Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Review/ 2010 Preview

I would like to thank all of you who have stopped by my blog during it's first year. Slowly, I am getting to the point where I will be posting pictures and a short article every time I play a new course. I hope you have enjoyed viewing the photo's I have on the site so far.

In 2009 I added 40 new courses to my list. I was fortunate to be able to play some of the better courses in the USA and discover a few hidden gems. As you can see from some of my photo's I was fighting the rain for most of the time I spent in the central and northern US. Several courses I had planned to play I got rained out and hopefully will be able to play in the future. Luckily, I was just one step ahead of the huge rains in Florida in May and Southern Indiana the end of July.

I try to take a couple of week long golf trips every year. In 2009 my two trips concentrated on the Midwest region around Ohio and Indiana. One of the most picturesque courses I played was the new Dye Course at French Lick, which won best new 2009 Public by Golf Digest magazine. There has been a $500 million renovation of the two historic hotels with the addition of a Casino. In addition to the Dye Course there is the 1917 Ross Course, another 9 hole track and a practice center. Well worth the trip to Larry Bird's hometown. On this trip I also played Victoria National, Wolf Run, and Sycamore Hills.

In the Spring on my way back north I made it to Wade Hampton which would be at the top of my list for courses I would love to be a member at. What a slice of heaven that area is. After that I stopped by Valhalla, Camargo, Scioto, Inverness, and Tullymore.

For 2010 I have already reserved my tee times for my biannual trip to Bandon Resort the first of August. With the addition of the 4th course there we will be playing 36 holes a day for four days. I am thinking about heading north to Seattle after Bandon to play a few of the courses in that area. My second trip is still open, either the Chicago area or going to the Northeast to experience golf in that area. Even though I used to vacation in the NE, I have never golfed in the 13 state region and could really add to my states played with a couple of trips there in the next few years.

I didn't play any competitive golf the first half of the year so I decided I would play in my club championship for the first time in several years. In the qualifier I finished 6th which got me in the championship flight, which I was quickly knocked out of in the first round. Only consolation was that I was the oldest guy in the field. Next year I hope to play more Senior events when I am 60.

My handicap stayed in the same , 2-4, range it has for the past 2o years. Even though I feel I am a better player than years ago, with much more knowledge of the game and a wider assortment of shots, it is hard to put it all together for 18 holes. I was really in the "zone" one day for a seven hole stretch where I made 5 birdies and missed two other putts inside 10 feet. It seemed like this was a year of birdies in bunches, then a week long drought.

It was a great year for me in the number of new courses I was able to play and the friendly people I met along the way. Another 16 years like this one and I will be close to 1000.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why 1000?

I have followed other interesting golf blogs with their goal of playing the top 100 in the World or the Golf Digest US top 100. But what happens to those golfers once they have played all the top courses? What is next for them? Will they ever appreciate and enjoy the thousands of other courses that aren't in the top 100 after playing the best there is? Don't get me wrong, I surely appreciate the opportunity to play top 100 courses but I do not enjoy that golfing experience anymore than playing other courses. For me I needed to find an enjoyable, lifelong, golf journey.

In 2004 when I first started adding up how many courses I had played , I was already at around 200. Initially, I thought 500 would be a reasonable goal. But it was definitely attainable. I needed to find something that would be a real challenge for me. At about the same time, I read an article titled "1000 Marbles". The author was about my age, 55, when he discovered his theory of a thousand marbles (www.topachievement.com/chronicles/marbles.html). At that time he went out and bought 1000 marbles (small beads are smaller and cheaper) and put them in a large container. Every Saturday morning he would take one marble out of the container. By watching his time on earth dwindle away he felt it helped him get his priorities straight. If he made it through all the marbles, to age 75, then he had been given some extra time. This story was what gave me the idea of 1000 golf courses and playing in all 50 states.

What a better way for an avid golfer to see your life go by then to be traveling around the United States playing new golf courses? When I started this journey at age 55, I had a bit of a jump on the 1000 (marbles) golf courses. I have found it a harder challenge to play a new course every week than taking a marble out of a container. If I can play around 45 a year until I reach 75 years old I will hit 1000. Easy to say 1000, but with age comes potential health problems and diminished earnings. So, I have three major hurdles to contend with health being the most likely one to stop me short of 1000.

I have created a challenge for myself which I am very much looking forward to the journey to complete. Do I really think I am going to hit 1000 by age 75? Probably not, but just think if I do eventually reach my goal at say age 83. What more could a golfer ask for? And just maybe I might shoot my age along the way! To date I have shot in the sixties twice in competition, most recently in 2008. So maybe in the next 10 years I might be fortunate enough to check one more item off my Bucket List.

This blogs intent is to give you a feel for the golf course from the many pictures I have taken of each course. The only narratives will be about my favorite golf holes from the various courses I have photographed. I will admit my lack of literary skills and I sure thank God for spellcheck. Being I am only writing about my favorite holes at each course the tone of the blog will be very positive.

I have played a broad spectrum of courses. If you look at my simplistic color rating system of all the courses I have played, it pretty much looks like a Bell Curve. If you have not played a course and want a pictorial preview with a little history of the course, this blog will help you become familiar with that course. If you are like me and have played the course but have over the years forgotten most of the holes, I hope you enjoy the memories of when you played there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's in my bag?

Driver #1 King Cobra F6+ 11.5 deg with 55gm graphite shaft. Currently testing this club.
Driver #1a Nike Victory Red STR8-FIT Tour 9.5 deg with Aldila VooDoo Stiff
Driver #3 Adams Redline 460 9.5 deg with Fujikara G60 Stiff- this driver is old but one of the longest off the tee I have ever owned. Bring it out occasionally to let it hunt.

3 Wood- Cobra F/ST 15 deg with graphite shaft

Hybrids- Srixon AD 21 deg with graphite shaft, shortened the shaft 1 "
- Adams Idea a12 19 deg with VTS Proforce Regular shaft. Great out of heavy rough.

Irons- 5 to PW Mizuno MP-4 with Nippon 95 Steel Stiff shafts

52 bent to 51 deg Cleveland 900 forged wedge with Spinner Steel shaft

56 deg Cleveland CG 12 DSG Zip Grooves with Spinner Steel shaft

60 bent to 61 deg Cleveland CG 12 Zip Grooves Custom Grind with Spinner Steel shaft

Putter-Odyssey 34" 2 Ball Backstryke with 3" Super Stroke grip

Grips- Golf Pride Decade +4 wrap on driver, Super Stroke on all irons. All mid-size

Golf Glove- Bionic R and L

Titleist Pro VIx, Pro VI (cold weather)
Top Flight Gamer-Yellow. Use this ball 95% of the time, hard to tell any difference from Pro V1x.

Training Aids- Medicus 5 iron and Tour Striker 7 iron

Sun Mountain Speed Cart V2

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Retracing my golf footprints

It was in early 2004 that I began to wonder how many courses have I actually played? My initial thought was probably somewhere around 200, it actually turned out to be 180. At that point I started to write down on a legal pad all the golf trips I could remember going on and the courses I had played. That was a pretty good start. Next, I tried to remember all the golf courses around the areas I had lived in. Another good number were added to my list. Still, there were a lot that I could not recall the name of the course but I could still remember some of the holes.

I discovered Google Earth has a function which will outline in green all the golf courses in the world for you. As you get closer the name will appear and if you are still not sure it is the same course you can focus right into the individual holes. This was a great help in that several of the courses had changed names but I definitely knew I had played them by the hole features. Google along with the U.S. Golf Course Directory website (http://www.thegolfcourses.net/) got me about 90 % of the courses I had played to that point. At this site you can go to a state and then get a list of all courses in a particular city, another great memory jogger.

By the winter of 2006, my appetite for playing new golf courses was getting up to around 30 or more per year. I now start to put what I recall the quality of the course was when I played it with every name I have on my legal pads, along with the the year I first played it. During this process I remember several other courses that I had forgotten about. To date, I know there are still a few courses out there that I will eventually recall. Some have been destroyed due to development and I just haven't been able to remember the name, even though I know exactly where they were located. Just this July 2009, surprise, another course popped out of my memory bank and I added one more to the list.

