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.