Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: The Year in Review

This past golf year can best be summed up as the year that almost wasn't. Because Mrs. Muni Golfer and I moved to a new clubhouse in June, my time of the course was severely limited during the season. I didn't play my first round of the year until May 2 and didn't play my third round until July 18. In all, I managed to play my lowest number of rounds since I began playing 18 years ago. I didn't play any practice rounds in the early part of the season, which hurt when I actually was able to play on a more steady basis later in the summer.

 The Fourth Hole/John F. Byrne

Overall, I played 13 rounds on 8 different courses. One round was canceled after four holes because of severe weather. For the first time in a long time, I didn't play any new courses this past season. I played at Juniata, Bethlehem Executive Course, The Fairways, Old Landing, Horsham Valley, John F. Byrne, Walnut Lane and Cobbs Creek.

 The Second Hole/Horsham Valley

Overall, I played 238 holes this past season, took 1,215 strokes and averaged 93.4 for the 13 rounds I played. I made par of better on nearly one-quarter of the holes I played; 57 out of 238. I also recorded 4 birdies this year: the 8th and 16th at Juniata, the 11th at Old Landing and the 13th at John Byrne.

 Eighteenth Hole/Old Landing

My lowest round of the year was an 85 at Horsham Valley on Aug. 29, while my highest round was a 110 shot in the rain at Cobbs Creek on Oct. 5. I only failed to break 100 twice this past year: 104 on Aug. 14 at Old Landing and the 110 at Cobbs Creek.

 Driving Range/Bensalem Country Club

I did manage to get to the driving range 7 times this season, although it didn't seem to help much since I played so infrequently. I hope I can combine more trips to the range with more rounds of golf in the 2011 season.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year! May 2011 be the year in which we find nothing but fairways and greens, lower our handicaps and find even more enjoyment in the game of golf!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Not a Fall Classic at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2805/2185 - 4990
Par: 34/31 - 65
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: 49/44 = 93
Date: October 24, 2010

My computer has been acting up recently, so I'm a bit late in this post. I teed it up for the second week in row at Juniata Golf Club, and like the previous week, shot an almost identical score.   Because of two outings at Juniata on this particular Sunday, my round started on the Eleventh Hole; not exactly the ideal hole for starting a round of golf. While I didn't drive the ball that badly, my ball striking left a good bit to be desired and my putting wasn't as consistent as it has been recently.

The Seventh Hole

I was really done it by two holes in particular: the 280-yard Par 4 Seventh Hole and the 185-yard Par 3 Twelfth Hole. I made a 9 at the Seventh after driving my tee shot down the right side, leaving me a perfect shot into the green. However, I chunked two shots into the waste area, duffed a pitch and two-putted.  At the Twelfth, I shanked my tee shot well right, missed another tee shot left, made it on the green in five and three-putted for an 8.

The Twelfth Hole

I continued to drive the ball well with the Wilson Staff Smooth Driver I put in the bags a few weeks ago. I also added a Momentus Power Hitter Lob Wedge into my bag this week and hit it a few more times on chips and pitches than I should have. The second new addition to my bag this week was a Tour version of the Odyssey White Hot #9 putter that I had been using. This model has a weight in the heel and toe of the putter and a slightly harder inset. Getting the right speed was a bit most difficult than I thought it would be, but I was getting better later in the round.

Odyssey White Hot Tour Putter

I took this weekend off, but look to return to the links next week to continue with the fall swing of my season. With any luck, the weather will continue to hold and provide with the gorgeous weather with been enjoying so we can extend the golf season a little later than we were able to do last year.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blown Away at Juniata

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2805/2185 - 4990
Par: 34/31 - 65
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: 50/44 = 94
Date: October 16, 2010

On Saturday I took my friend and occasional golfing partner MS to Juniata Golf Club for a real taste on muni golf. We have previously teed up this year at The Fairways and Horsham Valley, so he was experiencing a true "public" golf course. The rains from a few days prior had softened up parts of the course, but the greens were running fast and the wind was howling.  This made club selection extremely difficult and keeping the ball below the wind on many holes paramount.

 Juniata Golf Club Scorecard

After a decent start, with a bogey and a par at the first two holes, I struggled in teh blustery conditions through the rest of the front nine and shot a respectable, though somewhat disappointing 50.  The Third Hole was a prime example of my misery. Hitting a new Wilson Staff Smooth Driver, I crushed teh ball off the tee, only to be left with over 200 yards for my second shot. A 5-Wood into the wind only emphasized my draw and left me well left and still about 15 yards short of the green. A short pitch, a chip and two putts meant a double bogey 6.

 Windy conditions like this made scoring difficult

The back nine was just as treacherous, although I was able to take advantage of some of the Par 3s to shoot a much better 44. Bogeys and double bogeys were the scores of the day, although I did mange to par the Eighteenth Hole after a nice up-and-down from the right bunker. This left me with a 94, not bad considering the very windy conditions.

 The Wilson Staff Smooth Driver

As I mentioned earlier, I put a new Wilson Staff Smooth Driver into play for the first time during this round. I have been having trouble with several TaylorMade Drivers, most notably the R7, with was causing me to hit short duck hooks off the tee. I had not such problems with the Smooth. The ball flight was high, straight and long considering the windy conditions. I hit five out of eight fairways with the Driver, which felt solid and very controlable, despite its 45.5-in length. I'm hoping this might be the solution to some of my problems off the tee this year, which has generally been hit-or-miss. If I can hit the Driver consistantly, this will take pressure off the other parts of my game, as well as some much needed strokes off my score.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back on Track at John Byrne

John F. Byrne Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2273/2610 - 4883
Par: 33/34 - 67
Rating: 63.9, Slope: 105
Score: 44/47 = 91
Date: October 10, 2010

After drying out from last Tuesday's wet and soggy round at Cobbs Creek, I was back on the First Tee at John F. Byrne Golf Club in Northeast Philadelphia. I had played 18 holes there about a month before when I shot an 89 and was looking to shoot something south of the triple digits I put on the scorecard at Cobbs Creek.

My Scorecard from John F. Byrne

Topping my opening tee shot and hitting a wrong ball for a two-stroke penalty and a 9 on the First Hole was not exactly the way I wanted to start, especially after I double bogeyed the Second Hole, but I then got in a bit of a groove and parred the next two holes, including the dreaded Fourth Hole, which has been my nemisis on many occasions. A shanked tee shot at the Fifth Hole led to a 7, but I parred the next three holes, with a nice up and down from behind the green at the treacherous Par 3 Sixth Hole. I finished off the front nine with a bogey to go out in 44, only one stroke worse than I shot back in September.

The First Hole from the tee

 The back nine started much like the front, with a topped tee shot and a ball in the creek, for a 7 at the Tenth Hole, but I responded with a par at the Eleventh. I hacked it up the 516-yard Par 5 Twelfth Hole for a double bogey, but responded again with a birdie at the very short Par 3 Thirteenth Hole; my fourth birdie of the year. The next three holes went double bogey, bogey, double bogey, although the bogey at the 155-yard Par Fifteenth Hole was pretty good after I missed to the left above the green. The 371-yard Par 4 Seventeenth Hole is quickly beginning to match the Fourth as a hole that just drives me nuts...and my scores up.  The creek which runs down the right side angles in shortly off the tee, calling for a cut or fade shot which is just not in my arsensal since I hit a pronounced draw. The hole features a green that is narrow in the front, with bunkers on either side. The left bunker, which I seem to have difficulty playing from, has become a magnet for approach shots. This round was no different. I barley got out of the bunker, then chipped past the hole and two-putted for a 6. At the Eighteenth, I found the creek yet again off the tee, but managed to finish with a 6 for a back nine 47--again, one stroke higher than last month. This gave me a round of 91.

The view from the Tenth Tee

Although I am still ahving problems hitting Driver off the tee, I did put my TaylorMade Burner 3- and 5-woods back in the bag, as well as replacing my 4-hybrid with a TaylorMade GCB 4-iron. As I continue to search for a Driver I can put in the fairway, I will try to stay with the rest of the current set-up for a few rounds and see how my scores go.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rain Doesn't Dampen This Bad Round

Cobbs Creek Golf Club
Olde Course
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2498/3258 - 5736
Par: 35/36 - 71
Rating: 67.6, Slope: 116
Score: 53/57 = 110
Date: October 5, 2010

It was rainy, wet and chilly yesterday as I teed off for a rare mid-week round of  golf on the Olde Course at Cobbs Creek, the gem of Philadelphia's public courses. The course was designed by Hugh Wilson, who also designed the famed East Course at Merion. My partners and I were scheduled to play at Paxon Hollow Country Club in Marple Township, but the course was closed due the continuing inclement weather. So we headed over to Cobbs Creek, where we had no difficulty teeing it up.

