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.