Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Whiskey and golf seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, there are very few whiskies that are made in the US and even fewer that are specific to golf. Journeyman checks both of those boxes being made in Michigan by a golf fanatic and I recently got to try their Silver Cross whiskey.
This whiskey is named for the Silver Cross which was originally a medal given to British Open golfers in the early days and I love that pedigree.
I also loved how the whiskey poured into my glass! It was a great amber color and I know next to nothing about whiskey but it sure looked tasty.
So how did it taste?
Pretty good! Since I don't know much about whiskey, I look for good tasting ones that are "smooth" and don't burn or make me cringe. This one was great for all of that, no need for ice, the Silver Cross is good sipping whiskey.
I am by no means a whiskey expert but this tasted pretty good and I can't wait to try more of this delicious liquid!
For more information about Journeyman, check out this link: http://www.journeymandistillery.com/spirits/
Disclaimer: I was provided Journeyman for purposes of this review only.
Monday, August 21, 2017
Desert Willow is a fascinating course in Palm Springs. 36 holes of reasonably priced golf with nary a house to be seen. This is a true desert course offering a serene golfing experience with a ton of roadrunners to keep you company.
DW had been high on my list for awhile and I finally got a chance to play it recently and it lived up to my impossibly high expectations. Extremely wide off the tee with a fair rough and interesting green complexes, DW is one of the best tracks in Palms Springs.
It all starts off the tee on the Mountain Course which has an insane amount of width in the fairways but beautiful framing around the tee boxes to make you think a little bit.
A lot of the par 4s are over 400 yards and so oddly are the par 5s, with only on topping out over 500 yards. However, the course makes you work for every yard with numerous streams and obstacles which make you think about approach shots even on par 5s.
What I found most fascinating was the variety of the par 3s and not a water feature to be had (a blessing given the over reliance on this particular feature here in SoCal).
Where there is water on the course it frames the holes nicely and doesn't seem out of place even though you are golfing in the desert.
Now if I were nitpicking on DW, I would say that the back nine is more interesting than the front as the front starts off with several similar par 4s in a row. The back nine allows for more creative shotmaking and while slightly more constricted by the DW resort offers some great holes reminiscent of Marriott's Shadow Ridge.
Overall though with the place of pay sub 4 hours and a pleasing layout unencumbered by houses, this is definitely one Palm Springs course to put on your itinerary.
For more information about Desert Willow, check out the link! http://www.desertwillow.com/
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Here it is, under 2 weeks to go until I find myself at the newest golf destination in the US, Sand Valley. I am getting very pumped about my visit there and here are a few last things I am checking out in preparation of my trip.
When I was lucky enough to play Sand Hills in Nebraska, one of my favorite things bar none was hanging out on Ben's Porch. The porch was a small house near the 18th hole where you could just relax, check out the golfers struggling around the course and have some awesome burgers.
It looks like Sand Valley has their own porch (Craig's Porch above) and I can't wait to chill out there soon!
One of the things I have I learned on my Coore/Crenshaw quest is that a lot of their courses aren't close to anything and Sand Valley is no exception. 2.5 hours from Milwaukee, 4 hours from Chicago, Sand Valley is somewhat tough to get to but I can't wait to see the sign above in the middle of nowhere pointing the way to good golf!
I am not quite sure where I am staying at Sand Valley but whoo doggie do all the places look great. Rustic yet refined and somehow each residence looks like it is sand dunes despite being located in Wisconsin. SV currently has three lodging options all of which are very similar in style. I have never stayed at a true golf resort and I will be interested in exploring every inch of the property while I am there.
For more info on Sand Valley, check out this link: http://www.sandvalleygolfresort.com/
All photographs are owned by Sand Valley/Kemper Sports and are used herein for news and commentary purposes only.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
No wonder then that the used market for golf balls is so huge. Golfers want quality but considering how much we go through golf balls, don't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. Look at the mania that happened when Costco came out with their Kirkland golf ball. Quality golf balls for a reasonable price? People went mad for them!
There are many used golf ball places out there on the Interwebs and I have tried them all. Something drew me to the bespoke used golf ball site of Two Guys With Balls and I am glad it did.
Two Guys carefully go through golf balls, wash em up and have an easy to follow grading system (rather than the AAA, AAAAA, etc. out there). Eagle is basically brand new. Birdie is good but a little scuffy. Par is playable but definitely dinged up.
So how do the balls actually do "in the field"? Fantastic! Performed just like new balls, I am fan.
If you buy through them, you are also supporting a great cause as they donate part of their profits to Arnie's Army.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with Two Guys and have the page bookmarked for further reloads of my golf balls needs. That reminds me, I need to buy some more ink fo rthe printer.
For more information on Two Guys, be sure to check out the link: https://TwoGuysWithBalls.com
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Oak Valley sits in a no-mans golf land of Southern California. Not quite Los Angeles, not Palm Springs, the town of Beaumont is often a weigh station between the two cities but golfer's should take note of the course seen just off the 10 as they go by.
The first hole that you see off the 10 is this beautiful downhill par 3 that while it plays short, is much more difficult because of the swirling winds. The course was in fantastic shape and while they keep the greens long this time of year, the fairways and tee boxes were all top notch.
The routing of the course offers up many beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and while there are houses that line the course (mostly on the back 9) they don't hem you in like many Palm Springs courses.
