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.

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!
Random Bandon Review: Breaking Eighty has a great review of Pacific Dunes:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Top 10- Favorite Courses Played 2015

It's the end of the year, time to look back and reflect and look forward to the year ahead. I am so thankful that I got to play amazing courses this year and am looking forward to all the amazing tracks next year. While 2015 is still a "thing", I thought I would share my favorite courses that I played this year:

10. Tierra Rejada:

Simi Valley, Moorpark. These areas do not roll off the tongue like Monterey Peninsula, St. Andrews or the Victoria Sandbelt but they are just as good. Along with my favorite Rustic Canyon, TR is an amazing course with a lot of blind shots and a lot of shots where you are on the top of the world, all worth your time. This is a great course.

9. Kayak Point:

Up until a few years ago, I never played outside the East Coast. After bashing it around SoCal, I set my sites on the Pacific Northwest and played a great course outside of Seattle called Kayak Point. This place is everything you think of the Northwest, big trees, friendly people and good golf. While it was a bit more target oriented than my spraying driver would allow I loved everything about KP.

8. Olivas Links:

Those who know me know I am a links hound. Anything that is green and the sea is great with me (poet/didn't know it). Olivas while not directly up against the Pacific gives you a great bump and run feeling of true links golf and I will never badmouth a course that gave me a chance for eagle on a par 5. That aside, pace of play is great and the course is in amazing shape. One of the best in Ventura County.

7. Westin Dye Course:

I stretched myself this year, playing a lot of different types of courses in different areas in the country. I had never played in Palm Springs and the Westin Dye-course was a great example of golfing the Bob Hope way. Dye, you either lvoe him or hate him. If you love him, then you will love this course and all its diabolical terraforming. This was a top notch Palm Springs experience against which all future trips will be measured.

6. TPC Valencia:

I never played a TPC before but they are definitely "big boy" courses, lot of shelf hitting and fast greens. The course is immaculate and thanks to Mastercard, it made the course accessible to me, an average joe. Playing this TPC makes me thankful for such a quality course here in SoCal and hungry to play more TPCs!

5. River Course at Alisal:

If I lived in Solvang California, I would play this course over and over again. Sure it was baked out because of the drought but it was still a top notch course with interesting shots, especially off the tee, it really makes you think. It was super windy the day I played so it really sharpens all facets of your game. A bit of a drive from LA but worth it!

4. Rustic Canyon: My first SoCal love. The best public course you can play (even with due respect to Torrey, Pelican and Sandpiper which I have not played). Every time I play here, I find something interesting and different. The course is in great shape and a true testament to Hanse and Shackelford.

3. Ojai Inn:

The history, the fun layout (especially of the "Lost Holes"), the chill vibe of Ojai. Its tough to beat Ojai in any of these categories but why would you try? You should go there and experience it for yourself.

2. Oak Quarry:

This is a gem, a big bright sparkly diamond out in the middle of nowheres Riverside California. The course has it all, interesting tee shots, second shots that make you think, great greens and amazing vistas. Not many people golf here and that is for the best, this is an amazing course.

1. Kapalua Plantation:

You didn't think anyone else would be number one on this list would you? PGA tour stop. Immaculate views of the Pacific. This course has it all and is THE course to play in Hawaii. Plus, what a kickoff to my Coore Crenshaw adventure!

Well that is it for my adventures this year. Next year looks just as interesting as I am headed off to Bandon, going to Arizona and perhaps some detours to Wisconsin and Nebraska? Tune in and see where I get out to next and I hope you get to play a lot of great tracks in 2016!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hacienda Golf Club Review

I am a sucker for historic courses. Have an interesting track with an interesting history? Will travel. Hacienda here in SoCal checks a lot of those boxes.

Built in 1920 and designed by William Watson a Scot but doesn't quite get the publicity that fellow scots MacKenzie or Ross but her should given his design of Hacienda and others including: Olympic, Harding and Brentwood. The clubhouse is also lousy with historical photographs, mainly of Tiger (who played here in 1994 in the SoCal Amateur) but also Gene Sarazen and many others who graced its doors.

