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.