My favorite holes, which are also emblematic of the course as a hole are above. The green in the foreground is a long par 3 and in the background is the 17th green which is a longish par 4. These are great strategic holes that can be navigated by most golfers.
However, if you notice the railroad ties, the molding, the penal nature of the course, you would be forgiven in thinking that Pete Dye designed this course. Oak Valley was designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley and they both clearly study at the Dye school as the course felt like a slightly less penal Dye course.
The bulldozered bumps were there. The long fairway bunkers flanking the fairways were there. The water cutting a bit too close to greens with railroad ties were there. I am not a huge fan of Dye's style and I think there are better architects to ape so the course went down a few notches in my estimation. That being said, this was the most fun Dye-like course I have ever played and that alone bumps up the course several notches. If they designed this course and took out some of the tricked up elements, it would be really special.
Overall, I like Oak Valley. It is a fun course that marries great elements from Palm Springs and Los Angeles golf. I think the course would be absolutely fantastic to play in the Fall/Winter time and am eagerly awaiting my next round there.
For more information on Oak Valley check out the link! http://www.oakvalleygolf.com/
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Canada often gets overlooked as a golfing destination but if you do, you do so at your own peril. There are tremendous Top 100 courses in Canada but beyond the rankings there are numerous golf courses that seem to offer fun challenges to golfers in fantastic natural settings. Plus Canada has my three favorite things moose, maple syrup and hockey so really it is the complete package.
Over the last few years I have become enamored with one area of Canada in particular, Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria. Vancouver Island is surprisingly temperate weather-wise, meaning when the mainland is getting socked in by months of snow, you can still golf there and the golf courses look fantastic. Also, Alaska Airlines flies 4 flights a day into Victoria so it is easy to get to whether you are on the West Coast or the East Coast.
The Island has also put together a Golf Trail and multiple golf packages which takes you up and down the coast or situates you in one area but no matter where you are, you have tremendous golf offerings to choose from. One day I hope to get up there and see it all for myself and then I can tell you all about my Canadian adventures! For the time being, here are a few courses I have been doing deep dives on:
Bear Mountain (Mountain): Jack Nicklaus is a prolific course designer but I dare say he hasn't crafted too many courses prettier than Bear Mountain. Somehow Jack and crew managed to wedge this course on the side of a mountain providing amazing views of the surrounding island. The PGA Champions Tour knows a good thing when it sees it and has an annual tour stop here. The resort associated with the golf course is top notch and the Golf Trail offers stay and play packages so you can live the good life with a good course.
Highland Pacific Golf Course: Victoria is a beautiful looking town and is probably where I will be spending most of my time when not golfing on the island. Just outside of town is HPGC which was a course that was a real family affair. Herb Plasterer wanted to build a public golf course and started down the path but died. His wife Rose and his family carried on and the course came into being and looks absolutely stunning. I love courses molded by iconoclastic designers like Pine Valley and Pebble Beach and this course is much cheaper and much more accessible than those ones and I can't wait to see what Herb and Rose got up to.
Arbutus Ridge: Golf courses live in their environment, that is just part of the deal. Arbutus is a beautiful looking golf course that is surrounded by 9 wineries and not only that, it has a certificate in environmental planning. This land is gorgeous and the golf course only enhances the beauty of the terrain. WestJet! Magazine named this course one of the best values in Canada and I look forward to seeing why.
Victoria Golf Club: A private course on VI, and not on the official golf trail, VGC warrants special mention because of my obsession about it. The course was founded in 1893 (second oldest in North America!) is often ranked in the uppermost reaches of Canada courses and if I could be a member of any course in Canada, this would be the one. Numerous holes by the ocean and also fantastic parkland holes, this course seems to have it all. The clubhouse is a historic landmark but from what I understand about it, the club has a great, laid-back vibe. It would be a honour (Queen's spelling) just to play there and definitely on my top 10 "must play" list.
So there you go, a deep dive into one of the unheralded golfing regions in the world, Vancouver Island. Have you played any of the courses there and/or have done the golf trail? Let me know in the comments and if there are any I need to play tell me!
For more information on golf on Vancouver Island, be sure to check out the following link: http://golfvancouverisland.ca/
Images are from Golf Vancouver Island and are used for news and commentary purposes only.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Mammoth Becomes Bigger:
Just before my visit to SV, it looks like preview play for David McLay Kidd's Mammoth Dunes will be extended to 9 holes. From the preview pics I have seen thus far, Mammoth looks outrageous and even if I can't play 18, I will at least get 9 in and perhaps even get to walk the rest.
I have always been a fan of Kemper Sports, the management company founded by Mike Keiser. They just so happen to manage the top golf resorts in the US, Bandon Dunes, Streamsong and now Sand Valley. I have never stayed at a true golf resort it has only been at hotels near courses or places with one golf course. It will be interesting to see what the vibe is whenever everyone there are golf nuts, can't wait!
So I have now learned about Kringles. Kringles are rolled dough that come out like a flattened cinnamon bun and can take upwards of 3 days to make because they let the dough rest between folding. It sounds ridiculously complicated but also delicious! This is one I might try: http://larsenskringle.com/kringle.html
Also I am planning to visit the Cheese Castle! This place looks glorious and also very Wisconsin!
For more information about Sand Valley, check out the link: http://www.sandvalleygolfresort.com/