Thursday, December 18, 2014

Golfing Rancho Park Beating The King Review

LA has a long golf history including hosting the LA Open beginning in 1926. One of those classic courses in LA is Rancho Park which is in a very LA-location, smack dab in the middle of houses and movie studios. I hadn't had a chance to play the course but when a friend asked me to play 9 at the crack of dawn, I definitely said yes!

Was it really dawn? Well check out this pic:

I hadn't made "first tracks" on a course in awhile and my body was still asleep as I definitely put up some big numbers on the first few holes.

On one of the holes, there was a hawk holding her fresh catch and never had I sympathized so much with prey after those first few holes:

The course wasn't overly difficult and unlike most parkland courses actually had some elevation gains and losses and holes weren't tightly packed together so you weren't always ducking from other golfers.

My mind and body finally starting connecting and I started hitting some good shots.

What is fascinating about Rancho is that on the back 9 there are no par 5's until 17 and then there are two par 's back to back, a truly unusual configuration.

Now about that golf history. A very big piece of that history happened on Rancho's 18th hole.

During a LA Open, Arnold Palmer hit a good drive and then proceeded to make a 12 on the hole. A plaque is erected on 18 to commemorate the meltdown and to inspire golfers that even the best screw up. Well folks, I bested Arnie by 8 shots firing a 40 foot birdie putt to end the round.

That is truly the beguiling thing about golf, you can be having a lousy round and then a few shots keeps you coming back. That and I know that I am soooo much better than Arnold Palmer.

For more info about Rancho, check out this link:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Golf Gift Guide

This year has been great for me. I got back into golf after a long layoff, started this golf blog and had a lot of great adventures playing cool courses. Over the course of the year, I found out about some great golf products that I think would make good stocking stuffers for any golf nut. Check em out!

EBars Golf Bars:

Power bars are everywhere nowadays in all different flavors for all different purposes. However, the best one I have found for golf is EBars. Specifically formulated for a round of golf, this bar is my favorite discovery of the year.  It not only tastes good (which is a rarity for power bars) but also is all natural and doesn't contain bad preservatives or other harmful junk which shows up in these bars. I eat these before every round and it really gets me up and going!

For more info on EBars, check em out here:

Monsta Golf Balls:

The golf ball market is saturated with big companies, Titleist, Bridgestone, etc. but every once in awhile a small manufacturer pops up that offers a great golf ball. Enter Monsta with its distinct eye and no nonsense spin on the greens. The distance is pretty good and so is the durability of this ball. If you are looking to go outside the big guys, give this "little" guy a try!

For more info on the Monsta, check out:

Birdie Gift Card:

The great thing about having a lot of golf courses in the US is that there are a lot of coupon books to give you discounts to those courses. In Southern California, Roger Dunn is the best golf shop and their savings card is the best coupon card around. Who doesn't love savings? If you are in the Southlands, get thyself to Roger!

For more info on the Birdie book, check this out:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Golfing Puakea Golf Course Hawaii Review

There are golf courses and then there are Hawaiian golf courses. Take one golf course, sprinkle in mountains, ocean views and feral pigs and you have a whole new golfing experience.

Sure there are more famous courses than the Puakea golf course on the island of Kauai. Some people might look to Kapalua on Maui or Koele on Lana'i but for my money the beauty of Puakea is right up there and a MUST play if you are on Hawaii.

The post is going to have a lot of pictures but I just wanted to give you my general impressions of the course. It is not overly long, which is a good thing for me and there is a great variety to the holes. interesting uses of water,

crazy elevation changes

and sand, lots o sand

Your ball will find the trap on this course so be prepared to spend even more time at the beach here in Hawaii.

The course is pretty reasonable, $99 before 11am and dropping in price every few hours thereafter. While initially puzzling as to why that is for this Mainlander, the answer becomes clear as the wind picks up as the day moves along so the rates drop accordingly. The staff is super friendly and got me set up for my day was enthusiastic that I was playing the course.

The mountains loom large, especially on the back 9.

Rental clubs were Nike game improvement clubs. The 3 wood and the hybrid irons were pretty boss.

Kauai was a lot cloudier than Maui but made for a cooler, nicer round of golf.

The greens ran pretty slow at Puakea. Not a lot of terracing or challenge to the putts but when you are lining up a putt, how can you help but be distracted by the scenery?

The tee boxes were in good shape and set up the hole well.  I played from the blues, it made the course the "right" length, the whites and reds were too far up and I am not that much of a glutton for punishment to play from the tips from this bad boy, after all, I was on my vacation!

The real bonus was getting to play a round with my wife, who took all these awesome shots. It was so great having her there and also, we had the course to ourselves so we could enjoy an awesome Hawaiian golf experience.

Definitely check out Puakea when you are there, here is a link to the course:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Golfing Rustic Canyon Review

I rarely play top courses in the US. I often stick to municipal courses and rarely venture into the Top 100. Since I was getting married, I thought I would change it up by playing a course often ranked in the Top 100 in the US and ranked as the best value for a public course, Rustic Canyon.

