Pop quiz: What’s the first thing golf courses who just switched to a new automated sprinkling system do?
For decades Bonneville Golf Course here in Salt Lake City, Utah has been the most popular public course in the state and for good reason. It is awesome. For decades the course has been known for being a “hard and fast” course which calls for the player to accurately calculate approach shots, landing them at just the right place. Some shots needed to hit short and bounce up in order to stay on the putting surface.
Commonplace at Bonney now… bring your divot tool.
Over this summer the course has switched from manual, hand-watering to a new automated irrigation system. The change is done and the new sprinklers are working, really well. The course is as green as ever but it is very, very different. The greens are no longer the fast and hard greens I’ve grown to love (and hate in a good way on some days). They’re country club soft. Shots which once would bounce over the green when hitting the front half are now backing up. On the 3rd hole, a green which is very hard to stick, I hit a wedge to the middle of the green and spun it back off and down the hill. On #10 I did the same thing, hitting the middle of the green then spinning entirely off the surface.
Some shots this softness has helped though. I hit an 8-iron to the par-5 first, a back pin. My shot flew to the back pin, hitting about a foot short of the flag. Normally that shot would bounce over the green and leave an impossible downhill chip. Instead, I had a 15″ eagle putt.
The speed of the greens is considerably slower right now. This could of course be a factor of the blade length of the mowers, or it could be that they’re just slower because they’re more moist. Those of us who are used to “Bonney” speed and the fine and tough breaks those fast greens produces are now befuddled by putts which come up short and don’t break.
I’m not saying the change is good or bad. It’s just, “different.” The strategy has changed. Rather than hitting shots with the goal of hitting the front or even in front of the green, one must think pin high and go even longer than that. I’m finding that any club less than an 8-iron requires getting the to-the-pin yardage and aiming 10-15 feet past it.
Welcome to the new Bonneville.
Yay! It’s Presidents Cup week. This event is a competition between a USA team of golfers pitted against an international squad of players who are not Ryder Cuppers. So it’s basically the USA versus anyone but europe.
I’ve been waiting all year to watch this event. Okay, maybe not. I actually have no interest in this event whatsoever. I’m curious to know if any of you HOG patrons out there do care about this event? After all, the USA team has won it every time since the inception of this red-headed stepchild of the Ryder Cup, except for 2003 when the event was tied.
Actually I think the 2003 Presidents Cup was the last one I watched.
College football season is here (as is pro football of course) and that’s where my interests lie at this time of year, especially since my Utah Utes are now ranked #5 in the country.
Anything interesting happen in professional golf over the last few weeks? Actually, I wouldn’t know much other than Jordan Spieth set the record for most prize money ever, at somewhere around $22 million. He won the
FedEx Cup Reset Cup. When I saw him play as an amateur at the age of 16 (picture) I was sure he was amazing, but had no idea anyone could rake in that kind of dough in prize money in one year.
Yes, a great year. Player of the year for sure. I have/had no interest in the Reset Cup.
Recently Comcast, or as I like to call them “Crapcast,” doubled my TV bill. That was the deciding factor in my cutting the cable and going to NO TV. None. No golf. Nothing. It has been quite nice.
Though I’ve attended and covered many professional “tour” events, I find it quite uninteresting to watch other people play golf, as good as they may be. I’ve watched many greats up close and personal including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Jordan Spieth, Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy, Chi Chi Rodriguez, John Duval (I know what I’m typing), Lee Trevino…. dozens of others.
The pros are great but after I watch them hit a few shots in person I realize one thing:
I’d rather play golf than watch other people play it.
There are some occasions where that’s not the case. The Masters? I’d rather watch it. British Open? Watch it. U.S. Open? Maybe. PGA Championship? Meh. Presidents Cup? Not interested. Ryder Cup? Okay, I watch that…
Where am I going with this drivel? This is a blog. I don’t have to go anywhere. As much as I’ve struggled this year with my game and my attitude, I’ve not watched much golf nor played as much. My last round, one of those nuggets the golf gods throw struggling golfers, might keep me in the game for a bit. Even par. Kind of like making a blackjack on the last hand in Vegas, that round will get me coming back, but golf hasn’t fooled me this time.
Yesterday I played a round of golf at one of my all-time favorite courses here in northern Utah, Valley View Golf Course. Valley View is a tree-lined course, always plush and healthy, with a lot of very interesting elevation changes. It’s a fairly difficult course as well.
I’ve been struggling so bad with my game lately that I’ve been fantasizing about quitting golf. As a (now former) 1 handicap I had some real struggles and couldn’t even break 80 for a whole month. Very frustrating, and I was beginning to feel like I was wasting my time on the course.
Then out of the blue yesterday at VV I shoot an even-par 72, including a double bogey on the par-3 16th. I made birdie on the 18th to get it back to even. The only other real booboo besides the 16th was making par on the par-5 2nd, when I was chipping from the back of the green for eagle, about 20 feet from the pin. A bad chip led to a par.
So I shot even par. I guess that means I won’t be quitting the game this week. I feel like the game knows your state of mind, and throws you a little tiny nugget at just the right time. It’s like gambling in Vegas. You lose your ass and that one small win keeps you there, giving you hope.
So I’ll be staying in the game this week at least but you can’t fool me, golf. I know what you’re doing.
This time of the year my game is usually as dialed in as it is all year long. By now I’ve overcome spring rust and had tons of rounds and range sessions over the summer to fine tune my swing and my feel. This is also the time of year I whine and snivel about the pending winter snow, and the following several months in which golf in my area (Salt Lake City) is closed or just too damn cold to play.
This year it is different.
My game is not at that fine tuned level this time around. I’m shooting my worst scores of the season, struggling to play to the level of a 15-handicap, not the usual 1-handicap I’ve been for a couple of decades. Despite feeling like I have as much power as ever and despite feeling like I’m hitting solid shots, I’ve been very disenchanted with my game. In fact, I’ve become disenchanted with the game of golf. During my struggles and rounds over the last couple of months I’ve found myself fantasizing about quitting golf, entirely. Forever.
In order to play at a level in which I can feel somewhat satisfied I need to play golf four to five times per week or as Tiger would put it, get in my reps. I’ve been fantasizing about all the things I could do instead of all that time spent hitting a ball with a stick–all the ways I could be more productive in my work or have fun with my family. I’ve been fantasizing about doing something different than golf, like my latest passion of building and flying drones and aerial photography/video.
This year as winter comes around the corner, I I’m welcoming it. I’m frustrated with my game and deep down know I can’t play any better than I currently do, given that I only have the time to play 18-27 holes per week. When I do play I become frustrated and emotionally fragile, with the smallest mistake or penalty able to crush what little confidence I have.
This year is different.
I’m at a crossroads in golf I feel. I’ve loved the game for many years but the realist in me knows the game can’t be mastered and it is not likely for me to get better without making a serious effort which I’m not sure I’m able to make. I’m also feeling a bit of a grudge toward the game. I’ve put so much into golf over much of my life, but the game relentlessly beats me up and will never ease up. I nearly walked off the course a couple of times in the last month or so, out of frustration. I’ve been close to selling my gear on ebay and shutting down this blog. 10 years has been a good for HOG run no doubt. I’m what I would call an “absolutist.” If the day comes that I do quit, that will be the end.
This weekend I had a small glimmer of hope, like the flat part of the golf course with the flag in it Robin Williams talks about, “just to give you hope.” I have some new irons which I feel better about and have tried to lower my expectations and accept what state my game, my psyche, and my emotions are in. I also have been trying to be less hard on myself for my mental mistakes and physical errors.
Right now I’m in a fog, or as snooty Californians call it, a “marine layer.” Perhaps the fog will clear, just in time for winter. Perhaps not. Maybe it will get worse. After all, in golf no matter how bad it gets, it could always get worse.
My frustration in the game has made it harder for me to get excited about blogging about golf. I must be interested to keep doing this. Plus, changes in Google and the SEO the big golf media outlets have implemented have knocked my revenue from this blog down to nothing. So I’m back to deciding whether I keep doing this for the “love of the game.” It sure as hell isn’t for the money.
Maybe the five-hour rounds, the difficulty of the game, and the cost are finally getting to me. Or maybe my golf fog is a reflection of my personal and work life frustrations. What came first, the chicken of the egg? Maybe it’s time for a midlife crisis and I should go buy a Porsche and get it over with. Hell. I don’t know and I’m not sure it matters. I’m golfing now almost out of habit, and wanting to still be with a couple of my golf friends who I normally would not see. Most of my competitive groups have dissolved. People have quit, died, moved away.
I’ve become very jaded and tired of the standard golf media as well. It’s an endless stream of hot tour wives and girlfriends garbage along with stupid initiatives to “grow the game” which will never work.
Gear wise I’m really tired of the equipment release cycles too, and “this is our longest driver EVER!!!” advertising campaigns. Really? Why don’t you tell me EXACTLY HOW MUCH LONGER IT REALLY IS then?
Just like my fantasy of quitting golf, I dream of unplugging Facebook and Twitter and turning off the endless drivel coming out of the golf world. I get as excited about a new “longer” driver as I get about a new brand of laxatives. In fact, at my age the laxatives might just be more interesting and are certainly more useful than spending $499 to gain 100th of a millimeter in distance.