Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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 2016 is still a "thing", I thought I would share my favorite courses that I played this year:
Sure its only a par 3 course but WHAT a par 3 course! With the ocean views, the ragged rough and the fantastic conditioning, Terranea makes you think you are playing a Scottish course with a high end resort attached. I loved this course, I just wish it wasn't so expensive but its worth it to play at least once! http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/07/links-at-terranea-golf-review.html
9. Los Verdes.
Often called the poor man's Torrey Pines, this is the only seaside course you can play in SoCal under $50 and it should cost much more than that (especially on the backside). The only knock on the course has been the pace of play but I had no such problems teeing off before 7am! This is a course I would love to play over and over again! http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/02/los-verdes-golf-review.html
Bel-Air simultaneously reminded me of Riviera and Augusta which are two lofty comparisons. A classic course in every since of the word, the re-designs coming to it are going to make it even better. If you get an invite, definitely go! http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/03/golfing-bel-air-country-club-review.html
7. Shadow Ridge.
The best conditioned course in Palm Springs, this course is both fun and challenging. Some courses just suit your eye and this course suited my eye to a T. Love this place and can't wait to go back! http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/06/shadow-ridge-golf-course-review.html
Desert golf at its finest. It has everything you could want, desert washes and cacti. Roadrunners and fairways. Amazing shot choices off the tee. WKP has been the best desert course I have ever played (which is saying something considering how close I live to Palm Springs). http://www.coorecrenshawquest.com/2016/06/we-ko-pa-saguaro.html
This course is a true thinking player's course. Every tee shot, every approach shot, every chip and putt gives you multiple options and multiple ways to screw up. Out in the middle of nowhere, you will be glad to find this course and play it! http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/08/99-holes-in-heartland-ballyneal-golf.html
4. Wild Horse.
This was such a fun course! The routing and the isolation you feel amongst the ridges and swales of grass is impressive. Often ranked in the top 100 of courses you can play, I can see why. You need to play this course more than once to get a true sense of how to play it but that will give you an excuse to play here again and again. http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/08/99-holes-in-heartland-wild-horse-golf.html
3. Rams Hill.
The conditions are amazing and the routing is golfer friendly (almost every tee shot is downhill somehow). This is SUCH a fun course its too bad its 3.5 hours away from Los Angeles. Really, get this course closer to me and I will be there every weekend! http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/06/golfing-rams-hill-review.html
If there is one golf course in SoCal I wish I could be a member of, its Sandpiper. Being 2 hours away from where I live its jusssst a bit too far away to join up there but I would give almost anything to play its challenging front nine and its knock-your-socks-off back nine. Really an amazing course. http://www.re-gripped.com/2016/02/golfing-sandpiper-review.html
1. Sand Hills Golf Club.
The routing fantastic, the conditioning superb, the silence golden. Often ranked in the top 20 in the WORLD, Sand Hills show you why in a variety of ways. It was a pleasure to play this course and can't wait to play it again (a true test of a top course!).
Coming up in 2017:
A golf trip to Ireland and Scotland! Potential trips to Tahoe and Sand Valley in Wisconsin! Maybe getting on to a few private courses in Texas and Colorado. Things are happening and they will all be blogged about here!
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
There are so many great golf courses in Ventura County, from Rustic Canyon to Moorpark CC, to Olivas Links, etc. that you might be inclined to overlook a course like Simi Hills but that would be a mistake. Simi Hills is a solid and fun course with a really impressive back 9 that adds to the luster of Ventura golf.
There was a decidedly Fall crispness in the air at Simi Hills which for this East Coast boy was very welcomed indeed.
The front 9 is a pretty straightforward affair with a few doglegs thrown in to make it interesting but for the most part, the teeth of the front side is in its uphill greens. It is windy there in Simi Valley so hitting uphill to the greens into the wind often meant taking a club or two more.
Things really pick up on the backside with the 10th hole where there is a huge tree shaping your tee shot right off the bat.
Trees and streams and lakes play into the back 9 as all these natural features provide challenges for all types of golfers plus add in some strategically placed bunkers and you have a heck of a back 9.
My favorite stretch of holes had to be 14 and 15. 14 is a par 4 with a sever dogleg around a lake and 15 is a long par 3 with the lake on the right side of the hole making for a very picturesque 1-2 punch.
The downsides to SH is that the fairways are a little threadbare and there is too much emphasis on carts but I did see some people walking the fairways.
That being said, the course is in really good shape and once you get to the backside, you are in for a treat.
Simi Hills has a nice porch so after a round you can sit out, smoke a cigar and enjoy a round well played (or not well played but at least enjoyed). Add to that a HIGHLY suggested pace of play at 4 hours and you have a real solid course that should be most SoCaler's radars.
For more information on Simi Hills, check out the link! http://www.simihillsgolf.com/
1) Putting Courses Out To Pasture
Fascinating look at what happens to some golf courses after they close their doors.
2) More Year End Business
Adam Sarson is great golf writer and he is wrapping up the year in style. Check out his latest recap listing.
Why anyone would want to live right next to a golf course is beyond me. Right down the street from one, I am all about, but on it?
4) New Podcast
Bacon talks to Leadbetter. Can't wait to hear if Shane challenges Dave's narrative at all about Lydia Ko.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Geoff gets the inside scoop on what is going on with PXG and their thoughts on product cycles and the golf business in general.
2) Merger Mania
The R&A and the Ladies Golf Union have merged into one blob. Will this change anything substantive in UK golf? The Magic 8 Ball says "unclear".
3) More Year End Recaps
Golf Digest is up next with a nice recap of the 18 top newsmakers of 2016.
4) New Podcast
Another one from the fellas at Golf Getaways. Definitely worth checking out.
Monday, December 19, 2016
1) Dottie Wraps It Up
I love Dottie Pepper, great golfer, great TV commentator. She predictably offers a great year end wrap up of all things golf.
The rare times I play golf at a private golf course, I am always at a loss for the etiquette of tipping. Golf News Net has solved all my problems for me!
A weird list without much backing it up but still, its there.
4) New Podcast
I think that Swantek is going to have one more podcast released today before the end of the year but no promises. If he does, follow this link!
Friday, December 16, 2016
1) Cypress and Seminole
Sure the news broke yesterday but so what? Two of the best courses in the world announced they would be opening their doors to the public by hosting the Walker Cup. As readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of Cypress Point and have been questing to play there. You better believe I am going to try and volunteer for that WC.
2) What's In The Box?
The Kirkland golf ball has been taking the golf internet by storm. Could you really get Pro V1-type performance from a $10 a dozen ball? Geoff links to a piece that tries to track down who is actually behind the ball.
3) Top UK Hole
Everyone knows the big dogs of Scottish golf, the Old Courses, Royal Dornoch's and the like. Still people can vote for holes that they like I am now much more curious about the courses that made this list:
4) New Podcast
The Scottish Golf Podcast was the first golf podcast I listened to and still one of the best. Last episode of the year is up now!
Thursday, December 15, 2016
1) Love It
I have no idea what is happening between Steven Bowditch, Beef Johnston and John Daly but I love it!
Everyone has heard of the Leadbetters, the Haneys, the "stars" of the coaching world. There are some silent assassins out there and Geoff highlights one of them.
3) Down Under
Some more of golf's stars announce they are playing an Australian tournament. Is this the slow season for golf news? Yes. Do I still celebrate when pros go to great destinations and play great courses outside the norm? Yup.
4) New Podcast
No Laying Up talks to Bones in a great podcast.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
For 30 years La Costa played host of the Mercedes Championship, with so many of the titans of golf playing in Oceanside, Nicklaus, Woods, etc. Mercedes has moved on but the course is still as challenging and picturesque as ever. The course was recently renovated to remove turf and four holes were redesigned so I was eager to play the refreshed track.
The frontside is a pretty straightforward affair with the course laying out the holes before you while challenging you with bunkers aplenty.
The key to this course is that if you miss, miss on the correct side. You leave yourself short-sided on these holes you are in for a long day.
The backside is where the fun really picks up. There is a bunch of water on this course, streams, lakes a plenty.
The quality is apparent at La Costa. The tee boxes, fairways and greens are all in great shape. The backside particularly gives the golfer a challenge from tee to green (especially the 18th when the wind is blowing).
There is just something missing with this course, something I can't put my finger on. There are a lot of "good" holes but very few of "great" ones (11th hole excluded, one of my favorite anywhere). The routing is predictable and the staff was friendly but aloof which seems to translate to the course. Really good course, really great pedigree but leaves you wanting wanting the front side to be just as good as the back side.
For more information about La Costa, check out this link: https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego-la-costa/golf/champions-course
1) Stenson Top Of The Euro Pops
Looks like Henrik has taken top honors on the Euro Tour, well deserved, the guy played lights out this year despite several injuries.
