Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pacific Gales Is Coming


I have been following the Pacific Gales project for some time and now that the environmental permits have been secured, it is full speed ahead on one of the most intriguing new course projects in North America. The project came about due to Jim Haley who saw potential in a ranch on the Pacific coast when he was working at Bandon Dunes. Nothing is created overnight and Jim has been hard at work on getting this off the ground for decades.

With the gang up at Bandon going crazy with acquiring and developing, Oregonians were understandably concerned about the environmental impacts of the development. However, the people at PG has taken great pains to minimize the environmental impact of the project.

The course is also taking a rather unique trip down the financing river as it is pre-selling memberships to "Founders" and once they have enough Founders signed up, they will break ground. Often golf course owners have a dream, spend a lot of money to build and then hope. PG wants to make sure the interest is there for before truly getting going. I have explored the perks of membership and it's pretty sweet. Unlimited golf for life with no dues, preferred tee times and significant discounts and other perks, being a Founder ain't cheap but its a good deal if you can swing it.

Don't worry, Founders won't get all the fun. The course will be open to the public so you will get to play this baby once it is up and going!


As a budding golf architect aficionado (I'm currently on a quest to play all the Coore/Crenshaw courses: http://www.coorecrenshawquest.com/),  I was interested how the mechanics of designing a golf course in the far reaches of Oregon. I have heard rumors about Pacific Gales like a double green for the ninth and eighteen holes and am genuinely curious about what its like to design a course in such a remote part of the country. Luckily I was put in touch with one of the club's founders and architect for the project Dave Esler.

Dave is the architect behind the under-the-radar Black Sheep course outside of Chicago which is creating a lot of buzz in golf circles and has designed and renovated several other golf courses around the country. I had a Q&A with Dave that I hope gives you a sense of what its like to work on Pacific Gales:

ReGripped: Looking through your design portfolio, it seems that you have been mostly involved with designing or renovating inland golf courses. I imagine designing a seaside course like Pacific Gales allows you to work with new types of grasses, weather patterns and other on-the-ground elements. Has there been something site-specific that has particularly affected your development of Pacific Gales' layout so far? 
Dave Esler: More than any other factors, the physical site and the local environment needs to drive the design decisions for a project to develop a unique character or sense of place, and that's certainly important to me on every project. The seasonal wind shifts, soil types and exceptional views at Pacific Gales have got the team thinking about a lot of design opportunities that may not present themselves on other sites. We always strive for "par-fluidity” throughout a routing, and at least half the holes at Pacific Gales will be "par and a half” to instill a sense of fun and adventure to make the golf course unique among its peers.

RG: Do you have any architectural flourishes that you like to incorporate into your courses (similar to Pete Dye's railroad ties)? I really like what you did at Black Sheep and Twin Orchard incorporating islands/ribbons of grass into bunkers (at least in the few pictures I have seen). Can we expect to see anything similar at Pacific Gales? 
DE: I think you'd see that those two properties could not be more different. Everything I try to design (new, remodel or restored) is site, client, market, and owner specific. I'm sure we all have tendencies, or proclivities, but I rarely try to repeat myself, though I'm sure it happens. I think I would go nuts if I did the same thing over and over again. Part of the appeal of the game of golf is the uniqueness of each playing field, and I really strive to explore and develop the genus loci at each project.

RG:Will the golf course be walking only or will there be golf carts available to golfers? Relatedly, are you going to have greens and tee boxes relatively close together in a Scottish style or will the course be more spread out over the 200 acres? 
DE: With or without carts, we plan to develop a vibrant caddie program for walkers, and requiring forecaddies for groups who may take carts. Having seen the life-changing benefits of programs like the Evans Scholars, Daniel Murphy Scholarships, Francis Ouimet programs, et al, we absolutely plan to give back to the community in that regard. I grew up caddying, so the final decision regarding carts is a tough one. Having said that, paths are very easy to camouflage and would provide a unique benefit for our clientele. I think (Gulfweed’s) Brad Klein told me that our Black Sheep routing had one of the shortest green-to-tee walk distances he'd ever measured, and that was certainly intentional. I've always liked the intimacy of tees being proximate to the previous green whenever practical. That self-imposed tendency really forces the routing to be very carefully thought out. In the end the quality of a golf hole will almost always win out, but disjointed routings tend to be a crutch, particularly on housing-free projects.



RG: What was the inspiration for the double green for the ninth and eighteenth holes?
DE: Symmetry, serendipity, hard work? The routing took a while to coagulate (it is still solidifying a bit, and will certainly get tweaked even through construction), but I discovered No. 17 pretty early on and that helped set the finishing holes as well as the clubhouse location. We also knew pretty early that we needed to be different in many ways from Bandon and allowing both nines to finish on the ocean with the clubhouse overlooking the cliff, sunsets and 9th and 18th greens was a pretty terrific find and an easy decision to stick with. The fact that there is mild promontory at just the right location was very fortunate (just like Pete Dye has noted about Casa De Campo having several concave shorelines rather than convex ones made all the difference at Teeth of the Dog — but knowing what to do with it requires some creativity, experience, and in his case, genius). The double-green finish at Pacific Gales, is *not* a wink to St. Andrews or anything like that. It is just a function of the amount of space provided by the site at that particular place for that unique desired use; two large greens on an outcropping on about a half acre means that they need to be proximate to one another — and in this case absolutely breathtaking.

RG: Are you anticipating more holes being built above and beyond the initial 18? How many courses could potentially be built on the property?
DE: Nearly everyone asks about the additional courses on site now, probably because Mike Keiser has made the multi-course project almost an assumption now with Bandon Dunes, Cabot and Sand Valley. The property is certainly large enough to accommodate more golf at Pacific Gales, but at this point we are focused on creating the best golf course and destination golf experience possible.

