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Waverly Woods Revisited

From just off the 1st tee at Waverly Woods.  Cold, sun just coming up. Hoping for the best.

From just off the 1st tee at Waverly Woods. Cold, sun just coming up. Hoping for the best.

The last time I played Waverly Woods was in September 2015, and to put it politely I was unimpressed about the pace of play (and more importantly that nobody from the course seemed to give a rip).  I wrote some pretty unflattering words, and I meant (and still do) every word of it based on what was happening at the time.  For a course to permit rounds going over 5 1/2 hours in your dew-sweeper groups is doing the game a disservice not to mention area golfers.  It’s simply going to kill the game.

However, I gave this quite a bit of thought, and wanted to see if things had changed there.  If I’m being honest, I wanted it to improve because the layout is one of the best in the area, and seeing the course function better serves the golfing public far better than if it’s known as a pace-of-play graveyard.  If I make pointed complaints, much of it comes from wanting to see this area serve public golfers better.  I seek not to take people down, but rather, to hopefully see things elevated.

It was in this vein that I made the relatively short drive up to Marriottsville on a chilly Sunday morning (I was worried about a frost delay but we escaped that).  After parking and changing shoes, I went into the pro shop and paid my green fee (range balls were included but I didn’t really have time to hit balls so I went to the short game area and hit a few chips before we started our round).

From the rough on the third hole.  Green is to the far right of the photo (bad aim on my part).

From the rough on the third hole. Green is to the far right of the photo (bad aim on my part).

Despite what must be a challenging winter, the course was, for the most part, in pretty good shape.  Fairways were well manicured, rough wasn’t overly penal, and the greens were fairly true.  One of their members was in my group and he mentioned that they had hired a new GM at the course (apparently the previous one enjoyed the free golf perk quite a bit, while the new one seems to be more concerned about how the course operates) that had been well received.

From the 8th tee at Waverly Woods. Love this hole.  Loved it more after I managed a birdie.

From the 8th tee at Waverly Woods. Love this hole. Loved it more after I managed a birdie.

The good news- pace of play was better (we were first out so there’s no reason it shouldn’t be).  The other twosome in our group were good guys who needed the occasional nudge, but by and large kept it moving.  We finished in 3 hours and 40 minutes (and more importantly the group in back of us only waited on us 2-3 times…still 2-3 times more than they should have had to, but by the time we got to the back nine we hardly saw them).

From the tee at the 15th hole. That townhouse on the right...that's more in play for a slicer than it should be.

From the tee at the 15th hole. That townhouse on the right…that’s more in play for a slicer than it should be.

I did notice that marshals/player assistants on carts at least 2-3 times during the round.  I won’t speculate if they were looking at a time par or making sure we weren’t holding up the group in back of us, but nothing was said to us (I know this is never fun but even a “doing okay fellas but let’s keep things moving- you shouldn’t be seeing the group in back of you” can be well received).

13th hole- a long and very difficult par 3.  I managed to get on the green in regulation. Miracles do happen.

13th hole- a long and very difficult par 3. I managed to get on the green in regulation. Miracles do happen.

The layout is largely unchanged from my visit two years ago, nor should it need to be changed.  It remains a great test with a very wide range of hole lengths (both short and long par 4’s and par 3’s).  The 13th hole (above) is as tough of a par 3 as you’ll fine in the area.  Miss left and you’re well below the hole.  Miss right and you’ve got an almost impossible chip shot downhill to a very slick green.  Even on the green if on the wrong half relative to the hole location is brutal as well.

17tg hole at Waverly Woods.  Target golf at its finest.

17tg hole at Waverly Woods. Target golf at its finest.

While you do see homes on most holes, only on a few holes are they really in play (and this is the reality we have with newer courses).

So all in all, I had a good time at Waverly Woods.  If you can keep the ball in the fairway and get around in four hours, it’s as good of a test of golf that exists for public golfers in the DMV.  They have a pro-shop/grill room that has what you’d expect to see.  They do have a beverage cart during the warmer months (didn’t see one when I played), and as I’ve mentioned before, the green grass driving range and their short game area are better than you’d see at most private clubs.

