Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Golfing Harbor Park Review


The City of Los Angeles runs a whole BUNCH of golf courses in the Southland, 13 courses in total. Most of these courses are known to the LA golfer, Rancho (host of an LA Open or 2), Wilson and Harding in Griffith Park, Penmar (the only golf course in Santa Monica), etc.

Oddly, the one that has the best reviews online is one of the least known amongst my LA golf friends. That would be Harbor Park, a 9 hole course but with 2 par 5's, 2 par 3's and a host of interesting par 4s will give you everything you want in a golf outing.

Harbor Park starts with a short and straight par 4, which almost must be a design requirement for LA City courses as Roosevelt, Penmar and Hansen Dam all start with basically the same hole.


Indeed as the course goes along for the first 3 holes you might think to yourself, "this is an interesting course, kinda like a poor man's Sharp Park" but then the course kicks into high gear with multiple holes offering views of the harbor with beautiful background shots of San Pedro.



The par 4's are no joke either if you play from the back tees you are looking at 400+ making Harbor Park a truly "big boy" course.


The course kinda, sorta, routes itself around a college so there are a few holes that skirt buildings and parking lots but the holes are so intriguing that you concentrate more on the hole than the surroundings. For example, there is a short par 4 that requires a draw over the bunker or a fade also the bunker, all depending on where the flag is as the green is treacherous despite most people taking 3/5 wood off the tee.



Overall the routing of the holes is straightforward for the most part but the greens are devious and you will need all the help you can get if you find the trees that line the fairways. Overall, color me a fan of this course, well well worth it if you find yourself in the South Bay/San Pedro area of LA.

For more information about Harbor Park, check it out here: http://www.golf.lacity.org/cdp_harbor.htm

Monday, February 1, 2016

Rainy Day At Torrey Pines Photoessay




Torrey Pines is one my favorite golf courses on the planet (one which I plan to play one day soon) and the Farmer's Insurance Open is therefore one of my favorite golf tourneys. Usually attending the tournament is a pleasant day on a seaside course but Sunday at TP had other plans.

Plans that I welcomed! I love to see pros battle the elements rather than perfect weather and perfect greens, it can get boring watching them chew up a course. Give em some challenge, give em some elements and see what happens! Is is a small photo essay of my day.

Every time I have been to Torrey there has been fog in the morning.


Sure there was rain and some fog but what was really crazy was the 30-40mph winds!


The sun did break out on occasion.


Over the last year I bought all this rain gear, which is slightly insane given that I live in the desert that is SoCal. That being said, my Galway Bay jacket and pants and my Sun Mountain umbrella were awesome!




Finished!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Yamura Golf Review


The running gag in the movie "Lost In Translation" is that Bill Murray is a star who is doing a Japanese commercial that no one will see over in the US. The movie came out in 2003 and the world has gotten a lot smaller since then, so much so that now you bet you would be seeing that Japanese commercial here in the US on YouTube, TMZ or elsewhere.

Golf manufacturers have operated much in the same way with their products to the frustration of many US golfers. Sure, everyone loves the Callaway Apex irons here in the US but did you know that they are based in part of Callaway's Japanese line called the "Legacy Blacks" which came out YEARS ago and many US golf nerds have dubbed some of the best irons ever? If they were so great, let the US get em eh Callaway?

Some companies are now circumventing the East West divide and bringing their products directly to the American consumer (and the world, can't forget about the world) and I am all for that! The brand I want to highlight today is Yamura Golf.


These tees are made of bamboo and like my dad's fishing rods of old, are strong yet flexible meaning the tee lasts longer. I am hard on tees and have been searching for something just like this so I don't blow through so many tees.


As you can see, the tees are very distinctive with Japanese lettering and black and white rings down the 2 3/4 inch base. The tees come with with a great velvet pouch (pictured above) so even if you run out of the tees, the pouch is well worth the purchase alone.

I also had a chance to try out the golf towel from Yamura and much like the tees, delivered as expected. While it doesn't have a carabiner attachment like most golf towels, it does come with a cloth attachment loop for some attach-ability. Attachment, attache, atchoo.


Yamura isn't just sticking to golf accessories, they have recently rolled out wedges and given the quality of the products coming from Japan, I am expecting big things from this company in the future.

