Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Playing Like a Fox at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2805/2185 - 4990
Par: 34/31 - 65
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: 43/43 = 86
Date: October 25, 2009

A break from the rain last Sunday allowed me to get in a round at Juniata Golf Club. It was a beautiful fall day, with sunny skies and temps in the low 60s. For so late in the season the course is in terrific shape. I made one change to my bag since my last round at Island Green two weeks earlier, replacing my Tommy Armour 845 Stripe Driver with a TaylorMade 360XD. Because of a small outing I had to begin my round on the back nine. At the 10th Tee, I paired up with Sam, an older Asian gentleman whom I have played with in the past at Juniata. Sam is a friendly sort and I have enjoyed my past experiences playing with him, so I felt good about my pairing.

Juniata Golf Club Scorecard

I played steady on my first nine. Nothing spectacular, but I was going along nicely. I was the ball solidly, except for my driver. I was playing mostly bogey golf through the first seven holes, but I lost my driver on my eight hole (the Par 4 Seventeenth) and was forced to take a drop on the other side of the Tookany/Frankford Creek. This led to a triple-bogey seven and after three-putting the Eighteenth Green (my ninth hole) after getting out of the wet sand in the bunker to the left of the green, I had a 43 on the easier of the two nines.

The Fourth Hole, a 390-yard Par 4

I went to the First Hole to play my back nine and felt if I could continue to play steady, I could post a decent score. I parred the First Hole (my tenth) and continued playing bogey golf through the next four holes. I still wasn't hitting the driver the way I would have liked and that finally caught up with me at the Sixth Hole (my fifteenth). After hitting a low short duck hook that forced me to chip out, I chunked my third shot, but still managed to get on the green with my fourht shot. A three-putt left me with a seven. I went to the next tee detremined NOT to let that hole carry over to the next few holes and spoil my round. This was accomplished when I striped my hybrid down the middle of the Seventh Fairway. Although I bogeyed the hole, I made a nice par at the Eighth (my seventeenth). I decided to hit three wood off the tee at my last hole and made a bogey five for another 43 and a total of 86 for my round.

The Fifth Hole, a 370-yard Par 4

Although I didn't hit my driver particularly well--I'm probably going back to my TaylorMade Tour Burner--I was pretty happy in the way I played overall. I had par putts on 12 of the 18 holes during my round, and even though I only made three pars, you can't ask for much more than that. As I had hoped after playing some really bad golf in Delaware during Labor Day, I have found some consistency during the fall. There is still plenty of golf to be played before the season is over and I hope to continue to build upon this steadiness and carry it forward into 2010.

Juniata's resident red fox

One little side note on my round Sunday. On the Eleventh Fairway, a red fox that has taken residence on the course made an appearance before running back into the woods. This is the second time this year, on two different courses in two different locations, that I have spotted a red fox while playing. The other time was July 3rd at Green Pond in Bethlehem, Pa.

The fox makes his escape into the woods
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Saturday, October 24, 2009

At Least It Isn't Snow

The past two weeks have seen the Delaware Valley bombarded with rain showers which has made golfing difficult. Last weekend it was a nor'easter that brought rain and very cold temperatures bother Saturday and Sunday. Today, I was scheduled to play a round at Horsham Valley Golf Club in Ambler, Pa. The temperature was more like last summer, reaching a high of 72 degrees, but off-and-on rain since Friday night caused a cancellation of today's round. The weather forecast calls for clear skies tomorrow and I'm hoping to hit the links at either Juniata Golf Club or John F. Byrne Golf Club.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall on the Island

Island Green Country Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 3200/3055 - 6255
Par: 36/36 - 72
Rating: 69.5, Slope: 120
Score: 47/49 = 96
Date: October 11, 2009

Last Sunday I decided to skip watching the Philadelphia Eagles and take advantage of the beautiful fall weather with a round at Island Green Country Club. Built on the site of the old Budd Company plant off red Lion Road in Northeast Philly, Island Green opened in 2001 as Philadelphia's newest public golf course. The course is fairly wide open, and has always been in very good condition when I've played there in the past. This visit marked the first time I had teed it up on the course in about four years. The conditions were very good, although I thought it was a bit pricey--$60 to walk at 1 p.m. on a Sunday in October. The sun was shining and temps were in the low 60s when I teed off and there was steady breeze blowing from the west. I was surprised, considering the Eagles were playing after a bye week, how many people were on the course.

Island Green Scorecard

Hoping to carry over my good play from the previous week at Juniata, I started out well at Island Green, parring the first three holes, including the 485-yard Par 5 Second Hole. I ran into some trouble at the 585-yard Par 5 Fourth Hole, which plays slightly downhill as the fairway narrows to a thin strip of green. I sliced my tee shot into the heavy rough on the right and finally had to take a drop. I reached the green in five, then three-putted for an eight. I ran into trouble again at the Seventh Hole, which was playing into the wind and has a pond on the right side. I overhooked my drive left, then trying to play a punch shot up the fairway, I hit one of the few trees on the left of the fairway, which left me with a longer third shot. I took a seven on the hole and finished the front nine in a respectable 47. I was not too disappointed with my play--except for the Fourth and Seventh Holes--and took satisfaction in the fact that I had par putts on six of the nine holes.

The opening tee shot at Island Green

The back nine at Island Green begins with a 495-yard Par 5 that doglegs right about 100 yards from the green and was playing with the wind. I hit a good drive and layed up, but hit a terrible wedge shot from 100 yards to just short of the green. I chipped on and made par. The Eleventh Hole is where the course dervives its name. A short, 305-yard Par 4, the green is an actual island. The hole plays downhill from the tee, s you want to hit your tee shot about 190-200 yards off the tee and you will have a short pitch shot to the green. I had about 120 yards to the green, but thinned my approach from a slightly downhill lie and hit it in the water and made a six. I played steady on the back, although the wind was more of a factor, and I played just enough loose shots to shoot a 49 for a total of 96. I only had three par putts on the back which was disappointing, but I finished off my round with a good bogey six at the 490-yard Par 5 Eighteenth Hole, which was playing dead into the wind.

The long Par 5 Fourth Hole

Overall, I broke 100, which is something I have achieved only one other time at Island Green. I was happy with my score and the way I played. I generally kept the ball in play off the tee and hit my irons well. My short game was consistent and, while I missed a few short putts, I putted well enough to score. This round helped me build on the confidence of my last round and I look forward to it continuing through the fall.

The Eleventh Hole is the signature hole

As for Island Green, it is a course I would highly recommend, although I would suggest waiting for the twilight rate to kick in. The course is well maintained, but play was a bit slow. They could stand to have a few marshals on the course to make sure play keeps moving. Although the course is fairly wide open, it does have its share of challenging holes. Many holes have bunkers and water can come into play if you are not careful. Island Green also has a wonderful restaurant and bar. My wife and I ate dinner there last May and you can read about it here. Try Island Green, I 'm sure you will enjoy it.

Some Additional Photos of Island Green:

The downill Par 3 Eighth Hole

The approach to the Fourteenth Green

The Seventeenth Hole

The Island Green Driving Range
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Fall Begins at Juniata Golf Club

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2805/2185 - 4990
Par: 34/31 - 65
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: 49/38 = 87
Date: October 4, 2009

With the calendar now reading October, it is time for fall golf, when the the temps are cooler and the leaves begin to litter the fairways and greens. I am hoping to use the fall to find the consistency that my game has lacked through most of the summer. Yesterday, I went looking to begin that consistency on familiar ground: Juniata Golf Club. With the weather sunny and warmer, and the Eagles on their NFL bye week, the course was a little more crowded than I expected. I had to wait nearly 20 minutes to get off the first tee, but the wait was definitely worth it when I hit my opening tee shot onto the front fight of the green. Although I three-putted the First Hole, I walked off feeling good about my start. That feeling only got better when my 7-wood split the fairway at the Second Hole, chipped on and two-putted for par. Another par at the Fourth Hole and I could feel my confidence building. Through six holes I was playing a little better than bogey golf. At the Seventh Hole, I hit my only bad stretch of the day. After hitting two balls out-of-bounds, then three-putting for a nine, I made a double bogey at the Eighth Hole and made a seven at the Ninth. Not the way I wanted to finish the front nine, but I knew the 49 on my scorecard could have--should have--been better.

Juniata Golf Club Scorecard

I started the back nine pretty much the way finished the front. I hit a solid tee shot at the Tenth Hole right of the green and chipped on, but a three-putt led to another double bogey five. I made a good five at the Eleventh Hole after a short tee shot, but made another double bogey five at the Par 3 Twelfth Hole. Staying positive and focused, my fortunes began to change at the Par 3 Thirteenth. I hit an iron onto the front right of the green and two-putted for a par. At the Fourteenth Hole, with the tees forward, I teed it up on the right side of the tee box and smashed a nice draw with my new TaylorMade Raylor 4-Hybrid that finished just in front of the green, where I chipped to two feet and made my fourth birdie of the season. At the Fifthteenth Hole, I drove a 7-iron right of the green, chipped on and two-putted for a bogey four. A wayward tee shot at the Sixteenth led to a double bogey six, but I found the fairway at the Seventeenth Hole and made a 15-foot par putt. My 5-iron at the closing hole to eight feet left of the pin and a two-putt par left me with a back nine 38 and an 87 for my round.

The Seventeenth Hole, an uphill Par 4

I walked off feeling very good about the way I played; keeping the ball in play off the tee, getting the ball around the green and making just enough putts to post a decent score. I hope to carry this momentum forward during future round this fall. Then I can build on this foundation in 2010.