Thursday, February 26, 2015

Golfing Crystalaire Country Club



One of my favorite areas in Los Angeles is the Antelope Valley. About an hour North east, this amazing Valley is windy, deserty with lots of snowcapped mountains leading to lots of majestic scenery. I never thought of golfing in this area until I won free golf at the Crystalaire CC and went up recently to check it out.


The first thing you notice about this course are the trees. The trees are everywhere, in the fairways, in shotlines off the tee, everywhere. The ultimate tree hole is the second that has multiple trees in the fairway (something I haven't seen before).

Another thing about CCC are the greens. They are rock hard and quick due to the paucity of water in the Valley and the crazy wind that they have there. I played like garbage this day but I was chipping very well. So many chips rolled off the green like it was their job. I actually holed out from a bunker and was thankful because who knows where the shot would've gone if not the hole?


(the picture above is one of the iron shots I managed to stick to the green)

This course is legit. I ran into an older gentlemen who qualified for several US Opens from this course and I can see why. Its long, the greens are hard and fast and the course while wide, requires accurate shots. Plus if you can shape your shots through the wind, you will do well on any course.

A secret plan of mine is perhaps to try and qualify for the Senior US Open one day (a decade or so off) and I bet this course would get me in good shape. That being said, for a casual round it is a tough track!


Crystalaire is private but allows the public to play on Monday and Tuesdays. You can also enter a contest to play at any point and check it out here: http://www.crystalairecc.com/main21.html

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Golfing Vista Valencia


Nestled near the 5 Freeway and Magic Mountain Amusement Park, Vista Valencia is a pleasant executive course with a surprising variety of holes. There are numerous par 4's with heavily bunkered fairways, par 3's with severe elevation gains and losses, greens with shelves and interesting undulations, this course is definitely a small gem in the Santa Clarita area.


The only downside to this course is allowing 5somes out and really dragging down the playing time, especially on the front side. That being said, if you hit this course during the off peak times, its a great time.

One of the really interesting quirks of this place is how many of the holes are bordered by water, whether on the fairways, creeks crossing through or ponds near greens, this place has a lot of water.


The one hole I was eagerly awaiting for was the island green 17th hole. Much like TPC Sawgrass this island green is the ultimate in shot making.


The hole did not disappoint.


While I played like a bucket-full of suck at Valencia, I put an iron shot on the green and two putted for par, it was a great feeling.

Overall if you are looking for a good executive course, you an't go wrong with Valencia, just go on some off peak times.

For more info, check out here: http://www.vistavalenciagc.com/

Monday, February 9, 2015

ReGripped Goes To Torrey Pines for the Farmer's Insurance Open



I have been living in Southern California for several years but never visited Torrey Pines. I knew TP supposedly held two great golf courses (North and South courses), Tiger won there a lot and it was a local muni to boot (San Diego residents can play it for an insanely small amount of money) but I really never gave it much thought. That all changed when I visited to see the Farmer's Insurance Open this last week. I came away super impressed by the course to say the least. Below are some of my random thoughts on the tourney and my day at Torrey:

1) The course is gorgeous, in fact BOTH courses look amazing. The tournament was only played on the South course the day I was there but you could see a lot of the North Course holes which looked just as awesome. Both courses really maximize their proximity to the ocean by giving you a lot of views. Here are a few examples:





2) When I was growing up and learning how to putt, you had your standard interlocking grip. As time went on people starting experimenting with the grip (right hand low, etc.) but man do so many pros use all types of hand configurations on tour! I saw claw grips, baseball grips and so many other types, I have no idea what to name them.

3)  The tournament was played on the South course but imagine my surprise to see amateurs teeing it up on the North course on Saturday? Its both cool that they can play at the same time as pros but also distracting and you have to keep your head up on the holes that are shared between courses in case of any wayward ball (you have to with the pros as well but that is another matter).

4) Rickie Fowler was the big draw of the day. There was a San Diego police officer following around the festivities at all times.



5) Farmers Insurance put on a great tournament. From the parking to the food tents to the volunteers, this was a well run tourney. There were corporate tents everywhere which sometimes made it difficult to get in between some holes but that is life on the modern PGA tour. Farmers went out of their way to engage the fans on social media and at the course in a way I don't see many tournament sponsors do and that also made for a great experience.


6) I always think that the best day to go to a PGA event is on a Thursday. There are few people and you can really get up close and personal with the pros you watch on TV. That being said, Saturday at Torrey Pines was very pleasant. Sure the super groups involving Rickie, Harris English and weirdly Cameron Tringale (local boy) were huge but the rest of the course was spaced out enough so the crowds were thin if you wanted to follow along.

7) Speaking of the spacing of the course, whoo doggy is it long. I mean, there are 2 par 5's that are 614 yards! Of course, if I am ever lucky enough to play the course, I won't be playing from the pro tees (they aren't open for the public) but I will have to bring my A-length game to this sucker.


