Tuesday, May 26, 2015

There's a New Big Dog

Practice Range
Mad Golfer Golf Club
114 Street Road
Southampton, PA

Following up on last Friday's opening round of the season, I decided it was time for a new Driver. My Wilson Staff Smooth Driver, which came out at the end of 2008, has served me well over the past four-and-a-half years. But it was time for an upgrade. So before I headed to the practice range this afternoon, I went shopping for a new Driver.

Practice Range at The Mad Golfer

I have narrowed my brand choices down to Callaway and TaylorMade, so I went to Golfsmith in Willow Grove, Pa., to see what they had. I found a TaylorMade Aero Burner Driver among the pre-owned clubs. It was in excellence condition and was priced over $100 less than they were selling for brand new. I made my purchase and headed to the practice range.

TaylorMade Aero Burner Driver

I chose the practice range at The Mad Golfer in Southampton, Pa., to work with my new Driver. The facility sits behind a Dairy Queen. It has an upper and lower level full of hitting bays, as well as a grass area and a practice bunker. The practice balls, which are Srixon, were in very good condition. It cost $9.90 for a large bucket which had approximately 70 balls. I picked a spot on the far right of the lower level.

After stretching and taking a few swings with my Orange Whip Swing Trainer, I warmed up by hitting 15 sand wedges. I then uncovered the new Aero Burner and proceeded to hit 25 drives. When I made solid contact, I was hitting far down the range, either straight or with a draw. Several times I hit the netting at the back of the range on a couple of bounces. I then hit 10 balls with a Callaway X-Hot N-14 Driver, but I wasn't getting the same distance as with the Aero Burner. I hit 10 more drives with the TaylorMade club, before finishing off my practice by hitting six balls with my Pitching Wedge. With the Aero Burner, I did hit a few low line drives or quick duck hooks, but I think it will upgrade my game off the tee.
Photos by The Muni Golfer

Friday, May 22, 2015

Opening at Mountain View

Mountain View Golf Club
West Trenton, NJ
Yards: 3120/2997 - 6117
Par: 37/35 - 72
Rating: 69.8, Slope: 122
Score: 52/52 = 104
Date: May, 22, 2015

My first official round of the 2015 season took place today at Mountain View Golf Club, a Par 72 municipal layout just off I-95 in West Trenton, N.J. It is the second time in three years that I have opened my season with my first official round at this course. One of three courses owned and operated by the Mercer County Park Commission, Mountain View is a testing layout that is always in great condition. We booked our round through Golf Now and paid $44 with cart, but have paid as low as $31 in the past.
Mountain View starts off with back-to-back Par 5s, and has three one the opening nine. My swing was plagued today with a layer of rust, which I had a hard time shaking off. I seemed to be dropping my right shoulder on a lot of my swings, causing me to hit behind the ball. This is something I hope the rectify at the practice range and as I play more rounds on the course. My chipping and putting was also disappointing, but that is to be expected this early.

I opened with two 8s and had three "Snowmen" on my card for the round. While I did have two pars, at the 330-yard Par 6th Hole and 124-yard Par 3 16th Hole, I failed to make par on at least three other holes because I missed short putts. It got some bad that I actually started putting cross-handed on short putts during the back nine and my success improved.
Although I failed to break 100, overall, I was pretty happy with how I played. While it was cool most of the day, strong winds swept across the course severely impacting club selection and shots. For a stretch, it seemed like we were teeing off into the wind on almost every hole. I know my swing will only get better the  more I practice and play and this opening round gave me clues as to what I need to work on going forward.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Let the Big Dog Eat!

Practice Range
Bensalem Township Country Club
200 Brown Ave.
Bensalem, PA

Once again, the long shadows crept across the practice range at Bensalem Township Country Club as I did a quick practice session in preparation for my first official round of the season. Like last week, I went with a specific goal in mind: to hit my Driver. My prior practice session focused on wedges and short irons to shake off the winter's rust. Last night, it was to hit my Driver before I unleashed the "Big Dog" while standing on a real tee box.

I warmed up with some stretching and swinging my Orange Whip, then hitting 15 sand wedges to loosen my swing. I hit the ball okay, but not as consistently as last week. Then, I hit 10 6-irons; again with moderate success. After a few more swings with the Orange Whip, I pulled the my Wilson Staff Smooth Driver from the bag. I teed a range ball, took my stance, made a slow rhythmic swing and sent the little white orbit on a beautiful trajectory towards the middle of the range. I hit 21 total tee shots with the Driver and the results were mixed: some wonderful shots, some pushed shots and more than a few duck hooks.

Overall, I hit 46 balls during my brief practice session. I think I rushed myself too much; certainly more than I did last week. And although it wasn't the nest practice session, I feel like it helped to shake even more of the rust that accumulated on my swing over the winter.

Tonight, I thoroughly cleaned my clubs in preparation for my first official round of the season at Mountain View Golf Club in Ewing, N.J. I will report to you on how it goes over the weekend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Golf Season Officially Begins

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

Finally. For the first time in 2015, I struck a golf ball with a golf club. My season has officially begun. It is a little later start than I would have liked, but tonight I had my first practice session of the year. I traveled over to the practice range at Bensalem Township Country Club to hit a small bucket of balls.

I used my Orange Whip tempo trainer to loosen up and stretch out; something I need to use more frequently at home between practice sessions and rounds. I then proceeded to hit 10 warm-up shots with my Sand Wedge,and as the shadows slowly crept across the range, I that up by followed by hitting 15 shots each with my 53-degree Gap Wedge, Pitching Wedge and 8-Iron. I finished off my practice by hitting my 6-Iron for the last nine balls.

The First Bucket of Balls This Season

I used my align sticks to help with positioning, but I mostly concentrated on making a nice swing and solid contact. I took my time between shots and although I wasn't focusing on results, I was pleased overall with how well I hit my shots the first time out.

Using alignment sticks during practice

I hope to have at least another practice session or two at the range, followed by a practice round on a course, before hitting the links the for real.