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