Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Keeping a handicap - web or local club?

I keep my handicap on a web service called I currently don't belong to a local men's club - I'm thinking of joining one to compete in the men's club events and to get a GHIN handicap. Tony Chor from work turned me onto the service 2+ years ago (thanks Tony).

What I like about the service: I can post at home and keep stats for FIR (fairways in regulation), GIR (greens in regulation), Putts and up and down (if you missed the green, did you chip up and get into the hole in one putt - measure of your short game prowess).

What I don't like - so far: I tried to play in one golf tournament in 2006 at Willows Run and the golf director wouldn't take my USGA handicap to play in the tournament. I really don't know if this is a golfserv type thing or a Willows thing. I've only tried to play in one tournament. Maybe this is why I have love hate relationship for Willows Run - Go figure.

I need to figure out what's up with GHIN golf handicap vs USGA golf handicap. I'm guessing the online golfserv service isn't a recognized "club". I'll figure it out and post my results soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Gold Mountain - Olympic Course - muni's rule part 2

Gold Mountain played host to the 2006 U.S Amateur Public Links Championship. It's a 36 hole complex. It has a nice size club house - and the beer and food are "great". Service is outstanding and both courses are amazing (Olympic and Cascade courses). In the summer I recommend playing 36 holes. Bring your camera - don't forget it at the house.

The front side: We played the Olympic course from the gold tees. Out of the gate is a huge 466 yard par 4. The course is amazing. Check out the web site the views of the Olympic mountain range are amazing. The layout of the course is amazing. It's called a true shot makers course. I took to many shots and never really managed to make "the shots". Tree lined, well bunkered, tough greens.

My playing partners OR partners in crime: Jefferson and Bryn - both characters, we laughed so hard on the way over on the ferry ride my stomach was sore - Note to self: Must "plan" to do crunches more often.

The back side: The course is in great to good shape. The greens are pretty difficult - they have plenty of break to them which makes the greens sneaky tricky. The fairways are in nice shape. This course plays well in the winter and rain. #12 is a 251 yard par 3. Huh? A 251 yard par 3, unheard of... it's down hill and plays about 220. I hit the green and had a 40 foot putt up and down a hill snaking to the left. It took me 3 putts - the "hog" let me down.

Overall thoughts on my play: I suck. Or, I sucked. How could the "Hog" let me down I'll never "care" to know. When your driver, approach shots and putter let you down - it's a bad golf day. All said and done, I had a great time. I such a great time - we scheduled a tee time for next Sunday on the same course. How to fu_k up a long drive? Chapter xxx, it happened on #6, a par 5 that starts up hill then finishes down playing 528 yards from the gold tees. I had 190 yards to the pin, down hill lie to a down hill green. I don't hit 338 yard shots everyday - so I was pretty proud of myself. Until I hit the next shot. In order to get the club on the ball I had to play the ball way back in my stance. I had eagle thoughts... that flew by with one swing of the club (5 iron). I pushed my 2nd shot far right pin high behind a tree - 30 yards away from the green. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...

Overall thoughts on the course: Go out of your way to play both courses == You must experience this golf complex - it's amazing - repeat as often as you like :).

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Willows Run - Eagles Talon - love hate relationship

Willows Run is a 36 hole golf complex north west of downtown Redmond, Washington. Eagles Talon and Coyote Creek are the respective names. Both courses can play extremely slow because it's not marshaled. You have to tee off early to beat the traffic. The drinks and food are pretty decent. In the last 6 years - I've played this course less and less each year due to service and slow play - this is my take, your experience may vary with time of play.

The front side: It was wet and the course was soggy as hell - Expected this time of year given the weather we've had recently. The course is pretty straight away with very few dog leg rights, lefts and not to difficult around the green or fairway bunkers. I started off with a birdie. The hole that always gets me on the front is #3. It’s all about course management and the green slopes right to left. It's the #1 rating hole - they got this right. I took a big number on #3... OB left on white stakes - never a good thing - hit 3 from the tee - double bogey (two over par). The course overall is sort of a new era links style course - meaning - not much course design thought put into it (sorry course designer). I shot 40 on the front which is 5 over - par is 35.

