Friday, January 31, 2014

TPC Snoqualmie Ridge

January 31, 2014

I was able to kick my 2014 golf season off today at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. This was a huge boost to my spirits as I have been battling spinal stenosis, receiving spinal injections in the C5 and C6 area of my neck, and going to physical therapy for the past five and a half weeks. Now that everything seems to be getting back to normal, it felt good to be able to go out and play a round of golf.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf course opened in 1999 and is a member of the Tournament Players Club network operated by the PGA Tour. Since 2005, it has hosted the Boeing Classic, a 54-hole Champions Tour event in late August. It is the only TPC Course, as well as the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, in the Pacific Northwest. In 2000, the year after TPC Snoqualmie Ridge opened for play, Golfweek 
ranked Snoqualmie Ridge 3rd out of 23 TPC courses in 2000. In that same year, the golf club was voted the #1 course in the state of Washington by the state's golf professionals.

The course measures 7,264 yards from the tips, but I decided easing back into golf after a 5 week absence probably would be better experienced from the blue tees.  

The entrance sign to the property.

When I arrived, it was raining, and had been for the past several days. It is the Seattle area in January afterall. After checking in at the clubhouse and looking around the fantastic dining room with a magnificent view of Mt. Si, I headed out to the driving range to stretch and warm up. I donned my new rain gear I received for my birthday earlier in the week and then broke out my clubs. I was tentative at first, not wanting to reinjure my neck, but as I worked through my wedges, into my hybrids, and finally to my woods and driver, I was confident that I would be ok. A few putts on the putting green showed me they were in great shape and the ball rolled true even though it was soaked through and through.  Great job grounds crew! The golf gods must have been watching over my opening round of 2014. As I approached the first tee, the rain stopped. It remained cloudy and overcast most of the round, but there was no rain. I removed my rain gear and teed up for my first shot of the day.

A note before I start laying out the course through photos. My new digital camera still hasn't arrived. I am expecting it sometime next week, just in time for my Bandon Dunes trip. So, I carried my iPad with me and shot all of my photos using it. Some photos may appear grainy or of poor quality, but it is the best I could do in a pinch.

Hole #1 from the tee box looking down the fairway.

Standing on the first tee box, the fairway turns slightly to the right. A drive down the right side over the barely visible sand trap allowed my ball to roll down a small hill and right to the middle of the fairway. Again the golf gods smiled on me giving me a nice shot in short grass after a five week layoff.

While on my way to the green, the rain started again and lasted through holes 2 and 3. Not wanting to ruin my iPad, I skipped taking photos on both holes. I can;t wait for my new digital camera to arrive so I no longer have to worry about the elements with my photo documentation. By the time I arrived at the 4th tee box, the rain had let up again, and would remain so for the rest of the round.

Hole #4 looking from the tee box towards the green.
I was initially worried about this hole. I was unsure I would be able to carry the trench at the bottom since I was still swinging at about 70%, getting the feel for my body's reaction to playing again. The holding back kept my drive out of the center, and it landed on the top of the front right sand trap. I thought it was initially going to stay up, but it rolled into the trap. Luckily, with the sand being soaked and packed, I was able to use a hybrid to put it on the green.

Approaching the green from the fairway on Hole #4.

View from the 5th Tee Box looking down the fairway.
Something I started noticing by the 5th hole is quite a few holes on the course are blind tee shots. Luckily I was using my Callaway Upro MX+ and was able to use the flyover feature to show me where to land the ball.
View of the approach shot into the 5th green.

I also found that on a good many holes, you have to be careful with your approach shots. The course has the word ridge in its name for a reason. If you go to far or to wide, your ball will roll down mountainous type of terrain and you are adding a penalty stroke.

Approaching the 5th green.

Notice the sharp slope on the right? Luckily I kept my ball to the right and it didn't come into play. Left is death on this hole. I am not sure what happened to my shots of hole #6 but I can't find them at the moment. So, onto Hole #7.

Another blind tee shot to the fairway on Hole #7.
This hole is where my tentativeness and 70% swing power got the better of me. I was aiming to drive it over the right bunker as I thought that would put me into the fairway with a good look at the green on my second shot. It's longer than it looks from the tee box and my drive was lower than normal. I ended up striking the top of the hill between the right and center bunkers where my ball plugged. It is difficult enough hitting a golf ball from that kind of lie, but a plugged ball makes it a nearly impossible shot.

Standing at the top of the hill, just above the three bunkers in the above shot.

Approaching #7 green.

#7 green
 I didn't realize from the fairway, just how tight this green was. It made for a very challenging hole. Again, too far right on your approach shot means nothing but bad mojo from the woods.

#8 tee box looking down the fairway.
This isn't so much a blind shot as it is a long, long hole that turns slightly left.  Go to far left or try to trim the left edge and your ball could be in no-man's land.  Also, this is where the houses really started showing up on the course. I was a bit disappointed in how many houses surrounded the course but it is what it is.

#8 Green
When I finally got up the hill and followed the fairway, I was surprised by what I found with the green. It was a tough shot, with water and bunkers all around, and having to make the approach shot from a sloped fairway. Very tough hole but one of my top three favorites from the day.

#9 green looking from the tee box.
The front nine finished off with a shot across water to all green. On this day, the hole was set on the very far left side of the green, making it easier than it would probably normally be, and most certainly an easier placement that what is faced during the annual August tournament hosted here.

#10 view from the tee box.
Number 10 was another hole that is tougher than it looks, at least for me. It is a fairly short par 4 but all up hill.  I knew I probably wasn't going to reach it due to my playing with 70% swing stroke so I made sure to put my shot over the left bunker and into the short grass, setting me up for a much easier approach shot. This was one of my two birdies on the day!

Looking down the fairway from the #11 tee box.
Number 11 wasn't a very interesting hole in my opinion. The bunkers don't really come into play from what I can tell and it made for a "meh" hole for me.

Looking toward the #11 green from the fairway.
As noted above, yeah there are sand traps here, but they aren't positioned in a challenging spot in my opinion. I think the architect could have done a better job with placement to make this hole more interesting.

#12 tee box looking down the fairway.
Here is where I really started enjoying the course. Holes 12-15 are a fantastic run. This is another blind tee shot, but observing the cut and lay of the fairway, I could see the hole turned left. Too far left is death on this hole.

#12 Green.
Another hole where if you go too far over the green or too far left, you aren't finishing with a par. After the disappointing 11th hole, this hole, and especially the green, was a pleasant surprise.

#13 tee box looking towards the green.
This was a fantastically challenging short par 3. Too far anywhere and you are pulling a new ball from your bag. That hill guarding the left, back, and right of the green is a LONG way down.I wished it hadn;t been so foggy on this day.  I am sure the view from this hole is spectacular.

The #14, signature hole.
When I arrived at the #14 tee box, I just stood there for 3 minutes or so and took it in.  I wish I had taken a better photo from the tee box, but I was too busy taking in the hole and enjoying the experience.  What you don't see in the photo is that it travels down the right side hill, turns back left at a 90 degree angle, and then the fairway follows the hill upwards by a green silhouetted by tall evergreens. My photo really doesn;t do the hole justice at all. It is also a risk/reward shot. If you can carry your drive 240 or so, you can reach the green of this par 4 in one. I knew I couldn't do it on this day and opted to put it center fairway over the bunker in the middle.

Looking back up the fairway towards the tee box from where I just hit the ball. It gives a good view of what you have to clear.

Looking at the 14th green from the fairway.
I absolutely loved this approach shot. The green is surrounded by majestic evergreens. This is what I think of when I imagine golf in the Pacific Northwest. To your left is a mountain across a valley from the mountain you are standing on. It drops down quite steeply, but the valley is blanketed in an evergreen forest that is just incredible to take in.

Tee box at #15 looking down the fairway.
Another hole that requires a fairly long, straight drive if you want any chance of reaching the green in regulation.

#15 green

Another one of those approach shots that if you go too far over or to the left, you have lost another ball. This is also a hole I imagine has a tremendous view behind the green on a day when it isn't foggy and overcast.

#16 from the tee box
At first I didn't think much of this hole. It looked like a fairly straightforward challenge. It is only after you top that rise  that you see the truly difficult approach shot you are left with.

