Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rambling Around Ramblewood Country Club

Ramblewood Country Club
Mt. Laurel, NJ
White/Blue Course
Yards: 3211/3002 - 6213
Par: 36/36 - 72
Rating: 70.1, Slope: 127
Score: 49/45 = 94
Date: July 28, 2008

I crossed the Delaware River into the Garden State to try my luck at Ramblewood Country Club, which still has the look and feel of an early 1960s suburban country club. The original 18 holes at Ramblewood, the Red and White courses, were designed by the legendary architect Ed Ault and opened in 1962. They feature long fairways with large greens that have subtle undulations. Water and hazards come into play on 13 of the 18 holes. An additional nine holes, the Blue course, was added nearly 10 years later. It is shorter and more tree-lined, with tighter, narrow fairways and medium-sized greens. The course was built through the Ramblewood community of Mt. Laurel and the backyards of the homes are adjacent to the fairways and greens of many holes.

White/Blue Scorecard for Ramblewood Country Club

For my round, I played the White/Blue course (the Red was closed). Because of the heavy rainstorms that had hit the area the day before, the fairways were very wet and there was little roll on tee shots, making my first nine play even longer. The greens, which were a bit slower at first, got quicker as the sun and 90+ degree temperatures dried them out.

The 1st Hole on the White Course, a 384-yard Par 4

I found the course to be in pretty good condition. Tee boxes were well maintained, as were the fairways and greens. There were some brown patches, but they were always off the main portion of the fairways. Drinking water was also abundant on the course and the cart girls came by several times.

The approach to the 7th Hole,
a 502-yard Par 5 on the White Course

Because of the wet conditions, distance off the tee was a problem and I seemed to be hitting longer irons for my second shots on the White course. An 8 at the 2nd Hole due to a topped tee shot into a hazard put me in an early hole, and although my short game seemed to put in good spots, I struggled to hit the ball online or hard enough with my putts. I finished out the opening nine with two 5s for a 49.

The 9th Hole on the White Course
viewed from behind the Green

The Blue course, which I played as my back nine, was much more consistent. After three-putting the 1st Hole for a bogey 4, I made par on the short 303-yard 2nd Hole. A pulled tee shot out of bounds and a fat wedge approach left me staggering with a 9 at the 520-yard Par 5 3rd Hole. But I regrouped to shoot all 4s and 5s the rest of the way in, including pars at the Par 5 8th and Par 3 9th.

187-yard 1st Hole on the Blue Course

My back nine 45 left me with a 94 for my round, which was especially satisfying given the wet conditions and the fact that I was not striking the ball as well as I had been. My 3 woods have been particularly disappointing and the search goes on for one I can hit conistantly, But I was really pleased with my short game; I often chipped within makable distance and got out of three bunkers with relative ease despite the heavy, wet sand. Ramblewood charged me $43 to walk on a Monday afternoon, which may have been a little high given the wet conditions when I started, but it was an enjoyable afternoon on a very enjoyable course.

The approach to the 5th Green,
a 359-yard Par 4 on the Blue Course

More images of Ramblewood Country Club:

The 6th Hole on the White Course, a 196-yard Par 3

The 6th Green on the Blue Course
as seen from the 7th Tee Box

The tee shot on the 333-yard 7th Hole on the Blue Course

The tunnel under S. Church Street which leads
to and from
Holes 3 through 8 on the Blue Course

The 9th Hole on the Blue Course, a short 307-yard Par 4
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Who's Your Caddy

Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly gives a unique look into what it takes to serve as a pack mule, psychologist, confident, coach, and even travel agent -- inotherwords, a caddy -- to the best golfers in the world in his book, Who's Your Caddy? Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Retrobates of Golf. Reilly convinced such golfers as Tommy Aaron, Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, Tom Lehman, David Duval, Casey Martin, and Jill McGill, as well as business tycoon Donald Trump, spiritualist Deepak Chopra, gambler Dewey Tomko, comedian Bob Newhart and blind golfer Bob Andrews to let him loop for them in every thing from The Masters to a PGA event to a course opening to a high-stakes betting match to a casual round. In his own entertaining style, Reilly finds out what it is like to lug a staff bag around 18 holes while trying to meet the wishes, needs and requirements of his golfer, while trying to take notes and ask questions at the same time. There are some very funny moments in the book. Like when Jack Nicklaus advised, while Reilly was caddying for him at the opening of the Nicklaus-designed The Summit at Cordillera in Vail, Colorado, "Don't quit your regular job." Imagine Reilly's surprise when he shows up at Jill McGill's motel room and her caddy answers the door while McGill comes out of the shower wrapped in a towel. Or when John Daly revealed to Reilly why he is known as "Long John" not only for how far he hits a golf ball. And learn why high-stakes golf gamblers carry as many clubs as they want and put gobs of Vasoline on the their clubfaces. This book is a very entertaining, light short read that I highly recommend for all golf fans.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Disappointment of FDR

Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2865/2855 - 5720
Par: 35/34 - 69
Rating: 63.9, Slope: 105
Score: 43/54 = 97
Date: July 19, 2008

Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club is one of the four City of Philadelphia-owned golf courses that is now being managed by Billy Casper Golf. After my first round there, I can say that they have a lot of work ahead of them. Built as WPA project during the Great Depression, the course opened in 1940 and is located just across from the stadium complex in South Philadelphia. FDR is affectionately know as "The Lakes" to native South Philadelphians. Although many of the holes are straightaway with generous fairways and larger sized green, FDR does offer some rather challenging holes (#s 4, 5, 10, 11, 14, and 15) that can put some large numbers on your scorecard, as well as canal that runs through the course is features on no less than nine holes.

The FDR Scorecard

I have always enjoyed playing at FDR, and I was optimistic about what Billy Casper Golf would do to make FDR even better. What I found during today's round was disappointing. Tee boxes lacking grass or overgrown with crab grass, fairways that were spotty and often undistinguishible from the rough, and while the majority of the greens were okay, #14 had large areas that were nothing but dirt. And at 2:30 p.m., they charged me $31 to walk! Conditions were pretty much the same, or slightly better, and prices were cheaper before Billy Casper Golf came on board. In all fairness, the starter did tell me that they were working on the irrigation system and having problems and I would find areas where there was ground under repair; it seems everytime they fix a leak, they find three or four others. But to me, for $31 to walk (twi-light rates don't start until 4 p.m. according to a sign in the clubhouse) they have a lot more work to do.

The 464 Yard, Par 5 3rd Hole

As for my round, I played in extreme heat and humidity, and like before, it was a tale of two nines. I started out steady, but couldn't seem to make anything happen, although I did manage to par the 3rd Hole, a 464 Yard Par 5. At the 4th I ran into my usual trouble. Tee shots must be kept to the left side of the fairway and your approach shot my clear a large patch of reeds that surround the canal anywhere from 120-145 yards to the green. I, of course, hit my tee shot well left behind a tree, pitched out, then skulled my third shot into the reeds. I did manage to one-putt the green...for a 7. The 175 Yard Par 3 5th Hole features a very narrow green squeezed between two bunkers. At the 6th, I teamed up with Dale, who was playing solo behind me, and immediately went crazy, parring the next four holes and just missing birdies at #7, 8 and 9. I went out in a season best 43.

The approach shot to 4th Green.
The flag is barely visible behind the reeds and marsh grass

The back nine at FDR is where the course begins to bare its teeth and I began to quickly run out of steam and energy. At the 12th Hole, after a 7 and 6 on the first two holes of the back nine, I had to finish out my round riding in Dale's cart. But my, energy, as well as my legs and swing were gone. I limped home mercifully in 54, managing to rally for a 5 and par 4 on the last two holes, to keep my score under 100 despite 6 pars on the scorecard.

The Canal that wanders through FDR

The challenging final six holes at FDR:

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 pushed a 9-iron from 129 yards, but left it short right in the swale. I chipped long and three-putted for a 5.

The flag sits well behind the bunker at the Par 3 13th Hole

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 back to front, although the front portion of the green mostly dirt. After hitting short into the trees on the left, I had to pitch out and then fatted an 8-iron short right. I chipped up and three-putted for a 7.

The 14th Green in need of repair

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 topped my 3-wood off the tee and had to pitch the ball down the fairway. I tried to cut the dogleg from there with a 4-iron, but clipped a tree and landed about 10 yards right of the green. My chip to the green hit a pine tree branch and dropped behind the tree, where I tried to hop a pitching wedge over a bunker with no luck. I splashed out of the bunker, then lipped out on my second putt for a "snowman" 8.