 

Major Championship Rules Snafu Version 3.0

For the third time in 10 months, a major championship will be best remembered for a terribly managed rules issue rather than for great golf and a worthy champion.  Lexi Thompson was denied the title last night at the ANA Inspiration because someone emailed the LPGA that she thought that Lexi Thompson moved her ball illegally on the 17th hole of Saturday’s third round.   Below is a clip from Golf Channel’s coverage last night:

I’ll point out that at no point did her playing partner nor the walking rules official see any issue with it (who are the primary sources for bringing up any issues).  Nobody on Golf Channel’s coverage (their own rules expert as well as the broadcast team- all experts at golf) saw an issue with it at the time.  None of the print journalists saw an issue nor did anyone covering the event.

No other sport entertains cranks who call in to report this kind of stuff other than golf.  Tennis (golf’s closest comparable) has a fantastic replay system that takes 5-10 seconds to review.  Call the ATP or the WTA about a foot-fault and you might as well yell at clouds.  The professional golf tours should act similarly.

It wasn’t until someone emailed the LPGA after play had ended (the LPGA didn’t see the email until Sunday) to report the issue.  This is wrong on two accounts (besides the larger issue of why professional golf should EVER give these people so much as the time of day):

1) If the viewer waited until Sunday to send the email (or after Saturday’s round), then this is a whole new level of being a shithead, because in doing so you’re setting up Lexi Thompson to fail knowing that she already signed her scorecard which brings in an additional penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard (how much money did this asshole have on someone other than Lexi Thompson because this reeks of some dickhead who had money on someone else and was scrambling trying to figure out a way to not lose?  Oh, am I not being fair to this asshole?  Tough.  In one email he effectively changed the result of a major championship- I hope this person has nightmares about it for the rest of their life, and may the 877-KARS-4-KIDS song be stuck in your head for the next 1000 years).  The word you’re looking for here in entrapment.

2) If the viewer sent the email on Saturday, why did the LPGA not immediately contact Lexi Thompson and say “please come back here NOW” and at the very least, administer the penalty BEFORE the start of Sunday’s round?   Surely it would have been better to let Lexi know where she stood BEFORE teeing off on Sunday (and if you’re so damn worried about protecting the field announce it then as well).  That way, everyone knows what’s going on and can plan accordingly.  In this case, telling her after finishing her 12th hole of the final round is absurd.  Most of the field had finished their round so this idea of protecting the field goes out the window (if you teed off thinking you were 6 or 7 shots off the lead as opposed to 2 or 3, your thinking is going to be entirely different).

So this jerk that thinks he’s a hero is anything but a hero.  Either way you look at it, what this person did was patently wrong.

So how do you go forward?

1) Effective today, professional golf and any governing body has to agree that any rules issues brought up by a viewer is to be ignored.  The role of protecting the field and enforcing the rules has to be the dominion of the players (as specified by the rules of golf) and the on-site rules officials.  The tours should immediately enact a local rule at all tournaments that advice from an outside agency/TV viewer is not to be considered.

2) Players and on-site rules officials should be reminded that they should act immediately if they see something.  I don’t have an issue with a rules official saying “let’s take a look at this on TV” if they’re not sure but the decision has to be made at that point and before the player signs their scorecard.

3) If you want TV to step in, then the professional tours should immediately set up a remote TV rules bunker/war room (MLB, NHL and the NFL have these, as does both codes of rugby).  This means that every player has to be viewed on every hole (otherwise you’re not enforcing the rules evenly).  If the TV war room/bunker see an issue they can contact one of the on-site rules officials and review the infraction with the player immediately.

4) You can’t have things be subject to review after the round is finished.  They don’t do this after the final round, so why is it accepted after the first three rounds?  If there’s any doubt from anyone, the player should be advised to not sign their scorecard until they can review it.

Three incidents in 10 months regarding rules infractions that have been badly managed is three too many.  This simply cannot continue.

Blue Mash Course Review (and more)

From the 4th tee at Blue Mash. Don't go left. Or long. Or right.

From the 4th tee at Blue Mash. Don’t go left. Or long. Or right.

