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.