Tag: Sports (page 3 of 6)

Diamond Ridge Course Review

3rd hole at Diamond Ridge Golf Course.  Do not hit the tree branches on the right. Do not hit the...crap.

3rd hole at Diamond Ridge Golf Course. Do not hit the tree branches on the right. Do not hit the…crap.

At the start of 2017, I had a couple goals.  Finally play Bulle Rock, and make a concerted effort to play some of the courses in Baltimore.  Bulle Rock was crossed off my ‘to play’ list in early May, and I’m just now starting to discover golf courses in Baltimore County and city.  I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about what was on offer, but there’s plenty there for a variety of playing levels.

On a muggy and humid morning, I made the trek to western Baltimore County to play at Diamond Ridge, a 36-hole facility that operates two courses (The Woodlands is the second course and one I have yet to play).  The drive heading to the course is a lot of ‘one lane in each direction’ roads that wind through some rural parts of the county (so be careful during certain parts of the year).

Checking in was a breeze thanks to a couple helpful folks in the pro shop.  We loaded up our carts, rolled a few putts (the practice green was not exactly rolling a 16 on the stimpmeter but it mirrored conditions on the course which is sort of the point) and headed off.

If you’re looking for pristine conditions and white-glove service, then Diamond Ridge probably isn’t for you (most public courses aren’t for you either).  But, if you’re looking for a tough but ultimately fair layout with good playing conditions that requires accuracy off the tee (my driving was a gong show and the rough was more than a bit thick and lush), then you could do a hell of a lot worse.  It’s a traditional parkland, tree-lined layout with a mix of holes that are fairly flat and others that have significant elevation changes (most of the holes are fairly close together but the elevation changes can make it a bit of a slog to walk).

A mundane opening hole leads to two holes with elevation changes (the third is a challenging and long dogleg par 4 to an elevated and protected green).

6th hole at Diamond Ridge.  A good time to not go left in front of the trees.

6th hole at Diamond Ridge. A good time to not go left in front of the trees.

On the front side you don’t see a par 5 until the 9th and it’s a test (one minor quibble with what is otherwise a great layout is that six of the first seven holes are par 4’s).  From the tee it looks fairly straightforward but any tee shots that go wayward and you find out that this course has a lot more challenge than you expect.

The back nine starts with a par 3 over water (if you start on the back nine that’s a hell of a way to start your round); it’s just long enough to make you think about the impending doom.

10th hole at Diamond Ridge.  Don't think about the water or the bunker on the right.  Or the trees on the left.

10th hole at Diamond Ridge. Don’t think about the water or the bunker on the right. Or the trees on the left.

The back nine has a much larger variety of holes including 3 par 5’s.  The par 5’s may look easy on the card (I said this and immediately regretted it) but they’re not.  11 is a dog-leg beast (our group collectively blew up on this hole), 14 is not long but is very tight, and 18 looks easy but like the rest of the holes, if you get the least bit wild you’re screwed.

Long birdie putt that I missed, and yes- I repaired the pitch mark. Getting toasty here.

Long birdie putt that I missed, and yes- I repaired the pitch mark. Getting toasty here.

The closing stretch of holes are good- 16 is a short dogleg par 4 that big hitters might think about taking a run at.  17 is a long par 3 to a green with a ton of undulation, and 18 is a par 5 that plays slightly uphill and bends to the left.

Tee boxes, fairways and greens were well maintained (the greens were being hand-watered while we were playing- smart to not shave ’em down given the current weather we’re having).  Pristine?  No, but still maintained and I’d put them as “above average” compared to what I’ve seen from courses in the region this year.  The superintendent deserves plaudits given how nutty our weather has been.s

There’s a fairly decent driving range (mats only), and several practice greens and chipping greens so plenty of space to work on your game.  One minor quibble was that we didn’t see a beverage cart on a very hot and humid morning.  The pro shop was well stocked and though I didn’t avail myself of their grill/bar, it looked as though they had what you’d expect to find (we didn’t stop at the turn which I was wishing we had).

Diamond Ridge isn’t going to appear on Golfweek’s “10 Best You Can Play in Maryland” anytime soon.  And that’s okay- it’s still a well maintained layout that will challenge the vast majority of players.  You should go, and when you do- keep those tee shots in the fairway.

Enjoy your July 4th celebrations.

The Language of The Game

Remember kids, Aloha Means Hello. And Goodbye.

Remember kids, Aloha Means Hello. And Goodbye.

As part of an occasional series geared towards newer golfers, I humbly present a list of terms you’re likely to encounter on the golf course that may confuse you.  We have a host of ways to describe shots that don’t quite come off the way we planned it.  Some people just throw a club while others will often use various terms of endearment.  Some of these terms are regional in nature, but I find it’s good to have a solid level of understanding.  Others of these are terms I’ve conjured up as a means of not offending people with the usual stream of profanity that I’m frankly quite good at.

