One of my three home courses is Bonneville Golf Course, the most popular golf course in Utah. It’s great municipal course with tremendous greens, some nice elevation changes, and oddly, NO fairway bunkers anywhere. The only course I’ve ever seen that does not have a single fairway bunker.
Yesterday was my first round on this course for 2016. I started off nicely with a birdie on the first hole, a reachable par-5. I also made birdie on #10 and the par-5 16th. I had a bunch of bogeys and one double, not surprising since it was my first full round of 18 holes since about five months ago. All that added up to a +6 78 from the black tees. A somewhat respectable score so early in the season.
This was my first full round of on-course testing of the new Harry Taylor wedges. That’s taking some getting used to. I’m not hitting them as far as my old wedges yet. That could be due to spring rust, different grinds and/or different shafts on them. I did make a couple of very nice chips however, so that’s nice.
I’m trying to approach this season with a different attitude. Last season I let the game’s frustrations get the best of me to the point of nearly quitting. I lived and died on each shot, rather than just being out there and enjoying some fresh air and green grass. I’m sure I’ll still have frustrations but I’m going try and focus less on score and individual shots, and more on the overall experience.
We’ll see how long that lasts.
I didn’t walk the course yesterday as my playing partner always rides in a cart. I do need to walk more to get in better shape, and to get ready for the upcoming Scotland trip. Plus it will save a few bucks. By walking I could basically save enough in cart fees to play three walking rounds of golf for the cost of two riding.
Below is a photo I Tweeted from the 8th tee. Look at the fabulous green fairway in the foreground and the snow covered Mount Olympus in the background!
Somehow I managed to squeeze $12 out of my two opponents, despite giving up shots and/or a tee box. It was a nice day and nearly 70 degrees which is not normal for March here in northern Utah. I’ll take it. Bring on the global warming.
Sometimes it can be hard to identify your balls. It’s especially bad to get your balls mixed up with someone else’s. To avoid problems like that I’m testing out a new ball stamper from StampYourBalls.com. Check it out.
On the first tee I stamped my ball with a scottish flag – lovely
Since I love Scotland so much I chose the Scottish flag as one of my stamps. I have a few others which are quite entertaining. Watch for those soon. There are currently 130 designs to choose from.
The stamp is easy to use and the imprint is very crisp on the ball. I was quite surprised. Of course the big question is how long will the imprint last. Below is a shot of the same ball after the round. The photo is a bit washed out by the sun so it looks like more of the ink came off than really did. And yes, I played the whole round with one ball.
A little bit of the ink is worn off, but quite impressive after a full round
I’ll do some more testing of all the stamps in various colors, and post my full review soon. On first impressions this is a fun product which will help keep my balls properly accounted for.
Golf gearhead drool warning. Have a bib ready for this one. I just got in some fantastic looking wedges from Harry Taylor Golf.
Harry Taylor Golf Wedges
Previously, Harry Taylor was a club designer at TaylorMade, Mizuno, and Founders Club. He’s now making his own wedges and as you can see by the images I’ve shot, they look sweet.
Harry Taylor Golf Wedges
I’ve got a full set of these wedges to test: 52-56-60. These are going straight in the bag and I will start hitting them next week, weather permitting. As I do with all of my golf club reviews, I’ll be spending a lot of time playing these on the course before I post my detailed review. Until then, enjoy these pics and check out the Harry Taylor Golf website.
I just received an email asking if I ever do any golf related videos here at Hooked On Golf Blog. It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned this so be sure to visit the HOG YouTube channel, and subscribe too! Here’s the URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGolfSpace
The HOG YouTube channel currently features 450 videos. There are 672 subscribers and the channel has logged over 5,486,000 views! That’s substantial! Below are a couple of highlight videos for your enjoyment.
Oasis Palmer Course Hole #5 Reverse Flyover
Tiger Woods Driver Swing With Slow Motion
Automated Folding/Unfolding Golf Push Cart (Trolley for those of you in the UK)
Black Mesa Golf Club 16th Hole Flyover
Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club Flyover
There are a couple of videos of my baby boy in there but since his name is Seve that qualifies as golf videos… 🙂
Now that I’ve confirmed the pending third HOG World Tour trip to St Andrews, Scotland, I can’t help having Scotland on my mind. It is a magical place. Sadly 99.999% of the courses in the United States do not play like true scottish links courses. Scottish golf is a natural, hard style of golf I far prefer to the overly-soft, over-watered, too green, over-manicured courses here in the USA.
One thing most golfers who have not been to there don’t realize is that there are a ton of courses in the town of St Andrews, not just the Old Course. That’s why I’m always giving people grief when they refer to the Old Course as St Andrews. “Hey have you played St Andrews?” they ask. I say, “which course?” St Andrews is the name of the town, not the course(s). In the town itself the other courses besides the Old Course include the New Course, Jubilee Course, Eden Course, Strathtyrum Course, The Dukes, and the Balgove Course. All but the Balgove are within walking distance. In a few minutes by car one can find even more courses: Castle Course, Torrance Course, Kittocks Course, Saint Andrews Bay Course, and Kingsbarns Golf Links.
The closest course to the Old Course is the New Course. While the Old Course dates back to around 1400, the “New” Course opened in 1895. Yeah, that’s “new” alright. The New is literally next to the Old. You can miss a fairway on the Old and the ball may end up on the New, and vice versa. I don’t recommend that though, because the New is out of bounds if you are on the Old and vice versa.
New Course Overview
Old Tom Morris is the architect of the New Course. The new is a par-71 course which tips out a 6,625 yards, short by modern standards. The new has many very similar designs and feels as the Old does, but is a little more straightforward and less quirky.
The course rating is 72.8 with a slope of 127 from the tips. For those of you in the UK, the standard scratch score (SSS) is 73. The rating would make the New just a tiny bit tougher than it’s next door neighbor, the Old.
From the tee, the new presents some great challenges. The course can be a wee bit (as they say in Scotland) tight. Errant tee shots will be penalized by bunkers, deep rough and in the worst case, gorse. If you don’t know what gorse is count yourself lucky. Gorse is a very nasty dark green bush with thorns which feasts on a strict diet of golf balls and the occasional golfer. Going into the gorse after a ball is usually not a good idea, unless you like scratching the hell out of yourself and ripping your fine golf apparel to shreds.
Some tee shots can be intimidating
Given the shorter nature of this course and the typical hard ground, driver is not necessary on many of the par-4 or even par-5 holes. The longest par-5 is 518 yards. Once again, distance isn’t the most important part of the tee shot at the New. Accuracy is.
The fairways can be tight on the New Course, but fairly flat in most places. If the golfer has managed to avoid the pitfalls mentioned in the tee description, the approach from the fairway is fairly straightforward.
Left rough approach on the 18th hole
If the golfer misses the fairway but avoids bunkers and gorse, the rough can be very thick and inconsistent. Difficult lies in the rough may be tempting for the golfer to hit the hero shot, but it is often wise to be more conservative and get the ball back into play.
The greens at the New are quite different than the Old. They’re considerably smaller and less undulating but still guarded well via bunkering and adjoining gorse and rough areas.
Because of the smaller greens, the hard ground, and the ways the greens are protected by bunkering or natural obstacles, I find the greens at the New fairly hard to hit. This puts a premium on short game. A green reached in regulation is not an overly difficult two-putt proposition like the gigantic greens on the Old.
The St Andrews Links Clubhouse is a very spacious and large facility featuring the pro shop, Swilcan Restaurant and lockers with showers. I’ve enjoyed a few meals in the Swilcan Restaurant and knocked back some refreshing beverages while overlooking the 18th green. Such a great spot.
St Andrews Links Clubhouse
Next to the clubhouse is a nice practice green for getting the feel and working on short game. There is no driving range. The nearest range is a bit of a walk or very short drive to the St Andrews Links Golf Academy.
The St Andrews Links Trust sells a few different great golf packages. I highly recommend purchasing a three-day or seven-day “ticket.” These packages allow the golfer to play unlimited golf in either three days or seven days on the six Links Trust courses other than the Old. In the middle of the summer there is so much daylight that a hardcore golfer could literally play 3-4 rounds in ONE DAY. I’ve done the 3-day twice now and loved it. In one day I played 18 on the the Jubilee, 18 on the New, and a relaxing 9-holes on the Strathtyrum Course.
The New is a fantastic links style golf course. It’s a great course on its own and serves as an excellent alternative or backup for times when the golfer is not able to get a tee time on the Old Course. Plus the cost is a fraction of the Old.
I highly recommend experiencing the New Course when traveling to St Andrews to play golf. The New provides a tremendous and satisfying links experience.