Tag: Sports (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.

 

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

Free stock photo of people, field, grass, crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONG OF THE DAY:

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

 

 

 

 

Foot Joy Pro-SL Spikeless Shoe Review (20-round review)

FootJoy ProSL. Side and outsole/spikeless pattern. Shockingly good grip.

Like a lot of golfers my age and older, my first few pair of golf shoes had metal spikes.  I still remember my first pair; all white Etonics that had a wingtip design.  The click-clack of metal spikes on pavement or a cart path is such a distinct sound.  At the time, spikeless shoes were starting to be made, but most of them resembled gridiron astro-turf shoes and had little if any grip (which was fine if you’re playing a flat course with no wet spots, but otherwise not so good).

The last pair of spiked shoes I owned were a pair of Nike (pre-Tiger Woods) I purchased in the mid 1990’s.  After that, it’s been soft-spikes on anything I’ve played in for the better part of 20 years until a few months ago.

My interest in spikeless shoes started when I saw Fred Couples wearing them at The Masters (2010 or 2012 if I recall correctly), which I found curious.  If someone like Couples (with his history of back trouble) would wear something like that on a course that has a ton of elevation change, then he must be getting plenty of grip and traction.  Admittedly I’ve always liked Freddie’s swing and how smooth and effective it is (maybe some envy as well).

Seeing companies make an effort at putting together good spikeless shoes furthered my interest so I began doing research.  I heard great things about Ecco but they don’t make their shoes in widths (which is mind-boggling).  I also looked at New Balance but if I’m being honest I wasn’t impressed at their golf shoes, so it was down to Foot Joy (one of the few companies that make golf shoes in an extra-wide width).

Side view shot of my FootJoy Pro SL.

Buying: Excellent.  Their site is pretty easy to navigate and get information about their different models.  Their color selection wasn’t the greatest (they don’t seem to make a lot of their bolder options in the XW width), but found a pair in my size.  Shipping was a breeze and they showed up 1-2 days earlier than expected.  If I have one complaint, it’s the lack of color options with the XW sizes.

**Note: FootJoy did not provide me with any free product, upgraded shipping or any consideration.  The review is my opinion solely; they were not consulted or advised I would be writing a review.

Comfort: Good. I also have a pair of Hyperflex II shoes which I like.  The outsole doesn’t sit up as high and I feared wouldn’t have the same cushion.  It’s a firmer feel, but still very cushioned.  Size-wise they run true to other FootJoy models; for me this means sizing down since I’m 1/2 size smaller in Footjoy than I am in other shoes.

Waterproofing: Excellent. I haven’t had the chance to wear them in rain yet, but several mornings of being a dew-sweeper gave them a pretty solid test.  No issues.  They breathe okay and held up to several rounds in the desert in hot conditions.

Grip: Outstanding; far better than I was expecting.  This was the single biggest surprise with these shoes.  From shots off the tee to shots in the fairway, rough, bunkers, and sidehill/uphill/downhill lies, my feet felt very anchored in.  At no point did I fear my foot slipping.  From the first shot, when it almost felt like I could feel my feet ‘locking in’ to the turf to putting out on my most recent round, grip has been outstanding.  Better than most shoes that have softspikes, and I’m not kidding at all.  Easily my favorite thing about them.  Still blown away at how good they grip.

Stability: Outstanding.  I like a wide outsole, and these have it.  At no point did I fear rolling over.  Very functional; does what you expect.  They’re a bit heavier than my Hyperflex II shoes as a comparison.

Look: Average/Below Average.  When they first came out, my thought was that they looked like bowling shoes and I didn’t really like how they looked (the first color pattern of black and white still have that bowling shoe look, in my opinion).   Probably my least favorite part of the shoe.  I thought about buying all white instead of the white/tan I bought; I think I’d probably go for the all white if I had to do it over again.  Still think they look a bit like bowling shoes.

Overall: Outstanding.  Looks aside, FootJoy hit a home run.  Fit, function, comfort, stability and grip are outstanding.  Okay, so these aren’t sexy.  They’re damn good golf shoes.  If you’re thinking about a new pair, or adding a pair of spikeless shoes to your collection, I strongly recommend taking at look at the ProSL.

SONG OF THE DAY

 

 

The Crossover of Crossovers- Stanley Cup Playoff Games on Golf Channel (a helpful explainer)

2003 Masters Champion Mike Weir dropping the puck at a Leafs-Flyers playoff game in 2003. This really happened.

Lost amid Patrick Reed winning The Masters on Sunday night (along with the coveted Green Jacket, $1.98 million in prize money, and the chance to have the 2019 Champions Dinner catered by McDonalds, Hardees and Domino’s) was the conclusion of the NHL regular season and the announcement of first round playoff dates/times and TV (Boston had a makeup game with Florida that finalized the pairings; otherwise the regular season was supposed to have ended on Saturday the 7th).

