Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 4)

Happy Festivus Everybody!

If you haven’t seen it, the Festivus episode of Seinfeld remains a magnum opus of satire.  Enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving

Please enjoy the greatest Thanksgiving episode of television in the history of scripted television.

This is well over 35 years old, and it holds up astonishingly well.

Oh my god they’re turkeys!

May your Thanksgiving be better than the one Les Nessman and Mr. Carlson had.

Compass Pointe Course Review

As we sit in the middle of October, all of us facing that inevitable last round of the year, sometimes it’s a good idea to go through that mental Rolodex (note to you young kids- before smart phones, people had Rolodexes on their desks at work, where you’d keep contacts and business cards) and dig a bit deeper.

It was in that vein that I happened to play an October round at Compass Pointe which is in Pasadena, just north of Annapolis.  It had been several years since I played at Compass Pointe (mostly I remember playing a few company golf tournaments of the scramble variety along with a couple 2-man best ball events).  I had heard that conditions had gone downhill over the last few years, but I was curious to find out what had become of one of the few 36-hole courses in the area.

On a frigid morning where toques and jackets were the norm, I set out in search of a good time, and for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised.

The people that worked there that I ran into were uniformly polite, courteous, and helpful.  The guys in the pro shop were friendly, as was the starter (a youngish guy).  Having two courses to marshal folks out to can’t be easy but we didn’t have any issues.  On the day I was there, the range was using their green grass tees and not mats (I’ve seen both- if this is important to you I’d call ahead and ask).

Myself and one of the people foolish enough to play with me (a colleague who is the proverbial “good egg”) went second off behind another twosome.  We played the South/West routing (the other course is the North/East although I suppose you could switch up) and much like Little Bennett, Compass Pointe wastes no time in punching you in the mouth with a brutally tough par 5 (honestly all of the par 5’s are tough here) that is 546 yards from the white tees.  The second hole is a short par 3 to a narrow kidney-shaped green with a lot of undulation; looks easy on the card but it’s not.

The 5th hole (below) is in that vein; on the card it’s a short par 4 but in reality you have to be precise off the tee and then into a well-protected green.

Compass Pointe 5th hole on a cold but clear fall morning.  I love this game.

Compass Pointe 5th hole on a cold but clear fall morning. I love this game.

The front side ends with two fairly mundane par 4’s that require two good shots; the 9th is shorter even though it plays longer to a well-protected green.

Compass Pointe 9th hole (South). Aim for the fairway.

Compass Pointe 9th hole (South). Aim for the fairway.

The West routing is, if you’re asking, a bit goofy.  If you were playing in a scramble or a shamble, there are some holes that seem tailor-made for this format.  The 1st (10th) hole gets this going, with a short par 4 that has a huge water hazard right that is a severe dog leg right.  At 330 from the blue tees and 299 from the whites, the big hitters might give it a rip, while the shorter hitters might opt for a fairly generous fairway but leave a longer approach.

If 10 is goofy, then 12 (3 South) needs a clown’s mouth.  I’m all for unique and challenging holes, but this one has “we will destroy your pace of play and you will like it” written all over it.  Your tee shot needs to be right to left or you’re laying up to about 180-200 yards out for your third shot, and that’s before you have to clear a ravine/waste area.  My biggest complaint is that good shots are punished (I hit a great tee shot but it ran out into a waste area; I was lucky to card a 7).   Again- in a scramble this hole could easily be birdied but the ravine must have several thousand golf balls in it.

The 14th hole (5 south) is another “what were they thinking” where you have to worry about your tee shot going into a hazard if you’re too long (which is fine, except you’re leaving yourself 150-200 yard second shots to an uphill and heavily protected green- not exactly where amateurs will shine).  15 (6 South) is a good “risk/reward” hole that doesn’t punish you.

15th hole at Compass Pointe (6 South).  Grip and rip but don't go right.

15th hole at Compass Pointe (6 South). Grip and rip but don’t go right.

16 (7 South) is another punishing par 5 that, like 12 (3 South) requires a carry through a tree-protected ravine, but isn’t as penal.  If you can shape your second shot to the left it’ll play easier, but it’s by no means a requirement.  The tee shot is downhill but all but the biggest of bombers can have at it off the tee.  The 17th hole is a short par 4 at only 280 from the whites and only 327 from the blues (reachable off the tee for the bombers) to a well-protected green.  18 is a short par 4 (375 from the blues) that plays shorter with the prevailing wind (and the wind kicked up something fierce (and cold) when we got to the tee) with a dogleg right.

16th hole (7 South) at Compass Pointe.  From the fairway.

16th hole (7 South) at Compass Pointe. From the fairway.

While the roughs and the bunkers were, if we’re being honest, a mixed bag in terms of conditions (some holes had thick lush rough, other holes (like 7 South above) had spotty dead spots).  However, the fairways, other than a few dead spots, were in pretty good shape (the fairway turf was a bit furry, but well-maintained).  The greens were dewy (very dewy) but once the dew burned off, they rolled pretty well.  Again- not exactly a 12 on the stimp meter but they were quick enough.

While the South and West nines are built amid a housing development, you don’t really see any homes except for a couple holes.  The course shouldn’t be walked- too far between holes; our gas cart was decent enough if lacking a bit in pickup.

The course has a small but serviceable snack bar (we stopped at the turn for a quick snack- the lady working was friendly and helpful), and the pro shop was stocked with the kind of items you’d reasonably expect to find in a pro shop.  I’ve seen bigger pro shops but they had the basics and the two guys working were certainly polite enough.

I wouldn’t put Compass Pointe on a “play before you die” list, but for $54.00 on a weekend morning, staffed by polite and friendly folks with decent playing conditions, you could certainly do a hell of a lot worse in this area.  I’d probably want to play the North/East routing next time out.  After putting out on our last hole as we drove back to head out, I asked my playing partner “would you come back here?” and he said yes.

And that, I suppose, is what counts.  We had a good time, had a few laughs, and got around in well under 4 hours.  Maybe you’ll play Compass Pointe and maybe you won’t.  But you could do a hell of a lot worse.

I’ve been watching sports for a long time and have seen some crazy endings to games, but the end of the 2015 National Rugby League (NRL- Australian Rugby League) might have been the craziest thing I’ve seen.  The last minute of the game and what ensued was everything sports should be- exciting, breathtaking, heroic, tragic, and more.  Well worth watching.

Maryland, My (and yours) Maryland

As I constantly look to expand my golfing horizons beyond the usual rota, I find that sometimes, this means going to take a second look at a course I may have played years prior, to see things that maybe I missed the first time.

It was in this vein that I happened upon University of Maryland Golf Course which is located across the street from their College Park campus.  I had played there once before; I left work early on a Friday in July 2008 (which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the last weekend the course would be open as it would be closed for several months to undergo an exhaustive renovation) and thought it was a good test of golf.

A year or two ago, the University thought about shutting the course down to use the land for something else (just what we need- another “mixed use” retail facility); luckily, cooler heads prevailed- not only do the men’s and women’s golf teams have a home course, but the golfing public has a fantastic public course located inside the capital beltway that can challenge anyone.

The course wastes no time getting your attention; the first two holes (over 410 yards each from the “gold” tees and over 450 each from the tips) are as tough of a start as you could ask for.  The second hole (#1 handicap on the card) requires an uphill second shot to a well-protected green (I got in a bunker and went full Benny Hill from there, carding a triple bogey 7).

Scorecard.  Four sets of tees plus two "combo" options.  Huzzah!

Scorecard. Four sets of tees plus two “combo” options. Huzzah!

The third hole is a short par 4 that looks benign on the card, but like #2, has a well protected green (despite only being 316 from the gold tees it’s not easy at all).  The fifth hole is fairly benign; only 400 yards from the gold tees and relatively flat.

UMD golf course 5th hole. Just hit it straight.

UMD golf course 5th hole. Just hit it straight.

The eighth hole (seen below) is the shortest of the par 3’s at less than 130 yards from the tips, but the green is well protected and par is certainly a good score.  Anything long gets wet as you’ll see (or goes far right).  It’s down hill so it’s probably 1/2 -3/4 a club shorter than on the card.  The landing area left of the front bunker is a good “miss” spot.

UMD golf course 8th hole. Best to be accurate.

UMD golf course 8th hole. Best to be accurate.

The front side ends with a long, uphill par 5 that runs parallel to route 193.  Only 510 from the gold tees but it plays uphill and into the prevailing wind (it was dead calm when I played).

The back nine starts with a shortish par 4 that plays shorter as it’s downhill before coming to the 11th hole.  Playing from the tips it’s over 225 yards but from the gold tees it’s only 168.  If you can play a right to left shot it’ll help.  If you duff one like I did, then you’re in a world of hurt.

UMD golf course 11th hole.  Just ignore the trees, waste area, and just see the green.

UMD golf course 11th hole. Just ignore the trees, waste area, and just see the green.

The back nine is considerably tighter than the front nine, despite being longer (it has 2 par 5’s rather than only 1 on the front side).  The 17th hole (below) is a real gem and proof you don’t need length.  At 327 from the gold tees and just over 300 from the whites it’s a short hole but there’s elevation changes and well-protected greens that require two good shots.

The 18th is a monster; 486 from the tips and 438 from the golds.  I was very happy to hit two good shots to get on in regulation and two putt for a par.

One thing- unlike most courses, the tee boxes, fairways and roughs are bermuda grass, which you don’t see much of in the mid-Atlantic.  The ball will tend to sit up a bit in the fairway, but nestle down in the rough.  The rough was not that tall when I played but it didn’t need to be.

The other gem is the practice facility.  While most courses have a pedestrian driving range, the UMD golf course has one of the best short game areas in the region.  Two practice greens (one near the first and tenth tees, the other complex featuring a putting green and a short game green) and a decent range (mats only, but still).  Seeing this further shames me for not taking advantage of this when I was working nearby.

Where three putts should go to die at the practice green at UMD.

Where three putts should go to die at the practice green at UMD.

If that’s not enough, one final touch- in addition to four sets of tees, there’s two different “combo” options (I played the gold/white combo) available.

The only negative I can see is that once the class begins I’m sure that playing here becomes tricky as I’m sure the golf teams must have playing privileges.  It’s location off state route 193 with the football stadium visible from the course would also mean one should plan any rounds opposite home football games with care.

The greens were fast.  They don’t look it, but they were very quick and very easy to three-putt if you’re not careful.  Despite potential traffic issues, it’s a solid test of golf and worthy of a visit.  If you find yourself playing there, you’ll be in the middle of the front side with nothing visible except fairways, greens and trees.  From there, remind yourself that you’re actually inside the capital beltway.

I didn’t see one during my early morning round but they do have beverage carts, a half-way hut called The Turn, and a restaurant on-site.  There’s a pro shop where you can buy, presumably, University of Maryland golf-related things (I’m required to mention that She Who Is Really In Charge attended and graduated from Maryland and is a proud Terrapin) and the kinds of things you’d expect to find in a pro shop.

I had a great time and enjoyed my round.  Would I come back?  You bet.

Since we’re discussing colleges, my fellow Spartan Ken Venturi is still sorely missed to this day.  He remains, in my opinion, the best in the business because he explained things succinctly and accurately.  To wit, 30 seconds of his genius on how to skip a shot over water.

 

Through It All There Was Hope

Non-golf item:

With the Leafs having mercifully ended their season in burning tire fire style, new team President Brendan Shanahan cleaned house- fired the coaching staff, GM David Nonis, the vast majority of the scouts, Carlton the Bear, and the guys who run the Tim Hortons kiosk.

Yup, everyone's fired.

Yup, everyone’s fired.

The expression “burn it to the ground” seems appropriate.

After nearly a decade of one failed season after another followed by false hope and one playoff appearance in 2013 (that ended in the kind of epic failure that you rarely see anymore), it’s good to see them try to get it right.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug my favourite Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets who have been covering this with their usual level of excellence and hilarity.

Unrelated, congrats to Under-Armour logo-wearing human billboard Jordan Spieth for winning the Masters on Sunday.  I was pulling for fellow 40-something Phil Mickelson and while he played some fantastic golf, Spieth was the better golfer and deservedly won.  I think I could hear Kevin Plank from my house.

 

Yeah, he's pretty good at golf.

Yeah, he’s pretty good at golf.

Hopefully the rain will hold off this weekend and we’ll see golf courses full of golfers enjoying spring in the mid-Atlantic.

Ryder Cup Idea you didn’t ask for

So having just watched the NHL Winter Classic (and yes- the humour of being a diehard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a diehard golfer isn’t lost on me), there’s one thing that they did today that could translate to golf- the announcement of Ryder Cup teams.

During the 2nd intermission the US Women’s Olympic team was announced and the men’s team was announced after the game.

The women’s team were at the game; the men’s team were announced using kids wearing each player’s sweater (except for the three players who played in the game who made the US team who came out of the dressing room to be announced).  Great stuff.

So rather than have a press conference during midweek to announce the team (which ends up getting lost in the shuffle), why not announce the team after the US PGA Championship (on the broadcast)?  Since the PGA of America runs the tournament (and the Ryder Cup) you’d have perfect synergy.  I know- NBC has the Ryder Cup rights and CBS has the US PGA Championship…but CBS can give up 10 minutes after the tournament trophy presentation (during August when 60 minutes is in reruns) to announce the Ryder Cup team.

Have the US Ryder Cup captain announce the roster.  If a player can’t make it, have one of the kids from the local First Tee program “stand in” for said player (have each player with their Ryder Cup staff bag with their name on it).  You’re announcing a US team in front of an American audience.  You’re telling me people won’t watch on TV?  You already have a captive audience, and the people at the tournament get a little extra.

You’re telling me the players would object to having to hang around a couple hours (those that are on the team and finished earlier) to get a round of applause (at most)?  If that’s the case then that says a lot about how they really feel about it.

Oh, and for the love of 30 foot birdies can we stop with the number of captain’s picks changing every match?  Pick a number.  3 seems good.  Or 2.  Or 4.  Just pick a number and leave it the hell alone.

New Years Resolutions nobody asked for

Hawaii golf 2008 030

Based on the last update from the MSGA, I started the year at a 10.2 index, and with a few very strong rounds at the end of the year, I finished at an 8.6 index. I should resolve to practice more, but frankly with time an issue, weekends are, for me, when I tee it up.

I’ve largely resigned myself to the point that I’ll always be in that 7-12 index. It’s who I am, and being of a certain age, it’s probably where I’ll always be. I could practice more, but that just cuts in on my drinking, and life without scotch isn’t worth living.

So on that note, a mission statement/rant of sorts-

I started this blog a year ago with no real idea of where it would go- I suppose I wanted to blog about golf in the mid-Atlantic, and I still do. I’ll continue to do so, and write honest course reviews geared toward average golfers (one issue I’ve had in the past with other blogs and course reviews is that they tend to write toward golfers in the top echelon of earnings who lean toward belonging to a private club). I’m not a member of a country club (insert the quote about not wanting to be a member of any club who’d have me as one)- I pay my own way and play public courses (so if you’re waiting on that review of your uber-private tracks you won’t find it here). If you change your shoes in the parking lot, have heard one too many bad golf jokes, or own at least one instructional video and/or tool you saw on a Golf Channel introvert, then you’re in the right place.

If you have a lucky golf shirt/hat/glove that works (or you’re convinced it has worked/will work), then keep on reading.

If you’ve ever found yourself making air swings while waiting somewhere…we’re kindred spirits.

If you’ve ever taken bets on who’d win a Johnny Miller/Nick Faldo cage match…you’re out there a bit but it’s all good.

If you have ever sounded like Judge Smails in talking to your private club’s dressing room attendant then this may not be the blog for you (but please read about us commoners).

If you have wondered about and/or have searched for a Peter Kessler sex tape involving The Perfect Club…then please seek professional help immediately. Please. Let us never speak of this again.

If none of this makes sense, have I mentioned my theory about scotch being one of the four food groups?

In other news, at some point in early 2014 I’ll be getting rid of the WordPress account and switching to a vanity URL.

Where Santa is a fat dude with a 9.0 index

Yes, it’s that time of year again…looks outside. Actually it isn’t. It’s 68 degrees. ON THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER. SERIOUSLY WTF IS GOING ON? Where the f*** was this weather in April when I was freezing my raisins off being an idiot in shorts? While I thought long and hard about teeing it up this morning, I compromised and went to the driving range to bid adieu to the 2013 golf year (unless it warms up again next weekend in which case I’ll be there again).

While the weather would not indicate such, it will be Christmas on Wednesday. Supposedly. I think. In the spirit of Christmas, I went shopping for my golf-related friends. Since some of these folks won’t open their gifts (and look at me being all generous), I’m going to spoil the surprise and tell you what I got them.

Columbia Association run-courses…now you haven’t always been that good this year (in fact you’ve been a bit naughty at times and that new clubhouse is all good and well but a well-maintained golf course would be nice to see), but I got you a new, online tee time system! No more having to go through the hell of having pick up the phone and try to call in to make a tee time, talk to five different people (none of whom can actually help you), and lose 25 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. Now, people can book online, and you’ll make more money! How great is that?

Timbers at Troy and Waverly Woods…you’re trying to be good so we’re going to give you improved drainage and larger, fully stocked pro shops. You’re also getting indoor simulators, so people have reasons to come visit you all year! How awesome is that? Now don’t go leaving cookies and milk for Santa…just leave a sleeve of ProV1X’s and three fingers of Glenlivet 18-year.

Northwest Park Golf Course…you’ve been really good this year to Santa. Really, really good. So Santa is going to give you a new all grass practice area on top of your existing range with mats. Just make sure that Santa keeps holing those 8-foot putts.

Redgate Golf Course…you get a lease extension to continue to operate as a course. And, since you asked and were nice to Santa (that 75 Santa shot there was very, very nice of you), Santa’s going to have them go in and give you a new 11th green. And Santa’s going to put up a net along the 14th hole to avoid left-fading drives to go onto the street.

University of Maryland golf course…you’re getting a lease extension as well to continue to operate. The University golf teams, students, and the golfing public all need you, and your funky yet challenging layout should continue to give area golfers a true hidden treat. You weren’t that nice to Santa when he played there, but that’s okay, because you’re a great course.

Golf Channel’s Michael Breed…it’s called decaf. Santa’s hooking you up. Take the hint. You’re a smart guy…but seriously…decaf.

Glen Nager of the USGA. You’re a naughty, naughty boy. You thought you could just take over the USGA and run it like your own little kingdom. Didn’t work out. You don’t really understand or get public golfers. So Santa is giving you the proverbial lump of coal, and a case of the yips, AND every time you turn a TV on you’re going to see Glenn Kessler naked while talking about The Perfect Club while Gary McCord dances around only wearing a cowboy hat and chaps. You’re welcome.

Tim Finchem of the PGA Tour. Santa already gave you your present. It’s a new format for the FedEx Cup Playoffs! It’s on this blog! Don’t make me go Full Kessler on you.

Phil Mickelson…you’ve been a good lad all year. So Santa is going to get you that one thing he knows you really, really want. You can pick it up in June at Pinehurst. But I won’t tell anyone. It’ll be our secret.

Tiger Woods…you’re a bit tough to buy for. I mean, you’ve got more money than anyone can count. But, Santa is getting you your own USGA rules seminar. I could make Brandel Chamblee your instructor, but that seems petty. We’ll do it somewhere local so you don’t have to spend time away from your new girlfriend and your kids. But let’s take notes- there will be a test.

Ian Poulter…your comments on Twitter are, if nothing else, entertaining. And judging by your tweets, you seem to have quite a bit of very nice things. But you finally called out the rubes that scream random crap at tournaments during the USPGA Championship. Which was good. So you’re going to get a Ryder Cup spot on the team (the event is better when you’re in it), and maybe, just maybe, a major championship. But let’s take it down half a notch on the “look at my toys” tweets. Nobody is asking you to give up your well-earned trappings. Half a notch.

To anyone who yells “mashed potatoes” or anything similar at a tournament…you’re getting a couple thousand fire ants in your undershorts. Just stop it. It stopped being funny a long time ago. Just stop. Please.

Sergio Garcia…where do I even start? Here’s a pair of shoes that Santa has grilled for you. Insert in mouth.

Miguel-Angel Jiminez…Santa would send you a case of rioja and cigars but it seems you’re all set. So Santa is going to give you another win, and some starts in the US. Because watching you play…makes Santa very happy and hopeful.

The LPGA Tour…Santa is going to give you perfect weather for all your events next year. It seems the least Santa can do. You deserve it after two years of rain, hail, lightning and seemingly plagues of locusts. Maybe then people will tune in and realize just how good you all are, and that you all have some serious game.

Christina Kim…a year ago you missed out at the LPGA Tour Q-School and were battling the kinds of demons that no one would ever wish on their worst enemy. And yet, you went out there and did what touring professionals do- you got into tournaments
and gave it everything you could. So Santa is giving you at least one win this upcoming season.

Nick Faldo…you’re getting a time machine where you go back to 2004! Back when you were really point-on with your analysis and weren’t spewing empty superlatives. You’re not dumb. In fact, you’re pretty sharp and you know what you’re talking about. No histrionics, but you’re a former pro who’s won several majors. Put us in the head of players. Tell me something I don’t know.

David Feherty…you’re hilarious, insightful, and possibly a savant. You’ve been good and you’re a dog person. So Santa will give you exactly what you want. You deserve it.

And on that note, I hope you get what you’re looking for this season.

Small Business Saturday in the HoCo

This past Saturday November 30th was “Small Business Saturday” which encourages folks to shop at local stores. It’s a great idea after the orgy of stupidity and mayhem that often accompanies the so-called “Black” Friday after Thanksgiving. Since golf stuffs are always in good taste and honestly- why not buy for yourself (my arguement is that I know I’ll like it, and I’ll be happy to have it…and other than maybe a bottle of good scotch there’s not much else I’d want)?

So armed with money and my sanity, I set out to find out how I could do that.

The trouble started when I did some online searching- Howard County is a lot of things, but clearly, we’re not larded up with golf retailers. And by “not larded up” I mean “none exist”…which is okay, I thought- I can go to courses and they’ll have stuff- surely they’ll want to get in on the fun, right?

Not so much. The Columbia Association courses were shuttered. Empty parking lots and dark pro shops mean no revenue (and if we’re being honest, the pro shops at Hobbit’s Glen and Fairway Hills are, at best, poorly stocked afterthoughts). Calls to Waverly Woods and Timbers at Troy found no success either. Yes- we had a horrible cold snap and we had heavy rain in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and I’m sure that this impacted things. Nonetheless, it’s frustrating when, as a consumer, you have money to spend and a desire to spend it, and you have zero luck trying to support a local business.

Having lived here, I supported the now-defunct Mammoth Golf from its infancy to its death (I was deeply saddened to see it close up) and still try, whenever possible, to support local businesses. With that being said, as a golf consumer, I had two options in Howard County- go to the dueling big-box retailers on Rt. 175 (that would be Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy). Of the two I’ve always preferred Golf Galaxy even though they’re the same parent company- the people at Golf Galaxy are more in the know about golf.

Never mind that they don’t sell big and tall sized golf apparel (nor do they even offer it online- for golf apparel I have to shop online (I’ve had my best success buying shoes through TGW and buying apparel through Cutter and Buck’s online store)- even shoes (I have a wide foot and wear a wide width) has become an online-only episode (although at Golf Galaxy they did have a few wide sizes in a few models) as well.

I don’t want to be made to feel as though my only option for buying clothes and shoes is online. While it’s convenient, I like to try before I buy.

As much as it pains me to point this out, the Montgomery County courses had specials and did a much better job marketing Small Business Saturday (they sent out emails with specials and have indoor simulator packages).

Hopefully next year we’ll see a Small Business Saturday that golfers can participate in. I hope.

Joining the social media thing

Since my feelings about social media run similar to Ron Swanson, joining Twitter was akin to getting a bad tattoo while sober. Nonetheless, I’m on twitter. You can follow my incoherent ramblings and drunken stupidity @1golferincart where I seek to perform the Twitter equivalent of 4-putting from 10 feet.

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