages meets ridiculous rules run amok meets “what else are they doing here?”

Details: If you’ve ever been on Route 29 North and crossed the Patuxent River Bridge, you’ve probably seen it.  It’s on the right.  Maybe you’ve seen the car with a target on it in what looks to be a plowed field.  That’s the place.  It appears to be thrown together rather haphazardly.  You have a batting cage setup for baseball and softball players, and a driving range for golfers.  But wait!  There’s more!  There’s also a short game area that isn’t exactly well-maintained, and a mini-golf area.  As simple as this should be, they have these silly rules that defeat the purpose of the place.  For one, the “NO GOLF BAGS ALLOWED” sign.  At a driving range.  I asked why, and was given an angry lecture that made no sense by the woman who runs it (did she come from the now-defunct Trotters Glen?).  So if you choose this place, take your clubs out of the bag and carry them with you.  Don’t ask.  You pay at the counter for a bucket of balls that appear to be Y2K compatible.  Of course they have mats, and the mats are a bit worn (being polite here).  Despite all of this, if you drive past it you’ll see people beating balls so they have their regulars.  I put this place on a list along with Gunpowder and a couple other facilities that you wonder just how much longer they’re going to be in existence.  There’s a practice green that runs about a 3 on the stimpmeter.

If you go: With traffic on Route 29 being what it is, if you come from the south just know that you can’t turn left to go south on Route 29.  Drive up to MD-216 and navigate the traffic circles to get on Route 29 South.  Bring small bills with you and make sure you have your golf glove in your pocket.

Fairway Hills Golf Course/Driving Range: Website: https://www.columbiaassociation.org/facilities/golf/fairway-hills-golf-club/

Address: 5100 Columbia Road.  Open Daylight hours (range is not lit)

Vibe: No-frills public golf course

Wide Angle Photo of Fairway Hills Driving Range

Wide Angle Photo of Fairway Hills Driving Range

Details: Fairway Hills is one of 2 Columbia Association courses (the other, Hobbits Glen, is restricted to CA members who act like they own the damn place).  If their pro shop is small and spartan, the rest of the offerings are equally no-frills.  You buy a token in the pro shop and then use the token to get range balls out of a vending machine.  Pretty simple.  Other than a few covered spots, the range stalls are all open-air, so if you use them, you’re in the elements (no shade during the summer).  Mats are in good (not great) shape.  Range balls are in good shape as well.  There’s a small short game area where you can chip and putt, but the emphasis is on small (it can get crowded pretty easily).  It is, however, well maintained.  There’s a second small putting green that you can’t see in the photo.

If you go: The First Tee of Howard County is located at Fairway Hills so you might see them on occasion.

Hobbits Glen Golf Course/Driving Range: Website: https://www.columbiaassociation.org/facilities/golf/hobbits-glen/

Address: 11130 Willow Bottom, Columbia, MD 21044

Vibe:  Similar to that of Fairway Hills, but with the rarefied air of a quasi-private club setting.

Practice Green at Hobbits Glen. Hazy due to near sunset, not because I was drunk.

Practice Green at Hobbits Glen. Hazy due to near sunset, not because I was drunk.

Details: It looks quite similar to Fairway Hills, probably because they’re sister courses.  The picture above shows a large practice green (to the far right/middle is one of the greens on the golf course).  The mats are in good shape, and it’s a perfectly decent enough place to hit a bucket and work on your putting.  If you’re done and are hungry, might I suggest stopping in at The Turn House for a bite?  It’s nothing particularly notable but it provides you with everything you need.

If you go: They have several golf leagues and the like so it can be busy at times.

Timbers at Troy Golf Course/Range: Website: www.timbersgolf.com

Address: 6100 Marshalee Drive, Elkridge, MD 21075

Vibe:  It’s complicated.

Details: For several reasons the range is a bit of a hike from the pro shop; it’s down the hill and to the right (you get range balls down there as well, but at the last time I was there you bought your token in the pro shop).  The last time I was there some of the mats were in need of replacement.  There’s a small (emphasis on small) short game/chipping area near the area where you buy range balls at.  It’s not very well set up; it’s easy to get the area clogged up.  The best part of the facility is a very large and well-maintained (it was as of my most recent visit) practice green adjacent to the pro shop and the 1st tee.   If you wanted to just show up and work on your putting, this is a good place to do it.

If you go: Traffic getting out of there during the work week can be a challenge due to an office building on Marshalee Drive.  Hungry afterwards?  Pazani is on Marshalee drive near the Exxon station.  They do a decent pie and a good calzone.

Waverly Woods Golf Course/Range: Website: www.waverlywoods.com

Address: 2100 Warwick Way, Marriottsville, MD 21104

Vibe: Time to get down to business.

Practice Green/Short Game Area.  Great chance to chip, putt and hit sand shots.

Practice Green/Short Game Area. Great chance to chip, putt and hit sand shots.

Details: I love and hate this place.  Love the course, love the layout and the challenging holes and detest the pace of play that their marshals have decided is acceptable.  Practice facility?  Best in the county and it’s not even close (if you’re from Waverly Woods and you’re reading this, I’m not even remotely kidding- take a bow).  It’s Usain Bolt time.  During the warmer months their range is green grass (not mats).  That alone puts them ahead of the other places but the short game area is, in my humble opinion, the gem of this place.  Plenty of areas to chip, a bunker to work on sand shots, and shortly mowed and areas with rough to chip out of.  There’s a second non-chipping practice green next to the pro shop.  If they could improve pace of play (and for the record I’m begging them to do this) I’d be here every weekend saying “here, take my money” and I’d sing their praises like a damn fool.   Yeah, it’s a bit of a hike to get out here (it’s off of I-70) but it’s worth it.  The closest area facility is Olney Golf Park (and they can be peculiar).

