Tuesday, July 16, 2019
And so the grind continues. Here we are, well on our way to 2,000 days of actively trying to play Cypress but no luck thus far. I haven't been super aggressive over the last few months, just hoping the universe places some people in my path that can help me out.
I did decide to shake a few things up in the karma department though. On eBay, there was a sale of Titleist golf balls branded with the Cypress Point logo.
I took this as a sign and a challenge. I am going to fill my golf bag with these balls (phrasing) and I am going to play with them until they run out. My goal? To play Cypress Point before the balls run out. I figure the golf balls will act as a defacto hourglass to help me get my butt in gear.
Part of that is I have to start getting back up to the NorCal area. I had a trip to Pasa which needed to be rescheduled due to weather and I am hoping to take a quick jaunt up there in the Fall to play a few private courses in SanFran. The closer I can get to Cypress, I feel the odds of me meeting someone with a connection there will increase.
If you spend any time in Monterey you start to wonder how they could accommodate all the people attending the Pro Am. 17 Mile Drive is often blocked off for shuttle buses and there isn't a lot of parking for the attendees. This problem had to been doubled for the recent US Open there. It sounds like though a lucky few got their fill of Cypress while parking! https://golfweek.com/2019/06/17/u-s-open-hot-spot-parking-lot-next-to-18th-tee-at-cypress-point-club/
Monday, July 8, 2019
Let's face it, getting to Inverness Nova Scotia takes some effort. The closest major airport is Halifax which still puts you at a 3-plus-hour hour drive to Cabot Links (you could fly into Sydney which puts you 2 hours out but from what I hear Halifax is the better option). So if you are coming from anywhere other than Boston, you are going to have expend time and effort getting there.
Once you get there though...whoa doggy is it worth it! I have not stayed at Pinehurst or Streamsong but having stayed at Bandon Dunes and Sand Valley, I can confidently say that Cabot is the best golf resort I have stayed at so far!
The people there are very friendly and helpful. Big shoutout to Tyler and Jeremy in the golf department and all the friendly staff I met along the way. They bent over backwards to accommodate my group (as they would for any guest) and that type of service goes a long way.
Also, perhaps the best caddie I ever came across was Stephen at the resort. The guy is amiable and even though he wasn't my caddy, I considered the guy one of the gang and highly recommend him to anyone looking to head to Cabot.
First let's talk about the rooms.
The Golf Villas are definitely the best I ever stayed in. They combine the elegance of Sand Valley with a very Scandinavian feng shui with some inspired design choices like a great kitchen, fantastic porch and killer individual bathrooms. The villas where I stayed could easily accommodate a guys group, a couples trip or just the single golfer. All the lodging is currently laid out at the Links course but that is changing with major construction happening near the Cliffs course to really put in a ton more infrastructure in the next 2 years.
Next, let's talk about food. The Links has 2 restaurants (an upstairs, sightly more formal dining area and the downstairs pub area) and also owns the Cabot Public House where you can get some similar food and some different dishes as well.
All the food is excellent, from the lobster rolls,
to the seafood chowder
to the poutine.
Almost all of the beers they serve are local to Cape Breton-Nova Scotia and I tried most of them, particularly liking the beer made specifically for the resort, the Cabot Ale made by Garrison.
If you are traveling to Nova Scotia, get yourself some seafood and local spirits!
The Cliffs course is still in its infancy regarding amenities. There are two yurts which act as gift shop and small cafeteria (with new permanent buildings opening this summer) but the reality is you are going to be spending most of your time back at the main lodge at Links.
Staying at Cabot is WORTH the energy to get there. The resort, people and food are all top notch and you couldn't ask for anything more then what Cabot gives you!
For more information on the Cabot resort, check out this link: https://www.cabotlinks.com/resort/
Monday, July 1, 2019
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
There are plenty of faux links courses in the US. If there is a links-style courses in Las Vegas you know they are everywhere. Heck the best links-style course in the US is often tabbed as Sand Hills in Nebraska (and I am not one to argue!). Still, when one travels to Nova Scotia, Canada to play the Cabot courses - and especially the Links, a "true" links course - you really see what you have been missing when playing the faux links courses.
The course just feels connected to the sea in a way these other courses can only approximate. The bunkers feel carved out of the dunes. The cape hole on the sixth hole actually go around an actual cape-cove!
I played Cabot Links in 20mph winds in the morning and utterly calm conditions in the afternoon, making it two completely different courses (as all good links courses will do). In short, I felt I was playing in Scotland, yet here I was in North America - truly a transcendent experience.
The Links (like its sister, Cabot Cliffs) starts off with a gentle handshake of a par 5.
After a longish par 3 second with a crazy swale in the middle
the fun really begins on the short par-4 third hole with crazy swamp danger off to the right.
The 4th hole is my personal nemesis. Playing uphill this hole is just hard, triply hard in that aforementioned wind. In either condition I was struggling to get up there but once you gain the high ground you have one of the most beautiful views on the course.
Holes 5 and 6 are fantastic playing along the cove with lobster boats (or at least I thought they were lobster boats - I was so obsessed by lobster on this trip that I turned everything into lobster).
The 8th hole is just a brute. A long forced carry over marshland, then an uphill shot to a double green making this par 5 a real tester.
The course has a lot more teeth than a typical resort course (more on that in a bit) and it shows it in full with the 8th hole.
The fun picks up again on the 10th hole, a fantastic short par 4 with a blind tee shot over a hill to a downhill green. I loved every bit of this hole, it is quintessential links golf and so much fun to play!
The course has a long stretch of holes coming up with super long par 5s and 4s which you think are tough until you get to the par 3, 14th hole which will test your nerve like no other at only 90 yards straight downhill.
The last stretch was very reminiscent of the last stretch at Bandon Dunes. Play along the water for 16, start to turn in-land for 17 and then 18 is playing back to town/the resort with the folks eating at Cabot's restaurants getting a full view of your approach shots into 18. Of the three holes, 16 along the coast is the favorite due to the eye candy but I added bonuses points for beach access right by the 16th green (if you have time to dip down to the Atlantic, do it! ).
Overall, Cabot Links is a great course. I love that you don't have to fly all the way to Scotland to play a Scottish course - and the sea views are amazing. I wish the routing of a few holes was softened a bit because the course has too much of an edge for the typical resort golfer, and it would be great to get the greens running slightly faster (they were still working to overcome some tough agronomic issues coming out of a tough winter) but those are minor quibbles to an overall fantastic experience at Cabot.
For more information on the Links, check out this, well, link!: https://www.cabotlinks.com/golf/cabot-links/
Monday, June 10, 2019
When you travel to the high desert in California you may pass through the towns of Palmdale/Lancaster. There you will see desert scrub brush as far as the eye can see but occasionally your view will be broken up by a stand or two of cottonwood trees. One such stand contains the funky but fun course of Desert Aire in Palmdale.
For years I have been wanting to play Desert Aire because of their email game. Getting semi-weekly emails in my inbox telling me about too good to be true deals, fund leagues and skins games and generally imparting a vibe that 9 holes in the high desert can be an awfully fun time.
I finally got to check out the course on a hot weekend taking advantage of a 2fer Saturday (in the afternoon it was 2 for 1 greens fees and 2 for 1 food and drink). The course is a pretty straight ahead parkland style course with trees framing the holes but there was challenges to be had.
You have to be smart with your driving as the cottonwood trees (and some Joshua trees!) really influence your second shot. Indeed the 9th hole has tree placement slightly reminiscent of Pebble's 18th. The greens are also a little tricky as they keep them longish to protect against the desert heat but they get baked out and sometimes it almost feels like you are putting in Scotland.
At the end of the day, the conditioning of the course and the routing isn't fantastic by any stretch but if you lived in Palmdale and were just new to golf, this course would quickly become your favorite place to play. Some of the holes (particularly the 5th and 6th holes) have some challenge and teeth to them and the rest of the holes give you enough of a challenge that I was glad to have played 2 rounds of 9 holes here.
Golf needs more courses like this, 9 holes for a quick, cheap round and while the golf won't crack any top 100 lists it serves a purpose of getting golfers out and about and that has a value all its own.
For more info on Desert Aire, check out the link: http://www.desertairegolfcourse.com/
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
This is my first time playing in Nova Scotia, heck my first time playing in Canada!, so I have been researching like a fiend about it and thought I would bring the fruits of my mania to you, dear reader.
I am taking Air Canada into Halifax and then trundling my way up to a town near Inverness. I bought my plane tickets ages ago and think I have left myself enough room to clear customs on both ends but always something to remember traveling to/from the US. Canada is very similar to the US in many ways but you still have to clear customs.