RGFinally, all the best new North American courses seem to be in ultra remote locations like Bandon Oregon, Mullen Nebraska, Inverness Nova Scotia, etc. Pacific Gales is following in that mold with its construction near Port Orford Oregon. Are there any particular challenges in building a course in such a remote part of the country? 
DE: Most new projects are "off the grid" a bit and require fuel, materials, equipment to be shipped in. But unless you're on an island or significantly remote so as not to have paved roads, the logistics are not too bad.  

Thanks Dave for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it!

I am stoked about Pacific Gales. There are so many distractions in today's world. If you want to experience golf in its natural, wild state, you need to travel a few miles to get to the special clubs. Pacific Gales has the chance to be one of those special places and I can't wait to see what they do up there. I will let you know if I hear any updates about this track!

For more information on Pacific Gales, check out the link: http://pacificgales.com/
For more information about Dave Esler's design projects: check out this link: http://eslergolf.com/



Photos Courtesy of Pacific Gales- all rights reserved to them

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Live Masters Blog Day 4 - Sunday



I am not sure what is better, a packed leaderboard or a leaderboard full of stars? Today starts off with Rickie, Justin, Jordan and Sergio all firmly in the mix. Who will win? Let's find out together below!

4:30pm PST: There it is, the unbelievable has happened. After kicking ass on the front 9 and completely falling apart on the back 9 but somehow coming back from the dead Sergio birdies the first playoff hole and wins the MASTERS!!!!

There are winners and losers of the week but recaps seem beside the point given what we have just witnessed. All the props in the world to Sergio.

Thank you everyone for reading this live blog and following my tweets over the last 4 days. See you next year!

4:10pm PST: Welp both missed those putts below meaning we are heading to a playoff. Who knows who is going to win this thing. Sergio has hung tough all day but does he have enough to dig deep for the next hole? We will see.

4:00pm PST: Are you kidding me?



3:40pm PST: Justin makes a birdie and Sergio, who is closer, misses! Justin ahead by 1 although now Sergio just outdrove Justin. Sergio is running out of holes and it probably will all come down to 18. #pinsandneedles

3:30pm PST: INSANITY! First part of the day Sergio could do no wrong. Then the wheels fell off any Justin Rose was totally in control. Sergio battled back, Justin (maybe?) hurt his back and Sergio snags and eagle and a share of the lead heading into 16. Craziness!


3:05pm PST: Potentially Lexi Part Duex? Geoff Shackleford and other commentators have maybe pointed out some potential rules violations from Sergio.

https://twitter.com/GeoffShac/status/851191491011768320

Did anyone else notice these instances? What did you think, penalty strokes and do we need any more Lexi situations in golf?

[UPDATED] Augusta National has said NO PENALTY, strokes and score remain the same.

2:50pm PST: The only thing holding Sergio back in majors was his mental makeup. He has admitted time and time again he is either over it or can't hack it. Here he was, kicking butt on the front 9 and then blammo he runs into a wall of his own doing, Justin makes a few birdies and Bob's your uncle Justin is going to win the Masters. It happened just that quickly.

2:30pm PST: Freddie ends his day with a 72 and +1 for the tourney. Yet ANOTHER Top 20 finish for my favorite of all time. In all honesty I don't think he has 4 rounds in him to contend in the tourney but boy what excitement in wishing and hoping he could. He will always have 92 and all of our hearts!

2:05pm PST: One of the nice things about watching the Masters has been the civility of the fans. Through three days it has been about the golf but on Sunday, for some reason, the patron's voices are starting to be heard. Someone just said on the telecast "ham and cheese" after a Rickie Fowler shot. Early someone had a "babba booey" on the first tee. Honestly, the tournament is not about YOU as a fan, it is about THEM as a golfer. This narcissism absolutely infuriates me.

1:30pm PST: As the Masters is starting to turn into the Sergio show, I have been finding some other cool Masters stuff from around the webs. Exhibit A, a great photo of Augusta's layout to give you a real sense of the property.


Here is a great article from Golf Monthly about the speed of Augusta's greens.

http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/tour/us-masters/augusta-blog/127020-127020

12:55pm PST: Sergio continues to pour on the gas and no one in the other 4 are either making a charge or are too far back. This is Sergio's tourney all the way.

12:20pm PST: I would like to point out that 4 of the 11 names on the leaderboard are former winners of the Masters. Clearly experience counts for a lot here.

12:00pm PST: Golf like all sports is about momentum and I would argue Jordan's momentum was stopped yesterday with a bogey on 16. Meanwhile with a birdie on 1 Sergio has all the momentum in the world and it's his tourney to lose at this point.

11:15am PST: CBS has gotten a lot of flack recently for not producing a quality golf product where they used to be the standard bearers of golf coverage. Lack of ProTracer, too many commercials and too much in-round filler, indifferent commentary. It sounds like they have listened to many of the complaints starting out of the gates with a lot of golf shots, then the schmaltzy intro then more golf shots. Coupled with the fact that the Masters limits the amount of commercial time then CBS does much better working within constraints.


That being said, AGNC has to loosen up and allow for shot tracking technology. CBS should also keep the lessons born from constraints and apply it to the rest of the year. Still though, its the Masters and CBS gets through it and delivers us golf fans the fix we need.



11:00am PST: The Masters is the highest rated golf tourney of the year so of course CBS wants to milk that for as long as they can but at 2pm in the East and the leaders are 45 minutes away from even teeing off? The pace of play this week has been slow (due in part to the abnormal conditions on Thursday and Friday) but whew is it going to be a long day with a such a late start.