Why wouldn't anyone want to play here, especially with a hint of Fall in the air (or at least as Fall as SoCal gets)?

The course is a fascinating mixture of competing ideas and architecture. For example, the course definitely has parallel running holes but yet you don't feel on top of other golfers in the other fairway.

Another example is that there are several choke points on the course where there are numerous greens and tees all bundled together creating a bit of traffic jam amongst carts and staff. While you would think this is due to the course being built in 2 stages, one 9 in 1920 and the other 9 in 1923 and they were folding in the holes, many of the par 4's are well over 420 yards making for a long, spaced out track.

The par 3's are the real superstars of this course. Long or short, all the par 3's go over canyons or streams and have many traps waiting to gobble up wayward shots.

What I also found engaging was that the course uses and follows a stream in unique and interesting ways on the back side where going right might be death but playing another hole on the other side of the creek, left might not be death.

The mix of competing ideas at Hacienda is fully realized on the greens. I made so many putts the day I played, draining 10 footers to 30 footers but I also 3 putted several greens because of the placement of the pins. To say it was a Sunday pin placement is an understatement. Putts run 20 feet past the hole, break by 5 feet or more. Certainly if you are a member here you learn quickly what is what but where the pins can be cut on this course can be BRUTAL!

Overall, Hacienda will wow you with history and great conditions and interesting routing. Local knowledge is key here and the greens are lightening quick so keep that in mind if you are lucky enough to play here.

Many thank to the SCGA for putting together the outing at Hacienda. I have been so happy with the golfing discounts and courses that they offer, it is totally worth it to join if you live here in SoCal (plus a boxed lunch at the turn, nice)!

For more info on Hacienda, check it out here:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Golf Gift Guide


Looking for something for the golfer in your life for the upcoming holidays but don't know where to turn? Fear not, ReGripped has you covered. Come sit on my red velveted lap and let me tell you what gifts...wait where are you going? Get back here! 

1. Revant Optics Replacement Lenses

Problem: You get awesome sunglasses but after awhile you need new or different lenses. Good luck for replacing those lenses for less than a new pair of sunglasses. Lenses don't have to cost you a second mortgage payment (well maybe a mortgage on a PlaySkool Playhouse perhaps) and so Revant has you covered for less. 

Got Oakleys, got Ray Bans, Costas, etc.? Revant has got replacement lenses for all of them and for a very nice inexpensive price. I particular like their Elite HC3 lenses and rocked them in Hawaii and elsewhere. Pretty awesome! 

For more info on Revant, check em out here:

2. Seamus Golf Pouch Bag:

I don't know about you but I hate, HATE having lots of things in my pockets when I golf. Wallets, cell phones, boarding passes to countries without extradition treaties with the US, all of this stuff takes up space and I ultimately throw it my bag and then search in vain for awhile, wondering where it all went.

Seamus makes quality products, from headcovers to ballmarkers and their pouch bag for your valuables is no different. I love having it in my bag and you can choose from a huge range of plaids to choose from. Definitely a MUST for any golfer.

For more info on Seamus Golf, check em out here:

3.  eBars Golf Bars:

Its tough to find a power bar that doesn't have a lot of junk in it but gives you what you need in terms of protein and most importantly taste. Luckily eBars takes this all this worrying and Venn diagrams you have been making in your garage and puts it all into a simple, tasty power bar that is tailored for golfers. I love munching on these things and just typing this out makes me want to go and order some more right now. 

For more info on eBars, check em out here:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kapalua Golf Review

When you are traveling in the rolling remote hills of Maui you would never think that they contain one of the highest ranked courses in the world but boy do they! Turning onto Plantation Club Drive you have little idea what is in store for you but what is there is a MUST play for any golfer out there.

It was also a must play for me as it kicked off my Coore-Crenshaw quest in earnest. It was fitting this was my first C&C course as the Plantation Course was one of their first co-designs and as with every C&C course I play, Ben will be coming with me.

