Monday, August 31, 2009

Prepping for Golf in Delaware

As the Labor Day Holiday fast approaches, it's time to start prepping for my annual golf trip to Lewes, Delaware. While my wife hits the beach with a good book, I'll be hitting the links with my clubs. First up will my annual outing with my cousins on Friday. The past two years we've played at Baywood Greens. This year I'm hoping we try a different course. The Rookery or Bear Trap Dunes are two possibilities. Either way, I will probably play four rounds over the seven days I'm there. The Rookery will definitely be on my itinerary one way or another. I may return to Jonathan's Landing near Dover or head south to one of the numerous courses in Ocean City, Md.

The Lewes Beach (above) and
the Fourth Hole at The Rookery (below)

So far, I have changed the spikes in two pair of golf shoes and marked two dozen golf balls in preparing for the trip. My packing list also includes:

* TaylorMade Burner Driver
* TaylorMade Burner 3 Wood
* Golfsmith Big Gun 5 Wood
* Nickent 3DX DC Utility 2 Hybrid
* Nickent 3DX DC Ironwood 4
* TaylorMade Irons
* Solus Sand Wedges
* Snake Eyes MCS2 Putter
* Odyssey White Hot XG#9 Putter
* Two Dozen Titleist Golf Balls
* 3 Golf Gloves
* 2 Pair Golf Shoes
* Granola/Cliff Bars
* 2 Golf Shirts
* 2 Mock Polos
* 3 Pair of Shorts
* 4 Pair of Golf Socks
* Wind/Rain Shirt and Vest
* 2 Golf Visors
* 2 Golf Hats
* Sun Tan Lotion
* Elbow Support

I laundered the shorts tonight and the golf shirts will be washed tomorrow. The golf bag will be packed and ready to leave Thursday night. I am hoping to have a new set of TaylorMade irons to take on the trip.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's THAT in the Bag????

There is a half-hearted joke that you can tell someone is not a pro golfer if they have a ball retriever in their golf bag. Well, I wouldn't say that too loudly around three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who carries a ball retriever in his golf bag, as evidenced by the pictures below. While I personally don't have one in the bag, I promise that from now on, I'll never make fun of someone who does.
The ball retriever in Padraig Harrington's bag

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review: Breaking the Slump

The the way my game has gone this year compared to last, I decided to read the new book Breaking the Slump, How Great Players Survived Their Darkest Moments in Golf--And What You Can Learn From Them. Written by Jimmy Roberts of NBC Sports, the book looks at 16 golfers, plus former President George H.W. Bush (41) and Olympic athlete Dan Jansen, and tries to unlock the secrets of how they dealt with adversity in the golf games as well as their lives. Among the golfers featured are Paul Azinger, Jack Nicklaus, Scott Verplank, David Duval, Justin Rose, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Ben Crenshaw, Johnny Miller, Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Arnold Palmer, Dottie Pepper, Tom Watson, Steve Stricker and Hal Sutton. Roberts spends a chapter on each, interviewing the players about the severe down times in their games and what they did to get back to the highest level. While all of them suffered a slump in a different, their advice was pretty universal: don't panic, don't try so hard and go back to basics. The best quote in the book is from Bobby Jones, as repeated by Crenshaw: "The hardest course of all is only five inches long--the one between your ears." Another interesting observation came from Tom Watson, citing Harvey Penick: "If you have one bad round of golf, just forget about it. If you have two straight bad rounds, you might want to start thinking about it. A third consecutive bad round of golf, and it's time to get some help." While I'm not sure Breaking the Slump will get your golf game back on track, it is a very good, entertaining and easy read.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rain Causes Pain at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2805/2185 - 4990
Par: 34/31 - 65
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: 52/Front Nine
Date: August 22, 2009

I planned to give Walnut Lane Golf Club a test on Saturday, but overnight and early morning rains had me thinking that the day would be a washout. But the early afternoon, the skies had cleared enough that I convinced myself to go play a quick nine holes at Juniata Golf Club. I should have realized the mistake from the start. When I believe that I won't be able to golf, then try to play, I am unable to get myself back into playing mentally. That was never more evident than the first three holes Saturday. The course was very wet, but I usually play well in wet and rainy conditions. This was not the case at Juniata. Three lost balls and a 6-7-7 start started to a mind-numbing 52. My swing was never in sync and I started out by pulling my first two tee shots left, topping the tee shot at the second, and hitting my tee shot at the third dead right. I started overcompensating and pulling my tee shots hard left. I lost a fourth golf ball at the seventh hole. I never felt mentally in the round., although I somehow managed to make pars at the fifth and ninth holes. I will just chalk it up to one of those days and try to forget about it. I am going to try and play one more nine one evening this week as a final tune-up before packing my clubs for my golf vacation at the Delaware Shore.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New PGA Champ Has Muni Golf Roots

The new PGA Champ learned to play on a practice range

New PGA Champion Y.E. Yang, who outdueled Tiger Woods in the final round at Hazeltine on Sunday, has muni golf roots. After a knee injury forced him to give up pursuing a career as a bodybuilder, Yang was introduced to golf at age 19 when he worked picking up golf balls on the practice range at a country club in his native South Korea. He would stay after the golfers had left and work on his swing late into the night. After a mandatory two-year stint in the Korean military, Yang and his self-taught swing moved to New Zealand to pursue a career in professional golf.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

FDR in Need of Public Works

Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2865/2855 - 5720
Par: 35/34 - 69
Rating: 63.9, Slope: 105
Score: 47/42 = 89
Date: August 15, 2009

Yesterday I ventured south on I-95 to play Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club, just next to the City's Sports Complex in South Philadelphia. Built as WPA project during the Great Depression, the course opened in 1940 and is affectionately know as "The Lakes" to many native South Philadelphians. I usually play FDR once or twice a season because I like the course's layout and challenge. Last year, the course's management was taken over by Billy Casper Golf on behalf of the Fairmount Park Commission and it seemed that better times lay ahead for FDR. My initial visit last July was a disappointment, but I told myself that the management was new and they probably just needed some time.

