I live in the land of “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” the home of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Last year’s snowfall was massive and I had a fantastic time with my new skis enjoying the “pow pow.” But this year has been very different. High temperatures and very little snow. The skiing is pretty bad. But with the high temps the golf courses are open. If mother nature gives me snow, I ski. If she gives me green grass, I golf.
I played my first two rounds of 2018 this past weekend, 9-holes at River Oaks and 18 holes at Hidden Valley. I made birdie on my very first hole of 2018, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. Despite there being no snow, it can still be well below freezing at times, so as you will see in the video below, the lakes on the course are frozen. That gave me a chance to play “ice skip it.” I had no idea the ball would still be spinning minutes after I hit it.
And below is a golf instructional video on how to get the ball off of an icy lake when it is too far to get with a golf club. You can thank me later.
This Trump global warming is great for my golf game. Normally all the courses here in northern Utah would be closed and under a deep blanket of snow, but instead the temps are around 50 degrees and there’s grass! So I hung up the skis and got the sticks out yesterday and played my first round of golf for 2018, a 9-holer at River Oaks. River is my former and about to be current home course again, since moved to within a wedge of the 8th tee a couple of months ago.
On the first tee I found the subject of the first 2018 “Random Stuff You Find on the Golf Course” post, someone’s toothbrush. What’s the story behind this? Was a passer by brushing his/her teeth and dropped it? Was a golfer in such a rush from his house to the first tee that he was still brushing his teeth, then so mad about hitting that first ball in the water on the right forgot to pick up the tooth brush? Did someone’s woman throw his toothbrush out the window of a nearby apartment after she found out he was using his apparent girlfriend’s toothbrush? We may never know.
Stats on the first round of 2018
I made birdie on the first hole of the year. So there’s that. I thought of quitting for the rest of 2018 at that point. I’d be -1 for the year!
That 1-putt birdie on the first hole would be the first of FIVE 1-putts for the nine holes! I managed a double along with seven pars to go with it for a surprising 36 (one over par as the front nine is a par-35). 13 putts, 1.44 putts per hole average. Found 4/6 fairways but the two I missed were only by a couple of feet.
I’ll take that for January and a cold, tight swing. Actually it wasn’t even that cold. I had to take off my beanie and my outer layer because I was too hot. I’m playing 18 today at a nice country club. I wonder if there will be any additions to the “Random Stuff You Find on the Golf Course” story there.
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 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.
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.