Pop quiz: Is it possible to lose $21 playing golf with a $2.00 bet?
Answer: Yes, when you’re me and playing against the guy with the best short game in the world.
Yesterday was round 3 of the 2017 season for me. I have low expectations since I have now logged 3 rounds in 3 weeks and 3 rounds since November. It doesn’t even bother me that my rounds are getting worse. I know through many years of experience that it takes me a while to get my game back in the spring. That’s a great reason to move somewhere I can golf all year, but that’s a blog post for another day.
Yesterday’s round featured a match between the team of me and my buddy Arnie, and Dalton and Al. Al is a senior player closing in on 70 years old who I’ve played 100’s of times with. He has the best short game of any amateur golfer I’ve ever seen, and better than most pros. Man was that short game on display yesterday.
Al is not a long player, so he often misses greens he’s unable to reach in regulation. If he misses any green in regulation by 70 yards or less, I’d put his lifetime up and down percentage at around 75%. It was so amazing yesterday that I was hoping my putt from the fringe would be closer than his shot from 60 yards. By my calculations yesterday he failed to get up and down once out of around 14 times. That was on the 18th hole when the match was already closed out and it didn’t matter. Hehe.
At the end of the day Al had taken all the cash I had on me, $21. Nothing more fun than leaving the course with an empty wallet. But it was the cheapest short game lesson I’ve ever had and I learned a lot from him. He hit almost every shot low. Low runners. And unlike what a lot of short game experts tell you (to land the ball just on the green and have it release) he would land the ball short of the green and the ball would roll to the hole like a putt… to 1-2 feet. His release on those shots is pretty low and short too.
Inspired by Al’s short game I was able to get up and down three consecutive times on the back nine, probably a world record for me.
I must resist the lob wedge and go low and run my short games unless the situation forces a high shot. That’s a goal for this season.
Sigh. This has been a very tough review. It has taken a lot of work on the course and in a few select locations to get the testing environment setup and working well. I have overcome. The tests are complete, but I will continue followup tests of course. Let’s look at the Stage V Clinger cigar holder.
Stage V Clinger Cigar Holder, in action!
First, I dig this shade of red. It’s a college sports thing. I gave the blue unit away. Solid.
The holder has several sizes in the opening to accommodate different sizes of smokes. It can also be bent a tiny bit to adjust more. I had to do this because my humidor was working too well, and some of my cigars have been a little too soft.
The holder comes with a velcro strap to mount it onto just about anything. But the best mount feature is the two strong Neodymium magnets. Neodymium magnets are extremely powerful. From my old rock & roll and recording days I have microphones with those magnets in them… Anyway, as you can see in the photo above, any metal surface can be turned into a convenient cigar holder.
When not in use, the very light and small Stage V Clinger stows away in my golf bag. Super convenient.
Here’s a shot of the retail packaging:
The Stage V Clinger cigar holder is solid and works great. Definitely made it to the gamer bag.
I now have two rounds in the books for 2017 after a four-plus month break from playing. I did not hit a shot. After finishing last year’s handicap rounds with several scores in a row in the 70’s, and a final even-par 72, my handicap stopped at a 3. Here in northern Utah they turn the handicapping off from November to April. So my handicap has been a steady 3 since November!
My long time buddy/partner and I teamed up today in a match against two higher handicap players. We agreed to give them eight shots on the round, and promptly got our asses kicked. They haven’t played much golf either and that’s when it dawned on me. Net matches this early in the year favor higher handicap players. Hear me out.
As a rusty 3, this early in the season I’d consider breaking 80 an achievement. Shooting 75 this early in the year is not likely. I won’t be shooting mid or low 70’s for a while, until I get my my game back. So my handicap may be a 3, but I certainly will not be playing to a 3 for months. In fact, each spring my handicap usually blows up from low single digits to around a 6. Then as I card some lower rounds in the summer it goes back down.
As I witnessed today, at least in the case of the guys I played with, a higher handicap doesn’t seem to have the problem of shooting their handicap. They’re going to shoot high anyway. Odds are much higher IMO that an 18 will shoot 90 after not playing for months, than a 3 shooting 75.
So the “net” result is losing net matches early in the season until I can shoot my handicap. I don’t suppose I’ll be able to talk them into gross matches? LOL.
I just played my first round of golf for 2017. I played okay, considering I haven’t played since November. Four months. I did prove one theory I had, which is I can basically shoot 80 or break 80 will little to no practice or even not playing for months, simply relying on basic ability. I shot 80, including a double on the 17th after a plugged lie under the lip of the green side bunker. What does that mean? Not much. Many golfers strive to break 80. There have been dozens of books and training videos out there with the title “Breaking 80,” but it’s not interesting to me.
What Makes Golf Interesting, or Not Interesting to Me?
So what is interesting then about golf to me if breaking 80 isn’t? Breaking say, 76? 75? 72? Shooting in the 60’s? The fact is I’m going to probably do those things this year, even several times. While it’s nice to shoot a low number, I think feeling solid shots and being in control of what I’m doing is what makes golf interesting and fun for me. Or perhaps attempting difficult shots and having the ability to pull them off. Sometimes those things don’t equate to low numbers.
What of 2017?
So what am I doing? At the end of last season I had burned out on golf. I’d become frustrated about how stagnant it had become, and how the game itself is infinitely more difficult the better one becomes. Unlike other things that challenge me, like computer programming or building drones, golf is something that can’t be mastered. I can write a program and eventually get it to do what it is supposed to do. I can build a drone and make it fly. On rare occasion, I can put together all facets, or perhaps 3/4 of the facets of my game. Perhaps once or twice a year. Sometimes not even once in a year or two. When that happens is a mystery. One day it happens, the next day is a disaster. Unlike programming or building drones, which have incremental and tangible milestones, golf is fleeting.
I’m going to change some things for 2017. Shake it up. I went from thinking about quitting to buying a season pass to the Salt Lake City courses. I can golf any day, anytime now, even holidays on that pass. Also, I will not be renewing my membership in a club that I used to be president of for seven years, River Oaks. Things have changed there management wise, and I’m no longer able to contribute my services to the league and course in exchange for golf privileges. And probably most relevant, I burned out there.
A group I play with at my other home course is sort of dissolving. That group soured a bit, though I still enjoy playing with them once in a while, like today. I plan to try and hook up with a different group of golfers who are all very good. Loose your wallet if you don’t play well good. I also plan to use that city pass to spread my rounds across the seven courses, even the ones that
suck are lower end. I played one of them last year and it was short, quirky, and kind of ghetto for lack of a better word. It was actually fun.
Change of scenery I suppose is one of the primary focuses for 17. Changing clubs, groups, courses… and maybe it will all add up to a change in attitude.
If not, then I just dumped a bunch of money into a pass which will be a waste. I don’t like wasting things, especially money.
On my recent trip to Morocco I had the opportunity to stay at some truly special and unique places, and I’m excited to share those places and experiences. Today’s review/share is of the Villa Mandarine, in Rabat Morocco.
Before I cover the Villa itself, let’s get some geography information. Rabat is the capitol of Morocco. It is located on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, about one hour northeast of Casablanca.
The city’s population is roughly 580,000. I’ll cover nearby attractions and activities later.
Villa Mandarine Overview
Villa Mandarine is a small, secluded oasis minutes from all the action in Rabat. It’s practically in a residential area, hidden behind a wall around the edge of the property, which is traditional in much Moroccan architecture.
Inside the grounds is a practical rain forest of vegetation, immaculately maintained. The three-acre estate features 700 orange trees and tons of flowers.
Small trails wind around and lead to sitting areas, sculptures, activities, and of course the villas themselves.
There are 31 villas and 5 suites at Villa Mandarine. Each villa has a large main room, entry, large bathroom and fantastic terrace overlooking the grounds.
The quarters are very warm and welcoming, as are the hotel lobby, restaurants, and bar. The luxury rooms are so inviting and relaxing, it’s hard to decide whether to stay in or venture out to the terrace, or the grounds to soak in the mellow vibe.
If you can’t relax here, there’s probably no hope for you.
Along with the beautiful and serene gardens, guests can lounge at the swimming pool and hot tub.
If you fancy a game of ping pong, you’re covered. I had a great match with fellow golf blogger and golf buddy John Duval, from IntoTheGrain.com.
Food & Beverage
The restaurant at Villa Mandarine is fantastic. I enjoyed several meals there, featuring traditional moroccan dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are selections for every possible palette, including a kids menu. Lunch out on the terrace was particularly great, between the excellent food and the fabulous environment.
Villa Mandarine’s bar/lounge is great. Every possible drink is served and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting. I could kick myself… well I have actually been kicking myself, for not enjoying some of the Cuban cigars there.
Nearby Attractions and Activities
There is some fantastic golf nearby, at Dar Es Salaam Golf Club. Dar Es Salaam is an award winning Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design, lined with mature trees and featuring some tremendous golf holes.
In the city of Rabat one can find fantastic shopping and dining at the Medina. Be sure to rock the Kasbah. For sightseeing I recommend visiting the historic Hasaan Tower, and the Mausoleum of Mohammad V. Don’t forget to visit the Royal Palace.
Mausoleum of Mohammad V, Rabat Morocco
Last but not least, Rabat is on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Visit the beaches and you’ll see why Morocco is a well known secret haven for surfing huge waves.
A visit to Morocco should be on everyone’s bucket list. The sights, tastes, sounds, golf, and experiences will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime. Villa Mandarine fits right into that formula, providing a tremendous, welcoming, and comfortable home base.