10:25am PST: So word on the street is that Danny Willett is playing at Forest Hills Golf Club prior to the green jacket ceremony and got me thinking, what other courses are in Augusta and ones that you can play during Masters Week?

Forest Hills Golf Club: About as close as you can get to ANGC on a public track, Danny picked a great course to play at today. Their Masters Week special of $160 is a spicy meatball and I imagine event at that price point the course will be packed.
Augusta Muni: On the other side of the street from Forest Hills, the Muni has a very reasonable $50 fee for non-residents. It also seems like a really friendly course having followed them on Facebook.
River Golf Club: Just across the state line in Hammond's Ferry the Riv looks like a classic river course with nice amenities. The course offers an "all in" package with greens fees carts lunch, etc. although rates aren't on the website.
Jones Creek Golf Club: A little bit further away from ANGC, Jones Creek also has a Masters week package but is the most expensive of the options so far, $225 a golfer. That is a spicy Georgia peach.
Gordon Lakes Golf Course: Further afield on a military base is Gordon Lakes. It has 27 holes and a low civilian rate of $27. I am not sure how hard it is to get on given that it is a military base but during Masters week it is cheap and close and worth trying to figure it out.

9:55am PST: Kyle Porter announced that won the lottery to play Augusta National on Monday, one of the few media members who get the chance to after the tourney. Considering how exclusive the course is, I think I have to start looking into getting a press pass (this live blog will get me there right?).

If you want a great write up about media members playing the Monday after, check out this link. http://www.espn.com/golf/masters07/columns/story?id=2838289&columnist=diaz_jaime

9:35am PST: When you think about, can you name someone who has had a more disappointing Master than Hideki Matsuyama?


The guy rocketed up the World Rankings, won a BUNCH of tournaments and then over the last month has slowly been getting worse and worse. Still thought, he was a huge favorite at Augusta but he never was in it and currently us at +4 and just going through the motions. If his game is on, he is unstoppable but if he has to grind (a la Jordan), I am not sure if he has the game to compete at Augusta. That being said Hideki is super young and he has plenty of time to figure out the course.

9:25am PST: Good morning live blog readers! It is yet another Masters Sunday and I am yet again blogging my crazy musings to the world. As always the features groups are off first including the ever ageless Steve Stricker. I swear this guy is going to be playing until he is 90. I have yet to get my Masters setup fully in swing but that will happen before the leaders tee off!


All photos, screengrabs and intellectual property are used herein for news and commentary purposes only.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Live Masters Blog Day 3 - Saturday

Here it is moving day. Who will move into the first page and who will move out? Who will give me Masters tickets for next year? Who? Who? Who? Find out below!

4:00pm PST: Ok Masters Recap Time, Saturday Edition.

They call Saturday "moving day" for a reason and with Justin Rose going five under, Jordan going four under and Schwartzel at four under, a lot of guys made big moves to put them into the conversation.

Meanwhile Rickie, Sergio and Hoffman didn't have quite the same type of days but all did just enough to stay either tied for or near the lead. So what is store for tomorrow?

I think looking at it from a momentum perspective everything is coming up Justin at this point. The guy has the game and he played the most solid of the top guys. Jordan is dangerous when he is chasing but his mistakes on the back 9 keep happening. At this point I think its Justin or bust but really anyone on that first page has a shot. See you tomorrow for more live bloggin!

3:10pm PST: Sergio and Rose are playing super solid golf. Super solid. It will be interesting to see who Hoffman is paired with tomorrow and how that effects his round.

Jordan meanwhile just can't get through the last 3 holes without some sort of mistake. Last year when he was down to Willett and pressing he needed birdies and couldn't convert on the last 3 holes. I think if Jordan is going to seriously challenge tomorrow he needs to go out in 4 or 5 under on the front side.

2:45pm PST: When there were only a few TV channels everyone had a shared experience of watching events like the Masters. Everyone remembers Jack's charge in 86, Freddie staying up in 92 or Tiger in 97. Now with multiple feeds on multiple platforms, my Masters experience is much different than yours (maybe). For example, I have been staying off the main feed for most of the day and switching back and forth between Amen Corner and Featured Group action.

I have barely seen any of Hoffman or Garcia or Rose. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the flexibility that multiple channels affords but at the same time I don't have the same sense of the tournament this year. I am in a CoupleofRahms/Spieth land but I have vowed for the last hour to follow the main feed to see what everyone else is up to.

2:30pm PST: We are watching something special right now with Jordan Spieth and that just goes to show you that no one knows what is going to happen at this tourney. It has been hours since I blogged about CoupleofRahms and Hoffman/Garcia aren't exactly lighting the tournament on fire. But who is?

Jordan, Jordan Spieth. Mr. Masters. Had a terrible Thursday, almost completely out of it but he is charging up the leaderboard and is currently one back. I learned this awhile ago, NEVER bet against Jordan at this course.

2:00pm PST: Jordan has been watching a lot of TV, to his benefit:

Before his 2nd shot off the straw at 13, Spieth said to Michael Greller "What would Arnie do?" Answered himself "Hit it to 20 ft." Close.

1:45pm PST: One of the things golf commentators often remark about Jordan Spieth's game is that he knocks it around the park and is all over the place and yet grinds hard and is more often than not is in red numbers. He never gives up despite the odds and just grinded out two amazing back to back par saves on holes 10 and 11.



1:25pm PST: CoupleofRahms are both back up to -2 and are inching closer to the lead as Hoffman and Garcia are both stuck at -5. Golfers are threatening to go low but no one has really broken out of the pack with a sub-68. Jordan meanwhile has an amazing up and down to stay at -3. He is turning into Amen Corner now which he hasn't exactly excelled at this week. Jordan doesn't have many flaws in his Masters game but the back 9 has been much crueler than the front 9 that's for sure.

1:07pm PST: Jordan stuffs it close for another birdie. If there is one guy who knows this course inside and out and has the game to go low its Jordan. Before the tourney Jordan had this to say:

“I think we know, and the other players that are playing next week know, that we strike fear in others next week,”

It will be interesting see if Jordan is only a few shots off come Sunday if the field does feel fear a la the heyday of Tiger Woods. There are horses for courses and Jordan is quickly joining Freddie has that type of horse.



1:00pm PST: Jordan must have been listening to me as he just birdied a par 5 and even had a great look for eagle. What about everyone else?

The leaderboard at the moment looks like a repeat of Thursday with Hoffman and McGirt on top. Rickie and Sergio really haven't made any moves and Pieters is going in the other direction. Paul Casey, yet another pre-Masters darkhorse is blitzing the field and is currently -4 for the day. If Casey is near the lead come Sunday, he has got the game to challenge anyone.

12:45pm PST: Aside from CoupleofRahms, I am a huge Jordan Spieth fan. Jordan is always a threat to win at this tourney but he is 4 strokes back of the lead. The key for him today is to go super low on the par 5s where he has been horrible this week. A quadruple birdie coupled with a bogey has left him cumulatively +1 on the par 5s for the week. If he wants to make up strokes on the field he has to birdie the last three par 5s (he parred the first one today).


12:35pm PST: CoupleofRahms Update 2: Rahm falls back to -2. Two birdies and a boegy he is a bit feast or famine. As I mentioned on Friday's wrap up, once Rahm figures out this course, watch out.

Couples stays steady at -2. That is not to denigrate what Freddie is doing. He has had several birdie putts not fall so far. If his putter catches fire then he could really go on a run. Of course, he has to stay away from the par 3s which he butchered yesterday. Time will tell.

12:25pm PST: Every year I add one item to my Masters collection. I have never attended a tourney (anyone want to give me a ticket to 2018?) and I can only imagine once I get there how much stuff I am going to buy in person. I hear that they provide you lockers for your schwag and even shipping services. Until that glorious gluttonous day happens I take a sip out of my Masters Cup!


12:15pm PST: First CoupleofRahms update. Rahm is pulling an early Rory by going 2 under for the first three holes. Freddie is hanging in there with a -1 under. Of the two I have to confess that Rahm has the game at this point to go really low and Freddie hasn't played 4 rounds in awhile. Still you hope that they feed off each other.



12:00pm PST: Ok FINALLY DirecTVs feed is on the air. DirecTV basically mirrors the internet feed but brings it to you in HDTV. At this point in our modern era, with a million channels and bandwidth, there is no reason not to offer fans as much coverage as possible on as many platforms as possible.

That being said, every April I fall down on my knees and thank the Golf Gods (TM) for partnering with DirecTV because it is the best way to experience the Masters that I know!

11:45am PST: Almost everyone is on the course at this point except the lead dogs. Rory must have read my post below because he is already 2 under for his round. Freddie and Rahm are holding steady at 1 under. Jordan isn't making up any ground at the moment and while he has plenty of holes, he has to get going.

Can anyone really make a move a post a sub-68 today? If so, they will be in prime position for later today.


11:05am PST: Rory tees off.


It will be interesting to see if he takes my "advice" and stop pressing so much. He has all the talent in the world but I think you can want something too badly it severs as a detriment to your goal. Of course, watch him go out and shoot 65 today to shut me up but at 11:05 I am standing by it.

10:45am PST: Ooof seeing the scores of some of the guys I picked this week scroll across the screen makes me question my golf fandom. I thought for sure Kevin Kisner and Daniel Berger were trending in the right direction and would do something this week but that was not to be.

It looks like it is heating up there in Augusta. The patrons are wearing shorts. The golfers aren't wearing jumpers. Does this mean scores will be lower today? The announcers seem to think not given the flag locations but looking at the early morning groups I think many of the positions are gettable.

10:15am PST: I played a bunch of golf in Virginia but not much in the Carolinas-Georgia region of the country. Certainly the South has a lot of trees (at least many more trees than SoCal) and the courses tend to be narrower in those regions. However the Carolinas-Georgia courses have an added feature of pine straw to help golfers.

I always think about pine straw when I watch the Masters because I see golfers hit it WAY off line only to be bailed out because the trees aren't thick and the pine straw holds up the ball a bit. Sure you have to learn how to hit off pine straw but I think you have a lot more leeway with a straw course.

#lookatthatstraw

9:45am PST: Yea, yea, yea featured groups, big names but only the Amen Corner Coverage has Jeff Knox. Knox is now a local legend (and even has a Swing Juice shirt!) and you can catch him live and direct on the Amen Corner feed right now!


9:20am PST: A Tradition Unlike Any Other here on the blog is bringing you the best in Masters schwag each year. Look back to my Thursday and Friday posts for Masters-specific gear you can rock for 2017. This morning Golf.com posted a subsection of schwag, the Masters-inspired schwag that you can rock.

http://www.golf.com/equipment/photo/2017/04/06/masters-2017-best-augusta-themed-golf-gear

None of this is particularly exciting to me and I think the inspiration for this stuff has steadily gone downhill each year. That being said, I am a HUGE fan of Swing Juice shirts (I have several) and I am glad to see them included in the list!

8:55am PST: What is really interesting about watching two golfers play AGNC is that you really feel like you are following them on the golf course. You see them wait, you see them judge yardages, hit shots, everything that goes into a round of professional golf. TV gives you the impression it is shot, putt, repeat but there is a lot of waiting and walking and judging that goes along with it.

#waiting

8:35am PST: Ok, our first featured group is Brandt Snedeker and Matthew Fitzpatrick. I really like these guys for very different reasons. Brandt is a super solid guy who put together one of the best rounds of the last 5 years winning the rain-soaked Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Matthew is a super young gun out of Europe who seems like he has a bright future ahead of them.


That being said, each is +5 (of course Brandt rolls a birdie in as soon as I type that) and while not technically out of the tourney are so far back they will be having peach ice cream sandwiches way before Jordan or Rickie or Sergio tee off. What I get out of these early groups is a sense of where the pins are and how the course is playing for when the later groups come through. Grist for the mill as it were.

8:15am PST: Ok while Masters coverage is currently blacked out, you can use the Masters shot tracker to follow your favorite golfers who are back of the pack. The only downside? There is no Jeff Knox tracker.

To help fill in the blanks, I thought I would list some great sites/social media accounts you should follow over the course of this weekend:

1) Augusta Chronicle. This newspaper brings it every year with great articles and content and is a MUST follow during the tourney. You can check out their Twitter account or website.

2) Kyle Porter: When you think Masters you think CBS. Sure ESPN has Thursday and Friday but CBS gives you the meat and potatoes. The CBS golf bench is deep but one of the best sure is Kyle and you can check him out on his Twitter account.

3) Humorists: These guys bring the funny and you should be following them to get a good laugh when things get too serious on the telecast:

NoLayingUp
WrongFairway
(Not)JeffKnox
RaeRaesCreek

7:55am PST: It is Saturday and the day I think things really shake out on the leaderboard. They call it moving day for a reason and it will be fascinating to see where we are at the end of the day.

Of course, I am SUPER excited that Jon Rahm and Fred Couples are playing together. If they are a featured group, I might just focus on them the entire time but don't worry, I will focus on EVERYTHING Masters this weekend ;).


All pictures, screengrabs and intellectual property are used herein for news and commentary purposes only.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Live Masters Blog Day 2 - Friday

Whew Day 1 was pretty windy right? The wind blew so hard it blew off a lot of the top guys and it will be interesting to see what conditions have in store for the golfers today. Follow the madness below!

4:25pm PST: With the sun setting in Georgia where do we stand after two days? Hoffman fell back to the pack but not off a cliff so he is still in it. Everyone's favorite dark horses Sergio, Pieters and Rickie are also tied for the lead. Do any of them have the mental prowess needed to hang into the lead?

Lurking is Rose, Rahm, Scott and Spieth who are all within 4 shots and have the game to make a run on Saturday. With the conditions getting warmer and the wind dying down these guys could put on a really good chase.

Finally we got Freddie and Lefty who know this course like the back of their hands within shouting distance. Do they have the stamina to go four rounds of excellent golf? Only time will tell but I think we will learn a lot on Saturday!

3:50pm PST: who cares who is winning the Masters when we have schwag to talk about? Ashley Mayo for Golf Digest breaks down what you can buy in the pro shop (if you are lucky enough to get behind THAT velvet curtain). I like that stuff a bit better not only for the exclusivity factor but also because the word Masters isn't emblazoned on everything just the great logo.

http://www.golfdigest.com/gallery/10-items-you-can-buy-only-in-the-augusta-national-member-shop

3:05pm PST: Ok so Freddie gets around the 16th with a bogey dropping him to -1, 3 back but still in contention.

What is fascinating to me is how many players don't go for the green in 2 at the par 4 11th but will air it out in 2 at the par 5 15th. It goes to show you that it's not just distance but strategy that counts at this course.

2:15pm PST: Sorry for the delay in posting but with Freddie near the lead at Augusta, my eyes were glued to the Amen Corner feed. They will be again as The Masters has a 15 and 16 feed as well. It has been remarked by others but the announcer teams on these holes are some of the best in the biz and I would listen to them over most other announcers (and yes over Nantz on the broadcast feed).

1:20pm PST: Continuing the old guy parade at the Masters, Lefty is on the first page of the leaderboard. He was a popular pick coming into the week because he has won here before but more than that, he really gears up for the majors. In fact one could argue he only gears up for the majors anymore and many pros follow suit by planning their schedules to peak at the majors rather than just playing the schedule. I don't begrudge Lefty or the pros this at all but I think you can psyche yourself out if you put SO MUCH emphasis on 4 tourneys rather than treating it as just another stop.

12:45pm PST: One of the best things about Augusta National are the greens. They are firm and fast, they have crazy breaks and devious pin positions. Yet when you watch the tourney, these twists and turns often do not present themselves to the viewer. At Chambers Bay Fox debuted a technology that shaded the hole so you can see the plateaus and ridges. While this might mess up the pristine green coloring of Augusta I think this technology should be utilized there and all tourneys to give the viewer a home a real sense of what the pros are up against.

12:10pm PST: I always wonder about the logistics of staying in Augusta. First it's a small town and the players and their families take up a bunch of rentals. Then you have tens of thousands of patrons coming into town. I have looked into housing in the past and I think the best bet is 30/60 minutes either East or West of the course. If I ever go I would want to do it up right and try to stay in town as close as possible. Have you gone and if so where did you stay? Tell me in the comments!

11:45am PST: And of course Fred fans the flames of my fandom even more by sticking a shot to 6 feet on Magnolia. If there ever was a fan favorite in Tour it was and is him. People love his swing and his easy going demeanor. They love the Masters win and a bunch of his other ones. In an era where a lot of guys wear wraparound shades and express no emotion Fred seems approachable and thus rootable.

11:10am PST: To say that Hoffman has fallen back to the pack is an understatement. He started off -7 and is currently-4 with a two shot lead. Best of all, for me at least as a fan is that Freddy is moving up the leaderboard and is currently fifth! Given that he is my favorite player of all time and has been threatening retirement, I might lose my mind this weekend if he is in contention!

9:45am PST: There is a rule of thumb at the Masters tourney, first timers don't do very well. Jordan Spieth greatly upset the curve by going 2-First-2 in his first three Masters. Given all the youngsters doing awesome things I thought they would be similarly doing great things at this course. Whether it's incorrect ball placement off the tee or the inability to read the breaks in the greens, first timers like Luck, Hatton and Tanihara, they are all flaming out. The old warhorses like Lefty, Sergio and Freddy are all doing great.

8:45am PST: Damn you Callaway Golf, why do you tease me with this article about secret Masters menus? http://cmp.callawaygolf.com/2017/03/15/11-things-first-timers-must-do-at-augusta/
If there isn't anything I like more it is velvet ropes inside velvet ropes and if I have an insiders shot at something I am going to take it. That being said, if I ever make it to Augusta, I am definitely going to 12 to get this "secret" drink (and also to watch the 12th hole).

In actually golf updates (what is this a live golf blog or something?) Sergio has started early this morning and has gotten into sniffing distance of the lead. Sergio has firmly taken the mantle of "best player not to win a major" from Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood and I bet he will get that monkey off his back one of these years. Everyone seems to be picking him for The Open this year but watch out if he can post a score today, a Spaniard could be wearing the green jacket!

8:15am PST: What is in a name? I take a look at the hole names of ANGC and I can figure out Chinese Fir and Flowering Crab Apple but what about some of these other ones?

There is a hole named Camellia which is also known as a Chinese tea flower. It sure do look pretty.


There is also a hole named Nandina which is some sort of bamboo plant and definitely isn't as pink as Camellia.

Finally there is Golden Bell, which I never knew but is another name for forsythia.


So flowers. The holes are named after flowers and a weirdo bamboo plant. This link is appropriate.

7:45am PST: It seems like most golfers are going the wrong direction today score-wise or are just holding fast. If anyone is going to catch Hoffman it is freaking McGirt (that last name!).


He is currently making his way through Amen Corner which is where you can definitely pick up shots on 13 but lose them just as easily on 11 and 12. You get through there at -1 you are doing good.

7:30am PST: In what can only be deemed a reaction to the terrible play of the Featured Groups yesterday and today, Amen Corner is seemingly kicking off its coverage early today. Its tough being a golf programmer. You put all your resources into a few featured groups until the regular coverage kicks in but you have no control over how those groups play. However, I've said it before and I will say it again, The Masters does the best job in golf in bringing you as much content as possible and all the Tours could learn a thing or 3 from how they do things.

7:15am PST: In sports they talk about a championship hangover. You win the world series one year, prepared to miss the playoffs the next year. Danny Willett had one heck of a hangover after winning the Masters last year. Prior to that win, he was on fire on the European Tour, a bunch of wins and top 5s. After the Masters win, I did't see his name once on a leaderboard, its almost like he dropped off of the golfing earth for awhile.


Golf is a fickle mistress and she is treating Danny rougher than most but its good to see him trying to grind it out to find his form again.

7:00am PST: OK I am awake! Not quite the 6am up from yesterday but still I am here rocking and rolling! Everyone is wearing beanies again and look cold as heck. Makes me want to put on a turtleneck and sip some coco and I am here in LA!

McGirt is out early and still rolling strong at -4. The featured groups again look like they aren't playing their best golf with Kuch the only one sniffing red numbers. When does Amen Corner coverage start?




All pictures, screengrabs and other intellectual property are used herein solely for news and commentary purposes.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Live Masters Blog - Day 1 Thursday


Here we go. I yet again did not win the Masters lottery so you get my thoughts live and direct from Southern California. Its Day 1! Will Dustin come back from an injury and compete at the tourney like some sort of 80s movie? Will Jordan become unstoppable? Tune into my live blog below!

Day 1 Recap:
DJ's back blew up on him. Jordan's back 9 blew up on him. The old guard of Lefty, Sergio and Freddie hung tough. Hoffman is blowing away everyone. Sullivan, Rose and Fitzpatrick are all on the front page.

I am a huge fan of Jon Rahm. I followed him at Torrey and became a believer and I noticed a pattern. This his is first full season on Tour and he is figuring things out. What this means practically is tgst his first round isn't so hot, his second is much better and then his weekend vaults him into the top 5 or even a win (as was the case at Torrey). Look for him to turn his plus 1 into something much better tomorrow.

See ya on the blog tomorrow!

3:15pm PST: I have never been to the Masters but do these late afternoon crowds look a little thinned out to you? If I were lucky enough yo get invited by someone (hint hint) or win the ticket lottery here would be my day:

6:15am stand in line at the gate. 7am fast walk (no running!) to the mech tent, but about 300 bones worth of stuff including a chair then stuff it all into a locker. The go place the chair on some hole in Amen Corner for later. 8am go follow whatever group is teeing off 1 and walk 18 holes. 12, gorge myself on peach ice cream sandwiches and beer. 1 go to my chair and sit for awhile. 4-7 wander the course till they kick me out.

What would you do?

2:40pm PST: "Rory has just never seemed in synch." Truer words Appcast, never spoken. I think Rory wants this too badly. Sure most professional golfers live and die by their results but Rory takes this green jacket stuff to another level. Multiple practice rounds, skipping the par 3 tourney (can't blame him too much on that) all of it resulting in not quite great performances and no career grand slams. I think he needs to let the slam go at this point mentally and he might just find himself winning it one of these years.

1:35pm PST: Sorry I signed off for a quick lunch break there. No, I did not have a pimento cheese sandwich. I actually looked for pimento cheese here in Los Angeles but couldn't find any. Guess I will just have to go to Georgia to get one in person!

The biggest news over the last hour is that McGirt (one of the craziest names in golf) is leading this thing. Not only that but he finished at 3 under! Not only that but the Euros have all fallen down the leaderboard with good old boys like Dufner and Chappell taking their place. Truly some craziness going on!

12:15pm PST: And just like that the golfers at Augusta prove me wrong by making birdies with several ties for the lead at -2. Coupled with Jordan making a birdie and you should ignore that last blog entry. Be that as it may, the course is still playing super tough and I don't expect scores to get much above -2.

What is also interesting is that you have 3 Euros in the top 4 spots at the moment. Willett was no fluke, the guys on the other side of the pond cone to play this course (also throw in Faldo and all the other amazing European players over the years of course).

11:45am PST: Just like that Jordan is tied for the lead. What is more fascinating is how much the field has fallen back to level par. Pieters went from -4 to -1 and people flirting with 2 or 3 under are back toward level. The Amen Corner announcers think someone can get to 2 or 3 under to end the day but I don't see it, especially with the wind picking up steam.

11:20am PST: In answer to my question above DJ has withdrawn from the Masters due to a back injury he incurred when falling down the stairs last night. DJ was the favorite of many a golf fan heading into this week having won his last 3 starts but the back is the number one thing you need healthy as a golfer so it's no go for him. Interesting to see how long he will be outvfor with this as he is surely the favorite for the US Open in a few months at Erin Hills.

11:05am PST: Aaaaaand Jordan is safely on the 12th with his tee shot hopefully putting to rest the questions stemming from last year's Masters.

One of the reasons I like The Open so much is due to the weather and I like playing in blustery conditions. It is great to see the shadows of clouds move across the fairways and the trees rustling. Now I REALLY wish I was there in a day like today!

10:15am PST: Well it looks like half of my fantasy golf picks are already flaming out so I am switching from the featured group coverage to Amen Corner. The PGA and the rest of the Tours could really learn a thing or two about how Augusta runs its App and website. Multiple options for multiple viewers.

Another thing they do right? Having the hand operated scoreboard be the scoreboard for their website, love it!

www.masters.com/en_US/scores/index.html

9:35am PST: Looking at the first page of the leaderboard, a lot of the leaders have gone out early. It will be interesting to see if there is a British Open effect which determines how you do based on your draw. Usually the weather is perfect in Augusta so it's not an issue but with wind and maybe rain will the guys who go out early have an advantage?

8:50am PST: Golf is often too elitist, too stuffy, too, well not fun. However, the last few years on the Interwebs we have great golf comedy happening with NoLayingUp and WrongFairway. Added to this mix are the great course-specific accounts like the Lone Tree at Chambers Bay. The Augusta National course has its own comedy account and during this Masters I highly suggest you check out Rae's Creek.

8:25am PST: 2 months ago I said, "ReGripped make sure you take Thomas Pieters in your Masters fantasy pools" Of course, he didn't play so hot in that 2 month stretch so when it came time for picks this week I was like "Nah past-ReGripped I don't think so". Well guess who is -3 and leading the tourney?

In other non-fantasy news, the wind really seems to be picking up out there. I heard wind gusts could be as high as 25 mph? That is Kapalua levels right there. Even the pros seem to be befuddled.


8:15am PST: According to Weather.com it is 60 degrees in Augusta although it feels like 58. Who are the crazy patrons wearing shorts? Maybe my California blood has thinned out too much. What is more interesting to me is that most of the golfers in the featured groups aren't playing so hot. Kiz, Hadwin all +2. Scott and Sullivan are both even par but there really isn't anyone sniffing red numbers in the early session.

8:05am PST: Every year something new pops up about the ANGC property that makes me cock my head like a dog. This year it is this lake.


Looking at Google Maps, I am willing to bet this lake is part of the par 3 course but if anyone who has been to the course knows for sure, let me know. When you have never been the tourney and only have watched on TV/online, trying to figure out how all the holes fit together on the property becomes part of a jigsaw puzzle.

7:45am PST: Sandy Lyle has had a fascinating career. He is a 2 time major winner (including the Masters) and Golf Hall of Fame member but for the most part he really isn't discussed much in golf circles nowadays. He has had a second career resurgence of sorts in the world of hickory golf where he has won a few world titles. All of this is to say that he is currently on the first page of the leaderboard. Both him and Fred Couples. The over 50 set is kicking some butt this morning!

7:15am PST: The greens seem to be playing really firm but yet the fairways don't have much rollout. I guess we are seeing live and direct the vaunted subair system which sucked all the moisture out of the greens after the last few days. Some people are adjusting well though as Adam Hadwin (Mr. 59) just made birdie on 4 using what looks like to be a 4 wood? Speaking of dark horses, Hadwin is one of them for sure. You always bet against the Masters rookies but I think that truism is going to be less and less true over the coming years.

7:00am PST: Growing up my favorite golfer by a country mile was Fred Couples (and still is!). As a new generation has taken to the stage my loyalities have become divided and I find myself rooting for many golfers. Certainly Jordan Spieth is up there as is Jon Rahm and HV3. One other golfer who I consider a dark horse candidate to win this year and has just finished playing 1 is Kevin Kisner. This guy has game and more importantly, a great outlook on the game. Go Kevin!