My Scorecard from Cobbs Creek

Wearing my wet weather gear, including a FootJoy bucket rain hat that I picked up at Dicks Sporting Goods on my way to the course, we set out against the elements and the course. The greens at Cobbs Creek were in excellent condition, but the tee boxes and fairways showed signs of the extreme heat that has plaqued the Delaware Valley this summer. Due to the rain, conditions were sloppy at best and I hit a lot of fat shots. I also played poorly off the tee, often putting myself into punch out or hit it back into the fairway mode. Not the best way to post a good score. The only thing that really saved me on the front nine was that I played the three Par 3s in only two over par.  On the back nine, I parred the short Tenth Hole, but did little from there, including a 9 at the very long 589-yard Par 5 Fourteenth followed by an 8 at the uphill Par 4 Fiftheenth Hole.

On a very wet tee

Bunkers were also water hazards

The rain gear made it difficult to swing comfortably and the bucket hat made me sweat so bad my eyes were stinging several times from the perspiration running down my forehead. But, still, I was playing golf. I laugh when people won't play in a steady drizzle. A lot of golfers spend thousands of dollars for golf trips to Scotland and Ireland. Well, yesterday's conditions would be called a sunny day across the pond. I'll just chalk the score up to the weather and concentrate on getting my next round back to where my game was a few weeks ago.

Rain clouds hung over the wet course
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2805/2185 - 4990
Par: 34/31 - 65
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: 53/38 = 91
Date: September 19, 2010

Hoping to erase the nightmare back nine from last week's round at Walnut Lane Golf Club, I teed it up on the familiar links of Juniata Golf Club, which I consider to be my home course. I haven't played at Juniata since I was washed out after four holes back in July. I was hoping that a round at Juniata would help get my game back on track. Instead, my round looked like a mirror image of last week's round. Where I started strong on the front nine and lost my swing on teh back at Walnut Lane, shooting 39/51-90, I struggled to find my swing over Juniata's opening nine, only to find my game and scoring bringing it back to the clubhouse while shooting 53/38-91.

My Juniata Scorecard

Upon arriving at Juniata, my round was delayed by about 20 minutes while I waitied for a golf outing to finish their last few holes. When the course was finally clear, I was the first one off the tee and hit my opening shot just right of the downhill Par First Hole. While walking to my ball, I picked up 16 golf balls that littered the course, remnants of the outing and the abandonment of poor shots. I wound up picking up 24 balls during the round.

The First Hole where I found 16 golf balls

Over the first eight holes I was spraying my tee shots either right or left, or hitting them fat. I was forced to hit several punch shots just to get the ball back into play and my putting was lousy. I made an 8 at the 370-yard Par 4 Fifth Hole because of a ball hit out-of-bounds and two poor pitches, and a 9 and the 275-yard Par 4 Seventh Hole, where I lost two golf balls. On the tee at the Ninth Hole, I gave myself a pep talk about how I needed to grind it out since it was obvious I didn't have my best game. I then hit my best tee shot of the day; a 3-wood to just under 100 yards to the green. I hit my approach shot past the flag and two-putted for my first par of the round. Despite an opening 53, this par gave me a shot of confidence going to the back nine.
The Seventh Hole where I lost 2 balls

I started with a bogey at the Tenth Hole and another lost ball at the Eleventh led to a 6. I then made double bogey at the next two holes, both Par 3s. At the Fourteenth Hole, a short 240-yard Par 4, I thinned a hybrid off the tee, but hit my approach shot over the tall pine that guards the left front of the green and chipped to three feet, which led to my second par of the day. At the Par 3 Fifteenth Hole, I found the green with my tee shot and hit my 20-foot birdie putt a bit too strond and hit the hole and hoped to about three feet away. I then pulled my par putt for a disappointing bogey. The tees at the Sixteenth Hole have been moved well up because of construction of a new tee box, making the hole play about 250 yards. I hit a 7-wood to about 50 yards short of the green, then pitched on and made a 10-foot putt for birdie. I found the fairway with a 3-wood at the Seventeenth Hole and hit my gap wedge to about 30 feet and then just lipped out my birdie putt. Another par made ita birdie, two pars and a bogey in the last four holes. At the Eighteenth Hole, with the flag of the right side of the green behind a bunker, I hit a 6-iron draw of the green to about 25 feet behind the hole and two-putted for another par and a back nine 38 and a round of 91.

