Tag: Professional Golfers’ Association of America (page 1 of 5)

Monday After The US Open Hot Topics

So after roughly 80 bazillion picks of who will/won’t/might/maybe contend at this week’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills, the winner was Brooks Koepka, otherwise known as the same guy who won last year.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly a week of smooth sailing.  Traffic (who knew that summer traffic in a summer destination was going to be an issue other than the millions of people who live/work/vacation in the area), course set-up, and a host of other issues got everyone riled up.  Rather than offer my opinions, I’m ceding the floor to Golf Twitter to argue the issues of the week.

Issue: Phil Mickelson’s attempt at playing polo on 13 on Saturday was a disgrace and he should have been DQ on the spot and drawn & quartered.  Or he was making a comment about the course conditions.  Let’s go to the evidence.

For: He deliberately hit a moving ball to keep it from running off the green!

Against: The USGA gave him a 2-stroke penalty as prescribed by the rules.

For: Several players weren’t exactly happy with this.  They typically don’t sound off en masse unless something goes completely off the rails (see Johnson, Dustin in 2016).

Against: He’s Phil Mickelson.  It was his birthday!  Fans love the guy!  Fans don’t care what the haters think.

For: Oh, so the rules don’t apply to beloved players.  His explanation was…well, you watch it.

Against: He wasn’t going to win so what’s the big deal?  Shut up!  Phil’s awesome!

For: Have you heard of protecting the field?

Against: Dummy says what?

For: He should have done the honorable thing and WD on Saturday night.

Against: He offered to and the USGA said no.  Says his wife Amy.

Resolved: We disagree.  Brendan Porath has a pretty smart take here.  I also think John Feinstein gets it right (his words, not mine):

Here are two things that are crystal clear: First, Mickelson embarrassed himself with his sprint, spin and putt while his bogey putt was still rolling. Second, the USGA, already having a bad day because of the way Shinnecock Hills was set up, embarrassed itself further by not disqualifying Mickelson the instant he smugly told the media his act was intentional.

Issue: The USGA’s course set-up went off the rails.  Again.

For: When you look at every foul-up or controversy at a men’s US Open, the problem can be traced back to course set-up.  Golf Channel certainly didn’t mince words.

Against: It’s the National Championship!  It’s supposed to be hard!  Who wants to see someone win with 20 under as a score?

For: The USGA admitted that they lost the course on Saturday and several players agreed.

Against: Oh great, now the players are turning into snowflakes because the course is a bit difficult.  Why not just get rid of all the rough and give everyone a trophy?  I want it harder!

For: The greens were dead.  Again.  After pinkie-swearing that there would not be a repeat of 2004.  They lost them in 2016, 2015, 2014.  Merion was lambasted in 2013.

Against: US Open is supposed to be hard. HULK SMASH.  Put bears in the fairway and land sharks in the rough.  MUST MAKE HARD.  What- they can’t play in wind anymore?  Winning score should be 20 over par so that us regular golfers can relate!

For:  It was windier than they expected.  In an area that is known to be windy.  Apparently with all this technology they literally can’t forecast wind a day in advance.

Against: It’s the National Championship, not some random tournament.

For: You can create a difficult challenge without stressing out greens.

Against: NO YOU CAN’T.  They should be stimping out at 20.  I WANT CARNAGE!!!

For: The Masters, Open Championship and USPGA manage course set-up without turning greens into parking lots.

Against: Did I stutter?  I WANT CARNAGE!  Tears, blood, and everything unfair.  It’s our national championship and it should be hard!

For: It already is.

Against: No it’s not.  I want a literal bloodbath.  I want a 79 to be the low score of the week.  I want to see scores in the 100’s.  9,000 yard courses, bunkers with poisonous snakes, 5-yard wide fairways.  AHHHHH!

For:  In that case they should just change the putting surfaces to concrete.

Against: Now you’re talking!

Resolved: Somewhere between last year’s event and this year, the USGA can and should create a difficult test that involves something more than lightning-fast greens.  Luckily they should not need to do much to Pebble Beach for 2019.

Issue: Fans at the US Open behave inappropriately.

For: You don’t see this in Augusta or at the Open Championship.

Against: Mashed Potatoes! Dilly Dilly!

For: This isn’t the Ryder Cup.

Against: U!S!A!  Hey look it’s Poulter….boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

For: Maybe a few less beers.

Against: Baba Booey!  Look at me everyone!

For: Seriously…can you not?

Against: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Killjoy.  Stop being a hater, broheim.

Resolved: The 2024 Ryder Cup is going to be a gong show.

Issue: Fox completed their 4th US Open so only 8 more years of this.

For: Their production and their technical advances are outstanding.

Against: Joe Buck.

For: Shane Bacon was outstanding.

Against: The Bill Hemmer interview during the 2nd round was a special kind of tone-deaf stupidity you only get from Fox.

For: Brad Faxon was outstanding.  Not flashy, but does a solid job of telling the viewer something they probably don’t know.

Against: Picking up player-caddie discussions are great. Fan discussions about their…ahem…partners isn’t.  Who thought this was a good idea?

For: Mike Davis appeared at the end of the 3rd round and took the hit for the course setup.

Against: Seriously.  Get rid of Joe Buck.  While you’re at it, tell Paul Azinger to drop the Grumpy Old Man bit.