Despite temperatures that were 30 degrees cooler than the day before, I had an enjoyable round on Sunday 3/26 at Blue Mash which remains one of the better public tracks in Central Maryland.  Unlike my 2015 visit to its sister course Waverly Woods, pace of pace was not an issue at all.  The other twosome I was paired with moved on as the cold weather was too much for them (they played the front nine and called it a day),  Playing with the guy I got paired with as a twosome, we finished 18 holes in 3 hours and 10 minutes (and that was with a your humble scribe requiring a stop for refreshments between nines).

Despite the up-and-down weather of late, for the most part, Blue Mash was in good shape when I played it with a couple notable exceptions.  The driving range is currently mats only while their green grass portion comes back (it’s currently covered with a plastic tarp).   As you can see from my photos, much of the turf-grass is still brown, but that’s not really surprising (the turf played fine; if anything it was nice that the rough wasn’t really a factor and easy to play from).  The greens rolled pretty true (it’s hard to tell but there’s a lot more break in them than it appears).

It’s been five years since I played Blue Mash so it was a bit of unfamiliar territory.  For those unfamiliar, Blue Mash doesn’t ease you into your round.  The first 3 holes are long par 4’s that are as difficult of an opening stretch that exists in the DMV.  Once you escape that, you’ve got a medium-length par 3 (photo above( to a well-protected green and a medium length par 5 that has jail the entire left side of the hole.

5th hole at Blue Mash from approx 150 out.  Trees left, water right. Whee!

5th hole at Blue Mash from approx 150 out. Trees left, water right. Whee!

The short 7th and 8th holes look inviting (and easy) enough on the scorecard, but any mistake off the tee and there’s trouble all over the place.

Once you hit the back nine, you have to contend with water for the first few holes, with 11 (a long par 3 into the prevailing wind) requiring a fairly stout carry over water to a well-protected green.

12th hole from the fairway at Blue Mash. The water on the right side isn't for decoration.

12th hole from the fairway at Blue Mash. The water on the right side isn’t for decoration.

So Blue Mash remains a stout test for area golfers.  I’m not going to claim to be Bradley Klein of Golfweek, but three notes about the course design:

1) Unless you’ve a knee that is problematic on a good day like I do, the course is a fairly easy walk.  No big distances between holes and no real elevation changes of note.  If courses want more people walking this is one way to make this happen.

2) No homes.  Not even kidding on this one.  The entire area is nothing but golf course.

3) The green complexes are all well protected; several holes have large bunkers (I know since I found my way in them) in the front of the green.  This came into play because on a cold day the ball doesn’t travel as far as it normally would and being off a few yards had some unpleasant consequences.

So all in all, Blue Mash is well worth a visit.  They have a practice green, a short game green and a range that is currently mats only but should convert to their green grass once we get into season.

SHOE REVIEW

Finally wore my Foot-Joy Hyperflex II shoes during my round at Blue Mash.  Out of the box they felt really good, but I will do a review once I get 3-5 rounds played in them.

SONG OF THE DAY

Alan Hawkshaw is a musical savant.  Put this on and if this doesn’t make you want to fix a cocktail or twelve then I can’t help you. Things are weird.  Sometimes you’ve just got to let go a bit.  This isn’t yacht rock.  It’s something else entirely.

Saturday Round and Experimentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXPERIMENTATION

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

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

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

SONG OF THE DAY

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

 

Self Inflicted Wounds and other Tales

Ready to go this morning. More on my round tomorrow.

Ready to go this morning. More on my round tomorrow.

The news that JC Penney is closing stores shouldn’t be news to anyone, given the sorry state of brick and mortar retail.  It’s bad enough if you’re a regular sized person, but being the exceptional man that I am, retailers are particularly good at giving me the middle finger, which is why I shop online.  Department stores don’t even try to cater to me, and Destination XL (who purportedly caters to big & tall men) is like playing the lottery (every successful trip means several unsuccessful trips).

Golf stores are equally bad.  Golf Galaxy doesn’t sell “big and tall” sizes either in store or online, and Howard County doesn’t have a Golfsmith or a PGA Tour Superstore (not that these stores sell big and tall sizes either).  Golf Galaxy does have a nice online ordering kiosk but if you’re not going to carry extended sizes then I’m not really sure what the point is (I can’t be the only plus-size-or-whatever-the-hell-you-call-me golfer in the area).  I have a couple trusted online stores I buy my golf apparel from (Cutter & Buck’s online store or Westport Big & Tall who carry Callaway, Cutter & Buck and Peter Millar in big & tall sizes).