Chili Dip: Nothing to do with chili, or dip.  When you are hitting a chip or a pitch shot and stick the club in the ground rather than hitting the ball.

Enter Sandman: When you take more than one shot to get the ball out of a bunker.   Also a famous Metallica song.  You have a hole where it takes you 7 shots to get the ball out of the bunker and you never live it down.

Pinball Wizard: When you manage to hit multiple trees with one shot.  Don’t know what a pinball machine is?  Ask your parents.

El Hozel: Otherwise known as the lateral vomit, la hozela, a hosel rocket, or a word that rhymes with banks that we simply do not say for fear that it will show up.  It’s like a virus.  You go to Tijuana for a fun evening of donkey shows and cheap tequila and you end up with some kind of infection.  El hozel works the same way.  I’ve seen people do everything short of animal sacrifice to get rid of el hozel.

Slice: For a right handed golfer when the ball goes unexpectedly right in the arc/shape of a banana.  For a lefty, the ball goes to the left.  Common miss for most amateurs.  Distant cousin of the power fade.  You can talk to a power fade.  You can’t talk to a banana slice.

Hook: The opposite.  Ball goes to the left for right handed players and to the right for lefties.

Skull: hitting the ball with the leading edge of your iron.  Often results in a ball that doesn’t get airborne and doesn’t go very far.  Used to end up cutting the surface of old balata balls.

Whiff: Making a swing and missing.  Also known as stiff breeze, air shot, 0 and 1, 0 for 1, etc.

Rinsing the Balata: Hitting a ball into a water hazard.  Balls used to be made out of balata.

Teenage Beer Pong: The act of getting on the green in two shots on a par 5 and then three-putting.  Much like teenagers who think it’s going to go great…and then it doesn’t.  Helps if the birdie putt just misses.

Sacrifice fly: A short tee shot that goes very high in the air but not very far.  Often followed by the ‘the runner will score on the sac fly.’  Don’t know what baseball is?  Ask your father.

Swing Oil: Alcohol quickly consumed.  A chugged beer, an airplane bottle of alcohol consumed in one shot.  Not to be confused with actual Swing Oil which is a supplement some golfers take.

La Hozela: El hozel, but for women.  Equally maddening.

Decell: Slowing your swing down on a chip or pitch shot which results in the ball either not making it on the green or just trickling on leaving you with a long and difficult putt.

Hairpiece: The pelt-sized divot that comes from hitting too far behind the ball.  Please replace if at all possible or at the very least fill that crater with some divot mix.  Sometimes called a toupee.

Topper: A topped shot; often a tee shot where you hit the top half of the ball and the ball rolls a few dozen yards.  Sometimes known as Free Toppings, Topper Shutt, Top of the Pops, or Big Top Pee Wee.

Moped: A guy who has a golf swing that looks ugly as sin but ends up scoring fairly well.

Commercial: A putt that ends up in tap-in range is said to be Commercial.  Not to be confused with the ads CBS runs to infinity during their broadcasts (it’s a pity that the golf gets in the way of their never-ending ads).

Donna Shalala: A short shot that goes left.  Named after the former Clinton cabinet member.

Rush Limbaugh: A fat shot that goes hard right.  Named after the conservative talk radio host.

Fat: Hitting behind the ball, causing the ball to not go as far as intended.  The cousin of the chili-dip.

Three Waggle: Taking three strokes to hole out on the green.  Also known as three-putting, going three-Jack City, three hole Monty, or just being bad at putting.

Socialist Roid Rage: A shot that gets hit hard left and long.

One: The thing that you can be guaranteed someone will say if your ball falls off the tee while you’re getting ready to hit your tee shot.  I think it’s required.

Caddyshack: Golf movie of some renown.  Someone is legally required to quote from the movie during your round or someone has to die (I think this is the rule…but I could be wrong).

Mrs. Doubtfire: Professional golfer and Scotsman Colin Montgomerie.  Use Google Images.

All Bag: Term of derision to describe guy that has pro staff bag and matching clubs but couldn’t break 130 to save his life.  The golf equivalent of soccer’s Full Kit Wanker.  Often will wear full Nike stuff with red shirt.  Impossible for him to play in under 5 hours.

Action: Wagering.  Many people will wager during a round of golf because they need ‘action’ to keep things interesting.

Fugly/Fungly: Decent and fun player to play with who has horrible-looking swing.

Sandbagger: See ‘cheater’.  Someone who keeps an artificially high handicap and during competitive events will play much better.  Will often use words like ‘I never putt this well’ or ‘I guess I was due for a decent round’ and the like.  The Brits like the word ‘bandit’ and I prefer cheat.

Man Bun: A generic term to describe something wholly inappropriate.  Think ‘chipping on the putting surface’ or using the word ‘sh***k’ on a golf course.

Evel Kenevel: Famed stuntperson and doer of stupid things.  Used to describe people who think a golf cart makes a great racing car.

Flying Lady: Generic term used to describe lower-compression golf balls some women and older men use.

