Monday, May 30, 2011

A Fair Day at The Fairways

The Fairways Golf & Country Club
Warrington, Pa
Yards: 2255/2248 - 4503
Par: 32/33 - 65
Rating: 62.1, Slope: 104
Score: 42/44 = 86
Date: May 28, 2011

My second round of the season was played at The Fairways Golf & Country Club is Warrington, Pa. The Fairways is a great little walking course that winds through a housing development. A bit short at just over 4500 yards and a Par 65, The Fairways has plenty of protection from little streams that cross fairways, ponds that front greens or catch errant tee shots, deep bunkers and contoured, sloping greens.

The Fairways Front 9

Coming off the sloppy, wet condition of the previous week, The Fairways was in excellent shape. The fairways and rough had been cut and there was little evidence of the rains that have plagued the area for most of the spring. This round was played under hot, sunny skies, but with enough of a breeze it was a pleasant round of golf. While The Fairways is generally wide open, it is still important to put the ball in the fairway. Off the tee had killed me at Fox Hollow because the rough was deep, thick and very wet. At The Fairways, I missed just enough fairways to make me have to scramble to score. I didn't hit my driver or 4-wood as well as I had the previous week, but my iron game was much better, as was my chipping and pitching. My putter also ran hot and cold during the round. This is an area I have yet to practice this season.

The Fairways Back 9

Although I only made three pars, I only had five really bad holes during my round:

 The Fifth Hole
* The Fifth Hole, a 322-yard Par 4: I hit my hybrid off the tee well right and was blocked by trees for my approach. I pitched out into the fairway and my third shot rolled to the back of the green, above the hole. I then three-putted for a double-bogey 6.

The Seventh Hole

* The Seventh Hole, a 168-yard Par 3: I topped my tee shot, which barely made it past the forward tees. My second shot didn't come out of the rough that well and barely hopped over a creek about 100 yards from the green. After pulling a lob wedge left of a left pin, it bounced off the green, short-siding me. I skulled another wedge across the green, chipped on and one-putted for a triple-bogey 6.

 The Tenth Hole

*The Eleventh Hole, a 291-yard Par 4: Because of houses to the right on this dogleg right, a local rule only permits an iron off the tee, but also gives players the option to drop their ball at the beginning of the dogleg, about 150-yards from the green. I hit a 7-iron off the tee to the middle of the dogleg, about 155 yards out. I pushed my second shot right of the green and cart path, but just short of the out-of bounds. I hit a chip that rolled across the green and into the collar. I tried to putt it, but it came out soft and short. A two-put from there left me with a double-bogey 6.

 The Twelfth Hole

* The Twelfth Hole, a 129-yard Par 3: Two large bunkers guard the left and right of the green and my tee shot found the right bunker. I hit my sand wedge a bit thin and my ball carried across the green. I three-putted from long distance for a double-bogey 5.

 The Eighteenth Hole

* The Eighteenth, a 334-yard Par 4: The closing hole doglegs severely right and has a blind tee shot. My poor tee shot with driver found the left side of the fairway, well before the dogleg begins. I hit my hybrid, trying to cut the corner of the dogleg, but hit it through some trees, leaving my ball about 60 yards short of the green, with some branches to go under for my chip. I managed to chip onto the front left of the green, but left my uphill putt woefully short, then missed again for a closing double bogey 6.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Welcome Back Mr. Wilson

Mad Golfer Driving Range
114 Street Road
Southampton, Pa

A few years ago I moved from TaylorMade irons to Wilson Staffs, playing the Di7 irons. While I liked the club heads, I didn't like the Fat Shaft that Wilson used and I eventually moved back to TaylorMade. Well, I have decided to go back to Wilson Staffs once again, this time the Ci7s, which have a more traditional True Temper steel shaft. I already have the Wilson Staff Smooth Driver in my bag.

I took the irons for their first workout Wednesday night at the Mad Golfer Driving Range on Street Road in Southampton, Pa. It was my first time at the facility, which features a two-tiered hitting structure. I purchased a large bucket of approximately 70 balls for $9 dollars. I picked out a spot on the upper level and began my practice with Mr. Wilson.

 After hitting stretching, I hit approximately 10 sand wedges to warm up, then worked the gap wedge, 9-, 7-, 5- and 4-irons, hitting approximately balls with each. I hit the majority of my shots straight of with a slight fade and had a nice high trajectory. I occasionally mixed in a draw. I finished with hitting six 6 balls each with my driver and a new Tommy Armour 845 3-hybrid. I was quite pleased with how the clubs performed and I look forward to taking them to the course for their first field action.

The Mad Golfer also features a short game practice facility; a pro shop; private practice areas; and heated, covered hitting stalls. A small bucket (approximately 35 balls is $7, and a jumbo (105 balls) is $11. Golf lessons are also available.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Wet Season Opener at Fox Hollow

Fox Hollow Golf Club
Quakertown, Pa
Yards: 3218/2886 - 6104
Par: 36/35 - 71
Rating: 68.5, Slope: 120
Score: 50/48 = 98
Date: May 22, 2011

The first round of the 2011 season was played at Fox Hollow Golf Club, a nice public course in Quakertown, Pa. After a very rainy, wet spring, the course was saturated and swampy in many sections. Because they have been unable to mow, the rough was deep and thick, the fairways very soft and the greens slow. It played much longer than its 6100 yards. So you can imagine my surprise with a score of 98, especially when my practice to date had only been two sessions of hitting balls at the driving range. And the cherry on top: two birdies. I made only four all of last year, so I am half way to that total after my season-opening round!

 Fox Hollow Scorecard

The round started off with a decent tee shot that plugged in the fairway, I hit a worm burner for my second, then splashed my third in the pond fronting the first green. After hitting my fifth shot over the green, I barely chipped on then three-putted for an opening 9. But pars at the Second and Third Holes righted the ship a bit. The Fourth Hole is a long, 552-yard Par 5, which was playing much longer and missing the fairway right made it seem like a mile.  I one-putted for an 8. The Fifth was a beautiful Driver off the tee, then a 6-iron to about 20 feet, which I made for my first birdie of 2011. The Sixth is another 500-yard-plus Par 5 that I two-putted for a 7. A bogey 5 at the Seventh was followed by a double bogey 5 at the Par 3 Eighth Hole. I finished off the front nine with a three-putt double bogey after hitting a beautiful shot to the green from a fairway bunker. That gave me a 50 on the front nine and not much optimism for the back.

The Fifth Hole, a 552-yard Par 5

The back nine begins with a 370-yard Par 4 that doglegs left straight up a hill. After hitting my third shot over the green, I made a double bogey 6. The Eleventh is a downhill Par 3 that plays to a small green protected by two bunkers in front. I tried to baby a 9-iron but came up well short and made a bogey 4. The Twelfth Hole is a 485-yard Par, that I split the fairway with on my tee shot. I laid up and then hit a lob wedge above 20 feet past the hole on a green that slopes from back to front. I lipped out my three-foot par putt for a bogey 6. The Thirteenth is a short Par 4, but the fairway slopes from right to left and my draw of the tee found the left rough, leading to a triple bogey 7. The Fourteenth is a short Par 3, but I made bogey when my tee shot was knocked down short of the green by the wind. The Fifteenth Hole is one of my "Nightmare Nine" holes, a 560-yard Par 5 that plays downhill, then doglegs 90 degrees right to an uphill green.  After chopping the ball down the right rough and three-putting, I had my second 9 of the day on the scorecard. But I came right back at the 128-yard Par 3 Sixteenth Hole, hitting my pitching wedge about 25 feet past the pin and then holing my second birdie of the day! A 5 at the 362-yard Seventeenth Hole brougth us to the Eighteenth, a 397-yard Par 4 that plays slightly downhill. I hit one of my best drives of the day to the 150-yard marker, then a 7-iron to the green, but a three-putt left me with a closing bogey five. A back nine 48 gave me a 98 for the round; not bad when you consider I had two 9s, an 8 and two 7s.

The Par 3 Sixteenth that I birdied

Fox Hollow is a traditional, tree-lined course that I would highly recommend. It will demand accuracy off the tee and challenge all the clubs in your bag. Now that my golf season has begun, I'm looking forward to the next round this coming weekend and I hope to build on some of the success I had at Fox Hollow, especially as the weather dries out the courses and the maintenance people can get them into regular playing shape.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shanks A Lot

Burholme Golf Center
401 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa

Because of the rain this past week I wasn't able to get to the driving range for a practice session leading up to my first round of the season on Sunday at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Quakertown. So last night, with a slight break in the weather, I went to Burholme Golf Center in hot a bucket of balls. After some stretching, I hit some soft sand wedges, then worked my way up through the even-numbered clubs in my bag -- PW, 8-iron, 6-iron and 4-iron -- before finishing off with my 4-wood and driver. In total, I hit about 65 balls and I didn't hit them very well. I would estimate that I shanked more than one-third of them. I don't know if it was my swing or the fact that I was slipping a bit on the wet mat, but it wasn't good. It didn't inspire a lot of confidence went compared to the way I hit the ball in my first range session of the year.

Because of the way I hit them last night, I will take a very conservative approach to the course tomorrow. I'm just looking to hit the ball well and post a halfway decent score for my first round. I'll then analyze what went right and what went wrong and tailor my practice plans from there.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Practice?. We're Talkin' Practice?

I had planned to play a practice round of 9 or 18 holes this past weekend in preparation of my first scheduled round of the 2011 season next weekend, but a personal situation and the weather conspired to nix those plans. My goal is still to get to the practice range at least twice this coming week--once to hit balls and once to putt--weather permitting.

Last week, I began walking for about a half hour during my lunch several days in an effort to build up some leg strength and endurance for the golf course. I hope to continue that through the summer in order to establish and maintain these two critical areas, as well as lose some weigh.

Because of the lack of on-course practice, I am also beginning to develop a conservative game plan for my first round, which will emphasize good course management in order to avoid making big numbers on the holes. I also hope to make good course management one of my goals for the coming season, so no better time to begin than the first round.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Swing is the Thing

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

As part of my plan to prepare for my first scheduled round of the 2011 golf season, I ventured to the the driving range at Bensalem Township Country Club to hit the first balls of the year. Because of the ideal weather--warm with a gentle breeze--the range had its share of golfers tonight. I purchased a large bucket of approximately 80 balls for $7 and manged to stake out a spot in the center of the range.

After some stretching with my Speed Stik, I hit 10 lob wedges, beginning with some chips and slowly increasing to full swings. I then worked my way up through my bag, hitting 10 balls each with my gap wedge, 9-iron, 7-iron, 5-iron, hybrid and 4-wood. I hit them all off the ground since there was no tee. I managed to secure one from the hitting bay next to me and hit 12 drivers to finish off my hour-long practice.

Overall, I was pleased with how I hit the ball for the first time since last October. I mainly focused on getting my body acclimated to swinging a golf club once again and making solid contact, which I seemed to do about 70 percent of the time. I will be interested to see how my body feels tomorrow. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Late Start

Well, here it is the end of the first week May and I have yet to get to the golf course, let alone the practice range. My season is off to the latest start in recent memory. My first scheduled is in two weeks, so it is time to start earnest preparations. It I can get to the practice range three times--twice to hit balls and once to chip and putt--and get in a practice round next weekend, I could have my game in enough shape to play the scheduled 18 holes with my foursome.

Today, I went through my golf bag, making sure my equipment is ready. I re-gripped an Adams Redline RPM 4-Wood, which is going back into my bag as the only fairway wood. In addition, I added a 20-degree hybrid and 59-degree Solus lob wedge. This means my bag will consist of a Drive, 4-Wood, hybrid, irons (4-GW), sand wedge, lob wedge and putter. I had a great deal of success with a similar set configuration in 2008. I also marked some new golf balls, put three new golf gloves in my bag and re-stocked by supply of energy bars.

The golf season is well under way, but for me it's just beginning. I have a bit of catching up to do, but hopefully it won't take too long before I'm in the swing for 2011.