Archive for the ‘Golf courses’ Category

Junior Golf: Being Aware On The Golf Course

In this Monday Mulligan we will help parents understand how to help you junior golfer be more aware while he’s on the golf course. (image jennleforge.com)image

Depending on your son’s age, skill level and personality type he may be more or less situationally aware than other kids his age. While a golf course is not thought of as a dangerous place, there are things your boy needs to pay attention to while he is playing golf. Part of this is regular Mom and Dad teaching your child basic safety and awareness guidelines.

We ask our children to look where they are walking, don’t talk to strangers, avoid hazardous areas and have their eyes wide open. Golf courses offer some unique challenges. If your son’s ball is in the fairway or light rough the ground is more than likely relatively even and smooth and the sprinkler heads are easily visible. When the ball heads for the boonies there are other things that come into play.

Real-life example. S3 was 10 or 12 years old playing in a tournament on a city course here in San Antonio. He hit his ball about 10 feet into the left rough which had not been properly mowed and it was very deep in spots. While he was looking for his ball he stepped into a sprinkler head depression which was totally hidden by the high grass. Fortunately all he got was a stinger which impacted him for a couple of shots and then he was OK. Scary stuff though because this is exactly how many ankle and knee injuries happen with all golfers. There was no way to see that sprinkler head.

Another example is when S3 was 5 or 6 years old there were times he was more interested in the butterflies and turtles than playing golf. That’s part of it with the very young ones. There were plenty of kids interested in the wildlife. And here in central Texas we have courses with herds of deer almost on every hole, and turkeys, and javelinas and feral hogs. Avoid the wildlife, leave it alone. Even a docile whitetail doe has a kick that can seriously injure an adult, much less a youngster. And the pig family can become aggressive quickly. Really, the deer are pretty much used to the humans and most of the other animals want to run from you, most of the time.

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A final thought. At the wonderful TPC San Antonio courses, the rough on both of them is penalizing. It is covered in about 85% what we call moon rocks, rocks that have sharp edges, range from small to huge and have very little dirt around them. It is difficult walking and really tough hitting a shot out of without hurting your wrist. Be aware, fairways are a great place to be. (image West Texas Golf Courses)

So Dad and Mom encourage your son to enjoy the nature he finds at the golf course, but to also keep his eyes open for possible dangers. Look where he’s putting his feet. Watch for wildlife. Here, it’s deer, snakes and wasp nests. In Florida, it’s alligators and snakes. In Colorado, it’s bears and mountain lions. What is it in your part of the country?

See you on #1 tee looking aware… Sam

Junior Golf: The U. S. Open

In today’s Wednesday Waggle we will look at the 2nd men’s major tournament of 2016 which starts tomorrow. This is often referred to as The United States National Championship. We are talking about, of course, the men’s U.S. Open Golf Championship. (photo golfdigest.com)img_0102

Oakmont Country Club Western Pennsylvania is the site and this course is regarded as the toughest course that PGA players have ever competed on. So what is an Open event? It’s pretty straightforward as the event is open to professionals and amateurs as long as they meet the requirements. Playing in a U.S. Open is a big deal, a dream for any serious golfer. Ways to qualify include various rankings in the PGA Tour, special amateur wins and certain international wins. There are also qualifiers where a GHIN (golf handicap index) of 1.4 or less enables you to submit your entry a. The good news is that this largest field in golf, 156 entries, has 80 players from sectional qualifiers. This is great stuff, but keep in mind that more than 10,000 guys enter the sectionals to go after these 80 available spots. You must play great to earn a spot in the qualifiers.

Now, if your young man makes it to the actual tournament the fun really begins. Phil Mickelson said that Oakmont is probably the toughest course the PGA has ever played. Folks, that’s an intimidating statement! The greens are faster than any the pros have seen. The fairways have a bunch of slope, so keeping a tee shot in play is very difficult. The 1st cut of the rough is moderate, read-perhaps a chance to hit the green and the 2nd cut is just brutal leaving the bat players in the world virtually no chance of getting on the green. The traps have a huge amount of new soft sand added to them, so hitting the ball from a trap is more of an advancing shot, rather than potential scoring shot. Oh, and the greens have tremendous undulations. (photo ococean.com)image

To be fair, the USGA intends for this event to be the most mentally and physically demanding golf event anywhere. And they accomplish it! It is certainly possible for them to set up the course as a fair, albeit very tough test and hopefully this is what is done. For example, have you ever heard the term, U. S. Open rough? Usually this refers to long, deep and difficult to sometimes find and play the ball out of and it’s a tradition at this tournament. Well, that’s what you’ll see if a ball gets into the 2nd cut this week at Oakmont.

TV coverage is on Fox and after their disastrous broadcasting last year, they have upped their announcing crew by adding Paul Azinger, who has a great golf IQ and is quite knowledgeable and interesting to listen to. I’m excited to hear him as Paul always gives genuine golf nuggets that should be written down or at least noted. So tomorrow’s TV runs from 9am-4pm, central time on FS1, same on Friday, then at 4pm those days it switches to regular Fox until 7pm. Saturday and Sunday it’s 10am-6pm, central time, all on your regular Fox channel. Set those Tivos because this will be great stuff! And playoffs in the U. S. Open are 18-holes played the next day following completion of the standard 72-holes, Monday.

See you on #1 tee looking ready for tough rough… Sam

Junior Golf: Tom Watson’s Masterpiece

img_0135In this Monday Mulligan we will spend more time discussing The Conservatory, considered Tom Watson’s finest golf course and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course. (photo jennleforge.com)

We played both Hammock Beach Resort courses twice and as strange as it seems we lost a lot more balls on The Ocean Course than on The Conservatory. There is just pretty much water everywhere on the Ocean Course and when you are right next to the beach on those gorgeous holes, the wind is blowing about 100 miles per hour. As a Jack Nicklaus course it is a 1st class design and has a number of fade holes for a right-handed player. And there are alligators in the water so you don’t get too aggressive about searching for balls in or near the ponds.

The salt air is hard on Bermuda greens and Paspalum Platinum grass will soon be on the greens at The Ocean Course as this grass has a high tolerance for the salty coastal air. The Conservatory was changed over to PP a couple of years ago and I must say those greens are immaculate and perfect. We were advised however, that putts tend to NOT die in the hole on PP. Players are advised to use a firm stroke to get the ball in the hole and we concur. S3 teeing off on #18 on The Ocean Course, how beautiful!image

Yes, S3 played The Conservatory from the tips both times and averaged 78, which is pretty much the rating for this course (actually 78.2). I must tell you that the communication among staff at Hammock Beach is beyond that of any hotel/resort where we have ever stayed. From the PGA pros to the starter and golf cart team to the food cart girls, everybody knew our names and was so polite and accommodating. When we showed up for our 1st round, basically getting out of the car and heading to The Ocean Course, the pro shop asked if we had eaten. Our response was not really and they asked if we would like them to make some turkey wraps and have them delivered to us on the course? Wow! Yes, we would and we had them about 2 holes later and they were delicious.

Now these courses are about 15 minutes apart and we were playing the same course every other day so our clubs needed to be transferred back and forth. No problemo. At the end of each round the cart guy asked for instructions for where our bags needed to be and the transfer truck always waited until the last group was finished before shuttling clubs from 1 course to the other. Absolute 1st class! Everything was so seamless and stressless that we could just relax and enjoy our family time at this wonderful place. Below is the driveable par 4, #15, at The Conservatory.image

Both courses are very special and lots of fun. If we had to pick, The Conservatory would be our favorite because every hole is visually breathtaking. I mean how many times can you say, “Wow” in a round? And it is a blast seeing your son play from the tips on Florida’s longest and likely, toughest, golf course!

If you haven’t guessed by now, we can’t say enough great things about Hammock Beach Resort and their 2 outstanding and highly-rated golf courses. We bought the Just Golf Package that included a 3-bedroom condo and lots of golf for all 3 of us. While this is not an inexpensive package, it does render superior value for the price. Our family totally recommends HBR and can’t wait to get back and tee off on those 2 great golf courses!

See you on #1 tee, looking salty… Sam

Junior Golf: Tough Golf Courses

In this Monday Mulligan we will take a look at a tough golf course. Any course can be difficult if your daughter is not playing well, but the facts are some courses are just tougher than others.img_0135

Yesterday Adam Scott won the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida. The Doral has been nicknamed the Blue Monster for years and there’s a ton of legitimate reasons for this moniker. The pros played at just over 7500 yards and that’s a lot of yards! There is water seemingly everywhere, lots of big sand traps and large undulating greens.

The field of 66 players included the Top 50 in the World Golf Rankings plus additional entrants from specific events and competitions. The point being that everyone in this championship had great rankings and credentials. 1 nice perk to playing in the event and finishing, no matter your score, is that there is no 36-hole cut and last place is guaranteed $50,000, not bad for a week’s work.

So imagine how Steven Bowditch felt after 3 rounds of 81, 80 and 80, putting him in last place. Still he had $50,000 waiting for him if he just played his final 18-holes on Sunday, which he did, carding an 84 to finish at the back of the pack. How can he play this poorly? He is the 2014 winner of the Valero Texas Open at The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, 1 of the toughest courses on the whole PGA Tour. How is Doral eating his lunch?

It’s easy to speculate and get lost in the mental and physical issues. However let’s begin with the fact that this is a tough golf course. World #1 Jordan Spieth says he hasn’t figured this course out yet and was never really in contention. Steven Bowditch for whatever reason, let this course get to him. For a solid PGA pro to not break 80 in 4 rounds on a golf course means the course shook his confidence and when it happens on The Blue Monster these are the scores you get.image

Adam Scott on the other hand had a couple of double-bogies early in his final round and thus had 2 chances to lose his confidence but to his great credit he kept his confidence and was making some birdies by sticking iron shots close for most of the remaining holes and then made an up-and-down on the 72nd hole to beat Bubba Watson by 1-stroke. A tremendous example of mental toughness! (photo by 7-themes.com)

Facts are Mom and Dad that your daughter is going to like some courses more than others.she will play better on some courses than on others. That’s golf. This real issue here is how will your daughter react when she hits a bad shot or makes a double bogey? Be like Adam Scott. Yes it’s tough particularly for the youngsters, but the sooner she learns to regain/keep her confidence, the quicker she will advance.

See you on #1 tee, looking confident… Sam

Junior Golf: The WGC

imageThere are a number of organizations associated with golf that are commonly identified by their combination of letters or by their acronyms. Today in our Friday Flop Shot we will take a look at the WGC and what it means for your junior golfer.

Many years ago Arnold Palmer’s father told him that to be a truly great golfer he, Arnold, had to be great around the world, not just in the US. Back then, pros were from Europe, the US, a few African countries, and from a couple of Asian countries. Basically, worldwide during this era meant the US and Europe. (offcoursegolf.com)

So Arnold started playing in The British Open, now referred to as The Open Championship and won it in 1961 and 1962. This was a time when the winner’s purse did not pay the travel expenses from the US and many American players would not enter. As with so much of his positive impact on the sport, Arnold’s entering and winning and of course his wonderful likeability and charisma helped propel The Open Championship to a higher number of US players, larger purses and its proper level of prestige and status.

The World Golf Championship is in effect the culmination of the promotion of golf as a worldwide sport. Today is day 2 of The WGC Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida. These prestigious events consist of the top 50 men in the world rankings plus a few additional winners of specific events and players from some specific team events. In any case it is a limited field compared to most PGA tournaments that have about 150 players. (pinterest.com)

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You and your son will enjoy watching this tournament. This is a legendary course with many of the top players in the world teeing off. And this is a rare opportunity to see some highly ranked world players who are not well-known in the US. The WGC events get a lot of high profile attention because they are in between regular tour events and majors. Big status, big money and FedEx Cup points!

Set the recorder for the Golf Channel today and the Golf Channel and NBC for Saturday and Sunday. This is a special event on a renowned and legendary course. Enjoy!

See you on #1 tee looking worldly… Sam

Junior Golf: Florida Golf Bargains

img_0102-1In this Wednesday Waggle we will look at the bargains in Florida golf and how you can take advantage of them. There are a bunch so let’s get started. (golfdigest.com)

Florida is a state which is bigger than it first appears to be. If you enter the state on I-10 at Pensacola and drive to Miami, you’re looking at 11 hours or so, and that’s on excellent divided highways the whole time. The good news for your daughter is that there are golf courses everywhere that are daily play and have reasonable to excellent pricing.

Our schedule has required us to go to Florida in the summer. How does this impact your family? Well, it is hot and humid, yes, the whole state. However, this is good news because the winter visitors, snowbirds, leave well before May 1 and this means there are a ton of available tee times. Snowbirds don’t care for the summer heat so they go somewhere cooler. The rounds played on golf courses drops so dramatically that there are literally price wars among most of the courses just to get someone to play the course.

San Antonio is also hot and humid so the Florida summers don’t bother us. Here are specific examples: at 1 of the Disney World courses we found that if we teed off at 1030 or later, the green fees dropped a bunch, and if we waited until mid-afternoon, they dropped even more! This is great and quite common. If your daughter can take the heat, you can save money and play on courses that are relatively uncrowded.image

Something else, absolutely amazing. For those of you who may be moving to Florida or can stay for an extended period, here is something to consider. A number of courses, including private courses and country clubs offer summer specials. Say, $500 for unlimited family range balls and green fees within the applicable dates, again about 6 months. Usually you must spend some money on food/beverage too, it varies so perhaps $1,000.00 total over the period. And it is quite common for Florida courses to charge you a $25 cart fee each time you play, in addition to the unlimited benefits. Some courses may not allow walking or only allow walking during certain times. Still, this is great stuff! So it will probably cost you $25 each to play around of golf, but that is peanuts compared to regular pricing. (golfguideweb.com)

If your summer plans include Disney World or Universal Studios, be certain to look up some golf courses nearby. I think there are 70 courses in the Orlando area. The Disney courses may require advance tee times so be advised. There are however, so many great courses you should be able to play some beautiful courses at low prices. Be aware of the heat.

See you on #1 tee sweating a bit… Sam

Junior Golf: Enjoy Florida Golf


In today’s Monday Mulligan we will take a look a Florida golf and all the many ways for you and your junior golfer to enjoy it.

You may be thinking, “We’re nowhere close to Florida so how can we enjoy Florida golf?”. It’s easy! First, if you’re not familiar with the state you can get a decent geography lesson. Yesterday was the final round of the Honda Classic from Palm Beach Gardens on the Atlantic coast about 100 miles north of Miami. Then this Thursday the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Classic from Trump National Doral in Miami begins, followed by the Valspar Championship on the Gulf coast near Tampa and ending with the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. Of course the pros return to Florida in early May for the Player’s Championship in the Jacksonville-St Augustine northeast part of the state.
Other than the panhandle, you have had some golf exposure to both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. There are lots of wonderful golf courses all over the US, but for sheer number of courses and the number of top-quality courses, no state is even on the same plane as Florida. I think there are 70 courses in the Orlando area alone! Depending on whose numbers you are looking at, there are 1200-1500 courses in the state.  (blog.2ndswing.com)STD-SC.QK
How does this benefit you and your son? Watch these events. They are all on the Golf Channel and/or CBS or NBC. The signature holes should have your son drooling to want to play the course. You will see so many legendary and challenging holes. Every golfer and this includes kids, gets excited about playing where the pros play. Sure these courses can be expensive and you can’t really get on some of them. Be optimistic. Get online and see what it takes to get a tee time. Then plan a trip.
Here’s a perfect example of how much golf there is in Florida and how it can impact you and your son. A few years ago we were in the pro shop at The King and The Bear Golf Course at the World Golf Hall of Fame. We noticed that the beautiful logo golf shirts were considerably cheaper than similar shirts would be in Texas. I asked the manager if all shirts were on sale or just a few. She said, “That’s our everyday price. There is so much golf competition in Florida that there’s no way to charge full retail.” Yes, we bought shirts!
For now, use the tv and some web cruising to get your son, and you interested in what’s happening with Florida golf. At the minimum it will be informative and educational. Perhaps it will even inspire a trip.
See you on #1 tee thinking about all those golf courses in Florida… Sam

Junior Golf: Change Things Up

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shot we will start looking at changing things up in your daughter’s routine. Why should you consider this? What are the benefits?

Let’s begin by examining golf courses that are a reasonable distance from home. Sure, your girl has her favorite course. Perhaps you are members of a country club or junior golf club/team that practices and plays at the same venue most of the time. This is all good, but 1 thing that always invites excitement and anticipation is something new, like playing a golf course for the 1st time. (offcoursegolf.com)

S3’s home course until college was Olympia Hills Golf Club in a suburb northeast of San Antonio. It is a municipal course owned by Universal City and it is an excellent track that is always in wonderful shape. It has all the desirable qualities for a home course: close, affordable, challenging and fun! But there are times that a change is needed, just to get some enthusiasm back into your daughter’s game.

Our area has plenty of quality golf courses and most, if not all give junior discounts and juniors who walk, which they certainly should, can get really cheap rates. We bought memberships to our Alamo City Golf Trail, golf courses owned and managed by the city of San Antonio. There are a ton of benefits, including free rounds. With 6 courses total, this package gives us very affordable options to see some different territory.image

Perhaps 1 of the most beneficial reasons to play a different course is that it allows your daughter to enhance her creativity. Every golf shot is different and with the new course layout, new grasses for greens, fairways and roughs and perhaps a different attention to maintenance, this situation requires adaptability and creative shot-making. This helps create confidence and is essential in preparation for upcoming tournaments.

Every now and then she will play a course that is in less than perfect condition. This is a good thing because she will surely play a few tournaments on courses that are not green carpets. Some may not have been overseeded so in the winter she is playing on dead grass and dirt. Some have not had adequate water so everything is hard as a rock and there is plenty of bare dirt and hardpan to hit off of. This is OK. Please be assured, she will end up playing a tournament on a course that is in less than perfect or even poor condition. That’s golf. Her inventory of creative shots can always use 1 more.

Yes, there may be some complaining, but it’s time to make lemonade out of these lemons. Just encourage her that this is a great chance to work on her shots from these types of lies and that this will definitely help her in some future competition. Go find some of those inexpensive less-than-perfect courses and book a tee time. Make it a positive outing!

See you on #1 tee on 1 of “those” courses… Sam

Junior Golf At St George, Utah

img_0102In today’s Wednesday Waggle we will look at junior golf opportunities in a place you likely have never heard of, St George, Utah. Some golfing buddies told us about it we were impressed enough to investigate. (golfdigest.com)

Our July 2007 adventure included a number of points of interest in addition to our time related to our niece’s wedding in San Diego. We left Southern California and headed northeast aiming for Las Vegas and then continuing to St George, Utah which is in the southwest corner of the state just a few miles from the Nevada border. This part of Utah has several national parks and a ton of golf, so our days were fully booked.

We spent most of the next day at Zion National Park, a place of so much beauty. We got back to St George around 4:00pm and wanted to play golf since it was daylight until nearly 9:00pm. Linda called some of the dozen or more courses in the area and the 1st one was too far, the 2nd one wanted a fortune and the 3rd one said where are you? After giving him our intersection, he said, “Turn right at the next light and go to the end of the street and you’ll be at the clubhouse. $45.00 total, including cart for the 2 golfers and yes, your wife can ride along.”

This was perfect! S3 and I went in to pay and were told, “Play as much golf as you want, but the sprinklers come on at 8:30pm.” We took the cart to the car, got Linda and our clubs and teed off on #1. The locals kept apologizing for the heat because it was 105-degrees with no humidity. Frankly this was nothing for us since San Antonio has plenty of heat and humidity, so this was a piece of cake. Dry skin and cracked lips however needed to be addressed.

imageThe course was stunning in a number of ways and I feel most golf courses in this area have similar features. St George is in a high desert setting. This means you have lush emerald fairways and greens set in and around red rock canyons. Beautiful! And you are at 2,000 feet or so of altitude and the ball flies farther. (articles.latimes.com)

There really isn’t any rough, it’s more of a native area with spindly plants a couple of feet high and red dirt and gravel. For the most part you could play out of it. Not really any trees or vegetation taller than 2 feet. You could see for miles and this added to the overall great experience. As we drove up to our tee shots, we noticed a jackrabbit. Ok, we’ve seen plenty of those before, nothing special here. Then we saw another 1 and another 1, I mean we must have seen 1,000 jackrabbits on this course. They were every 10 feet! And we saw some quail, not sure of the variety, but they obviously were native to the area. What we didn’t see was the pack of coyotes needed to calm down this rabbit explosion.

The golf. This was 1 of the most relaxing times we have ever spent on a golf course anywhere. We were the only ones on the course. Because of the summer heat and it was the hottest time of the day, we had this wonderful course to ourselves. S3 was 13 years old and had a couple of golfing 1sts: driving his 1st par 4 and then making an eagle on a par 5 sinking a 30-foot putt. This was pure vacation golf, just having fun! Can’t remember the scores, but he played good and I hit some decent shots as well. The higher altitude got us on a couple of holes as we hit our normal clubs and blew our shots totally over the green, but those tee shots went a long way!

See you on #1 tee looking to hit that green fairway… Sam

Junior Golf At Torrey Pines

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will relive our adventure at 1 of the legendary golf courses in the US and in the World, Torrey Pines, just north of San Diego, California. This is fun, get excited!image

In late June of 2007, we packed up the car and Linda, S3 and I started heading west on I-10 ultimately to spend a few days in San Diego. Our 1st overnight stay was at a Holiday Inn in Deming, New Mexico. This is a fun side note, so please bear with me. At check-in I asked how business had been, were they pretty busy? The unexpected response was, “We’re a bit slow today and glad of it. The whole cast and crew of the new Indiana Jones movie has been here filming for the last 6 months and they just left yesterday.” Yep, Harrison Ford and everyone else. So it was fun learning where the filming locations were and we heard a bunch of interesting stories. (Offcoursegolf.com)

Next morning we blasted west again reaching our destination in the late afternoon. S3 and I had some golf planned and we had tried to make a tee time at Torrey Pines on the Internet, but it was a pain and the agent wanted another $25 each to make the reservation. No thanks.

On the morning of July 4th, 2007, we got up with nothing to do until 6:00pm so I said why don’t we drive to Torrey Pines buy some logo shirts and practice on the putting green, expecting there to be no way to get a tee time. So we are talking to the guy at checkout and it happens he is from our part of San Antonio. As we visit, he says,”When’s your tee time?” I told him about our unproductive internet experience to which he replied, “How many are playing?” I said, “2”. He said, “Sam this is a muni (municipal golf course owned by San Diego County). We work in 1’s and 2’s all day long. Go see the starter and tell him you have 2 for the South Course.”

imageS3 and I got in line, we were maybe 3rd. All the guys ahead of us professed to be locals, meaning they got a MUCH lower rate and the starter made them show about 3 photo ID’s and everything except for a blood test. They paid like $45 walking. It’s our turn and I say, “2 for the South Course.” Starter says, “2 for the South Course, #1 tee in 10 minutes. That’s $185 each, no junior discount and $50 for the cart.” We expected it to be expensive so the money didn’t matter. I asked if we could ride 3 in the cart so Linda could join us and the starter said yes. (fitnessfatale.com)

We teed off and frankly I played quite poorly and S3 played pretty well. We were grouped with 2 brothers from the local area who were nice guys. And Linda had the time of her life videoing the course and all the absolutely stunning views. Some of the holes are on top of the cliffs that run right along the edge of the Pacific and others have views of the surrounding countryside. Torrey Pines is a beautiful amazing golf course. There is a reason why a number of US Opens in addition to the annual Farmers Insurance Open are played there on the South Course, the tougher and more famous of the 2 courses.

If you are ever near San Diego, make it a priority to play the South Course at Torrey Pines. Just walk up to the starter, don’t mess with a reservation if there are 2 or less of you. Don’t worry about how you play. You will get an education in Kikuyu grass (tee boxes and fairways) and Poiana grass (on the greens). You’ll understand after a couple of holes.

See you on #1 tee on an amazing golf course… Sam

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