It took me over four years to retrace my golf journey. It not only produced a chronological list of 99% of the courses I have played, but more importantly so many wonderful memories of golf played with friends and family over my life. Funny, how most every day I recall playing all these courses it's always sunny and 75 degrees.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Slideshows

In 2006, I entered the digital world and bought a Sony camera that was small enough to slip in my back pocket. Initially, I would snap a shot of an interesting hole, then I progressed to taking one per hole. It has now evolved into trying to take a series of photos (100+) to get a feel for the whole golf club. You will notice that the first photos of each slide show are all about the history, physical structures, and practice areas of the club. Next, I try to either take a photo of the hole marker or of the yardage book to give you an idea of what you will be seeing. Usually I try to take 3 or more photos from the tee to the green. Sometimes I get distracted, usually by a bad golf shot, and miss a photo here and there. A few rounds the weather has not cooperated and prevented me from taking any pictures and you might see only the yardage guide. Some of the courses that I have played more than once since 2006 I have done some updating with newer photos. It is interesting to see the changes that have been made and how courses look in different seasons. Hole #16 at Bandon Dunes is an example of how the look of a hole can change from the last time I played it. Check out the side bar, under Slideshows, and I have posted most of the better courses I have photographed from 2006 to the present. The average slide show will take about 7 minutes.

To view a particular course first click on it and you will be taken to its Picasa album, next click on slide show, last click on F11 for full screen. You can adjust the pace of viewing by going to the bottom of the picture and clicking on the + to add more seconds to each view. Initially the range is set at 3 seconds per slide. I hope these slide shows will give you a better idea of what to expect at the courses you may be considering. If you have already played the course I hope it brings back fond memories. If you are unable to play the course these should give you a good flavor of the club. Foreign courses are followed by an asterisk *.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Favorite/Featured Holes-Photographed

On the side bar you will find a list of Favorite/Featured holes. These are holes that I have photographed from courses played since 2006. To access them just click on the hole(s) and it will take you to the Picasa album. Once there click on slide show and it will take you through the pictures.

This blogs content is meant to be more pictorial than an extensive narrative on golf course architecture or the great courses of the world. There are many other wonderful web sites that give in depth descriptions of every hole of every great course that can be found in my Links. I will try to give you some insight into why I have made these my featured holes and how I played them. In most of the Favorite/Featured hole narratives you will find a link that will take you to the pictures of that hole.

How does a hole make it on my Favorite/Featured list? Most, but not all, will fall into one of the following categories: 1. I love shorter/medium length par 4/par 5 holes that have a high risk/reward and tempt you for going at the green when all logic tells you to lay up. These holes give you alternate routes to the hole and more than one option of club selection off the tee or on your second shot. The so called Half Par holes really bring out the genius in the great architects. 2. Pucker Factor-Holes that require you to make a forced carry or other visual intimidating type of shot. The 8th hole at Pebble Beach certainly would fall in this category and is my all time favorite approach shot. 3. Holes with spectacular visuals, either natural or created. 4. Holes with Classic design features and holes that I want to illustrate a common feature specific to that course 5. Last, holes that I have made an exceptional shot on, when what I visualized actually came together to produce a nice result. If I have to chose between two holes that are near equal in illustrating a point, you are more than likely going to see the one I made a birdie on versus a bogey.

Of the courses I have played and photographed you certainly could make a case for several other holes that should make my list. I have tried to limit it to only one or two holes per course, or in a few instances a series of holes that I feel are outstanding for a particular reason. An example of multiple holes that I will feature are #13-#17 of the Quarry Course at Black Diamond Ranch. These five holes are some of the most spectacular that I have seen. You can't show one with out all the others to get the full effect. The three finishing holes at Sawgrass are examples of risk/reward at it finest. At Pebble Beach, I could have easily included #18 or even the stretch of holes from #6-#10. Sometimes in earlier photo's my most favorite hole of a course may not have adequate photos to do it justice so I have chosen another. Check out the Slideshow sidebar for photos of all the other holes of a particular course.