Playing With Hickories

The personal isolation created by the pandemic has given us all lots of time to catch up on things we have meant to do for a long time. For me this included the idea of someday “playing with hickories”, something I wanted to do for years but just never found a way to get to it.

You see the problem had always been where does one get a reliable set of hand made clubs that are 100 years old. The point was not just to own a few hickory clubs as collector’s items but to play with them, not just once, but often enough to understand how guys like Jones, Hagen, Vardon, and Ouimet were able to play the game at such a high level with this antiquated hardware. There were plenty of hickory shafted clubs from different sources out there on the internet but how could I be sure if they were authentic, still in playable condition, or were worth anywhere near what people were asking for them.

Then in my covid catch-up reading I stumbled on an article in The Golfer’s Journal about a small artisan company called Louisville Golf that had been making custom persimmon head clubs for the last 50 years and had taken up reproducing hickory shafted clubs in the 1990’s in an attempt to survive in what was a shrinking persimmon niche market. Four older gentlemen made all the clubs by hand and the reproduction of lines of vintage hickory clubs became the staple that kept them in business.

A little more research revealed that there were only two companies in America that still made hickories to the original specifications and Louisville Golf offered the widest variety of woods, irons, niblicks, and putters that were authentic reproductions of the most famous products of the hickory era. Sure seemed like the avenue I had been waiting for to explore this world of hickory first hand.

A study of the Louisville Golf website followed by a conversation with the owner Jeremy Wright got me out of the gate. Since a full set of these would be no small investment, it made sense to get a couple of clubs to begin with to see if it was even feasible for me to handle the clubs proficiently enough to enjoy the challenge of playing with them on a regular basis. I started with their 1920’s vintage Precision Series Mashie (an equivalent to a modern 8 iron) and a 21-degree persimmon headed Jack White Special Cleek (an early version of a utility wood).

A couple of weeks worth of range and on course work with these two convinced me that there was nothing intrinsically difficult about hitting hickory clubs and with some patience and perseverance it was possible to play them on the regular course and appreciate the skills of the ancient greats of the game.

Within a month I had my own custom crafted set of hickory shafted clubs-made up of a 14-degree Wilsonian Brassie for driving and fairway play, the Jack White Cleek, the full array of Precision Series dimpled faced irons, and a replica Bobby Jones Calamity Jane blade putter.

Now the fun would begin, exploring the parameters of this new set of old clubs to find out just how playable they would be on my regular hunting grounds. Sessions on the range with my Rapsodo launch monitor would supply ball speed, club head speed, launch angle, and carry distances for comparing the performance of clubs of the same loft from my hickory set vs my modern equipment.

The dimple faced Precision Series Mashie and Pitching Mashie are identical lofts to a contemporary 8 and 9 iron respectively

For someone like me with a relatively modest swing and ball speed, 80 and 100 mph respectively with my PXG 6-iron, the launch monitor numbers were surprising in that the differences in the irons were statistically insignificant.  Launch angles were a tinch lower with the hickories but the club and ball speed and the carry distances were less than 3 percent apart throughout the iron range.

The hickory shafts make the clubs heavier in hand then their composite shafted relatives from my modern set, but choking up an inch and concentrating swing rhythm and timing seems to take care of it.  The dimpled face does not impart the kind of spin we get off grooved face irons today so some adjustment for roll out is necessary on carry shots into the greens.

The forgiveness of these irons is surprisingly adequate so I really did not pine for the cavity backed feature of modern irons.  But the club head seems more sole weighted and balls that climb up to the thinner part of the face, especially in the rough, can come off with insufficient enthusiasm and a dampened trajectory.

Shape of the Niblick and the SM Niblick behind looks pretty to the contemporary eye

The Mashie Niblick (PW), Niblick (GW), and SM Niblick (56 degree SW) do a good job for the approach distances of 110 yards and in.   Trajectory is very similar to my modern versions of the same clubs and, except for a little less spin off the face, hitting the click-stop array of half, three-quarter, and full shots has been very manageable.

The close-in pitching and chipping game around the green is very familiar.  I have found that the sole weighting on the irons gives a little more aggressive roll out in these shots so I have actually lofted up one notch using the Mashie-Niblick (PW) for shots I usually play with a 9 iron and the Niblick (GW) for shots I most often play with my modern wedge.  The 56 degree SM Niblick has plenty of lift for the lofty pitches and the bounce is appropriate for playing the array of sand shots we generally run in to.

The heads on the Brassie and Cleek will remind you of the persimmons you played with as a kid

The Brassie and the Cleek had significantly lower launch monitor numbers then the high tech hybrids and driver in my current set.  The more significant factor had nothing to do with the hickory shafts but rather the persimmon heads.  As you might remember from playing persimmon heads from the 60’s though the 80’s, the sweet spot on these woods is the size of a dime, so the mishits are real foul balls and could be seriously off line and 30% shorter than a solid one.  The practical playing yardage of the course at 6200 yards gets seriously longer as a result.

Calamity Jane, complete with the Bobby Jones’s three extra whipping shaft wraps, has great strike balance with the offset hosel

Maybe the most pleasant surprise was the putting experience with the Calamity Jane blade putter.  Having played a heel shafted putter most of my golfing life the overall feel is not unfamiliar to me.  The tall unscored paddle face does take some getting used to but they engineered the balance of the club with the offset head so you get a good aggressive roll on it time-after-time.  On the slick downhill putt the toe putting trick works very well to dampen the speed.

Having played a half a dozen rounds with my hickories I have a some of takeaways on how to play these clubs effectively.

1. The differential in the carry yardage of the driving clubs coupled with the variance of distance and direction on the mishits puts real pressure on recovery shots.  Acceptance and humility are very important in these situations.  On the four pars when this happens it seems prudent to give up the hope of reaching the green and play a lay up to an intelligent  short iron distance from which an up-and-down save is possible.

2. Recovering from the rough, given the tendency of the ball to ride up to the thin part of the face on the irons, favors playing finesse shots with the Cleek or choking up on the irons to intentionally hit them a little thin on the meaty part of the club.

3. In planning shots from the fairway, the lower launch angles off the face and the lack of spin control favors a more links-like, ground game approach into the green openings allowing for roll out.  Three quarter and half shots are an art with these clubs and it seems to me the shaft and the club head weighting makes them very conducive to success on these type of plays.

4. The 13 inch long leather grips take some getting used to.  First of all they are a little firmer then the softer rubberized grips on most clubs today.  In the heat, if you do not wear a glove, they can get a little slippery from your hand sweat.  Most peculiar, since the grips are 3 to 4 inches longer then what you are used to, when you grip down on the chip shots around the green or on less then full shots in the fairway you have to recalibrate how far down the grip to set your hands to get the club length right. It took me a couple of sessions at the short game area to work this out.

5. Scoring to your normal handicap is going to be a challenge because some of the precision the new technology gives to your equipment is not there, so you have to adjust your expectations accordingly.  I suggest you track a separate handicap for your hickory rounds so as not to distort your regular index.  Playing the course a tee up may make sense to increase your enjoyment by taking some of the pressure off the wood club differentials and allowing yourself the opportunity to play approach shots with irons you are used to.

6. Most important, embrace the challenge and allow your strategic approach to playing to be more old school.  Most of us grew up playing in a time when the hard turf and less manicured conditions left a strong bit of existential outcome in the game.  The style of play with the hickories matches up to that way of playing nicely if you can accept the mind set and play accordingly.

A minimalist canvas walking bag with a Truckin’ theme seemed right

I have had to put up with the snickers of macho friends who wonder why in the world a sane person would give up current technology to play with a bag full of antiques.  But it is like joining a vintage car club and going off on a sunny summer day for a country ride in a classic fin back convertible with your favorite squeeze.  Some things just have to be experienced to be appreciated.

 

 

U.S. Women’s Amateur 2020

This week a national championship comes to our place as the USGA unfurls their flags for the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Woodmont Country Club. As the annual stop the last 38 years for the men’s U.S. Open Section Qualifier, we have built a strong relationship with the USGA as a deserving venue for this prestigious event.

Woodmont has polished all the silver in preparing for this year’s event

132 of the finest amateurs will converge to play two stroke play qualifying rounds followed by five days of single elimination match play to determine the national champion.  As you can read bios in the USGA Media Release, the field of young hopefuls and past USGA champions include players from all over the globe with plenty of street cred on their career resumes.

A strong history of hosting USGA regional qualifiers as well as local golf competitions

For many in the field this is their chance to take the next step toward fulfilling a life long dream of a career on the LPGA Tour, while for others adding their names to this list will be a shining moment in the sun that they can simply cherish forever.

Under the architectural guidance of Joel Weiman, Woodmont has given this Alfred Tull/Arthur Hills layout a major facelift with new bunkers and green surrounds and some strategic adjustments throughout.  At close to 6,600 yards for the competition, players won’t be fooled by the finely manicured appearance of this undulating terrain, the course’s strategic challenge and the summer heat will present a stern endurance test for those in pursuit of the championship.

They will play the 5th from the tips, 510 yards to an uphill green complex with plenty of static to contend with along the way

Native grasses frame the path to the 183 yard Par 3 6th but it is the yawning bunkers that protect this two-tier Redan style green that players will have to worry about

One deep flash-faced bunker is complemented by a 270-degree short grass chipping surround on the 421 yard Par 4 9th hole-it will take real creativity to make an up-and-down save here

The postcard view from behind the 17th belies the danger fraught on the approach shot if their match comes down to the last two holes

The pageantry of a national championship has been captured throughout the grounds.  It has taken the determined vision of our Director of Golf, David Dorn,  the expertise of our Supervisor of Greens and Grounds, Ryan Severidt, and their staffs, as well as the leadership of Ron Bubes and Joann DiMeglio leading our Tournament Committee to bring this all together.

For those who want to follow the action, Golf Channel will provide extensive coverage of the match play portion of the championship from Wednesday through Sunday August 5th to the 9th.

The official uniform will be worn by over 220 member volunteers helping to pull this off

At the end of the day on Sunday a new national champion will hoist this elegant piece of USGA hardware as the Women’s Amateur Champion of 2020.

Morgan Pressel, a Woodmont member,  won the Women’s Am in 2005 at the tender age of 17

Bay Hill Short Game Area

Bay Hill LogoOn our recent buddies trip to Bay Hill we got to experience the newly created short game practice area-a welcome addition to an already full featured golf facility.  This baby was designed  by Thad Layton and Brandon Johnson of the Arnold Palmer Design Group.and they did not miss a beat in creating a wonderful place to work on all aspects of your your short game.  Tucked between the 9th green on the Championship Course and the Charger Nine it is conveniently located just a half wedge from the clubhouse and other practice facilities.

As with everything at Bay Hill player responsibilities are clearly articulated.

They left no stone unturned in creating a topographically interesting wall-to-wall bermuda grass practice area surrounded by a constellation of varied green complexes with bunkers and humps and hollows that replicate just about any short shot you can face at Bay Hill or anywhere else for that matter.

From the center you can hit this 75 yard pitch over a yawning bunker into a shallow green…..or you can take 10 steps back and make it 85 yards if that suits your fancy.

Here is an entirely different angle into that same green that allows you to practice ground approaches working around the bunker or even trajectory limited shots from under the tree.

The greens themselves have plenty of segmentation and movement for pitch and run, pitch and grip,  or Mickey aerial flop shots.  You can practice all kinds of scenarios with the full compliment short game arrows you carry in your quiver.

This green is at least 60 yards long and accepts shots from all sides. It is a study in ball movement on the ground.

From the angle above this green you can work on those delicate recovery up and downs you can get when you hit an extra club just a wee bit too far.

They even went as far as to introduce features you will not see at Bay Hill.  Short grass run ups into putting surfaces where you can use the 3 wood or hybrid pitch or even the putter and even severe sod-wall bunkers like you would see on a British Isle links course.

Here is a pit that would feel right at home at North Berwick or Ballybunion.

Len must be planning for a trip next summer….his technique is pretty flawless.

Bottom line is that an hour or so before you go out or maybe after you finish the 18 this is a great place to yuk it up with friends or grind some serious practice time on the true scoring aspects of the game.  Just another aspect to fill out the Bay Hill Golf Experience.

Orlando, Florida

(Click to see the moegolf Bay Hill Championship Course review)

(Click to see the moegolf Bay Hill Charger Course review)

(Click to see Bay Hill photos from the Postcard From Bay Hill)

First Tee Outing 2019-Youthful Exuberance

The Keepers 10th Annual First Tee Mentor Outing at Woodmont Country Club was dedicated to the memory of our good friend Gary Jonas.  From our early days Gary was a protagonist behind many of our community service initiatives and this outing was one of his favorites.

Gary still looks over our shoulder in all the good work the Keepers do in the community

Moe negotiates with Josephine on the perfect hat color to add to her wardrobe

The First Tee of Greater Washington D.C. brought 24 amazing kids from ages 8 to 18 to participate in another afternoon of pure golf fun.  We had 13 volunteers from our club along with capable professional golf staff as our guides for our normal drill of golf clinics, a picnic lunch, and a couple of hours of course time with the kids.

The First Tee program has introduced these kids to the wonderment of golf-teaching them the etiquette, course awareness, and basic skills of the game.  What you see as a result is a deep reservoir of self-confidence, poise, and grace in their ability to interact with each other and adults they have to deal with along the way.

Over 40 staff, volunteers, and kids enjoyed the full flavor of this mentor outing

Our volunteers provide the high fives, cheers, and a few hugs as well helping these kids understand how much they already have accomplished with this game.

Volunteering with these kids is something this group looks forward to every year

Jill and Randy

Randy and Monroe

Rick, Randy, and Chuck

The Kommish is all smiles for this annual affair

It takes the help of the First Tee of Greater Washington and supportive parents to pull this off year after year.

Andrew and Roger from the First Tee surround Steve our Keepers Koordinator

Roger of the First Tee with parents HyeWon, EunJung, and Mary

Moe the Keeper Kommish with Mary mom of Jonathan

To download any photos to your PC just right click on the image and pick “Save Image As” to save it to your computer.

The kids were split into three groups based on their golf experience and rotated through instruction clinics for full swing, short game, and putting-led by our professional staff.

No golf session should start with out a proper stretching and warm up session

Brice and Dean our PGA Professionals handled the full swing clinic on the driving range

Which included Dean explaining the proper straight line practice divot pattern on a natural grass tee

There is plenty of ammo for the kids to work on their swings

The swings on the range came in all shapes and sizes….the common denominator was good fundamentals and sheer determination.

Josephine may dress the angelic feminine part but look at that turn and balance

Young Peter the same has great arm spacing at the top

I like Gabrielle’s relaxed address position….the hands look comfortable on the grip

Myles is in the perfect handshake position with the straight away takeaway half way back

Salieus uses his height to create great extension with his arms that will give width and speed on the way back down

Caleb loads up his left side…the power this creates is evident in the height and carry of his shots

Sabrina plays for her high school team and you can see her pure athleticism at work in this move

Check out the bend in the shaft as David changes direction-uncoiling this full shoulder turn will deliver real power at the point of impact

Grant and Konnor worked the kids at the Sidney Harman Short Game area, fine tuning their pitching, chipping, and putting.

Grant explains to Sophie and Johan about smooth takeaways

Keith and Sol learn a thing or two from Eugene and David

Linc has his set-up positions in perfect order

Sabrina maintains club face position as she extends the follow through on this chip and run

The Konnor School of Putting is a full semester experience for these kids.

Konnor’s famous line dance works on putting distance control

Ryan, Sean, Gabrielle, Avery, and Josephine fire away

Rick and Jill watch Avery, Gabrielle, and Josephine triangulate their putting coordinates

Chuck is talking about visualization of the putting path to Kyle

Avery and Josephine seem to have the feel for fast bent grass greens

The clinics always work up an appetite and there were plenty of healthy sandwiches, real chips, fresh fruit, and some chocolate chip cookies for the lunchtime chat around.

It always begins with a Sol nutritional lecture that grabs their rapt attention

Linc, Eugene, David, Keith, Salieu, and Skyler pause between bites

Gene, Monroe, Steve, and Sabrina are working the through the pile

Randy and Chuck have enthusiasm for this task

Sophie and Avery have a very orderly approach

Caleb, Johan, Jonathan, and Peter are on to dessert….those cookies were special!

Then it was out to the golf course to put what they learned to the test.  Here is where the mentor bonds are freshly made or simply renewed.

Steve and Sabrina

Sabrina, Caleb, and Moe

Dhira, Len, and Yuna

Alexa and Dimitrios

Myles, Jill, and Gabrielle

Monroe, Skylar, and Sophie

Randy, Johan, and Eugene

Randy, Avery, and Sean

Gene, Jonathan, and Peter

It is amazing how the First Tee prepares these kids to handle themselves on the course.  All ball ball marks are fixed, bunkers are raked, balls are marked properly and they respectfully understand the term “your away”.

Rick, Justin, Josephine, Kyle, Ryan, and Chuck

Monroe, Eugene, Sophie, Randy, Johan, and Skylar

Dhira, Yuna, Gene, Jonathan, Len, and Peter

Steve, Sophie, Len, Dhira, Eugene, Randy, Skylar, Yuna, and Johan

Salieu, Sole, David, Linc, Keith, and Eugene

All that was left was to assemble the ranks thank all the folks involved and give out the goodies.

The assembled masses anxiously waiting to hear their names

The stash revealed…every kid gets an official participation certificate, a bunch of Woodmont golf course necessities, and the official Keepers Bag Tag

Monroe may be outsized by Salieu but has the reach to get the job done

Dimitrios gets the pass on a signature Konnor move

One more piece of Keepers klink for the golf bag

Special thanks to Connor Farrell, Steve Keller,  Moe Dweck, and Roger Brown and the professional golf staff for all the hard work in assembling this event.  Thanks to Woodmont Country Club for graciously hosting this picnic and the First Tee of Greater Washington D.C. for making it happen. And most important, thanks to these amazing kids who make this event such a special experience for all of us.

First Tee Greater Wash LogoRespect-Perserverance-Honesty-Integrity-Courtesy-Responsibility-Sportsmanship-Confidence-Judgement

August, 2019

Special thanks for the photographic contributions of Moe Dweck, Steve Keller, and Mary Yoon that made this posting colorful and fun

If you have any corrections to the captioning please email them to moedweck@comcast.net

Phil’s Grill At Grayhawk

At the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale everything is done first class.  Their two excellent golf courses which have hosted Tour events, the Peter Kostis Learning Center, and a Golf Shop replete with a robust selection of clothing and accessories from all the brands you care about all speak to this dedication to doing things the Grayhawk way.

In keeping with this tradition they created a warm and hamish bar and patio hangout that honors the club’s long standing connection with a favorite Arizona son, Phil Mickelson.  After a round you can drop in for your favorite adult beverage and some delectable bar treats.  From the patio you can enjoy a frustration of others on the 18th hole on the Raptor Course or spin a sailor’s tale about your day’s golf accomplishments.

But at some point you have to get out of that chair to take in the amazing collection of Lefty Memorabilia that adorns the walls of the bar area.  It includes everything from a persimmon driver Phil swung in high school to the flag from his Open Championship win at Muirfield and even an autographed wall commemorating his head-to-head challenge match with Tiger that was played at this venue in the fall of 2018.

Marketing of Phil’s Grill is right out their in front of you

It starts with local fare from appetizers to entrees….and it is all good eatin’

Phil’s early successes…remember he won a Tour event at Tucson as an amateur

A very early swing with Bones and Jack looking on at Augusta

His connection with the King goes way back-he won at Bay Hill in 1997

Fireside account of Phil’s 2004 Masters win-remember the gravity defying leap?

The Match-sort of pay-for-view presentation-between Tiger and Phil in 2018

All the paid supporters signed the commemorative wall for this event

Sweet family plaque of all his Tour wins…..and there have been more than a few

It is worth your time to make a stop at Phil’s Grill if you are in the neighborhood.  Whether it is for the food and drink or the Lefty memories, it will help complete your memorable Grayhawk golfing experience.

(Click to read about the Grayhawk Golf Club-Talon Course)

Postcard From Casa de Campo

We took a late fall trip to the delightful Casa de Campo Resort and Villas in the Dominican Republic.  This is a bastion of Pete Dye golf courses, high end accommodations, good food and drink, and lively entertainment.  Over five days we played em all….Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore, The Links, and La Romana Country Club….and it was just the perfect warm antidote for the November chill that had set in on the East Coast.

With business down a bit in what we thought was high season, the powers that be upgraded us from the main hotel to a series of lavish villas across the property.  Four to five guys in each, we had our own pool, jacuzzi, outsized living spaces to stretch out, and even a service professional to make us a hot breakfast every morning.  We were living the life of a Conquistador.

#5 Casa Arriba Villa….Rooms r’ Us…….

Welcoming in three languages…….

The Master Suite…..had a walk in closet that would house four……

Living room was perfect for an afternoon siesta nap or a chat with the boys…..

Or sneak out back for a private plunge in the pool or the hot tub……

We even had our own pair of Spanish speaking parrots out back……

Many had a view like this from their porch while enjoying their breakfast…….

For the golfing experience it is Dye, Dye, and more Dye….just cannot get enough of his influence, which is understandable since he lived just off the green at the Par 3 7th.  Having said that the courses are totally playable for folks of all skill sets.  The ocean views on Teeth of the Dog can be somewhat distracting but it fills your golfing heart with pride when you traverse one of those shore lines and land your Srixon on terra firma.

Pete is the master of all golf in Casa…standing sentinel in front of the pro shop

Our professionals Ranger Hal and Double-D did all the arranging to perfection

Ronnie was all in on cries of “Bella Bola”……

Howard proudly sporting the Kompany K……

Kolman and Harry preparing for the day’s skirmishes…….

The first stop on the Dye Tour was his 1971 work on this campus, the famed “Teeth of the Dog”.  The course get’s it’s name for the aerial view of the coastline it straddles where the nooks and crannies the holes traverse look like the dentifrice of a German Shepard.  This was fine since we had our fair share of representatives of the dental profession.

The Par 4 2nd hole has the full compliment of Dye extras…..in this case waste areas surrounded by what look like drift wood pickets….

The 5th is the first of a series of ocean side three-pars…this one is only an 115 yard pitch but that pesky tree front right has great reach…..

In this case it rejected a perfectly good looking shot into a perfectly nasty waste bunker……I experienced the same fate twice in two rounds…

World Wide Weber, Doc Kella, and Steve the Wanderer just hangin’ out….

The 7th is one of the truly captivating views of the day….Pete’s vacation home was just to the right of the green so he could witness the follies first hand….

The Fun Bunch-Mish, Doc, Night Walker, and Kounselor Konnor about to take on the back nine coastal holes….soon the smiling will end….

You know you are on the back side since the ocean is now on the right….here at the short 15th you almost feel like you can drive the green…maybe in a power boat…

This add-on was a bit of Dye levity off the side of one of the greens….it is kind of what it feels like trying to hit some of these Par 3’s in a big wind…….

The hardest of all the hard one shotters…the 16th has two distinct green sections that are connected by a grass boardwalk….there is no backing off this pin….

If you get a bit too bold on the double presses you might end up making a deposit in one of the spaces in what we coined (pardon the pun) “The Wailing Wall”……

If it really gets bad you can use this remnant of a landing strip from the old Casa Airport in front of the 18th tee to call in a Med-Vac Helicopter for a quick escape..

The other gem we played was the Dye Fore Course (circa 2007) which is set a bit more inland on a challenging piece of tumultuous property perched above a river gorge running through its center.  Pete was up to the task, creating a dramatic but playable set of holes with plenty of risk and reward sewn therein.

The 4th is the Number 1 handicap hole as it wraps around the edge of the gorge.  There are no bailouts on this hole, just some lines less risky then others…

The Kodak moment of the day is on the short Par 4 5th….the fairway wends its way down toward the shore with the marina shimmering in the background…

Doc, Craig, Double-D, and Len The Plumber posing on the 14th Tee…the gorge behind them is in play big time on this stretch of holes….

All the three-pars share the look of the 15th….providing a dramatic backdrop as your ball falls helplessly from the sky searching for safe landing below…

For the overly ambitious among us there was the opportunity to play additional golf in the afternoons at the Casa Links or at La Romana, a superb private club within the Casa de Campo campus.  The former was just a nice toned down Pete Dye experience, but La Romana was 27 holes of pure Pete Dye genius without the benefit of the seaside views.

The 8th at Casa Links was a sweet punch bowl style Par 3….getting to the pin was best accomplished using the side walls…..

Mr. Bill, as one of our caddies affectionately referred to him, uses the aura of the Rainbow Halo to insure putting his drives in the first cut…..

Brice shows you where professional power is generated as he unloads on downswing…..this one was about 280 in the air…..

Full professional contingent playing for Monopoly Money on the last hole of links

On these guy trips eating is just below golf and just above the afternoon nap in terms of priority.  The restaurants across the Casa Resort are all top notch and cover most of the sacred food groups.  The adult beverages flow freely as well so the levity of these evenings is enhanced accordingly.

The night we ate at the Minitas Beach Club Doc Kella was celebrating collecting his Social Security….the cake was adorned with a Roman Candle that enhanced his tan….

Eating at La Piazzeta was a serious indulgence in all things Italian….

Which included a Mariachi Band with some Bar Mitzvah experience since they were able to abide Phil’s request for Hava Nagilah….the crowd got raucous…

Click on the frame below to witness the full Hava Nagilah revelry in a video

After five days of golf and spiritual therapy, 29 guys were a bit tired but smiling broadly from this tranquility experience in a wee bit of paradise…

(Click to see a review of Dye’s Teeth of the Dog Course)

 

 

 

Bandon Dunes: Shorty’s

Among the novel amenities that Mike Keiser came up with for his Bandon Dunes Resort right from the get go was a very neat Approach and Putt Course called Shorty’s. Designed by David McLay Kidd, the guy who did the Bandon Dunes Course, this is a full feature short track with architectural detail commensurate with it’s big brother.

Built on the back side of the South Practice Range, it is convenient, practical and fun.  Holes from 92 to 177 yards with plenty of options in between on each hole, it is a great place to acquaint yourself with long pitch and run shots you will need across the links style and wind blown Bandon Dunes courses.

Shorty’s is open from Thursday through Sunday, when the North Range is in use.  Truth is you can play the Mini Shorty’s Routing of 1, 2, and 9 any day since they are safely out of the range of fire of the South Practice Tees.

The full 9-hole walk is probably less than an hour depending on how much trash talking you do.  Best part is that playing Shorty’s costs you nothing at all, it is free to all comers.  Just another perfect happy hour activity for you and your buds.

The photos below will give you an idea of the architectural interest of this layout as well as the challenge it presents.

The distances on each hole are the official yardage plates, though you can pretty much drop the ball anywhere you like on each hole to fit what you are working on.  Note that the hole names are based upon my impression and totally the fabrication of this author, not sanctioned by the folks who run this place.

Launch Pad

Here is where you start.  If the green flag is up Shorty’s is fully open, red flag not so much.

 

#1 The Devils Trap Door  86 Yards

Brings to mind the 10th at Pine Valley where the front bunker earned the moniker of the Devil’s A-hole. You have to flight something with grip into the right center of this green and hope it hold’s on.  As you can see in this reality TV ground level look, recovery from the Devil’s orifice is unlikely.

#2 The Uprights  113 Yards

Garo Yepremian would love the look of this one, just split the uprights for 3.  This is a good one for working on a 100 yard seven iron pitch and run shot.  Just trundle one up the front ramp and let it work to the pin.

#3 Cape  177 Yards

The Cape Hole was a classic Golden Age design configuration where the green was nestled behind a large body of water not sand.  Here you have to work your approach from right to left to avoid the cavernous bunkers and let the slope of the green bring it toward the flag.

Close up of the front right bunker also hints how the front ramp will continue to work your approach from right to left.

#4 Pine Valley  126 Yards

The name seemed like natural to me. Shallow green with a tiny opening between fierce bunkers and a pine tree squeezing you from the right for good measure.  The pines behind just complete the full George Crump look.

#5 Potchy  145 Yards

One of the longer carries over this lone pot to a long green that falls away from you.  It gets its name from the fact that this green is the closest to the South Range Tees so it is fully potched from ball marks making it resemble the rutty face of a pimply 13 year old boy.

#6 Dome  111 Yards

You can see how the right half of the green resembles the hood of a VW Beetle making really hard to hold a high approach.  Once again this is a good place to work on your long pitch and run out shot, letting the ground do the work.

Don’t let the shot wander left because there are two of these blow-out bunkers, much like you would see on the shore holes of Kidd’s Bandon Dunes Course.

#7 Gully-Vers Travel  108 Yards

The shot here must travel across a deep gully to this perched green behind another pot bunker.  The bank left of the flag can be dexterously used to feed a shot onto the green avoiding the bunker.  Links golf requires forethought.

#8 Misty May and Kerri  92 Yards

This green complex of this one honors the Gold Medal accomplishments that dynamic Olympic Beach Volleyball Duo Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh.  You may find yourself volleying pitch shots back and forth across this raised shallow table top green.

The look from the receiving side….equally steep approach back up.

# Homeward Bound  146 Yards

The final hole has all the architectural features bundled into it.  The layered, ragged edge bunkering from the right reminds me of some of the fairway bunkers on Bandon Dunes.  Mounding from the right masks the playing surface from clear view.

The green emanates from the hill on the right and has a deep low behind the front mound  that will shove timid approaches away from a flag in the back right.  Putting this green is an adventure all it’s own.

The Back Door

The look from behind shows you the mound that hides the front and the collar bunkering that rings the back waiting to catch an approach with too much enthusiasm.  Great holes are often kool looking from either direction.

Shorty’s Course Map

You can see the counter clockwise routing of the course.  It follows a tight circle for a very efficient walk, one well worth taking.

Bandon Dunes: Punchbowl

Mike Keiser did it again.  In 2013 he added one more piece of priceless frivolity to what already has to be the complete golf destination in the world.  Tom Doak designed the ultimate putting playground called Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes.

It has quickly become one of the most popular tickets at the resort, delighting folks of all ages in a kind of DIY-no classroom walls putting experience.

Hills and Dales…furry mounding and lots of whispy grass

This ginormous putting surface (total acreage undisclosed) sits just off the veranda of the Pacific Dunes Grill overlooking the great western pond with 18 holes sprawling across rigorous seaside terrain characteristic of the rest of the resort.

Wild Back nine wends through the trees

Inspired by the Himalayas green at St. Andrews Doak created this with a bit more drastic topography.  From the moguls on the big plateau at the north end around the large tree in the middle to the deep bowl on the south end there is an elevation change of as much as 20 feet.

Click image to experience the full Punchbowl panorama.

Click image to appreciate Josh’s eerie shadow and experience the full Punchbowl panorama.

This is a full service putting entertainment facility.  Open from 2 pm until dusk (they probably need six hours in the morning to cut this small piece of paradise),  there are 100-foot roller coaster putts, Daytona doglegs, and ridiculous topographical transitions that will challenge the most creative mind.

Starter’s Stand can accommodate the lines-just drop your ball in the ball slot until it becomes your turn.

Note the hole markers have integrated beverage stands…how convenient!

As you would expect at Bandon, there is a beverage cart close at hand to wet your whistle or simply calm the putting jitters as required.  Drink holders next to every tee and hole location and a course routing that can change every day.

The Tap-In Trailer is open when necessary-waiter service from the Pacific Grill at all times

Perfect for resolving unsettled wagers from the morning walk, a little fraternal fun with your compadres, or some serious work on the lag putts with the new saw grip.

There are even Viewing Lounges perched on the hill for watching the action

Punchbowl is a necessary add to every Bandon Dunes itinerary.  Once again Mike Keiser proves that he knows what we want even if we cannot tell him what it is.

First Tee Outing 2018-Sweet Memories

The Keepers dedicated our 9th Annual First Tee Mentoring Outing at Woodmont Country Club to the memory of our good friend Arthur Blitz.  Arthur was a huge advocate of this event every year and we will recall his smiling face and infectious laugh each year we host this wonderful event.

Arthur Blitz had a special connection with these kids

The First Tee of Greater Washington D.C. brought 31 awesome kids to participate in an afternoon of pure golf fun.  We had 19 volunteers from our club along with capable professional golf staff as our guides doing golf clinics, a picnic lunch, and a couple of hours of course time with the kids.

These kids come every type of background you can imagine and they have gleaned from their First Tee experiences self-confidence, poise, and grace as well as being introduced to the game of golf.  It is a wonder to witness the etiquette, course awareness, and basic skills of these 7 to 17 year-olds who attend this event each year.

Well over 50 kids, volunteers, and staff make orchestrating this shot no small feat

Our volunteers provide the smiles, reassurance, and support to help these kids understand how much this game has to offer.

The volunteers donated their time and their hugs to make it a special day

It takes the help of the First Tee of Greater Washington and supportive parents to pull this off each year.

Roger and Katie, administrators from the First Tee Program

Some of the parents of these great kids mugging with Roger

To download any photos to your PC just right click on the image and pick “Save Image As” to save it to your computer.

Sometimes the mentoring is as simple as a smile or an encouraging word…the kids got lots of both.

The event commander Steve with a Grace-ful smile

Moe and Jonathan are old friends by now

Steve shows Carina a version of the modified four-point stance

Larry and Dale with Hannah, Yuna, and Angela on the practice ground

Alex, Steve, Gavin, Caleb, and Gene

Gene and John with Grace, Sabrina, Iris, and Michelle

Chet, Rich, David, Eugene, Salieu, Sam, Konnor, Paul, Steve, and Mika…quite a line-up

Grant, Eddie, Konnor, Malinda, Ricky, and Rick

The mentors share their knowledge and experience of how to work down a handicap

Jackie helps Sophie make some chipping adjustments

Rick and Peter…..proof is in the results

Eddie with Malinda and Yohan talking short game

Jake and Marilyn with Milan and Daniel

MIke and Jackie coaching Carina, Johan, and Avery

Moe, Sol, and Rebecca with Sean, Ryan, and Skyler

Best part is just stepping back and watching these amazing kids do their golf thing.

Rick, Dale, Bonnie, Susan, Larry, and Gary embraced the moment

All the kids went through the rotation of three clinics-range, short game, and putting-led by our professional staff.

The day started with an invigorating stretch with Konnor

There was long game work with Brice and Morgan at the range.

Brice going over fundamentals with the older kids

The youngest at the range with Morgan, Brice, Sol, Jackie, and Ron

Ricky has a strong address position

Jake and Mike worked on greenside short game skills with all the groups.

Jake sporting the classic Jim Colbert bucket hat demonstrates proper grip

The chipping lines under watchful eyes

Caleb gets some demonstration from Rebecca who knows her stuff

Skyler is a veteran of these outings and shows it to Sol

Got to love this pitching set-up from Grace

Malinda, after clean contact, snuggles it close

Clean up on Aisle 4….these kids can do it all

Dave Pelz has nothing on Konnor…his putting school is a full bag of tricks.

Conga Line Putting….working on the lag putts

Guys synchronized rake putting…who would have thought..

Girls were not to be outdone

The clinics worked up an appetite so they were followed by a break for a picnic lunch where we got to just sit and chat…..healthy sandwiches, real chips, fresh fruit, and some chocolate chip cookies for the big kids.  We were all single digit eaters.

Sol doing what Sol does best

Caleb, Rich, Chet, Rebecca, Gary, and Paul sharing stories over chocolate chip cookies

Eugene, Yuna, and Jonathan showing their “chip” skills

The girls work on challenging the Guiness Book of Records for aveggie stacking tower

Then it was out to the course to put what they learned to work.  It is amazing how these kids handle themselves on the course.  Fixing ball marks, raking bunkers, marking their ball properly, and respecting the efforts of their playing partners.

Ricky, Iris, Peter, Gene, Rick, and Gavin on the green

Rich with Caleb and Michelle

Susan and Larry were marveling at the course skills of Yuna, Daniel, Hannah, and Dauda

Gary staging a FootJoy commercial with Eugene and Jonathan

Chet taking a ride with Eugene and David

Ron, Sol, Dad of Milan, Milan, Sean, and Carina

Gary and Steve on the tee with Jonathan, Eugene, Salieu, and Paul

Moe and Alex on the 17th of the North

Sabrina and Grace are all smiles

John watches the elegant ball flight of Sabrina’s lay-up on the 15th

Mika ready to unleash on the 17th tee

Younger brother Alex has a loaded position at the top

Shaking hands with the kids and sending them away with a participation certificate and a few goodies to commemorate the event.

Konnor and Daniel

Sabrina and Konnor

One last bit of business to thank the volunteers, the golf staff, and the organizers for putting this together.  And most important, thanking these adorable and talented kids for being part of this memorable day.

One last infectious smile for the memory bank

Special thanks to Connor Farrell, Steve Keller,  Moe Dweck, and Roger Brown and the professional golf staff for all the hard work in assembling this event.  Thanks to Woodmont Country Club for graciously hosting this and the First Tee of Greater Washington D.C. for hooking us up with these awesome kids.

First Tee Greater Wash LogoRespect-Perserverance-Honesty-Integrity-Courtesy-Responsibility-Sportsmanship-Confidence-Judgement

August, 2018

If you have any corrections to the captioning please email them to moedweck@comcast.net

The President’s Putter

A perfect English January day for golf at Rye Golf Club (photo from http://www.GolfClubAtlas.com)

This is not what you think-The Donald has nothing to do with this.

Actually this is probably one of the most authentic golf competitions in history.  It is  an eccentric annual affair between alumni of Cambridge and Oxford that has been going on since 1920 at The Rye Golf Club in Rye, East Sussex every January.  Those eligible to play are current and former alumni of the universities thus the golfers are usually amateurs and ages may vary between 20 and 70 years. It is as much a reunion as a golf competition.

The tournament is played by scratch match play and the winner receives a silver medal in exchange for their winning ball.  Over it’s storied 90 years, this event has attracted some of the greatest amateur golfers in Britain.  Past winners include five time tournament winner Roger Wethered, Cyril Tolley and Charlie Rotheroe.   The famous golf writer Bernard Darwin won the fifth Putter in 1924 and was a regular in this event into the late 1950’s.  Donald Steel, a famous British golf course architect and writer, is one of only three guys who have won the President’s Putter three times since World War II.

You are probably wondering why anyone would hold such a championship in the balmy weather of January in England.  Donald Steel says, “The tournament is probably best known for defying the elements but that is overdone. It is a genuine match play competition in which no effort is spared. My successes were based on a love of Rye, a good blood circulation and the ability to improvise. Otherwise, the playing attributes are no different to those in any other form of competitive golf. Good driving and a nifty short game were certainly no hindrance.”

A rarity occurred in 2010 and that was that the playing of President’s Putter was delayed a few weeks due to weather. (Photo from http://www.GolfClubAtlas.com)

They did manage to get the tournament played in 2010, albeit the third week in February, but they got it in.

This competition is “serious fun” and it adheres to the true spirit of the game says Steel, “You play hard. You play fast. But above all, you play to have fun”.

If you own a copy of “Following Through-Herbert Warren Wind on Golf” you can read his wonderful essay “An Entirely Different World: The President’s Putter” which he wrote after witnessing the event for the first time in 1971.  Typical Herbert Wind genius, he captures the unique flavor of the event and the hearty character of those who make this such an interesting tradition.  He says of their determination to play this event in the coldest, most inhospitable time of the year, “Because they are English, by and large, born eccentrics……..In no other people do you find that streak of masochism which sneers at the uncomfortable and revels in the hazardous”.

For more on this incredible annual event click to check out this GolfClubAtlas article about The Presidents Putter by David Normoyle.

July, 2018