Monday, April 30, 2018

Pacific Dunes

Pacific Dunes is often ranked in the top 50 golf courses in the world and reviews of it alternate discussing how beautiful it is versus how tough it is. What would it be like to play it in person?

Many historic links courses are short by modern standards and their primary defense are the elements. If the wind is gusting and the rain is falling good luck on even the shortest track. It was super windy the day I played Pac Dunes. How windy you ask? This windy:

Pac Dunes tips out at 6,600 yards although most guests play it even shorter at 6,100 yards and it is a tough test in even benign conditions but when the wind was going like it was the day I played it (20-30 mph winds) it became a real carnival ride.

The par 3s by the ocean became exercises in figuring how to club up by 3+ clubs and I had to have a nice long sit after playing into a 30 mph wind on the long 13th hole. Whew, I get tired just remembering the wind!

The course is beautiful and really seems to maximize the surrounding landscape to great visual effect. Many an architect has used stunning visuals to distract the golfer from the task at hand but leave it to Doak to distract you with the beauty of gorse while you are playing some of the holes.

Playing Pac Dunes is playing golf in the raw. The course wends its way up and down dunescapes and blowout bunkers and jagged cliffsides and it feels as far removed from a manufactured American parkland course as you can get.

This wild and wooly nature of the course also manifests itself in the bunkering and lord help ya if you find yourself in one of them during the round.

Let's talk about the routing of Pac Dunes a bit. When you play the course it is a bit like being in an accordion. There are stretches of wide open spaces, especially the cliffside holes and then the course squeezes compactly onto itself with back to back par 3s in a very narrow space and holes jumbling up next to each other.

One of my favorites holes on the course did not involve cliff top views or gorse but instead it was the 9th hole which has a blind tee shot and then two greens that are alternated depending on the day you play there.

(the sprinkler head has the alternate yardages on it)

This is a really fun hole. On a course that is hard (and was made harder by the wind), I really dug a fun hole that gave you lots of options and to me it was the ninth.

Overall I could see why this course is considered one of the best in the world. It is wild, beautiful and a true best of golf. The test is made harder by the wind and I wonder how much easier and/or more fun it would be playing in more benign conditions.

That being said, it is a must play course while at the resort and it will give you an experience that will last a lifetime.

For more information about Pacific Dunes check out this link:

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

4 Days Till Bandon

Here we go, 4 days until I make my way to Oregon. The weather has been terrible all week but it looks like it is seriously rounding into shape when I will be there.

APR 22
Partly Cloudy
NNE 19 mph63%
APR 23
Mostly Sunny
N 11 mph68%
APR 24
Partly Cloudy
N 10 mph71%
APR 25
Few Showers
N 14 mph76%

I mean 50s and overcast skies? For an Upstate NY kid, that is perfect golf weather.

My partner in crime for this adventure is Bryan of GolfByBryan fame. Later in the week we will be joined by Chris and Phil and I can't wait to swing the sticks with these awesome guys.

The plane tickets are booked, a top notch Portland biscuit place is plugged into the GPS and all that needs to happen is for the week to end as it naturally does and then the fun begins.

Be sure to check all my social media channels over the next week and the weeks to come as I recount and recap my time at America's premiere golf resort!



My Coore/Crenshaw Quest! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mountain Meadows

I consider myself to be reasonably in shape. Sure as I approach middle age I am carrying a little extra baggage but I feel like I haven't lost too much spring in my step. I always try to walk a course if I can so when I pulled up to Mountain Meadows and saw the back tees were 6600 yards, I am like "no cart for me".

Well MM takes the "mountain" in its name seriously, I walked up hills and downhills with very few level lies and by the 11th hole I was a tuckered golfer. I was so pooped that by the signature par 3 13th hole (hit over a ravine, into the wind, 230)

I had a mini swing-meltdown and was wondering if I should beg my playing companions if I could hop in their cart. However, just then the cart girl (I hate that term BTW but just using it for convenience until I can think of another one) came by I had chowed down on kit kats and Gatorades. That seemed to do the trick as I went 1 under the last 5 holes.

Aside from my travails, the course itself had a nice mix of short par 5s, long par 4s and a variety of par 3s to keep a golfer on their toes.

The bunker complexes were in great shape with a subtle design to them that really framed the greens well (and many of the vistas were framed by OTHER mountains which added a nice touch).

The course is definitely one where local knowledge is appreciated as there are either several blind shots and not a lot of yardage markers so you need to play there several times to figure out what to hit and when.

The greens were recently punched but rolled nicely and given all the undulations in the rest of the course, I was glad to have rather flatish greens to navigate once I finally got there.

I liked Mountain Meadows as it really packs quite a punch in a small amount of space. That being said, I might want to take a cart next time I am there :).

For more info on MM check out the link:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

5th Annual Live Masters Blog- Day 4

Can you believe it? It has been 5 years since I started this cockamamie live blog writing about all things Masters, schwag, players headed for the glue factory among many other musings. Join me won't you for Day 4 of this rambling coverage? 

3:45pm: Ayup there it is. One of the few people in golf I can't stand won the Masters. How did he do it? Well he rolled soooo many putts this week, hats off to his putting. The greens are so difficult and much respect for his navigation of them.

I think you can never bet against Jordan at the Masters as a Top 3 finisher and Rahm and Rickie had surprising Top 10 finishes which means maybe they are building up institutional knowledge to win at ANGC some day. 

I also think we need to put the narrative to bed that lefthanders have a huge advantage here. Arguably Lefty, Bubba and Harman were coming into this week playing their best golf of the year and none of them were a factor. 

Finally, the course looked in great shape and I wish ANGC would stop trying to lengthen things. The rain softened the course which really bore fruit today with super low scores. The defense in this course is twofold, positioning and the green complexes. If this course is set up on the edge, it is tough to score so if defending par is critical to the members then length won't help.

Overall, another great major tournament is in the books and thank you all for making your way through another year of living blogging. Maybe next year I will actually make it to Augusta and if so, no way in hell am I doing this again :P. Cross your fingers for the lottery! 

3:30pm: Reed made the par putt. Reed is in the fairway. Against all of analysis Rickie Fowler managed to have an amazing Masters and is only 1 behind. If Reed Bogeys, playoff! One can only hope...

3:15pm: This is it, while it might only be the 17th hole, if Reed manages to par this despite a lousy drive then it is all over but the crying. Sure he could double 18 but I doubt that is going to happen. It all comes down to 17, can Reed bogey it? Rickie just parred 17 so he is basically out of it at this point. It all comes down to Reed's second shot. 

3:05pm: Jordan did all he could to get into the conversation. Still a bogey at the last means that P Reed just has to par his way in to win it. Jordan stayed over that 18th tee shot way too long and it showed, blowed it out left and luckily hit a tree but was way back to the green. Time will tell if Patrick starts gripping it tighter. 

2:35pm: There has never been any objectivity on this blog and there certainly isn't any now! 

1:45pm: The benefit of playing early is that you can "post a number". You go out hot and put up a number close to the leaders, they start thinking about that number and you never know, they might start gripping the club a little tighter and start falling backward. That is what Jordan has to right now. No leaking oil. No falling backward, go out and post a number, say 13, 14 under and see if Rory or P Reed can match it.

1:35pm: Sometimes you want something too much. You work so hard to get to a certain point but then you start overthinking it, gripping the club too hard. I think that's where Rory is at this point. He has tried various ways to "prepare" for Augusta over the last few years and it just doesn't work. He has the talent to win anywhere but I don't think he has the mentality to win at ANGC, its in his head.  

1:05pm: Stop it Jordan, stop making me want to care about you. Look at you, 5 under and 10 under for the tourney, only 4 back and turning through the back 9. Could Reed pull a Norman? Maybe but I think it is less likely. Rory is so rollercoastering it so far birdies here, bogeys there. Rahm is starting to make a bit of a move, maybe there is something brewing there. 

12:30pm: Directv is really a godsend every year during the Masters. So many options, none better than the Mosaic channel where it is a feast for the ADHD senses. When you attend a tourney, you only get a sense on how the group you are following is doing along with looks at the leaderboard to try to get a sense on how everyone is doing. Sitting at home, Directv gives it all to you all at once. 

12:00pm: A great summary of why Reed is a complicated leader of this tournament.

11:35am: Welp Jordan starts birdie, birdie. Too little, too late. Friday was the day he lost the tourney. Double and then bogey in the first two holes and leaking oil until the par 5s on the back. As they say, you can't win the Masters on Thursday but you can certainly lose it (Jordan just waited an extra day). 

Everyone is going be concentrating on Reed, McIlroy today but I am curious about how Rahm and Fowler do today. Both have immense talent but haven't gotten it done thus far in majors. Can they put something together today? 

11:00am: The tee times start so late at the Masters (seriously, they go off at 2:40?) that I have time to do other stuff. Stuff including baking some treats for the upcoming afternoon. I don't hold Masters party. Does anyone? Do you sit around drinking peach tea and wearing pastels? I need to know! 

10:30am: The 16th hole looks like it is really screwing with golfers. So many coming up short or pulling their shots into the bunkers. It will be interesting to see if this hole decides the tourney in a few hours. 

10:10am: Looks like the wind is playing havoc with club selection on the back side. Everyone hopes for pretty conditions because the Masters is the unofficially spring kickoff to golf in the East but for me, I would like to see the pros also deal with some weather conditions in addition to the pretty conditions from time to time.  

9:40am: Starting off with Amen Corner rather than the featured groups. Of the three holes, I am most interested in 11, a long par 4 that requires a lot of different types of shots to get home in par. 12 to me is a bit overrated, its a long short hole (if that makes any sense) and yes has decided Jordan's fate among many others (thanks for staying up on Freddie's ball all those years back). I just think it is more of a mental hole than a challenging hole. I have to agree with Chairmen Ridley that the 13th has lost its teeth. Golfers are kicking butt with an iron in to the hole with eagle always looming. So basically, give me 11 all day long. 

9:30am: It was too enticing, I had to go and play golf this morning. Now I am back and my fingers are all warmed up for some hot blogging action! 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

5th Annual Live Masters Blog- Day 3

Can you believe it? It has been 5 years since I started this cockamamie live blog writing about all things Masters, schwag, players headed for the glue factory among many other musings. Join me won't you for Day 3 of this rambling coverage? 

3:45pm: So where are we as the Masters is over with for the day? P Reed is the leader of the golf tournament (I hated the streaming coverage stating "Patrick Reed is OUR leader"). Rory has the best shot to take him down although several others are lurking. For me, I am on Knox watch when he comes through Amen Corner tomorrow and then I will see how the tourney shapes up around that. Have a good night everyone! 

3:25pm: One of my favorite shots from Rory's round today. ANGC may be manufactured beauty but it is beautiful all the same.

3:08pm: No matter how terrible Jordan is playing, he seems to be a perpetual Top 10 machine here at ANGC. By sticking with the featured group coverage, I have been getting an eyeful of Jordan and he seems to be the same player as he always was, just isn't getting the bounces he used to. Is it the flat stick? Not necessarily. I think the Golf Gods are saying it just isn't his year.

2:50pm: I have been curious about Berckmans Place. Is it a good place to see the tourney (if I were ever to get there)? Is it worth the $6,000 price tag? seems to think so, here is their writeup of it: 

1:50pm: Jordan just cash in on his ball striking. He outdrove DJ on a hole, hit it close on 12 and came away with only pars. 

Meanwhile, Fleetwood went absolutely bananas and went from Even to -7 over the course of a round. Rory is also having a banner day.

Then there is P Reed. With all the great storylines in the Masters this year, what if he won? I might just hunker down and watch the featured groups for the next few days while I contemplate that terrible notion.

12:35pm: Most people didn’t give Rahm a chance. He is a top 5 player with a terrible record in the majors and doesn’t have a natural shot shape to maximize ANGC curves but yet here we are with Rahm challenging for the lead. He has the game to win anywhere, can he win here?

11:35am: We have now descended into Langer impressions on the 15-16 hole coverage. Ok, going to take a break to do some errands but will be back soon for the afternoon wave of the leaders! 

11:00am: It is interesting seeing Poulter and Tiger play together. They were both some of the most intense competitors over the last decade but I would say age has mellowed them a bit. You can't just be that intense forever and I am glad that they aren't killing each other.

Also, triple bonus points for the commentators on the 15-16 hole coverage. These guys' announcer games are tight! 

10:20am: It seems that the greens are much softer than the last few days so golfers can really go after the pins. We might see some really low scores in the afternoon, all depends on what the weather does over the next few hours. Showers are currently slated from 2-5 EST today so we will see.

9:45am: Paul Casey vs. Jeff Knox through Amen Corner. Jeff took the early lead with a birdie on 11 and then they halved 12 both with pars. 13th was unclear what happened. Casey got a birdie but Knox, who knows? Assuming he got a par we will call the Corner a wash, which is MIGHTY impressive for an amateur going up against a pro in a tourney setting. 

9:05am: Lefty grabs eagle after hitting driver off the deck which I am sure is sending No Laying Up into a fit of ecstasy. The great thing about watching golfers with nothing to play for is that they will try things they might not normally try if they were in contention. Forget caution, you are playing ANGC go for it, whatever "it" is. Early rounds can be fun rounds is what I am saying.

8:40am: I know most tournaments have larger fields than the Masters but there is something nice about watching a twosome navigate the course. I'm not sure if the players actually play any faster but the possibility is certainly there for them to do so. It is like watching overtime hockey during the regular season where they go from 5 players per team on the ice to 3. It makes a difference. 

8:05am: Does anyone have an update on how Knox is fairing against Casey? With the early morning groups all way over par (Lefty currently +9) only Knox is fueling my interest at the moment. Golf Digest seems to be sensing this and reposted their excellent article from last year's Masters.

7:45am: As the players get fired up for moving day, I am firing up my coveted ANGC yardage book. I have been making notes in it ever since I acquired it and one day, who knows, maybe I could actually use it as I play this course (stranger things have happened!). 

7:30am: It looks wet, wet, wet there at ol ANGC. Phil rocks the two gloves and promptly send a ball way right. 

In more exciting news, Jeff Knox is on the course! Playing with Paul Casey in the most interesting match play in tournament golf, can Knox beat Casey? I think we are all crossing his fingers that he does. 

Finally here are the pin locations for today, enjoy the third round everyone! 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

5th Annual Live Masters Blog- Day 2

Can you believe it? It has been 5 years since I started this cockamamie live blog writing about all things Masters, schwag, players headed for the glue factory among many other musings. Join me won't you for Day 2 of this rambling coverage? 

4:35pm: And with a poof they cut off my live stream and I am Masterless for the night. So where do we stand at the halfway point? Unless Reed makes a mess of 18, he will be the overnight leader trailed closely but Leish. Spieth, Rory, Stens, JT all lurk on the first page which could lead to a really spectacular weekend. Ibth No it all hinges on the weather tomorrow. Does the course get soft and favor the bomber? Do backs get tight and out of synch? Can anyone on the second page of the board come out guns blazing and post a number?

Only time will tell. Goodnight!

2:50pm: I don’t know what it is about P Reed but I just can’t root for him. Maybe it was the stories in Shane Ryan’s book. Maybe it is just his “resting jerk face”. Whatever it is the fact that he is on top of the leaderboard and I am going to have to watch him a bunch this weekend is not doing my soul good. Thank goodness for featured group coverage and Amen Corner coverage do I can avoid gun for as long as posdible this weekend. 

On happier news Finau is playing well despite the bum ankle. ANGC is super hilly so the fact that he is hobbling around there in 2 under is quite the “feet” already. #rimshot 

1:35pm: As many of you loyal readers know, I’m questing to play Cypress Point. I haven’t given much thought to trying to get on ANGC. If think the odds of that are lower since I live on the West Coast and am not a C Suite guy.  Still stranger things may happen and who knows maybe I’ll score an invite. I could always play some replica holes and if I find myself in Myrtle Beach. What do you think of these bad boys?

1:05pm: I feel like a peach ice cream sandwich yet I have none around me. It is one of the most popular treats at ANGC which is becoming more of a trend. ICS’ are also very popular at Sand Valley and are becoming the new burger dog (of Olympic fame). I would never go to a course just for the food but I would definitely get the preeminent food if I was at any of these places.

12:30pm: Sorry for the lull in updates but the Masters is slightly killing me to sleep what with all the boegeys and such. Jordan, Kuchar and Tiger are all headed downhill. Meanwhile the Aussie (yes brain he is Australian) has climbed to the top along with P Reed and McIlroy. As expected, neither DJ nor JT are doing much damage here. Their games just don’t quite fit ANGC. The streams are doing great and I just wish the dolcet announcers would pep up a little, I can’t fall asleep watching this!

9:30am: My take on this morning so far? Everyone but DJ and Freddie are trying to hang on but what does that mean for the afternoon wave? Will they shoot a couple under and thereby lap the field? The Open is known for having really differing scores between morning and afternoon waves. Will Augusta be the same?

8:55am: I see both sides of the coverage argument about the Masters. I am old enough to remember only being able to see the back 9 of ANGC on telecasts and only glimpsing the front 9 in highlights. The Masters App/Website offers the most golf coverage of any tournament during the year. On the other hand, golf fans see what is possible and they say, why can't there be more comprehensive coverage? The cameras are there, everything is humming early, there are no true broadcast windows to care about and this is the biggest tourney of the year. There eventually will be a tipping point where you can watch all the golf you want when you want it but we just aren't there yet. 

8:30am: Jordan seems to be leaking oil pretty heavily on his first two holes of the day. With the course playing tougher today, can he hold on and maybe get a few back on the back 9? Questions, I have em. 

8:15am: Augusta is buying up land left and right to lengthen the course but it seems to me that they just have to keep putting the pins in challenging positions and that should mitigate the distance debate. The pins today are  in positions where players are hitting away from the flags and hoping the greens take the balls toward the cup. There has only been moderate success with this strategy and I think the greens here are the ultimate defense of ANGC. Maybe the members will recognize this and stop carving up neighboring AGCC.

7:45am: So much has been said, written, blogged about ANGC over the years but I don't quite think I have seen this summary of the agronomy of the club before. I am not quite sure what some of these numbers mean but an interesting read nonetheless!

7:25am: I have had a yardage book from ANGC for a few years and have been marking various notes in it from afar, watching the coverage online. I feel like if I ever got a chance to play the course I could take this book and hopefully get around the track but who actually knows? Someone else had that idea and below is a link to their amusing fantasy round at ANGC.

7:10am: A lot of people in the Twitter universe are complaining about who is in the featured pairings on the Masters streaming app. I am of two minds about this. The first mind says, yes, either pick "better" groups and/or show more groups (the infrastructure is in place to show more earlier so why not)? My other mind says we are lucky enough just to get this coverage and sometimes you get more interesting groups than others. At some point golf will realize that golf fans want the options that the Masters provides for all tournaments but even then there is more that can and should be done.

6:50am: Poor Fred, he looks like his back is really bothering him. Amazing career but how much more amazing would it have been if he had been healthy. Meanwhile, it seems like so many pros are missing left on this course and getting into the pine straw. Their misses are our gains, I love watching shots from the straw. By the way, here are the pin placements for round 2.

6:30am: A featured group that features Fred Couples? What a way to start Friday! Fred was my golfing hero, I didn't wear a glove because he didn't wear a glove. I had his posters on my wall. Suffice to say, I was and am a huge Fred Couples fan and will be watching with rapt attention this morning!