2) Kirkland Kicking Butt
Looks like the Kirkland ball is the latest and greatest thing since sliced bread. Has anyone played it, is it that good? Personally I think this is a reaction against golf balls costs 30-50 a DOZEN.
3) Return of Annika?
Looks like the LPGA is creating a senior championship. Whatever the result, the only thing I want to see is Annika swinging the sticks again!
4) New Podcast
Ryan sits down with the impressive Jon Rohm. The guy sounds like he is going to win a bunch of tourneys.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
1) The Envelope Please
The end of the year causes people to stop and reflect on recent history but also to look forward and to what might be. Here are some great end of year thoughts via SB Nation and Geoff's reactions to them:
2) Phil Takes A Seat
Oof I feel for the guy, second hernia surgery in as many months puts Phil on the shelf for awhile.
3) More Lexi
Lexi is starting to become very Annika-like after recently playing in the Franklin Templeton Shootout with the guys and now is being added to the Diamond Resorts International mixed celeb event. She has the game for it, that's for sure!
4) New Podcast
Darin and Mitch discuss all things Palm Springs in the latest Golf Getaways podcast. Keep it up fellas!
Monday, December 12, 2016
The Web.com Tour's schedule is announced and interestingly, there are a couple of Wednesday finishes scheduled. The LPGA will sometimes end on a Saturday due to their Asian sponsors and I think its great to get some flexibility into the schedule.
2) Double D
One of my favorite golfers growing up was David Duval. The guy had major game and for 18 months was the tops of pops. Then his game fell off a cliff but I don't care, will always root for him. All of this is to say that David is back in the winner's circle again!
3) Look Away Child
Golf has a lot of events which means it has a lot of trophies. Some of those trophies are worse than others and here is a fun article looking at the worst of the worse.
4) Oh Canada
I love me some Canada. Great people, great vistas, great moose. They seem to have it all and now to cap it off, they had a great golf year. Great recap below!
Friday, December 9, 2016
1) Q School
Web.com Tour still has Q School (thank God!) and its going on right now. Check out the latest updates:
Tony J weighs in on all things Ryder Cup:
The Ladies Masters is currently going on in Dubai. For a great summary on who is on top and who is chasing, check out the Yahoo summary!
4) New Podcast
Talking Golf Getaways gets down and dirty with the chef at Winged Foot. Worth a listen!
Thursday, December 8, 2016
1) USGA Tweaks
Looks like the USGA is starting to tweak the rules again (which is much needed). Not only are they capping the length of drivers but they are creating a Dustin Johnson rule.
2) A Rose By Any Other Name
Lost in all the hubbub of Tiger's Hero World Challenge was Justin Rose's withdrawal due to ongoing back issues which has sidelined him for the end of the season. He is still going to try and defend his title in Hong Kong this week and hope he gets on the mend.
Robin Hamilton of GNN previews the Franklin Templeton Shootout. Most notably, Lexi Thompson is in the field!
4) New Podcast
John Swantek has yet another great podcast which you should check out!
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
1) New Balls
My favorite golfball is the Taylormade Tour Preferred X. Looks like there is a new ball on the block that I might have to try!
Geoff breaks down everything Cameron with a certain someone coming back to golf.
3) New Podcast
Ryan at GNN breaks down all the latest golf news on a great podcast.
Sterling Hills is a really pleasant surprise in Southern California golf. I didn't know much about the course prior to playing it but after the first couple of holes, I definitely see what the draw is here.
That draw is...the greens.
Whoa boy are the greens nice. They were mowed close so your putts had pace (but not too much), they were in really good shape so your putts were rolling true and they had a lot of variety so if you missed the green in the wrong place, then your day was really starting.
The front side meanders along with a lot of subtle shelving in the fairways and a lot of dirt patches instead of rough which makes your balls much more findable. There is also a lot of great fescue grasses around the course which add to a surprisingly links-y feel to your round.
There is also a bunch of water on the course but its really more ornamental than challenging your tee shots or approach shots. That being said, it does look purty!
The backside of the course has a lot of elevation gains and losses but my favorite had to be this beauty looking out into the vastness of Ventura county.
Distance control is key as the elevation gains and losses messed with my yardage assessment on several holes.
The course isn't perfect. The sand is inconsistent. They overwater the course leading to mudballs despite not having rain for weeks. Still though, the course is fun to play and fun to chip and putt. If you are in Ventura you should check this out!