If you go: If you’re going to use the range you might want to park near the range and not near the pro shop.  It can be a bit of a hike. The short-game area is close to the first tee and is a hike from the range (but worth it).

Willow Springs Golf Course/Driving Range: Website: www.willowspringsgolfcourse.com

Address: 12980 Livestock Road, Sykesville, MD 21784

The vibe: Hope springs eternal.

Details: As you leave the Baltimore area on I-70, you’ll pass by Waverly Woods and Turf Valley (note- Turf Valley resort is restricted to resort guests so I did not visit or review their facility, as a polite but firm young lady informed me when I called to ask), and a few miles later, you’ll come across Howard County Fairgrounds on one side of the highway, and Willow Springs on the other.   Their range is rather utilitarian; while it’s large enough with plenty of bays, the mats are in average shape.  The short game area is decent.  Not great, not bad.   While I haven’t played Willow Springs, I can tell you it’s an Executive length course (shorter par 4’s and par 3’s) which makes it a good option for golfers who aren’t that long off the tee but still want to tee it up.

If you go: Their pro shop burned down in November (I visited them prior to this happening) so please visit and be as patient as you can.

 

 

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.

 

 

An Invitation For a Round of Golf

Dear President Obama,

It’s now September 2016, which means that by the time the PGA Tour hits Torrey Pines in January (and many of us on the Eastern Seaboard will watch with envy), you’ll no longer be President.   It’s been an interesting 8 years (you’ve had your moments good and bad, like many Presidents), and I’m sure you’ll write a memoir at some point (which I’m sure will be interesting) after you  leave office.  You and your wife have both indicated you’re going to stay in the DC area until your youngest daughter finishes high school, which I can respect since it’s obvious you care about your daughters and their education.

I mention this because as you probably know, when President Clinton left office, he moved to New York while his wife became a Senator representing the state of New York (however he didn’t have a high school aged daughter at the time).   You probably know this, but like you, Bill is a golf nut (and for the record, I think it’s important that Presidents have a hobby; taking a few hours once a week to play golf is good for you, it was good for Bill and I thought that your predecessor was being silly by giving up playing because of Iraq) even if he does take a few too many breakfast balls (mulligans) for my taste.  He became a member at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester because Trump gave him a membership (Bill wanted Winged Foot but they didn’t want him (more specifically they didn’t want his Secret Service detail)) which you can probably guess he’s had to resign given how things are right now.  I mean, talk about awkward!  Who knew how that was going to work out way back in 2001?

I’m not sure if one of the private clubs in the area will offer you a membership or not.  It says here that at least one of them will (my guess is that either Congressional, Columbia CC or even TPC Potomac would welcome a former President but we’ll see- not sure how Congressional would feel about your Secret Service detail although if anyone’s asking they’d be lucky to have you as part of their membership).  I don’t think Burning Tree will extend an offer (and if they did there’s no way Michelle would let you accept it- I’m in the same boat), and let’s be honest- Trump’s course in Virginia is a non-option for a host of reasons.  I’m sure Army-Navy Golf Club in Arlington would reach out as well, but that’s for them to decide.  It’s not like you have to make a decision about this right now.

Those first few months out of office could be tough when you go from being POTUS to being a house-husband.  You’re going to rediscover wearing sweatsuits all day long rather than having to wear a suit and tie (let’s not wear the mom jeans- you’ve got the ability to look more than fashionable).  It’ll be a heck of a transition, and yes- you deserve to put your feet up for a bit (I’m sure 42 and 43 have probably mentioned this to you as they both know what it’s like to serve two terms).  Please don’t take up painting.  Just doesn’t seem your thing (and besides, I’ve got family who does this and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be).  I’m sure that you’ll get offers from companies.  Maybe you’ll start a charitable foundation (my guess).  Or maybe you just want to work on your memoir and play a lot of golf when you’re not being a father and a husband (which we know are the two most important jobs you have).

So here’s where I come in.  We haven’t met (although we do share one rather peculiar oddity), but l’m inviting you to play golf with me sometime once you leave office in 2017.  I’m probably not moving either unless I win the lottery (in which case, you’ll find me in Hawaii- guessing you know the area pretty well).  As much as I’d like to say I’m a member somewhere, I’m not.  However, there are a host of really good daily-fee courses in the DMV that would welcome you and I with open arms (well, you probably more than me if you’ve read some of my course reviews…and if you have any down time, check my course reviews out since I’m guessing you will be looking to expand where you play once you leave office).  I probably can’t pay your green fees but I’m sure you can handle paying your own way (I’ll pay mine- not looking for a freebie).  I understand you don’t mind a friendly wager (which isn’t a bad thing), but let’s keep it friendly…say a $5.00 nassau?  I don’t want you getting in trouble since lord knows people can blow things out of proportion.

If you chew Nicorette gum it doesn’t bother me.  Even if you want a dart…if you do I won’t tell a soul (I used to smoke…I get it).  My angle?  I’ve always wanted to play with a former President and since you play (and you’re hanging around for a while), I thought I’d ask.

I’m a regular golfer who tries to tee it up every weekend that I can.  I change my shoes in the parking lot (guessing that’s what you were doing until November of 2008), I wear shorts most (if not all) of the time, but every time I tee it up I hope I’ll have a great round and play well (which I’m guessing sounds familiar).  I tend to play it down whenever possible and I like to play fast.  I hear you’re the same way which is good.  If you’re nice (which I’m sure you’ll be),  I’ll pay for drinks if the beverage cart comes by (if you do imbibe it’ll stay between us).  If you’re feeling really magnanimous, maybe we can get a photo when we’re done.

Since you’re hanging out in these parts for a while, can I offer a couple suggestions?  I know you’re not a hockey guy (we know your passion is basketball), but if you can go down to Fort Dupont Ice Rink and visit the kids who play there every day.  I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to see you.  For a lot of reasons, people really like you.  The guy who runs the program loves the game and I’m sure you’d give him and those kids a thrill.  It’s in the District of Columbia so it’s not that far away.  Since we do know you’re a golf guy, can you try and make it a point to spend some time with the First Tee programs in the area?  The kids are learning all kinds of valuable life lessons along with learning this wonderful game.  I’m sure they’d be happy to meet you.