 

 

 

 

 

Back To Where It Started (Needwood Course Review)

3rd hole at Needwood. Pretty straightforward.

3rd hole at Needwood. Pretty straightforward.

It’s hard to believe it’s been as long as it’s been since I packed up and headed east.  From the time that I made the long drive to the DMV I’ve aged a fair bit, grey hair has impeded where I still have hair left, and my limbs are showing their age and years of abuse.  When I first moved here, I didn’t know the lay of the land at all, and finding basic information on where golf courses were located wasn’t easy.  So after driving around looking for a course to play at after settling in here, I stumbled upon Needwood Golf Course.  I didn’t really know anything other than that it was a golf course and I was able to walk on.  I don’t remember much about the round beyond seeing they had a 9-hole executive course in addition to the 18-hole regulation course (and it was a sunny warm (but not humid) day.

Fast forward far too many years, and I decided to go back.  After a few weeks of playing some of the state’s toughest tracks, I needed something that wasn’t going to punch me in the face relentlessly which was the feeling I was getting at Bulle Rock and PB Dye (which are marvelous tests).  After paying, the other people in my group were no shows, so the starter, in a rare bit of generosity, let me play through the foursome in front that was the first group out which meant I could play at my own (rather fast) pace.

6th Hole at Needwood GC. Straight is the way to go.

6th Hole at Needwood GC. Straight is the way to go.

I breezed through the first couple holes; one thing I noticed was that the greens were in really good shape.  They rolled pretty good (they have a board near the first tee with the stimpmeter reading- they were rolling a 10 according to the board (kudos for the “Augusta National speed is a 14”)).  Actually, they rolled fantastic (this was after I officially put my Odyssey 2-ball putter on notice (and yes I’m aware that a fat guy lecturing a putter is the kind of imagery that must draw people to the game by the thousands).  Really smooth and consistent.  Fairways were in pretty good shape, tee boxes and roughs were also in good shape.

Layout wise, the front side (other than the 2nd hole) is fairly flat.  If you like tree-lined fairways that are fairly generous, you’re in luck.  The back-to-back par 5’s are shortish (even from the tips they max out at under 515 yards).  If I have one complaint, it’s that the par 3’s are all longish and are all similar distances.  It finishes with a tight (but short) par 4.

From the rough on the 10th hole. The photo may not accurately show the elevation change.

From the rough on the 10th hole. The photo may not accurately show the elevation change.

The back nine has much more elevation change with only one par 5 (for the blue or white tees, the course is 36/34=70) and 3 par 3’s on the back.  A par 4 with a very uphill second shot followed by a longish dogleg right par 4 starts the back nine off.  The only par 5 is 13, which features an elevated tee box to a tight tree-lined fairway.

13th hole at Needwood from the tee box.  Hit it long and hit it straight.

13th hole at Needwood from the tee box. Hit it long and hit it straight.

The 18th hole is everything a closing hole should be; a longish par 4 (420 yards) to a green protected by a lake to the right with the clubhouse, practice green and 1st tee in full view (which means your catastrophic failures are on display for any remotely interested party to watch).  In my case, I was able to get up and down from a tricky lie to save par which felt better than good.

18th hole at Needwood. Just be straight on both shots and don't think about the big lake front/right of the green.

18th hole at Needwood. Just be straight on both shots and don’t think about the big lake front/right of the green.

There’s a decent range (mats only), a good sized practice green, and there is also a 9-hole executive length course which is perfect for beginners or novice golfers (or anyone who just wants to play 9 holes).  They also have an indoor

Nobody is going to put Needwood on a ‘Best You Can Play’ list.   It certainly lacks a signature hole and the design, though classic, isn’t going to blow the socks off of anyone (it’s a classic, parkland style course).  With all that being said, what it does it does well.  A well maintained course (in spite of some fairly significant challenges this year) that offers plenty of challenge to most golfers that isn’t in the stratosphere cost-wise (I paid $64.99 to ride- of that, $15.00 was a cart fee) relatively speaking.  They have a snack bar which isn’t going to earn a Michelin Star but it serves its purpose.  They have an indoor studio open year-round and the last few years were offering indoor leagues on their simulator.

I had fun, and was able to  break 80 (which I haven’t done all year).  Sure- the course isn’t exactly a beast even from the tips (less than 6,300 yards from the tips), but I had fun and remembered all the things I love about this game.  That’s worth something.

NON Golf Commentary

Go Preds.

SONG OF THE DAY

London and Manchester have had a rough go of it.  Wishing both towns courage, peace, and hope.

This Smiths video has 2 songs; The Queen is Dead and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.  Some of their better work; jarring, beautiful, and imagery that runs the spectrum.  Not bad for 4 kids from Salford (a Manchester suburb) who weren’t together very long but while they were made songs that still hold up 30+ years later (and quite well).

Bulle Rock Course Review

1st hole at Bulle Rock. Let the bludgeoning commence!