In playing this course, I can definitely see what the Top 100 has to offer! Each hole was unique and challenging. Often parkland courses have holes that are very flat and side by side so after awhile you forget what hole you are playing until a ball almost whacks you in the head.

(first hole)

Not Rustic Canyon though! The course follows the contours of a valley in Moorpark California and mixes fairways with natural scrub brush and desert areas.

The big challenge of this course (which numerous commentators have noted) is the greens. These things are beasts, quick with crazy humps and ridges and bifurcations.

You have to play this course once in order to really play it going forward (good thing I am planning on playing this place multiple times!). The greens really effect how you approach a given hole and having that knowledge is key to a good round.

What also is fascinating about RC is how many waste areas you have to drive over or hit your second shots over. It makes you think and adds to the challenge.

One last thing I will mention about RC is that the fairway/rough right around the greens are cut super close, almost creating a second green.

This creates it own challenges, do you putt, chip, bump and run, give up and go to the next hole? Options, you have a lot of options. It got to the point that I started repairing ballmarks on the fairway since it was mowed so close.

Overall Rustic Canyon is an amazing experience and one that every SoCal golfer must experience. The fact that it kicked off my wedding weekend made it even more special but you don't need a life changing event to make this place special, just play it and see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Support The Little Guy- Monsta Golf Balls

Everyone knows the big guy brands in golf, Ping, Callaway, Titleist, etc. But what about the small shops, the little guys (and gals)? Here is my ongoing series devoted to companies and people you might not have heard of doing great work.

If there is one segment of the golf market that is truly dominated by the big named companies, it is the golf ball market. You basically have Titlelist and everyone else. I am partial to Taylormade Lethal balls myself but those are even a distant third to Callaway and after those three you have Sirxon, Bridgestone, Volvik and not much else. Independent ball makers are few and far between.

That is why I was so excited to try out Monsta Golf Balls and their Monsta Ball. The buzz about these balls (say THAT 5 times fast) was everywhere on the Internet. The Holy Grail of Balls (this article is soooo going to get me tagged with NSFW) is a ball that gives you distance but still allows for spinning and feel around the greens. Oh and also doesn't cost you $50 or whatever Titleist Pro V1s are going for nowadays.

(yes, those golf balls are looking at you)

Monsta delivers on at least 2 of those promises, the ball definitely jumps off the driver and clubhead and it felt good at impact. I don't have any of those fancy schmancy GPS tracker devices so I can't tell if you if I got significantly more distance with the Monsta but it felt solid and there was definitely more jump to the ball.

The amount this ball spins is also impressive. My normal golf ball spins really well but due in part to its 5 piece construction. This ball spins just as much as my normal ball and actually spun back a few times, which is crazy to me since my balls stick but don't necessarily spin back. This ball stops on a dime and is well worth it in this category. 

For me, the ball felt hard while putting. The ball rolls true but I had some difficultly getting used to the speed of the ball based on the feel. I think if you are used to a 3 piece urethane ball then this ball will be right in your wheelhouse. It gives you crazy spin, good distance and you don't have to pay $50 for Titleist, then you should definitely check this ball out. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Golfing Hansen Dam Review

The courses in the Los Angeles City system are varied. Some are par 3's, some are executive courses and some are full fledged golf courses and I have been meaning to check out Hansen Dam, a well regarded full fledged course.

I took to the course on a hot, hot day recently (not even a 8am start helped) and really liked what I saw.

You have several standard parkland holes but then you also have holes that go downhill, dogleg left around a lake and then go uphill much like the one pictured above. The course just tops out over 6,000 yards but also has a 560 yard par 5 (which played pretty long).

I played like a hot mess all day but of course striped a hybrid to within 10 feet on 192 yard par 3 so once again golf has its claws in me. There is always one shot that keeps bringing you back to this game.

The only thing I didn't like about Hansen was that they were constantly watering the fairways. Not only do we have a drought here in SoCal but there is an advantage to browning out the course, the ball rolls further. I can't tell you how many lies I had plugged or the ball didn't roll at all because the ground was soggy.

Overall, the pace of play was the best I have experienced in the LA City system and the course was fun and interesting to play. A definite recommend!

For more info about Hansen Dam, check it out here:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Support The Little Guy- Energy Bar Edition

Everyone knows the big guy brands in golf, Ping, Callaway, Titleist, etc. But what about the small shops, the little guys (and gals)? Here is my ongoing series devoted to companies and people you might not have heard of doing great work.

When you are out golfing, how do you keep your energy level up? Rounds here in SoCal can take 5-6 hours which is a long time and if I am being honest with myself, I cannot be powered alone by hotdogs and cider donuts.

When I have gone hiking, my bridge food has been energy bars and gels. You are probably familiar with the names, Clif Bar, ProBar, etc. While I like those bars, they are pretty utilitarian, for energy and calories only, they aren't so great in the taste department. 

As I have gotten back into golf, I was wondering if there was a golf-specific bar. After stumbling around the Internet, I came across ebars, which are made by a small company in Tennessee. 

Not only do they make energy bars for a wide variety of uses but they also make a golf-specific bar so I ordered a box to try them out.

