After The Round 10

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I’ve never been a John Feinstein fan but when he picked up Mark Twain’s quote to title his book about the PGA Tour, “A Good Walk Spoiled” I appreciated the humor in it:  picturing Twain slapping his gutta- percha ball with his brassie and paying his bob to watch Young Tom Morris win his third Open. 

So nothing’s changed.  Players are big and fit, golf balls now take coefficients of restitution into account and clubs are computer designed and custom fitted.  And golf is still difficult and frustrating.

 You may spend a lifetime learning it.  No matter who you are, you’ll go through highs and lows, aches and pains, and wins and losses, albeit on different levels.   A perfect metaphor for life, the old and young, the haves and have nots joined in the struggle for, if not perfection, at least improvement.  A timeless, pastoral passion.

Then I stumbled across this shit called Foot Golf. 

I’m at a high school invitational watching a new generation engaged in golf’s endless pursuit and there in the rough by the greens is a giant hole designed to fit a soccer ball.  Kick it in the cup, kids.   Wheeee!

So now we have the metaphor for the new generation.  If it’s too hard, don’t do it.  We’ll make it easier for you. 

The Cleveland Metroparks have added a Foot Golf (I’m sorry, FootGolf) course on their Mastick Woods Golf Course.  This from their golf administrator as quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  “Golf has a persona of being difficult and hard to pick up, but (FootGolf) incorporates everything about golf and takes a lot of the pressure off.”  Really? Everything?  How about my damn arms!

Sorry, I’m over it now.  After all, the PGA has embraced FootGolf as a way to grow the game.  Get the youngsters to the course, they say, and the kids may think, “Hey, you know what? I think I’d like to try and play golf.” 

Sigh.  I give up.  These golf officials have left me feeling like Andy Rooney.  So, I’ll help you get caught up on this up-and-coming trend and you’ll know what’s going on when you watch your grandkids, little Keister and Nubbins, play it in high school.

FootGolf has been recognized as a sport in the US since 2011.  There is an American FootGolf League, a Federation for International FootGolf and a World Cup.  The rules are, you kick the ball in a hole.

There, you are now caught up.

 

 

On a similar note, I got a lot of feedback from my blog on the state of Ohio golf.  I wrote the blog citing the Crain’s Cleveland Business article, “Is the sun setting on Ohio’s golf industry.”   The thrust was that a big reason the industry is in decline is that the kids aren’t playing as much.

One of the more interesting comments was from a real friend of the sport who said they see a lot of parents raising scholarship winners and not golfers.   Fun is taken out of the equation and, even if they gain some sort of scholarship, they quit golfing after college.  Sad.

That sounds pretty similar to travel baseball and AAU basketball.  The kids are burnt out before they get a chance to play the sports as adults when they are really fun.

So, here’s a public service announcement to parents.   Repeat after me, I am going to spend a lot of money and my kid is not going to get a scholarship.  

In fact, they are 90% more likely to take up FootGolf.  After all, there’s no pressure.

After The Round 9

 

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We just took our annual golf trip to Marietta/Parkersburg last weekend with 12 golfers.  We played a course above Marietta called Lakeside (in Beverly, Ohio) the first day and The Country Club of WVA in Parkersburg the second.

If you haven’t done it, it’s an enjoyable, quick getaway.  We’ve experimented with other courses down there, including the infamous Oxbow, but they are just too chopped up to play.  At least these two, in addition to being very scenic, are playable with decent greens. 

We stay at the historic Lafayette Hotel on the Ohio River.  The 100 plus year old beauty is a treat unto itself.  You sign up for a room and don’t know what you’re getting other than some great period furniture.  Maybe a spacious suite, maybe you have to put one foot on the wall while you’re going to the bathroom.  Or you may have to use a ladder to get into bed.   It’s also supposed to be haunted and some guy in a Captain Crunch outfit gives ghost tours which seem to linger in the hotel bar. 

There is plenty for non-golfing wives to do as well but I just don’t know what that is. Substitute shopping and drinking for golfing and drinking, I believe.

We opted to play the Stableford System to see what would happen.  We handicapped it and gave points for pars (one), birdies (two), eagles (three) and double eagles (yeah, right).  The results turned out pretty much like it does every time I’ve played the Callaway system.   The best golfer gets penalized enough not to win it but still compete.  Some middle of the road golfer wins it and some hack gets rewarded for hackery.   And you know who you are.

If you’re going, add Da Vinci’s Italian restaurant right across the old bridge near the hotel to your trip.  The food is great.

 Now for a quick update on some local courses.

  I’ve heard some negatives on Maplecrest over the past few years, but they appear unfounded.  The owner said he had some water problems three years ago so it was a problem, but that appears to be in the past. I played it last month and it was well maintained.  The flower boxes that were its signature aren’t in as good of shape but I only had to play one shot out of them so they weren’t a factor. 

 

The greens at Suffield Springs are as fast as I can remember.  I played Firestone North last month, thank you Rick, and Suffield’s greens are just as quick.  If you only have time for a quick 9, play the blues and have fun.

After The Round 8

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After The Round

There is a depressing article in Crain’s Cleveland Business this week on the state of the Ohio golf industry, asking the question “Is the sun setting on Ohio’s golf industry?”.  PGA PerformanceTrak shows rounds are off by 8.3% from last year during the period from January to June. 

You’ve probably heard by now that Dick’s Sporting Goods has laid off 500 PGA professionals and 18 of them are in northern Ohio according to Crain’s. 

Obviously, as we all know, weather is a contributing factor.  But other factors are cited; the economy, a glut of courses, the amount of time it takes to play 18 holes and lack of young players.  This last one is the biggest factor according to Boulder Creek owner Joe Salemi, saying they want “instant gratification”.  If they can’t master golf right away—and nobody can—they move on.  I’m sure there is some truth to that. 

We’ve all groused about “kids today” not wanting to work, but apparently they don’t want to play either.  According to today’s Record Courier, Waterloo High School has 6 kids out for the boy’s golf team and two of them are girls.  That’s despite the fact that Paradise Lake lets them play for free.  I know Sunny Hills has the same deal for the Field golf team and I’ve heard the parent of one of their players say that commitment is still lacking.

One golf course owner told me that he has seen some courses offering play for $6.  Another told me his prices are below what they were in the 1970s yet his maintenance costs have continued to rise.  Services like Golf Now, Group 18 and Group Golfer have taken over the tee time bookings for many courses but at a tremendous cost. 

From a consumer standpoint I appreciate the price control but even now, it seems like every scramble costs $80.  I’ve now played in six straight at a cost of $480.  I’m tapped out.  I had to quit my e-scorecard money summary because my wife subscribed to golfbulletinboard and is reading my blogs.  I was playing right into her hands.

According to her, $480 can buy a lot of stuff that we need:  food, clothes, utilities, household items, and so on and so on.  Whatever.

Even if you don’t scramble, weekend rates are still $35-$70 depending on where you play, a sizable expense for many people–especially the backbone of the market, the seniors, who are on fixed incomes. 

The bottom line is, here we stand with both the courses and players being squeezed.  Those of us in middle age with a golf addiction will eventually pay the price as attrition hits and courses close, creating more malls to sell food, clothes, utilities, household items and so on and so on.

Anyone have a solution?  Please.

After The Round 7

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After The Round

Seven Hills was still buzzing over the Publinx match when we got to our league Friday night.  If you saw the results you saw that Jake McBride (Hartville) beat Nathan Tarter (Mogadore) in a playoff after they both shot 1 over for the day.   That’s a four day total of 8 under par.  From the tips, Seven Hills plays 7026 yards.

The playoff was sudden death and the match went three holes—18, 10,18—with both going par and birdie the first two holes before McBride iced it with a birdie.

In defeat, Tarter put up the most interesting round. After taking an 11 on the par 5 8th and going in the creek on the bridge hole, no. 16, he stayed in the hunt.  (Sixteen plays a little different from the tips than it does for most of us hacks.  It’s a 239 carry if you hit it straight).

So Tarter lost four balls and still managed to shoot one over par.  He’s come a long way since losing in a Field/Mogadore Ryder Cup match four years ago and now seems poised for a professional career on some tour.  His progress from Kent State to all-american at Malone is remarkable and shows a lot of hard work.

