Monday, January 29, 2007

Four Round Recap...

Galveston Recap...

My round at Galveston Island on Jan 26th went pretty good. Martin brought an R580 XD 9.5 stiff that Charles wanted to sell so I left my R 540 XD 10.5 regular in the truck. I struggled with bid fades on most of my drives, but I played the shots well enough for the most part. I ended up shooting a 94 losing 6 balls. I had a blow up on the seventh where I pulled my first drive OB left. The second was a long bomb that faded slightly but had enough distance to find a retention pond that I thought was unreachable. I dropped and went for the green over the retention pond and topped the ball to put another into the pond. Then a 7i into the fairway followed by a LW pushed right of a trap. Another LW hits the far lip of the trap and rolls back into the trap. One out and two putts later and I’m penciling in a 12 – OUCH!!! Even with the 12 on the seventh, I came off the front nine with a 48. But the back nine is a lot tougher and I hit two into the water on the par 3 13th and another on the 18th where the approach is over the bayou.

Here’s a look at how I played the 10th:

My drive threatened to fade hard into the water, but the wet fairway slowed it down. I had no shot at the green so I tried to fade it around the palm grove and landed short and left. Chip on and 2 putt for bogey.

Galveston Island is a real nice layout with plenty of water. I guess they decided not to plant winter rye grass because of the upcoming renovation. That meant the course was brown with the dormant bermuda grass and the greens were a little rough because of this too. I was told that the course would remain open through the second weekend in February. If it were a little closer, I would surely like to play there again. The staff was very friendly and they let us play for the resident rate.

Bad Day at Bayou GC...

Next, I played Bayou GC on a cold, windy, rainy day and shot 100 (50/50) and lost 4 balls. We all shot at least 10 strokes over our handicaps on this day, it was tough!!

Super Soggy at Pasadena...

Then I played Pasadena where I shot 92 (45/47). This was a pretty good round with a high bogey count. I had one triple on the front and a quad on the back. The course was very soggy. Drives always landed with a splash, we had to move our balls out of standing water many times. Very tough to score in soggy conditions so I’m happy with a 92.

And finally,

Busting 90 at The Battleground…

This is my fourth round hitting with Charles’ R580XD 9.5 stiff driver. I hit about 20 balls with it on the range and managed to cure my fade/slice. The biggest problem I have with it is not having a good feel for a good hit. It seems like all my hits are mishits, but I’m still getting about 250 on good hits – great hits are 280. The feel just seems so muted, I don’t like it.

1. Par 4 372 yds. Driver – straight drive down the right misses fairway by two feet. GW from 110 finds green; 2-putt par.
2. Par 4 349 yds. Driver – straight drive, slightly right lands on top of hill on right at the turn. Pushed GW from 90 misses green right, runs down the hill. LW is short. Another LW and 2-putt for boubly bogey.
3. Par 3 164 yds. 6 iron pushed right and fails to draw. Decent chip to 10 feet. 2-putt bogey.
4. Par 4 409 yds. Driver – pull draw into the ditch. 5W from 210 into trap on the left. Pick out of the trap over the green. Chip and 2-putt for triple.
5. Par 5 477 yds. 3W slight pull draws left behind trees. Pitch out for line to green. 5W to 50 yards. Flubbed LW short. On in five, 2-putt double.
6. Par 3 171 yds. 5 iron slightly long and right. Had it drawing in, but not quite enough. Chip and 2-putt bogey.
7. Par 4 394 yds. Driver – nice draw to 145. 8 iron finds green. 2-putt par.
8. Par 5 454 yds. Driver – very nice drive to 190. 5W to back-right pin location finds back-right fringe about 10 feet from the pin. Missed the eagle by inches. Tap in birdie.
9. Driver – straight but pushed way right. Tried to draw 8 iron around treesfrom about 150. Draws nice but lands well short barely clearing the water (guess it was more like 160). Nice chip set up for a nice up-and-down par. 44 on the front with one penalty sets up good start.
10. Par 5 461 yds. 3W pull draw into the ditch. Topped 3W stays in the fairway runs a ways. Big SW pushed right and long to back fringe sets up long downhill putt to front pin. Putt rolls past to fringe. Another putt from the fringe and a tap in for double. Technically a 1-putt hole, sad but true.
11. Par 4 387 yds. Driver – skyed it big. 7 iron layup. SW to back fringe. Nice putt just misses. Tap in bogey.
12. Par 4 386 yds. Driver – pull draw left. 7 iron to back right fringe. Putt across a lot of fringe to back left pin to 3 feet. 1-putt for par.
13. Par 3 156 yds. 7 iron – looked up, topped it into the water. SW finds green. Three-putt triple.
14. Par 4 378 yds. Driver – first weak slice of the day into the woods on the right. I actaully had a shot out and tried a strong fading 6 iron. The shot went off pretty good just didn’t turn enough landing pin high on the right up against a tree trunk. Chopped down with a GW and hopped the ball out on to the far fringe. Lagged up to 2 feet and dropped the bogey putt. Not bad considering the shots made!
15. Par 4 375 yds. 3W down the right side of a very narrow fairway leaks right and with the help of the cart path, comes to rest pin high on the right (375 yards!!!). Chip under a branch into bunker. LW out of bunker, 2-putt bogey.
16. Par 5 445 yds. Driver – second weak slice finds adjacent fairway. 7 iron fails to draw enough to clear woods and get back on the proper fairway. 8 iron punch to just short of the green. Chip on and 2-putt for bogey.
17. Par 3 149 yds. 7 iron off the toe going for back pin. Solid grip kept the shot in play, barely clearing the water. Big Chip across the green to fringe near back pin. 2-putt bogey.
18. Par 4 398 yds. Poor drive into the wind finds left rough behind hill 190 out. Low 3W rips just over hill hits face of elevated green just above a sand trap and pops up onto the green. Long uphill putt to six feet. Par putt falls for a low round of 90.