The tee shot at Seventeenth Hole

Just as I was disappointed last week about how I played the back nine at Walnut Lane, I was happy with how I turned it around on the back nine today at Juniata. I hope I can acrry that momentum into my next round and continue to improve my game as the summer now officially turns to fall.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Roundup of Recent Rounds

Walnut Lane Golf Club
, Pal

Yards: 2173/2098 – 4271
Par: 31/31 = 62
Rating: 59.9, Slope: 91
Score: 39/51 = 90
Date: September 11, 2010

I had hoped to play yesterday at Juniata Golf Club since I haven't played there since July, but an outing forced me to move my round to Walnut Lane Golf Club in Roxborough. Walnut Lane is not very long, but it is a very hilly course that plays tight, especially on the back nine.  It has 10 Par 3s and 8 Par 4s. Many of the Par 3s play either uphill, downhill or over ravines, while the Par 4s--while short--often are doglegs with sloping fairways; it's not unusual to have a sidehill lie for your approach shot. The summer heat does not look like it has been kind to Walnut Lane either. Many of the fairways and greens feature large bare spots and the tee boxes were so hard it was difficult to get a tee into the ground.

My Walnut Lane Scorecard

My round was a tale of two nines. On the front nine, I played pretty well, keeping the ball in play, pitching chipping and putting well. I bogeyed the first two holes, but then made three solid pars at holes 3-5. After hitting long at the Sixth Hole, I made double bogey after a poor chip, but made a bogey and par at the enxt two holes. After getting a good break on a tee shot I hit right at the Ninth Hole, I skulled my third shot over the bunker  and out of play, which resulted in a 7. Still, I went out in 39 and visions of a very good score statred to dance--prematurely--in my head. As everyone knows, you want to stay in the moment when playing golf. The minute you start thinking score, you can quickly become undone.

The Par 3 Eleventh Hole

I started fairly well on the back nine with a solid par at the downhill Tenth Hole, even after a tree limb caught my drive as it was drawing around the slight dogleg. The came the Eleventh Hole, one of my "nightmare nine." Although it is faily short, 134 yards, it plays straight uphill thriugh a narrow chute; miss left or right and you are dead. Of course, I pulled my tee shot left, had to take a drop, pitching uphill short, chipped on and two-putted for a 7. "No swaet," I told myself as I headed to the Twelfth Hole, which plays uphill over a ravine off the tee to a sloping fairway that doglegs left. I again caught a tree with my drive, but was still in the fairway. I hit a poor seond shot left over the hill and lost my second ball in two holes. A drop, weak pitch, two bad chips and two putts left me with an 8. A little upset with myself, but still OK, I went to the Thirteenth Hole, a short Par 3 where the green is protected by two large bunkers. I underclubbed and didn't turn the ball over, which put me in the right bunker. From there I skulled my sand shot across the green and through the chain link fence (how do you do that?) for my third lost ball in three holes! After my 6 I moved to the Fourteenth Hole, where I began to get my game back under control, playing bogey golf the next four holes. I came to the Eighteenth Hole feeling good that I had gotten things back on track. But a mediocre tee shot left me with a long approach off a bare lie. I tried to hit my hybrid, but it went dead right into the brush; another lost ball, my fourth of the back nine. Demoralized, I hacked it around until I tapped in for a 9 and a back nince score of 51; 12 stroles higher than my front nine.

The tee shot at the Twelfth Hole

Except for the brief lapses on the back nine, I felt my play is continuing to improve. I could have done a little better off the tee and been a bit more aggressive in my short game, but I felt I played consistently and my putting continues to be very good. I made a couple of minor changes to my golf bag before the round, replacing my 3-wood with an Adams 4-wood and my 2-hybrid with a 3-hybrid.

My 9-11 Tribute Golf Shirt

Since yesterday was the 9th Anniversary of 9-11, I wore my Tabasco golf shirt that was made for Scott Hoch to wear at the 2002 U.S. Open held at Bethpage's Black Course in New York. The shirt features the New York skyline over the U.S. flag.


