I’ve played some competitive golf here in Utah and even won two club championships. That number should have been three, but unfortunately I had a strange situation where in one club championship I shot the lowest solo score of the day but still lost. By winning a club championship players are allowed to compete in the Utah Golf Association Tournament of Champions, which was extremely fun and challenging. That event is full of Utah golf tournament winners and club champions from courses all over the state. Playing with other competitors of such a high skill level was thrilling and I hope to do it again. All I have to do is win another club championship. Mark it down.
Meadowbrook Golf Course Aerial – click for more
My larger state tournament resume is pretty small, partly because I’ve been in somewhat of a handicap “no man’s land” zone at a two-handicap for most of the past few years. Being a two handicap puts one into the “championship flight,” playing gross against players whose handicaps range from my range to the plus threes and fours. In other words, players who typically shoot three or four under par. Some are even scholarship players at BYU, the University of Utah or other smaller schools. That four-under score might be typical for one of those college players, a.k.a. flat-bellies, but that’s the best score I’ve ever shot (68), and I only did that once. A two isn’t going to beat a plus-player very often, especially in the pressure of a tournament situation and tournament setup.
The other aspect to consider is net tournaments. I’ll beat a 10-15 handicap player gross every day of the week, but when we are talking about net tournaments I almost don’t have a chance. Plus, as sad as it is to say, many of those 10’s are really 3’s. So net competitions are seldom an option for me, a low single digit.
Salt Lake City Amateur
I have played in the Salt Lake City Amateur many times, and some other bigger state tournaments. Best finish in the Salt Lake Amateur was 2nd, and I’m very proud of that. The last couple of years I have not done terribly well because of lack of playing and the handicap creeping up.
This past year’s amateur was a bit frustrating. I was actually hitting the ball very well, but had some control problems with my irons. The irons were very inconsistent distance-wise, and in some cases I was hitting shots 30-40 yards long. It turned out the new irons I was playing were very strong in the lofts, so clubs like 7-iron were playing more like a 5-iron. It’s nice to work these things out in a tournament.
One tournament I’m thinking of competing in this coming year is the Siegfried and Jensen Utah Open. The tournament is held at Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah, a course I have yet to play. The format is a four day gross with a cut after the 2nd day. Last year’s cut was three-over-par.
Being an “Open” means pros compete in it. Amateurs compete in it as well, though if they take cash prize money they would have to turn pro to claim it. The first prize for professionals is typically $20,000 and usually the winning score is typically well into double-digits-under-par. Last year’s event was won by amateur Patrick Fishburn who carded TWO 63’s en route to a final score of 26 under par. Unreal. That was nine shots better than the next competitor, the winner of the pro division! Low pro was Zahkai Brown who was also the 2016 Champion. Zahkai came in at 17-under-par, one shot ahead of PGA Tour pro Zach Blair.
Tough competition. Why play in it? I know I would likely miss the cut. The benefit to playing would simply be the experience of the event, but with a $200 entry fee that experience comes with a price tag. That’s why I haven’t pulled the trigger on playing in the event, yet.
Local Men’s Associations
I’ve been in four different men’s associations on and off over the years, Meadowbrook (photo), Bonneville, River Oaks, and Mountain View. I’ve enjoyed those very much. This coming year I plan to compete in two leagues, River Oaks and Bonneville. My two club championships are at River Oaks. Perhaps 2018 will be my third.
In for review is the Chase54 Charter Polo. This is the first Chase54 piece to arrive at Hooked on Golf Blog World Headquarters and I’m excited to check it out.
The Charter polo features a modern-classic rugby stripe design combined with stretch material for freedom of movement and comfort. The brand’s signature DryFuze fabric technology is specially designed to transport moisture from your skin to the clothing’s exterior to stay dry during even the hottest rounds. UPF 40+ is added for sun protection.
Unfortunately right now I’m not able to take full advantage of this polo as the courses are closed and the high temperatures are double digits below freezing. This polo isn’t designed for winter. I will not be able to post my full review right away. Stay tuned come spring. Let’s hope for some heat soon!
In for review is a “Jet Pack” from GolfJet. No I’m not going to be flying around on a jet pack, or riding around in a private jet. Coach for me unfortunately. The Jet Pack is a high end package containing some premium golf balls, tees, a glove, ball marker, and a mobile app for yardages and score keeping.
GolfJet – Jet Pack
GolfJet gives subscribers the Tour pro treatment, providing them with a set of new premium golf balls, a fresh cabretta leather glove, and detailed knowledge about the course ahead of them — before each round. Think of us as your personal sponsor. Our products will help take your game to the next level. Meanwhile, the GolfJet Connect smartphone app will immerse you into a golf experience with detailed personalized numbers and data. It’s your personal digital caddy that even connects all of your friends into your own personalized tour.
Jet Packs can be purchased as one-offs, or even more fun by monthly subscription. Just when you thought you were going to run out of Golf Jet Jet3 or Jet4 golf balls, a new box arrives on your doorstep, assuming the porch pirates didn’t get to it first.
The Jet3 is a 3-piece construction ball with urethane cover. As you guessed the Jet4 is a 4-piece golf ball, also with a urethane cover. Urethane is the secret to “tour” spin and feel around the greens.
When the winter temperatures permit, I’ll put some of these jet balls and tees into play and see how they fly. Stay tuned for the full review.
This was one of those special years where I had some tremendous courses in the running for the Hooked on Golf Blog 2017 Best Golf Course award. In fact, I had to create a special category in order to award the two most deserving courses. The 2017 HOG Best Golf Course award goes to a new course in the Dominican Republic, designed by Jack Nicklaus. Drumroll please…
Punta Espada Golf Club
I was stunned by the beauty, flow, and atmosphere of Punta Espada. The golf course is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic. If that location isn’t paradise I have no clue what is. The water is the most amazing color of blue, the waves crash near most of the holes, the white sand bunkers and the deep green grass of the course provides a brilliant aesthetic balance.
This piece of land is as amazing as any waterside course I’ve stepped foot on, and I’ve been on many of the world’s best. I can’t stress enough how well Punta Espada utilizes the land. Where most waterside courses have a few holes on the water and many more inland, Punta Espada is the opposite.
Playing the course was extremely fun. It wasn’t a monster. It didn’t beat me to death but it did provide plenty of opportunities to challenge it, test my skills and test my nerve.
Far More Than I Expected
Having played many Jack Nicklaus designed courses I had a preconceived idea of what the architecture and the course would offer. I expected another “Jack course.” I didn’t get one. It wasn’t like the other Jack courses I’ve played. This was the most mature, natural, unforced, beautiful, mature Nicklaus design I’ve ever played. I knew the location would be great, but the architecture made it even better, in a natural way.
Congratulations Punta Espada and Jack Nicklaus
Major golf publications like Golf Digest and such have rated Punta Espada as the #1 course in the Dominican Republic and Latin America, and for good reason. It is truly a special place. I’m sure Punta Espada and Jack are happy about such recognition. But today I award them a far more distinguished and rare award, the 2017 Hooked on Golf Blog Best Golf Course.
Well done. Tip of the hat.
If you’re looking for a golf getaway or golf buddy trip, get to the Dominican and be sure put Punta Espada on the playlist.
Punta Espada Golf Club Review
I had a dilemma for this year’s Product of the Year for “Best Golf Course” award. This award goes to the best course I’ve played/reviewed in the previous calendar year. Typically the award is an easy one to choose, like last year’s winner Cruden Bay, in Scotland. This year’s award came down to the two best courses I played, The Loop at Forest Dunes and Punta Espada Golf Club in the Dominican republic. They’re both so different and have such different unique qualities that I couldn’t find a way to leave either one out of receiving an award. So what was my solution for this problem? Create a special award for this year which falls in the Golf Course Architecture category. This year’s winner for Product of the Year in Golf Course Architecture is… the envelope please…
The Loop at Forest Dunes, Michigan
One of my most favorite golf architects is Tom Doak. Doak is one of the most respected and famous course designers of the modern era, and he’s a bit of a mad scientist. The first Doak course I played was Stone Wall in Pennsylvania a long time ago. I loved the rugged, minimalist design and the fact that I had to play creative shots to get the ball close to the hole. Sometimes hitting a green meant aiming 20 yards left of it, or short. A few years later I had the pleasure of playing the Doak designed Ballyneal in a remote rural area in eastern Colorado on the Nebraska border. What an experience.
Years later and many Doak courses later in 2017 I played the newly opened “reversible” course in Forest Dunes, Michigan called “The Loop.” The Loop is two 18-hole courses, the Red and the Black course, but one set of 18 physical golf holes. What a fantastic and special experience.
The reversible holes were extremely interesting and ingenious. While playing one direction the player sees a certain look from the tee, and certain hazards, bunkers and sight lines. When playing the other direction the hole looks nothing like it’s opposite. Those bunkers and features which appeared going the opposite direction are completely different, and often not even visible. Instead, a new set of bunkers, features, and sight lines is presented to the player.
Hats Offf to Tom Doak and Forest Dunes
I salute Tom Doak for executing an amazing concept which had yet to be done in the U.S.A. I suspect we’ll see more reversible courses, or courses with interchangeable holes. It’s a great way to use one piece of land to offer many different playing options. And hats off to Forest Dunes for pulling the trigger as well. What an effort. I can’t wait to get back for a 2nd round on both courses!
Playing the Red and the Black was literally playing two different courses, each with its own personality and style. And they’re two very good golf courses to boot! Truly amazing and worthy of a special Hooked on Golf Blog Golf Architecture Product of the Year award.