Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Era Dawns for Philadelphia's Courses in 2008

January 1, 2008 will usher in a new era for all six of Philadelphia's municipal golf courses. Four of the courses (Cobbs Creek, Karakung, FDR and John Byrne) will begin being managed on behalf of the Fairmount Park Commision by Billy Casper Golf. My home course, Juniata, and Walnut Lane will be leased to two non-profits for essentially $1 annually. Juniata will be managed by the Juniata Golf Foundation under the direction of Bob Wheeler, who has served as the GM at Juniata for the past few years. Bob is a great guy and is very dedicated to Juniata Golf Club and its golfers. Walnut Lane will be managed by Impact Services, headed by John McDonald, the former Temple golf coach who is also executive director of the First Tee of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Scholastic Golf Association. You can read all of the details in this story by The Philadelphia Inquirer's excellent golf writer, Joe Logan.

Putting a Wrap on 2007

Well, we have reached the final day of the year, so it is time to put wrap on the 2007 golf season. Overall, The Muni Golfer played 18 regulation rounds and nearly 5 practice rounds (one practice round at Walnut Lane Golf Club was abruptly halted after 14 holes because of lightning), or 410 total holes on 13 different courses in 2007. The Muni Golfer played 4 courses for the first time in 2007: Wyncote Golf Club, Jeffersonville Golf Club, Sawmill Golf Course and Baywood Greens. I took 1703 total strokes during my 18 regulation rounds and my final stroke average was 94.6. My lowest score was an 88 at Juniata Golf Club on August 19 and my highest score was 103 at Baywood Greens on August 31. I recorded a score of Par or better on 56 of the 324 holes I played in regulation, or 17 percent. The most holes of Par or better I had in one round was 5, which I accomplished during three rounds: July 14, Aug. 19 and Oct. 14. I made 8 birdies, including 2 during my round at Baywood Greens, and 1 Eagle (a 2 on the 283-yard Par 4 18th Hole at FDR Golf Club). That is the third highest number of birdies I've had in a single season; I had 14 in 2001 and 11 in 1998. Here's hoping that 2008 provides more golf, better scores, and just as much fun.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone "Happy Holidays" from The Muni Golfer. May 2008 be nothing but fairways and greens, pars and birdies!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fire Sale at Dicks

I had received a $10 gift certificate from Dicks Sporting Goods as part of bonus rewards for using my Dicks Card, so I stopped into a Dicks while visiting my sister-in-law's this weekend. Dicks was having a great sale of Maxfli's Fire and Fire Tour golf balls. The Fire's, which usually retail at $19.99 a dozen were being offered at two boxes for $25, while the Fire Tour was on sale at two boxes for $40. I had gotten the Fire golf balls for Christmas last year and really liked how they played. To me, they play much like a premium golf ball, but at a better price. A three-piece ball, they have great distance off the tee, but feel soft around the greens and off the putter. They also have a small strip of flames imprinted on the side of the ball, which is great for lining up putts. So I used my gift certificate and picked up two boxes of the Fire.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Duffy Comes Through at Q School

Today was the final round of the PGA Tour's 2007 Qualifying Tournament, or "Q School," a six round marathon played over two courses, with nearly 200 golfers vying for playing privileges in 2008. Only the top 25 golfers and ties earn their "tour card," meaning they are fully exempt to play on tour next year. My favorite golfer, Duffy Waldorf, who lost his tour card two years ago and has been playing on sponsors' exemptions in the "Past Champions" category on Tour, was one of those in the field. Duffy, who was -3 after the first four rounds, shot 65-66 to finish in a tie for 14th at -16, earning back his card. In one of the most intense pressure cookers in golf, Duffy played the final 45 holes without a bogey. Congrats Duffy! If you want to get a better idea of Q School, I suggest reading John Feinstein's book, Tales from Q School, which I reviewed in an earlier post.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some Golfing Odds and Ends

I haven't been able to hit the links, but I have made a few recent golf-related purchases. First, I was in a local Walmart and decided to check out the golf equipment in the sporting goods section. A Dunlop Loco 7-Wood caught my eye. Perhaps it was the bright yellow Harrison Fairway XL shaft or just the way it looked and felt in my hands, but at less than $50, I figured I had to give it a try. I've put it in the bag and will give a try to see if it can win a permanent spot next season.

Secondly, while celebrating our wedding anniversary with a get-away weekend in Lewes-Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, I hit the new Under Armour outlet and picked up a ColdGear Longsleeve Mock. As the temperatures start to dip below the 50s, this will make a nice base foundation undergarment to wear on the course. Paired with a golf polo and a wind shirt, it should keep me warm as I walk the course during those playable November through March rounds. Just as long as the temperatures and wind chills stay above the freezing point!

I've also received my Dick's Sporting Goods bonus points gift certificate in the mail. Although it is only for $10, I'll put it towards a box of Maxfli Noodle golf balls, which will be good balls to play with in the cold weather. In cold weather, it is best to pick a compression ball like the Noodle, which won't feel like you're hitting a rock as other, more premium golf balls do in the cold temperatures.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One Magical Read: Mickelson's First Major

I recently finished One Magical Sunday (But Winning Isn't Everything), Phil Mickelson's account of his first Major Championship, The 2004 Masters. The book was very interesting in that each chapter was a different hole in Sunday's final round. Phil starts each chapter by describing the hole, his strategy and a shot-by-shot recounting of how he actually played it. It then leads into a narrative of Phil's life, from his introduction to golf, his childhood, his focus on becoming a PGA Tour Pro, meeting and marrying Amy, the birth of his children, his philosophies on parenthood, and his life on tour. One unique feature is that as Phil tells his stories, recollections from his family, Amy, her family, his daughters, his caddy Jim "Bones" Mackay, his former college coach and current agent Steve Loy, and his coaches Dave Pelz and Rick Smith, are interspersed. A short read (only 200 pages), it is a unique and fun look at one of the most popular players in golf.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall Classic: A Round at Walnut Lane

Walnut Lane Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 4271, Par: 62
Rating: 59.9, Slope: 91
Score: 45/48 = 93
Date: November 4, 2007

Looking for a bit of change, I decided to try my luck at Walnut Lane Golf Club, a classic old layout located in the Wissahickon Valley. It is a short, hilly, narrow track that was desined by legendary architect Alex Findlay, who also designed such notable Philadelphia-area links as Llanerch, Reading and Tavistock Country Clubs.

Walnut Lane is a par 62 because it features 10 Par 3s, ranging in length from 125 to 227 yards. Because of this, I took my driver out of the bag and replaced it with a 2-Hybrid. Perhaps the most unique and difficult Par 3 is Hole 11, which plays 134 yards straight uphill through a narrow ravine. Miss left and your ball will kick off the hill and likely wind up in the small creek that also crosses about 15 yards off the tee.

It was windy and bit chilly as I made my around Walnut Lane. The ball didn't carry that well because of the cool temperatures and also because the wind also tends to funnels through the trees and several holes played dead into the breeze today. I also had the tendency to hit my irons thin today, both off the tee and the fairway.

I also made probably my weirdest par of year at the 316-yard Par 4 9th Hole. Your tee shot must carry a ravine and a tree line narrows the fairway from the right, requiring that you put you tee shot on the left hand side. Two bunkers guard the green, which slopes from back to front. I pulled a 4-wood for my tee shot and set up on the right side of the tee box, expecting to hit my usual draw onto the left side of the fairway. Of course, I hit it dead straight, hitting a tree on the right, which kicked my ball perfectly into the fairway on the left, about 115 yards from the green. I pulled a 9-iron, which I proceeded to thin--the ball never getting higher than two-feet off the fairway as it split the two bunkers and rolled to stop 12-feet behind the cup. I cozied the downhill putt, which broke right at the last second, to six inches and tapped in for par.

Fall Weather Has Finally Arrived, But the Golf Goes On

The temperatures have finally dropped into the 50s and the fallen leaves cover the ground, but there's still plenty of golf left to be played. It is time to dig out the cooler weather golfing apparel and gear. Instead of a golf polo and shorts, I'll start wearing a golf shirt, khakis and a wind shirt or an adidas fleece pullover that I picked up from The Golf Warehouse. When it really starts to get cold--temps in the 40s--I'll start layering what I wear, beginning with a Mizuno Breath Thermo Performance Mock, which keeps your body heat in while wicking sweat away. My headwear will also switch from visors to caps, since a lot of our body's heat escapes through our head. I have also picked up a pair of TaylorMade cold weather gloves for when it really gets cold and windy.

Golf Magazine's Web site has also come out with a terrific "Winter Survival Guide" for us true golf fanatics which offers great tips for playing in the cold, dressing to play in the cold, how to keep your game and your body in shape when it gets too cold to play, and great places to visit and play during the winter where it isn't cold. I know a lot of guys put their clubs away once the summer ends, but as long as the mercury (and the wind chill) stays north of the 30s, I'll continue to hit the links.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Behind the Scenes at Bethpage Black

I just finished reading Open: Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black, John Feinstein's chronicling of the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York. The Open at Bethpage Black marked the first time the U.S. Open was held at a truly public course. If you might not be familiar with Bethpage Black, it is one of five courses that comprise Bethpage State Park on Long Island. The Black Course was designed by the famous golf architect A.W. Tillinghast. The course is so famous and desirable to play, even though it is suggested for only low handicapped golfers, that people literally sleep in their cars overnight for the opportunity to gain one of the coveted daily tee times.

In his book, Feinstein takes us from David Fay first developing the idea in 1995 to play the Open at Bethpage, the logistics and difficulties behind making that idea a reality--including the fallout from 9/11, the actual tournament that was won by Tiger Woods, to the USGA's agreement with the State of New York to have The Black again host the Open in 2009. In this book, Feinstein gives us an in-depth look at people who run the United States Golf Association, as well what it takes to stage one of the largest and most prestigious golf championships in the world. It is both fascinating and entertaining, and I highly recommend it for any true golfer's reading list.

By reading Open, I have now completed the John Feinstein "Grand Slam" of golf books, which also includes A Good Walk Spoiled, The Majors, and Tales from Q School. Tonight at Borders I picked up my next read: One Magical Sunday: (But Winning Isn't Everything). Co-authored by Phil Mickelson, it is his firsthand account of his life leading up to his winning his first major, The Masters, in 2004.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fast Greens But Slow Play at Bensalem C.C.

Bensalem Township Country Club
Bensalem, Pa
Yards: 5808, Par: 70
Rating: 66.6, Slope 114
Score: 47/53 = 100
Date: October 20, 2007

The unseasonably warm October temperatures is making for great golfing conditions and today I found myself at Bensalem Township Country Club. I had tried two other courses, but tournaments drove me to play a round at Bensalem, a course I have played twice before. The course had previously been privately owned, but Bensalem Township recently purchased the facility. And what a great job the Township has done. The course in as good a shape, or even better, than most of the courses I have played this year. The fairways were superb; the rough thick, but not penal; and the greens were smooth, true and lightning fast. And at 2 p.m., it only cost me $25 to walk 18 holes. Besides the fast greens--I can't count how many 3-putts I had--the only problem I incurred was very slow play. We had to wait on the tee on almost every hole during the round. This meant we finished in almost total darkness as we played the 18th hole. Gusty winds were also a factor during the round, but was easier to endure than the slow play. Perhaps it was just the unusually warm weather bringing out more golfers than you would find this time of year, but I have always heard that slow play is a hallmark of Bensalem. But I definitely look forward to going back to Bensalem, and if the weather continues to cooperate, I'm certain I will find myself teeing it up there in the not too distant future.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Wind Blew and Birds Flew at FDR

Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 5720, Par 69
Rating: 63.9, Slope: 105
Score: 46/47 = 93
Date: October 14, 2007

The sun was shining, but the wind was blowing this afternoon at Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club in South Philadelphia. With the Eagles playing the Jets in New York, I expecting the course to be fairly deserted. That was far from the case. I was paired with three other golfers by the starter on the first tee, something I like about FDR. Because the course is fairly wide open, wind can be a big factor at FDR when it is blowing and today was no exception. If the wind was into us, or across, it made club selection extremely difficult. A good short game was definitely a must to score well today. The tee boxes at FDR were pretty well chewed up and the fairways were a little on the thin side, but the the greens were in very good shape and putts rolled pretty true.

My front nine was fairly undramatic, but consistent. The back nine was another story:

* A 6 at the long 418-yard Par 4 10th was followed by a really bad 7 at downhill 317-yard Par 4 11th when I pushed my tee shot way right and then hit a poor chip that didn't make it back to the fairway.

* I made a decent 5 at the 384-yard Par 4 12th hole, but then I hit my tee shot to 12 feet at the 129-yard Par 3 13th. My putt was dead center for a Birdie!

* I just missed hooking my 3-Wood around the dogleg at the 376-yard Par 14th, but still managed to get up-and-down at the raised green for a 5. Then came my worst stretch of golf.

* The 15th is a 370-yard Par 4 that doglegs right, then plays uphill, with bunkers and trees guarding the right side of green. After chunking my 3-Wood off the tee, I hot the ball everywhere but in the hole, finally settling for 9!

* The 362-yard Par 4 16th is the hole that gives me the most problems at FDR. It is a severe dogleg right that does not set up well for my draw. I tried to fade a driver off the tee and overcooked it into the woods. After my drop and punch to the fairway, I hit a 9-iron onto the green and two-putted for a 6.

* The 192-yard Par 3 17th plays downhill, but was playing into a strong crosswind from the left today. I hit by 2-Hybrid that got knocked down short of the green. Two chips and two putts and I had a very disappointing 5. But the disappointment didn't last long.

* The 18th is a straightaway 283-yard Par 4 that is wide, but tree-lined and plays even shorter. I hit my best drive of the day, which hit and rolled well down the right side of the fairway before ending up just in the rough off the fairway, 27 yards short of the green. Hole was 45-feet back in the left portion of the green. After initially pulling my 59-degree lob wedge, I decided to bump a 9-iron, which hit into the front of green then rolled like a putt straight at the hole. It hit the flagstick and disappeared into the cup for an Eagle 2...the third Eagle of my career.

What a way to end a round of golf. It is the second time I have ended a round with an Eagle, the other time being in July 2000 when I holed an 8-iron on my third shot at the Par 5 18th at Marsh Island Golf Club in Angola, Del.

Oh yes, by the way, Philadelphia's Birds, the Eagles, beat the Jets 16-9 at the Meadowlands.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hot Golfing at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: 50/43 = 93
Date: October 7, 2007

The calendar says October, but the temperature made it feel like July as I played a round at Juniata Golf Club this afternoon. Sunshine, temperatures in the upper 80s and high humidity tested my stamina. We are definitely having an Indian Summer, which will hopefully extend the golf season well into the winter months. I played better than my last time at Juniata two weeks ago. My focus and concentration were much better, as was my ball-striking. Even my putting was better, as I focused on a tip I heard from Greg Norman about thinking of hitting the front of the ball which makes you swing the putter through the stroke. My short game was definitely rusty, but it is hard to have the proper touch and feel when you are only playing every other week. I feel like I played well, I just didn't score well. On the equipment front, I had an Adams Idea a2 Hybrid in the bag for the first time today and it has certainly earned a chance to remain for another round. I also put an old set of TaylorMade RAC OS2 irons in my bag, but I think I am going to go back to the TaylorMade LCGs. The fall is a good time to experiment with different clubs as I try to set my bag for the 2008 season.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Phillies Baby, Phillies!

While the weather was beautiful today and the links were calling my name, I just had to stay home and watch the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 6-1. That victory, combined with the New York Mets 8-1 loss to the Florida Marlins helped the Phillies claim the N.L. Eastern Division title. It is the first time the Phillies have made the playoffs since 1993. Golf will just have to wait until next weekend. Phil-lies! Phil-lies! Phil-lies!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Adams Hybrid in the Bag

After finishing a doctor's appointment early yesterday afternoon, I drove over to a nearby Dick's Sporting Goods in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. There I found an Adams Idea a2 4-hybrid with an Aldila NV shaft on sale. I already have the Aldila NV shaft in my 3 Wood and Nicket Utility club. Since I had a couple of Dick's gift cards that covered half of the price, I made the purchase and it will now get a tryout in my golf bag. Adams hybrids are very popular on the PGA and Champions Tours and I can't wait to see how this one performs for me. If fact, Mark Wiebe, who just won the Champions Tour's SAS Championship this past weekend, had an Adams hybrid in his bag. He beat Dana Quigley, who has about six Adams hybrids in his bag.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back in the Swing...An Ugly Swing

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: Practice Round
Date: September 23, 2007