The most, MOST impressive thing about the course is the views. Whether you are going down a hill or looking back as you go up a hill, the Pacific is the feature of this course and a true wonder to behold.

The views take your breath away and there in lies some of the defense of the course as you are often distracted just looking at everything. Some courses have a mix of houses and views and there are several homes at Kapalua but you can count them on one hand and the course and the hills speak for themselves.

Speaking of hills, wow does Kapalua have them! Up hill

down hill

blind shots OVER hills

(tee boxes down below, aim for the stick!)

this course mixes it up in a variety of ways. The fairways also slope given the nature of the hills and the valleys around the course so knowing where to put your first shot is paramount on this course. Your second shots and beyond will all depend on it. Of course, what does it matter, if your second shot has this view?

Not to say there aren't some penalties on this course for mishit approach shots. Twice my approach was slightly off target and found this stuff

and once the ball goes in it, good luck to you finding it and/or getting it out. I felt like the rough was slightly toooo close at some points for my hacker self but that just means I have to stop missing it left damnit ;).

Let's take a brief break for the moment to wax poetic about the great routing through nature that the course takes itself through. One of my new favorite things are Cook Pines and this course has them in abundance:

The front side of the course also loops around a huge ravine/canyon with a crazy elevation gain/loss that has to be seen to be believed, truly an inspired routing.

Part of me wonders though if they could have routed a few holes through the canyon as there is a tremendous amount of wind on the course and since you are on tops of hills all the time you are facing at least a 2 club change. There is nothing I would change about the course, it is the best I have ever played by whoo boy was it windy when I played.

(that flag was almost coming out of the hole)

Hawaii tee times are pretty consistent across the board. Want to play early in the morning when there isn't much wind, be prepared to pay. Want to play after 1pm, the course is yours for a song. The day I played I started out at 1pm and was facing a wind of 20-30 mph but it made the course just as interesting although I would love to play it again without wind to see what the differences might be.

The bunkers and greens were in amazing shape for the most part as they should be with the PGA tourney looming in January.

Two of the greens were still recovering from being punched which was slightly surprising but didn't ruin the experience for me in the slightest. As with any course, definitely check what the aeration schedule before you play.

So what was my favorite hole you ask? Well its Numero 11 a downhill par 3 that overlooks Honolua Bay with a deadly bunker to the short left, death if you go long and a bailout if you go right.

(bit of tour sauce there)

Ru MacDonald of the Scottish Golf Podcast asks all of his guests if they could go back to Scotland and hit/re-hit one shot, which would it be? For me, give me a bucket of balls and let me hit shot after shot onto this green.

Coming down the stretch was amazing as you felt the history of every hole and none more so than the 18th. Everyone took a picture here. Everyone stopped to savor the views and why would I be any different?

The 18th is a very long par 5 and I found myself with a longish 3rd shot into the green from the rough. Using a tip from my playing companion, I hit the ball short and at the middle "Carts" sign and watched as the ball took the hill and the grain and ended up 10 feet from the pin!

Alas, I missed the birdie putt but I made the par on 18 as well as a few other holes that day which made me feel a "slight" kinship with the tour pros (really slight but still...).

Overall, my playing Kapalua was my favorite golf experience by far. The views, the history, the course itself, all were interesting and engaging and well worth your time. As for my first C&C course, well it was a doozy and I can't wait to see what the other courses have in store for me over the next year.

I would also like to give a shout out to the staff at Kapalua. Troon runs the facility and the staff were all awesome and accommodating and the round was a quick 4:10 which was fantastic as well.

My wife deserves a lot of credit as she is the one who took all of these amazing pictures and was there for me whether I par'd or triple bogeyed and it was an awesome round having her there.

Finally, Kapalua Plantation is the number one course in Hawaii and one of the top courses in the world for a reason. I highly recommend you find that reason for yourself and play this beauty. It is my favorite course by a mile and I think it will become yours as well.

For more information on Kapalua check it out here:

A few last pics: