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.