For more information on the course, check out the link: http://www.sterlinghillsgolf.com/
1) Hit Me With Your Bjorn Shot
Sure the Ryder Cup happened only 3 months ago but we can look forward to 2018 right, right? In the spirit of that, the European Team has named their new captain, Thomas Bjorn.
2) Champs Tour Update
I really dig the Champions Tour, mainly because I grew up when these guys were playing the PGA Tour but they also get to play some interesting courses. New schedule is released here:
No Laying Up has a GREAT article about those golfers who switched clubs and the results they had this year.
4) New Podcast
Shane Bacon and Alan Shipnuck get into Tiger's return in the latest Clubhouse podcast.
Monday, December 5, 2016
1) Q School
I love the LPGA and one of the reasons is that they still have a meaningful Q school. Geoff wraps up all the stories that came out of the recent one. Congrats to all those gaining status for 2017!
A golfer I have been very high on for the last few years is Harold Varner III. He is a great golfer and also has a great attitude toward golf. His headcover also has a Twitter account. All of this aside, HV3 finally broke out with a win in Australia (he got close there last year) and I am stoked! Ryan has a breakdown of all who participated.
Brandon Stone smoked the field at the Alfred Dunhill links. Muy caliente!
4) Yes, Yes
While all these amazing things in 1-3 happened last weekend, I am sure everyone will focus not on Matsuyama winning the silly season Hero World Challenge but Tiger's up and down 4 days. I hope there are more pieces on Hideki though since he is the hottest golfer going at the moment.
Friday, December 2, 2016
1) A Reversible 9 Saves Time
How do we make a more enjoyable golf experience? Perhaps the answer is more 9 holes courses that can be played in reverse? I really dig the idea and gets explored further in the link!
2) Live Leaderboard
Just because it is the silly season doesn't mean the scores count any less. Check out the latest from the Hero World Challenge (that name still mystifies) here:
3) It Only Took Years
I am not a fan. Must lead with that caveat. Self enlightenment can also come to us pretty late but hopefully someone will keep learning.
4) Podcast Mania
The folks at Talking Golf Getaways continue to pump out a podcast a day. Here is the latest and greatest Emergency 9.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
1) RIP Swinging Skirts
The new LPGA schedule is out and while purses are going up and the tour is getting a higher profile, there will be casualties including the cancellation of one of my favorite events, the Swinging Skirts event at Lake Merced CC. Fantastic course and fantastic event.
2) Q School
Speaking of the LPGA, their Q school is in full swing. Check out the updates from round one here:
3) Bahama Mama
A nice look at the course the Hero World Challenge is taking place at this week.
4) New Podcast
Shane Bacon is back because El Tigre is back. Check out the podcast!
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Golf companies often want you to buy as much as their gear as possible. Irons, hats, balls, sure you benefit and the company benefits but what about the game of golf istelf? It is very rare when someone in the golf business puts their money where their mouth is by helping rescue a golf course from oblivion and then takes it upon themselves to get the course into great shape.
John Ashworth, titular head of Ashworth and now head cheese of the great Linksoul, is based out of Oceanside and when Goat Hill was on the chopping block to become soccer fields, he took it upon himself to lead the charge to save the course and now to improve it. I have been following Goat Hill for several years, buying shirts to help promote saving it, getting the word out to SoCal'ers and so it was a great day when I hit up Oceanside to actually PLAY the course.
The first hole lays out all that you are in for during a round at Goat Hill.
The landing area is blind. There is a lot of dirt outside the fairways and greens. The greens are elevated.
The course is TOUGH! The course is only 4,500 yards but the ups and the downs are many. Goat Hill really leans on the hill and if you hoof it you are going to earn your spurs on this course.
There are so many par 3s but they are also tough. So many of them are uphill and if you miss the green, good luck to you. The hill will take your ball and say "screw you ball" as it goes bounding somewhere.
Even though Goat Hill can be befuddling (the front side seems to be routed AROUND the back side which is interesting), I really enjoyed the round. There needs to be more courses like this, cheap, fun and challenging. There are fascinating flourishes everywhere like a double green!
The vistas can be really great to look at.
The greens of this course are really the superstars. They roll true and fast and are firm but will hold a spinning shot. You could really become a great putter putting these greens!
The only downside to the course is the crazy amount of dirt and lack of turf on the course. However, John is committed to bringing the course back to amazing shape and I don't doubt his resolve http://www.maderasgolf.com/john-ashworth-a-and-a-part-2.html
I am so happy I finally got to play the course. It is challenging, inspiring and a whole lot of fun.
Here is the link for more info about the course: http://www.goathillpark.com/