The greens were faster than I’ve even seen them. I would have had several GIRs had I not rolled onto the fringe on many approach shots. Normally I have trouble with fast greens, but on this day I only made one truly bad putt.

These rounds were all played in very wet and soggy conditions. Only 2 of the last 7 rounds were within one stroke of my course handicap. That means that if I can’t string together some good rounds, my handicap is going to go up a bit. But I can’t complain too much. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job handling the wet conditions.

Goodbye Driver…

I got to hit a Bridgestone J33R 9.5 stiff at Golfsmith. I’ve been considering this driver for awhlie and I’ve decided to sell my Taylormade R540 XD and save for the Bridgestone. This means I’ll be hitting 3W off the tee since I won’t have a driver in the bag. I consider this to be a good thing. I’ll get a chance to see how well I can do without a driver.

Golfing Future...

My monthly membership at Green Caye is in need of renewal. I'm not sure when I'm going to do that. To be honest, I'm growing a little tired of these wet conditions. I may wait until the courses dry up a bit before I renew for a month.

You may have noticed I put the DTDGH countdown timer up. It's true, Dad (Father-in-Law) will be down in May again. I'm looking forward to teeing it up with him.

Congratulations if you've made it all the way through this long post!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Galveston Island Municipal...

The sky is blue and the sun will start to dry things out today. Tomorrow we’re making the short trip down to Galveston to play Galveston Island Municipal Golf Course just a few days before they close the doors and begin a work on a year long renovation of the course.

This golf course has been on my list of courses to play for quite some time. I’ve never went because other courses offer better value. I’ve read that Galveston Island Municipal Golf Course has ranked in the top five Texas public courses many times. I’ve also read that the course conditions are often hit and miss. I'm playing the course because the course has history. I never played Clear Lake Golf Course for the same reasons I've never played Galveston and I regret it. Galveston Island Municipal Golf Course as it was played by Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demerit, Harvey Pennik, and Lee Trevino will be closed starting February first. I don't know how extensive the changes will be, but it will become a resort-class course (to be named "Moody Gardens Golf Course on Galveston Island, a Premier Public Golf Course.") with $50 to $100 greens fees for weekend play.

Now, courses around Houston have a lot of water, and Galveston is the undisputed water winner with many holes nearly islands in themselves.