Anyway, hope the next few months go well for you.  Just so you know, I liked Governor Romney quite a bit but such is life.  Decent man who loves his family.

Next time you’re on the island of Oahu, play Ko’olau (if you haven’t already).  It’ll test you, but it’s a fantastic place to play.

Stay healthy, and hit ’em straight.

Yours in golf,

Editor and President, Singlegolferincart.com

Where I Break Down the GolfLogix GPS Infomercial

The latest in 2009 technology Infomercials with 100% less Peter Kessler!

The latest in 2009 technology Infomercials with 100% less Peter Kessler!

Maybe it’s just me, but I will watch infomercials.  I won’t buy anything but let’s be honest, the whole idea of them is a bit hilarious.  Golf infomercials are just as hokey as anything out there.  Previously I reviewed the infomercial for The Perfect Club, which is, in my opinion, the apex of Peter Kessler’s career.  But hearing that Nike will no longer make clubs, balls or bags got me a bit nostalgic for some of these inventions (I know I’m linking to Golf Digest and I do so knowing what a complete gong show their website is in terms of navigation).  I suggested on Twitter that if Tiger Woods is going to no longer use Nike clubs, maybe he should use an Alien wedge and a Perfect Club.  Who knows, if he has the chipping yips maybe it can help him.

In any event, before we had wearable GPS devices and they weren’t a fairly common device to carry, GPS devices were rare (I remember the first time I played with a guy who had a Sky Caddie and thought we’d never improve upon that).  But even before that, we had the GolfLogix GPS Infomercial on what seemed like an endless loop on Golf Channel.  Behold:

Let’s watch this in all of its SD glory, shall we?

0:02: That didn’t take long.  If you look at a 150 yard plate and are confused about what club to hit, maybe we need to have a chat.  Guy in a cart with 2 bags with no passenger.  This will never end well; kind of screams out “who likes slow play…THIS GUY!”

0:08: I like Gary McCord but for the love of everything, can someone tell him that the landing strip below his lip is…disturbing?  Why is this a thing?  I don’t mind his duster, but the landing strip…holy crap.  Kind of makes you want Peter Kessler, doesn’t it?

0:16: I’ll say this for the GolfLogix GPS; it’s not that big.  No bigger than a modern sky caddie or the Bushnell range-finder I use.

0:44: Garmin, a world leader in GPS.  Admit it- you wanted him to say “it’s made in Germany- they make great stuff over there!”  Oh, and nobody is walking an Arizona resort course that’s target golf, and the guy who is walking wouldn’t be seen with that fancy technology.  He’ll step it off himself.  Oh, and that guy who’s walking?  You can bet cash he’ll have a ball retriever.  Possibly two.

0:52: Practically bullet-proof?  What exactly does that mean?  Is that like practically bikini-waxed?  Too soon…I know.

0:55: It took 54 seconds before we know Peter Kostis is in this thing?  Let’s just say that the fact he’s reading cue cards is about as obvious as it is he’s wearing a blue shirt.  I like Kostis (he’s one of the few good things about a CBS golf crew that needs a major overhaul), and his swing analysis is always bang-on but wow…to borrow a slogan, buy a stamp and mail it in!

1:20: Audio cut out briefly.  You didn’t miss much.

1:25: More confidence AND more fun?  If I see two bathtubs rolling out I’m stopping this.  Just saying.  Not judging but that kind of gets out of my purview.

1:38: Those swings they’re showing are all kinds of ugly.  These people don’t need a GPS.  They need lessons.

1:57: No pressing buttons or pressing through complicated screens?  Far be it me to speculate but the Venn diagram of people this was geared for and the people who own a Jitterbug phone are two circles on top of each other…right?

2:09: It knows where you are on every hole…showing a guy near a hazard.  So does it say “hey goober, might we try to find the fairway at some point today?” because that would be funny.

2:12: It will speed up your round?  Really?  If somebody hands one to Jason Day and tell him “hey, this will speed up your round” I will pay you cash.  The fact that he named his kid Dash and his pace of pay is glacial is him trolling us, right?  Seriously, Jason- if you’re reading this…let’s pick up the pace a bit.

2:40: The part where Kostis and McCord are talking like regular guys about “how we need to get more people playing the game” but wait- I didn’t think anyone cared about growing the game?   A GPS isn’t going to help you find your ball if you hit it into waste areas.  Just saying.  And now we have a montage of people looking for their ball.  Crazy idea- play your next shot and then help the guy look for his ball.

3:15: Yes, the USGA has approved DMD’s (distance measuring devices) but I’ll still get at least one idiot a month who will see me use mine and tell me it’s cheating.

3:17: Which one should you pick?  Ooh…I know!  The GolfLogix GPS!  Let’s see if I’m right!

3:25: Yup, old people can’t use lasers….or use the computer unless they’re screaming about kids on the internet.

3:43: Hot damn!  They picked the GolfLogix Golf GPS!  Damn, I’m good!  And hey- it’s powered by Garmin.  Garmin!  I’m just going to assume that Gary McCord’s safe word is Powered by Garmin.  It probably is, but who knows for sure?

4:02: The numbers change while I walk…I can only imagine how explaining him how the sun and moon work must have gone.

4:18: Yes, distances to front/middle/back.  FYI, the Sky Caddie does the same thing if you were wondering.  I almost bought one several years ago but went with the laser range-finder.

4:35: If you’re a regular player and see 258, three words: JUST HIT IT.  You don’t have that shot.  Or this guide from a sprinkler head with a sense of humour:

Just hit it.  Follow instructions.

Just hit it. Follow instructions.

4:42: That was an awkward transition; now they’re wearing different clothes (it’s called continuity, people) and Kostis is talking about pushing a little button.  Nope.  Not gonna go there.

4:50: Yes, it’ll show you the distance of your last shot.  When I caddied I did that as well once, telling this old geezer who asked me how far he was to the green “you hit your tee shot 120 yards; you’ve got 320 to the front, 335 to the pin 350 to the back” being serious about wondering if he could reach the green (yes, in probably 2-3 more shots).  This was in the mid 1980’s when persimmon woods were still common.  So from 320 to the front he thought he could reach the green with a 3-wood.  So no, slow play didn’t start because of Tiger Woods.

5:20: Kostis is sending McCord out on a mission.  Is he coming back with breakfast?  Maybe some beer?   I’m hoping that McCord is looking for his former comedic foil, David Feherty.  At the risk of having a hot take or blowing up golf twitter, Feherty’s interview show is really in need of something new.  For starters, he needs to ask better questions and quit fawning over the people he interviews.  Second…he’s falling victim on NBC/Golf Channel of being unable to tell me, the viewer, something I don’t know.  He was a former professional who won on the European Tour and played in a Ryder Cup.  Enough of the same tired jokes.  Mix humour with actual information and quit fawning over the players.  It’s okay to be critical; tell us why!

5:33: He’s in he right rough.  It’s okay.  Put the milk cartons down, everyone.  I’m going to say this again.  Gary, you seem a swell guy, but I’m begging you- shave that goddamn landing strip off your face.  Leave the Rollie Fingers duster if you want.  Let’s be honest, a GPS is not a secret weapon.  We call that a foot wedge.  He’s 142 to the center, folks and naturally he knocks it stiff.  How is it that when he hit the shot it was sunny and clear and when it landed it was overcast?  In film they call that “continuity” problems.

6:02: “Thanks, Gary” is Kostis’ safe word.  I’m serious.  Now we get to the “Gary McCord is so dumb (HOW DUMB IS HE?)” part of the show.  And if you haven’t been watching, ABC’s remake of the original Match Game has been genius.  Alec Baldwin as host is…how do I put this…is an inspired choice?  As in, he’s good at it?  If you’re asking, of course they brought back the Gene Rayburn long skinny microphone.  I’m just going to say that having people drink while playing…works.  The Canadian reboot has Sean Cullen and Debra DiGiovanni (both are hilarious but criminally under-used).

6:22: Another badly-edited transition and with McCord off huffing glue (allegedly), Kostis is now giving the sell.  I mean, if you can turn it on, you can use it!  He didn’t say what you could use it for (I mean, could I use it to kill a bug?), but I’m going to go with the idea that the intended use would be getting distances.

6:37: More ugly swings from regular golfers…that GPS device won’t help someone who’s in the Charles Barkley arena of ugly swings.

6:53: Didn’t know GolfLabs were the leader in independent testing…okay.  While we’re talking about improving pace of play, why is it that I see 4 guys playing and only 1 ball?  Hint- whoever is next should be ready to go.

7:23: Look, 7 minutes over 9 holes isn’t bad, but continuous putting, playing ready golf, and playing from the appropriate set of tees will cut even more time.  We also don’t know what the normal difference between the front and back 9 times are.  I’ve played with guys who, if you give them the number they still look completely befuddled.  Or they’ll ask me what they should hit.  This is why I drink.

7:45: I’m not Nate Silver but 16 golfers on an Arizona course is not exactly what I would call a significant sample size.  But go on…

8:25: Is adding and subtracting that hard?  IF you’re a legit 8 handicap and you can’t figure out basic yardages, that handicap is the equivalent of a lot of Botox treatment.  It’s called vanity.  I’m calling malarkey on that guy’s 8 handicap index unless he putts as well as touring professionals.

Look, if you don’t have a rangefinder or a GPS it’s not a bad investment assuming you know how far you hit each club (and are honest about it).  There are smartphone applications that can assist (the free ones are uniformly bad) as well.

 

 

 

 

Turning Scraps into Ground Something

From the shady part of the fairway of the 4th hole at Little Bennett. I like shade.

From the shady part of the fairway of the 4th hole at Little Bennett. I like shade.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Tiger Woods isn’t playing in the US PGA Championship.  The only thing that is surprising is that he still waits until the last minute to withdraw from majors (when nobody was surprised that he withdrew), as if somehow he’s going to turn up and play.  I don’t have any inside knowledge, but I do question if he really wants to play.  He seems to care quite a bit about his kids (which is a good thing).  It can’t be a money thing; by all accounts Woods has held onto his money.  He will go down as the greatest golfer of his generation, and his 2000 season should be considered the high mark (barely edging out 2005) for a season in the modern professional era.

From the fairway on the 9th hole at Little Bennett. It's a hot heat.

From the fairway on the 9th hole at Little Bennett. It’s a hot heat.

We’re having one of those heat waves; I played yesterday (7/21) at Little Bennett; course was in solid shape (especially fairways).   If you live in Western Howard County it’s pretty easy to get to but even from Columbia/Elkridge it’s not that bad.  Don’t think I’m playing this weekend (I’m still not close to 100% and I’m still running out of steam at the end of my rounds).  If you do play, stay hydrated!  My trick- take two water bottles and stick them in the freezer overnight.  Take ’em with you, and as they melt you’ll have icy cold water.

Not for anything, but I paid $39.99 (with a 50% off coupon for a replay that same day)  to play at Little Bennett yesterday (Thursday), compared to weekday rates at Waverly Woods ($64.00) and Timbers at Troy ($57.00).   Which means 36 holes at Little Bennett would have been less than 18 at Waverly Woods and only $3.00 more than 18 at Timbers.  A recent visit to Timbers at Troy didn’t reveal it being in particularly great shape, which is disconcerting.  I know that our weather this year has been particularly difficult, but why is it that the MoCo courses are in such better shape compared to Timbers at Troy and Hobbits Glen (which is in dire condition)?

I’m no expert but if I were running Hobbits and Fairway Hills I’d worry less about FootGolf and more about why more and more “core” golfers are taking their money to Montgomery and Anne Arundel county courses?

For me, summer wouldn’t be summer without some good books.  I used to be all about wanting physical books, but since She Who Is Really in Charge bought me a tablet a few years ago, I’m a convert.  I’m looking forward to finishing up Uber Chronicles by Jessie Newburn.  I’ll admit to being conflicted about Uber (along with Lyft and other so-called “sharing” economy applications).   Jessie Newburn runs our local HoCoBlogs group (of which I’m proud to say I’m part of their community).  She’s asking some interesting questions from her perspective and I hope others find her work as engaging as I have.

While we’re on the subject of books, if you haven’t read it, John Feinstein (who is local) has churned out some truly great golf books.  His Good Walk Spoiled remains a standard-bearer about life on the Tour.  His book Tales From Q School should be required reading for anyone who ever thought they could be on Tour.  His book Open chronicles the 2002 US Open at Bethpage, and is half of my annual “re-read” list (the other is Ken Dryden’s classic “The Game” which remains the standard for sports books which I always read prior to the start of the NHL season).

While I’m veering off of the subject of golf, if you live in Howard County (or you work here), a good read is this which is from the HoCo Blogging community.  I won’t say I agree with every word, but given the lack of coverage our county gets (the DC and Baltimore local stations seem to take delight in ignoring what goes on here), it’s nice to see someone asking good questions about current issues in the county.  His work during April’s school board elections was particularly compelling.

Here’s some happy music. Enjoy and stay cool out there.

2016 can go to hell

At the risk of being repetitive, 2016 has, to put it politely, sucked.

And to put a shit panini on top of the turd sandwich that has represented the year, this morning I found out that Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, has terminal brain cancer.  He’s 52, which puts him slightly older than me, but not much.  Unless you’re from Canada, the odds are you’ve never heard of them, and that’s okay.

The outpouring of love from the number of Canadian journalists who, like me, love their music has been a tonic of sorts.

What David Bowie and Prince did (write and perform some truly breathtaking music and were deserved legends), this band that’s been together for 30+ years did as well but on their own scale.  The ownership that Minnesotans had for Prince (and I’ve always respected that he stayed in Minnesota) translates, on some level, to The Tragically Hip.  They were ours.  You could say they were odd, quirky or any number of other things.  They don’t have anywhere near the number of fans as Bowie and Prince do, but that’s okay.  They spoke to us because they were one of us.

They never achieved any success of note in the US, because their music didn’t translate to American audiences (WTMD will “occasionally” play one of their songs but otherwise they don’t exist on American radio).  Explaining David Milgaard or Bill Barilko, and how these subjects became the impetus for songs, is hard to explain.  And yet, the songs that deal with these subjects aren’t unapproachable.  They’re quite good.  I still remember the first game I attended at the new Air Canada Centre in 1999, fearful that Maple Leaf Gardens had been replaced by some soulless thing.  Hearing a slew of Tragically Hip songs during warm-ups combined with the kind of loud support I remembered (the Leafs were coming off of a Conference Final appearance that spring).

I saw them in 1987 for the first time; an 18-year old university student who thought they had an interesting name so I went with some class mates to see them perform in one of the local clubs.  They were different; they were still doing a lot of covers back then but they had their own songs as well.

They appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1995 and were introduced by fellow Canadian Dan Akroyd.  That was a big deal; they never had that top-10 U.S. radio friendly hit that might get attention (to this day, if I hear one of their songs on American radio I have to double-check to make sure it’s not my MP3 player).  They had their own unique sound, and were unchanged for 30+ years.  They were from Kingston, Ontario and proudly so.  It’s funny reading about people who remember seeing Downie or some of the other guys in the band walking around town and would talk to him as if it were no big deal, which sounds like something he’d do.

I’ve seen them live upwards of 30 times; they have such a heavy catalogue of songs that no two shows are going to sound alike.  Here’s them performing at Woodstock 1999 (which was a complete gong show of an event).

All the best, Gord and thanks for all the wonderful concerts and all that you’ve done.

 

On Not Playing and Other Frustrating Things

So far, it has to be said that 2016 has, to put it politely, sucked.  For a variety of reasons I’d prefer not to discuss I’ve yet to swing a club this year (my last trip to the range was just before New Year’s back when we were enjoying that oddly warm weather around Christmas), which has left me taking advantage of my gym membership to retain something resembling fitness.

So rather than enjoy the sodden fairways that we’re looking at (with all of this rain it’s understandable), I’ve been trapped in the bubble of going to the gym 1-2 times a week armed with the flurry of fitness tips and information that the various golf publications churn out.  Most of it, for what it’s worth, seems to contradict the articles from 1-2 years ago (and wow is that ever helpful).

While we’re on that subject, when did Golf Digest turn into BuzzFeed golf?  Their website is little more than a series of badly-written and not-at-all-mobile friendly listicles (which shouldn’t be a thing but somehow…they are) combined with pin-up photos of LPGA players (what next- their spin on the ESPN bodies issue) wearing anything but golf clothing.  I have nothing against the female body (I happen to quite like it if we’re being honest) but I don’t need Golf Digest trying to be Maxim or FHM.  Yes- there are some very talented women on the LPGA Tour who don’t get 1/20th of the media attention that their counterparts on the PGA Tour get.  It would be nice to see their talent the principal focus, and not how well they look wearing a bikini.

I do enjoy the Undercover Tour Pro articles in Golf Digest; it falls under the request I make of magazines….it’s called Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.  If you’re not following @secrettourpro on Twitter, you should.  I have a pretty good idea of who he is, but there’s no reason to out him.  His candor has been enjoyable.  Jack Nicklaus’ one-pagers are a good reminder that he still knows more than anyone else out there (and at some point, the tours are going to heed his 30-year plea to roll the ball back and we won’t need 8,000 yard courses).

Oh, and if you have auto-play videos on your website, I hope a giant bear comes into your house and eats your arm off (looking at you, Golf.com).

So with my gym visits being the only interaction, I’ve begun to notice that there are some rather distinct and rather odd people at the gym.  While I’m hardly a paragon of physical fitness, I do make an effort to work out (scotch does count as a suitable post-workout drink, right?).  With a bad knee I can’t do a lot of running, but I try to do the best I can.  However, the people at the gym make for, well, strange and inappropriate behavior that has run amok.  Shall we point these people out?

1) The double-park.  Parking spots aren’t the biggest, but that doesn’t mean you can, or should, park in 2 spots.  It’s almost always a giant SUV that is roughly the size of my first apartment, and 70% of the time it’s a woman with a yoga mat.  I mean, you could do a yoga routine in the damn car, so why double-park?

Sure looks like a compact car to me- maybe take 3 spots!

Sure looks like a compact car to me- maybe take 3 spots!

2) The fashionista.  Mostly guys who are head-to-toe in matching stuff.  One guy I see far too often is head-to-toe in Atlanta Falcons stuff (hat, tshirt, sweatshirt, shorts, socks).  I keep meaning to ask him if he’s aware that this isn’t Atlanta.   You’d think it would be women that would be the equivalent of what Men in Blazers call “Full Kit Wankers”, and you’d be wrong.  It’s the dude-bro types who are wearing Under Armour (or Nike) from head-to-toe, and my guess is that they aren’t being sponsored by Under Armour (the golf equivalent is the 25-handicapper who has a tour staff bag but couldn’t break 100 playing Fairway Hills from the First Tee set of tees).  A sub-set of this are men who wear compression shorts (or bike shorts) and that’s it.  Great- we all wanted to see that.  I wear compression shorts UNDER actual loose fitting gym shorts, because nobody wants to see me in a pair of those things.

3) Inappropriate nudity. I’ve about given up on using the locker rooms unless it’s to answer nature’s call, because inevitably, there will be a group of men hanging around, fully nude, talking as if they’re re-creating a Dockers commercial but without the triple-pleated comfort of Dockers pants.  Just picture these nit-wits hanging brain in a locker room, and you get it.  Don’t turn away…look at it.  LOOK AT IT!  Don’t worry because odds are they’ll talk to you.  Shouldn’t this sort of thing be illegal?

4) The cross-fit bros.  My gym is not a cross-fit gym, and yet these cross-fit bros hang out (always in groups), and by hanging out, I mean they spend more time shooting the breeze than actually working out.  I don’t really get this (which is why I’m not a cross-fit bro), and it’s annoying as all get out because it’s how you get one machine taken up for the better part of 30 minutes (while the machine is being used for maybe 1/4 of the time because nobody knows where Kyle, or Todd, or Hunter, or Logan is).  They work out for 4 hours but spend 3 1/2 of those hours talking among each other.  But they’re very good at giving each other high fives and what someone described to me as “bro-hugs” so that’s been fun to watch.  They also like to encourage each other…loudly.  Luckily our gym has a ban on using chalk; otherwise I’d have to dust myself off before leaving.

All using one machine because they have nothing else to do.

All using one machine because they have nothing else to do.

5) The drink carriers.  I don’t get this.  Our gym has drinking fountains that work and even have a water station where you can get a cup of ice water.  Plus, the gym is indoor and climate controlled, so we’re not out in the middle of the desert in July.  And yet, you have at least half of these people carrying around something to drink.  The water bottle people are bad enough, mostly because they end up leaving their crap all over or will forget their water bottle because their brains have shriveled up like a raisin.  There’s also the people who drink…stuff.  I’m not talking about Gatorade or Powerade; I’m talking about the people (and you know who you are) who drink…stuff they made up that is made from powders you buy at GNC or some bizarro website.  In these containers that look like they are used for storing bodily fluids.  These liquids are in colors that aren’t natural.  The smell is a medley of vomit, asparagus pee, flop sweat, flatulence from Guy Fieri, and just a hint of Thunder Muscle (look it up).  I like to think I work out pretty hard, and I’m able to handle driving back home and having something to drink at home or on the way to work without grossing people out.  I even see people with Starbucks (my gym is next to a Starbucks) coffee.  How can that possibly be refreshing?

Dear god, why?  Don't. Just. Don't.

Dear god, why? Don’t. Just. Don’t.

6) The mobile phone users.  At my gym there are numerous signs about not using mobile phones, and yet- you see people (of all ages) on their phones.  Is it really that difficult to say to whoever called them ‘let me step away’ and then walk somewhere out of earshot of everyone?  I had someone run into me (physically run into me) because they were so engrossed in their phone that they didn’t see me (and given I’m not anorexic and not exactly inconspicuous).  It wouldn’t have been so bad except it was some old man, and not some clueless hipster.

7) The space-challenged.  Our gym has open space which is great for doing exercises on a Swiss ball or lunges.  Inevitably, there’s this one older jack-hole who insists on getting as close as he can to people while doing whatever it is that he does.  If there’s 8 urinals in a row, and only 1 is being used, he’s the guy who will get right next to the one urinal being used.  And then pass gas.  If you’re in your mid-50’s like this dill-weed, trying to grow a hipster beard doesn’t make you look like the Trivago guy.  It makes you look even more disturbing.

8) The TV watchers.  Our gym has two rows of televisions in the main gym area, which is great while you’re on the recumbent bike or on a treadmill.  If you’re using equipment, and you stop to watch while people are waiting for you to finish so they can use the equipment, you’re a wart on the ass of society.  The TV’s are on the local networks, CNN, ESPN (if they’re showing scores and highlights it’s not unbearable, but their army of talking heads makes me want to take a hammer to random things), HGTV (never know when the inspiration to remodel your kitchen is going to happen) and Fox News Channel (it’s mid-May so their “War on Christmas” coverage should start any day now).

