After careful consideration and a long and deliberative process (at least 15 minutes and a couple double scotches), I’m pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Single Golfer In Cart Awards (SGIC) and general Airing of Grievances for Excellence in Whatever I Damn Well Deem Appropriate. Since the Grill Room at Fairway Hills was busy (someone put brochures on the one table), I held the awards at the House of SGIC. It was a black tshirt affair. The awards are only for local area golf courses. Below are the other members of the voting committee.
Behold, our award winners:
The Refusal To Die Award: Shared among Old Gunpowder and Sligo Creek Golf Courses. These courses continue to exist despite their deaths the stuff of constant speculation. Both courses offer new golfers and the thriftier set options to enjoy the game.
The First Thing We’ll Do is Kill Pace of Play Award: To Falls Road GC and any other course that throws dozens of groups on the back nine on weekend mornings, resulting in play grinding to a halt. At one point there were 7 groups on 2 holes (at 9:15 a.m.). And you wonder why rounds take 5 plus hours?
The Why Are You Even Trying Pro Shop Award: Fairway Hills…where you can get a hot dog, a soda and a dozen Top-Flites in one stop. All in a room the size of a prison cell.
The Excellence In Conditioning Award: Northwest Park. While their green fees have gone up over the last couple years, you’re paying for top-notch fairways and greens. Proof that people will pay for quality.
The Excellence in Customer Service Award: Northwest Park, who phoned me and left a voicemail after a heavy storm in May to explain that the back 9 was closed and we’d be playing the front nine and the “inside 9” during our round.
The I can Has Technology Award: To courses who refuse to let people know their aeration schedule. This is not difficult. It should be on your course’s website and anyone booking over the phone should be advised, and a sign in the pro shop should be visible.
The I can Has Technology Award Runner Up: Courses who can’t be bothered to tell people they’re open after a horrible winter. See Timbers at Troy and pretty much anything in Howard County.
The Excellence in Lying Out Their Ass Citation: Columbia Association’s never-ending tv ads touting their two courses. One’s a complete shit show in terms of conditioning that has their own “club” that gets all the early-morning weekend tee times (Hobbit’s Glen) and the other one has at least two holes I’d like to fire into the sun (Fairway Hills).
Best Retailer: Golf Galaxy (by default). Mammoth Golf is but a memory, and Dick’s Sporting Goods (yes- same parent company) is a loud thunderdome populated by teenage jockbros. I’ve had two club fitting experiences at Golf Galaxy and both were pretty good. Plus, Dick’s got rid of all of their PGA Professionals so now you’re dealing with someone who might have been selling camping gear the day before. If Golfdom (see below) opened a Maryland store and started carrying big and tall sizes this could change.
Worst Retailer: Pretty much everyone in the area, because there’s no retail golf stores that sell big and tall sizes. I’d like to support a locally run golf retailer; other than Olney Golf Park (selection is very much meh) there’s not one that exists other than either your “green grass” retailers (at courses) or a big chain. Yes- I’m aware of Golfdom in Virginia, but that’s an hour-plus drive for me.
Best Online Retailer: TGW. They carry big and tall sizes, and their reviews are from verified purchases. If they’d stop emailing me every goddamn day that would be nice, but in the main I can’t complain.
Worst Online Retailer: Too many to mention.
The Oblivious Award: To the two jackasses I played with at Laytonsville back in April who spent half their day on their cell phones or taking 3-4 practice swings on every shot. Either pick up the pace and take on practice swing or take up tennis. Hopefully my golf didn’t get in the way of you talking on the phone.
Best overall Experience Award: Despite rain, my round at Whiskey Creek was, for the most part, what I was hoping for. The course was in good shape, pace of play was good, and the staff was uniformly fantastic. I enjoyed Worthington Manor as well, but I’d have to shade it to Whiskey Creek.
Worst overall Experience: Laytonsville. It’s hard to believe that the same parent company that runs Northwest has this clunker, but it’s true. The marshal giving me the gears over pace of play (and not my playing partners), conditions that were lousy at best, and a round that took way too long? No thanks.
Places I’m in no rush to re-visit: Tied between Timbers at Troy (a complete shit show- I had one visit there to renew my handicap and it was a 45-minute ordeal) and Waverly Woods (the public track that thinks it’s a private course replete with the attitude). Their collective policy towards single golfers is the equivalent of an extended middle finger. I can be treatedly warmly by Worthington Manor and Whiskey Creek (and countless other tracks), and I will spend my dollars accordingly. My experience at Waverly Woods from 3 years ago was not exactly welcoming. A great layout and conditions are nice, but treating people like you’re doing them a favour in letting them play is not how you build a business.
Best new purchase: The Titleist AP1 irons I bought this past February have been a welcome addition in the bag.
Worst new purchase: The Titleist Golf Bag I bought. I love everything about it except for one thing- THE STRAP IN IN THE BACK OF THE BAG WHICH MAKES CARRYING IT A NIGHTMARE. A suggestion- put buckles in both sides so that the main strap can get moved. Otherwise…it’s a great bag.
The Why is This a Thing Award: Courses that feel the need to have US Open level rough. It kills pace of play when you’re spending forever looking for a lost ball. Cut the damn rough.
Holes that need to be blown up: Tie between Redgate #16 and Hampshire Greens #2. Two holes that are set up to destroy pace of play. Stop with the “signature hole” bullshit. Redgate punishes a fantastic drive and encourages a layup to a brutal third shot. Hampshire Greens #2 starts innocently enough but makes the second shot brutally hard with invisible hazards. This doesn’t challenge the average player- it punishes them. Even having red or yellow stakes that are visible would help you see where you can and can’t go.
Hard hole that does what it should: Falls Road #12. Straight shot that favors the right side to an uphill green. Anything left is dead. I’ve never scored well on it, but it’s fairly simple and doesn’t try to trick the player.
In Memoriam (cue the sad music): Montgomery Village Country Club, my old Ping G2 irons, the Dick’s Sporting Goods PGA Professionals, the LPGA International Crown at Caves Valley (moved out for 2015 and probably won’t return to the area), and any professional Golf (PGA Tour, Web.com, LPGA) in Maryland in 2015.