Resolved: If Fox feels like they need him around, push Buck into a host role (think Bob Costas when NBC had the US Open) and find a competent 18th hole tower announcer.  Maybe Shane Bacon is the answer, maybe he’s not.  Think beyond the norm.  Some people are good at golf. Buck isn’t.  It’s been four years of USGA events; he’s not going to get better.  It’s just not his thing.

SONG OF THE DAY

30 years ago today I went with some friends to see Depeche Mode at the Rose Bowl in California.  Good times, minus the five couples around me who broke up (including the couple I went with), and two people projectile vomiting in the sink of the men’s washroom.   Enjoy.

 

When You Are The Slow Play Problem

Last weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open should have been remembered for Tiger Woods returning to competitive golf and posting a better-than-expected finish in the top 30 and Jason Day winning in a 6-hole playoff that finished on Monday due to darkness on Sunday night.  Unfortunately, what most die-hard types are talking about are the beyond-ridiculous four minutes and ten seconds it took for JB Holmes to play his second shot on 18 on Sunday.

You read this correctly; it took JB four minutes and ten seconds to play one shot.  For the record, if someone I got stuck playing with pulled this, they’re getting left behind.

Golf already has a litany of issues; adding a televised slow play meltdown at a time when CBS was cutting into their coverage of the Grammy Awards was at best terrible.  When Jim Nantz calls you out on live TV (he might have had an early dinner reservation for all I know, but still) for slow play, there’s a problem never mind all the people who wanted to watch the Grammy Awards getting pissed His fellow tour pros called him out on Twitter (calling him in his face en masse afterwards would have been preferable).  The final threesome took six hours to finish and finished more than a hole and a half behind the group in front of them (at most public courses you’d have the marshal/player assistant/golf police drop the hammer).  People wonder why slow play is a problem; it’s because people see this on TV and when they go to their local course they do the same crap (glacial pace of play, taking forever to read a green when putting, etc.).

Making matters worse, Holmes responded with something along the lines of not knowing he had a homework assignment due.  He didn’t know how long he was taking was his actual excuse, which is some straight up bad etiquette.  Again, pull this at any public course and the other people in your group and the marshal/ranger is going to light you up (and they should).

The solution is simple; the rules say it’s 40 seconds to pull a club and complete your shot.  Two warnings, then a stroke penalty.  Anything longer than 60 seconds is an automatic stroke penalty.  Three stroke penalties in a tournament and it’s an automatic DQ.  Two DQ’s in a season and you’re ineligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.  Three and you lose your card and are ineligible for sponsor exemptions.  Make Ready Golf mandatory for PGA Tour events.  I’d go so far as to set a daily time par based on the course, weather conditions, and how early/late the player goes out and make finishing outside a threshold of the time par a stroke penalty.  Until you start hitting players where it hurts (on their scorecard, making them ineligible for playoffs and losing their Tour card), you’ll see the same crap every week.

SONG OF THE DAY

NOW IS THE TIME ON SPROCKETS WHEN WE DANCE.

Your 2018 Majors (and other) Predictions

Your faithful scribe, hard at work.

Now that 2017 is in the rear view mirror and everyone looks at the 2018 season, it’s time to make some (likely wrong) predictions.  First, let’s take a look at my 2017 majors predictions.

NOT Better Than Most.

 

Event My Prediction Actual Winner
Masters Phil Mickelson Sergio Garcia
US Open Rory McIlroy Brooks Koepka
Open Championship Shane Lowry Jordan Spieth
USPGA Championship Dustin Johnson Justin Thomas
ANA Inspiration Christina Kim Ryu So-Yeon
US Womens Open Brooke Henderson Sung Hyun Park
LPGA Championship A. Jutanugarn Danielle Kang
Womens Open Championship Gerina Piller In-Kyung (IK) Kim
Evian Championship Lydia Ko Anna Nordqvist

That’s pretty bad.  In fact, it’s downright terrible.  I wasn’t remotely close.  As much as I’d like to run from this, I can’t.  I could sit here and wallow in my failure and go crawl into a hole to cry softly, or I could knock back a few drinks and take another stab at things.  As with other things, I’m choosing the option involving drinking.  To borrow an old line, the use of these picks as the means for making a wager is, at best, foolhardy and at worst plain stupid.

Masters Tournament:

The “root for the story” pick: Either Rory McIlroy or Tiger.  McIlroy needs a green jacket to complete the career grand slam and Tiger in the hunt on Sunday would move the needle unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory.  For the record, I don’t know what to think about Tiger’s latest comeback, because frankly we’ve heard this same stuff before.  As of this writing he hasn’t hit a ball in anger in 2018 yet so I’ve no clue about this comeback.

The thinking man’s pick: Dustin Johnson can overpower this course (or anywhere else, really) unlike anything we’ve seen.  If he’s healthy and his putter is working he’s the favorite.  What happened last year (getting injured and having to WD) was incredibly unlucky.  If Jason Day is healthy (and that’s a HUGE if) he’s got the game to win here.

My pick: Six first-time winners in the last seven years (which underlines how hard it is to win a major with so many very good players out there).  I think this continues in 2018 and Jon Rahm wins.  He has the length and I like his short game.  First timers often struggle.  This will be his second Masters.

US Open (Shinnecock):

The “root for the story” pick: Phil Mickelson. Another ‘should have’ from the last time they were here.  The USGA managed to cock up the course by being unable to read a weather forecast and turned the greens into concrete.  They have an entire year to properly set up a golf course for the national championship and manage to screw up more often than not.  If he’s in contention and wins this is THE story of 2018 unless Tiger wins Augusta by 10, and the other majors by 5+ strokes.  It completes the career grand slam for him and gives him the ultimate sendoff.