(helloooooo down the fairway there)

8) You can't beat the sea air and the views with a stick. Add on top of that watching some of the best golfers in the world ply their trade makes for a heck of an event. The Farmers is a must do and Torrey is a must play in my book!

More info on Torrey Pines here: http://www.torreypinesgolfcourse.com/_tpgallery/gallery.htm

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Golfing Van Nuys


Nestled in Van Nuys, is an 18 hole par 3 course along with a a 9 hole executive course. I decided to take a spin on the executive course although in some ways this course forced me to rethink what I look for in courses.


The course starts out like most beater courses, hitting off mats and on top of other golfers. In fact, you are so on top of other golfers, I started to get nervous during the round. The tees are so close together, the roadways are so close to the course, there is almost no margin for error which does not add to the enjoyment of the round. Things are so stacked up, the airplanes are stacked upon you.


When you aren't hitting near other golfers, you are hitting almost into traffic. In the pic below you have two options, hit near a tree or lose it right into a fence or onto the road.


I don't want to slag Van Nuys too much, after all, real estate is limited and not every course has the luxury of land adjacent to the course but the proximity of everything made me feel, well claustrophobic.

One great thing about VNGC is that it gave me this shot:


So many golf balls, so little time.

Don't let me dissuade you on VNGC, check it out for yo'self! http://www.vannuysgc.com/

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reviewing Callaway's Chrome Soft Ball


In 2014, I got back into golf after a long layoff. After I knocked the rust off, in 2015 I am going to take the next step and really get my game in gear. Part of that plan is to upgrade my golf balls so when Callaway announced their new Chrome Soft balls, I got my hands on some as soon as they were released and took em out on the course.

First off, this ball is soft, soft off the tee, soft off the putter. While I usually think urethane covers as being hard, this ball is like hitting a marshmallow, in the best possible way.  Its a marshmallow that goes at least as far as my other balls and feels good coming off the putter.

Like any new ball, it takes a bit to figure out how the ball checks up versus how the ball releases but suffice to say, this ball does BOTH! This ball with run on the bump n run and also check up with a lot of spin.

I had two shots where I overshot the pin by 5 yards only to see the ball back up to 4 feet by the pin. In fact, one of these shots won me a closest to the pin contest this weekend! If that isn't an endorsement of this ball, I don't know what does.

Callaway, I don't know what is in your water but what is in your golf balls are pretty sweet!



To check out more about the ball go here! http://www.callawaygolf.com/golf-balls/balls-2015-chrome-soft.html

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Golfing Watters Creek Texas



When I think of Texas, I think of beautifully flat prairie interrupted by houses and the occasional chain store selling stuffed armadillos. There are some great golf courses in Texas and one way that they counteract the flat/armadillo dynamic is to have lots and lots of water and Watters Creek has it in spades.


Numerous holes run along creeks, go over ponds or involve you drinking water which makes for an interesting course.

One of the best holes is one of the shortest, the par 4 sixth hole that doglegs left with an imposing second shot over a creek that bends twice (twice the creek for twice the fun!) before reaching the green.


The course wasn't looking its sharpest due to the winter weather but it was still a lot of fun to play. Did I mention the water?


As we ended the round, the sun was setting and setting the Texas sky on fire which made for a great end to a watery day.


For more info on the course, check it out here: http://www.watterscreekgolf.com/

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Golfing Rancho Park Beating The King


LA has a long golf history including hosting the LA Open beginning in 1926. One of those classic courses in LA is Rancho Park which is in a very LA-location, smack dab in the middle of houses and movie studios. I hadn't had a chance to play the course but when a friend asked me to play 9 at the crack of dawn, I definitely said yes!

Was it really dawn? Well check out this pic:


I hadn't made "first tracks" on a course in awhile and my body was still asleep as I definitely put up some big numbers on the first few holes.

On one of the holes, there was a hawk holding her fresh catch and never had I sympathized so much with prey after those first few holes:


The course wasn't overly difficult and unlike most parkland courses actually had some elevation gains and losses and holes weren't tightly packed together so you weren't always ducking from other golfers.

My mind and body finally starting connecting and I started hitting some good shots.


What is fascinating about Rancho is that on the back 9 there are no par 5's until 17 and then there are two par 's back to back, a truly unusual configuration.

Now about that golf history. A very big piece of that history happened on Rancho's 18th hole.


During a LA Open, Arnold Palmer hit a good drive and then proceeded to make a 12 on the hole. A plaque is erected on 18 to commemorate the meltdown and to inspire golfers that even the best screw up. Well folks, I bested Arnie by 8 shots firing a 40 foot birdie putt to end the round.

That is truly the beguiling thing about golf, you can be having a lousy round and then a few shots keeps you coming back. That and I know that I am soooo much better than Arnold Palmer.

For more info about Rancho, check out this link: http://www.golf.lacity.org/cdp_rancho.htm