Tuesday, December 02, 2008

From Snowman to 81 at Ocotillo

I started out the round on Sunday at Ocotillo with a snowman! It was 8:30 AM on a Sunday and I was starting to think that maybe I shouldn't have gotten up that morning. However, I ended up with a 43 on the front nine (the blue course) and then a startling 38 on the back nine (white course).

One thing I noticed that I improved on this time was putting. I didn't have any 3 putts the entire round. Sometimes that statistic is misleading, because on the front nine I had several chips and two putts. In my opinion, a chip and a two-putt is the same as a three-putt....THREE STROKES!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We all want to hit it long!

Here's some tips from Jason Zubak, the man with the longest drive. I'm sure it will screw up my swing, but I'll give his tips a shot! :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Still taking away my irons to the inside

I had a lesson with Blair Douglass yesterday. It has been a few months since my last lesson, but I have been working on several things...mainly taking my club back online rather than to the inside. Blair said it's looking better, but when I saw a video of my take away, it looked horrible to me! I've got to get my back swing looking good because it sets me up for a good downswing. I know the impact area is where things really matter, but it's like other things in life where good preparation pays off.

The good news is that my footwork is fine, no complaints from Blair, although he isn't extremely picky with mechanics. He also said my driver back swing was perfect, so I guess when I have troubles with my driver, it probably isn't my back swing...it's either a face angle issue, or something else.

Two Birdies at Talking Stick

Some friends of mine and I played Talking Stick last Saturday and they wanted to play for money, so I figured, what the heck. They wanted to play best front nine, back nine, overall, birdies, and greenies. I'm not sure how much each of them pays out, but I know that no one ever loses more than about $20, so I was in.

I started out the first hole with a great drive and a good approach shot, that landed on the green about 15 feet from the hole, which I preceded to drain! One of the other guys got a bogie and he started his frustrations. I was with a single since there were only three of us. That was nice because he was very laid back like myself...doesn't get too upset or excited. We would chuckle at the anger and frustration exhibited by the guys in the other cart (i.e. my friends).

So, the front nine, I got a 41 and then the back nine I had two triple bogies, and ended up with a 44 which gave me an 85 overall. Not bad, but I wish I could end the penalties and the three putts. If I could have no penalties and no three putts, I think I could consistently score in the low 80's and maybe pull off some high 70's.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tiger Woods back at Torrey Pines as caddie


Can you imagine having Tiger Woods as your caddie? That would be amazing! Actually, I would rather just play with Tiger and caddie myself, but either way...it would be a dream come true.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Choosing a Golf Bag

I finally selected a golf bag! I have been looking and looking and finally decided on the Sun MountainC-130.

Let me tell you the process I went through in making this decision:

First, I had to decide between a "Cart Bag" or a "Carry Bag". A Carry Bag is also sometimes referred to as a "Stand Bag" because it has two legs that allow it to stand on it's own.

I decided on a Cart Bag because even when I walk, I have a pull cart which I can put the cart bag on more easily than a carry bag. Also, almost all of the courses I play include a cart in the fee and are designed more for riding a cart than for walking. Finally, the cart bag has more pockets and room for useless things that I like to take onto the golf course. :)

The decision finally came down to one of the Callaway Cart Bags and the Sun Mountain bag. Honestly, the only reason I was deciding between the two was because an employee at the PGA Superstore recommended the Sun Mountain bag. He said that there really isn't much difference between the brands of bags, but he likes the Sun Mountain because they are built to last. He personally has seen less returns and less problems with the Sun Mountain bags.

I also wanted a bag with individual pockets for each club. The Sun Mountain has dividers for 14 clubs, and an additional putter well. So, in reality this gives me an extra divider for my "desert club". Here in Arizona, you need to have a "desert club" for when you need to hit your ball from the desert. Usually the desert consists of rocky terrain that will damage your new irons, so you want to have an old beat up club from Play It Again Sports or something. My desert club of choice is a 52 degree wedge, whereas my father-in-law's desert club is a 7-iron. One downfall of the individual dividers is that now I cannot shove some of my practice aids into my golf bag.

I've only used my golf bag once so far, and so far I love having an individual slot for each club. Now my clubs slide in and out of the bag very easily. I also love the plethera of pockets available so I can separate my golf balls from my tees, etc. One thing that will take a little getting used to is the main carry handle is on the back side of the bag to allow more pockets in the front of the bag. I am used to having this handle on the front, so this will take some time to get used to. Other than that, I think I made a great choice.

Monday, August 25, 2008

TPC Scottsdale $99 Summer Deal 36 Holes

Last weekend I went to TPC Scottsdale and took advantage of their special summer deal. $99 for two rounds, one at the Champions Course and the other at the Stadium Course (where the FBR Open is played), lunch included.

We started around 7:30 AM and then ate lunch, showered, changed into fresh clothes, and headed back out to the Stadium Course. It wasn't until the last four holes that I really felt the heat...I was drained!

I shot a 79 at the Champions course! It was the first time I broke 80 for at least a year. We played for money on the overall 36 hole score and I won the pot. We also played greenies, skins, and birdies and I won a few of those as well! I had two birdies on the Champions course and one birdie on the beautiful par 5, hole 15, with the green surrounded by water!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Highlights at Whirlwind

At Whirlwind, I didn't get a full round in before it got dark, but here is a highlight of the round.

On the first hole, I hit a great drive down the center of the fairway. On my next shot, I shanked the ball, which I haven't done in a long time. I was disgusted. Since I was the only player out there, and probably the last of the day, I pulled out a practice ball and landed it on the front of the green.

As I approached my ball, I realized I was about 78 yards from an elevated green (from where I was standing) with a small tree in front of me. I pulled out my 60 degree wedge and knew I could fly the tree. As I hit my ball, I saw it launch right at the flag. Since the green was elevated, I couldn't see if I was short or long, or what happened to the ball after it hit the green.

I climbed the small hill to the green in anticipation. There a ball lay on the front of the green, quite a distance from the pin. "Oh well" I thought and I went and pulled the pin out from the hole only to hear a ball settle in the bottom of the cup where the pin had been. "Who left their ball in the hole?" I wondered.

All in one moment I saw that the ball was mine, and realized that the ball in the front of the green was the practice approach shot that I had hit previously. I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my ball go in the hole, as I definitely had not. No one was around, but I gleefully marked a 3 and circled it on my scorecard!

Practice Weekend

Last weekend, I didn't play golf, I practiced. I actually enjoy practicing golf, which I hope will translate to me becoming a better golfer.

This time I practiced my short game heavily. I started off on my chipping in different positions around the green. Uphill chipping, Downhill chipping, to a short pin and long pin. I then moved out to 40, 55, and 70 yards approximately. As I am writing this, I realize that I don't remember the exact yardages now! I need to go re-verify on the practice range. I found out that if I go "L to L" my distance is about 45-50 yards, and if I go from what I call "L to T" which simply means I have a full follow-through, my ball reaches the 70 yard mark. For the shorter, 40 yard shot I can simply do the same "L to L" routine but have my feet very close together so as to limit my lower body in the shot, which reduces the distance to around 40 yards. "L" simply means a half back-swing where the arms are parallel to the ground and the club with the arms forms an "L" shape. The "T" is where on a full, follow-through, the club actually is more parallel to the ground and the club with the arms forms a "T" shape.

For my putting, I practiced some longer-range "lag" putts. Trying to improve my feel. One thing I have heard that you can do is simply "lag" the ball to the fringe on the edge of the green. I didn't do this, however, because I wanted to get close to a pin (which simulates what happens in a real game situation). Then, I pulled out a home-made string with stakes, so I could practice my alignment as well as putting down the line, rather than pulling or pushing my putts. This practice was ideal because I realized that "where my eyes go, the ball goes". In other words, if my eyes follow the line I want the putt to go, the ball will follow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We-ko-pa Weekend

Jimmy and I played We-ko-pa, the Saguaro course, on Saturday morning. (From website) We-ko-pa is located just east of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills. The course is located on land that will never be used for residential or commercial development, yielding dramatic views of the Sonoran desert and the surrounding mountains.

All of the courses here in Arizona are either being aerated or are just done being aerated, and We-ko-pa was no different. The fairways were patchy and the greens were bumpy...you just can't get around it. It was better than Devil's Claw (Whirlwind) that I played last week.

I shot a respectable 43 on the front 9 but then a 47 on the back 9. The back nine started out great until I got a 7 on a par 3...not good. I hit the ball into the desert off the tee and then chipped out nicely, but then my next shot hit the front of the false front of the green and rolled back down just off the green. The flag placement was just above the false front. My next chip didn't make it up to the upper tier and rolled back down again. Of course the next shot went past the hole and luckily I made my putt for a wonderful 7!!! :(

On a better note, I played Whirlwind Devil's claw last week and shot a 39 on the front 9! The highlights of the front nine were a birdie on #5 followed by an eagle on #6. The birdie was from about 200 yards away with my 4-iron! Then on #5 I had about a 50-60 yard pitch shot with little green to work with, so I just wanted to land it softly next to the pin. The next thing I knew I heard a 'clink' and the ball was in the hole! I was playing alone so I looked around to see if anyone saw the amazing shot........dead silence followed. :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Golf Digest Challenge

I decided to try the Golf Digest challenge. We'll see how long that lasts. They have you enter the Fairways hit, the GIRs (Greens in Regulation), the number of putts, chips, and sand saves.

They use this information to calculate not only your handicap, but they divide it into 2 categories: your short game handicap and long game handicap. The theory is that then you can know what to focus on during your practice hours to lower your overall handicap.

I have only entered 2 rounds right now, but I can see already that I really need to focus on my short game handicap. The biggest area of focus should be my chipping because I have on average only 20% saves on my chips.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dr. Joel - The swing Doctor

I had another great lesson with Dr. Joel yesterday. Because of the smoke created by a local fire in Avondale, we had the lesson inside the Kent Chase Golf Academy building. They have a nice setup in there with a mat, net, large mirrors, and a video camera.

Joel immediately showed me some basic flaws that I had in my setup, back swing, down swing, and finish. He told me that there are 3 basic steps to the golf swing (and the swing in any other sport like tennis, and baseball). 1) Load 2) Shift and 3) Release....or something to that effect.

The flaws I had were:
  • Setup - I need to relax the shoulders, and my arms should hang directly below my shoulder sockets. I had my hands a little close to my body. My posture could be improved as well with a little more of a "sitting down" feeling.
  • Back Swing - This part of my swing needs a little more work, but the good news is that with a good back swing, I am perfectly set up for a great down swing. I'm going to break the back swing up into the 1st half and 2nd half.
    • First half - Keep the club out in front of my hands. I tend to let the club head get behind my hands early. However, in keeping the club in front of my hands, I shouldn't tense up my shoulders and elbows. The right elbow should start to bend earlier than it does now. One thought that helped me in the first half was to start loading and turn the hips, keep the left wrist in the same position and just begin lifting the club.
    • Second half - Stay on the same plane angle as address. My plane at this point tends to be steeper. Hands should still be in the "triangle" created by the shoulders and the arms...they shouldn't be in front or behind this triangle. My left shoulder tends to be too high, in other words I don't keep my posture.
  • Down swing - Again two halfs
    • First half - Keep the posture, keep the club lag and just shift the weight to the left side. Don't engage the right side to early.
    • Second half - Now engage the right side and hit the ball!
  • Finish
    • First half - Extend the arms
    • Second half - Fold the arms in what Joel calls the "Pro finish". My finish tends to be too high. Watch the right heel...it should be directly above the right toe.
Drills that will help:
  • Get set up properly to the top of the backswing and then practice the first half of the downswing. Make sure I'm in the correct position and then do a slight "pump" and swing through to the balanced finish.
  • Without a club, cross arms, put hands on shoulder and practice the 1) Load to right side 2) Shift to left side 3) Finish with heel over toe. I can work on leg work and hip work with this drill.
  • With only the right hand on the club, place the left hand on the right arm, just above the elbow. Practice a perfect backswing and downswing. This will help me keep my right elbow loose and bending correctly. I tend to keep this too tight. Joel kept saying that my elbows are shock absorbers, which I don't completely understand right now but will eventually.

Request to Remove PGA Superstore Pic

Judy from About.com posted a comment about my last post on the PGA Superstore in Chandler, Arizona. I used the picture from the About.com website and I guess it was copyrighted. Who knew? :)

Below is the comment she posted, and I was just thrilled that someone noticed this little ol' blog of mine about my love for golf!

I just came across your blog and I found my copyrighted image there. Please immediately remove that image of the PGA Superstore.

About.com is a part of the New York Times Company, and I am supposed to report copyright violations to the legal department there, but I would prefer to give you the opportunity to correct this mistake.

Judy Hedding
About.com Guide to Phoenix, AZ

Thursday, June 26, 2008

PGA Superstore in Chandler, AZ

(Copyrighted Image of PGA Superstore removed upon request....see comment)

Ok, this PGA Superstore is HUGE and I absolutely love it! I can spend hours there without even noticing the time fly by. I had been to one of their stores in Dallas, TX so I knew what to expect.

The pros:
-Several hitting areas: a net area, lesson area, and a short game area
-Large selection of merchandise: golf bags for any college you can think of, I even saw a Boise State hat, apparel, clubs, training aids, accessories...you name it, it was there.

The cons:
-The staff was not very helpful. I don't know if this was because it is new and they are understaffed, but I didn't have one person ask if they could help me. I was lost in the golf bag section (there are so many bags!) and I could not for the life of me find the Ogio bag I was looking for. I finally found it, but help would have been nice.
-Did I mention the staff not being helpful. There were signs all over the place advertising the $199 VIP and to ask for a free demo.

So, I asked one of the gentlemen about it and he said, "um, it's where you can have access to the netted hitting bays for an hour at a time whenever you want."

Logically, I asked, "Well, can't I use them any time I want to when I am trying out clubs?"

He said, "Well...yeah."

Later on, I went over to the netted hitting bays right after a guy finished hitting and noticed that in the bay there was a computer with a camera. The person who had just left had apparently been videoing his swing and analyzing it on the computer. He must have had the VIP membership with a login to be able to do this.

Now, why didn't the PGA Superstore staff member tell me this? Here's a perfectly good reason to be a VIP. Without a VIP membership, in order to video my swing myself, I have to drag out my camera, find my tripod, drag it all out to the golf course, set it all up (while I am feeling like a dork in front of everyone), video tape myself, come home, upload the video to my computer, load the video into some analysis software, and by that time it has been months and I have a totally different swing.

With the VIP membership, I can immediately video tape myself and get instant feedback. The camera, tripod, computer, and software is already setup for me. This is the true value of the VIP membership. They should have me selling this!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People on the Golf Course

So, yesterday I golfed Whirlwind Cattail course after work. I was in a hurry because it was late and I wanted to get 18 holes in. I saw a few guys paying for golf behind me and I didn't want to get stuck with them because I saw nothing but wide open fairways. Well, I was in such a hurry that on hole #1 I hit my drive into the fairway bunker, then my approach shot was wide right, my 1st chip was over the green, my 2nd chip was short, I putted my 3rd chip, then putted in for a (count-em) 7 (triple bogie) on the 1st hole. Oh well, it was a nice, peaceful, sunny afternoon with wide open fairways. Now that I was through the 1st hole I could focus on the rest of the holes.

Well, as I was putting a gentleman drives his cart past me on to hole #2. I was like, "no you didn't". I thought to myself...if this guy is going ahead of me, he better get out of the way or I will hit into him. You can't just drive ahead of someone like that. If you do, you had better play faster than me.

When I drove up to the 2nd tee, there he was waiting for me. He asked if I was playing or practicing. I said, "well, I guess both." I usually enjoy playing with someone rather than alone, but I guess since I played hole #1 alone, I was already in the mood to play alone and I don't like surprises or changes in the middle of a round. So, that was odd, but I thought...oh well, it will be nice to play with someone else, and on the 2nd hole it was ok. He had a nice swing, was a good player, but was a little cocky.

But on the 3rd hole (a par 3), the guy hits a nice shot to the back of the green where the pin was and I told him it was a nice shot. I chose an 8 iron, and since the left and back of the green was guarded by water, I decided to play a fade (I'm right handed). Well, the ball started out right of where I wanted and faded off the right edge of the green.

So, Guy (I'm going to call him Guy) immediately asks, "what did you hit?"

I answered, "an 8 iron"

Guy asks, "what do you think the distance was?" Can you believe this jerk?

I said, "it's about 160 to the middle, the flag's in the back, so about 170-175."

Guy says condescendingly, "do you normally hit your 8 iron that far?"

By this time I was thinking...who does this guy think he is? I wanted to tell him off, but instead I gave him a full explanation of why I chose my 8 iron for that hole, "I was aiming for the middle of the green. I'm a mid-handicapper, and the water wraps around behind the green."

As we approached my ball was off the right of the green in a hollow and I said, "Yep, just the right distance for the middle of the green."

The whole time I wanted to tell this guy to either go ahead of me or behind me because I didn't come out here to be critiqued by Guy wannabe. However, to quiet him up I set up for my chip and CHIPPED IN FOR A BIRDIE!!!! TAKE THAT GUY!!!! And Guy missed his putt and made par. Yessssssssssssss! hahaha! That was awesome!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hot afternoon of Golf

Believe it or not, but I have been golfing lately with my golf buddy, Jeff, in the afternoons with the temperature rising above 110 degrees. If you would have asked me to do this last year I would have thought you were joking. However, it's actually not too bad because:
  • a) You're in a cart, so you're not expelling a lot of energy.
  • b) There's usually a breeze in the afternoons that help.
  • c) It's cheap
  • d) No one else is as crazy as you are, so you have the course to yourself!

D is the best part, I think. You can play more relaxed, so you don't get as hot. Still don't buy it? Good, more golf for me! :)

Fathers Day Golf

Alicia and I decided to go up to Pinetop to visit her dad Jimmy for the weekend. Jimmy and I played 27 holes at Silver Creek golf course, just outside of Show Low, and I beat him with a score of 88 so he now owes me lunch. We're now 2-2 since we've been keeping track and betting lunch on the match. It's a fun bet.

Jimmy got a great gift from his wife...a SkyCaddie GPS unit. I bought it and she paid me back so that it would be a surprise and not show up on their credit card. It's a pretty neat little unit. He got the SG5 which has the color screen and the IntelliGreen® technology, enabling golfers to measure the full depth and shape of the green from any angle of approach and shows distances for all targets and hazards on any of SkyGolf’s many thousands of professionally mapped courses. Can you tell I copied and pasted that last sentence from their website?

It was so nice to have the GPS unit on this course with very little yardage markers, but soon everyone was asking Jimmy to give them the yardage for each shot. He was running around giving everyone their precies yardage to the pin. It would have annoyed me, but I think Jimmy kind of liked being needed. :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Scramble at Foothills

I played in a scramble at the Foothills golf course with Jeff, who I met a Whirlwind and a couple of his friends....Taras and Chris. The scramble was, in my opinion, expensive at $90 a person and the benefits went to the Awatukee City of Lights (Christmas lights they put up on trees along the street). However, I think scrambles can be fun and Jeff needed a fourth person, so I went ahead and played. We had a great time, so I'm glad I went.

The Foothills course was in terrible shape! The fairways were spotty and the greens had new sod laid around them which instead of allowing you to run the ball up to the pin, would stop the ball, or send it off course.

We did ok at 8 under, but we shot a bogey on a par 3 which should never happen in a scramble. :)

The great thing was that we all contributed fairly evenly. I can't point out one person who contributed more or less than anyone else. It made me feel good that they all wanted me to lead off at driving because believe it or not, I have improved my driving distance and accuracy lately. Early on in the round I was not contributing to the approach shots to the green and we all were doing horrible with our 100 yd and in wedges. However, there were two holes in a row on the back nine where we used my approach shots so I felt a little better about that in the end. My putting was not on and that's where it is fun to contribute because that's the difference between a birdie and a par...or an eagle and a birdie!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

89 at Talking Stick

Talking Stick is a Troon course in Scottsdale off the 101 and Indian Bend. It is a desert course which is nice...I like playing on courses that don't have houses lining them. I played with my Jimmy and a couple of his friends that were in town for a wedding. They were nice folks...they must have a lot of cash because they bought our Gatorades and our lunch! I want to play with these guys more often! :)

Jimmy and I have a lunch bet going on every game we play now. Jimmy got an 87 so he beat me by two strokes and I owe him lunch. It will be like pulling teeth to get him to accept the lunch because he is used to paying for everything...but I will pay up! Jimmy was sinking putts and chipping up close to the hole. I parred the first 3 holes, so I got off to a great start, but that quickly faded. My driving was pretty solid...I hit 10 out of 14 fairways...but my approach shots weren't hitting the greens and my chipping and putting suffered as well.

This weekend I'm playing in a scramble with Jeff...a guy I met at Whirlwind who is more addicted to golf than I am. The other weekend he practiced for at least six hours straight for both days. His hands were so blistered when I saw him that he could barely hold the club. However, he just got a 79 at Whirlwind and says his scores have improved so I guess it was worth the pain.

Last week I had a lesson from Blair. He mainly told me to focus on taking the club back more on line instead of to the inside. When I hit balls last weekend, I noticed that if I feel like my right arm is on top of my left arm on the way back on my back swing, then I am not taking it inside.

Blair also showed me a drill to do with my driver where I take the club back to where the shaft is parallel to the ground...just 1/4 of the way (not at the top) and make sure the shaft is pointing down my toe line. In my normal back swing, the club head is way to the inside at this point. He advised me not to look at the club head because I don't want to get in the habit of looking at the club and not the ball.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Golf GPS device to buy

It seems the answer to the question of what device to use for correct yardage is endless and the opinions differ so radically.

My father-in-law got a laser device and he hates it. I have used it and don't like it either. The reason being, it takes time to 1) Get the device out and up to your eye 2) Decide what object you are going to bounce the laser off of (the flag is so small) and 3) Make sure you are holding the device steady or you might get a reading from the tree behind the flag. I usually have the best luck using the lip of a sand bunker and then judge the distance from there, but it is difficult to say the least. Some people are good at it and love it, but I am not a fan.

So, now I am trying to decide which GPS device to buy. I had narrowed it down to a model of the SkyCaddie from SkyGolf because everyone on the course I have seen with one loves it. I have noticed that the SG3 uses AA batteries, which I think would be nice...that's just what I need is another gadget to plug into the wall. However, the SG5 is color screen and I think has a slightly larger screen...so I'm also considering this device.

In reading reviews of the SkyCaddie at the SandTrap.com forum and other review sites, it makes me rethink my decision. However, I wonder if people who have bad experiences with a product, no matter what the product, are more likely to post because they are disappointed, maybe even angry, and want to get it out of their systems and warn the rest of us (which I thank them for). On the other hand, those who are happy or satisfied with the product don't feel as strong of a need to post and therefore we get a somewhat biased view of a product.

Now I'm more confused on what to buy than ever! :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

89 at Cattail

Saturday I played Cattail at Whirlwind, one of the two courses (the other is Devil's Claw) with Jimmy. We started betting lunch on our round and last time he beat me by 1 stroke on the same course. This time I shot an 89 to his 93 to win the round. That sandwich at Paradise Cafe never tasted so good! :)

I didn't play particularly well, but I was happy with my driving. I was keeping track of the number of fairways I hit, but I left the score card on the golf cart so I don't have the exact number, however I remember seeing a lot of "Y's" on there. I played well on the front nine, shooting a 40 but on the back I ended up getting a 49. There were a lot of 3 putts that should have been 2 putts and a lot of chips where I didn't help myself out, leaving a long 10+ feet to the hole.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm Loving Whirlwind

Lately, almost every weekend I go out to Whirlwind Golf Course, which is associated with Wild Horse Pass in the Gila River Indian community. There, I pay a $20 fee to have unlimited access to the practice facility which has two of everything: driving range, short game area, and putting green. There are usually not too many people out there so it is peaceful and relaxing...a welcome change from the zoo at the Dobson Ranch driving range.

I bounce back and forth from the driving range and the short game area, practicing different clubs. Lately, I have been swinging my driver a lot because it gets me into the most trouble recently. I can spend hours upon hours and even before leaving, I always hit just one last ball. Of course, I pay the putting green respect for a few minutes before leaving. :) I'm just as bad as the rest of the amateur race.

I have been considering getting an Annual Membership at Whirlwind, but the cost is quite prohibitive...$5600 for the year. Like my friend Chad says, "Even if you played once a week, you would be paying $100 each round." However, I dream of being a member at such a place. Imagine being able to play at any time...even if you could only get in a couple of holes. People don't realize how great that would be. You aren't forced to play an entire round each time and if it is too slow one day you can just pick up and leave. The ability to come, play, and go as you please is the X-factor that people don't take into account when assessing the cost of a golf membership.

I'm still dreaming of the day.....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nightmare at Bandon Dunes

Back in October, Jimmy's friend Vance had a great idea of going to Bandon Dunes, OR for a golf trip in January. Vance had done some research and read that even though January is the area's worst month for rain, the temperatures were relatively mild (around 50 degrees) and the rain was just a "mist" but rarely a full rain.

Well, Jimmy and I bought the story and agreed to go on this trip. I was hesitant, but they needed a fourth guy to fill the foursome. I felt a little pressure from my wife to accompany her dad on this golf trip (Jimmy is my father-in-law). If I could go back in time, to that day in October when I reluctantly agreed to this trip, I would have had no shame in turning down their offer.

Bandon Dunes has three beautiful courses and I think they are building a fourth. Bandon Dunes, Bandon Trails, and Pacific Dunes are always in the top 100 golf courses in the Golf Digest ratings and in any other golf course ratings you might see. They are of a true Links design and look just like the courses in the UK.

So, here's the details of the trip....

Wednesday we flew in at 6pm, picked up our rental car, and drove for 4 long, tedious hours in the rain and wind down I-5 to Eugene, OR and then West on hwy-58 through Coos Bay to Bandon, Oregon. We had stopped to get some food, so by the time we got to Bandon it was close to midnight. We checked in at The Lodge at Bandon Dunes and passed out for the night.

Bright and early, at about 6:30 am on Thursday, Jimmy lightly tapped on my door to see if I wanted to join him for breakfast. I politely declined and jumped into the shower. I had stayed up a little later the night before to get all of my gear ready for the first day. My clothing layers consisted of: thermal underwear, khaki pants, long-sleeve turtle neck shirt, a full rain suit, fleece head band, water-proof bucket hat, rain gloves, wool socks, and leather shoes that I had previously water-proofed.

Donned in my armor, I met Jimmy downstairs, picked up a muffin from the snack shop and headed to the course which was just outside The Lodge. As I stepped up to the first tee, I felt a little uncomfortable with the cold, strong wind and the layers upon layers of clothing, so needless to say I didn't score very well. I gave up keeping score after the first few holes.

On the fourth or fifth hole, there was this nice old bearded man, who looked like a fisherman who showed us the way and gave us tips on where to aim our drives. Since this was our first time here, his advice helped a lot. Although I didn't always hit it where I was aiming, it was good to know where I should have hit it had I been able to hit it straight. :)

As we walked from the eighth green to the ninth tee box, there was a huge flash that almost blinded me. I was holding my breath and cowering my head because I knew what was coming next....KA-BOOOOOM!!! Lightning struck. We hit our drives on the ninth hole and I actually had one of my best drives of the round, but soon after, there were sirens blowing telling us that we should come into the club house. We had to pick up and walk in. Luckily we were on the ninth hole and close to the club house because it started hailing. We were getting pelted and I was actually soaked in a few minutes.

At the clubhouse we were able to warm up, get some hot chocolate and wait. I was surprised at how many other fools like us were out there golfing! The remainder of the round was even more windy, cold and miserable.

Remarkably enough, Vance and his brother Val wanted to play a re-round of the Pacific Dunes course. Jimmy and I were ready to eat lunch and warm up. Man, the best part of the day was taking a hot shower and a long nap after getting hammered by rain and wind for four hours.

I will post more details, but to summarize, Friday was better...we played Bandon Trails and then a re-round of Bandon Dunes. We didn't get rained on as much and I actually took off my rain suit (picture of me above was on Friday).

Saturday was the worst and the most expensive. Pacific Dunes is the highest rated, most expensive course. I was looking forward to playing it, but Mother Nature had other plans. It rained so hard on us that Jimmy and I were soaked on the first hole. The wind was blowing so the rain was pelting me in the face. My floppy hat was slapping me in face, as if to say, "You idiot!"

Sunday, we left at 8am and it was sunny as ever....imagine that! :) The drive back to Portland was beautiful, and even though I wished the sunny day would have been a golf day, it was very nice to drive in the sun versus the rain and wind. Oregon is a beautiful place.