FDR Scorecard

A little over a year later, I decided to revisit FDR and see if conditions had improved. What I found was that FDR is in need of some of the public works that built the course nearly 70 years ago. Tee boxes were in horrific condition, with several being nothing more than dirt. Many fairways had bare spots. While the rough was thick and acceptable, the grass in the fairways were in need of a mow and resembled what you would find in the first cut of rough on many other courses. I played in the early-to-late afternoon, on one of the hottest and most humid days of the summer, and was disappointed to find that several of the water coolers on the course were empty. Surely someone should have been checking them. In all fairness though, I must say that the greens at FDR were in very good shape. I give them props for this; especially for the 14th Green, which last July was half dirt. For $27 to walk at 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday, FDR is no bargain. I have equal or less to play at other courses that were in much better shape. The City needs to pressure Billy Casper to make more improvements at FDR or BCG needs to discount prices at the course until improvement are made.

The Sixth Tee Box

The area in front of the 14th Green

As for my round, I didn't hit the ball as well as I did last week at Bensalem, but I did scramble very well, which had been a big part of game last year. And I had one of my best putting rounds of the year. I put an old Snake Eyes MCS2 putter, which I have not used for over 10 years, in my bag for the round. I found myself striking my putts more aggressively yesterday, which led to several one-putt greens. This helped my score tremendously. I was particularly effective in the 5-10 ft range, which had been hurting me so often this year.
The 14th Green in 2008 (above) and 2009 (below)
I was disappointed with my game off the tee, which had been so good last week. I seemed to be hanging back and pushing the ball dead right or coming over the top and pull-hooking the ball. I was pleased however with making a birdie at the Third Hole, a 464-yard Par 5. After striping my tee shot down the right side of the fairway, I hit my 3-wood to rough in the left front of the green. I chipped to 10-ft past the hole and sank the putt for birdie. I took a lot of confidence away from my performance the past two weeks and hopefully I will continue to build on it.

The 17th Tee Box
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Showing Some Game at Bensalem

Bensalem Township Country Club
Bensalem, Pa
Yards: 2759/3049 - 5808
Par: 35/35 - 70
Rating: 68.1, Slope: 121
Score: 45/47 = 92
Date: August 8, 2009

Saturday I ventured just over the city line to test my game at Bensalem Township Country Club, a municipal course in Bensalem, Bucks County. Although play can often be notoriously slow, the conditions of the course are pretty good for a municipal-owned course, and Saturday was no exception. An outing was finishing the front nine when I arrived, but the starter, who paired me up with a twosome (Tim and Billie) and another single (John), sent us off at Hole 7 to begin our round. Play moved along, with the only delays being our own, through wayward shots. Our round lasted around five hours, which seems to be the norm at Bensalem. But it is a good layout and a good test of golf.

Bensalem Country Club Scorecard

As for my round, I had put two new clubs in the bag. I swapped out my Nickent 3DX DC Utility 2-Hybrid for the same model in a 1-Hybrid, as well as my Nickent 3DX DC Ironwood 3-Hybrid for a 3DX DC Utility 3-Hybrid. I used the 1- and 3-Hybrid several time off the tee, as well as the fairway with very good results. I also went back to my Odyssey White Hot Rossie putter. Even though I hadn't played or practiced much lately, I hit the ball solidly and generally kept the ball in play. My short game was good enough to keep me in most holes and my putting was as good as it has been in the past two months.

The green at the Par 3 Sixth Hole

I made four pars during my round; three on the front and one on the back. I started with a par at the 7th, a 317-yard par 4 that features a 90-degree leg-dogleg and a downhill approach, and ended with a par at the 6th, a 183-yard par 3. Although I did have five 6s on my card, I managed to stay away from shotting a big number on any hole except the 18th, which always gives me trouble. The 18th Hole is 379-yard Par 4 that features 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. I drove my tee shot through the fairway and had to chip out of trees. My third shot was pushed right of the green and short. I pitched on to the back of the green and faced a long downhill putt. My mind and eyes saw the putt differently, and this confusion led to a three-putt and a 7.

A large bunker protects the Par 3 Eleventh Green

I'm hoping that Saturday's showing is evidence that my game is starting to show some consistency, especially with my annual golf trip to the Delaware shore only three weeks away. I'll keep working on my game so that it hopefully peaks during this golfing getaway.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Now on Twitter

The Muni Golfer is now also on Twitter. I'm not sure how much I'll use it, but we'll see. It should provide another way to let people know about this blog. You can find me at

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Weekend Washout

Hoping to play a round on Sunday, severe thunderstorms swept through the Delaware Valley just before noon, ending any hope of making it to the course. The washout gives me a chance to rest my elbow for a week. I had three days off last week and only managed to play three holes of golf!