So yes, I’m the quiet guy who does his routine, doesn’t talk to anyone, and tries to finish as quickly as possible.

Lastly, a relic.  If you’ve watched AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” it’s a fantastic series, mostly because of the music.  Here’s an example:

 

Hopefully I’ll see you out on the links fairly soon.  In the meantime, hit ’em straight.

My Solstice Survival Experiences (and why you should consider playing)

Now that winter seems like it’s behind us for good, we start getting into the meat of golf season.  Like you, I love watching the West Coast swing, and even the Florida swing can give us that good-vibes feeling of what’s to come (before the Masters tells us it’s time to tee it up).

Part of what I love about golf is that every time you tee it up, you’re testing yourself.  Today might be that worst round possible (which is why I suggest keeping airplane bottles in your golf bag), or it might be that rare day when it all comes together.  Or, if you’re like most of us, it’s somewhere in between.  But for the most part, standing on that first tee is still a thing of wonderment because we don’t know what will lies ahead for us over the next 3 1/2-4 hours (hopefully).

In that vein, if you really want to test yourself and you’re up for it, the Solstice Survival is something you should consider doing at least once.  It’s put on by Golfstyles which is one of those magazines you see in the grill rooms and pro shops at some golf courses (I subscribe so I don’t have to “borrow” a copy).  For the uninitiated, the Solstice Survival is 54 holes (3 full rounds) of continuous play golf (these events are always during the week- the only people on the course are your fellow competitors); you start at sunrise and finish after you putt out after your 54th hole of the day which is usually close to sunset, and it’s a competition so there’s no gimmes or mulligans.  You play the same course for all 3 rounds, with the same group (hopefully you get a decent group of guys- unless you have your own foursome in which case good for you!).  For what it’s worth, I have no association with Golfstyles, and while they’re welcome to share this article, they weren’t consulted on this and anything I write is my own opinion (and if you’ve met me you know I’m stubborn as a mule and not prone to be easily swayed).

I played two years (both times at Musket Ridge), and once things (body parts, limbs) start to work normally again, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  So you’re sitting there, reading this (and my, what great taste you have in golf blogs), and you’re wondering what sane person would do this (you’d be surprised), and what the hell am I getting myself into?  The day isn’t cheap (you’re looking at anywhere from $240-$300 for the day depending on where you play at, but that does include food and drink and a decent gift bag), and you’ll be out of pocket until late evening (well past sunset), but isn’t that the idea?  Maybe you’ve played 36 holes before, but have you ever played 54 holes in one day?  Sure- this sounds like a great idea when it’s winter and you’re weeks from even thinking about seeing courses open, but what about the actual day?  Read on.

Both times, the day starts around 3:00 a.m., which allows me time to get up, get myself put together, get dressed, take care of the dogs, and try to be on the road by 4:00 a.m. and allow me an hour to make the trek to Musket Ridge, which Google Maps says will take 49 minutes without traffic (you’ll want to have directions and driving times figured out the night before).  This will allow time to stop for a coffee and still get to the course and loosen up.  Despite the DMV having terrible traffic, at this hour it’s manageable.  It’s also dark which means you’re likely sharing the highway with truckers and other early-risers along with your fellow die-hard golfers.

Pulling into the parking lot while it’s still dark can be a bit off-putting if you’re not used to it, but being someone who prefers to play early it’s old hat.  However, the parking lot is quickly filling up, which is not usually the case (the event does a shotgun start so everyone starts at the same time).  If you’re smart, you brought plenty of balls (more on this later), and you’ve got plenty of sunscreen, bug spray, and hopefully and extra glove or two.  The event provides refreshments on the course so no worries on that front but I do have a bottle of swing juice to get me going in the morning.

After a quick stop at the registration desk to pick up my goody bag (2 dozen balls of a brand I don’t play but I’ll end up re-gifting, a couple highball glasses and a too-small golf shirt), I then carry my bag over and find the cart I’ll be in.  Everyone’s doing the same thing- carrying their bag around looking to see where your assigned cart is.  Many will then hit the range to warm up; some will seemingly try to hit a full bucket (keep in mind it’s still dark), while others will hit a couple balls and work on their chipping and putting.

Looking at my watch, it’s time to make a quick stop in the washroom, pop a couple ibuprofen, and put some analgesic cream on my back and shoulders (it’ll help loosen them up for now- I know that by sunset I’ll be in a world of pain again but it’s worth it).  It’s also time to take one last look at my smart phone; part of playing 54 holes of continuous golf is that there’s no time to check e-mail or take calls.  It’ll all get handled later tonight or tomorrow morning.  I’m sure that 20 years ago, this didn’t seem like a big deal but try going a day of being off the grid, unreachable, and out of pocket.  I can see many folks freaking out at the idea, but that’s the point.  Worry about work tomorrow.  Today, it’s all about golf and lots of it.

After getting a quick speech from the Golfstyles folks and the home pro, just as the sun starts coming up and there’s enough light (or close enough) for play,  everyone gets into their carts and heads out to their assigned starting hole.  It may be cool at the time, but both times it’s been warm by mid-day (the first year it got up into the low 90’s, the next year it was in the low 80’s).

On the first hole, there’s the usual introductions and hope of a good day out for everyone before we tee off.  At this point, I’m just hoping to make decent contact.  The first year I played the nerves got to me in a big way, as I hit a worm-burner that went dead left and put me on my way to a nice triple bogey to start the round.  Few things stir the soul quite like “just made a snowman on a par 5, and I’ve got another 53 holes to go”.

Hopefully, you start to rectify things if you got off to a bad start, or even better- if you got off to a good start you’re having your share of birdies and pars.  Since this is a “count ’em all, play by the book” event, there’s no gimmes, so that 18 inch putt to save bogey has to be holed (and I swear it looks like that hole is about 1/2 the size it should be).  Seems simple until you’re putting on greens that have quickened up since the sun has come out and you’re not exactly Brad Faxon with the flat-stick.  It’s starting to warm up so that windshirt or sweater vest you started the day with has surely come off.  There’s no free drops if you hit one in the woods or in a hazard; if you can’t find it you use the lost ball rule, if it’s a hazard  you proceed based on the USGA rule book (should probably have a copy in your bag).

By this time, you’re putting out on your 18th hole of the day; normally you’d be shaking hands but you’ve got another 36 holes to go!  So now it’s time to play that hole you started your day on…again.  But now you know where everything is so this time will be that much better (or so you think).  The way that the Solstice Survival works is that when you play the 18th hole (of the golf course) during your second round is when you stop for lunch.  If you’ve ever seen a NASCAR or Formula 1 pit stop, then you get the idea of the process.  You pull up in your golf cart and go through a buffet line (it’s burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches) and then you eat it in the cart and then tee off on the 1st hole.  Ideally at this point you’re at the half-way point of your day.  I usually take this brief break to pop a couple more ibuprofen.

They do have beverage stations and beverage carts (and a couple washrooms that are nicer than a port-o-let) going around the course so staying hydrated isn’t an issue (nor is having to pee), however there’s no beer until you’re done for the day so if you were wanting the revival that can only come from shotgunning some terrible American piss-water lager, you’ll have to wait until you finish for the day unless you have any airplane bottles stashed in your bag.

Of the three rounds, I’ve always felt that the last 9 holes of the second round is the hardest.  It’s in the heat of the day, and you’re starting to get fatigued and you’ve still got 19-27 holes left to play.  Both times I’ve played I’ve carded some scary numbers.  It’s also where you can struggle in terms of mental concentration; the first round might feel like a regular round, but most people who play 36 will stop for lunch before going back out.  Now you’re 28-36 holes into the day, and fatigue can be a factor.

The third round is hopefully when your second (or third) wind kicks in.  They do move the tees up for the third round so that long par 4 you’ve seen twice previously becomes a bit shorter.  You’ve got the hole locations down (hopefully) and hopefully by now you’ve got a good feel for the break of the greens.  Hopefully your muscles aren’t sore at this point, because while the tee boxes are moved up (the equivalent of going from the blue tees to the white tees at most courses), by now it’s afternoon and the shadows are starting to get a bit longer.

This is where I’d pop a couple more Ibuprofen and try to maintain focus and maybe have one of those energy shot drinks if I was feeling a bit sluggish.  When you hear touring pros talk about the mental concentration factor, this is what they mean.  You’ve held it together for 36 holes, and you’ve got one more round to go.  Sure- you know the course but you’ve got to focus amid some possible physical fatigue to keep making good swings for one more round.  At a minimum, you’ve got to keep from having a blow-up hole (and being someone who has turned the blow-up hole into an art form I speak from experience) which means no 3 putts and trying to keep it somewhat straight off the tee.

At some point late in the day, as the sun is setting you’re going to putt out on that 54th hole of the day, and you’re going to feel an odd mix of excitement, fatigue, and maybe (just maybe) accomplishment.  That you pushed yourself to the limit on one of the longest days of the year and played 14-15 hours of non-stop golf.

After that, it’s a cart ride back to the club house to sign your scorecards, and enjoy some well-deserved 55th hole refreshments.  At some point you’re probably changing shoes (and hopefully socks) which is going to feel oddly refreshing.  You’ll have a buffet dinner, and while you’re eating the Golfstyles staff will have tabulated things up, award prizes for low gross and low net scores, and after (hopefully) a bit of regaling one another with stories about the day, you’ll load your clubs back in the car (likely in the dark by now), and head home, where the rest of the world will surely be waiting.

If you’re a little bit sore the next morning (or a lot), it’s okay, because you’re sore from doing something we all love, and that’s the best kind of soreness there is.

WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU (this list is hardly complete but it’s a few things that will make that longest day of golf a bit more bearable:

-Plenty of balls.  Think about your typical usage during a round.  Triple it and add an extra sleeve just in case.

-Sunscreen. Apply before you start and re-apply mid-day.  Trust me.

-Bug spray. See above.

-Extra socks, extra pair of shoes, extra hat, extra golf shirt (if it’s supposed to be dry you probably don’t need the extra pair of shoes or shirt but a lot of people like to change socks and/or shirt after a round or two).

-A comfortable golf shirt.  For me this means something that’s a bit looser since the fitted look on me means something resembling a sausage casing.

-Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, or your OTC pain reliever of choice.   Don’t overdo it but a couple ibuprofen can help.

-Extra glove or two (and if rain is in the forecast rain gloves, umbrella, and rain jacket).

-Sharpie pen (to mark your balls if you haven’t already done so).

-Ziploc bag (in case of wet weather it protects the scorecard).

-First aid kit (hopefully you don’t need it but it’s better to be safe than sorry).

-Your sense of humor.  It’s going to be a long day.  I played with a dour, humorless dolt one year.  Don’t be that guy.  We’re not playing for a million bucks and we’re paying to be here.  It beats working.  Enjoy the day.

-A rangefinder (if they’re permissible- ask them).  Many golfers have the GPS watches.  If they’re allowed and you have one, by all means wear it.

-Patience.  The course will be full with your fellow competitors and it’s a shotgun start.  Since it’s a count-everything event pace of play isn’t going to be lightning fast.  Where possible try to play ready golf (within the rules); i.e. if you need to pee either tee off first or last.

-A USGA rulebook.  If you’re not sure about an issue, play two balls, record both scores and have the Golfstyles folks settle it.

 

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