NBC, unlike the other network that shows golf (CBS), has managed to intertwine its afternoon NHL coverage successfully; the Sunday afternoon regular season games end on time and they’re able to transition over to golf coverage with minimal delay (unlike CBS’ college basketball coverage during the PGA Tour West Coast swing which ran late every single weekend).  Let’s just pretend that their 2007 decision to dump out of a Conference Final playoff game to show a horse racing pregame show never happened.  I point this out because if you take a look at the NHL schedule for the first round, you notice that two games are slated to air on Golf Channel (both games on April 18; New Jersey/Tampa followed by Anaheim/San Jose).  This is real; it’s not some delayed April Fool’s Day joke.

I suppose it’s similar to how NCAA basketball fans feel when they have to look for TruTV.

NHL fans have gotten used to NBC putting games on USA Network and CNBC in the first/second round, but Golf Channel’s deployment is a new thing.  While there are many hockey fans who watch golf (and vice versa), many people many not know what (or why, for that matter) Golf Channel is and why it exists.  It went on the air in January of 1995, founded by the late Arnold Palmer (sort of like if Gordie Howe started the NHL Network).  It was acquired by NBC/Comcast several years ago.  Golf Channel has never deviated from showing golf (other than endless airings of either Caddyshack, Happy Gilmore, Bagger Vance, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Bobby Jones/Strokes of Genius or The Squeeze).

While there are many differences between the PGA, LPGA, Champions (Senior), European Tours and the NHL, there are some similarities.  So in the interest of helping fellow hockey fans who may be curious about Golf Channel and the similarities between golf and hockey, I humbly offer an a primer.  You’re welcome.

Point of Contention Hockey Golf
Annoying old man who spends too much time hanging around much to the annoyance of most people who wish he’d do it less Don Cherry Donald Trump
Movie that fans can quote pretty much verbatim that made a horrible sequel nobody wants to acknowledge Slap Shot Caddyshack
Movie with dozens of inaccuracies people love to hate Youngblood Happy Gilmore
Annoying guy with a checkered past named Patrick Patrick Kane Patrick Reed
Beloved player who can’t win the country’s most important event and has failed repeatedly on a grand and tragic scale Alex Ovechkin Phil Mickelson
Studio Analyst that drives most fans off the wall Mike Milbury Brandel Chamblee
Rules Concept that exists that nobody understands Goaltender Interference Anchoring the putter
Rule that will immediately start an argument Getting Rid of Fighting Rolling the Ball Back
Annoying Analytics that a lot of fans wish people would shut up about Corsi/Fenwick/PDO Strokes Gained
Crossover figure who plays the other sport very well NHL Official Garret Rank Mike Weir, Graham DaLaet
Lightning Rod Game Analyst “shut up about it” go-to phrase Pierre McGuire “When I was an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins…” Johnny Miller “In 1973 at Oakmont when I shot my 63”
Phrase you hear that makes you want to stab your eyes out “Respect the Game” “Protect the Field”
Annoying Team Competition that really brings out the worst in fans Olympics Ryder Cup
Catch phrase from a main announcer you hate “WAFFLEBOARD!” “Hello Friends”
Played-out rivalry no serious fan cares about Ovechkin/Crosby Tiger/Phil
Potential International Rivalry Connor McDavid/Auston Matthews Patrick Reed/Rory McIlroy
Annoying Fan Behavior #1 Lower Bowl fan on cell phone waving at camera BABA BOOEY, DILLY DILLY, MASHED POTATOES.
Annoying Fan Behavior #2 Throwing things on the ice Calling to report a rules violation
Beloved analyst with crossover appeal Bob McKenzie David Feherty
Schtick you want to see fired into the sun Multiple outdoor games in a season Big Break
Variation from the game that inspires passions on both sides 3 on 3, 4 on 4 Match play, 2-man team golf
Hated figure running the game Gary Bettman The USGA
Best Trophy Stanley Cup Claret Jug
Amateur jerk move Beer league player with a tinted visor 20-handicapper with a pro staff bag
Asshole amateur tactic Ringers Sandbaggers

 

The Oscar For Greatest Golf Infomercial Is Right Here

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

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

Let’s watch this together, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11:12: Pachinko Ball!  More oomph!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

The Other “Other” Palm Springs (a travel review)

 

It's a school!  No, it's the clubhouse at the Gary Player Course!

It’s a school! No, it’s the clubhouse at the Gary Player Course!

When She Who Is Really In Charge (SWIRIC) and I booked an October vacation in Palm Springs, we (meaning me) didn’t know that October was prime Overseeding Season in the desert (hat tip to Larry Bohannon of the Desert Sun for this piece about it).  But, with plane tickets and hotel booked, we decided to go forward with our vacation and hopes for making the best of it.

It also posed a challenge; could a self-admitted golf junkie (me) find a decent variety of places to play while SWIRIC enjoyed non-golf activities (she has zero desire to take up the game but encourages my addiction)?  Could we do this and eat well (while holding to our vacation rule of “no chains, nothing we couldn’t get at home)?  The answer, I’m happy to say, was yes.  Very much yes.  With over 100 courses in the area and most, it seemed, were overseeding, it took some work but I was able to book a decent variety of courses over our stay that were all in good shape, and we ate and vacationed far better than expected.

There are multiple options if you’re flying in from out of the area like we did, but we found the option that worked best for us was flying into LAX Airport (San Diego, Ontario, Orange County, Long Beach and Palm Springs airports are also good options when looking for flights).   Other than flying into Palm Springs (off-season flight availability is VERY limited) you’ll definitely need a car (LAX, Orange County and San Diego are all a 2 hour drive (or more with traffic) to Palm Springs).

Day 1

In-N-Out lunch al fresco. Oh hell yes.

In-N-Out lunch al fresco. Oh hell yes.

The drive into Palm Springs left me a bit tired especially after being rather cramped during our flight from the east coast.  We stopped for lunch at In-N-Out (the only chain we’ll eat at because it’s not available on the East Coast) along the way.  We stayed at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells (they have one of the largest pools in the area and it’s right off highway 111).  After checking in we went to the pool to relax and take a dip (being Saturday it looked like a lot of Southern Californians had made the trek).  Dinner was at the Cork & Fork in La Quinta, a wine bar with a nice mix of small bites, a few pizzas, and some entrees.  I had their fennel sausage pizza (quite good and definitely rather filling), SWIRIC had their scallops in risotto, and we enjoyed a fantastic Spanish cava (until very recently I had never really been one for sparkling wine; then I got introduced to the good stuff and now I’ve come around).  Suffice to say, Cork & Fork is highly recommended.

Day 2

From the 2nd hole fairway at Desert Willow. I love this place.

From the 2nd hole fairway at Desert Willow. I love this place.

My first day of hitting the links meant a visit to Desert Willow Golf Resort; as I learned they had one course (the Mountain View) shut down for overseeding along with their range but the Firecliff course was open.  Playing early it was a bit brisk at first (the other members of my foursome were all in sweaters and jackets) before warming up very quickly and becoming hot.   The course was nothing short of outstanding and was in good shape; greens were definitely quick and fairways were pure.  I played with a couple from Vancouver and a local who seemed a bit displeased they had changed the colours of the tee boxes (they now have black, purple, lavender, tan and green tee boxes).  Like many courses, they’ve gone to a combo set which gives them an additional set of tees without doing anything.  The Firecliff course has a nice variety of holes; in addition they had ice water stations on the course in addition to a beverage cart which we saw once on each side.  All the carts have GPS which really helped a lot since I didn’t know the course at all (not that it helped my scorecard).

18th hole at Desert Willow. Fantastic finishing hole on a great course.

18th hole at Desert Willow. Fantastic finishing hole on a great course.

Lunch was at Guillermo’s; your basic Mexican fare done really well.  My tacos were exactly what I wanted and were flavorful.  After an afternoon at the pool where I got a Charley horse cramp in my calf (I did everything I could to not scream every profanity I know to the mountains at full volume which would have probably upset the large throng of people at the pool), we went to Eureka which was 5 minutes away (in Indian Wells).  If you’re looking for really good burgers, it’s definitely worth a stop.  The fried mac & cheese balls were delicious (highly recommended as a starter) as was their clear lemonade (honestly I’d go back for the mac & cheese balls and the clear lemonade).  If you want something with more of a bite, they have a great beer & whiskey selection (I was trying to hydrate myself so I had to decline that sweet delicious beer on offer).

Day 3

Monday left me hobbled (getting old sucks) so I had to cancel my round at Indian Wells; with the one course open only doing cart path only, I knew my calf wouldn’t hold up (I was still hobbling and having a fair bit of trouble with it), but using the GolfNow app on my phone I booked a round the next day at Cimarron Golf Resort in Cathedral City.  Lunch on Monday was at Elmer’s in Palm Springs.  Elmer’s is a chain based in the Pacific Northwest (as I found out later) but we didn’t know going in.  My omelet with peppers, onions and Tillamook cheese was perfect, while SWIRIC had the house specialty in the form of a German style pancake the size of a hubcap.  It was actually more crepe-like in thickness.  The place seemed to have a good mix of locals and tourists which typically bodes well.