You are supposed to eat the bar about 30 minutes before your round to ensure the energy from the bar gets released during the round. The first thing I noticed is how good they taste. Really, truly, the cocoa and berry combinations they have in both the mens and womens bars taste great. It is also healthy for you as all the ingredients are organic and there is no soy or excess sugar in these bars.

They also really work with energy. I have played full rounds on just the bars alone and there isn't any crash, its a pretty even energy flow you get from these puppies. They are my go to bar before every round and I can't say enough good things about them (although after reading this review, you might think otherwise).

Sure you can have a Clif Bar or a hot dog to get you through your next round but I highly suggest ordering up these guys and giving them a try. 

For more info on ebars, check out the link here: 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Support The Little Guy- Scorecard Yardage Book Edition

Everyone knows the big guy brands in golf, Ping, Callaway, Titleist, etc. But what about the small shops, the little guys (and gals)? Here is my ongoing series devoted to companies and people you might not have heard of doing great work.

Deep in the recesses of Oregon lives a golf fanatic. Such is his mania and need to fund his golf habit, he makes great yardage book holders for golfers and sells em on ebay. His name is Z.

For those of you not familiar, yardage book/scorecard holders are often used by pros (kept in the back pocket) as golf is as much of a science as it is an art. You need to know yardages, slopes of greens, which hole the beverage cart is one, all things that need a place called home and holders will get you there.

I was looking for a holder and was surprised about how expensive they are. Often these are made by high end leathermakers with insane leathers like ostrich. Z bucks the trend by making affordable holders in a variety of colors and sells em on ebay.

I absolutely love mine and am a huge fan. You can just feel the quality when you get one, Z does great work and he can even "age" it for you if you want, which I asked for (I like that worn look, don't need this to be brand spanking new but you have that option!).

Z gets my inaugural Support The Little Guy stamp of approval (trademark pending).

For more about Z and his holders, check out here: 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Open App Reviewed!

There are lots of apps on the Golf Market but the ones I enjoy the most are the tournament-specific apps that are floating out there in cyberland. I previously reviewed the Masters app, which I loved and I also downloaded the US Open app which was kinda "meh". For my money, the British Open app is the best of the bunch.

Does it give you a leaderboard, the same as the other apps? Yup but not in such pleasing colors:

(yes those ARE pleasing damnit!)

What the app does is take the Masters template and improves upon it in several subtle but key areas.

See that, you can watch live video BUT you can also listen to a live radio broadcast with British announcers. The Brits may not be smarter than us Yanks but with that accent, they can tell me to do anything and I will follow ($60 for a British Open umbrella, sure why not?).

The app also has a nice layout for updates, the have text updates, clip recaps and photos

giving you are real audiovisual feast.

While these photos might be crappy, this app is not. Whilst the Open Cometh But Once a Rotation of this Orb Through The Heavens (eat that Shakespeare) this app is a must have on your phone.

Check out more info of the App here:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Get My Card

Growing up in Upstate New York, I never really worried about tee times. There were an abundance of courses and the worse the course, the higher the likelihood that you didn't have to make a tee time. On the nicer courses sure you made tee times but there were very few courses that you had to camp out for a tee time like Bethpage.

When I moved to Los Angeles and took up golf again, I knew I might have to adjust my expectations since the city has a few million people in it (as opposed to a few million trees that are in Upstate). I ran across the Player Card, an initiative run by the City of LA. For a small yearly fee you get a card which allows you access to tee times to city-run courses before the general public. It doesn't come with any other fancy benefits or bag tags but that tee time access is worth it to me.

I have already used it to play PenMar in Venice and it was already worth it as that course was full of golfers the day I went but with the reservation system, it was a breeze to get out and about due to the card.

Other cities have similar set-ups and I think it is a darn good idea. Consider me a fan of this little piece of plastic!

More details about the card can be found here:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Golfing Arroyo Seco

(this might be the worst picture I have yet posted on this blog)

As I have been getting back into the game of golf, I have been playing a variety of courses. Some are regulation length like Black Gold, some are executive courses like Westchester and some are par 3 courses like Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. Back East, where I hail from, the par 3 courses offer a variety lengths, some are super short, some are longer but the trend I have been noticing here in SoCal is that many of these par 3 courses are in PW or 9 iron territory at most.

Not that I mind that, I could always use work on that aspect of my game but after playing the 12th consecutive hole like that, I yearn for a bit of variety. What Arroyo gives you opposed to some of the other par 3 courses here in LA is some visual beauty.

First up some mountains and palm trees:

There is also a beautiful little creek that runs its way through the course and while it won't challenge any golf shot, who knows, maybe a woman will offer you a sword out of it or something.

I am also a big fan of palm trees so of course I had to take a picture or two of them:

Palm trees and creeks aside, the course is pretty straightforward although the greens present a challenge as they often have undulations and present a pretty good challenge in chipping and putting. Another real benefit of this course is the laid back vibe. The course was about half full but I never felt pressured to speed up play or had to wait a tremendous amount on any tee. It was too hot for that but also the course seems to encourage everyone to chill out a bit and enjoy the pitching wedges.

Check out more info about Arroyo here: