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

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Nite on the Range

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

Tonight I was back at Bensalem Township Country Club's Driving Range to try and knock more of the rust off my swing and my game since I'm having a hard time playing recently due to the weather. Tonight I purchased a large bucket of balls--$7 for about 80 balls-- and took up a spot near the middle of the range. After stretching a bit, I warmed up by hitting 10 sand wedges, starting with small chips and working my way up to full swings.
The Driving Range at Bensalem CC

Once warmed up, I moved to my practice. I had put two alignment aids on the matt, one a t-square made from pvc pile and the other an alignment stick. I then proceeded to hit 10 pitching wedges, 10 7-irons, 10 5-irons, 15 4-hybrids (TaylorMade Rescue TP '09), 5 tee shots with my weighted Momentus Power Hitter Driver and 17 Drivers using my new TaylorMade R9.
Overall, I was pretty pleased with the way I hit the ball. I hit some very good shots, some fair shots and only a few bad shots. Generally, I made solid contact, which I was pleased with. The hybrid had a tendancy to push right and the Driver lacked my desired draw, but that might have to do with the position I have the head set. I will need to continue experimenting with the different positions, as well as see how they perform on the course.
My friend called later this evening when I got home to set up a round this coming Saturday at The Fairways in Warrington, which we played three weeks ago. I'm looking forward to trying these new clubs on the course and getting in another round of actual golf.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Washout

Another Sunday, another washout as thunderstorms hit the area today. Unlike last week when I managed to play four holes, today I never even made it to the course. This was particularly disappointing for several reasons. First, I've only managed to play one full round in the last three weeks and August is now here, so opportunities are going by fast. Secondly, I've still only been able to play two holes using the TaylorMade R9 Driver I bought two weeks. I did, however, shorten the Driver's shaft this week by three-quarters-of-an-inch to 44.5-in., which I feel is the optimal length Driver for my swing.  And thirdly, this past Thursday night I went to Golfsmith
to buy some grips and also bought a used TaylorMade Rescue '09 TP 4-Hybrid with a Blue Grafalloy Pro Launch shaft that has the same FCT as the R9 Driver. But I'll have to wait another week before I can use it on the course. So with this week's washout, I'll have to head to the practice range again this coming week to get in my swings.