My playing partners: Pat and Michael (nickname = Lance or Spike depending on topic/sport) and we we're paired up with Jim (a single) to make a foursome. Jim was amazing; we had a fun time with him... Jim bought the group beers and offered cigars. I took Jim up on a nice Romeo and Juliette corona size cigar. Nice smoke - light, mild hints of leather. I didn't have any beers during the round - I saved that until after the game.

The back side: I love the 10th and 11th hole - because I've eagled or birdied these holes more often than most par 5's I've played. Just so happens I did neither this time out. Oh well. I was one under on the back side through 15. I took a Bogey on 16 and finished up with two pars for even par on the back side. I was pretty happy with this effort. The only hole that stands out for me on the back side is #17 - a par 3 over water to an island looking green - a 3 tier green at that. OK, 18 is interesting too.. it's a par 5 with a water feature by the green.

West Seattle Golf Course - muni's rule part 1

West Seattle is one of the three amigo's OR Seattle muni golf courses - comprised of West Seattle, Jefferson Park and Jackson Park. Interestingly, each has it's own 'pro' story - Jefferson has Freddy Couples. Jackson has - I forgot (do you know?) and West Seattle has Rich Beam.

The Front Side: Wow, looking out from the first tee box you instantly see the "white sand" in the fairway bunkers. It looks very pleasing to the eye. And, I didn't hit into the trap, so that's cool. In the past two years I've purposely NOT played West Seattle because I "thought" it was a goat track. I couldn't of been more wrong. Even with the weather we've had (Snow, rain and more rain) the course was in great shape. I butchered the front side... Like Fonzie, I can't say it... you'll have to look at the score card.

West Seattle has an old style course feel to it. Which to me means it has contoured tree lined fairways, big rough, fairway bunkers (sand traps) and bunkers lining small poster stamp greens. Just enough and equal dogleg right and left to force the player to use course management and hit shaped "shots" to score. It just has that "old style" feeling. Examples of old style which I've played are Pinehurst #2, Pine Needles, Firestone Country Club - South and North, Longview WA Country Club.

The Back Side: Time to hunker down. Dam, the views of Seattle are nice from the backside. I didn't get a picture because I left my camera in the car. It was raining - we we're walking, that's my excuse. I'll have to get back here soon and take pictures and redeem myself on the front side.

My Playing Partner: Jefferson Fletcher, we've been playing golf together since the late 90's. Jefferson got game. He's gone from a hack (I used to call him the fletch'a-magic-5000 - slice and dice baby) to a low digit handicapper - He is consistent and has a great short game... and that's what I hate about him. My short game comes and goes and mostly doesn't show up at all.

New equipment: Speaking of buying a short game - I purchased a belly putter at my favorite golf store - Puetz Golf in Bellevue, WA. I talked about purchasing a belly putter in my last post. I did it. I found the "Hog" model number 1003B. The "Hog" trade-in-value isn't all that compared to a few big name brand putters I have hanging around the house.

Overall thoughts on the course: It's a must play and you can walk it. Great value. Bring your camera.
Overall thoughts on my play:
How to fu_k up a long drive: It didn't materialize this time out - most of my mistakes we're on my approach shots and around the green. I had difficulties on the front side (I changed putters at the turn) and turned it around on the backside. I rolled the "Hog" - new belly putter pretty well for it's first time out. It instantly helped me feel confident in my putting stroke and release to the hole. I felt I sank a few putts where I won't have - I shot 83 = (47/36). We played the black tees at 6725 yards.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

La Costa - walk with the legends

La Costa has been on my list of golf courses to play for some time now - I get jazzed when I get to play courses that host or hosted PGA (or LPGA) events. I really don't want to walk with Legends I want to play the same golf courses. It's been said that golf is one of the few sports where amateurs have the opportunity to play the same venue/course as the pros. I think it's true. Not to state the obvious, but to get the full experience you have to be willing and able to go to the back tees. It's scary back there.