The thinking man’s pick: Jordan Spieth.  Wind won’t bother him and he’s already won a US Open on a similar course.

My pick:  Your previous winners at Shinnecock are Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin and Retief Goosen.  Not bombers but guys who can think their way around a course.  I’m going to go out on a big ass limb and predict either Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler (I think this is the year he finally wins a major).

Open Championship (Carnoustie):

The “root for the story” pick: Either Sergio (should have won in 2007), Tommy Fleetwood or Ian Poulter.

The thinking man’s pick: Justin Rose.  He’s got the game to win, and he was probably unlucky to have not won in Augusta last year.  Paul Casey seems to have found his game.

My pick: Your previous winners at Carnoustie are Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie, so the sample size is really difficult.  The weather is always a factor; bad weather on the first two days can easily knock out half the field so it’s really a bit of a lottery.  Having said that, the R&A don’t get worked up about protecting par.  If the winning score is 17 under then fine; if the wind blows and it’s 5 over, then that’s okay as well.  A lot of first-time winners of recent memory and a lot of Americans winning, but not at Carnoustie.  I think this continues.  I think it’ll be a non-US first-timer that wins.  Rafa Cabrera Bello has the length, he played well last year at Birkdale.

US PGA Championship (Bellrieve):

The root for the story pick: Jordan Spieth needs a US PGA Championship to complete the career grand slam.

The thinking man’s pick: Rickie Fowler is way overdue.  Patrick Reed fits the profile of a young American first-time winner and I think he’ll contend.

My pick: First-time major winners galore.  This will be the last US PGA Championship held in August (thankfully); and of course they’re going into the St. Louis area (so expect horrible heat, humidity and likely thunderstorms).  I’ve advocated that the PGA get the hell out of middle America and look West, but they don’t seem to be able to do this.  I’m going with Charley Hoffman who will come out of a competitive and muddled pack to eke out a win.

RYDER CUP:

Unlike a certain writer who thinks we’re into some gilded age of American dominance, I’m not ready to hang the bunting just yet.  The ugly truth is that it’s been 25 years since an US team won in Europe.  I think Europe wins a very closely contested Ryder Cup.

 

 

Where I Break Down the Quiet Feet Infomercial

With much of Golf Twitter having a school cafeteria food fight over the pissing match between Brandel Chamblee and Jason Dufner, we go live to their ongoing feud:

To borrow a phrase from the Brits, their feud is really the stuff of handbags at 10 paces.  Either drop the mitts and settle it that way, or zip it.  I thought so.

Of a more pressing nature is another installment of my multi-part series on old Golf Channel infomercials.

The 1990’s and early 2000’s were an interesting time for Golf (and Golf Channel).  They didn’t have early-round PGA Tour rights, and hadn’t yet decided we needed to see Tin Cup, Bagger Vance, Caddyshack, and The Greatest Game Ever Played (at some point Michael Breed is going to break down the swings of Matt Damon and Shia LeBoeuf for the gong shows that they are).  And when you’re on 24 hours a day, you need filler (didn’t have Feherty either).  Which meant Infomercials, which I will watch because they’re never not accidentally hilarious.  I’ve started a series of these here and here for your reading pleasure (along with my Magnum Opus here).

For those of you unaware, Brandel Chamblee isn’t just a talking head.  He spent several years on the PGA Tour and won an event so the “he never played the game” tripe that some serve up at him is unfair (and if you think it’s easy to get on Tour please remove your head from your rectum).  He also made an infomercial, and it’s something.  So today, we pay tribute and break down The Quiet Feet infomercial.  As always, my sincere thanks for the inspiration to my spirit animal Down Goes Brown.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

0:13: The PowerPoint 1997 graphics are awesome.  I’ve only sat through about 12,000 meetings that had PowerPoint 1997 decks.  If I start having bad flashbacks, this is why.

0:17: Why hello there, Brandel.  Double pleated slacks, a shirt that would fit me (so on him it’s only about 3 sizes too small) and a fantastic head of hair.  Am I the only one that thinks he needs to grow a mustache?

0:28: WTH?  Is this golf after hours or something?

0:45: Cross-branding with the folks at Golftec, and a teaching professional who probably has his own system and routine (my routine is a heavy diet of bourbon and painkillers which explains why I have a 10.4 index and nobody asks me for help on their golf swing).

1:10: If you were playing a casual round and some guy in your group put this thing on of their own free will, you’re questioning a lot of your decisions, right?

1:18: Hi Brandel!  Looking good mate!  You totally do not sound like you’re reading this off of cue cards.  Not one iota.  Nope.

1:42: Close-up time.  I’m not saying he’s half in the bag, but if this were me I’d be completely in the bag by this point because these other two have the personality of a desk lamp.

2:22: Wardrobe change, and they’re outdoors now.   We’re using kids as props for this thing?  Really?

2:54: I’m picturing the cue card people getting blackout drunk.  Look, if you needed this 50 Shades of Crap strap thing to make you a better teacher, maybe you’re the problem.

3:01: DVD Alert.  With a user guide?  Free, if I call now?  Oh my god melt this down and inject it into my veins!