John F. Byrne Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 2273/2610 - 4883
Par: 33/34 - 67
Rating: 63.9, Slope: 105
Score: 43/46 = 89
Date: September 7, 2010

Last Tuesday, I played a post-Labor Day round at John F. Byrne Golf Course in Northeast Philadelphia. This is a far cry from my usual post-Labor Day rounds down at the Delaware Shore, but since Mrs. Muni Golfer and I stayed home this year, it a local round of golf. Byrne is the former Homesburg Country Club that has been part of Philadelphia's Municipal Courses since the late 1960s. It has been managed by Billy Casper Golf for the past few years under contract with the Fairmount Park Commission. Located in a valley just west of Frankford Avenue, and across Grant Avenue from the more storied, Donald Ross-designed Torresdale-Frankford Country Club, Byrne is not overly long, but a good, challenging course.

My John F. Byrne Scorecard

Coming off an excellent 85 at Horsham Valley the previous week, my round at Byrne started off with a tee shot that went dead right. Although I wasn't in a bad location, I still took a double bogey 6 to start. From there, things brightened quickly. Back-to-back pars at the Second and Third Holes brought me to the Fourth, another hole from my "nightmare nine." From the tee, you hit your shot across the creek through a narrow opening in the tree line to a fairway that slopes severely from left to right. Of course, I made double bogey, as I did at the Fifth Hole after hitting into the fairway bunker about 20 yards short of the green. At the Sixth, a 142-yard Par 3 over the creek, I hit my tee shot pin high, about 15 feet left of the pin and made par. I played bogey golf the last 3 holes to shoot a very respectable 43 on the front nine.

The opening tee shot

On the back nine, I hit my tee shot into the creek that crosses the valley, but after a drop, managed to get and down for only a bogey 5. A par at the uphill, Par 3 Eleventh was followed by a double bogey 7 at the 516-yard Par 5 Twelfth Hole. Another par at the very short (89-yards) Thirteenth was followed by a disappointing 6 at the long, 219-yard Par 3 Fourhteenth. Yet an par at the Fifteenth, a 156-yard Par 3 was followed by a par at the back nine second Par 5, the 465-yard Sixteenth. Then came the hole that always manages to find a way to trip me up. The Seventheenth, Byrne's #1 rated handicap hole, is a 371-yard Par 4 that angles to the left and then slightly back to the right. The creek runs down the right side, but begins moving in a bit to the left around 150 yards off the tee. A fade would be the best shot off the tee, but since that is not a shot I can easily pull off due to my natural draw, this hole presents quite a challenge off the tee. I hit my hybrid through theline of trees on the left, then hit a tree while trying to hit a low runner down the fairway. My ball went forward, but kept me on the left of the trees. I then dumped a short pitch into the bunker on the left of the green and took three shot to get out. My second shot actually got out of the bunker and hung in the grass, but then fell back into the bunker. I then three-putted for a 9. I managed to regroup and make a 5 at the uphill, 338-yard Eighteenth for a back nine 46 and a total of 89.

The Fourth Tee viewed from the Green

Overall, I continued to play well from the round at Horsham Valley. I was particularly pleased with how I scored on Byrne's Par 3s, parring five of the seven on the course. In addition, I played the two Par 5s in two over par. My putting has really been good and I have been striking the ball solidly. I hope to build on the consistency through the fall as I begin to look forward to next golf season.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Monday, September 6, 2010

What's in My Bag

Since it's "Labor Day," I though this would be a good time to write about the clubs I labor with on the golf course. In the right hand column of this blog, you will see a listing of the clubs that I typically have in golf bag. I though I would finally take this opportunity to actually show you "what's in my bag." Although I typically walk and carry  my clubs in a Sun Mountain Swift X stand bag, I put the clubs in a larger staff-type golf bag for the above photo. The clubs are:

* Driver: TaylorMade R9, 10.5 degrees, Fujikura Motore 65 shaft, 44.5-in, R-flex. I have the shaft set in the neutral upright position and 4-6-4 gram weighs in the toe, back and front respectively.

* 3-Wood: TaylorMade Burner, 15 degrees, TaylorMade RE*AX 49 shaft, 42.5-in, R-flex.

* 5-Wood: TaylorMade Burner, 18 degrees, TaylorMade RE*AX 49 shaft, 42-in, R-flex.

* 2-Hyrbid: Nickent 3DX DC Utility, 17degrees, Aldila NV 75 hybrid shaft, 41.5-in, R-flex. This club plays as a 2-iron and I alternate between this and the 5-Wood.