It has been almost three weeks since I last swung a golf club at a ball, so I ventured over to Juniata Golf Club this afternoon for a refresher 18 holes on how the game is played. I would have done better to stay home and watch the Eagles play. I rearranged the make-up on my bag, trying a different 3 Wood, taking out two of the hybrids and adding a 5 Wood. This experiment will be short-lived. The Nickent hybrid goes back in the back and out comes the 5 Wood, while the 3 Wood and 4 hybrid model has also been replaced by different models. I've gone back to the 16 degree Golfsmith XPC Plus and put a Black Max 24 degree hybrid with a Stripper graphite shaft in play. I've also replaced my irons with a set of TaylorMade RAC OC2s, which I used on-and-off since 2005. My biggest problem today was my concentration and focus. I questioned myself on whether I really felt like playing today, I sure sign I should have skipped the links. But since I've been able to play in almost three weeks, I didn't want to waste an opportunity. Because of the Eagles game, the course was virtually empty, so I played the 18 holes solo and my mind was everywhere but on the shot at hand. Lets just say I managed one par during my round. My short game was non-existent; not surprising since touch is one of the first things to leave you when you haven't played for a bit. I'm hoping this is past and already, I'm looking to make amends next weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Soul of Golf

I have just finished reading The Soul of Golf by William Hallberg, the story of one golf writer's ultimate road trip across the country to find the true soul of the game we are all addicted to and love with an unyielding passion. Hallberg, who writes for various golf magazines, is better known as the author of the golf novel Rub of the Green. In The Soul of Golf, Hallberg chronicles his 1996 trek across the United States in which he plays large private country clubs, small nine-hole public courses, and such hallowed linked as Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, playing with whomever he can can get paired with on the first tee in order to find what makes this golf so wonderful and appealing. Throughout his travels, Hallberg must cope with the constant thoughts of ailing parents, a sister who is dying of bone marrow cancer, and a daughter who severely breaks her leg on summer vacation. Although Hallberg does to ramble on about things unrelated to golf, it was enjoyable to read about his quest to play small, unique, out-of-the-mainstream golf courses with everyday people. For them, these courses are the very lifeline to their passion for the game. The Muni Golfer can relate to these people as I too enjoy playing these type of courses.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Highs and Lows of Delaware Golf

Well, I have concluded my yearly Labor Day week-long trip to the Delaware Shore. While my wife was hitting the beaches of Lewes, I was hitting the local links, with rounds at Baywood Greens, Marsh Island and The Rookery. My game experienced some highs--long accurate tee shots with my new TaylorMade Burner Driver and a couple of birdies at Baywood--and some lows--a 10 on a Par 4 at both Baywood and Marsh Island and eight lost balls at Marsh Island. I also hit the local golf shops, but didn't find anything to buy. I did, however, pick up three pairs of Under Armour sports briefs at the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach. I was hoping to get in a fourth round at either Jonathan's Landing in Magnolia, Del., or a second round at Marsh Island, but a family emergency prevented it from happening.

Here are my rounds and reviews of the courses I played:

Baywood Greens
Long Neck, Del
Yards: 6088, Par: 72
Score: 55/48 = 103
Date: August 31, 2007

Baywood Greens bills itself as "the Augusta of the Northeast" and it is easy to see why. The course is beautifully landscaped everywhere you look. The fairways are green and lush and the greens are fast and true. Our golfing experience started off when we were greeted at the bag drop. Our clubs were placed on the carts while my cousins and I went into a beautiful Pro Shop to pay our greens fees. Baywood isn't cheap. We paid $75 after 1 p.m. (we had a 1:18 tee time). Upon exiting the Pro Shop and showing our receipts, we were directed to our carts and told to go to the practice range to hit "as many balls as we wanted" and we would be called when our tee time approached. They also had a putting green, as well as a green with practice bunkers, something I wish now I had taken advantage of because I think I spent more time in the sand that day than my wife. Once we were directed to the First Tee, the starter gave us the rules of the day: which fairways prohibited carts, which areas and flower beds we could take relief from, etc. He also gave each of us a Baywood Greens bag tag. The carts at Baywood are equipped with the GPS system that shows you the hole, the distances to hazards, the green, etc., and even tells you when another cart is in the fairway up ahead in case you can't visually see it.

I drove the ball beautifully most of the day and was often the longest off the tee. However, my short game was non-existent. And I think I found half of the sand traps on the course. I managed to play out of them, but just barely as most had a very, very shallow level of sand. I made a very disappointing 10 at the Par 4 4th Hole after I played ping-pong by chipping back and forth over the green a few times. The most interesting hole at Baywood is the 385-yard Par 4 14th Hole. Standing on the tee, you play over water with two options to the green. You can play the longer route around the large lake as a long dog-leg left, or you can take take the shorter direct route by hitting to a small, narrow island fairway. I was hitting the ball really well with my driver and easily hit the island, leaving me just a pitching wedge to the green. However I three-putted for a 5. I followed that with a disastrous 8 at the 145-yard uphill Par 3 15th Hole by topping TWO tee shots into water in front of the tee. I did redeem myself on the next two holes, the 452-yard Par 5 16th and the 346-yard Par 4 17th Hole by making back-to-back birdies! On 16, I laid up on my second shot, then dropped a wedge about 18 inches from the cup. At 17, I canned a 70-foot putt from the front right fringe to a back left hole location.

While I doubt if I will be playing Baywood Greens on a regular yearly basis, it is a course I will look forward to returning to sometime in the future.


Marsh Island

Angola, Del
Yards: 4738, Par: 65
Score: Practice Round
Date: September 2, 2007

Marsh Island is a short little course that runs along Love Creek just west of the Lewes-Rehoboth Beach area. But don't let its length lull you into a fall sense of security, especially if the wind is blowing. While largely open in the front area of the course, the back features numerous protected wetlands that can reach out and easily snare a wayward shot. The course features some long, moderate and short Par 3s, short Par 4s, and two Par 5s. There are, however, a couple of holes that just don't quite feel like they belong on this course. One is the 271-yard Par 4 7th Hole. Even from the very back tees, all that is required is a 9-iron at most. But you must place the ball strategically because wetlands stand between the end of the fairway and green, with about a 10-yard opening to hit over the wetlands to a raised green. I made a 10 on this hole. Lucky Hole #13 is a 129-yard Par 3 from a slightly elevated tee to a very narrow green with water in front and wetlands to the right and behind the green. Choose your club wisely on this hole. Hole #15 is a 301-yard Par 4 which requires a tee shot of about 175 yards over wetlands to a fairway that doglegs sharply to the right. Go too far and you are in a narrow bunker to the left and short of the green, which again, has wetlands and Love Creek behind. Hole #16 is a 225-yard Par 3 in which the green sits about behind 30-yards behind a very narrow opening in the trees that stand about 185 yards off the tee. I often feel like a field goal kicker looking at a 55-yarder with 3 seconds left to win the game as I stand on the tee. Marsh Island is a great little course that will test your patience, as well as your short- and long-iron game. I should know, I lost 8 golf balls during my practice round!


The Rookery

Milton, Del
Yards: 6139, Par: 71
Score: 45/46 = 91
Date: September 4, 2007

The Rookery is a challenging golf course that was conceived and is owned by Pete Oakley, the 2004 Senior British Open Champion. It is a long, very-wide open course that features plenty of hazards, including water, wetlands and sand traps. It can be especially difficult if the wind is blowing, but I was lucky and played it on a calm, but humid day. I walked, as I usually do, and The Rookery is favorable to those who lug theirs bags rather than riding in a cart.

I continued to hit my driver extremely well at The Rookery, which was probably one of the keys to my round. I managed to have short irons into a lot of the greens, but I couldn't make a putt to save my life. The front nine at The Rookery features two very quirky holes back-to-back. The Par 4 4th Hole is 290 yards from a raised tee, bit a large pond sits in the middle of fairway. It takes a tee shot of about 260 yards to clear the water, so I usually lay up with nothing more than an 8-iron off the tee, then another 8-iron to the large green. The 385-yard Par 4 5th Hole is a sharp dog-leg left that requires a lengthy tee shot to clear the woods on the left side of the fairway. If you do manage to get out to the dog-leg, you want to be on the right side of the fairway or else you have to hit over four or five pines that guard the green from the left. The back nine features three Par 5s, #s 10, 13 and 18, with 10 and 18 being 575-yards and 566-yards respectively. Holes #14 and 15 are both Par 3s, with 14 being 200 yards and 15 being a short 140 yards to an island green.

I have been playing The Rookery since it opened in 2001. It is a well maintained course and, although long, always a joy to play. It has been on my Delaware Labor Day week play list every year and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Off to Delaware

My golf bag is all packed and I'll be heading to the Delaware Shore tonight for nine days of sun, surf, and and GOLF!!! The annual Labor Day weekend family golf outing with my cousins is already scheduled for a 1:18 p.m. tee time on Friday at Baywood Greens, a course I have heard wonderful reviews about and have always wanted to play. I also plan to play at The Rookery and possibly Jonathan's Landing near Dover, another course I have heard great things about. If I am lucky, I will get in a fourth round this week, probably at Marsh Island in Angola, just west of Rehoboth Beach. I also plan to check out a couple of golf retailers, Ruddo's Golf and Clubhouse Golf in Rehoboth, to see if there may be any end-of-the-season bargains. Ruddo's is where I purchased my Odyssey White Hot XG #9 putter last fall. I'll post my rounds and my reviews when I return.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

When It Rains, It Scores: A Round at Juniata

Juniata Golf Course
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: 48/40 = 88
Date: August 19, 2007

I played a round at Juniata Golf Course today in a steady, sometimes driving rain, and posted my best score of the season. It was drizzling when I started on Hole #1, and I was surprised at the number of people who were on the course playing. By the 4th Hole I pulled out a rain shirt I had tucked into my bag before I left home and was putting up my TaylorMade Staff umbrella, which I had fetched out of the trunk of my car in the parking lot.