3:12: Tell me how to order.  Tell me.  TELL ME!  An 800 number AND a website designed by Prodigy Internet?  Take all of my money!  I mean, look at this poor schmuck moving his feet around- if only he could keep his feet quiet, the world would be a better place!

3:37: This thing is $49.95 plus shipping and handling.  They’re straps.  You can buy this at Home Depot or Lowes for less than 20 bucks.  But the DVD and the user guide!  Far be it me to be critical of Brandel, but if you honestly think that not having this thing kept you from winning, please get help.  I mean, just think how good Tiger might have been if he used this thing!

3:50: Oh, it comes in a waterproof detachable bag!

4:12: It comes in 3 junior sizes.  How many kids got this for Christmas and never touched a club again?

4:21: If you saw someone using this at work, you’re going to HR pretty much immediately, right?  I mean, this guy’s work internet browser history is going to be something; you can just tell.

4:53: Now they’re pimping Beaver Dam Falls (the course they’re at).  Oh shit, Kenny Rogers designed the course!  The same guy who wrote “The Gambler” and sang “Islands in the Stream” with Dolly Parton!  The namesake for Kenny Rogers Roasters?  Where is this place?  I MUST KNOW NOW.  I mean, when you can design a chicken restaurant AND a golf course, AND sing duets with Dolly Parton…that’s living the High Life.

SONG OF THE DAY:

Come on, was there any doubt on this?  Turn this on full volume in your car and drive around with your windows open.

 

 

Good Things Come In Threes (or more)

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIGER, TIGER, TIGER

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONG OF THE DAY

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

Giving Thanks in 2017

Being able to play in the desert is always worth giving thanks.

Being able to play in the desert is always worth giving thanks.

It’s been a few weeks since I updated my blog; after returning from the desert a few weeks ago, things have been less than ideal on several levels.  I’ll spare you the details, but it’s been the things that nobody should ever have to endure.  If you’d have told me on October 25th after getting up and down for a 79 that I wouldn’t touch a club at all in November I’d have thought you were crazy (I guess it’s for the best that the weather has been uncooperative).

So it’s from there that I wanted to pause for a moment and offer up some holiday thanks (since this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US; if you’re curious She Who Is Really In Charge and I will be having a quiet dinner) to some people in the golf world who deserve it.

To the LPGA, thanks for providing a blueprint on how to grow the game and engage fans.  It’s a travesty that all four rounds of their Tour Championship this past weekend weren’t being shown live on TV (bump it to USA Network or MSNBC if needed; surely a bunch of USA Network reruns of NCIS and whatever “Prison Lockup” show MSNBC is showing could be bumped to show live golf).

To the USGA and the R&A, thank you for making progress towards simplifying the rules.  I still argue that bifurcation is the way forward with the rules (and equipment) but you’re making an effort.

To all of the local maintenance staffs, superintendents, starters and people who work at golf courses, thank you.  Profusely.  While it’s all good and well to thank the local teaching professionals (and they do great work), if you didn’t have maintenance people doing what they do at zero dark hour things wouldn’t be that much fun for us.  They get next to no credit and blamed for pretty much anything and everything.  Yes, putting on punched greens isn’t fun but it’s punching them that keeps them in great shape.

To Golf Channel, thanks for ensuring I never go more than a week or so without a rerun of the Golf Movie Trinity (Caddyshack, Tin Cup, Bagger Vance).  Can you maybe air the unedited/non-condensed versions after 11pm?  Just a request (and while we’re at it, could you possibly acquire the rights to Dead Solid Perfect which remains the greatest golf movie nobody’s ever seen).

To Alan Shipnuck, thanks for writing a terribly-sourced piece of click-bait on the supposed impending dominance of the Americans in the Ryder Cup.  A US team that has exactly one win on European soil in 35 years (I distinctly remember reading about how the Americans were going to be dominant with Tiger as their anchor; didn’t quite work out that way) should probably avoid talk of a dynasty just yet.  I’m not saying the US doesn’t have what could potentially be a great core of the team, but things happen (Anthony Kim anyone?).  Call me old fashioned but i prefer to actually WIN before pounding my chest.  And while it’s all good and well to point out what a folly it was to have Tom Watson captain the 2014 side I remember reading dozens of pieces about how he’d be the steady hand on the tiller (didn’t quite work out that way).  I also read stories galore about US dominance before the 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012 matches.

Thanks to the PGA Tour for doing your dead-level best to ensure the DMV doesn’t have a tour stop anytime soon.  The level of support the events here get despite every attempt to let them fail is nothing short of amazing.  The weather issues this event has dealt with (going back to the old Kemper Open days) look like end-of-days stuff.  And yet, people come out in droves to volunteer, buy tickets, attend events, and watch with amazement.

Thanks to our local golf retailers for continuing to fail to stock my size in clothing and footwear and saving me from having to fight traffic in hopes of finding something.  When you wonder “why is retail dying?” see me quietly buying stuff online because I literally don’t have any other options.  When the inevitable fail happens, a lot of good and decent people will lose their jobs as a result.  Please start catering to a wider audience.  Or don’t.  I can literally update my blog and buy a pair of shoes at the same time while enjoying a couple scotches.

To my friend Real Name Redacted, thanks for putting up with my admitted insanity and more-than-occasional OCD behavior (I could write 500 words about tee colour, towel usage and why #2 balls are bad luck and that’s not even my top 5) as we trek all over the DMV to play golf (I may seem normal, but I’m most decidedly not).  It’s been fun seeing you go from curious enthusiast to full-blown addict and putting a unique spin on the Circle of Trust.

Photo from GNNstore.com

Somebody’s Christmas gift available at gnnstore.com

To my putters who’ve endured unspeakable insults and threats, thank you for not rising up in the middle of the night to attack me.  If having conversations with my putters and giving them rum and cigars is wrong, then maybe I don’t want to be right.  Worked for Cerrano in ‘Major League’ so why not, I say.

This may or may not be me before I tee off, trying to wake up my putter.

This may or may not be me before I tee off, trying to wake up my putter.

To all the people who are on Golfchat on Twitter on Tuesday nights, thanks for sharing your insights, opinions, and perspectives.  It’s interesting to hear from other people and learn from their experiences on this game we all love.  We may not agree on every issue but it from hearing each other, maybe we learn something we didn’t fully understand prior.

Best wishes for an enjoyable Thanksgiving if that’s your thing; otherwise thanks as always for reading.

SONG OF THE DAY

For a lot of reasons, this song always brings me back to a happier place.  I’ll pause from my current state of affairs to give thanks, and one small reason is this song which brings a lot of happy memories.

 

FootJoy Hyperflex II 30-Round Review

When it comes to shoes I’m fickle.  I have wide feet with high arches, and unlike most people I don’t pronate (I under-pronate or supinate).  So buying golf shoes can be a bit of a challenge at best.

My new Footjoy Hyperflex 2 Golf Shoes. From the top.

My new Footjoy Hyperflex 2 Golf Shoes. From the top.

I don’t have the Adidas shoes currently (if they made golf shoes in a EEE Width (they don’t) I’d probably buy from them since the one pair I bought was great save for the fact it wasn’t wide enough).  If your feet are normal width they have some fantastic looking product.

For me, I’ve had my best luck with Footjoy.  Not because they give me anything or because they’re nice people (they may well be) but because their product fits my foot and is comfortable.  I got 4 very productive years out of their old XPS-1 shoes (ask your parents, kids) before they started coming apart.   I tried a pair of New Balance shoes (lightweight, but not a lot of ventilation (my feet would be incredibly sweaty after a round)) and didn’t care for them at all, so this past March I went back to Footjoy.

After emailing their customer service team, they recommended the Hyperflex II as the closest thing to my beloved XPS-1’s.  Placed an order, and within a few days they showed up at my house.

From the bottom.  A lot of yellow, and a lot of fantastic grip on turf.

From the bottom. A lot of yellow, and a lot of fantastic grip on turf.

I’ve held off doing a review because initial reviews are rarely that good; most newer golf shoes are well made so they should easily hold up out of the box.  But what about after 30 rounds over the majority of a season?  Would they still feel good in October the same way they do in late March?  Read on.

Comfort:  Outstanding. When I first put them on they felt better than any golf shoes I’d ever worn before.  Slipped right on without any issues.  The last time I wore them a week ago, they still feel great.  Haven’t had any blisters or sore feet after rounds (used to have issues with my New Balance shoes).  The white cushioning is firm (good for bigger lads like myself) without being overly plush.  Even after 30 rounds they still feel good.  The cushioning hasn’t broken down and other than the spikes starting to wear down (expected) they feel as good as they did out of the box.

From the side. The white portion has firm cushioning yet is stable. Bravo.

From the side. The white portion has firm cushioning yet is stable. Bravo.

Waterproofing: Above average.  Morning rounds in dewy/wet conditions haven’t been an issue nor have a couple rounds in light/moderate rain.

Grip: Outstanding.  I’ve never slipped, and even going down steep hills I’ve never had an issue with the shoes.  They have replaceable soft-spike cleats which for the most part don’t leave a big impression on the greens.

Stability: Above average. The soles flare out a bit (it’s one of the things I loved about my XPS-1 shoes) but not that much.  I’d like it if they flared out more (I have a tendency to roll my ankle a bit in my downswing) but that’s my only quibble and it’s a minor one.

Look: Average.  They’re golf shoes.   They’re not a traditional wing-tip or a saddle shoe, but those seem to be going the way of the persimmon driver.  They’re not hideously ugly, they don’t look like Sketchers, and I like the yellow sole.

Overall: Outstanding.  I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive when I ordered these but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  It has some elements of a traditional golf shoe but with lightweight stability a

nd comfort that should be expected.  If you’re in the market for new kicks, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

Song of the Day:

Waking up to hearing about the events that happened in Las Vegas overnight was horrifying.

I have many happy memories of my visits to Las Vegas (I could probably write a novella about them); love, lust, great golf, bad decisions, and a host of other things.  This song always takes me back to a 1992 trip (back when I was living in Southern California).  Driving through the desert at sunset on a hot July evening and hearing this song on the radio.  A simpler time, when everything seemed possible.  The last 25 years have been a lot of things, but more than once I think about that car ride through the desert, hearing this song, and wondering but what if.

The Cocteau Twins were never a major commercial hit.  This is probably their most well-known song.  Always brings a smile to my face.  Hope it does the same to you.

 

 

The Next 10 Best You Can Play

Uphill par 3 eighth hole at PB Dye.  One of my "next 10 best you can play" courses.

Uphill par 3 eighth hole at PB Dye. One of my “next 10 best you can play” courses.

If you’re like me, you eagerly look forward to the spring when Golfweek magazine publishes their annual ‘Best You Can Play’ list for each state.  Their 2017 list appears here however like far too many websites, they have auto-play video and audio that made me want to punch my laptop (seriously- if your website has this make it stop for everyone’s benefit), so if you don’t want have that torture subjected to you, below is Golfweek’s 2017 list for Maryland:

  1. Bulle Rock
  2. Lodestone
  3. Links at Lighthouse Sound
  4. Lake Presidential
  5. Whiskey Creek
  6. Musket Ridge
  7. Worthington Manor
  8. Hyatt Chesapeake Resort (River Marsh)
  9. Queenstown Harbour (River)
  10. Greystone

I have a few quibbles.  Playing conditions at Lake Presidential have been uneven at best and a couple folks I trust have said that while they have improved, I’m not sure it merits being ranked 4th.  Whiskey Creek is another.  When I played it I thought it was okay.  Not blow the doors off outstanding.  Good.   I thought that playing conditions at Worthington Manor were better and I think the layout is a better test (however it does not have a historical relic in the centre of the 18th fairway as a photo opportunity, and Whiskey Creek has that).

The ratings were done by Golfweek and their course raters (and for the record I’m not a Golfweek rater, nor do I play one on television however in full disclosure I am a subscriber to their magazine).

Looking at this list the other night got me thinking (which can be a dangerous thing) about the best of the rest.  Being opinionated and being someone who tries (when possible) to be an advocate for golf in the state, I decided to pour myself some thinking juice (otherwise known as scotch) and ponder a ‘next 10 best you can play’ in lieu of playing this weekend (Friday and Saturday’s rains meant everything’s pretty soggy and not exactly my idea of fun).  It was hard.  It took two glasses, 30 minutes, and what came of this was a list of courses that I’d gladly offer up as good examples of that ‘next tier’ of great courses in the state.  Rather than rank them I’m going to list them in the order I wrote them down and a comment or two about each one.  Feel free to disagree.

  1. Blue Mash: Why this isn’t in their top 10 amazes me.  Fantastic layout with the toughest stretch of opening holes in the region.
  2. Rum Pointe: Underrated Dye designed course near Ocean City.  Half the price of Lighthouse Sound.
  3. Little Bennett: At one point it was used for Monday Qualifying for the old Kemper Open.  Still a solid test and almost always in great shape.
  4. Northwest Park: Always in great shape.  Classic parkland-style course holds up to big hitters and shorter hitters alike.
  5. Waverly Woods: Blue Mash sister course is the best public course in Howard County.  Period.
  6. UMD Golf Course: Former Nationwide Tour Stop. Everything public golf should be.  I’m not saying this because She Who Is Really In Charge is a Maryland alum, I’m saying it because it’s a fantastic track that’s a challenge but playable.
  7. Maryland National: Fantastic layout just west of Frederick.  Bring plenty of ammo.
  8. Queenstown Harbour (Lakes): Same great conditions as the River course.
  9. PB Dye: Playing conditions have improved.  A few odd holes but overall a great layout
  10. GlenRiddle (Man O’War): Solid layout on the eastern shore that features bermuda tees and fairways.

Hurricanes

If you’re inclined, ABC has put together a list of ways to donate if you want to help out the people in Texas.  I donated through the Houston Humane Society (they have a wish list on Amazon of things they need).

Here’s hoping Irma will stay far, far away from North America and go out to sea and become a fish storm.

Greystone Course Review and a chance to meet SGIC!

From the 2nd hole at Greystone.  A good time to be long and straight.

From the 2nd hole at Greystone. A good time to be long and straight.

As part of my goal to play more courses in Baltimore in 2017, I took a trip up into northern Baltimore County yesterday (August 19th) to play at Greystone Golf Course (located in White Hall, which is north of Hunt Valley for those interested).  Greystone is part of the Baltimore County Revenue Authority portfolio of courses (similar, it seems, to the Montgomery County Golf courses).

3rd hole at Greystone. A long par 3 to clear a hazard and land on a severely sloped green.  The morning mist, combined with the sun coming up made for interesting light conditions.

3rd hole at Greystone. A long par 3 to clear a hazard and land on a severely sloped green. The morning mist, combined with the sun coming up made for interesting light conditions.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Greystone beyond having seen it listed in Golfweek Magazine’s ’10 Best You Can Play’ list by state on several occasions (it’s ranked #10 in their 2017 list).  From my humble abode in Columbia it’s an hour drive up to the course.  Not the easiest place in the world to find, but credit to them for having ample signage along the way (strongly prevent having directions or using a GPS).

7th hole at Greystone.  Lay up and then a long 2nd shot over a hazard to a tough green.  Whee!

7th hole at Greystone. Lay up and then a long 2nd shot over a hazard to a tough green. Whee!

Having finished, I can see why it earns the praise it does and it further shows that a municipally-run course can be well taken care of and hold its own against privately-run courses.

18th hole at Greystone.  Still a long ways to go.  Very much a 3-shot par 5.

18th hole at Greystone. Still a long ways to go. Very much a 3-shot par 5.

WHAT I LIKED:

  1. Five sets of tees.  So many courses only have 3 or 4 sets.  They had five sets.  From the tips it’s just under 7,000 yards and from the forward (red) tees it’s 4,800 yards.  I played the front nine with a husband and wife (she was playing from the red tees and enjoying herself and finding plenty of challenge and opportunity).
  2. Conditions.  The hot, humid and spate of strong thunderstorms that we’ve had must be a nightmare for superintendents and it seems like this year has had its own unique challenges.  So full credit to the maintenance staff for their work.  Greens rolled true.  Fairways were in good shape but the turf was probably in need of a trim so not exactly playing firm and fast, but they were consistent.  Rough was, for the most part, thick and lush.
  3. Yardage poles.  I know that this is a bit of controversy for some, but I like them.  For one, it helps people determine yardages since not everyone carries a GPS device/watch or a rangefinder.  Second, it helps someone see how the fairway is laid out (especially on semi-blind tee shots).
  4. Five par 3’s, five par 5’s.  Don’t see this very often.  Both nines start with a par 5.  The par 3’s vary quite a bit in length (white tee lengths listed) from 130-175 yards (when I played it ran from 120-195 yards).  The closing hole (572 yards from the tips, 541 from the white tees) is a 3-shot deal.  Three of the par 5’s are under 500 yards from the white tees.
  5. Not a lot of housing.  With the exception of a couple holes on the back nine, you don’t see any housing.  It’s pure golf.
  6. A nice sign in the pro shop and a nice link on their website about their aerification schedule.   Well done.
  7. Pro shop was well stocked and had the kind of things you’d expect to find.
  8. Everyone I met that worked there was friendly.  Guy in the pro shop was nice; the guys in the staging area dealing with carts and getting people off were nice enough as well.  I’d also comment that since I left my glove (I do typically go to a new one after 6-8 rounds, so sue me for that) at home I had to buy one there; not sure what it says when the one I buy at a course is $4.00 cheaper than at a retail store beyond thanks for not ripping me off.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  1. Cart path only.  The fairways and roughs weren’t wet other than from overnight dew.  Not spongy a bit.  I understand the par 3’s and hole 15 (tight, tree-lined, clearly doesn’t get a lot of sun) but otherwise I’m not sure about this.  They didn’t get that much rain the night before (according to the NWS).  It really slows pace of play up.  If it were wet I’d understand, but it wasn’t that wet.
  2. Didn’t see a beverage cart all day.  Water stations weren’t plentiful.  I don’t expect courses to have the holy shrines of ice/water machines like Potomac Shores (TPC Potomac also has them) has, but seeing a beverage cart would be nice.  It was warm and humid.  For a course that does a lot of things well, this struck something of an odd note.   Trying to finish quickly I didn’t make a stop at the turn, so I can’t comment on that.  If you do go, you can hit the clubhouse after the 4th, 9th, and 18th hole.
  3. Cart paths were pretty beat up.  Don’t think anyone’s going to talk about how great the asphalt is.  Excusable given the conditions of the fairways and greens.

IF YOU GO

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to get there and to come back.  Traffic on the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) rivals its DC cousin, and I-83 can be less than fun.
  2. You don’t need to bring 2 dozen balls but don’t show up with a sleeve and think that’ll get you through the day.  There’s enough holes with forced carries and hazards to give most players pause for thought.
  3. Some of the bunkers are pretty deep so be good with that 56-58 degree sand wedge.
  4. There’s not really much of anything near the course (probably 4-5 miles south on MD-45 until you hit what appears to be civilization).
  5. Have directions.  Once you make the turn from MD-45 for the street to the course, it’s a several miles of 1-lane (in each direction) road.  Watch out for deer and other drivers.
  6. You don’t need to be long, but accuracy is rewarded.
  7. Someone chop that damn tree near the tee on the 8th hole.  Please.

OVERALL

Greystone is a great challenge for most golfers including single digit handicappers.  It’s not quite on the par of a Bulle Rock or Worthington Manor but for a county-run course it’s outstanding.  If it were in Howard County I’d put it on a par with Waverly Woods and above Timbers at Troy or the CA courses.  In short, go.

 

MY PUBLIC DEMANDED IT

Okay, that’s probably not true (and by probably I mean ‘in no way’) but barring an emergency I’ll be making an appearance on Monday, August 21st at the HoCoBlogs event at BareBones Grill in Ellicott City.  Watch me attempt to eat food without spilling on myself.  Watch me consume alcohol.  Listen to me have terrible opinions about golf.  Watch me interact with other bloggers (sorry folks, but She Who Is Really In Charge will not be there- someone has to take care of the dog).

Potomac Shores Course Review

When I think of Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, I think of private country clubs with members who enjoy their enclaves of solitude (Muirfield Village in Ohio comes to mind pretty quickly).  In that I’m decidedly not a member anywhere, I accepted that this was the way things were.  So when I heard about a Nicklaus-designed course down in Dumfries, VA named Potomac Shores being open to the public a couple years ago, I’ll confess I was interested (especially given Potomac Shores‘ rather interesting history).

Driving range & practice area at Potomac Shores.

Driving range & practice area at Potomac Shores.

There’s little question that if there was a Mount Rushmore for American golf architects that Nicklaus would be on it; the sheer volume of his work (I’m convinced if someone wanted a course on the moon that Nicklaus would not only design it but would incorporate his own style along with the natural contours of the moon) and that his work has become as much of a brand as anything else he touches (I haven’t had his ice cream yet but you know it’s probably good).

From the 1st tee at Potomac Shores. Not a handshake hole by any means.

From the 1st tee at Potomac Shores. Not a handshake hole by any means.

Rather than go hole-by-hole with some comments, I’ll separate this into a few different parts:

WHAT I LIKED:

  1. The course is more than playable for low, mid and high handicappers.  I play (not nearly enough but work and life get in the way) with a former colleague who plays to an index in the low 20’s, while my index is closer to 10.  I’m a bit longer off the tee and my years of practice around the greens pays off on occasion.  But you don’t have to be a low-digit handicapper to enjoy this course.  From the silver tees (that we played) it’s less than 6,000 yards but still plays to a 132 slope which is no pushover.  If your index is in the 20’s and you play from the gold tees (because you see just under 6,400 yards and think ‘piece of cake’) you’re going to be in for a long day (and by that, you may want to make sure you have plenty of balls).
  2. Fairways are generous but bad shots get punished.  It’s not impossible to put the ball in the fairway off the tee and leave yourself a decent chance to get the ball onto the green in regulation.  Which leads me to my next point…
  3. Greens are big and require accuracy.  Greens are often multi-tiered and being on the wrong side or wrong tier is, in some cases, worse than being off the green.
  4. Service.  Too many courses still fail to see golfers as customers.  Not the case here.  Everyone I ran into was unfailingly polite and hospitable.  The starter was competent and made us feel welcome.  The people in the pro shop were friendly and helpful.  The course is managed by Troon Golf if that matters to you.
  5. Ice water stations.  The day we played was quite hot and humid.  Being able to stop for a cup of ice water was pretty darn nice.  Makes you wonder why more courses don’t do this especially in the mid-Atlantic.
  6. Beverage cart.  It’s hot, and occasionally you want something besides ice water.  Saw the beverage cart twice (we went out early so I don’t expect to see them early on).  Can’t complain.
  7. Lack of houses.  Even though Potomac Shores is part of a larger housing development, it didn’t feel like it (in 4-5 years this may not be the case).  It felt like a course by itself that was adjacent to a housing development.  I played South River a few years ago (before it went private) and it felt like I was in someone’s backyard.
  8. Free range balls.  We paid $100 each to play which isn’t free.  Including range balls and use of their excellent practice facility is a nice touch.  The range (picture above) was country-club level nice.
  9. Conditions.  Despite the heat wave we were in, the course was, for the most part, in great shape (the photo below you can see some brown spots in the fairway but these were few and far between).
9th hole at Potomac Shores (their 'signature' hole).   Tee is more than a bit elevated.

9th hole at Potomac Shores (their ‘signature’ hole). Tee is more than a bit elevated.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  1. The horse flies and other biting insects.   If you play here in the summer, bug spray is pretty much a requirement.  Not remotely kidding on this one.  On the scorching hot & humid day we played, you can tack sunscreen on.  Re-apply often.  A hazmat suit might not be a bad idea.
  2. Bunkers.  A few bunkers are good.  A lot is too many.  I know that Nicklaus uses them and that’s fine, but on two occasions I didn’t have a rake anywhere near the bunker.  For a place that does so many things right, this seemed odd.  Did Michael Greller come and take them or something?
  3. Sizes in the pro shop.  I’m big & tall and would occasionally like to come home with a souvenir beyond the logo ball.  I’d have happily handed over money for a shirt if they had one in my size.  I can’t be the only person who thinks this.  This happens a lot at higher-end courses (although if I’m being honest, She Who Is Really In Charge probably likes that I’m not throwing down $60 on a golf shirt with regularity).  But it would be nice to have it as an option.
  4. No GPS in carts.  Given that rangefinders and wearable devices are pretty common, having carts with GPS would help (especially for first-timers) especially with pace of play.  We were first out and finished in 3 hours 40 minutes playing as a foursome (we got paired up with a couple who were members).

IF YOU GO (AND YOU SHOULD):

  1. The course is right off I-95 just south of Potomac Mills.  If you don’t normally trek this way, traffic sucks.  I mean, it really sucks.  So give yourself plenty of time to get there (they have free range balls- did I mention this?).
  2. A yardage book isn’t a bad expenditure if they don’t have GPS on carts, because several holes are target variety and you can (and will) end up in trouble if you don’t know where to avoid.  Measurements are to the centre of the green, NOT to the pin (and the greens are huge so take heed).
  3. Play it forward.  I played from the silver tees and didn’t feel the least bit shame in doing so.  I prefer to hit short irons as approach shots rather than long irons and hybrids.   It’s more fun (not to brag but I made two birdies and should have had 1-2 more).
  4. The greens are huge.  Being on the right side of the green is a huge advantage.
  5. A couple holes have views of the Potomac river (notably from the 3rd tee).
  6. There are several holes that have lengthy rides between holes (even on a cart) so the course really isn’t a walker’s paradise.
Third hole at Potomac Shores. Pro tip: don't get too cute at cutting off the dogleg.

Third hole at Potomac Shores. Pro tip: don’t get too cute at cutting off the dogleg.

OVERALL:

To the best of my knowledge it’s the only Nicklaus designed course in the area that’s open to the public (if you can get on Creighton Farms contact me and I’ll be happy to join you).  I’m not a guru of golf architecture but this course is definitely a Nicklaus design.  Lots of elevated tees and greens, plenty of bunkers, and playable for a variety of levels.  Golfweek has it ranked in the top 10 for ‘Best You Can Play’ in their 2017 rankings for the state of Virginia if that matters to you.    Most importantly, I had a good time and I’d happily come back.  If you haven’t been, it’s worth the drive.

 

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