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!

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!

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:

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:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Golf Gift Guide

This year has been great for me. I got back into golf after a long layoff, started this golf blog and had a lot of great adventures playing cool courses. Over the course of the year, I found out about some great golf products that I think would make good stocking stuffers for any golf nut. Check em out!

EBars Golf Bars:

Power bars are everywhere nowadays in all different flavors for all different purposes. However, the best one I have found for golf is EBars. Specifically formulated for a round of golf, this bar is my favorite discovery of the year.  It not only tastes good (which is a rarity for power bars) but also is all natural and doesn't contain bad preservatives or other harmful junk which shows up in these bars. I eat these before every round and it really gets me up and going!

For more info on EBars, check em out here:

Monsta Golf Balls:

The golf ball market is saturated with big companies, Titleist, Bridgestone, etc. but every once in awhile a small manufacturer pops up that offers a great golf ball. Enter Monsta with its distinct eye and no nonsense spin on the greens. The distance is pretty good and so is the durability of this ball. If you are looking to go outside the big guys, give this "little" guy a try!

For more info on the Monsta, check out:

Birdie Gift Card:

The great thing about having a lot of golf courses in the US is that there are a lot of coupon books to give you discounts to those courses. In Southern California, Roger Dunn is the best golf shop and their savings card is the best coupon card around. Who doesn't love savings? If you are in the Southlands, get thyself to Roger!

For more info on the Birdie book, check this out:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Golfing Puakea Golf Course Hawaii

There are golf courses and then there are Hawaiian golf courses. Take one golf course, sprinkle in mountains, ocean views and feral pigs and you have a whole new golfing experience.

Sure there are more famous courses than the Puakea golf course on the island of Kauai. Some people might look to Kapalua on Maui or Koele on Lana'i but for my money the beauty of Puakea is right up there and a MUST play if you are on Hawaii.

The post is going to have a lot of pictures but I just wanted to give you my general impressions of the course. It is not overly long, which is a good thing for me and there is a great variety to the holes. interesting uses of water,

crazy elevation changes

and sand, lots o sand

Your ball will find the trap on this course so be prepared to spend even more time at the beach here in Hawaii.

The course is pretty reasonable, $99 before 11am and dropping in price every few hours thereafter. While initially puzzling as to why that is for this Mainlander, the answer becomes clear as the wind picks up as the day moves along so the rates drop accordingly. The staff is super friendly and got me set up for my day was enthusiastic that I was playing the course.

The mountains loom large, especially on the back 9.

Rental clubs were Nike game improvement clubs. The 3 wood and the hybrid irons were pretty boss.

Kauai was a lot cloudier than Maui but made for a cooler, nicer round of golf.

The greens ran pretty slow at Puakea. Not a lot of terracing or challenge to the putts but when you are lining up a putt, how can you help but be distracted by the scenery?

The tee boxes were in good shape and set up the hole well.  I played from the blues, it made the course the "right" length, the whites and reds were too far up and I am not that much of a glutton for punishment to play from the tips from this bad boy, after all, I was on my vacation!

The real bonus was getting to play a round with my wife, who took all these awesome shots. It was so great having her there and also, we had the course to ourselves so we could enjoy an awesome Hawaiian golf experience.

Definitely check out Puakea when you are there, here is a link to the course:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Golfing Rustic Canyon

I rarely play top courses in the US. I often stick to municipal courses and rarely venture into the Top 100. Since I was getting married, I thought I would change it up by playing a course often ranked in the Top 100 in the US and ranked as the best value for a public course, Rustic Canyon.

In playing this course, I can definitely see what the Top 100 has to offer! Each hole was unique and challenging. Often parkland courses have holes that are very flat and side by side so after awhile you forget what hole you are playing until a ball almost whacks you in the head.

(first hole)

Not Rustic Canyon though! The course follows the contours of a valley in Moorpark California and mixes fairways with natural scrub brush and desert areas.

The big challenge of this course (which numerous commentators have noted) is the greens. These things are beasts, quick with crazy humps and ridges and bifurcations.

You have to play this course once in order to really play it going forward (good thing I am planning on playing this place multiple times!). The greens really effect how you approach a given hole and having that knowledge is key to a good round.

What also is fascinating about RC is how many waste areas you have to drive over or hit your second shots over. It makes you think and adds to the challenge.

One last thing I will mention about RC is that the fairway/rough right around the greens are cut super close, almost creating a second green.

This creates it own challenges, do you putt, chip, bump and run, give up and go to the next hole? Options, you have a lot of options. It got to the point that I started repairing ballmarks on the fairway since it was mowed so close.

Overall Rustic Canyon is an amazing experience and one that every SoCal golfer must experience. The fact that it kicked off my wedding weekend made it even more special but you don't need a life changing event to make this place special, just play it and see for yourself.