Here’s today’s shirt scripting, courtesy of the fine golf apparel and lifestyle brand Bobby Jones.
Stableford Jacqard Luxe Polo by Bobby Jones
This is a fantastically comfortable cotton polo which I’m wearing for the 2nd time now. Today’s post is an introduction to give me time to fully review this polo on the course and out on the town. Stay tuned for my full review soon. Along with this polo I have a pair of trousers and an unreal mint green jacket which I’ll be covering during Masters week. Stay tuned.
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.
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.
Kingsbarns Golf Links Review
Balcomie Links Golf Course, Crail Scotland
Fairmont Hotel St Andrews Review
Ardgowan Hotel St Andrews Review
We have a mini heat wave right now in northern Utah with the temperature spiking to 64 degrees today. It has been a brutal winter, with more snow this year than at least the last 4-5 years. We’ve been buried. The skiers love it, as they should.
One of my home courses, River Oaks, opened for play a couple of days ago. With the snow having just melted off, the ground is still muddy and there’s goose crap everywhere. The grass is dormant and the greens slow and bumpy. Still after 95 days it was nice to simply get away from the office, the desk, the keyboard, the mouse, the code writing… and walk 12 holes in the outdoors.
I’m attempting to approach the game different this year, focusing more on enjoying the experience than the scores or the handicap. I’m not sure how much mental strength I have to do that or how long that attitude might last, but that’s the goal, to rediscover golf. I soured on the game a bit last year.
As expected I was a bit rusty but did manage to make a couple of birdies in 12 holes, and knocked one tee shot on the par-3 3rd to about four feet. I have some kind of game which is better than the average hack, if not just because I was a professional drummer for decades and I have killer eye-hand coordination. It certainly isn’t because of raw golf talent or having a naturally beautiful golf swing, because those things I do not possess.
It was nice to get out and whack the white spheroid around with a long time buddy, and to meet a couple of other players along the way.
So far my quest to rediscover golf is on track. I didn’t quit the game on my first round of the year and I intend to play at least another round. It’s a start.
The last round of golf I played was November 15th, 2015. Shortly after that date I tweaked my back very badly and was hobbled for nearly a month. I probably wouldn’t have played much during that period of time anyway because it just gets too cold here in northern Utah, unless global warming flares up.
Tomorrow’s forecast here is a crazy 62 degrees and the snow is melting fast. I will join up with my buddy Dan and who knows who else at 2:30 for a 9-hole walking round on the front nine of one of my three home courses, River Oaks. I’ve just spent some time transferring my sticks and other golf bag stuff to my newest golf bag (pictured). I can already tell the carry design of this bag isn’t great. The straps come too close together, making it hard to get my arm through. We’ll see how long this bag lasts.
I’ll also start on my testing of literally dozens of golf accessories, balls, apparel, and clubs which have been patiently waiting in HOG World Headquarters. It’s going to take a while to catch up.
For tomorrow’s nine I don’t expect much from my game as I haven’t hit a real ball in some 95 days. I just hope to survive the round, loosen up, and see if I can start to make progress on my single golf goal for 2016: