Sunday, April 25, 2010

Private course vs public course layout

I don't often get the opportunity to play private courses. I've never had a membership at a private club. When I have gotten the chance, however, I've found myself wishing more public courses were laid out like the private clubs.

The private courses I've played -- around Charlotte and in other cities -- have all been laid out in links style, with holes running parallel to each other, tee boxes located near the previous green, OB stakes only affecting a few holes on the perimeter of the course, etc. The one I just played -- Rolling Hills Country Club in Monroe -- is like that. I love that kind of layout. It's walkable. You tend not to lose many golf balls. If you spray a tee shot left or right, you either end up in sparse trees between two holes or in an adjacent hole's fairway. It just seems like you're never totally dead. You can hit a wayward shot and still get it back in play. You still have a chance.

Now contrast that with your typical public course, especially one that winds through a residential neighborhood. Lots of OB. Lots of houses. Long rides between holes. Wayward shots are OB or in deep woods. Not very walkable. It can be very frustrating if you're not swinging well because a few bad shots can cost you half a dozen strokes.

Maybe it's just a coincidence. Perhaps the private clubs I've played are just more old school. I'd love to hear opinions on whether it's me or if this is the general trend.

I'd also love to hear recommendations for public or semi-private courses in the area that are most like a private club, in terms of the layout. One that comes to my mind is Fort Mill. I'd love to hear about others.

Or maybe I just need to save my pennies and join a club one of these days!

Monday, April 12, 2010

B-Man's Bringin' Bloggin' Back

I've been working on updating this year, starting with my home page and now my golf site. I just added features that let you create a profile and post your own course reviews. As I was getting the changes ready to go, I took a look around my site and realized my golf blog was languishing. I didn't intend to leave it idle for so long. As much as I think about, watch and play golf, I should have plenty to say on the topic.

So I'm bringin' the blog back -- just in time for the golf season to kick into high gear. I'm going to endeavor to make it a weekly gig with insight on local golf talk, golf news items and my opinions on PGA Tour goings-on. I hope you will find it a worthwhile read and will comment on posts as they interest you.

I definitely encourage your feedback on my Charlotte golf site as well. More and more golf web sites try to give you course information and links these days, but I hope you find the personal touch in my guide to Charlotte area golf courses more to your liking. My goal is that the site ensures that whenever you decide to play a round in town that you get the best deal and the best conditions for your money.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Longing for Longview

Every so often, I get invited to play at a private local course here in Charlotte. I've played the likes of Firethorne (recently went private), Ballantyne Country Club, River Run Country Club, and The Point up at Lake Norman. And then every May I get to walk the immaculate grounds of Quail Hollow as a spectator. So I get a little taste of the good life here and there.

You can imagine my schoolboy giddiness at a recent invite to play in a tournament at the barely two years old Jack Nicklaus signature course, The Club at Longview, in nearby Waxhaw. Before the vendor rep could finish his sentence, I said "I'm there!" I got the invite 2 months before the tourney and the anticipation nearly killed me. I had to move my summer vacation out a week to clear my schedule. Small price.

And then a funny thing happened the day of the tournament... it rained! I was between the dumps and the pits. As I was driving through the drizzle to get there, I was thinking "just 1 hole, just let me play 1 hole!"

More proof that I lead a charmed life: literally the moment I drove through the gates, the rain stopped. Except for a 5 minute downpour, the rain held off and we got to play all 18. And boy did my team play! How about a 10-under 62? Jack woulda been proud.

He has every right to be proud of the course, too. Wow. The place was unbelievable. Everything was high-class and top-notch from the mansion clubhouse to the groomed carpet fairways to the flawless greens. Multi-million dollar homes lined every holes. There's one castle under construction along the second hole. It looked like 3 mansions joined together.

I played pretty well and that made it even more memorable. I missed one of the closest to the pin's by a foot, hit several gorgeous drives, and I sunk a bomb for birdie on #18 in front of the clubhouse. Sweet.

I can barely fathom playing that course every week as a member. That would be the life. Right now, I'd settle for just getting to go back and play one more time, this time keeping my own score. Don't think I'd shoot 62, but I'd soak it up again.

Well another funny thing happened at the awards banquet. We didn't win a prize for second place (a ringer team shot 60), but I did manage to win one of the raffles. What was the prize?

How about a round of golf for three at The Club with one of the course's golf professionals?

I'm accepting applications. :-P

Monday, May 08, 2006

Furyk's a Mudder and so am I

The Wachovia finished in the rain Sunday and so did my weekend competition. Jim Furyk outdueled Trevor Immelman over the course of a 6 hour round Sunday, amidst the deluge. But holy cow did you see (no, you couldn't because CBS didn't show it) or hear about Goosen's big, fat nine on the closing par-4 18th? My pick for the tournament hit 3 shots in the creek, fell from 3rd place into a tie for 10th and blew over $250,000 on one hole with that disaster. Wow...

Saturday was the day to watch, though. I went in the afternoon and they had everyone on the course in threesomes. The weather and golfing conditions were perfect. I got around to about half the holes -- walking past 11 just in time for Adam Scott to hole out from the fairway for an eagle and the lead. We planted at 14 for awhile. Great spot. You get to see some guys go for this short, dogleg left par-4 with their tee shots and see the rest of them lay up and try to spin one close. You can also see the 17th green (peninsula par 3) across the pond.

We also spent 45 minutes in the shade behind the par-5 15th, watching several of the contenders go at it in 2. Most came up short and had to scramble for bird. We finished at 18, watching the last 6 groups or so finish from the grandstand. All-in-all, a pretty good tour of the 3rd round of play.

In my own competition, I ended it after two rounds basically, with good rounds Friday and Saturday. Good for me is 89, 87. That got me a Wachovia Championship branded shirt on Saturday afternoon and made Sunday a just-for-fun round (which doesn't sound right, considering the rain). After a brutal front-nine 50, I mudded out a 42 and closing birdie on the back. 92 in the rain is pretty good for me.

How to be a mudder: bring several towels (the beach towel variety), an umbrella (duh), an extra glove, and extra patience. We had to stop for about 30 minutes at one point to let the heavy rain blow through. We waited it out under some trees that blocked most of it. Take a towel with you to your shots -- you'll be walking to your ball because of the cart rule -- so you can keep the clubs you don't use dry while you hit. And have fun. You must love golf to be playing in the rain, right?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Boys Are Back in Town

They're baaaaaack. The pros are in town this week for the Wachovia Championship out at Quail Hollow. Went out for the Wednesday Pro-Am today. First time I'd gone out to a practice round. My impression: stick with the official tourney rounds. The place was deserted when we got there (10am). There were only 2 amateurs with one pro in a group. So it was only threesomes and there were no crowds, no real excitement. I saw Vijay's group and Goosen's group. Yawn.

I did miss Mickelson's group. That must have been who everyone was checking out. Still. For all I'd heard about how the practice rounds are laid back and fun, it was awfully quiet and quite boring. I'll take the money rounds, thank you.

The crowds will certainly be out tomorrow for Round 1. I'm going to play instead of spectate tomorrow (not that you can't do both). My tickets are for Friday and then I'll likely use Mulligan Tickets ($10 after 12:00) to also go Saturday and Sunday. So I'll get to see most of the big boys and definitely crunch time.

I am planning to play around town all 4 days -- local weather guys be darned. I should have plenty of updates on those courses. I'm likely going to hit Olde Sycamore, Charlotte National, The Divide and one other one (barring a change of mind or difficulty getting tee times). Those first 3 are less than 10 minutes from my house, but I haven't played any of them recently. Looking forward to it...

OK, as a local golf enthusiast, I should make a pick for the tourney. An odd mix of previous winners -- Toms, Joey Sindelar and Vijay -- so it's likely to be unpredictable. Nonetheless, I'll go with Goosen. It's his first time here, but I like his game on tough courses... and I saw him make an easy eagle today on #7. I'm looking for more of that when it counts. Go Goose go. :-P

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lefty Makes Me a Loser

Phil Mickelson's masterful Sunday will hit my wallet this week. I owe Mac Man two lunches since Phil was one of his picks. I was looking okay through 2 rounds, with Els and Goosen both right there in contention, but they fell off the pace, Ernie especially. Better luck in the Open in June, I guess.

Watching Tiger and Couples 3-putt left and right (and short and long, for that matter) all tournament was surreal. That's about the only similarity between my golf game and those guys. For one weekend at least, they looked like a regular weekend hacker on the greens. 'Course it took Augusta's greens to make 'em look silly. I can't imagine what I'd do putting on those things. A 50 putt round, maybe??

After they finished Round 3 at the Masters Sunday morning, I took my 5-year old son to the Par 3 down in Indian Trail off Hwy 74 -- Pebble Creek. What a great place for a kid to play. Laid back as can be. $5 for kids under 6, $16 for me. You won't need anything longer than maybe a 7-iron. The namesake creek comes into play on several holes, but most holes are pretty straightforward. My son got his best thrill by hitting a shot over one of the ponds. He even skipped one across on #9. The place even has lights and stays open on a couple nights each week for their 2-man shootouts.

I used to play in a 2-man weekend tournament there with Mac Man. We used to see the same characters come out every year for that thing. We called it good, clean, redneck fun. And it was. The place has changed a bit over the past few years and they no longer do the weekend tournament, but it's still unique to the area and great for beginners or players looking for a fun, laid-back, quick round -- often, you can play 18 in less than 2 1/2 hours. Check it out sometime, if you haven't played it before.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Masters update: And they're off!

Wish I was there, but hey, I have my on-demand leaderboard up and running so I can keep tabs on the scores until USA coverage starts at 4.

I feel pretty good about my Masters' picks. A friend and I pick 3 players and whoever has the best finisher gets lunch. If one of your guys wins, you get two lunches. If we pick the same guy for one of the spots, that player goes off the board -- thus, no Tiger, since we both went for him first.

B-Man's picks: Els, Goosen, DiMarco (fellow Gator alum)
Mac Man's picks: Mickelson, Sabbatini, Olazabal

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Masters week

I don't get into the golf season until Masters week hits. The first major of the year. Augusta -- every golfer's dream round. Those azaleas. Amen Corner. The Sunday roars. I won't miss it. Last year I think I became one with the couch. I didn't leave it once the broadcast started. One of these days, I'll go watch in person. Sigh...

But hey, only 4 weeks until the big boys come to our town, here in Charlotte for the Wachovia Championship. I've already blocked off vacation days for that week so I can play in the morning and watch in the afternoon. I've got a pal coming down for the weekend. So I'll be playing competitive rounds as well!

Last year, I think I did Stonebridge (Monroe), Charlotte National (Indian Trail), and Springfield (Ft Mill) around tourney time. I haven't played any of those recently. So I may hit them again next month. Stonebridge and Char Natl are definitely two of my favorites around town.

Post a comment if you've played any recently or are making plans for the Wachovia.