I played a fair front nine, with pars at Holes #2 and 6. It seemed like the more it rained, the steadier my game became. Of course, when conditions are like this, you can be more aggressive with ships and putts. When I reached the clubhouse at the turn--in 48 strokes, not bad for these conditions--a few people thought I was done for the day. But one fellow who I've golfed with when I belonged to the Juniata Golf Association paid me the ultimate compliment when he told them, "Preston is a mudder, he'll be going back out." And go back out I did.

On the back nine--which I had all to myself--the rain stayed constant and it became harder to keep the grips of my clubs and my golf glove dry. I started to take the back nine as a quest and I found myself really focused and not trying to overhit the ball. I made pars at Holes #13, 17 and 18 to come home in 40, easily my best 9 Holes of the year.

Most golfers don't like playing in the rain, but I kind of like it. If you go to play in Scotland or Ireland, rain is almost assured to be of your round. As long as you have the right gear and right attitude, I find it easy to play in bad weather. Besides, this was my last chance to get in a round before heading off to Delaware in two weeks. I did make one change to my bag today. I replaced the Nickent hybrid with a old Golfsmith XPC3 Rough Rider 5 Wood. I was pleased with the way it performed and it will remain in the bag in Delaware, although I will be taking the Nickent hybrid with me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Preparing for My Annual Golf Getway

Every year during Labor Day week, my wife and I escape to the beautiful Delaware seashore. For my wife, it means taking a beach chair and a book and heading to the white, sandy beach while enjoying the sun, the wind and the surf. For me it means GOLF! I play play 3-4 rounds during the week, starting with traditional Labor Day weekend outing with a few of my cousins who will also be vacationing at the Delaware shore. Two courses that I am almost assured I will be playing during that week are Marsh Island and The Rookery. I am undecided whether to make a trek to Ocean City, Md. to play one of the numerous outstanding courses there, although I am leaning towards another visit to Pete Dye's Rum Pointe, a nice, but difficult, links-style course. Or I could head north towards Dover and try Jonathan's Landing Golf Course, a 27-Hole inland Sottish links-style layout.

Since the trip is only two weeks away, I have begun preparations by fashioning a golf packing list. Among the items I will be taking with me:

* TaylorMade Burner Driver
* Golfsmith XPC Plus 3-Wood
* Golfsmith XPC3 5-Wood
* Nickent 3DX DC Utility
* Elevon Hybrid
* Alpha RX 4, 5 and 6 Hybrids
* TaylorMade 200 Irons
* Solus Wedges
* Odyssey XG #9 Putter
* TaylorMade r7 460 Driver (Backup)
* Carbite B4 Putter (Backup)
* 2 Dozen Maxfli Golf Balls
* 3 Golf Gloves
* 2 Pair Golf Shoes
* 2 Collared Golf Shirts
* 2 Mock Polo Golf Shits
* 3 Pair Golf Shorts
* 4 Pair Golf Socks
* Wind/Rain Shirt and Vest
* 2 Golf Visors
* 2 Golf Hats
* Sun Tan Lotion
* Granola Bars
* Speed Stik
* Momentus Swing Trainer

The packing list is complete and beginning next week I will start to put the pieces together for this annual golf getaway. I will make sure the shirts and shorts I want to take have been washed, clean all my clubs, change the spikes in my golf shoes and mark the golf balls. It may seem like a lot, but I believe in being ready and prepared for 3-4 rounds over eight days. I'll report on the courses I played, and how I played, when I return.

Monday, August 13, 2007

BubbaGolf: New Apparel

PGA Tour Pro Bubba Watson has come out with his own line of golf apparel that is being sold through the Steve & Barry's stores. Almost everything in the line, which includes golf shirts, shorts, pants, wind shirts/vests and headwear, retails for $14.98. Saturday night I stopped in the Steve & Barry's located at the Franklin Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia. I picked up a Dry Performance Texture Polo and and a pair of Double Pleated Golf Shorts. I wore both yesterday during my round at Juniata Golf Club, which was played in very hot and humid conditions. Both products worked extremely well. The shirt kept me dry and comfortable, while the shorts, although a little longer than I'm used to, were also comfortable and functional. At those prices, I think I might pick up a couple of more shirts and another pair of pants.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

In the 90s at Juniata Golf Club

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: 49/46 + 95
Date: August 12, 2007

The temperature was in the 90s and so was my score as I played a round this afternoon at Juniata Golf Club. I started out well with a 4 at the downhill Par 3 1st Hole, then made a birdie 3 at the short Par 4 second Hole. But a poor tee shot at the 3rd Hole derailed by round as a hacked it up the fairway for an 8. At the 4th, I hit a beautiful 3-Wood off the tee and had about 85 yards to the flag, but thinned my wedge over the green and made a double bogey 6. I limped through the rest of the front nine in 49 strokes.

Things started promisingly on the back nine. I got up and down for a par 3 at the 10th Hole, and made three consecutive 4s at Holes 13 through 15. Up another poor tee shot at the 16th caused me to again hack it up the fairway. I finally hit the ball into some deep, thick grass just short and left of the front of the green. It took three hacks to get the ball out and when I finally dropped my putt into the cup, I walked off with a 10! I managed to sink a 20-foot putt for par at the 17th Hole and got home in a disappointing 46.

Although I drank as much water as I could on the course, I simple wilted under today's heat. I struggled the last 4-5 Holes with my legs feeling like rubber. In addition, I been unable to find any consistency in my swing, and hence, my game. I'll play well for a few Holes, then really bad for a few Holes. Or I'll play one Hole per nine that will just blow score up. But I'll keep working at it and hopefully, the results will start to some. I am somewhat encouraged that I have made birdies the past two weeks, and now have five for the season.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Round of Golf at John F. Byrne

John F. Byrne Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 4883, Par: 67
Score: 49/50 = 99
Date: August 5, 2007

It was a hot and humid August Sunday as I played a round at John F. Byrne Golf Club, my second venture this season around the City of Philadelphia-owned golf course located in Northeast Philadelphia. I put the TaylorMade Burner in the golf bag, with mixed results. My ball-striking was off through most of the early parts of the round, but I did make a discovery: my swing needs to be more upright. I have gotten into the habit of swinging around my body, which causes me to push shots to the right instead of hitting the draw I have been accustom. My short game was also off today as it always seemed I was one club too long or one club too short on chips and pitches. The highlight of my round came at the 516-yard Par 5 12th Hole. I hit a huge drive in the fairway, then hit my newly re-shafted 3-Wood to about 15 yards shirt of the hole. I chipped to about 30 feet past the hole, then drained the slightly downhill putt for birdie! It is my second birdie on a Par 5 this season. But I am disappointed I was unable to take advantage of any of the four Par 3s on the back nine, playing them in a combined 9 over par! Still, I am extremely happy to have grinded my way around in under 100 strokes.

Although John F. Byrne is only a Par 67, it sits in a valley and many of its holes play either uphill or downhill, including both Holes 9 and 18, which cross a small creek about 140 yards off the tee, then plays severely uphill to narrow greens that slope from back to front and are well guarded by bunkers on each side. The creek, which wanders through the course, comes into play, or potentially comes into play, on at least half of the holes on the course. Perhaps the toughest holes is #4, a short Par 4 that plays less than 300 yards. Tee shots must carry the creek at about 145 yards. However, to carry the creek, you must also put your tee shot through a very narrow opening in the tree line and then the fairway slopes uphill and to the right. The green, which juts out of the side of a hill, is probably the smallest on the course. Overall, John F. Byrne will test your accuracy, your short game, your patience and your stamina if, like me, you chose to walk the course.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Equipment Changes

I've made a few changes in the equipment in my golf bag. I recently picked a slightly used TaylorMade Burner Driver, the newest in TaylorMade's line. A lot of the golfers on the various professional tours are putting the new TM Burner Driver in their bags. I found this Driver on the pre-owned rack at Golfsmith. It looked like someone had taken it to a driving range, hit a few balls and traded it in. It barely had a mark on it. I took it to the practice range tonight and hit a bucket of balls. I like the feel of it and when hit correctly, is pretty long. I started out hitting hard hooks, but gradually worked it into either straight or a slight draw. I believe I have enough confidence right now to put it in my bag.

I also recalled an old friend: a 16-degree Golfsmith XPC Plus 3-Wood. I took it back to Golfsmith and had an Aldila NV 65 shaft put in it. I've had this club for more than 10 years and it has been one of the most trustworthy, reliable clubs I have ever played. I will replace my Adams 4-Wood with it in my current club make-up.

I'm feeling really good about my game right now and I think these few changes will help boost my confidence and my game even further.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Up and Down: Golf at Sawmill Golf Course

Sawmill Golf Course
Easton, Pa.
Yards: 5280, Par: 70
Score: 49/46 = 95
Date: July 28, 2007

While visiting family in the Lehigh Valley, I had the opportunity to play a round of golf at Sawmill Golf Course in Easton. A medium length track that plays just over 5,000 yards, what Sawmill lacks in length it makes up for in its unique layout. Most of the holes are straight away, with not a sand trap to be found. But since Sawmill is located in the Lehigh Valley, many of the holes play either severely uphill or downhill. Some holes do feature blind tee shots with fairways that slope left to right.

The front nine at Sawmill looks pretty tame, and it is, except for maybe the Par 3 7th Hole, which plays out of a chute of trees, slightly downhill to a large green that slopes hard from left to right. If you miss to the right, it runs down into the 8th fairway and there are a few small trees to contend with on your pitch shot.

The back nine at Sawmill is where the golf gets really interesting. After straightway, short Par 4s at 10 and 11, the 12th Hole is a 112-yard Par 3 that drops about 150 feet from the tee to the green, which has a road running in front and a creek behind. Then comes the the unusual 13th, a 372-yard Par 5. Yes, a Par 5! A short tee shot is required to an elevated, narrow fairway framed by two overheard powerline towers on the left and telephone poles and an out-of-bounds creek on the right. You'll have about 185- to 200+ yards for a second shot, with a small spring running across the front of the green, so a lay-up short is advised. Hole 14 is a 236-yard Par 4, that plays straight uphill the last 100 yards or so. Driving this green would be almost impossible since the green sits at least 50 yards above the fairway! Hole 15 in a 321-yard Par 4 that continues the journey onward and upward, playing straight uphill to a two-tiered green. But, as they say, whatever goes up, must come down and Holes 16 and 17 both play sharply downhill, with the 16th playing out of a chute off the tee and the fairway being well-guarded by trees all the way down the left side. The round finishes at Hole 18 with with a short, flat, 135-yard Par 3, whose only difficulty is its undulating green.

The best part of Sawmill Golf Course was its price. $25 to walk on the weekends and includes as much golf as you can play, whether its 18, 27 or 36 holes. The staff was friendly and they had a nice snack bar where you can relax and relive your round. If you're ever in the Lehigh Valley and looking for an inexpensive, but fun round of golf, I highly recommend Sawmill Golf Course. The Muni Golfer is already looking forward to his next visit.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A 9-Hole Practice Round at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: Practice Round
Date: July 23, 2007

A family wedding took me out of town this past weekend, so I didn't get a chance to hit the links until today. I had picked up a cold over the weekend and it rained until early this afternoon. Once it did stop, I decided to go play a 9-hole practice round at Juniata Golf Club. I had been looking forward to playing all weekend, but when the weather didn't cooperate this morning, I should have just bagged the whole idea. I went back and forth as to whether I should go play, and when I finally did make the decision to go play, I didn't have any concentration or focus during the round and by the 6th hole, was really feeling tired. That caused me to make poor decisions and hit poor shots. I would have been better off heading to the driving range and hitting balls as if playing a simulated round or practicing my shot game.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Lesson From Leadbetter...At Least Online

As you may recall or see by my "What's (Currently) in My Golf Bag" listed on the right, I replaced my 4-, 5- and 6-irons with hybrids earlier this season. While I have generally been happy with the way I have hit them, I have had an ongoing tendency to have shots hang out to the right. While playing this past Saturday, I noticed that I was playing the ball in the middle of my stance like I normally would for an iron. I also noticed the ball would go more to the right than I desired. Finally, I moved the ball forward in my stance and the results were much better.

So, I wondered, what is the proper ball position for hitting a hybrid club? An online search produced an answer from none other than David Leadbetter, teacher of such PGA Tour stars as Nick Faldo, Nick Price, Charles Howell III and Sean O'Hair, just to name a few.

Leadbetter's online tip for hybrids said the following:


Where to Position the Ball

Compared with a normal 3- or 4-iron, the forgiveness of a hybrid club is heaven. Though the designs and lofts vary from make to make, the generally small, compact head, wide sole and low center of gravity of a hybrid make it easy to get the ball airborne.

Because there's so much more weight behind the ball, even if you hit slightly behind the ball with a hybrid, the club is going to swing on through.

Some players who have trouble getting a longer iron airborne play the ball farther forward in the stance and try to lift it with a flippy, scooping motion. A hybrid enables you to swing without any manipulation.

For the hybrid, your stance width should be the same as for a longer iron. Your ball position is forward if center, but not quite so forward as it would be for a traditional fairway wood.

When hitting a hybrid from the fairway, position the ball slightly forward of center in your stance. Play it a touch farther back when using a hybrid from the rough.

I found a similar answer on


Hello to Hybrids
by Rick Martino
Director of Instruction for The PGA of

"The swing used with the hybrids is different than with the long irons. Typically the ball position is toward the front foot and the swing path is a shallow, sweeping motion, similar to a fairway wood. Then the ball is struck like a fairway wood with no divot."

Hopefully their advice and instruction will help me start hitting my hybrids with the draw that I hit with my other clubs.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Tale of Two Nines: A Round at FDR Golf Club

Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 5720, Par: 69
Score: 44/49 = 93
Date: July 14, 2007

I made one of my annual trips to South Philadelphia for a round at Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club, another of the courses owned by the City of Philadelphia, located in the shadow of Philadelphia's stadium complex. I usually try to get a couple of rounds in at FDR each season. One of the things I particularly like about FDR is they actually have a starter at the first tee who often pairs me with another twosome or threesome, so I rarely play this track by myself. On this Saturday I was paired with another couple, Joe and Mary, and a single Ralph. Ralph is a native South Philadelphia, which he gave away by referring to FDR as "The Lakes," which it used to be called.

Saturday's round was a tale of two nines: very steady play on the front, extreme grinding on the back. The front nine at FDR is pretty straight forward golf. The only tricky hole is #4, where marshy wetlands cross the fairway about 250 yards from the tee, often creating a blind second shot. I managed to par #2, a short 265-yard Par 4 and birdied the 464-yard Par 5 3rd hole. After lost balls at and double bogeys at holes 4 and 5, then had all 5s on my scorecard throughout the rest of the front nine.

The back nine at FDR is a very different story. Hole #10 is a 418-yard Par 4 with a small canal crossing the fairway at 240 yards off the tee. The second shot then plays about 260 yards uphill to a smallish green. No wonder it is the #1 ranked hole on the course. After making a 6--I have done much, much worse on this hole in the past--I took another 6 on the 11th hole, which again crosses that small canal, this time in front of the green. My nightmare happened at #12, a 384-yard Par 4 that plays straightway. I hit three---yes, three!--balls out of bounds and when I finally tapped in, I had an 11 of the card. Not exactly the start I looking for on the back nine. Suddenly, this round was looking like it was going to be a disaster!

At #13, FDR really bares its teeth:

Hole #13: Although it is listed at 153 yards on the scorecard, the hole usually plays around 125-130 yards and there always seems to be wind. The green is deceiving as it sits behind a very large bunker and a swale of about 15 yards. The green itself slopes from left to right and away from the tee. I tried to knockdown an 8-iron from 129 yards, but left it short in the swale. I chipped to six feet and made my par putt.

Hole #14: A 376-yard sharp dogleg left that has a grove of trees on the left and out-of-bounds on the right. A tee shot of at least 225 yards is required to have an open look at the green, which sits atop a small plateau and slopes from front to back. After hitting the trees on the left, I had to pitch out and then knocked my pitching wedge on the green from 118 yards. Two putts and a very grateful 5.

Hole #15: This Par 4 is only 370 yards, but the sharp dogleg right plays extremely uphill from just inside 150 yards to a green that is well protected by bunkers on the right. If you don't get your tee shot out far enough, the second shot is blind. I hit my 19 degree hybrid off the tee and hit the 150-yard marker. My blind second shot was pushed right, hit and tree and was out in the 16th fairway. Although I had a look at the green between two trees, I half-skulled my pitch to the other side of the green and then chilli-dipped my fourth shot. I finally chipped on and made a 25-foot putt for a 6.

Hole #16: A 362-yard sharp dogleg right in which the fairway slopes from left to right and the second shot plays slightly uphill. Since I typically hit a draw, this is one of the hardest driving holes at FDR for me. I decided to try and hit a fade, which didn't cut quite enough and hit the trees on the opposite side of the fairway where the dogleg begins. I did have an opening to punch the ball up the fairway to at just outside 100 yards, they hit my gap wedge to about 20 feet left of the pin. Two putts and another grateful 5.

Hole #17: A long, 192-yard Par 3 that plays downhill to a rough green that is guarded by the cartpath on the left and large willow tree on the front right. The tees were up and it was playing at 182 yards, so I hit my 4 hybrid, which the wind knocked down just short of the green. I chipped four feet past the hole and made the putt for par.

Hole #18: The closing hole is a straight-away, 283-yard Par 4 that has a wide fairway lined with trees up both sides. The green is protected by bunkers front and back on the left side. I hooked a 4-wood--the wind was blowing right to left--in the trees, but I had a good look at the flagstick. I pitched just short of the green, then chipped to two-feet and made par.

After starting 6, 6, 11 on the back nine, I managed to grind through the last six holes, parring three of them. Although I believe I could have done better, I pretty happy with the way I hung in there on the back and managed to salvage a 93.

By the way, FDR is one of only two city courses, Cobbs Creek is the other, that have driving ranges. FDR also has a putting green and a chipping green, so it is definitely a facility I should take more advantage of using. I hope I get down there for at least one more round before this season ends.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Duffy Waldorf at the John Deere Classic

Last night I watched The Golf Channel's encore replay of the first round of the John Deer Classic, affectionately know as the "Quad Cities." My favorite golfer, Duffy Waldorf, has an afternoon tee time and made a charge up the leaderboard, so he got some serious air time. He made eight birdies and is currently -6 and in a tie for second place. He's using this week to get ready for next week's British Open at Carnoustie in Scotland. You can watch Duffy talking about his round and the upcoming British Open at Inside the

Sunday, July 8, 2007

No Golf This Least on the Course

I didn't get out to play this weekend. A family obligation took care of Saturday and the weather, plus not feeling well, took care of today. I did watch the AT&T National and the Senior U.S. Open this afternoon when I wasn't napping. Tonight, I watched a great Golf Channel special, Greg Norman, Tips from the Shark, on The Golf Channel's On Demand programming. The Shark offered some great short tips, especially for chipping and bunker play, which I can't wait to try in practice.

Also, this past Tuesday night, I stopped by the Golfsmith store in Moorestown, NJ. I picked up some lead tape and a few Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips. I put a few strips of the tape on the heel of my hybrid clubs in hopes of promoting a bit more of a draw on my shots. And I like having extra grips on hand in case I decide--or need-- to make a change on one of my clubs.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Sunday Round at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: 46/44 = 90
Date: July 1, 2007

It was a grind-it-out type of round this afternoon at Juniata Golf Club, my fourth round of golf in the past nine days. I never really felt comfortable with my swing and for most of the round, I was never quite confident of where the ball was going. After putting on very fast greens the previous three rounds, the slow greens at Juniata had me leaving most of my putts short all day long, including several par attempts. Still, I managed to get around in 90, which I will gladly take. One interesting note, however, was the 18th hole. I left my tee shot right of the green and had a huge bunker between my ball and the green. With my Solus 59 degree lob wedge in my bag I can honestly say that for the first time I felt very confident standing over such a lob shot...even with the wind at my back! I hit it to 9 feet...but of course, I left the par putt short.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ross is the Boss: Golf at Jeffersonville Golf Club

Jeffersonville Golf Club
Jeffersonville, Pa.
Yards: 6150, Par: 70
Score: 51/49 = 100
Date: June 29, 2007

I played a round of golf on Friday afternoon with my friend Ken Daskus at Jeffersonville Golf Club, a wonderful old track that was originally designed in 1931 by legendary golf architect Donald J. Ross. It was purchased by West Norriton Towsnhip in 1972 and restored to its original Ross layout in 2002. It is a classic example of how a course can be challenging without a lot of gimmicks. There are a lot of holes that dogleg left or right, play uphill or downhill, bunkers that line fairways and guard greens, as well as devilish greens that have false fronts or slope off on the front, back or sides.

The opening hole is a challenging 434-yard dogleg left that plays from an elevated tee to a rising fairway. I sliced my opening shot and got frustrated when I couldn't find the ball in an open area of wicked gorse. That led to a frustrating 11! I found the second fairway, but misjudged my downhill second shot with an 8-iron, knocking it over the green for a 5. The 3rd hole is a short Par 4 that plays uphill at 282 yards. I managed to find a footprint in a fairway bunker which led to a 6. I steadied myself after that and didn't play all that poorly, except for the two Par 5s (#6 and #18), which play at 557 and 516 yards respectively. I made an 8 on both. My one highlight of the day was making a birdie at the Par 3 12th Hole, which at 181 yards was playing shorter that its posted 190. I hit my 4 hybrid to about 10 feet and made the putt; my second birdie in as many rounds!

I would really, really recommend Jeffersonville. It only cost $25 to walk during the week, $40 with cart. On the weekend it is $34/49. One of the things I particularly liked was they gave you a pinsheet in the pro shop. It showed all the greens divided into thirds. Friday's pin position was #2, meaning the pin was in the section of the green shown as #2 on the pinsheet. I thought this was very handy, although I didn't refer to it as much as I should have. They also had a lot of drinking water around the course and a really nice grille room for after your round. The hot dogs were excellent and you could load them up with your complimentary choices of mustard (yellow or spicy), ketchup, sauerkraut, melted cheese, or chili. We watched a couple of innings of the Phillies afternoon game in the grille room as we enjoyed our post-round dogs and beverage.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Gorse of A Course: Golf at Wyncote Golf Club

Wyncote Golf Club
Oxford, Pa.
Yards: 6074, Par: 72
Score: 50/46 = 96
Date: June 26, 2007

Today I finally got to play Wyncote Golf Club, an excellent links-style course located in Oxford, Pa. The course is in a beautiful setting, with picturesque views of the surrounding farmlands. The weather though was brutal: sunny, mid-90s and unrelenting humidity. Playing in a threesome with Robert Levis, Chair of Temple University's Chemistry Department, and his father, I started out walking the course, but by the 7th Hole, I had to start riding in a cart. I did wear one of my new PGA Tour Dry-fit golf shirts and I have to say, it was unbelievable how well is keep sweat away from you while you play. The shirt hardly felt moist while I was baking under the unrelenting sun.

Wyncote has some length and you definitely want to keep the ball in the fairways since most are lined with tall fescue grass or gorse as it's sometimes called. I hit the ball into it more than I care to remember. Only twice did I attempt to hit it out, and only once was I successful. Most times I took an unplayable lie and dropped (under penalty of one stroke) in the rough. After a nervous 8 on the opening Par 5 (which we played from the Blue Tees at 521 yards), I did manage a birdie (at the 8th Hole, a 334-yard Par 4) and three pars (at 477-yard Par 5 10th Hole, and #6 and #14, both Par 3s). I was very, very happy to break 100 on my first attempt at this course! I guess the bit of practicing I have been doing is paying off. I'm really starting to get accustomed to the new hybrids and wedges. I used a hybrid, particularly my 20-degree 3 Hybrid off of several of the shorter Par 4s.

One thing that was really cool today at Wyncote was while we were playing, an episode of Inside Golf was being shot. This is a local golf program that airs Saturday nights at 6 p.m. on cable's Comcast SportsNet. They were interviewing the owner behind the 5th Green as we were playing the hole. It was the only time I was in a bunker all day; I played out of a fairway bunker about 80 yards out and reached the green! If you get to watch Inside Golf and see the episode on Wyncote, look for me, I'm the one wearing a red shirt, white shorts, and a white TaylorMade visor.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Round of Golf at John F. Byrne

John F. Byrne Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 4883, Par: 67
Score: 46/49 = 95
Date: June 23, 2007

I played a round today at John F. Byrne Golf Club, a City of Philadelphia-owned golf course in Northeast Philadelphia. It is probably the longest and toughest track I've played so far this year. I play there 1-2 times per season. I am always happy to break 100 there, especially with the two Par 4s at #9 and 18; both play over a creek at about 150 yards off the tee and are severely uphill to greens that are well bunkered and slope back to front. I played in a threesome with Sean and Dennis, who I teamed up with on the first hole. We were joined by a fourth for the last five holes.

Early in the round, I had trouble with my tee shots hanging a bit to the right, but that got a bit better as the round progressed, although it never totally went way. I only used driver on five holes: #s 9, 10, 12, 16 and 18. I used my 3 hybrid off several holes with some good results. I was really happy with the two Par 5s, #12 and 16, which I played in two over par, despite some really bad drives. On #12, I hit my 4 Wood from the fairway for the first time (about 230+ yards out) and came up about 10-15 yards short of the green. My chipping was pretty good today and I putted reasonably well on some of the fastest greens I've played so far.

This was a good warm-up round for my two golf dates this coming week. Tuesday I will be playing at Wyncote Golf Club for the first time. Wyncote is a links-style course, even though it is in southern Chester County. I expect I'll be able to play a lot of run-up shots into the greens there and may be hitting more woods and hybrids off the tee. On Friday, I will be playing Jeffersonville Golf Club, which is a Donald Ross-designed course in West Norriton Township, Montgomery County. Ross designed such notable courses as Pinehurst No.2, Seminole, Inverness, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills. Over $2 million dollars has been spent in recent years to return Jeffersonville to its original Ross layout. I expect it to be a tight course, greens that have trouble if you go over them, and unexpected hazards.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Some Recognition for The Muni Golfer

I got a shout-out on a really, really great golf blog, I read this blog almost every day and he does a really great job. In fact, golfblogger can partly be considered some of the inspiration behind The Muni Golfer. I only hope that my blog can be half as good as that one. If you haven't even checked it out, I strongly urge you to do so!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Round of Golf at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: 50/46 = 96
Date: June 15, 2007

I played a full round of holes at Juniata Golf Club this afternoon. The weather was sunny and hot to start, but grew overcast and cooler during the Back Nine. I played the Front Nine by myself, but was joined by Pat, an older gentleman for the Back. Consistency off the tee was a problem during the first nine holes, but I got better on the back.

The new hybrids are really helping my game. On #13, I hit the 6 hybrid and it was a green in regulation, which led to a Par. On #16, I had about 158 yards out of the rough. I choked down on the 4 hybrid, played it back a bit in my stance and actually hit it over the green! A nice chip to 6 inches saved another Par. On #17, I had about 145 yards out of deep rough (it took me a while to even find my ball). I hit the 6 hybrid and manged to bounce it up on the green.

The new Solus wedges played really well also. especially the 59 degree wedge. I hit it out of the rough on #3 to about 10 feet. On #9, I hit the 53 degree wedge from 80 yards to about 15 feet (I hit my best drive of the day on #9). But at #10 came the real eye-opener. I pushed my 6 hybrid right of the green and had 3 small pine trees between me and green. I opened up the 59 degree wedge, played the ball up in my stance, and hit a flop shot over the pines to 21 feet! I was amazed how the ball hit on the green and practically stopped!

The worst hole of the day was #15, the short Par 3 that runs along Wyoming Avenue. I have pull-hooked the ball over the fence and onto the street on several occasions and I sometimes have a tendency to worry about that when I stand on the tee. Today was a perfect example. I wasn't committed to my shot, fearing the pull-hook, so I eased up and hit a shank waaaaaaaaaay right and in front of the 12th tee. I tried to hit a gap wedge over the trees and just nipped the top branches, causing the ball to fall back at me. I tried again to hit it through the trees; again a branch knocked the ball back at me. Nine shots later, the ball was in the hole. Lesson: you must be 100 percent committed to the shot you are about to play.

Overall, it was fun to be out playing today. I played well on a about half of the holes. There's plenty of room for improvement, but some the chipping and putting practice I've done has paid off I think. I need to continue to do that. Also, I plan to dig out my Momentus Swing Trainer to keep myself in better rhythm between rounds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Wedges

My new Solus wedges arrived yesterday and I took them to Juniata Golf Club this evening to try them out. I did some chipping around the putting green for about 25 minutes. These wedges were pretty good. The infomercials that I've seen and the online reviews were pretty accurate. They seemed to put a fair amount of spin on the ball, even coming out of some really nasty lies. Several times the chips left me with what would have been a fairly makable putt. I didn't get a chance to hit any full shots with the wedges, but I can hardly wait for that opportunity. If I can develop some consistency in my short game, I might be able to score a little better and lower my handicap some.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Trying to Get My Season Started

Well, I didn't get a round in again this weekend, which is not helping my game. So far, I have had a tough time getting out on the course on a consistent basis. I feel like a PGA Tour player who has just graduated from Q School and is having a hard time getting into the fields of the early tournaments. But hopefully, I'll start being able to play on a more regular basis, which will bring some needed consistency to my game. In the meantime, I will continue to take advantage of opportunities to practice. Wednesday night I hope to work a bit on my short game--chipping and putting--at Juniata Golf Club.

Speaking on my short game, I have never been a good player with a sand or lob wedge. I recently read about the Solus Wedges and they sounded like a piece of equipment that could help my short game. Today I order two Solus Wedges: 53 and 59 degrees. These wedges have a unique sole design that allows higher handicapped player such as myself to open the blade a little more with the skulled shots that result from trying this with more conventional-soled wedges. The milled grooves also impart extra spin on the ball more easily, making it easier to stop pitches and chips. They are also perimeter weighted, which is a plus. I should receive the wedges tomorrow and look forward to testing them out Wednesday night.

Saturday night, I continued to expand my golf wardrobe. I love Father's Day because all of the men's clothing is on big-time sales. My wife and I stopped at the Cherry Hill Mall, where I went to JC Penney's. I picked up three pairs of St. John's Bay khaki shorts, which I love wearing on the course, as well as a PGA golf shirt with Dry Fit. I had previously picked up a PGA Mock Polo with Dry Fit. These shirts should be pretty comfortable to wear during a round now that the humid weather is here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

9 Holes of Practice

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa.
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Score: Practice Round
Date: June 5, 2007

I got to play nine holes of a practice round last night. It only took me one hour and thirty minutes to get around the front nine. Parred the two Par 3s; Holes #1 and #8. Missed a short par putt at #9. The holes where I struggled the most were the ones where I didn't get off the tee very well. I continue to experiment with my new Alpha Golf hybrids and so so far, I'm quite pleased. An example would be #5, where I had about 140 yards out of the rough to the green into a strong, gust wind. Under normal conditions, I would hit a 7 iron, but knew I couldn't get it there with the wind. I took my 6-hybrid, choked down slightly and hit a three-quarters shot that landed 10 yards right of the green almost pin high. I look forward to getting the chance to use these clubs from the fairway and off the tee on longer Par 3s. Putting and chipping wasn't too bad last night, but the greens at Juniata continue to run very slow.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Tales from Q School...

I have just finished reading John Feinstein's latest golf book, Tales from Q School. It was a very entertaining read, especially for someone like me who hates to read books. The book follows the 2005 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, affectionately know as Q School. The book offers a very indepth and behind-the-scenes look at what these players go through trying to get, or in some instances retain, playing privileges on the PGA Tour. There are stories about players ranging from past Major winners to for PGA Tour winners to college players to club pros. After reading their stories, I've realized that at Q School, even the most accomplished PGA Tour veteran can feel like I do standing on the first tee of a weekend round with some friends or playing the back nine with a twosome the starter paired you up with on the first tee. It has also been a lot of fun the past few weeks while I've reading this book to watch the Nationwide Tour and see several of the players profiled in Feinstein's book.

I had previously read Feinstein's first golf book, A Good Walk Spoiled, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wondered if this latest entry would be as good and let me tell you, Tales from Q School didn't disappoint. Several years ago, I purchased the paperback edition of Feinstein's second golf book, The Majors, which chronicles the 1998 Masters, U.S. and British Opens, and PGA Championship. Unfortunately, I never really made an effort to read it. After finishing Tales from Q School tonight, I have dug out The Majors and eagerly look forward to reading it.

If you are a golf fan like me, I highly recommend reading any of John Feinstein's golf books.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

No Golf Today...

Well, I was going to play golf today, but we're having our kitchen remodeled and we really needed to purchase the appliances (stove, microwave/convection oven and dish washer). The weather forecast was iffy at best, so I bagged golf to go appliance shopping with my wife. I think, if I get home early enough from work on Monday or Tuesday, I will try to head to Juniata Golf Club for a quick 9 holes or some putting/chipping practice.

While we were at Sears this afternoon, I did purchase another golf shirt--An Arrow polo shirt with a reddish floral design. Guess it reminds me a bit of what my favorite golfer, Duffy Waldorf, wears.

New Strap for My Golf Bag

Two summers ago I bought a really great carry golf bag; the Sun Mountain 3.5L. As I stated on here before, I always try to walk when playing golf, so I use a carry stand bag. The Sun Mountain is great because in only weighs 3.5 lbs., has plenty of pocket space for accessories, as well as a holder for a water bottle. I recommend this golf bag to everyone. The only feature I don't like, is the EZ-Fit Dual Strap. I think it is modeled after the Izzo Dual Strap system, but it just doesn't work for me on this bag. I have pretty narrow shoulders and the loops on the bag that the strap goes through are too far apart for me, causing the inner edges of the straps to "dig" into my shoulders close to my neck. I had previously owned the Sun Mountain Lightning bag, which had a Dual X Strap system which I liked very much. It is comfortable and versatile, especially when you only wanted to slip the strap over one shoulder to carry the bag a short distance. I recently noticed the newer models of the 3.5L have the X Dual Strap. Well, the other day, I e-mailed Sun Mountain to see if the Dual X Strap would fit on the 3.5L model that I own. They e-mailed me back that I should call their customer service. I did, and lo and behold, the Dual X Strap will fit my 3.5L! I asked the customer service rep if I could purchase one through her and she said yes, they cost $15. So I placed an order for one. Better than paying $139 for a new bag! I can't wait until it arrives.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Putting Practice

Since my wife had something to do after work tonight, and I had to go and pick up cat food, I decided to grab my putter and a few wedges and stop off at Juniata Golf Club for some putting and chipping practice. I spent about 35 minutes on and and around greens. I really didn't structure my practice, but something is better than nothing. One thing I did try to work on was my putting routine; lining up the putts, looking at the line from behind the ball, taking a few practice strokes, then putting. I think I may have figured out a way to inexpensively build a putting track using pvc pipe. Watch for a future post to see if I had any success. In the meantime, I need to figure out a practice routine for my short game that will help me get the most out of my practice time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


When I play golf, I always try to walk, unless forced to take a cart. I feel it is good exercise, plus, my game is always better when I walk. I am able to go over strategy, think about my next shot, and most importantly, carry ALL my clubs to the ball. This is especially important, since, if you get dropped off at your ball by your partner in the cart and only have a few clubs with you, you're limited to those options. Likewise around the greens; it prevents you having to carry a wide variety of wedges, putter, etc. from the cart and there is little chance of leaving a club behind.

I have a Sun Mountain 3.5L stand bag, which is great. It is very lightweight and has plenty of room for my clubs and accessories. It even has a convenient pouch for carrying a bottle of water. The only thing I don't like about this bag is the double straps. Because I don't have wide shoulders, it is too wide for me and after awhile, it begins to hurt my shoulders. I am going to have to look and see if I can replace the straps with something more suitable. If not, I may need to purchase the newest version of 3.5L, which has a better shoulder strap system.

Speaking of walking, my wife and I are trying to get into a walking regiment a few nights per week. I really believe this will help me get in better shape for walking when I play golf, and that can only benefit my game. Right now, we have been walking around Lincoln High School in Mayfair. It's about 3 miles around and takes us about 45 minutes, which is ideal.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Practice Round

Bethlehem Golf Club Executive Course
Bethlehem, Pa.
Yards: 4906, Par: 68
Score: Practice Round
Date: May 26, 2007

My Sunday golf with Brian Morris was canceled on Friday, so I played a practice round at Bethlehem Golf Club's Executive Course on Saturday afternoon when we arrived at my sister-in-law's house near Easton, Pa. The Executive Course was a great opportunity for me to work on my game, especially the new hybrids and the 4 wood. I was really pleased with how these clubs performed. The 4 wood was good off the tee and the hybrids were really good from some squirrely lies in the rough and off the tee. The greens had been aerated, so putting was iffy. Because the greens there are elevated and small, I had ample opportunity to practice my chipping. I worked a bit on opening the blade of my sand wedge to land the ball softer and the results were promising. I played some holes very well, some okay, and some pretty poorly. But the practice was good and I feel I am gaining some confidence for the rest of the season.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New 4 Wood

I ordered an Adams Redline RPM 4 Wood from last week and it arrived today. It has 17 degrees of loft and will be replacing my 3 Wood in the bag. I talked with my Brian, the husband of wife's friend Noreen, tonight about golfing on Sunday at Fox Hollow in Quakertown, Pa. They are having a barbecue for Memorial Day and Noreen's birthday, so timing might be tough. Brian is going to call to try and get a tee time for around 11 a.m., so we'll see what happens. I might have an opportunity to play in Bethlehem, Pa., on Saturday, since we are going to visit my wife's sister overnight. They have a great public course in Bethlehem, as well as a very good short, or executive, course, which is what I would probably play. I have found the short course to be great for practice, and at this point in the season, some practice rounds certainly wouldn't hurt.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

No Golf Today...

I started with a cold on Friday, which really has me feeling blah. Still I was determined to play today. I figured I could at least grind out nine holes at Juniata Golf Club. But, I guess it was a good omen when I arrived and found the course closed for an outing. I came back home and slept on the couch for a few hours, then watched the Phillies and the final round of the AT&T Classic, which Zack Johnson won in a playoff. I am really disappointed that I didn't get to play, but the rest probably did me good. I vow to try and at least go one night this week to practice on the putting green.

Last night, however, I did add a few new pieces to my golfing wardrobe. My wife and I went to Boscov's in the Neshaminy Mall. They were having a nice sale, so I picked up two pairs of PGA Tour shorts (white and blue) and PGA Tour mock polo shirt in red, which is made from Dry-fit material to help you stay dry and cool when playing in sumer heat and humidity. I really like wearing the mock polos when I play, and I think I might have to try to pick another before the sale ends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Equipment

I'm really excited. I've taken a new philosophy into my game recently and it is reflected in my equipment. I have been intrigued by Champion's Tour golfer Dana Quigley and his move to a majority of hybrids in place of his long, middle, and even now, some short irons. Realizing that I can no longer effectively hit my long irons (I had dumped the 3 iron ages ago), I decided to follow suit. I already use a hybrid in place of my 5 wood (a Nickent 3DX DC Utility, 19 degrees) and had put a hybrid in place of my 4 iron to start this season.

Well, I started researching a few weeks ago what Quigley had done. They have a great clip from The Golf Channel of Quigley explaining how he replaced his irons with hybrids. He said it was almost like stealing or cheating. Hey, if pro golfers are doing it, it is time for me to check my ego at the door! I have decided to replace my 4, 5 and 6 irons with hybrids.

After some more research, I found a golf company, Alpha Golf, who made a hybrid that did what I was looking for. If you've never heard of Alpha Golf, you are not alone. However, research revealed that they are very big in the competitive long drive field. Everyone review I read stated that they made quality heads, the same as the "big name companies" like TaylorMade, Callaway, etc.

The Alpha RX hybrid came in the required lofts: 22 degrees, 26 degrees and 30 degrees; almost identical to my TaylorMade 4, 5 and 6 irons. I had them custom built with steel shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips. With minimal offset (very important for me since I already hit a draw), they look really sweet. They arrived last week and were in my bag for my 14 practice holes on Saturday at Walnut Lane Golf Club.

Here's how they performed first time out:

1st Hole: After losing my tee shot and taking a drop, I went to hit the 5 hybrid from the left rough, caught a tree and caromed to the right rough. With just over 150 yards to the green (my normal 6 iron shot), I hit the 6 hybid. It produced a nice, high draw that landed on the front of the green and rolled to about 6 feet. I made the put for a bogey 5.

2nd Hole: 186 yards to a smallish green that slopes back to front. With the pin on the right, I hit the 4 hybrid, a high draw that landed just off the left of the green, pin high. A mediocre chip and 2 putts for a bogey 4. Not too bad of a start.

5th Hole: 184 yard Par 3 that plays to a slight dogleg left over a ravine. Bad alignment caused me to hit the ball straight right. But the ball flew well off the club.

9th Hole: Two poor tee shots with the 3 Wood left me with about 170 yards and the 5 hybrid in my hands. I turned it over which left me left of the green and virtually no shot.

12th Hole: 317 yard Par 4, dogleg left. Again, the tee shot is over a steep ravine. I hit the 4 hybrid off the tee, caught it a little thin, but ended up with a 9 iron in my hands from the left rough.

I even used the hybrids to chip a few times from around the greens. My overall assessment? I think these clubs will be good for my game. I hit some good shots, some fair shots, and one really bad shot. But overall, once I get my swing more up-and-down as it has been successfully in the past, I think the 4,5 and 6 hybrid will make my overall game a bit better.

I also want to mention that I bought a new putter last October. It is the Odyssey XG #9, the same model used by Phil Mickelson. I feel like I have been rolling the ball tremendously well with putter. It really instills confidence when I'm standing over a putt. I would recommend it to anyone.