1st hole at Bulle Rock. Let the bludgeoning commence!

When I moved to the DC suburbs from San Francisco 20 years ago this month, I didn’t know that I’d still be here (in the back of my mind I thought I’d live here a few years and go on to the next place).  When I first moved here, public courses were your typical scruffy muni tracks that were constantly busy.  It was either that or your tony private clubs and I’m decidedly not the kind of blue-blood (nor do I have the bankroll) person to join a private club.

It was shortly after moving here that the upscale, member-for-a-day, higher end daily fee courses started to open.  In Maryland there’s Queenstown Harbour, Links at Lighthouse Sound, PB Dye, Worthington Manor, Maryland National, Whiskey Creek, Lake Presidential, Blue Mash, and of course, Bulle Rock (if I missed one my apologies).

While as a collection these are all fine courses, Bulle Rock has always stood far and above.  Golfweek has consistently ranked it as #1 in their annual “Best Courses You Can Play” for Maryland, and it’s the only Maryland course to feature in Golf Digest’s recently released list (current rank is 52nd) for US courses.  It hosted the LPGA Championship from 2005-2009 (a major) and it’s not hard to see why it’s worthy.

So despite all of this, the truth is that until recently I hadn’t made the trek to Bulle Rock.  I had talked about it on several occasions, but it never happened.  Finally, I pulled the trigger through a GolfmatchApp outing, and that was that.

When you arrive at Bulle Rock, the first thing you notice is that it’s all golf.  No tennis, no swimming, just golf.  While there is a housing development, you only see homes on the first hole.  Warm-up and practice facilities are as good as anything I’ve seen anywhere.  Short game area, range, practice green all included in your green fee.   With the shotgun start we didn’t play the course 1-18 (we started on 17, which is a tricky par 3 to a protected green).

17th hole at Bulle Rock. Do. Not. Miss. Right. I did and I regret it.

17th hole at Bulle Rock. Do. Not. Miss. Right. I did and I regret it.

The photo may not show it but there is a large bunker and rocks protecting the green.  The bail-out area short isn’t a bad place to be.

The 18th hole (the finisher, our 2nd) is a brute worthy of a great finish.  Water the entire left side and a multi-tiered green.  I was very happy to be in the fairway off the tee given the difficulties a couple players in our group dealt with off the tee.

18th tee at Bulle Rock.  Don't recommend going left.  Not even a bit.

18th tee at Bulle Rock. Don’t recommend going left. Not even a bit.

The first hole should be a handshake hole but the green is small and well protected (if you get wild with your approach shot like I did, there’s ample trouble to be had).

The 2nd hole is a par 5 that should play easier (but as was my day I managed to make a hash of it…when you drain a 30 foot putt for a 7 you’re not exactly doing cartwheels).  The front nine offers a nice variety of holes that all feel unique (the course definitely felt like 18 unique holes and not a case where I was playing the same hole over and over).  Short holes, long holes, and everything in between.

The back nine starts with the 10th hole, a dog-leg par 4 protected by a waste area right and bunkers left.

From the 10th tee at Bulle Rock. Just find the fairway and ignore the bunkers, waste area and wind.

From the 10th tee at Bulle Rock. Just find the fairway and ignore the bunkers, waste area and wind.

Not visible from my photo, from the tee it’s a bit clearer.

The 11th hole is the longest hole on the course (at a robust 599 yards from the blue tees that we played from- the black tees has it in the 600’s).  It’s a dogleg par 5 with a litany of hazards.

11th hole from the tee. Only 599 yards to go.

11th hole from the tee. Only 599 yards to go. Longtime friend of the website is in blue, striping one straight and true.

If this wasn’t enough of a challenge, any shots long are likely to end up with a brutal downhill chip or possibly wet.

Still a ways to go. Don't miss left. Or right. Or long.

Still a ways to go. Don’t miss left. Or right. Or long.

The one good thing with the hole is that a miss short and straight isn’t particularly penal (several of the holes were like that).

If the photos don’t show it, the fairways, roughs, tee boxes and greens were all in superb shape as you might expect.  No un-filled divots in the fairways, the greens rolled pretty true (with the intermittent rain and wind we had I had a hell of a time with the greens but that’s on mother nature and me…not their staff).  The staff in the pro shop were all friendly and helpful to a fault.  If making you feel like a member is what they’re trying to do, then mission accomplished.

The course is a brute and there’s no nice way of sugarcoating it.  Small mistakes get magnified, and it’s easy to get into trouble.  As with many Pete Dye courses, it’ll make you want to pull your hair out at times, but isn’t that the point of testing ourselves as golfers?  If you haven’t made the trip up to Bulle Rock, go this year.  Bring a good supply of ammo and your patience (and your A-game), and you’ll see why Bulle Rock is the best public course in the state.

 

 

Easter at Northwest Park

2nd hole at Northwest Park. Pro tip: hit it in the fairway (makes the hole easier).