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 at all and went into the brush on the left side of the dogleg. I took a drop and punched across the sloping fairway, then hit an 8-iron to the back of the green, then three-putted for a 7.

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-iron dead right and into the canal to the right of the willow tree. I took a drop, chipped on and two-putted for a 5.

The view from behind the 17th Green looking back toward to Tee Box

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 hit a nice draw that started right but came back into the fairway and rolled just into the rough 20 yards short of the green. I chipped up to about 10 feet and left my birdie putt inches short for a round-ending par.

The closing 18th Hole, a 283 Yard Par 4. Notice the yellow sign and ground conditions in the lower right of the picture.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back to the Practice Tee

Fishers Glen Driving Range
4717 Fishers Lane
Philadelphia, Pa

Ben Hogan once said the secret to his game was in the dirt. After playing what I thought was a terrible game off the tee last Sunday at Bensalem Township Country Club, I headed back to the practice range at Fishers Glen hoping to find the secret on the astro-turf mats. I used my homemade 'T' square to help with alignment as I hit a small bucket of about 45 balls, hoping to re-groove my swing off the tee. I warmed up with a few sand wedges, then alternated five balls a piece between my Momentus Power Hitter and TaylorMade Burner Driver. I also hit seven 3-Woods off the matt, as well as five a piece between my 2- and 4-Hybrids. I think using the Power Hitter helped settle my tempo, which had definitely gotten too fast on Sunday. Overall, I struck the ball pretty well tonight and regained some of my confidence.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Doing the Slooooow Shuffle at Bensalem

Bensalem Township Country Club
Bensalem, Pa
Yards: 2759/3049 - 5808
Par: 35/35 - 70
Rating: 66.6, Slope: 114
Score: 48/50 = 98
Date: July 13, 2008

Impressed with the conditions at Bensalem Township Country Club last October, I decided to return for another round. Built in 1960 as a private club, it has long been open to the public. But since Bensalem Township acquired the facility a few years ago, conditions have dramatically improved. One thing that has remained a constant, however, is its legacy of slow play. On Sunday, teeing off at 2:30 p.m., it took me and my two playing companions five-and-a-half hours to complete our round! It is very difficult to get into any type of rhythm with your game and keep your mental focus when you are continuously waiting for one or two groups ahead of you on every hole. The starter does a more than adequate job of making sure the group ahead of you is practically on the green before sending you off the first tee, and the first two holes play with very little delay, but at the 3rd Hole, a straightaway 487-yard Par 5 that has trees all the way down the right side and sloping terrain to the left of the fairway, the backup always begins. From that point on, it is a looooong, sloooow trek around the course. Overlooking the slow pace of play, Bensalem is well maintained for a municipal course. And it is challenging enough to keep your attention.

Bensalem Township Country Club Scorecard

I didn't exactly bring my "A" game to Bensalem. My swing tempo was short and fast and I pull-hooked a lot of my tee shots. The crisp ball-striking that has been a hallmark of my game recently was also AWOL. But, despite five 7s and a "snowman," I managed my game well enough -- especially my short game -- to get around in 98; the first time I've broken 100 at this course.

As I stated earlier, Bensalem offers enough challenges for even the best golfer. Several fairways are tight and tree-lined, with large to medium-sized, quick greens. Here's my hole-by-hole description:

1st Hole, 311 Yards, Par 4 -- Bensalem starts off rather mildly with a short 311yard Par 4 that doglegs right. After a blind tee shot, a short wedge is all that is left to the green, but don't go long or left.

2nd Hole, 334 Yards, Par 4 -- An uphill tee shot on this slight dogleg right. Approach shots must find their way through a chute of trees to an undulating green.

3rd Hole, 487 Yards, Par 5 -- A straightaway Par 5 with tree along the right and terrain that slopes away from the fairway on the left. A long narrow green is protected bunkers. Missing the green left or right is not advisable.

4th Hole, 146 Yards, Par 3 -- This green juts out of the side of a hill. Miss the green on the left or long and ball travels down an embankment and bogey becomes a very good score.

The 4th Hole, a 146 Yard Par 3

5th Hole, 309 Yards, Par 4 -- This short Par 4 runs parallel to #3. Trees protect the right side, while the left has trees, bushes and terrain that slopes away from the fairway. The hole doglegs left about 40 yards from the green.

6th Hole, 183 Yards, Par 3 -- This hole provides a slight breather. A straightaway tee shot to a large green that slopes right to left. I hit the green and two-putted from distance for a par.

The Green at the 6th Hole

7th Hole, 317 Yards, Par 4 -- The hole doglegs left at a 90-degree angle 200 yards off the tee and the fairway slopes away from incoming tee shots. The short approach shot is downhill. Run through the fairway too much and trees can block second shots. I hit a hybrid off the tee and had a gap wedge from the right rough. Two-putted from 12 feet for par.

8th Hole, 316 Yards, Par 4 -- This hole demands that your tee shot find the fairway, but if you take too much club you could find yourself in the rough, or worse yet, the creek that crosses about 40 yards in front of the green. Second shot is slightly uphill to a sloping green.

The 8th Green Looking Back Across to the Fairway

9th Hole, 356 Yards, Par 4 -- Uphill blind tee shot has a generous landing area, but trees on the right and O.B. on the left. Second shots are to a large, relatively flat green with bunkers on either side.

10th Hole, 361 Yards, Par 4 -- Slightly uphill tee shot to a wide fairway that doglegs left. Stay to the right side, however, as trees can block approaches from the left side. The green is wide open and udulating.

11th Hole, 144 Yards, Par 3 -- A large deep bunker guards the front left portion of the green. Bail out short right and you could find another deep bunker. The green slopes right to left.

A Deep Bunker Protects the Par 3 11th Hole

12th Hole, 335 Yards, Par 4 -- This Par 4 features a wide fairway that doglegs left. A good tee shot will leave a mid-to short iron for your approach to a sloping green.

The Approach Shot to the 12th Green

13th Hole, 390 Yards, Par 4 -- Blind downhill tee shot with O.B. left and trees right. Don't miss the green long or right on your approach shot.

14th Hole, 205 Yards, Par 3 -- Your long uphill tee shot is over a ravine and creek to a green that slopes from back to front. Bunkers guard the left front and right side.

The Intimidating Tee Shot at the Par 3 14th Hole

15th Hole, 383 Yards, Par 4 -- Your slightly uphill tee shot goes back over the ravine and creek to a fairway that is open on the left, but has tree down the right. A mid-iron approach is left to one of the largest greens on the course. I hit driver to the left side of the fairway, but hit my gap wedge about 20 yards short and pitched to six foot. Putted for par.

16th Hole, 475 Yards, Par 5 -- The tight fairway is tree-lined and doglegs left before going downhill into a ravine and creek. A lay-up, usually from a slightly downhill lie, over the ravine is almost required. Your third shot is uphill and doglegs right to a sloping, bunker-protected green.

17th Hole, 377 Yards, Par 4 -- Another slightly uphill blind tee shot over the creek to a fairway that doglegs slightly right. The green is open and undulating.

18th Hole, 379 Yards, Par 4 -- A generous fairway that doglegs right and begins to slope down to the creek. Approach shots must clear the creek to a green that slopes from back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers on the left and right. If a banquet is taking place in the clubhouse, trying playing this hole with a gallery!
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mid-Year Review of My Golf Resolutions/Goals

Since the calendar now says July, it's a good time to review the golf resolutions, or goals, I set for myself back in January. I ambitiously made 10 resolutions. Here's an update on where I stand in keeping or meeting those resolutions/goals:

1) Get myself physically ready to play golf before the season starts -- I got a late start to the season and while I did try to do some things, I was not really in the best physical shape when I did finally get on the course. My wife and I have been occasionally walking at night, so this has helped me a bit, but we need to do it on a more regular basis.

2) Play a minimum of 30 regulation and practice rounds combined -- I've played less than 10 regulation and practice rounds so far, so unless I play deep into the fall, this resolution/goal may be tough to achieve.

3) Play those rounds on at least 10 golf courses, with at least three being courses I've never played before -- Although I have played less than 10 regulation and practice rounds, I have managed to play them on six different courses, two on which -- Rock Manor and Center Square -- I played for the first time, so this one is well within reach.

Rock Manor Golf Club

4) Play more rounds with family and friends -- While I've made attempts to play more with friends, it hasn't happened as much as I would like.

5) Lower handicap to under 25 -- My handicap is down almost two strokes since the season started and now stands at 26.5, so this one is achievable if I continue my good play.

6) Emphasis on course management -- I'm not taking as many low percentage shots as in the past and the fact that my handicap has dropped is evidence that I am managing my game much better on the course.

7) Practice my short game, including putting, chipping and pitching -- Except for some putting on the carpet, and some warm-up wedges at the driving range, I have not practiced my my short game at all. My putting has been pretty bad this year, particularly from five feet and in.

8) Visit the driving range more regularly -- Early in the spring, when I wasn't getting out on the golf course, I was visiting the driving range weekly. In April and May, I went to the driving range -- Fishers Glen and Burholme Golf Center -- five times, about four times more than I normally do in a season.

Fisher Glen Driving Range

9) Break 90 on a course of Par 70 or higher -- If not for a missed seven foot putt on the 18th Hole at Center Square, I would have already achieved this one. But it did give me confidence that I CAN do it!

18th Hole at Center Square

10) Have FUN playing -- My handicap is going down which means my scores are going down, so how can I NOT be having fun on the golf course?

So, as you can see, I have some things to be optimistic about, and some things still to work on in the second have of the year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old School 3-Wood

The fairway wood in my bag has been on a carousel this season as I have alternated between various TaylorMade 3-woods and an Adams Golf 4-wood. While in Rehoboth Beach over the July 4th holiday, I stopped into Ruddo's Golf, where I found and purchased a used Orlimar Tri-Metal 15-degree 3-wood for $30. All I had to do was put a new grip on it. Designed by clubmaker Jesse Ortiz, who now designs clubs for Bobby Jones Golf, the Tri-Metal debuted in 1997. It's extremely shallow face design came on the heels of the highly successful Adams Tight Lies fairway wood and the Tri-Metal was an instant success, finding its way in the bags of touring pros and average golfers worldwide. The club won rave reviews for its distance and the ease with which it could be hit off the fairway. Riding the popularity of the Tri-Metal, Orlimar grew too big too fast and was eventually sold the golf retailer King Par. Although the Orlimar name lives on, the Tri-Metal has all but disappeared from the golfing retail landscape, although they can still be found occasionally in the used club racks at golf shops or online. I have a 17-degree Orlimar Tri-Metal 4-wood that I put in the bag from time to time. I am planning to give this 3-wood an audition in hopes that it finds permanent residence in my golf bag for the rest of the season.

While at Ruddo's I also purchased on of the new TaylorMade NFL Nighthawk Brushed Twill Caps that feature the colors and logo of your favorite pro football team. The caps have TaylorMade across the front, the name of the team along the left side of the bill, the team logo on the left side panel and the TaylorMade "T" icon on the back. Of course, I bought one featuring my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. The hat will be fun to wear once training camp opens in a few weeks and during the fall. E-A-G-L-E-S....EAGLES!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Four Ault-ernate Courses

While writing recently on this blog about the courses I have played, I discovered that I have now played four courses designed by renowned golf architect Ed Ault. Ault, who passed away in 1989, designed or co-designed over 100 golf courses. In the late 1950s, he established the golf course design firm Ault, Clarke & Associates, Ltd., which still adheres to his philosophies and standards of golf course design. Ault seemed to enjoy his most prolific period of course design in the 1960s as the merger of a young charasmatic Arnold Palmer and the infancy of televised golf began bringing the sport to the masses. The four Ed Ault courses that I have been fortunate enough to play fall into four unique and distinct categories: municipal, daily fee, public country club and private country club. Those courses are:

Juniata Golf Club: One of Philadelphia's six municipal golf courses and my home course. Opened in 1930, it was probably one of Ault's earliest designs since he would have only been 22 years old at the time. Built along the Tacony Creek, this short course, which features naturally rolling terrain, is set amongst the urban landscape of a major metropolitan city.

Center Square Golf Course: Built in 1963, this Ault-designed daily fee course sits on 148 wooded acres in the suburbs just northwest of Philadelphia. It has hosted two national championships: the 1980 and 1997 U.S. Women's Amateur Publinks Championship. I played this course two weeks ago.

Ramblewood Country Club: Designed by Ault in 1962, this Delaware Valley public country club in Mt. Laurel, N.J., features 27 championships holes set through a housing community that borders the edges of the course. Ramblewood Country Club and the surrounding homes were developed by Richard C. Goodwin, a Drexel University alumnus, who endowed the University's Richard C. Goodwin College of Professional Studies, of which my wife is an alumna. I played in several Drexel golf outings there in the mid-1990s.

Shawnee Country Club: This private country club in Milford, Del., was established in 1957 by local businessmen. Ault co-designed Shawnee with Al Jamison in 1960. The well-maintained, PGA-rated championship course sees approximately 23,000 rounds of play per year. I played this course in July 1999.

For a full list of Ed Ault-designed course, click here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A New Start for Old Landing

Old Landing Golf Course
Rehoboth Beach, Del
Yards: 2858/2972 - 5830
Par: 35/36 - 71
Rating: 67.6, Slope: 111
Score: 46/47 = 93
Date: July 4, 2008

My wife and I decided on a last minute July 4th getaway to the Delaware Beaches which gave me a chance to revisit Old Landing Golf Course in Rehoboth Beach. Opened in 1965 and located along the Rehoboth Bay, Old Landing is one of the oldest courses in the area. Although I have probably played there more than a half dozen times, my last two rounds, in 2004 and 2006, were anything but memorable experiences. Many of the fairways were more dirt than grass, as were many of the greens. And the price was usually in excess of $40...just to walk.

Rain was in the forecast for most of the holiday weekend, but July 4th dawned sunny and hot, although thunderstorms were predicted for the late afternoon. Figuring this was my best chance to get in a round, I threw my clubs in the trunk and headed for the links. I was a bit reluctant to try Old Landing again, but I'm glad I did. As I drove down Old Landing Road to the course, I could see that it was crowded, so I took this as a positive sign. I parked, changed into my golf shoes, slung my bag over my shoulders and headed to the clubhouse. The staff was friendly, which has never been a problem at Old Landing. After paying $35 to walk, I was handed a receipt to show to the starter at the first tee, the first time in my recollection that there was a starter. I took this as another positive sign.

Old Landing Golf Course Scorecard

The starter paired me up with Tony and Drew from the Washington, D.C.-area. Although this was only Drew's second time playing, we seemed to get along well and the pace of play ahead of us wasn't going to make Drew's inexperience on the links an issue. I figured there would be people out playing, but I didn't figure there would be as many as there were at Old Landing; I figured more people would take advantage of the sunshine and opt for the beach.

After we teed off, it quickly became obvious through the first three holes that they are working to improve conditions at the course. The fairways featured grass, as did the greens, although they were a bit fuzzy and very slow. By the fourth hole, we were joined by Al, a retired high school teacher from Annapolis, Maryland, who owns a nearby vacation home and is a frequent visitor to Old Landing. I commented to Al that I had not seem such conditions at the course is quite some time. He told me that the course used to lose at least two greens a season. He said the owner finally had a study done to determine why and it was discovered that salt water was killing the grass' roots. It was evident from conditions during my round that they had and were taking steps to correct the problem. Tony and Drew left the foursome after nine holes, but Al and I played the back nine. Pace of play remained a problem and it took 4.5 hours to play 18. Despite a constant breeze, it was very humid, which it usually is at Old Landing due to the closeness of Rehoboth Bay. And bugs can be a problem, so wear some repellent.

Old Landing is relatively flat, but features numerous tight, tree-lined fairways, especially on the back nine. Although Rehoboth Bay doesn't come into play, water is featured on no less than six holes. The greens range from medium to small, and several are severely sloped.

Despite three 7s on my card, I continued my good play from Center Square, making five pars during my round, including the 505-yard Par 5 12th. I had one bad stretch from holes 7 through 10, but steadied my game to shoot a consistent 46 and 47 on the two nines. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera were dead, so I was unable to take any pictures of Old Landing. But it is plain to see that Old Landing has picked itself up and is looking to again reclaim its spot as a worthy golf destination at the Delaware Shore. It may even find itself back on the list of courses for my annual Labor Day week golf itinerary.