La Costa in past years was host to the Accenture Match Play Championship. In 2007 the tourney moved to Tucson, AZ - I'm guessing the nicer more predicable weather in Jan or Feb was the main reason. I heard Southern California can be as rainy as Seattle, WA. in the winter and after playing La Costa on Feb 27th - I can confirm that it is not even close to being as nasty as Seattle, WA. - not this year.

The Tournament Course 'Walk in the Footsteps of Golf Legends' front side, holes 1-9 start out on the back side of the south course 10-18. The back side, 10-18 actually starts on the north course front side - holes 1-3 and finish with holes 13-18. Check out the score card(s) below. Total distance from the gold tees, where the "legends" play is 7310 yards. Course rating = 75.1. Slope = 142+.

The front side:
The first 3 holes we're absolutely terrible - windy and rainy. Welcome to Carlsbad I thought. Heck, this is like playing in the northwest. I like warm sunny weather - the body moves better in the nice stuff. The fairways had no roll due to the wet weather and the greens were punched. When you have freshly punched greens and it's been raining the sand in the punch tends to settle down in the little holes and the greens roll like burber carpet - about a 7 or 8 on the stimpmeter and very rough. Needless to say - I putt very well on the front side - or the back as the case may be. I shoot 42 on the front. Overall, not too good but not too bad either - I'm glad I played despite the initial rain and punched greens.

My Playing Partner:
Peter was his name. I meet him on the practice range. He said he played La Costa some 15 years earlier but he didn't remember to much of the course. You could tell he loved the game. It was in his voice, he showed passion and he wore shorts. I found out later that he had both hips replaced two years prior... you could tell he was in pain. At the turn he took two Advil.

The back side:
The grounds were under construction at hole #10 (which is #1 hole on the north course). It was playing about 30 yards short - all the tees - gold, blue and white tees were in the same location. After the first few holes the wind started to kick up. When you have a 460 yard par 4 and the wind is in your face. It can beat you down. The wind messes with your mind and like the devil it makes you do things that aren't natural - grip the club tight and you want to muscle the ball. I managed to get on a roll on the back side - 4 pars in a row. I missed a 3 foot birdie putt on number 11 (Or, #2 on the North course). The back side didn't have punched greens. I couldn't use that excuse. The weather started to get nice - around 60 degrees with a few high clouds - the sun was out and it started to get warm. But, the wind was relentless - 10 to 15 mph. It was a good two club wind at times. I shot 41 on the back side. I had 31 putts overall. For me anything over 29 putts is a bad day. I finished with 5 bogies. Peter told me I was stabbing at the ball with my putting stroke- not good. Putting has been my weakness and it continues to plague me even though I've been working on my putting at the house. No excuse - I thought. I'm thinking of moving to a belly putter - Vijay has one of these things. It seems to promote an on target swing path.

Overall thoughts on the course:
La Costa is worth playing ONCE - especially the Tournament course - 'walk with the legends'. I was not impressed with the course conditions. The fairways were spotty (but, its winter), it was not groomed as nice as most $200+ courses and the greens were punched (no $ discount either – WTF, not nice). IMHO - La Costa needs to sink some dollars into the tee boxes, fairways and greens to bring it up to par with most of the resort courses in nearby Palm Springs/La Quinta. At these prices the customer expects 'much' better.

Overall thoughts on my play:
How to fu_k up a long drive (the title of this blog and my play at times): This time - It came on #10. I hit a a boomer (wind at my back) on a beautiful elevated tee box some 320 yards - dead straight, center cut / in the fairway. I had around 70 yards to the pin. I chunked my 56 degree wedge into the right green side sand trap. I replaced my divot - it was H U G E. Guess I tried steering the club and didn't finish. Luckily, I hit it close out of the trap and made a sandy par.

I shot 83. I’ll take that score this time of year and on this course from 7310 yards. I currently have a 5.8 handicap, round up to 6. Take the handicap differential for the La Costa Tournament course which equals a 7 and add it to the course rating of 75.1 – that equals 82.1. That means to shoot my handicap on the La Costa Tournament course I need to shoot an 82. I shot 83… close enough in my book.