The layout is very challenging, here are the course numbers:

Tips 73.0/131 6969 yards (Par 72)
Blues 72.5/125 6739 yards (Par 72)
Whites 70.0/119 6244 yards (Par 72)
Reds 71.4/121 5336 yards (Par 73)

I looked the course over with google maps and google earth and even though there is water everywhere, the front nine looks very tame compared to the back nine. The first hole that raised my brow was the tenth. I thought I’d share how I review a layout prior to the first time I play a course. The first thing I do when trying to come up with a game plan is see what the landing area looks like. I measure 250 yards off the tee box and look at the landing area. In the image below, I drew a triangle for both 250 (green) and 200 yards (yellow). I looded at the 200 yard option because the driver option has a very narrow landing area (about 35 yards in the fairway). The driver option requires more accuracy off the tee, but offers a better line to the green and a shorter, more managable second shot. The 200 yard option has a much bigger landing zone, but the second shot will be considerably more difficult.

Now my drives are often a push or a push-fade, so I tend to aim for the left side of the landing area. In this case, should I hit the ball straight, which I do maybe 40% of the time, That said, I’ll have a possibility of hitting the cart path and bouncing into the water with either choice. To further complicate the shot, there are no windless days on Galveston Island. The wind is forcast to be out of the NNE which will push a straight shot down into the target zone.

Finally, the red lines show how I intend to execute the shot. I’m going to try the driver and hold off on my release just a tad, maybe put the ball just a bit forward in my stance. The top red line shows a well executed shot and the bottom line shows a push fade.

Now you can all remain in suspense while you wait for me to post the actual shot sometime in the days following the round. Obviously, I don’t go into this detail on every hole and I certainly don’t draw little diagrams. I do use google earth and I usually start at the green an work my way back to the tee to determine which club I need to hit to get to a desired approach shot distance.

I’ll be playing from the blue tees and Martin will be playing from the whites. Robert will be joining us with a friend who is just a beginner. There’s not much room on this course for indecision. I’ll have to pick my shot and execute – no second guessing!!

Check back for a recap of the round and a diagram of how I actually played the tenth. If you need something to keep you busy while you wait, take a guess at how many balls I’ll hit into the water and post your guess in the comments. My record is 11 at The Battleground. I’ll be happy if I can keep it below 4.

Hoping to soak up some sun on a soggy golf course,

Monday, January 22, 2007

Soggy Conditions, Be a Picker…

Range Time...

Disclaimer: These are my thoughts about hitting off of matts at the driving range and playing in wet, soggy conditions. I may be completely wrong, I may not. Please comment based on your experiences.

It has been raining and raining (and raining) here in Houston. I actually went to the range in light rain. The range at Green Caye has a covered section where you can hit off matts, so I stayed pretty dry, but I don’t really care for hitting off the matts.

The danger (for me) in hitting off matts is that you generally can’t hit a shot fat. Then next time hitting off turf, it seems like all you do is hit fat shots. So, I really focused on picking the ball. As I was hitting, I was very aware of when I hit the matt before the ball. As I thought more about it, picking the ball is probably the best contact you can employ in wet, soggy conditions. So, my range time became all about careful ball contact. It paid off too, because I managed to squeeze a round in Sunday.

Working the Ball…

After a couple buckets of picking, I decided to work on working the ball. I’ve learned that the most efficient way to fine tune draws/fades is to start with a lot of spin. I start with the 7 iron and I close the face way down. It’s amazing how far you can hit a 7 iron when you close the face. Sure, you’re hitting a huge hook, but if you aim it correctly, you can really get some distance with a 7 iron. I hit a few balls adjusting my stance so that I’m landing the ball near my target zone. Then I start to open the face. I hit shots and note how far the ball goes (compared to a normal shot), and how open my stance needs to be. I hit like this, continuing to open the face until I’m hitting big slices. Then I do the same with the PW and the 4 iron.

Golf at Beacon Lakes…

I was running some errands Sunday and much to my surprise, I saw some breaks in the clouds to the north. Later in the morning, while checking my email, I saw that Beacon Lakes was running a 2 for 1 special to try to coax folks out onto the course. After a little bargaining with my Wife, I was set to play golf!

Beacon Lakes is a pretty tight course. The fairways are narrow and there is plenty of water and out-of-bounds. You have a choice to either play target golf or you can simply try to over power the course (or both). In the case of the latter, you simply drive for distance and, if you can keep it in bounds and out of the water, you will find your ball (possibly in another fairway, in trees, or bushes). This is my fourth time playing here. Charles and I played from the blues (6368 yds, 71.1/122) while Martin played from the Whites (5756 yds, 68.6/119).