* 4-Hybrid: TaylorMade Raylor, 22 degrees, TaylorMade RE*AX 65 shaft, 39-in, R-flex.

* Irons: TaylorMade Tour Burner, 5-Iron through GapWedge, TaylorMade Burner 105 steel shafts, R-flex.

*Sand Wedge: Solus 4.1, 56 degrees, True Temper supplied Solus proprietary USGW-38 shaft, R-flex.

* Lob Wedge: Solus 4.1, 59 degrees, True Temper supplied Solus proprietary USGW-38 shaft, R-flex.

* Putter: Odyssey White Hot XG #9, 3 degrees loft, 34-in.

  My Sun Mountain Swift X Bag
 Photos by The Muni Golfer

Monday, August 30, 2010

Going Low in the Valley

Horsham Valley Golf Club
Ambler, Pa
Yards: 2536/2579 - 5115
Par: 33/33 - 66
Rating: 62.2, Slope: 101
Score: 43/42 = 85
Date: August 29, 2010

Yesterday, I played a round at Horsham Valley Golf Club, a challenging, Par 66 layout in Ambler, Pa. I really like playing there. It is short, playing just over 5,100 yards, but don't let that fool you; this course can jump up and bite you very easily. After playing our last two rounds together at The Fairways, my golf buddy decided it was time for him take his game to a different course, so he made us a tee time at the Valley.

 My scorecard from Horsham Valley

Although my last round at Old Landing left a lot to be desired, I felt like I had found something in my swing while on the range at Bensalem Township Country Club a week ago. It seemed like I had found my old, more upright swing. I was hoping that this new swing would be with at Horsham Valley. It certainly was!

The Par 3 Fourth Hole

After an inauspicious start, going 6-5-7 over the first three holes, while pushing my tee shots to the right, I started to find my game and swing at the Fourht Hole, a 127-yard Par 3 that is protected in the front by a very large bunker and has a green that slopes front back to front. I made par there, then ripped a Driver at the 387-yard Fifth Hole. Even though I chunked my sand wedge approach shot, I still managed to get up-and-down for a par. The next ball brought be briefly back to earth as I shanked--yes, shanked!--my tee shot and made a triple-bogey 6. But I parred two of the last three holes on the front nine for a score of 43.

The tee shot at the Thirteenth Hole

The back nine starts with an uphill, 171-yard Par 3 with a severely sloping green, which I missed long and right. But I hit a nice lob shot onto the green that rolled to about 10 feet below the hole and I made a satisfying 4. I then parred the short, 296-yard Eleventh Hole and made bogey at the downhill Par 3 Twelfth Hole. The 403-yard Thirteenth is one of the most challenging holes on the course. Power lines run in front of the elevated tee box and the fairway below is guarded by a stand of trees on the left. A creek intersects the fairway just before  the green. I again hit my Driver and smacked a nice draw that rolled to within 15 yards of the creek. I then hit wedge onto the green and two-putted for my fourth 4 in a row. The Fourteenth requires a tee shot over the creek and the power lines again come into play. A small sandy waste area sits in the fairway about 50 yards short of the green. I hit 3-Wood, wedge and two-putted (lipping out my birdie from just off the front of the green) for my fifth straight 4. As you remember from an earlier post, the Fifteenth Hole at Horsham Valley is in my "nightmare nine," holes that seem to get you every time you play them. Yesterday was no exception. A tee shot off the heel that just stayed in bounds, a chunked wedge, a skulled wedge into the water all added up to a 7 on this 184-yard Par 3. I got my last of eight pars at the short, 283-yard, dog-leg left Sixteenth Hole. A 5-6 on the last two holes brought me in at 42 and a round of 85.

 The "nightmare" Fifteenth Hole

This round--with eight pars--was by far, the best I have played this year. I didn't have one 3-putt all round. And while I hit my Driver only three times, I hit it long and with a slight draw. I think I may finally have my new TaylorMade R9 dialed in correctly. I put the shaft in the "neutral upright" position and changed the weights to 4-6-4 (grams) in the toe-back-heel. We'll see if this combination continues to produce such results. I also made one other change to my arsenal for this round, replacing my 5-wood with a 2-hybrid, which I used effectively off the tee on several of the short, narrow Par 4s.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Range of Improvement

Driving Range
Bensalem Township Country Club
200 Brown Ave.
Bensalem, Pa

After Saturday's disappointing round at Old Landing Golf Course in Rehoboth Beach, Del., I went to the Driving Range at Bensalem Township Country Club for some much needed practice. Primarily, I wanted to work with the Driver, which was a real problem for this past weekend. I took both my TaylorMade R9 and Tour Burner '08 Drivers with me. Because I also wanted to spend some time on the putting green, I only purchased a small bucket of balls.
After some stretching and warming up with 10 lob wedges, I hit 10 balls with the R9. I had reconfigured it since Saturday, moving a 14-gram weight to the center port, with 1-gram weights in both the toe and heel. I also moved the shaft to the "neutral upright" position to get less of a hard draw. On Saturday I had been hitting tee shots that were driving left off the club face or pushing out to the right. Tonight, in the first round of shots, I made better contact, and while the ball sometimes went left, it wasn't a diving duck-hook.
I then proceeded to hit 10 balls with the Burner '08. These were high, straight shots or slight fades, but shots that would have been in the fairway. I then went back to my R9 to see if I could replicate the 10 I hit with the Burner and, surprisingly, I hit miostly straight shots or fades. I think I will have to adjust for this off the tee when I'm hitting driver on the course and tee up more to the center as opposed to the left side of the tee box for a draw.
I then went over to the putting green and spent about 20 minutes in the twilight hitting putts to the various pins on the green. I also worked with my three "Big Putt" training balls. These are oversized balls that feel and roll like ordinary golf balls, but are designed to make you feel more confident on the short 6- to 8-ft putts when you switch back to a regulation golf ball because the hole now looks so much bigger. Overall, it was a good practice and I can't wait to tee it up this weekend.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Score Goes North Down South

Old Landing Golf Course
Rehoboth Beach
, Del

Yards: 2991/3106 – 6097 (Blue Tees)
Par: 36/36 = 72
Rating: 68.7, Slope: 114
Score: 55/49 = 104
Date: August 14, 2010

This past Saturday morning found me on the first tee at Old Landing Golf Course in Rehoboth Beach, Del., for our annual family cousins golf outing. This outing has traditionally taken place at a course in the Rehoboth Beach area over Labor Day weekend, but was moved up a few weeks this year because of a change in vacation schedules. Old Landing sits back where Love Creek empties into Rehoboth Bay. It is a course that, like a lot of resort courses, gets a lot of play from golfers of all skill levels. It is more open around the clubhouse, but features about six very tight driving holes. Until recently, the course had had problems with its fairways and greens being more dirt than grass until it was discovered that salt water was getting into the irrigation system. The problem has been fixed and the course conditions have improved dramatically.

 The First Hole at Old Landing

This year, one of my cousins wanted to play from the Blue Tees and the others went along. I reluctantly agreed, although I had some reservations because of the state of my game due to a lack of playing opportunities this season. My big problem on Saturday was getting off the tee and putting myself in position to score. If I wasn't hitting it into trees or out-of bounds, it seemed like I was always hitting a mid-iron or hybrid into the Par 4s. Not exactly a recipe to shoot a low number.

 The Green at the Par 5 Seventh Hole

My round was really undone by two Par 4 holes on the front nine: the 369-yard Third Hole and the 355-yard Fifth Hole. On the Third, I was just over the green in three, but took three chips out of the thick rough to get onto the green, then three-putted. At the Fifth, a very tight dogleg left, I snapped hooked my drive through the trees on the left, across the road and into a yard--out-of-bounds. Aftyer retrieving my ball and taking a drop on the course side of the road, I tried to pitch it back into the fairway and hit another tree. The ball caroomed of the tree, across the road and back into the yard; again, out-of bounds. By the time I putted out, it added up to a 10 on the hole.  That's 19 strokes on just two holes!

 The Sixteenth Hole, a 339-yard Par 4

After going out in 55, I played a bit better on the back nine, although I still struggled to put together a string on good shots. My one highlight came at the 206-yard, Par 3 Eleventh Hole, where I hit my 5-wood to five feet and drained a downhill, right-to-left putt for birdie. It was my second birdie of the year and the only one of the day from our foursome. I then followed that up with a par at the 521-yard Par 5 Twelfth Hole. In fact, I managed to play Old Landing's four Par 5s in a respectable 3 over par.

 The Green at the Par 5 Eighteenth Hole

We also had a small Dustin Johnson-like moment of our own during the round. On the Eight Hole, which runs along Old Landing Road, my cousin's husband hit his tee shot well left and the ball rolled under a line of cable that runs along the road like a fence. It sat on a grassy patch between the cable line and the roadway. I informed him that he was "out-of-bounds," to which he responded that he did not see any white stakes marking it out-of-bounds. I then read him the local rule printed on the scorecard that declares a ball hit left of the cable on holes Five, Six, Seven and Eight to be out-of-bounds. Most courses print any local rules on the scorecard and you should always read it before teeing off; it could save you some strokes during the round. For instance, one course I played allowed a free drop from any flower beds on the course. If only Dustin Johnson had read the local rules.

The Eighth Hole at Old Landing

Hopefully I'll get to the practice range this week to continue to work on my game and get it in better shape. Also, I will definitely be palying from the White Tees for my rounds until further notice. I am a great believer in playing from the tees that are dictated by your abilities, and for me, that means playing from the White Tees.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Early Trip to Delaware in 2010

Because of the move earlier this summer, Mrs. Muni Golfer and I won't be making our annual trip to Delaware over the Labor Day holiday, so I won't be playing my usual 3-4 rounds in lower Delaware this year. But we are heading there on Friday for a long weekend to visit with family, so I expect to play at least one round of golf--and possibly two--with my cousins. This has become an annual tradition for me and my cousins at the Delaware Shore, only this year, the family outing will be taking place a few weeks earlier.

The Par 5 Tenth Hole at The Rokkery

While I'm not sure where we will play, The Rookery or Old Landing Golf Club are always a good bet. If I can, I might try to "sneak" in a second round, possibly at Marsh Island.

Old Landing's Eighteenth Green

My clubs are together and I'll be cleaning them tomorrow in prepararton for our departure on Friday afternoon. The only change I might make is to replace my 4-iron with a lob wedge. This will leave me with the 4-hydrid as my lone long iron. I'll also be packing at least two golf shirts and two pairs of shorts in optimistic anticipation of playing two rounds.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Saturday, August 7, 2010

11 Equals 12 at The Fairways

The Fairways Golf & Country Club
Warrington, Pa
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 43/51 = 94
Date: August 7, 2010

Today I played my second round in the past month at The Fairways Golf & Country Club. The Fairways, which winds through a housing development in Warrington, Pa., reminds me a lot of Juniata Golf Club in terms of length and Par; both are Par 65, have 11 Par 4s and 7 Par 3s, and neither has a Par 5. Juniata is slightly longer though, 4990 yards to 4503 for The Fairways. But both are fun courses, enjoyable to play and easy to walk.
The Par 3 Third Hole

Back in July, playing my first round in over two months since the big move to a new house, I shot a very respectable at The Fairways. I was better on the front nine, scoring a 40, but I struggled on the back. Today was no different. I had an acceptable 43 on the front nine, but scored a terrible 51 on the back nine. I especially done in by the quirky Eleventh Hole, a Par 4 that doglegs to the right. Because of those houses, a local rules states that you can only hit an iron off the tee, which is a rubber matt. The rules also says you can forgo your tee shot and place the ball out around the dogleg, no further than a telephone pole which runs along the fairway. I, of course, opted to be a true golfer and hit an 8-iron off the matt, which I pulled severely to the left. I wound up with a good lie on the edge of the Eighteenth fairway. From there I--in succession--chunked a 4-iron, hit a pine tree with my hybrid, pushed a 7-iron long and right into a marshy area, took a drop and failed to get a chip onto the green, chili-dipped another chip, chipped long off the front of the green, chipped about six-feet past the hole with my hybrid, missed the putt, lipped out the next putt and finally tapped in for a 12. That basically finished any chance of matching, or bettering, the 89 I had previously shot there.
The Fifth Hole, a 372-yard Par 4

Overall, I didn't play that bad. I parred five of the seven Par 3s, bogeying the other two. I lipped out an eight-foot birdie putt at the 140-yard Fourteenth Hole. And I found greenside bunkers about four times and made good bunker shots on all but one. I also left numerous putts short all day. I think next time I go the Driving Range I need to spend some practice time on the putting green. But still, I take a lot of confidence from this round going forward. I also want to give a "shout-out" to my playing partner, who shot a 126 when we played The Fairways last month, but improved his course management enough to shot a very nice 112 today. Way to go MS!

Some more photos of The Fairways:

Photos by The Muni Golfer