Lake High School graduate McBride will be going into his sophomore career at North Carolina State.  Last year as a freshman, he averaged 75 for 18 holes and seems destined for a pro career as well if he chooses. (see his stats here: http://www.golfbulletinboard.com/news/jacob-mcbride-2013-2014-season-statistics-23418).

The stories of these two players raises a question: Why aren’t we watching them play?

The caliber of golf in our three county area is incredible.  Katie Jenior became the first female competitor in the Ohio Open and shot 3 over from the tips on the first day at Westfield Country Club.

Ian Holt, a Kent State recruit from Stow High School, shot a course record 9 under on the last day to shoot a tournament record 23 under and win the Fox Den championships.  For the fourth straight time.  Think he can play?

Walsh Jesuit’s Chase Johnson, another Kent State recruit, has been in the hunt in several big tournaments this year and even old salt Dave Cutlip fired a 71 on the last day to win the Portage County Amateur.

It’s just funny that we travel to watch basketball and football phenoms play but not golf phenoms (and no, Gup, you’re not one).

Part of the problem is local media coverage of these events.  Other than Sue Jenior with the Record Courier, no one seems to take an interest.   You see any tee times for the Publinx or Ohio Open in the paper?

Sure, it’s difficult to cover a golf match, but no more difficult than soccer.   Apparently, I am the only one in the world that thought World Cup Soccer was boring and shouldn’t have dominated the sports pages.  How many fake injuries can you take?  Or the mail in headlines:  (Insert a country) Advances 1-0!

Give me mediocre baseball or a good golf match any day.  Hopefully, if Golf Bulletin Board grows legs, we can get these players the attention they deserve.

Get ready for the next round…

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After The Round

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After The Round 6

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After The Round

Shooting From the Lip

I had a little extra play money last year so my son and I decided to launch Golf Bulletin Board. We thought it would be an amusing diversion and I didn’t want to give the money to my wife, figuring she’d just do something practical with it like “securing our retirement”. Puu-leaze!

What I didn’t count on was the additional burden of acting like a media source and the responsibilities that go with it. Like being accountable for my comments.

I played in a scramble fundraiser a couple of weeks ago at a local course. When someone asked me how the course played, I said it was a dog patch. Oops, I didn’t know they worked there! I was told that mine was the first negative comment that they’d heard. When I found out the person actually mowed there, I softened my position. While dog patch has no literal meaning it does create a visual image and not a good one.

I explained that dog patch might be a little harsh. What I meant was the greens were slow, some of the tees chopped up, the fairways, while mowed, had clover in them and balls got lost in the rough, if even a few feet off the fairway.

This wasn’t sour grapes on my part, we won the outing after all. But I have played several other local courses and this one just came up short in comparison.

Unfortunately, the golf course owner was told of my comments and a friend of mine received a call from him. “Do you know this guy? Where does he get off commenting?”

So, a couple things here. First, he obviously has enough pride in his course to get upset when some unknown yahoo comments about it. He had no idea I was with Golf Bulletin Board, no doubt never heard of it, and wasn’t concerned I might stir up my 20 readers. He just didn’t like anyone talking negatively about his golf course.

Other aspects of the place, the buildings and grounds, are greatly improved and look very good. I have probably played there 25-30 times in my life and I can see he has spent a lot of money, so I understand his pique. It’s unfortunate my comments got passed on to him and I learned a big lesson.

But here’s my dilemma. I am not out to hurt the guy or his course and I don’t want to turn Golf Bulletin Board into a site that does reviews. If someone from out of the area wants to call me and ask where they should golf while they’re here, I can tell them. But local golfers already know.

By now, my comments are out there and will travel by word of mouth much faster than they will on this blog. Words matter and I apologize to him. It will require a personality transplant but I think I can become more politically correct and no longer shoot from the lip when asked to comment.

“The course? It was great. Just when I started to blow up I found a four-leafer. Turned my round around.”

Get ready for the next round…

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After The Round 5

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After The Round

There are still spots open for the 2-man Scramble at Sable Creek this weekend.  The outing is a scholarship fundraiser for Marlington High School students and honors one of our heroes, 1st Lieutenant Ashley White-Stumpf who was killed in Afghanistan.  Even if you don’t play, you should read her story on the back of the event flyer on golf bulletin board.  You’ll find it under calendar of events, course events for this Saturday.  She deserves our attention.  Let me know if you rethink the old “kids today” lament after reading it.

 …

 Sure, I’m taking the easy way out this week.  But in searching for a bet I can actually win, I stumbled across this article from Golf Digest.   I’m still not sure I can win any of them but some of them sound amusing.   I particularly like the “Bag Raid” game as it puts an emphasis on winning early holes.  We’ll keep them on the Golfbulletinboard blog page so you can refer to them as you play.

 …

The Following was taken from Golf Digest. See the original article at http://www.golfdigest.com/golf/2012/golf-betting-games?currentPage=2

Ten Great Golf Gambling Games

 

1. BISQUE

PERFECT FOR: Golfers who routinely struggle with a specific hole

DESCRIPTION: Instead of the scorecard mandating where handicap strokes are given, a player can use his or her handicap strokes on any hole until they run out. A maximum of two strokes can be used on any one hole. The only catch is that the handicap stroke (or two) has to be declared before the tee shot on that hole. The player with the low-net score wins the pot. This game is great because, if there are holes on your course where you routinely struggle, you can use your strokes on those holes to avoid a big score.

2. 5-3-1

PERFECT FOR: Threesomes

DESCRIPTION: It’s tough to find good games for three players but this one might be the best. There are a total of nine points available on each hole (a point has a predetermined dollar amount). The player with the low score on a hole gets five points. The player with the second-lowest score gets three. And the worst score on a hole gets one. If there are ties, you simply divide the points by the number of players tied. For example, two players tie for the best score on a hole. That means they split the first- and second-place points (5+3/2=4 apiece).

Related: The 18 Most Annoying Golf Partners

3. CLOSEOUT

PERFECT FOR: Golfers who like to keep it simple and fair

DESCRIPTION: The problem with the popular gambling game called a “nassau” is that winning the 18-hole match is often undervalued. If the front, back and 18 are equal in the amount wagered, that means a golfer or team could conceivably win the first 10 holes, and halve all but two of the remaining and win only a third of the amount wagered. Hardly fair. With a closeout, the 18-hole match is worth a set amount and once it’s decided, a second match on the remaining holes begins for half the original amount. It reduces the odds of a lackluster payout for really solid play. But the real beauty of this game is that it’s simple to keep track of the match.

4. QUOTA

PERFECT FOR: A group of any size with legitimate Handicap Indexes

DESCRIPTION: Each player takes his or her course handicap, then substracts that number from 36 and that becomes the point quota they have to make during a round. Typical scoring for a mid-handicap group would be 1 point for a bogey, 2 points for a par, 4 for a birdie and 8 for an eagle (points can be adjusted in any way). The player with the most points above their quota wins a predetermined pot. If no one finishes above their quota, you can roll the pot into the next round or decide it by some kind of tiebreaker. I’ve always liked this game because pars and birdies are worth so much more to average golfers than just being one shot better than a bogey.

5. STRIKE THREE

PERFECT FOR: Mid-to-high handicap groups

DESCRIPTION: At the end of a round, each player gets to throw out his or her score on three holes and then the best 15-hole score wins the pot. This is a great game for mid-to-high handicappers because it keeps everyone involved much deeper into the round, especially if a player or two had a couple of “blow-up” holes along the way.

6. SNAKE

PERFECT FOR: Learning how to putt better in the clutch

DESCRIPTION: You know those three-footers that your group always swats away as “gimmes?” You can’t do that with this game. You have to putt them out. And any time a player three-putts or worse (the ball has to be on the green for the first putt), a specific amount is added to a pot. That money keeps accruing during the round and the last person to three-putt has to pay the other players the amount in the pot. There are many variations of this game including a progressive version where the pot amount starts at a dime and doubles each time someone three-putts. Another version makes the person with the most three-putts pay. It’s recommended to play this game when the course isn’t crowded because it can slow things down. However, it’s a great game to learn how to make short putts and not take other putts for granted.

7. BOUNCE BACK

PERFECT FOR: Shaking off bad holes

DESCRIPTION: Among the many side bets, this one is my favorite because it rewards players who don’t give up. Essentially, any time a player follows up a double bogey or worse with a par or better on the next hole, they win a point (dollar value determined in advance by your group). Any time a player makes back-to-back double bogeys or worse, they lose a point.

8. LET IT RIDE

PERFECT FOR: Hardcore gamblers

DESCRIPTION: Players earn points for making a bogey or better on a hole. A typical point distribution would be 5 for a bogey, 15 for a par, 30 for a birdie and 60 for an eagle (better groups can start with par as the first point-eligible score). After earning points on a hole, the player has the option of banking the amount or “letting it ride,” meaning the point total can still grow on subsequent holes. The point totals double for every hole that they aren’t banked. So a bogey on a second consecutive hole would now be worth 10 and a par would be worth 30 and so on. However, if a player elects to let his or her points ride and a double bogey or worse is made, the player’s total points not banked goes back to zero. Banked points can’t be taken away and are credited at the end of the round. The players with the highest point totals are paid a predetermined amount for every point they have earned in relation to the other players. This is a great game for golfers who are streaky and also for golfers who love to gamble. Think about it: If you make back-to-back birdies without banking, you’ll have earned the equivalent of making 18 bogeys earned at 5 points each.

9. PICK-UP STICKS (BAG RAID)

PERFECT FOR: Twosomes or foursomes looking to break up the monotony of their usual games.

DESCRIPTION: This is a standard match-play competition with a little twist. When a golfer or team wins a hole, they “remove” a club from the opponent or opponents’ bags. That means the other team can’t use that club for the rest of the round. This continues until the match is decided. A variation of this game allows a team to reinstall clubs to their set if someone on the team makes net birdie or better to win a hole. Things can get really creative and shotmaking becomes a bigger part of the round when certain clubs are eliminated. Obviously, the putter should be first to go.

10. TROUBLE

PERFECT FOR: Improving shot selection and course strategy

DESCRIPTION: Instead of rewarding players for good play, golfers are given points for their mistakes. The players with the lowest point totals are paid a predetermined amount for every point less they have in relation to the other competitors. This can be a side-bet game or the group’s main wager. A common point allocation: Hitting a ball in a bunker (1); Hitting into the water (2). Hitting out-of-bounds (3). Three-putting (1). Four-putting (4). Duffing a tee shot (1). Points can also be subtracted for stellar play such as making birdies, holing long putts or stiffing shots from off the green, etc. This is a great game to learn course management and how to stop taking unnecessary risks.

Get ready for the next round…

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After The Round 4

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After The Round

I think I’ll stop talking about my imaginary opponent, John Lampe.  Took him for $15 this week and he started sounding real,  whining that I had to buy the first round or get him a hot dog or something.  Scary. And, of course, I did neither.   

 

Anyway, the e-scorecard accounting took a real jump this week after playing WednesdayFriday and in the Waterloo Booster Club outing Saturday.  Total now is 18 rounds and $306.  Plus I went to the Golfsmith grand opening and bought an RBZ driver and a set of Burner Plus irons for $250.  Total on golf through the end of May is now $556.  I am not ready to project a season but so far it seems like a cheap hobby.   Right Jill?

If you like playing Pro V1’s, Golfsmith has refinished balls for about $23 a dozen. 

Our scramble team was carried Saturday by Ted Cahill, a Waterloo grad and Head Golf Professional at The Quarry.  Found out that Ted has just been named the Louisville girl’s golf coach. 

Ted is also running an interesting special for leagues at The Quarry.   League member’s pay $22 for their golf and unlimited driving range.  And, since The Quarry is public but operates like a private course, they get a towel and water in their carts.    One other added bonus, league members can golf 18 holes on weekends for $44 instead of the usual $69 rate.  Nice deal.

The team of Robert Tompkins, Jeff Stormer, Dave Cutlip and Dean Cutlip won the Waterloo outing.  We would like to get to the point on Golfbulletinboard where every outing reported their winners so we can keep track of these ringerschampions.  As usual, the always classy Tompkins gave his money back to the boosters. 

Got an update on the driving range being built at Paradise Lake.   They are in delay until Sunoco finishes running the gas pipeline through the site—which is supposed to happen soon.  It would be nice if it opens this year but may be looking at next.   It will be nice when it opens,  there isn’t one close in the area. 

 

Get ready for the next round…

Go to Golf Bulletin Board!

And send us any tips you have on local courses to info@golfbulletinboard.com