If you want to buy some Yamura products, check em out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_dp_s_web_0?ie=UTF8&search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Yamura+Sport

DISCLAIMER:

I was provided the above-mentioned products for review and commentary purposes. That being said, I try to review everything as honestly as possible but it is the Internet, take everything with a grain of salt and learn what you can from it. I receive no compensation whether you buy these things or not, its up to you, I just happen to think they are great! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Golfing Westridge- Review


If you golf in North Texas, more often than not you are going to be golfing amongst houses and creeks. Some courses are more imaginative utilizing those two elements than others and Westridge throws in a few twists, namely by adding Scottish links elements to the proceedings and also having several holes bordered by a major street. Another unique feature of Westridge is that it has 6 par 5's, 6 par 4's and 6 par 3's and I really found myself enjoying that mixing of holes.

What this all adds up to is a rather interesting North Texas experience where you have to have your ground game intact in order to score well here. For example, there was a hole that was protected by two huge mounds (stand-ins for dunes) which is something right out of the West of Ireland.


The course also uses a creek or two to penalize shots but in an interesting twist, the course usually presents these hazards off the tee in a psychological way rather than in a place that your tee shot might actually find.




This isn't to say the water is entirely illusory on this course, push a ball too much and your are praying to the Rough Gods to hold up your ball. Luckily they did for me several times during the day and I came out with a really nice round here.

My only gripe comes from holes 8 and 9 which have great mounding and interesting bunkering yet the experience is significantly degraded by Custer Blvd forming the defacto OB on the left hand side.

As with several North Texas tracks, the back side becomes much more interesting especially the 18th hole which is an ultimate risk reward. The 18th is a dogleg right with a tree blocking the right side and a creek starting at 215 with a 240 carry. I laid up, hit a 3 iron for a lifetime and jusssssst missed the birdie putt and I felt good putting the screws to a tough hole.


If you are interested in national coaches, Hank Haney has a golf school here and the practice facilities do look top notch.

Overall, while the course is firmly in the North Texas tradition of houses and creeks, offers interesting twists to make me want to come back here on future Texas visits. If you see Hank, make sure to say hello!

For more information on Westridge, check out the following link: http://www.westridgegolfcourse.com/


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reviewing 101 Mistakes All Golfers Make Book by Jon Sherman


Golfers are an obsessive bunch. What is the latest tech, what is the latest course and how do all of those things compare to tech, courses, etc. of the past. One thing that golfers ponder as much as any other is what is going on in their games and how to fix it. I recently experienced this, why the hell am I topping the ball with a club I normally stripe? Many holes later I figured out I was too upright and blammo, the club goes straight.

Jon Sherman has tried to the same analysis of his mistakes (and yours when he plays with you) and tried to boil it down to 101 Mistakes that we should at least address in some way or form. For example, and right out of the gate, he states the truth that that we all implicitly know but ignore anyway, don't copy someone else's swing. For me, I love Freddie Couples and I do try to incorporate his thoughts about timing and tempo but in no universe do I actually have his swing.

There are also great truisms in the book like:


I love when I am on the course and people are asking me what club I hit when, my game and my clubs are one thing, you should be hitting the right distances for you.

Jon really boils this down into a quick read that is enjoyable and makes you think in the best possible way. One of the lessons Jon imparts which I will leave you with is don't forget to enjoy yourself out there. Golf is a GAME that is meant to be FUN, so buy Jon's book, get to a better place with your game and regardless go have some fun out there!

If you want to purchase the book please check out this link: http://www.amazon.com/101-Mistakes-Golfers-Make-them/dp/0692605223/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452258006&sr=8-1&keywords=101+mistakes+all+golfers+make

Disclaimer:
I was provided the book for review purposes but I try to review things as honestly as possible. I don't make any money whether you buy the book or not and it's the Internet, take everything with a grain of salt and learn what you can. That being said, I really did enjoy this book! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Golfing Pine Dunes Review


Way out in East Texas, waaaay out there is according to GolfWeek, the Number 1 course in Texas. Pine Dunes Golf Resort is out in the pine barrens 2 hours east of Dallas and nestled within those pine trees and is a great golf course with no houses, plenty of tee times and lots of challenges.