I am also GREATLY looking forward to trip to Inverness. I am renting a car (figure easier than arranging car service of some sort plus gives me flexibility to sightsee) and am planning on playing a little golf along the way and also stopping into a few towns, especially Antigonish with dinner at The Townhouse. One of the things I like best about traveling to play golf is being able to stop in and see new places along the way and I am greatly looking forward to seeing what is out and about off of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Originally I am from Upstate New York so I have an intimate familiarity with changing weather and the concept of "layering". During June Inverness averages a high of 68 and a chilly low of 47 (all Fahrenheit) with 9 days of rain. So layer I will.
Long range forecasts are currently predicting a pocket of sun over the few days I am there so much like my trip to Bandon (which was basically subtropical like and sandwiched in-between two storm systems) I might get real lucky on this. Still I am layering and also bringing my Bandon knit cap just in case.
Lobster, I want all of the lobsters. Nova Scotia is considered one of the best seafood places and I look forward to eating everything the resort has to offer. One places in particular that I am look forward to is the Cabot Bar which is right next to the 18th green (always a sucker for places I can sit and drink right next to golf).
On the menu that I want to try is of course, you guessed it, the Lobster roll and that blueberry cobbler sounds fantastic. Plus I am a sucker for "can only get it here" drinks so order me up a Cabot Ale and a Patio Weather!
I also definitely want to go to the Public House. This place really reminds me of my time living in Ireland and I definitely want to check it out.
With two golf courses to play (although a new short course has been announced!) I am planning on splitting my time evenly between Cliffs and Links. My main goal is just to get there, chill out and playing some great golf with some stunning visual eye candy. That is ultimately the goal of any golf trip. Sure you want to play unique and challenging courses but it is for the WHOLE experience, traveling on the roads, checking out the local pubs, not checking your email for a few days.
I think Cabot can offer me that and more and I can't wait.
For more info on Cabot check out the link: https://www.cabotlinks.com/
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
I say hopefully because truth be told I am getting a little burned out watching the Masters all these years and never having attended in person. It is not so much sour grapes it is just how many lotteries must a person enter before their chance for tix come up? This is exacerbated by social media of course. Much like watching 1/2 the field at the Pebble Pro-Am wear Cypress Point schwag, watching on Twitter and Instagram everyone who is at ANGC this week makes me feel like I am missing out.
One day right?
Onto the preview!
First up (and best up) is this year's roundup of Masters' schwag. The most important blog post always comes courtesy of Geoff and this year we have some good stuff.
I have to agree with Geoff that this hat is pretty tight. One of the underrated style games of ANGC is the fact they make great trucker hats. You wouldn't think a genteel Southern club would do mesh hats well but they are one of the consistent winners of schwag I have seen.
Similarly, Masters t-shirts are on point again this time featuring the famous menu of ANGC
Finally this tumbler has already sold out (its only Tuesday!) but if you want one, MMO has you covered.
I think ANGC is seeing what other small shops like Tyson Lamb and Sugarloaf Social Club are experiencing. When they release limited edition items, they are quickly sold out because people are going to resell them on eBay for much higher prices (MMO excluded from this gouging). I feel like this really is against the spirit of this type of thing and while I am glad to be able to purchase these items on the secondary market I hate the direction this is trending.
For more schwag check out this link: https://golfweek.com/2019/04/08/golf-best-of-masters-merchandise-2019-edition/
I have thought for the last few years that Rory didn't have what it took mentally to win at Augusta because he had built up winning it TOO much in his mind. I feel like he keeps psyching himself out. However, based on the current run of form, I don't think you can bet against him. He may not win but he is guaranteed top 5.
Spieth, my main man looks lost out there on the course. He is a lock to make top 3 based on his past track record and I swore I would never bet against him but boy if there is a year to bet against him, this would be it. He may fall out of the top 50 soon but maybe Augusta will be his springboard back?
Some of the big, lunky guys might make some noise on Thursday/Friday. Your Charlie Hoffmans, your Marc Leishmans, your Gary Woodlands. These guys never seem to put it together on Sunday but I think one of the aforementioned group will make noise to surprise some people.
For all the pairings check out this link: https://www.masters.com/en_US/players/pairings/index.html
So that is it for me for this year. For those lucky enough to be going, be sure to eat a peach ice cream sandwich for me and buy a hat or 2. For those couch surfing with me, enjoy the spectacle.
Monday, March 18, 2019
Every once in awhile you run across a company doing fantastic work in the golf space and you have to get all of their stuff immediately.