2nd hole at Northwest Park. Pro tip: hit it in the fairway (makes the hole easier).

Taking advantage of summer-like warmth, your faithful scribe headed out to Northwest Park for my own idea of Easter sunrise service (.  I’ve long touted Northwest Park as having consistently very good playing conditions, and today was no change (their greens have not been punched but were certainly in very good shape).

Having sat through last night’s 2OT win by the Leafs (sorry, local Capitals fans), I was playing on very little sleep (you try sleeping after that- it’s like chugging two cans of red bull, snorting cocaine and then riding backwards on a motorcycle) so I wasn’t really at my best or most wide awake early on.  Luckily, last night we had Leafs Dart Guy (below) providing needed comic relief.

Leafs Dart Guy from last night (a dart is a cigarette, i.e. heater, health stick) who became a Twitter celebrity.  Love this.

Leafs Dart Guy from last night (a dart is a cigarette, i.e. heater, health stick) who became a Twitter celebrity. Love this.

One change I did notice was that several tee boxes and a few areas (not in the fairway or apron areas) had been recently re-sodded (I didn’t take a photo but you could tell with the obvious pattern of sod strips having been laid down).  I didn’t have a chance to play at Northwest Park last year so I can’t comment on what kind of condition they were in last year, but thumbs up to management for addressing the issue and not just letting things deteriorate.

15th hole at Northwest Park. I suggest hitting the green and not hitting some fat chunked shot like I did.

15th hole at Northwest Park. I suggest hitting the green and not hitting some fat chunked shot like I did.

We started on the back nine (a good friend of mine got paired up with two other guys who were nice enough, but they were a bit slow- appreciate walking but when you’re the first group out you’re setting up to drag pace of play down); definitely a bit dewy this morning on the first few holes.  We broke apart from the other twosome after our first nine (I get embarrassed when the second group is waiting on us and get a massive guilt trip) so I didn’t have the time to take more photos on our first nine holes.

5th hole at Northwest Park. Twas a brutal hole location today in the back.

5th hole at Northwest Park. Twas a brutal hole location today in the back.

Playing conditions were good.  One other thing about Northwest is that the people who work there are almost always friendly and polite (it shouldn’t be a big deal but when you encounter indifference or a ‘you’re lucky we let you play here’ mentality being welcomed warmly goes a long way).

I’ve played four rounds in my new shoes; after next week I’ll post a review.

SONG OF THE DAY

Having discovered The Smiths in 1983/84 and having seen them live in concert in 1985, it is rather interesting that they’re getting something of a rebirth as today’s younger set discovers them.  Everything old is new again.  Yes- their songs are rather timeless, but it’s still a three-piece band (guitar, bass, drums) and a lead singer.  No keyboards, no auto-tune.  And no- I don’t want a reunion.

 

Waverly Woods Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Update on GolfTec Ellicott City

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

Photo from The Golfers Academy

This could be you!

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

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

 

 

Where I Break Down The Alien Wedge Infomercial

Today is December 26th, so depending on where you are you might be doing a host of activities.  If I were back home in Toronto we’d be drinking heavily while planning backyard rink skates (since unlike last year it’s cold enough) and watching the start of the World Junior Hockey Tournament on TSN.  People in Australia are watching the Boxing Day cricket test (and drinking heavily), while people in Britain are watching soccer (possibly rugby) and drinking heavily.  Here in America it’s post-Christmas sales, college bowl games of middling consequence (locally, Maryland is playing in something called the Quick Lane Bowl although given that She Who Is Really In Charge (SWIRIC) is a Maryland alum I’ll not joke that much about it), and trying to get all those electronic games and toys to work (hint- when in doubt, a glass of bourbon works wonders).

Photo courtesy Johnnie Walker

The finest tool for putting together those Christmas toys.  Trust me.

While SWIRIC is out shopping with her friends today (it’s a holiday tradition and I’m thrilled she’s doing it), I’m revisiting a classic infomercial from the days when Golf Channel used to air these all of the time.  Previously, I recapped the genius that was the Perfect Club, then the GolfLogix GPS.  Today, it’s the Alien wedge (full admission- I bought one years ago after a particularly brutal day when i seemed to find the sand on every hole and my playing partners started calling me Sandman).  Unfortunately, the commercial is for British audiences (thus the price in pounds sterling); not sure why but the US version isn’t on YouTube.  Let’s watch this, shall we?

Let’s be honest; infomercials were almost made for golfers struggling with their game (or 99.99% of them).  You’re at home half in the bag at 2:00 a.m. and maybe you don’t have Skinamax or ShowMeAGoodTime.  So you watch Golf Infomercials (somewhere, there’s a Golf Infomercial cosplay group and I will believe this until I’m dead).  So let’s review this bad boy, shall we?

0:02: Oh god, it’s a real alien!  Oh may gawd!  It’s coming for the world!  Oh, it’s just the Alien Shotsaver Wedge.  Watch as it blasts through sand…shot in glorious standard definition!

0:15: Somewhere there is a large group of men with nondescript British accents whose only jobs are voice-over work, because if you can’t have a great product, have a guy with a British accent describing it.  It’s a wedge!  A sand iron (which is a term nobody uses)!  It’s…the Alien Wedge!

0:25: Deep roughs?  Who uses that term?  I’ve heard it called rough, cabbage, tall stuff, junk, “you’re screwed” and ‘yeah, good luck finding that one’ but never roughs.  And who hits the ball off a cement cart path?  Oh wait, nobody.  You drop it closest point of relief no nearer the hole.  That’s a fantastic way to break a club and/or a wrist.  Maybe if the paths are hard-packed sand (or shells) you give it a go, but otherwise…use the rules.

0:35: Now we get to the regular golfer focus group portion.  Young guy with British accent?  Check.  Middle aged dopey white guy?  Check.

0:45: This isn’t the original Alien wedge (that I bought in a store) it’s the NEW Alien wedge.  It looks slightly less ridiculous (hint- if someone has one of these in their bag it’s a small cry for help…and I was that guy for a while).  The one I had didn’t have grooves; it had dots.

1:00: They show all of these shots out of various lies but they don’t show but one or two actually landing on the green.  Kind of makes you wonder.

1:11: Was wondering when the nondescript female golfer would show up.  You better believe she has a southern accent and a big straw hat (I can’t wait until this becomes a thing again).  You know, 20 years ago she’s got a pack of Virginia Slims in her pocket.  My aunt (god rest her soul) could break 80 in her sleep and could manage a dart and a razor-sharp short game better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  The curb-stomping she delivered to a pair of idiots who didn’t want to play with a woman (especially one who could say ‘bless their hearts’ and mean go f**k yourselves in a way I’ve yet to see replicated) is the stuff of legend.

1:16: And we have the young junior male golfer.  See kids- you can be cool too if you buy one of these.  No, really.  Do you think Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler had one of these?  I feel like if Rickie Fowler had one he’d use it to play motorcycle polo.

1:22: Graphics.  Probably done on a Commodore Vic-20.  To quote Ben Wright and Peter Alliss, majestic.  No expense spared.  The 12-year old who did these was well worth the 50 dollars they gave him.  Earned every penny of it.

1:30: Sound effects are off.  Don’t use the sound of an iron shot from the fairway for sand shots.  You hear that from someone in a greenside bunker, I’d suggest ducking and protecting your “one meat, two veg” if you catch my drift (or at the very least try to help the guy find what hole his ball ended up on).  You want that thump sound.  Any golfer knows that.  And hey, look, it’s old man in a straw hat…come on down!  Greg Norman looked good in that.  Maybe Jim Thorpe (because I’m afraid to tell him it looks bad).  Nobody else does.

courtesy National club golfer

The only man who looks good in a hat like this.

1:42: If you can’t trust someone trying to pull off the Bryson Dechambeau look long before he did, I’m not sure what you can trust.  You know who looks good in the Hogan/newsboy hat?  Hogan.  You know who doesn’t?  Anyone not named Hogan.  Stop trying to make this a thing.  Between this and the flat-bill hat thing, can people not wear a regular hat?  While we’re on the subject, you know who didn’t wear a hat for years?  Arnold Palmer.

courtesy GolfWRX.

Bryson Dechambeau and his Hogan hat. Want to make a personal statement? Win tournaments. As you were.

courtesy GQ

No hat. No gimmick. Just here to kick ass and take names.

Arnie’s gimmick?  It’s called winning and being one bad ass mo-fo.  And being cool as hell.

2:00: More shots from a variety of lies, and yet, you don’t see them land.  It’s almost like…no, that can’t be true.

2:07: Five bucks says the goober that takes that giant pelt of a divot doesn’t replace it, and then complains if his ball ends up in a divot.  Any superintendent sees this must be quietly sobbing in a corner.  Bad enough when the pros do it, but when a 20-handicapper takes a hairpiece-sized divot and leaves it (not even filling it)…inexcusable.

2:16: Hey look- old white guy in a straw hat!  Gee, I wonder who he voted for in the last election (gonna take a wild guess he’s not a BernieBro).  I’m surprised he took the big cigar out of his mouth long enough to use words.  Unrelated, you know this guy is a total Judge Smails at his club.  While we’re at it, let’s just say that the chances he says “Happy Holidays” are zero.  You do you, Tex.  Hook ’em Horns.

2:23: Cargo shorts on a guy whose grip is something out of a What Not To Do seminar whose knees are locked…must turn away and not see…must turn away.  Next to popped collars, my other men’s fashion choice I’d like to kill with fire is cargo shorts.  Most regular shorts come with two back and two front pockets.  Other than a survival mission in the Sahara Desert, you can get by without cargo shorts.  Put your keys in your golf bag along with any coins (please- the noise is distracting to the other players in your group).  An extra ball in one front pocket and some tees, a divot repair tool and a ball marker in the other front pocket.  Your phone goes in the bag (on silent/vibrate).  Take a photo by all means and then quietly (and quickly) put it back.  Hell for me is a world where every guy wears cargo shorts and every woman wears leggings and ugg boots.

2:35: Free top-quality headcover?  Take my money!   Headcovers on irons and wedges are morally wrong.  Don’t.  Those neoprene things?  Don’t.  No serious golfer has them.  It’s like having a stroke counter tool.  Save your money; that beer you buy at the turn will do your game a world of good more than a stroke counter tool or iron covers.  If I see a guy in a cart with neoprene covers on his irons, the following things will be undoubtedly true:

1) He will have a ball retriever in his bag and will be better at retrieving balls than he is at playing (oh, and if you hit one in the drink I promise you he’ll fetch it for you…and five other balls).

2) He will get indignant if you mention “we should pick up the pace a bit”…because he’s got nowhere to go and all day to get there but if he gets close to the group in front of him he’ll complain about how slow they are.

3) He will want to keep score for you even if he doesn’t know you and will ask you what you had.  Especially if he doesn’t know you.

4) He will give you a swing lesson that he heard from someone that will make no sense.  Probably a scramble tournament.

5) He will have a poker chip that he uses to mark his ball.

2:45: The “act now and you’ll also get…” portion.  Discount vouchers!  And it comes in a box so the UPS/FedEx/DHL delivery person knows you’re a golf junkie who buys stuff from infomercials.  It’ll look good next to the two ball retrievers you have in your bag, and that’s what counts.

So enjoy the trip back in time to the days of standard definition and Infomericals.  As I find more, I’ll post recaps because if we can’t laugh about them, then what’s the point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

photo from William Kendall Books

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

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

2016 summed up quite succinctly.

2016 summed up quite succinctly.

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

So how was 2016 for you?

So how was 2016 for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Silly Season Suggestions

It’s now December (and Verne Lundquist is signing off for the last time and will be missed by everyone), and unlike last year, the weather isn’t going to be conducive to any mid-month golf in spring/fall dress.  So your golf fix is largely going to be televised.  This coming weekend is the Franklin-Templeton Shootout which ends on Saturday (Golf Channel had the Thursday-Friday coverage and Saturday coverage went over to Fox).  So just when you thought you were done with Fox and their golf coverage…you’re not (in a perfect world Fox would just use the Golf Channel crew but we can’t have nice things, so there’s that).  However, Joe Buck was not there.  Whew.

Take the weekend off. Please.

Take the weekend off. Please.

While we’re talking about this tournament, Lexi Thompson is playing with Bryson Dechambeau and his sidesaddle putting stroke.  Which made me wonder?  Why not just pair up an LPGA pro with a PGA Tour pro?  Let them choose up sides if you want, or even better, have a fantasy draft!   You’re telling me Golf Channel wouldn’t air this live?  They’d air it live and run it back several times over.  The NHL All Star Game did this (starting in 2011; since discontinued), which gave us this bon mot:

I’m a died-in-the-wool Leafs fan and I still don’t know what the hell this was.  You can’t not watch but you can’t turn away.

What I’d do is have the guys seated, and draw a female player out of a hat.  She comes on stage, and picks her playing partner.  I’d allow trades (make the rules up as you go along-mostly to give the USGA an aneurysm).  Drinking?  Oh HELL YES.  Talking trash?  By all means.  I’d have all the players miked up.  Similar to what they do now, I’d play 2-man best ball two days, and a shamble the other day.  Have the women tee off a bit closer (7-8%).  Oh, I’d let them ride in carts.  With music.  The point is that it’s supposed to be fun.

So that’s problem #1 solved.

If it’s December, it also means that Golf Channel is in filler mode once the silly season events end (I’d expect that counter for the start of the PGA Tour season to be up any day now).  For the remaining two people who get Golf Channel and haven’t seen the edited-for-TV versions of The Trinity (that’s Caddyshack, Tin Cup, and The Legend of Bagger Vance), December is your lucky month.  I’m not remotely kidding.  I had a weird dream last night (and I have a lot of them) that someone decides to turn Tin Cup or Caddyshack into something similar to what Rocky Horror Picture Show is or The Big Lebowski (I’ve seen something similar at Lebowskifest, which was a tribute to The Big Lebowski).  Look- if I can’t get someone to play Judge Smails, Lacy Underalls or Danny Noonan, than my faith in humanity is for nothing.   Note to anyone from Golf Channel: if you’re reading this and you’re not thinking about it,  pour another tumbler of bourbon and think about it some more.  You could put this on tour and people would come, Ray.  People would come.

Tennis icon Arthur Ashe Playing golf during The Superstars.

Tennis icon Arthur Ashe Playing golf during The Superstars.

But more to the point is this…we need a new silly season event.  It came to me a few weeks ago, when after a long night of drinking (that’ll be enough judgement from you) I was watching ESPN Classic and the 70’s show The Superstars was on.  Take a bunch of professional athletes from all sports and let them compete in a bunch of silly events.  TV magic!  Arthur Ashe playing golf (see above).  Reggie Jackson swimming!  Roger Staubach riding a bicycle!   Short-shorts, and the likelihood of there being off-camera drinking at about 99%.

photo courtesy Getty Images

The buttery smooth swing of Charles Barkley. He’s committed. Or should be.

This got me thinking (as often happens when I’m watching TV and I’m half in the bag).  If you ever see me half in the bag with a steno pad and a pen, it’s a good time to be marginally worried.  We know that pro athletes love golf and many are really good at it (and a lot of NFLers are very good).  We also know that, in the 21st century, golf is one of those rare activities teams don’t mind players participating in.  So then I started thinking about something beyond a stroke-play event (NBC already shows a celebrity tournament from Lake Tahoe that features professional athletes, actors/actresses, and “other” celebrities).

Very talented basketball player plays golf. Film at 11.

Very talented basketball player plays golf. Film at 11.

But what about a team event?  At first I was thinking about something where the Championship teams would play against each other, but then it dawned on me that this could be difficult to pull off.  Then, much like that episode of Seinfeld when Costanza’s dad decides to bring back Festivus, it hit me like big shiny Festivus pole to the head-  have teams made up of players from each league!

NHL players playing golf? Why, I've never heard of such a thing!

NHL players playing golf? Why, I’ve never heard of such a thing!

If you timed it right (say July) you would have 3 of the big 4 team sports in their off season (NFL, NBA, NHL).  With 12 spots per team each league would have no problem finding willing participants (open it up to retired players if you want, or let each league pick 2 retired players to fill out their rosters).  If you wanted to include baseball players you could go with former players (and there’s a fair few who are pretty good).  Don’t want that?  Fine- find some former Olympic athletes (nice cross promotion for NBC/Golf Channel) and call it a ‘Team USA’ or something.  I’d have the players riding in carts and playing no more than 18 holes in a day (that should keep teams from concerns over health/safety).   Play the tournament over 3 days; crazy idea here but do a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday dates.  That means no overlap with PGA/Euro/LPGA/Champions events (honestly, how many repeats of the Final Round of the John Deere Classic do you need?).

NFL kicker likes golf. Alert the news media.

NFL kicker likes golf. Alert the news media.

Have a purse that goes to the Players Associations benevolent/emergency funds (or they can name a charity); very little work (I’m sure you could find a few willing sponsors to put their name on this) would get you a $200K 1st place, $150K 2nd, $100K third and $50K 4th place (that’s $500K total).  If you were to sell tickets at $25 a pop (very reasonable) and sell 15,000 tickets TOTAL (5,000 per day), that’s $375,000 right there.  Throw up some premium seats and the purse is more than covered and you haven’t even sold advertising, concessions, parking, etc.

Golf Channel could produce it and control the rights (file under “hey, look at this content we have”).  Think about all those Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf and how those get edited down…bingo.  You could easily condense the final round into a 90 minute segment, which is wonderful filler.

How would this work, you ask?  Simple.

Monday: 3-man shamble.  Each “league” gets 4 groups (4 groups x 4 teams= 16 groups).  Run a 2-tee start and things get going quickly.

Tuesday: 2-man best ball.  Each “league” gets 6 groups.  Put 2 groups together and it’s 12 foursomes.  Again- 2-tee start to get things moving quickly.

Tuesday night: After two rounds, the team that’s in first plays the team in 4th, and the team in 2nd plays the team in 3rd in 9 holes of match play.  Teams submit orders.  Team that finishes first picks if they want to play the front 9 or back 9.  2nd/3rd match plays the other 9 holes (so things move quickly).  Ties settled by sudden death playoff by teams picking one player from their 12.

Wednesday: Teams play 9 holes of match play in the morning (just like the Ryder Cup; 12 singles matches).  Teams that win those matches play back 9 in championship match.  Tied after that?  Anchors (guys who went out 12th) play sudden-death playoff.

Think about the effort they put into the old Tavistock Cup; with a replication of effort they’d be able to put together a decent event and they’d have something they could re-air later in the year.  Not that the odd showing of one of The Trinity isn’t enjoyable, but we’re approaching Law & Order rerun territory, folks.  Don’t suppose you’d run that Perfect Club Infomercial again?

Where to hold it?  Not sure it matters; off the top of my head I’d say either the West Coast (California), or somewhere in the Great Lakes area (Michigan/Traverse City area, Kohler, etc.).  I’m saying no on Vegas because it gets ungodly hot in July, but if that would work then by all means go for it.  Play it at night under the lights if you want to!

Song of the Day

I heard Nice as F**k on SiriusXM a couple months ago.  If you can get past the NSFW name, the song is great.  Everything a pop song should be.  Have a listen.  Nobody will tell.

 

 

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