I shot 94 (47/47) with one 9 on a par 5 that will be recorded as an 8 (ESC) making the round officially a 93 (46/47), Charles shot 95 (47/48) losing only one ball, and Martin had a bad day (101). Here are the stats on the round:

Fairways hit... 4
GIRs........... 6
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 7
Putts......... 35
Bogeys......... 4
Doubles........ 4
Triples........ 3
Balls lost .... 6 (4 water, 2 OB)

I was late getting there and the guys were on the putting green. I rushed to get checked in and I was on the tee box within 5 minutes on arriving. Here’s the round recap:

1. Par 4 345 yds. Pushed 3i right. 8i barely fails to clear pine tree, ball veers right into the water. Chipped on in four, two-putt double.
2. Par 3 125 yds. Green, two-putt par.
3. Par 4 387 yds. Pulled driver left, onto adjacent fairway. Pushed 7i right. Flubbed chip. On in four, two-putt double.
4. Par 4 407 yds. Fairway, Green, two-putt par.
5. Par 5 533 yds. Push drive OB on right, Fade drive OB on right (barely), hammer drive down the middle. Layup to 125. On in 7, two-putt for a 9. –OUCH!!
6. Par 4 355 yds. 3i to right side of fwy. No line to the green. Strong fading 4i around the trees finds the green 15 feet from the pin, two-putt par.
7. Par 3 205 yds. 5W finds water in front of the green, skips onto the bank, rolls back in. Topped a pitch over the green. On in four, two-putt triple.
8. Par 5 476 yds. Going for the hammer - missed the nail, topped tee shot goes just past the senior tees. 7i, 7i, 9i finds the green. 25-foot putt drops for par!!
9. Par 4 337 yds. Fairway, Green, two-putt par.
10. Par 4 397 yds. Tee shot pushed right. No line to the green. Shot requires huge slice or draw over water. Slice route was open, but too much slice required. Tried to draw through and around trees. Ball flies around trees with too much draw and rolls in front of the green and back toward the water. Chip on, two-putt bogey.
11. Par 4 382 yds. Driver fades right. Lands on the face of a hill with a horrible lie about 125 out. 7i slammed into hill under ball pops the ball extremely high. Ball comes down short, threatens to roll back into bunker, but stops 1 inch short. Funky stance chip nearly hits the pin and rolls well past. two-putt bogey.
12. Slice drive onto adjacent fairway. 7i punch through trees back on to fairway. 8i fat into the water. PW on in 5, two-putt double.
13. Par 3 170 yds. 7i to the front of the green, three-putt bogey.
14. Par 4 395 yds. 3W fails to clear the corner. Ball drops amidst trees. No line to green. Strong fading 4i goes around trees and light pole, finds green 10 feet to the pin. Missed birdie, tap in par.
15. Par 3 135 yds. Easy 9i pushed into the water. Chip dies just short of the cup, tap in bogey.
16. Par 4 352 yds. Pulled drive into trees. Punch out onto fairway. 5W hits tree top and goes hard left into the water. On in 5, two-putt double.
17. Par 4 383 yds. Topped drive finds ditch. I play out of the ditch (lateral hazard). Layup to 125. On in 4, two-putt double.
18. Par 5 514 yds. Hammer a drive 285 down the middle, all carry. Layup to 125 is hit fat, I’m 155 out. 8i lands just short. Chip to 18 inches, putt for par.

By the time we were done, we were all pretty soaked from playing on a waterlogged course. Most of my fat shots came from the short irons. The way I was hitting the mid and long irons, I would have been better off playing to approach from 160-170. The driving range work paid off in both picking and working the ball. I would have had a stellar round had I been able to keep the ball in play. In any event, I won 13 skins for a total of $8.00 (50 cent skins when we play with Charles), $5.00 of which came from Charles.

Looks like the rains will return till the end of the week. I’m hoping to play Galveston Island Municipal (72.5/125) before it closes for a year to emerge as a resort course. I better bring a lot of balls because this course has more water than any other course I’ve played.

Enough with the rain already,

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Playing Like a Pro at Tour18...

The weather and my schedule finally came together and provided me with an opportunity to play Tour18. Tour18 is a course that has replicas of famous holes from PGA Tour courses. Being new to golf, I only recognized a handful of the holes:

Harbour Town 18
Bay Hill 6
Amen Corner (Augusta 11, 12, 13)
Sawgrass 17
Doral 18

The weather was great and the course was in super condition. We played the course for $31.10 through the discount rates posted at

A friend told me I would not break 100 out there, so my goal was to break 100.

Here’s an abbreviated recap of the round:

1. fwy 155 out, 7i hits green, 2-putt, routine par – on the number 1 handicap hole on the course!!!
2. Solid drive, missed fwy on right. Second finds fwy, third finds trap. Fourth is out of one trap, into the next. On in 5, 2-putt for double.
3. Topped a 3i. Layup w/PW, LW into trap. On in four, 2-putt for double.
4. Tried an easy 5W, drew it left into hill, it rolled onto fwy. 8i hits green, 2-putt for par.
5. This is the first hole of “Amen Corner”. Nice low drawing drive into the wind, over the hill. Chunk an 8i. Chunk a LW. On in 4, 2-putt for double.
6. 145 yards into the wind, slightly downhill, water in front of the green. I clubbed up to a 7i since I would have to hit a strong 8i to deal with the wind. Solid shot draws left and slightly long (hit green, rolled off the back left). Putted from the fringe to 6 feet. Missed the par putt, bogey.
7. Blew a drive straight off the back of fwy. Chose to layup instead of risk going into the creek. 8i lands just short, rolls down in creek… almost. Chipped on in four, three-putted for double. Completed Amen Corner in 17 strokes (12 is par).
8. Solid drive leaves me 110 out. GW pushed right misses green. Chip and putt for par.
9. Island green. Looks a lot longer than 121. I hit an easy PW that was just enough to find the lower tier of the green. Three-putt bogey.
10. Solid 3W fades hard right but misses the sand. Good lie, so 3W again to about 60 in the fairway. Chunk a chip, chunk a chip. On in 5, three putt for triple!!!
11. 175yd par three Micky Mouse hole at Disney. Club up to 5i, looked like I was on the green but I rolled off the back. Horrible putt from the fringe to 12 feet, good putt for par.
12. 450 yard par four. Hammer a drive to 180. Try an easy 5W but draw it left into the woods. Punch out to six feet. Miss the putt and take bogey.
13. Drive slices. Fortunately, there was construction where I landed and signs that indicated ground under repair. Dropped, 3W to 100. SW short and left. LW over bunker finds green. 2-putt bogey.
14. FWY/GRN, 3-putt for bogey.
15. 3W fades right. PW finds green, 3-putt for bogey.
16. Solid 3W down the left side to blind landing area. Chunked an easy PW into the creek. LW to 6 feet. Drop the putt for bogey.
17. 5i into the wind fails to draw. LW over sand finds green. 2-putt bogey.
18. Solid drive finds fwy. Second finds water. Drop, LW to green, 2 putt for double.

So I finished with a 93 (46/47) and won 13 skins.

My game plan worked out pretty well. It seems that I can save a lot of strokes by knowing when to leave the driver in the bag. There’s a lot of trouble out there and I was fortunate to stay out of it most the time.

Here’s the stats for the round:

Fairways hit... 7
GIRs........... 4
Birdies........ 0
Pars........... 4
Putts......... 37
Bogeys......... 8
Doubles........ 4
Triples........ 1
Balls lost .... 1 (water on 18)

Upon reviewing the round, I found where I lost some strokes out there:

Short Iron..... 6
Short Pitch.... 4
Putts.......... 5

Most of the short shots were fat shots. The course was pretty soggy and my thin-soled clubs offer little forgiveness in these conditions (compared to other clubs with wide spoon-like soles). The other lost strokes would be a combination of chips and putts. I definitely left a couple short (less than six feet) putts out there, and a successful chip should be followed by a single putt.

Tour18 is a great place to play on occasion. I certainly won’t play it with any regularity, however; it does have the potential to provide a memorable round for my Father-in-Law should we decide to play there on his next visit.

Sorry I didn't take the camera,