I’m weird in that I don’t mind paying for quality.  I’d rather spend $70-$80 on a shirt that I know will hold up for several years rather than spend $40-$50 and have it fall apart after 1-2 seasons (the Cutter & Buck stuff holds up very well; I routinely will get 5-6 years out of a shirt).

Being blessed (cursed actually) with wide feet, shopping for golf shoes is equally dire.  I went into Golf Galaxy to look for shoes (the New Balance shoes I bought 2 years ago are breaking down on me and if I’m honest I need something a bit more structured given my ample proportions).  My beloved Footjoy XPS-1 shoes were laid to rest after 3 long seasons (loved those shoes), and while I don’t hate the New Balance shoes, I’m not sure I’d buy them again (they aren’t breathable and they’re breaking down faster than I would have liked).

So it was with hope and optimism that I strolled into Golf Galaxy in hopes of finding something.  I’d like to say I was successful but I came out empty handed because they don’t carry anything in the wide width that I need and ordering them at their online kiosk was to no avail.

I know Footjoy makes shoes in the width I need, so why retailers make things near on impossible is beyond me (luckily Footjoy has an online store where I can buy them directly at the same price they have them at in-store).  I’m trying to support a Howard County store…seriously (however, I’m pleased to report that She Who Is Really In Charge and I did go to Perfect Pour and buy several bottles of wine).

While I’m on the subject, I can’t recommend Perfect Pour enough.  Brian (their wine guy) knows more about wine than my very good friend and fellow degenerate Kevin Last Name Classified (which is saying something).  Their beer selection is outstanding (and full of regionally brewed products) as is their distilled spirits.   It’s everything you want a locally run retail store to be.  Full of knowledgeable people (and friendly), great selection, and easy to do business with.  The county is better for having them with us.

ON TOUR

The hot-take level bullshit being served up over Pat Perez’s comments (and subsequent walk-back and inevitable claim about being misquoted) about Tiger Woods serve as a reminder why sports talk radio and these ESPN and FS1 ‘talk’ shows should be permanently consigned to the waste-bin.  Uninformed rubes screaming about a sport they know nothing about…what could possibly go wrong (beyond everything)?  Normally we have to wait until the majors for this to come up, but now we’re being treated to an early dose.  As I’ve said several times, the easiest way for Woods to put this behind him is to finish multiple tournaments in a row.  Or keep missing cuts and going WD, and open yourself up to speculation and the like.

Compass Pointe Round and Timbers at Troy Update

Taking advantage of a pretty nice day weather-wise, I headed out early this morning to Compass Pointe for my second round of the year (putting me well ahead of last year’s dismal pace).  Conditions were a mixed bag (we played the South/West routing and not my preferred North/East routing), but this time of year it can be difficult for courses.  The greens weren’t bad, and the fairways were, for the most part, in decent shape.  It was chilly when we teed off (38 degrees according to my phone), but it warmed up into the mid 50’s by the time we finished, which was pretty pleasant by February standards.  A reminder that, even when I don’t play that well, I love this game.

4th hole on the South nine.  Don't go right.  Or left.  Or long.  Or short.

4th hole on the South nine. Don’t go right. Or left. Or long. Or short.

Had a good time, and as with my previous round my knee started acting up towards the end and started having some issues off the tee.  I’d still argue that Compass Pointe is a decent option in the area.  It’s not on anyone’s Top 10 in the DMV, but it’s a decent test of golf that has a nice variety of short and long holes.   My only complaint about the layout is that the par 5’s are uniformly all very tough with not an easy one on any of the four nines.

West nine, Hole 1.  Not to point out the obvious but going right is highly discouraged.

West nine, Hole 1. Not to point out the obvious but going right is highly discouraged.

However, there’s glimmer of hope of sorts.  The 7th hole on the West nine has had several trees taken down in the waste area which will hopefully make the second shot across the waste area a bit easier (definitely the case today).

West Nine 7th hole.  Note the removal of trees from either side of the hazard.  Definitely a bit easier to deal with.

West Nine 7th hole. Note the removal of trees from either side of the hazard. Definitely a bit easier to deal with.

Compass Pointe is still a fun place to play.  Pace of play in the afternoon can be uneven, but for morning rounds we breezed around in just over 3 1/2 hours (never saw anyone behind us except for a single that I immediately waved to play through).  Paid $49 to play (carts included).   For mid-February, can’t complain.

TIMBERS AT TROY UPDATE

Being mid-February and driving past it on the way home to stately SGIC manor, I stopped by Timbers at Troy to see how things are progressing while they’re closed for renovations.  I got a few strange looks from a couple folks who were wondering what I was doing (hopefully they realized I was just taking photos and was not some threat to security).  I didn’t want to get in trouble or bother anyone, but I took a few photos:

Bunker work done at the 9th green at Timbers at Troy. Looks good.

Bunker work done at the 9th green at Timbers at Troy. Looks good.

As you can see above, not only is the sand new (and very bright white), but it’s obvious they re-sodded the area around the bunkers (I saw this in most bunkers that have been redone.

5th hole at Timbers at Troy. Green-side bunkers have been redone.

5th hole at Timbers at Troy. Green-side bunkers have been redone.

At the 5th hole (above) you can see the green-side bunker is redone.  The fairway bunker (not visible) was also re-done and the area around the bunker was re-sodded.  This photo was taken standing on Marshalee Drive while a couple pedestrians stared at me.  If this was you, I’m a golf blogger.  That’s all.  The thing in my hand was a phone I used to take photos, so chill the hell out.

From behind the practice green looking out to the 1st hole at Timbers at Troy.

From behind the practice green looking out to the 1st hole at Timbers at Troy.

If the photo above doesn’t show it, the first hole also has new sand (the fairway bunker on the right and the green-side bunkers have been re-done.  They don’t care about my opinion but I’d have eliminated the two green-side bunkers at the first hole and just re-sodded, but I’m not a golf architect.  Still think the course is tough enough as is without the bunkers.

From my untrained eye, it looks like they’re making progress.  The bunkers look really good, and from what I saw, the greens and fairways looked better than they’ve looked (small sample size on a random February Saturday).  Admittedly, I’ve had a go at them on multiple occasions for a litany of reasons, but when the course is in good shape, it’s a solid test and one of the options in Central Maryland.  If I’ve pounded them, it’s because I want this course to be in great shape.  It’s a win-win if they do this.

RANT

I’m not watching the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am because I want to see the pros play.  At the risk of angering the masses, Bill Murray’s act is pretty tiresome (dress as oddly as humanly possible and take 6 1/2 hours to play), and my desire to see Larry The Cable Guy lumber about in a sleeveless shirt is a negative number (seriously, you’re a millionaire and yet it’s wear a sleeveless camo golf shirt (the ‘look at me dress like a real Merikun’ act is offensive, stupid and phony as all get out- it’s $500 to play at Pebble Beach so can we stop with the act?) and say ‘git-r-done’ like an organ grinder…is that the depth of this idiot’s talent?).   What horrible things must they do to Peter Kostis to make him ‘analyze’ their swings?  Crazy idea I posted on Twitter:

I don’t mind celebrities, but can we move them along at a pace slightly faster than glacial?  They’re playing at Pebble Beach and a course with its history deserves better than this trope of rubes playing dress-up.  Let Golf Channel cover the pros, and then let CBS go full-time celebrities on the Saturday (I acknowledge that they get ratings for this, so have both).

I actually find the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open funny…you know what you’re getting so either play or don’t.  It’s one hole a year.  If you honestly think it’s the only event where guys are getting loaded, I’ve got some ocean front property in Kansas for sale.

SONG OF THE BLOG

Bryan Adams in his early 80’s rocker days?  Oh hell yes.  You put those sunglasses on, you pull that guitar out of the leaves, and you get down with your bad self.

The leather pants…are a choice.  I’d have to kill a herd of cows for enough leather to fit the planetary force that is my rear end.

Hit ’em straight, and enjoy the nice weather while we have it.