Monday afternoon we did a bit of sightseeing.  I’ve a huge fan of the mid-century architecture that is very prevalent in the Palm Springs area.  While I did take a few photos, in the interest of privacy I’m not going to post them here out of respect to the people who live there.

Playing Fabulous Bingo at the Ace Hotel.  I did not win.  I hang head and feel shame.

Playing Fabulous Bingo at the Ace Hotel. I did not win. I hang head and feel shame.

Monday night’s dinner was at Kings Highway at the Ace Hotel, but in truth we were there for Fabulous Bingo, because who doesn’t want to play Bingo hosted by a drag queen?  This may not be your thing, but it was fun, and that’s the point.  It’s definitely a younger, more hip crowd but we had fun (they do a trivia night later on if Bingo isn’t your thing).

Day 4

Tuesday started with a trek out to Cathedral City to Cimarron Golf Resort (I played the Boulder course while the Pebble course was being over-seeded).  I’ll be honest- I booked the round last minute after canceling my Monday round due to my calf problem so I didn’t really know what to expect.  The course was in good shape (fairways and roughs were VERY green); the greens were slow but otherwise rolled true.  My only complaint was that the GPS system was down so the cart GPS was pointless.  To that point there’s no yardage markers, poles, sticks, or sprinkler-heads.  So if you play here, make sure you bring a rangefinder or a GPS device.  I did like that they had a cooler on the cart filled with ice (on a very hot day this helped quite a bit).

11th hole at Cimarron Golf Resort. Straight and long is good.

11th hole at Cimarron Golf Resort. Straight and long is good.  Overseeding is done.

Tuesday lunch was a real treat as we headed to Indio to TKB Bakery & Deli.  What if I told you the best damn sandwich you can eat in the area is at a place in an industrial park that’s not exactly easy to find?  It’s true.  I had the pastrami (it’s a great representation of what I’d call California style pastrami so New Yorkers may not like it (I’ll eat it if you don’t want it)), SWIRIC had the meatloaf sandwich.  Both came on a jalapeno/cheddar roll and both were beyond delicious (and huge).  Okay, so the dining room isn’t exactly the lap of luxury but who cares?  Forget about that and focus on that sandwich because it’s out of this damn world.  This place is most definitely on the ‘must have’ list when I return.

With Tuesday’s lunch being rather filling, we opted out of going to the Sagauro Hotel for Taco Tuesday (we went last time and it was outstanding) and instead went to Flor de Jalisco in Palm Desert (the link is to their Yelp page; they don’t have a website) for simple but well done Mexican.  My fajitas were exactly what I wanted, and SWIRIC’s chicken mole was good.

Day 4

2nd hole at the Gary Player Signature Course.

2nd hole at the Gary Player Signature Course.  The shadow to the right is me.

On our final full day in the desert, I started with a round at the Gary Player Signature Course at the Westin Mission Hills.  It was a bit longer of a drive than Google Maps said it would be (the course isn’t at the resort but a 5-10 minute drive from there), but it was worth the trip.  Very impressed with the layout; a nice mix of holes in a classic desert setting.  Fairways were fairly generous; greens rolled true.  Not quite as hard as the Pete Dye course that was being overseeded, but still a good challenge with plenty of places to get into trouble.  The older couple I played with weren’t exactly speed demons (the ranger/player assistant asked me to politely ask them to pick up the pace which I found odd, but necessary).  Luckily I played about as well as I could hope for and parred the last 4 holes to card a 79.

18th hole at the Gary Player Course. A great finishing hole (

18th hole at the Gary Player Course. A great finishing hole (helps to par it for a 79)

After a visit to Footloose Reflexology for a massage (after 3 rounds in 4 days the foot massage felt pretty good), our last night was dinner at The Tonga Hut in downtown Palm Springs.  It’s a tiny space devoted to the Tiki culture that abounded.  If you want to enjoy well-made cocktails (think Mai Tai, Zombie, Blue Hawaii, Rum Punch and a Scorpion) and a better-than-it-needed-to-be pu-pu platter, this is the place.  We caught a break in that it was slow (the place gets quite busy on the weekends), but had a good time.

One caution if you go to Footloose; their “medium” pressure is pretty intense; I think “firm” pressure is them using bricks or something.  Still a worthy visit and felt good afterwards.

A delicious and well deserved Mai-Tai at the Tonga Hut.  Better have a few more.

A delicious and well deserved Mai-Tai at the Tonga Hut. Better have a few more.

So after 4 1/2 days in the desert, we ate well, had fun, logged a fair bit of pool time.  You don’t have to be a senior citizen nor do you have to be a 20-something in for the weekend to have a good time.  You can, and should visit and not just during their peak season (winter for us in the DMV).

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