I played 36 holes at Pine Dunes and despite being in Texas, I often thought I was playing in Virginia or the Carolinas, it had such a laid back, outdoorsy feel. Also, as you can tell in the pic above, the fairways were GREEN! For a SoCal boy, this was a welcomed site (now if I could just find the fairways to appreciate the color up close!).

There are two real outstanding features of PD, the first of which is the bunkering.



While the greens are wide, the throats are narrow so misses mean either you are in a bunker or shooting over one to a tight cut pin. The bunkers also contain interesting flourishes of islands of turf jutting into the bunker so even if you push a shot into the bunker you still might be in grass.

The second outstanding feature of the course is the routing. There is one par 5 that either forces a carry down the left or you have an easy bailout to the right but once you pick one route you are stuck to it as there are trees going all the way down to the green!


The course also embraces the design aesthetic we saw in the Coore/Crenshaw re-design of Pinehurst by having less turf and more waste areas (but areas you can play out of).


Allow me for a quick second to offer some thoughts about tee selection with this course. While this course is relatively new (having come about in 2001), I would argue that the white tees (making the course about 6,000 yards) is the best way to play this course rather than the blues (6,500) or the golds (7,000). I played the blue tees and the white tees during my 36 holes and the course really comes alive with the white tees. The challenges, the bunkering, the routing are all more acute and interesting from the white tees. From the blue tees you are hitting either before or over the trouble but with the white tees you are in the thick of it, which makes the course way more interesting in my mind.


Plus hitting from the white tees gives you more options like on the 18th hole which is a severe dogleg left over a pond which from the white tees you could potentially drive over.


I hit 3 of the best shots of my life and got an eagle on this hole, which will be a highlight for years to come.

The only small negative about PD is about the greens. They were a bit slow, which isn't surprising given the amount of rain in East Texas and I can't fault them for that. However, how they cut the greens in a cross-hatch pattern makes them difficult to read some times, which often led to a double break on numerous putts.


I bet during the Spring or Summer when the course drives out, the greens will come alive and give you a tremendous experience and credit goes to the greenskeeper for keeping the course as awesome as it was for a deep in December round.

The pace of play was fantastic, all the staff from the pro shop to the cute restaurant were great and with the quality of the golf, PD is well worth the trip if you are in the Dallas area. One suggestion, since the course is out in the middle of nowhere, definitely try to play 36 and/or stay at the resort so you can play the course multiple times.

Many thanks to John O'Keefe for taking many of the pictures of the course you see here, great playing partner and photographer!

For more information on Pine Dunes, check out the following: http://www.pinedunes.com/golf/info-gallery



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Countdown To Bandon- Gearing Up

Update on the Countdown? Reservations have been confimed!


One of the appealing features of Bandon Dunes is its location on the Pacific Ocean coast of Oregon. That location is a double edged sword because being right on the ocean means you will be faced with wind and rain.

Bandon averages 4.8 inches of rain a month (although less than inch during the Summer) so gear for the elements is a must. http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/bandon/oregon/united-states/usor0023

Even though I have grown up in Upstate NY, living in California has softened me and my wardrobe so I need to up my game for the elements. Enter Galway Bay, a US company that makes top end gear that rivals Galvin Green and others in my humble opinion.

I have two pieces of their gear, their jacket and their pants:




What I like about them is that all their gear is waterproof but it doesn't feel bulky, its all pretty lightweight. I also LOVE the fact the pants can come in any size length you want. I find myself needing 30.5 or 31 on pants and I ordered a 31 in these babies and like Goldilocks, they fit great!

The pants have been tried and true after golfing in very cold Texas weather so they have held up!

I also have been reading a lot of forum posts and a lot of people recommend having 2 pairs of shoes to switch things up if you are playing 36 holes a day. Good thing I have Ecco golf shoes, those things are super comfortable and are water resistant so they should hold up to the Bandon turf!

Days Till Bandon: 109 days
Random Bandon Fact: There is a secret Bandon course which is right next to the resort but not affiliated (maybe?) with it. Playing by some covert reservation system and you make up your own holes! http://theaposition.com/jeffwallach/golf/courses-and-travel/50/flocking-to-the-sheep-ranch
Random Bandon Review: Breaking Eighty has a great review of Pacific Dunes: http://breakingeighty.com/pacific-dunes