 

First Round Review

5th hole at Fairway Hills. Still needs a clown's mouth.

5th hole at Fairway Hills. Still needs a clown’s mouth.

On a cold but occasionally clear Sunday a couple weeks ago, I played my first round of 2017 at Fairway Hills.  A frost delay wasn’t entirely unexpected which delayed our start by 30 minutes or so.  Overall, what I found was about what I expected to find.  A course in decent shape, greens of a mixed bag, but one that has had the needed repairs after the floods of July.  Note- the brown grass is normal.  Fairway Hills converted to Bermuda grass years ago, which goes dormant (brown) in cool to cold weather.

Around the 10th green.  I'm on the green while my playing partners enjoy a beach party in 39(F) weather.

Around the 10th green. I’m on the green while my playing partners enjoy a beach party in 39(F) weather.

All 18 holes were open and playing normally (currently cart path only so plan accordingly).  No temporary greens or goofy tee boxes.  The 5th hole still needs a clown’s mouth, and the 18th hole is still a 3-shot beast straight uphill.  I hadn’t played Fairway Hills in some time, so it was nice to get back out there.  The bridge repairs are completed so no having to double back.  The back nine is still significantly tougher than the front side (11 and 16 are, to borrow a Pierre Lebrun slogan, big-boy holes, and as mentioned 18 is one of the tougher finishing holes in the DMV).

14th hole at Fairway Hills. Not doing any favors with a sucker hole location, fellas.

14th hole at Fairway Hills. Not doing any favors with a sucker hole location, fellas.

For the most part, we’ve had a fairly mild winter (last year at this time we still had fairly heavy snow pack from the January 2016 Nor’easter; no such luck this time.  A good number of courses are open, so there’s really no reason you can’t go play if you’re so inclined.  Just dress warmly (think layers), and focus on having fun and not breaking 90/80 or whatever.  Ranges are generally open everywhere (call ahead before you go if you’re not sure), so might as well take advantage of above-freezing temperatures.

PRO TOUR RANT

Golf Digest  got their collective underpants in a knot over the discovery that people at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale might be imbibing a bit (I’m shocked…shocked to find out there’s gambling going on here!).  You can’t have it both ways.  If you want the event to be sedate, then they have to crack down on alcohol purchases and people pre-gaming in the parking lot in the dark.  People having sex in the port-o-lets?  Clearly they’ve never been to a concert or a festival.  I’ve seen people blazing up at the DMV tour stop and saw a couple engaging in their own form of anchoring as well.  Oh, but there’s a video of a guy drunk-walking who ends up going down for the count.  This happens at nearly every event but because the Waste Management Phoenix Open is known for being a drunk-fest we’re having the inevitable blow-back.  It’s one hole one week a year.  Encourage sober rides home, and encourage people to take care of each other (no slipping someone something).  Use CCTV if needed.  You still had just shy of 205K people show up to the event on Saturday which is impressive as heck.

SONG OF THE DAY

Given the current state of affairs, this seems about right.  Always loved the Cowboy Junkies (the never got the attention they deserved):

First Practice, First Golfers, and Other Random Crap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIRST GOLFERS

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

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

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

EMPTYING THE BUCKET

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

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

 

 

 

My 2017 Predictions (and Wishes)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some wishes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Update on GolfTec Ellicott City

Good news; in short, Golftec Ellicott City is open.   Stopped at Coal Fire for pizza during lunch (I do enjoy their pies), and after we finished I popped over to see that they’re open (doors open, people inside).  They’re open 7 days a week as well (I’m not paid to endorse but I’m happy to see Howard County finally get a dedicated indoor facility specializing in lessons and club-fitting).

Photo from The Golfers Academy

This could be you!

Not for anything, but Golfweek has Golftec lesson packages in their 2016 Holiday Gift Guide (sort of like Oprah’s Favorite Things but for golfers) which, if you’re asking, is a far better gift idea for the discerning golfer than a sweater or some godforsaken golf-themed gift that will serve no purpose beyond dust collection.

As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, another fantastic gift for that discerning golfer is a dozen of their favorite balls.  Simple, and you can be assured they’ll get used.

 

 

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