#16 Green
This is what #11 should have been. I went for it from the center of the fairway. I caught the top of the hill at the edge of the green but my ball rolled back into the sand. I was able to chip it out and get an up and down. But, in that trap, I couldn't see the flag from the depth of the trap. It is about 7-8 feet deep.  As you can see, the green is awful tight as well.  A very well designed hole!

#17 green from tee box
This par 3 has some meat on its bones as you have to clear water that runs right up to the edge of the green. And it is another tight green so if you can't spin your shot or make it stop, it is likely going off the back of the green as mine did.

#18 tee box
I have to say, after a very good round, I was a bit disappointed with #18. It probably had more to do with the fantastic run of holes I just experienced, but to me, 18 seems underwhelming. It is a long drive to clear those traps, and then it turns to the right. It is a challenging hole as it is uphill.

#18 looking at green from the fairway. 
This is where the fairway turns and you see the clubhouse standing at the top of the hill, looking down onto the green. If the Boeing Classic is tied and going into 18 to decide a champion, I can see where the clubhouse would make an excellent vantage to take it in.

Looking back down the 18th fairway from the green.
As you approach the green and look back down the fairway, you have a splendid view of Mt. Si. Unfortunately on this day, the clouds and fog stole most of the view from me. But there are some stunning photos of this view at the club's website.

The Scoreboard
As you walk off the 18th, you are greeted with the large scoreboard.

Overall, I had a fantastic time at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. The course is very well maintained, even in the winter off season, and the care put into the course truly shows. My heartfelt thanks goes out to Matt Brown for allowing me to come and experience this course and I hope to one day return to play it again on a sunny, blue sky day.

Anyone interested in playing Oakmont?

Today I received an email with an opportunity to play at Oakmont. Unfortunately, prior commitments and my travel schedule will not allow me to take advantage of this awesome opportunity.  I was advised I can pass along the info to any other interested party.  Here is a copy of the email:

I wanted to offer another opportunity to be able to play Oakmont that could be lined up and guaranteed now.   Oakmont contacted me today with an opportunity to fill some spaces in a “Member Monday” group which is going to be held on Tuesday, May 6th.  There will be a shotgun start at 12:30 PM.  The day includes everything that our regular event includes: lunch, golf, dinner and a gift for each golfer.  The main difference is that we are not on site that day and your foursome would participate along with other foursomes from various organizations.  There also would be no tournament “prizes” or contests, but your group will get a great day of golf at one of the most prestigious courses in the country and be hosted by the professional staff of Oakmont. 

The registration fee is the same as for our event:  $4,000 and the proceeds still benefit our special education program.

There are several of these foursomes available and I am going to make them available to groups on a first-come, first-served basis.  Additional info is attached.  So if you have any interest, please let me know.  Of course I will still continue to keep you on the “waitlist” for the regular event.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Happy weekend!


Karen Babeji
Director of Special Events
St. Anthony School Programs
phone:  724,940.9020 ext. 104
fax:  724.940-9064

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2013 Year in Review

January 26, 2014

Before we get too far into 2014, I thought I should write a wrap up of 2013. I have dubbed it my "Year of the Return to the Grand Game". Back in 2009-2011, I was a police detective. Back then, we got one day off a week and worked four day workdays. Living in the Atlanta area, there were some fantastic courses, but most were very crowded on Friday through Sunday and could be very expensive. I chuckle at those green fees now that I am endeavoring to play the top 100 courses in the U.S. and the World, but on police pay, we always shopped for deals. What I had learned was Mondays were not only the least expensive days to play, but were also the least crowded, so Mondays were my day off.  During the summer, I could get in 72 holes on any given day.  Then, a work place accident happened in July of 2011 that caused me to be unable to play a round. It took nearly two years to get back to good health where I felt comfortable playing.

When I took the new job in Seattle, I knew I would get to travel. I still hadn't started playing golf again because of fear of reinjuirng my back, knees, and ankles.  But, when work decided to send me to Australia, I knew this was the "perfect excuse" to get back into the game I so dearly love. Since that round on March 29, 2013, I have played as much golf as I possibly could with the busy life of a Dad and husband, a good employee, and a football fanatic.

In 2013, I played 76 rounds of golf on 70 different courses.  Some of them have been great courses, others not so much. I have played on blisteringly hot days, perfect condition days, and very cold days (what is the rule when your ball comes to land on a pond that is frozen over?), sunny days, and rainy days (I live in Seattle afterall). But, every round was a good round. Every memory etched into my brain to always remember. A new logo golf ball to place into golf cabinet was sometimes the highlight of very poorly played round. My handicap started at a 24 back in March of 2013. As the year ended, I had taken lessons, played a good bit, and was able to get my handicap down to a 17. I am looking forward to seeing it continue to drop as I get more chances to play at some of the top courses in the world.

I love to play golf, and I love to experience a new course. When I was afforded the opportunity to play a top 100 course Harbour Town my fate was sealed. I decided I wanted to play more top 100 courses in the U.S. When I learned I was going to Australia again in 2014, I decided to bump that goal to include the top 100 in the world.  And hence this blog was born.

Courses I played in 2013 in the order they were played:

March 2013

Flinders Golf Club (Australia)

April 2013

Black Mountain Golf & Country Club (Las Vegas, NV)
Twin Rivers Golf Club (Fall River, WA)
Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course (Fall River, WA)
The Blue Heron Golf Course (Carnation, WA)
Cascade Golf Course (North Bend, WA)
Gold Mountain Golf Course (Olympic Course) (Bremerton, WA)
Gold Mountain Golf Course (Cascade Course) (Bremerton, WA)

May 2013

Elk Run Golf Club (Maple Valley, WA)
The Golf Club at Echo Falls (Snohomish, WA)
Golfclub Neuhof e.V. (Frankfurt, Germany)
Golf Club St.Leon-Rot (Sankt Leon-Rot, Germany)
Golf und Land Club Regensburg (Regensburg, Germany)
Golfpark Idstein (Frankfurt, Germany)
Golf club Main-Taunus (Wiesbaden-Delkenheim, Germany)
Kenwanda Golf Course (Snohomish, WA) x2

June 2013

The Golf Club at Redmond Ridge (Redmond, WA)
The Golf Club at Newcastle (Coal Creek Course) (Newcastle, WA)
Longaberger Golf Club (Nashport, OH)
Cumberland Trail Golf Club (Pataskala, OH)
Eaglesticks Golf Club (Zanesville, OH)
Glenross Golf Club (Delaware, OH)
Darby Creek Golf Club (Marysville, OH)
Druids Glen Golf Course (Covington, WA)
Desert Canyon Golf Resort (Orondo, WA)
Bear Mountain Ranch Golf (Chelan, WA)
Highlander Golf Course (Wenatchee, WA)
Leavenworth Golf Club (Leavenworth, WA)
Mt. Si Golf Course (Snoqualmie, WA)

July 2013

The Golf Club at Hawk's Prairie (Lacey, WA)
Salish Cliffs Golf (Shelton, WA)
Gold Mountain Golf Course (Olympic Course) (Bremerton, WA)
Gold Mountain Golf Course (Cascade Course) (Bremerton, WA)
Cedars at Dungeness Golf Club (Sequim, WA)
Whidbey Golf Club (Oak Harbor, WA)
The Resort at Port Ludlow (Ludlow, WA)
Peuramaa Golf Club (Kirkkonummi, Finland)

September 2013

Wolf Creek Golf Course (Atlanta, GA)
Hermitage Golf Course (President's Reserve) (Old Hickory, TN)
Hermitage Golf Course (General's Retreat) (Old Hickory, TN)
Bella Collina Golf Club (Montverde FL)
Hawk's Landing Golf Club (Orlando, FL)
Eagle's Brooke Country Club (Locust Grove, GA)
Château Élan Golf Club (Château Course) (Braselton, GA)
Bear's Best Atlanta (Suwanee, GA)

October 2013

The Golf Club at Newcastle (China Creek Course) (Newcastle, WA)
Lake James Golf Club (Angola, IN)
Cherry Hill Golf Club (Ft Wayne, IN)
Autumn Ridge Golf club (Ft Wayne, IN)
Washington National Golf Club (Auburn, WA)
Kenwanda Golf Course (Snohomish, WA)
The Blue Heron Golf Course (Carnation, WA)
The Resort at Port Ludlow (Ludlow, WA) x2
White Horse Golf Club (Suquamish, WA)
Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club (Port Orchard, WA)
McCormick Woods Golf Course (Port Orchard, WA)
Old South Golf Links (Bluffton, SC)
Eagle's Pointe Golf Club (Bluffton, SC)
Harbour Town Golf Links (Hilton Head, SC) x2
Heron Point by Pete Dye (Hilton Head, SC)
Hilton Head National Golf course (Bluffton, SC)
Eagle's Talon at Willow Run (Redmond, WA)
Chambers Bay Golf (University Place, WA)

November 2013

Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Orlando, FL)
Streamsong Resort (Red) (Streamsong, FL)
Fairways of Canton (Canton, GA)
The Highlands Course at Lake Arrowhead (Waleska, GA)
Eagle's Crest Golf Course (Ypsilanti, MI) x2
Fox Hills Golf (Plymouth, MI)
Stonebridge Golf Club (Ann Arbor, MI)

December 2013

Mt. Si Golf Course (Snoqualmie, WA)
White Horse Golf Club (Suquamish, WA)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pinehurst Trip (and other North Carolina Courses) added to 2014 schedule!

I have updated my 2014 travel schedule with four fantastic days of golf in November at Pinehurst Golf Resort! I've scheduled eight rounds over the four days.  From November 17-20, I will be playing two rounds a day and playing all eight courses over the four days! I'm also taking Nov 21-22 to explore several other top 100 Public courses outside the Pinehurst resort.  

If you are interested in joining me for any part of my North Carolina trip, please email me. I'd love to have a playing partner or two for these awesome courses.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bandon Dunes Trip added to 2014 schedule!

I have updated my 2014 travel schedule with four fantastic days of golf in February at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort! I've scheduled eight rounds over the four days.  Here is the schedule:

February 10 - #63 (World), #34 (U.S.) Bandon Dunes Course - 2 rounds
February 11 - #20 (World), #12 (U.S.) Pacific Dunes Course - 2 rounds
February 12 - #88 (World), #45 (U.S.) Old Macdonald Course - 2 rounds
February 13 - #49 (U.S.) Bandon Trails Course - 2 rounds

If you are interested in joining me for any part of my Oregon trip,  please email me. I'd love to have a playing partner or two for these awesome courses.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Las Vegas trip updated to 2014 travel schedule

I have updated my 2014 travel schedule with two fantastic days of golf in March. I've scheduled three rounds over the two days.  The first day is golf in the morning at Cascata Golf Club, followed by an afternoon round at Tuscany Golf Club.  The second day will be a round at the Shadow Creek Golf Club!

If you are interested in joining me for any part of my Las Vegas trip,  please email me. I'd love to have a playing partner or two for these awesome courses.

Indiana Top 100 course added to 2014 Travel Schedule

I have updated my 2014 travel schedule with three fantastic days of unlimited (yes, I advised UNLIMITED) golf at the French Lick Resort in Indiana. Included is two rounds at the #71 Best Public Golf Course, The Pete Dye Course! I also have a contact working on securing me a tee time at Crooked Stick Country Club, the #100 ranked course in the U.S.

If you are interested in joining me for any part of my Indiana trip,  please email me. I'd love to have a playing partner or two for these awesome courses.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New banner!

A heartfelt thanks goes out to my friend, Russell Akred, for putting together a new banner for my blog!  If you need any graphic design work done, I highly recommend him.  His linkedIn page can be found HERE and the website for his business can be found HERE.

Scotland in April 2015?

In April 2015, I am looking to schedule a golf excursion in Scotland. If anyone is interested in joining me, I have pricing available. Here is what the current schedule is looking like:

Saturday, April 18: Arrive into Glasgow, pick up rental car and travel to Inverness. Attempts are being made to secure a tee time at Loch Lomond (though very unsuccessful thus far) on way up to the Highlands. Overnight at The Bank House, Dornoch.

Sunday, April 19: Play Castle Stuart. Overnight at The Bank House, Dornoch.

Monday, April 20: Play Royal Dornoch--Championship Course. After golf travel to Machrahanish. Overnight at The Ugadale Hotel.

Tuesday, April 21: Play Machrihanish. After golf travel to Ayr. Overnight at Craigie Guest House.

Wednesday, April 22: Play Turnberry Ailsa Course. Overnight at Craigie Guest House.
Note: Golf today will be on a "sunset time" if we don't stay at the Turnberry Hotel per their policy. 

Earliest possible would be 5:00 PM. Will make every effort to move this time a little closer to 3:00pm shortly before your arrival. Get down to Turnberry earlier in the day, enjoy the resort and have some lunch before teeing off!.

Thursday, April 23: Play Royal Troon. After golf travel to Gullane. Overnight at Greywalls.

Friday, April 24: Play Muirfield. Overnight at Greywalls.
Note: Times will not be able to be confirmed prior to November 2014.

Saturday, April 25: Play North Berwick. After golf travel to Cruden Bay. Overnight at Kilmarnock Arms Hotel.

Sunday, April 26: Play Trump International Golf Links, Scotland. Overnight at Kilmarnock Arms Hotel.

Monday, April 27: Play Cruden Bay. After golf travel to St. Andrews. Overnight at Glenderran Guesthouse.

Tuesday, April 28: Play Carnoustie (Championship Course). Overnight at Glenderran Guesthouse.

Wednesday, April 29: Play Kingsbarns. Overnight at Glenderran Guesthouse.

Thursday, April 30: Play Old Course at St. Andrews (direct request, ballot or walkup/approach to starter and not guaranteed). Overnight at Glenderran Guesthouse.

Friday, May 1: Depart Edinburgh or Glasgow.

If you are interested on joining me for any part of my Scotland trip, please email me. I'd love to have a playing partner or two to experience these fantastic courses.

Pinehurst or Pebble Beach in November?

I am looking to schedule a "guy's week" golf trip to Pinehurst in North Carolina or Pebble Beach in California the first or second week of November. 

If Pinehurst, it would be to play all 8 of the courses there, including number 2, over four days. 

If Pebble Beach, it would be all five courses over the six days, hopefully with Pebble Beach Golf Links a couple of times.

Anyone interested in joining me?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Help fund my adventure through charity donations!

So I took the advice of a few friends and have set up a personal site to help fund my travels to finish this quest in a quicker time frame. If you are interested in helping fund this lifelong goal of mine, feel free to make donations HERE. One of the focuses on raising money to play these top courses is not just so I can play them, but also to support the courses' local charities.  One example is Shinnecock Hills holds an annual charity golf outing for Project ALS. Another example is that Oakmont CC supports one of its local schools through a charity golf outing. I think this would be a phenomenal way to experience these top 100 courses, while at the same time helping charities by much needed fund raiser events.Any donations received and designated to enter into these charity events would be used solely for the entry fee for the charity golf outings and I would pay for airfare and hotel out of my own pocket. Also, if you wanted to donate a charity auction tee time directly to me (so you can write off the expense on taxes), feel free to contact me via the contact gadget to the left. If my travel schedule has no event listed for that date, I can almost guarantee being able to make it.

I will eventually play all top 100 courses. I've made it a life goal. I would love to finish sooner rather than later, and any support received can help that along, especially if the monetary support goes towards a good cause.  If I don't receive any monetary support, it will just take longer than a few years. I am fine with that also. But as I've always been told, it never hurts to ask. So, I am making this request one time only. Every dollar helps a charity and helps me come closer to achieving this goal. Thanks in advance for any help offered.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

63 (Public) Longaberger

June 12, 2013

Long before I ever decided to start this blog, I was still playing some of the top courses. Occasionally, I would pull out my cell phone and snap a photo if anything stood out. Hence why I only have three photos in this blog. It is a poor example of what I want to write here about courses I play due to lack of much info. Hopefully I can get back to Ohio and give Longaberger GC the write up it deserves.

In June, I was in Columbus for a week long business trip. Most of my meetings were in the afternoon and evenings, thus leaving me plenty of time each morning to pick and choose a course to play. While in Ohio for that week, I was able to play not only Longaberger, but I also played rounds at Darby Creek GCGlenross GCEaglesticks GC, and Cumberland Trail GC.

I was scheduled for the first tee time of the day at Longaberger. Apparently the forecasted storms had scared everyone else away and I had the course to myself. I had read this was the top rated public course in Ohio and it certainly lived up to those expectations. The tee boxes, fairways, and greens on every hole but one were immaculate. Every staff member and grounds keeper I met were in good spirits. And the golf was a fantastically fun time.

The course is relatively new, opening in 1999 and they have a pretty decent clubhouse.

After a brief warm up on the range and some stretching, I made my way to #1. I knew it was going to be a tough round just by what I saw. It was a sharp downhill into a canyon you have to drive over, and half way back up, the fairway doglegs right 90 degrees.

Number 2 or 3 was  long down hill fairway with an amazing view.What I was also finding is that there is hardly any flat ground anywhere on the course.  The nice thing about a hilly course is you get all kinds of unique holes and the course doesn't become boring.  That is what I found at Longaberger. A course that every hole seemed unique and challenging, and it was just downright fun to play.

A view of #8 Green from the middle of the fairway.

A view of #8 green at the bottom of the hill.

I look forward to getting back to Ohio so I can give this course a real write-up.  But, I can advise, if you find yourself near Nashport, OH, and have a few extra hours, a round here is definitely worth your time.

On the drive back to Columbus, I did spot a rather interesting building. Here you go:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What's in the bag? What's your handicap?

So, I have had a few questions emailed to me and thought I would answer them in one post.  First, I am currently a 16 handicap. When I started playing again on March 29, 2013, after nearly two years away from the game, my handicap was right around a 22. I am proud of the accomplishment of dropping 6 full strokes on my handicap in 9 months. Lessons from Golftec Training Center have certainly helped.Also, playing 81 rounds of golf from March to December also helped a good deal. There is nothing like real experiences and situations on the course. Oh, and I was away from golf for almost two years due to some injuries to my back, knees and ankles that I sustained when I was a police officer and detective. I needed to let those heal properly and forced myself to take a 22 month break.

As for what's in my bag, mostly what I hear called "game improvement" equipment. I am not shy about the fact that I am not the greatest golfer out there. Realistically, I feel I am average at best.  But, the golf gods keep rewarding me with at least one memorable, very good shot every round I play. This keeps the passion burning that the next round I will have two or three of those kind of shots. 

My driver is my least favorite club in my bag currently. It is a Nike Covert VRS Driver. I bought it back in March when I got back into the game, to upgrade from my old Ping G10. I got pulled into the sales pitch of "you can adjust it 10 different ways to Sunday" spiel and so I bought it. I hit it just as far as the Ping G25, but I let the salesman talk me into buying the Nike. I kind of regret that decision now and am watching eBay to try to find a discounted Ping G25 or possibly a Callaway X2 Hot. I have hit both drivers at the pro shop and like both. I do want to try out Titleist 913 D2 and the new Ping i25 Driver before I make a final decision on what will replace the Nike.

One smart thing I did when I got back into the game in March was to get fitted at Puetz Golf Superstore here in Seattle. They have a phenomenal range and fitting system, as well as a huge selection of just about every piece of golf equipment and clothing you could ever want. I highly suggest checking it out if you are in the Seattle area. I had previously had Ping G10s with a yellow dot, but when I took them to my first round back at Flinders Golf Club in Australia, it just didn't feel like I was hitting them well. At my fitting, we narrowed down the irons to Ping G25 Irons and Mizuno JPX-825. I really liked both sets of irons, but I have been playing Pings for as long as I can remember, so I went with what I was comfortable with.  It's a good thing I was fitted also because my color code had changed from yellow dot to green. 

I also was fitted for and purchased Ping K15 Fariway Woods and Ping G25 20 and 23 degree Hybrids. I grew tired of the high loft of the K15 fairway woods and have since sold them. I have replaced them with a Ping Anser 3W and a Ping G25 5W.

One thing I noticed over the next few months and 20 or so rounds was that I have lost some distance. I believe it is due to several factors including age, lingering mental stuff with my injuries, and an extra 15 pounds. I am working to get rid of the extra weight. The more I play, the more comfortable I am with the fact I am not going to re injure anything again. The age, well, I guess I am stuck with it :-)   I have also decided my golf ball of choice is the Bridgestone e7 ballThey have a nice feel and they do help add a little extra distance to all my shots than what I was getting from other balls I have tried.

I also found I REALLY liked the feel of my hybrids so took out my 5 and 6 irons and put in a 27 and 31 degree hybrid.

During my fitting, we also decided on the normal Ping G25 wedges, except for the SW. It is a Ping Tour Gorge 54 degree Wedge.  I liked the Tour Gorge so much, I have since sold off my other wedges and replaced them all with the Ping Tour Gorge set. 

After 80 rounds and much improvement in my game, and since I only was using the 7, 8 and 9 iron from the Ping G25 set, I decided to sell the irons as a set.  I like the look of the Ping i25 Irons so will be putting the 7, 8 and 9 irons from that set into my bag.

Finally, to round out my bag, I purchased the Odyssey White Ice Sabertooth Putter. I have always preferred a mallet to a blade putter because it is easier for me to align.  The Odyssey was great for the 80 rounds I played in 2013, but about a month ago, while killing time in a local proshop, I tested a few Scotty Cameron Putters and absolutely fell in love with them. But man are they expensive. I got lucky with eBay just this past week and was able to pick up a store display test model of the Titleist Scotty Cameron Select GoLo S5 for $150! It has a few dings on the top, and slight paint wear from normal use from in-store demos, but it still rolls the ball very nicely and there doesn't appear to be any diminished performance.I am excited to get out on the course with the new putter.

So, going into 2014 and the real start of this quest to play the top 100 courses in the World and in the U.S., my bag is made up with the following:

Ping G25 Driver (Graphite Design Tour AD DI 5 shaft)
Ping G25 3W (Graphite Design G-Series Silver 60 R)
Ping G25 20* Hybrid (Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 75g shaft)
Ping G25 23* Hybrid (Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 75g shaft)
Ping G25 27* Hybrid (Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 75g shaft)
Ping G25 31* Hybrid (Graphite Design Tour AD DI Hybrid 75g shaft)
Ping i25 7 iron
Ping i25 8 iron
Ping i25 9 iron
Ping Tour Gorge 47* Wedge
Ping Tour Gorge 52* Wedge
Ping Tour Gorge 54* Wedge 
Ping Tour Gorge 56* Wedge
Ping Tour Gorge 60* Wedge
Titleist Scotty Cameron Select GoLo 5

(I either choose 3 or 4 of the wedges for each round depending on weather and the course).

Friday, January 3, 2014

More top 100 courses added to my schedule for 2014!

Mississippi and Las Vegas were added to my travel schedule for March. Since there are no top 100 courses in the U.S. located in Mississippi, I decided to check out the Top 100 Courses You Can Play list at Two were listed, one within 15 minutes of where I am scheduled to have meetings - Fallen Oak. I immediately picked up the phone and booked a tee time for a few hours after my plane lands. The other, Dancing Rabbit, is about a three hour drive. But, I have an extra day with nothing to do (on a Monday no less) so booked a tee time. At least I will get to see a good bit of Mississippi in my drive to and from.

For my Las Vegas trip later in March, I went back and forth about Shadow Creek (#56 in US) due to the cost. But, who knows when I will be back in Vegas. So, I've started saving some extra cash out of each paycheck to help pay for the green fee there. I will probably be able to fit in 3-4 rounds the week I am there.  If I can fit them all in, I think I will look to the Top 100 Courses You Can Play list again and see if I can secure tee times at Cascata GCWolf Creek, and Wynn Las Vegas.

I am also waiting to hear back from Kingston Heath GC for an afternoon tee time on May 19 (which would follow a morning tee time at Royal Melbourne). Additionally, I am waiting to hear back from New South Wales GC and Royal Adelaide GC.

For July 17 and the 22, it looks like I may be able to fit both courses at Woodhall Spa (#62 in the world) on one day, and Ganton Golf Club (#84 in the world) on the other day. I am still waiting to hear back from both clubs.

I had two days open at the end of my business trip in England. I was able to secure a tee time at Royal St. George's GC (#29 in the world) for July 24. I am also waiting to hear back from Rye GC (#96 in the world) for a tee time confirmation on July 25. Additionally, I have some friends and acquaintances in England reaching out to see if they can get me a tee time at Swinley Forest (#92 in the world).  England should be a phenomenal trip!

My boss also informed me I was tentatively approved for a trip that will take me to Portugal, Spain, and South Africa in October. If that comes through, I will be adding Oitavos Dunes (#65 world), Valderrama (#98 world), and Durban Country Club (#100 world) to my list.

I will keep my schedule updated HERE as things are approved and confirmed.