6:30am PST: Well it looks like it is damn cold there in Augusta Georgia. Everyone is wearing beanies and sweaters and some crazy patrons are wearing shorts! With the leaves on the ground, this looks more Fall-like than Springtime.


6:15am PST: Damn its early. Did the tournament ever start this early ever? Well the birds might not even be awake here in SoCal but we are off and running! First up, my yearly look and the new Masters schwag that I am coveting!

1) Berckmans Place Hat



Most people don't realize there are two velvet ropes at Augusta National. The first is getting one of those coveted patron tickets. The second is getting into the VIP areas like Berckmans. I don't need just a Masters hat, I need a VIP Masters Hat (especially that hat above)!

2) Masters Coasters



A lot to like here. Simple, Grandma Moses-type design. Clearly the Masters and something utilitarian (mostly). Checks all the boxes, sign me up!

3) Framed Art


I love my Masters Posters of the 12th hole done in a WPA art style but I would burn that to the ground in 2 seconds to get my hands on this bad boy.

All pictures, screengrabs and other intellectual property are not owned by me but only used here for news and commentary. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reviewing Forelinx


Over the last few years numerous companies have gotten into the golf tee time game. In addition to GolfNow, the PGA Tour has their own website (TeeOff), BoxGroove brings you tee times on private courses and now in the West, Forelinx has arisen as an intriguing alternative for golfers looking for discounted tee times on great courses.

The model that Forelinx pursues is to have select number of courses (and when I say a select number, I mean 87 courses in California, Arizona and elsewhere) and then offers their members pretty good discounts on those courses.


The reservation system allows you to book 7 days in advance and most of the courses allow you to book up to 4 people (although some courses only allow you to join pre-booked groups needing a third or a fourth).

Each month you pay a fee and get an equivalent in points to use toward tee times on any course in their system. Points for round vary from 80 to 600+ but if you track your points carefully, you can play 2-3 times a month just on your monthly fee.

The quality of the courses really stands out. I was able to play Aviara, La Quinta Mountain, La Costa Championship, Sandpiper, Strawberry Farms, Temecula Creek Inn and several other SoCal courses with a pretty good discount off the rack rate.

Paying a monthly fee for this has a couple of benefits. One, your points don't expire and roll over so you don't lose the points if you can't play in a given month. Secondly, it does encourage you to get out there to use your points (not like golfers need any excuses).

Forelinx is just in its beginning stages and there are a few things that they are working on that will make having a membership even better. Applying your points to bring people with you on your rounds will be a great addition to the membership as of right now, you can use your points for yourself but for guests you have to pay $. Additionally, they are just starting to build up their private club access and it will be interesting to see what other private clubs they can pull into their orbit.

Here are a few of the courses I have played via Forelinx over the last few months:

Temecula Creek Innhttp://www.re-gripped.com/2017/03/temecula-creek-inn-golf-review.html
Strawberry Fieldshttp://www.re-gripped.com/2017/03/strawberry-farms-golf-review.html
La Quinta Mountainhttp://www.re-gripped.com/2017/02/la-quinta-mountain-review.html

If you are an avid golfer who gets out 2-3 times a month here in SoCal or in Arizona, you should definitely look into this service!

The team at Forelinx is super friendly and always responded to my questions within a day or so. If you want to find out more about Forelinx, check out their site here: https://forelinx.com/

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Temecula Creek Inn Golf Review


When you live in Los Angeles, you tend to get very geocentric in your golf adventures. If you fall into that trap, you miss out on all the great courses in Simi Valley, Ventura County and all the Orange County and San Diego County courses.

An oft neglected region in the LA golfer's eyes is the Temecula Valley is typically known for its vineyards but which also has 6 really good courses, perhaps topping them all is the Temecula Creek Inn course which has 3 distinct 9s you can play. I ended up playing the Oaks and the super tough Stonehouse courses to round out my 18 holes.

The Oaks 9 is a straightforward but pretty parkland nine with disguised swales and some elevation changes that keeps each hole fresh unlike most parkland courses. The biggest thing about Oaks is the prominence of the mountains surrounding Temecula. Not only are they beautiful but you have to be mindful on the greens which way the green breaks to the mountain.


Temecula Creek is not an overly long course (the tips clock in at 6,700+ yards) and where it the course continues testing you is by having a lot of greens be higher than the fairway. So many shots to uphill greens on this course!


Oaks also has one of the most beguiling par 3's I have ever played. The green at about 160 yards sits between two lakes with the front side being no more than 15 yards across but the green goes back at least 30 yards. It is a crazy, dangerous and fun hole and makes the Oaks worth it just on its own.


The "back" 9 for me was the Stonehouse 9 which has a crazy amount of elevation gains and losses, blind shots, elevated greens and creeks make it for a really challenging 9. The hazards also pick up the pace with trees placed in interesting places on the fairway.


The bunkering also picks up the pace with a lot more sand traps both placed and artfully crafted on the Stonehouse 9.


And elevated greens? You betcha.


The greens rolled true although speeds varied throughout the day and I wished the patrons would fix their ballmarks a bit more on the greens. The rest of the course was in very good shape which makes sense given all the rain we have had in SoCal during the winter.

 My only criticism of Stonehouse is that it is a bit too severe in places but nearly as much as other courses in the area like Champions Club and the scales weigh more on the fun side of the ledger than penal.

Overall I am super happy I played at Temecula Creek, they have a really fun parkland course that gives you great views and gets you into a relaxed state of being which is rare on a golf course. Check it out and grab yourself a bottle of wine while you are in the area!

For more information on Temecula Creek Inn check out this link: https://www.temeculacreekinn.com/golf/