That is what happened to me when I ran across 310.USA on Instagram. What they make just isn't any golf divot tool or golf ball marker but some of the best iterations of those things.
Using Damascus steel, 310 takes their time forging these fantastic items and I got to use them recently on a round in SoCal.
The divot tool was super solid and when I used it on greens the steel made it super easy to repair ballmarks and was so well balanced that it is now my GO TO divot tool.
The ball marker has a bunch of heft to it so I always knew when it was in my pocket and everyone knew whose putt was mine with this fantastic ballmarker and its topographic lines.
310 also sent me a killer key chain piece of metal which I love. Basically I love everything 310 does and you will too if you order their stuff.
For more information about 310.USA be sure to check out their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/310.usa/
Monday, March 4, 2019
Diamond Bar golf course is not a well rated course. Multiple holes are bordered by the freeway. The course took 5 hours and 45 minutes to play. I took that all in stride and decided to play it anyway.
What I found was a course that had some really interesting holes. Say the 9th hole for example. A completely uphill par 3 to a green that seems like you are trying to hit to the top of a volcano.
The greens can be absolutely perplexing with their slopes and the pin positions were devious to say the least.
Every once in awhile you tuned out the constant freeway noise and could focus on the majestic mountains surrounding the course.
These elements are great but the sum of the parts are too lacking. Parallel holes, the constant drone of the freeways, the terrible course management allowing for almost 6 hour rounds. Diamond Bar suffers from too many defects to be recommended to a golfer. That being said, there are some elements that would be great cornerstones in case the course was ever renovated.
For more info on Diamond Bar, check out this link: https://www.diamondbargolf.com/
Monday, February 25, 2019
California has been slammed with storms over the winter 2018-19 resulting in lots of flooding, mudslides and other types of damage. Other types of damage including damage to the iconic cypress tree.
The cypress tree is more than 250 years old and serves of the logo for Pebble Beach and has a passing resemblance to CPC's logo.
CPC may have only registered this logo with the USPTO in 2001 but you show that logo to anyone in golf and it is instantly recognizable. It is fascinating for a club of sub-250 members to have a logo that is recognized around the world. That is the way of the world though eh? Even golf courses with 1 member are talked about on blogs and pictures circulate here and there of even the most exclusive enclaves.
This is what I am banking on in my quest for Cypress. I am willing to put my faith in the Internet to connect me with people who know people who know people.
I am also going to start attempting to connect more with people who are on golf quests. I have been noticing more people doing quests and as part of those quests, they have played Cypress. For example,
PJ Koenig played CPC as part of his RGV Tour http://www.pjkoenig.com/the-rgv-tour-podcast-with-pjkoenig#16
Jimmie James played the Top 100 in 1 year (whew!) and of course Cypress was a part of that: https://www.jimmiestop100golfcoursetour.com/
So I think I need to seek out people at the beginning of their quest and wonder if they let me tag along as they try to play this course.
Link of the day. YouTube is a great resource for all things Cypress. If you are so inclined, check out this guy as he went around the track and basically sounds like he is narrating a 1980s slideshow to relatives which adds to the charm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CizDmSULSq4
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Riviera CC is one of the top golf courses in the world. Top 100 has it at 37th in the world and you won't hear me complaining about that ranking. I have attended the Genesis Open several times and each time makes me want to play The Riv more and more.
The first hole (above) gives you the classic golden area California open with a huge downhill tee shot and an hourglass green. I have had dreams about hitting that tee shot into the upper atmosphere to start my round at the Club.
I am always amazed at the severity of the greens here. There are some where placement is key and misses are death (death by bunker that is).
To me, the back side of the course (where the infamous 6th and the above 16th reside) is some of the most fascinating. You can feel the history back here with these ghost trees and immaculate greens.
I just love this shot. It goes to show that if you miss at the Riv in the wrong place, you are in for a world of hurt.
This was George Thomas' favorite hole and I can see why. The strategy off the tee, the bunkers mirroring the swales of the land, it is fantastic!
This is perhaps my favorite fairway bunker in golf. It is just an outrageous monster of sand rising out of a sea of green.
The Riv is a course that I have seen in person multiple times but never have had the good fortune to play. If I ever got the chance, I would enjoy every second and then beg to play 36. It is that good a course and can be played over and over again with boring a golfer (truly, a high compliment!).
For more info on Riviera, check out the link: http://www.therivieracountryclub.com/