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Even Though I Lost This Match, Match Play is Still My Favorite Form of Golf

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
Categories: GolfHackers
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Bonneville Golf Course Aerial Photo by Tony Korologos

Bonneville Golf Course Aerial Photo by Tony Korologos

Yesterday I played my 3rd round of net match play for the 2016 Bonneville men’s club. Any rounds at this point are gravy since I’ve gotten my entry fee back. Today’s match was against a very good player, a 1-handicap. After blowing at 8-iron over the green on the par-5 first hole in two, I went one-down with a par. On the 2nd I 3-jacked (not normal for me) to go two-down. If I didn’t get my ass in gear this was going to be the world’s quickest 9-hole net match…

Fortunately I made two good shots to get to about 15 feet for birdie on the tough par-4 3rd. Made the putt to go 1-down.

My opponent, knowing I was getting a pop on the 4th hole, made about a 40 foot bomb for birdie to tie my net birdie. Still 1-down.

On the par-5 5th my opponent made an impressive par after hitting his drive in the lateral hazard to the right. My net birdie put the match back to even.

I screwed up on the par-3 6th. My opponent missed the green and made bogey. I ran my birdie putt by too far, too aggressive. Missed the downhill come back putt. Still even. Should have been 1-up.

On the par-4 7th I hit a killer approach right at the pin from 125. Hit landed, went up to the hole, then spun back about 25 feet. Bad luck there. Opponent makes birdie and I go 1-down.

On the short par-4 8th (about 330ish?) my opponent actually waited for the green to clear before teeing off. He made it to just short. I don’t have that shot in the bag so I hit my best shot of the day, a solid 4-iron. I hit an okay approach to about 20 feet and said “Houston, we have a problem.” A player as good as my opponent should make birdie from so close to the green and that’s just what he did. My birdie putt to extend the match just missed.

Game over.

In the most entertainming moment of the match my opponent shook my hand and said, “nice match, Troy.”

Ouch.

He realized the name mistake and apologized, but not after I gave him some grief.

On the 9th, playing for fun, I made birdie. Of course…

I shot even par for the nine holes and lost 2-down. My opponent shot 3-under. I don’t feel too bad. That’s some damn good golf being played.

Even though I lost today, match play is still my favorite form of golf.

Not much time to think about this match. This afternoon I play my gross match, against a pro who is one of the best players in the association.


Golf Cigar Aficionado – Lobotomy by Asylum

Written by: Tony Korologos | Sunday, July 3rd, 2016
Categories: CigarsGolf LifestyleReviews
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The weekend grudge match today started out rough, pun intended.  I had a new partner and he pretty much carried me the whole front nine.  Despite his heroic efforts we were two-down starting the back.  I knew I had to pull out the big guns for us to have a chance at coming back.

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The latest in the cigar review queue is the Lobotomy by Asylum, courtesy of Famous Smoke shop.  I was playing so bad I felt like I’d had a lobotomy.  Could this stogie help bring my game back?  After analysis of the Lobotomy slogan I was liking my chances:

“With a strength profile that will shock your receptors back to normal, and a flavor as complex as a Rorshach Test, these cigars will ease your stress and help you relax like never before. Get your Lobotomy now. Er… Asylum Lobotomy that is.”

Lobotomy Info

Strength: Medium-full
Filler: Aged cuban seed tobaccos
Wrapper: Nicaraguan

As usual, I gave my opponents the opportunity to surrender before I powered up the Lobotomy.  Their mistake was not accepting the offer.  Upon my enjoyment of the Lobotomy, my game improved greatly and my partner and I scratched out a tie when it had looked like we were dead and buried.

Lobotomy isn’t one for the weak.  It’s a bold cigar.

Bold is what just what the neurosurgeon ordered.


Review: Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
Categories: Course ReviewsGolf Course ArchitectureGolf CoursesGolf For WomenHOG World TourReviewsTravel
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Dornoch, Scotland born Donald Ross began his golf career as an apprentice to Old Tom Morris at the Old Course in St Andrews. Old Tom was the greenskeeper for the Old Course in St Andrews and had designed many of the most famous courses in Scotland and the UK including Carnoustie, Prestwick, Muirfield, Machrihanish, Jubilee, and Balcomie Links. I’ve played a few of those.

Ross moved to the United States in 1899 where he began arguably the most successful architectural career in the history of golf. Ross is credited for designing 600 golf courses. Amongst those 600 are some of the world’s most famous and respected courses, which still stand the test of time. A few of Ross’s most notable courses include Pinehurst No. 2, Seminole, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills. A couple of others I like to add to the list are ones I’ve had the pleasure of playing, Burning Tree and Aronimink Golf Club. Ross’s courses are known for being natural and taking advantage of the lay of the land, not the “earth mover” type of golf architecture.

Donald_Ross_Course_French_Lick

The Ross Course at French Lick opened for play in 1917 and has recently undergone a $5 million renovation to bring it back to Ross’s original design. Golf courses, like living beings, grow and change over time. In the renovation, bunkers which lost their nearly 100 year battle with the elements and nature were restored to their original specifications.

Overview

The Donald Ross course at French Lick is a par-70. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it is short or easy. In fact, the course clocks in at 7,030 yards which is long even for a par-72 course. The rating from the tips (the Gold Tees) is a strong 72.3 with a slope of 135. A solid test of golf. To accommodate players of all abilities and ages, there are four total sets of tees, the shortest measuring 5,050 yards.

Tee

The way each hole presents itself from the tee of the Ross course is so visually appealing.  The landscape is hilly and features some very large elevation changes.  The tees challenge the golfer to execute an accurate shot or find strategically placed penal areas including bunkers, hazards, long native grassy areas, and trees.  Some tee shots are blind and the help of some course knowledge or at the least, a local caddy is a great thing to have.

French_Lick_Donald_Ross_Course_05

The numerous sets of tees are not boringly arranged on one flat piece of ground a few yards apart.  Rather, each tee set offers the golfer different yardages, elevations, and angles to the target.  Regular golfers could create a very different playing experience by simply changing tees from round to round, or even making up their own combo set.

Fairway

The fairways at the Ross course are welcomingly wide.  That said, there are very few flat areas on the property.  The golfer will be challenged to hit a straight from the fairway due to the undulations and uneven lies.

French_Lick_Donald_Ross_Course_08

Strategically placed bunkers can and will penalize shots which are not placed in the fairway.

Green

Donald Ross is well known for his amazing greens at courses like Pinehurst, Oakland Hills, Aronimink.  Ross’s greens at French Lick are truly amazing; the prime feature of the golf course.  Many of the greens feature the Ross trademark “upside down soup bowl” design, where any shot or even putts too close to the edge are rejected and end up rolling off into collection areas or false fronts.  Those upside down bowl greens (photo below) present some very difficult challenges in the short game.  The player can try hitting a high soft shot, bumping a low shot into the hill and onto the green, or my default choice which is putting.    Getting up and down from greenside at the Ross Course is an accomplishment.

Donald_Ross_Course_French_Lick_05

In fact, getting in the hole in two putts is an accomplishment.  Due to the undulations, slopes, tiers and bowl edges, putting the Ross greens is the biggest challenge of the entire golf course.  A two-putt on any green feels like a birdie.  3-putts can actually be a solid play.

Stay below the hole at all costs.  Because of the speed of the greens and the incredible slopes and undulations, shots which end up above the hole are most often dead.  Stay below the hole, even if that means missing the green short.

Clubhouse

The clubhouse at the Ross Course oozes history and class.  The pro-shop is full of great equipment and apparel and a great staff who are extremely helpful and pleasant to interact with.

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Hagen’s Restaurant has a large indoor and outdoor seating area (right side of above photo).  I enjoyed great food and great service between rounds on a 36-hole day.  Hagen’s is named after Walter Hagen, who won the PGA Championship there in 1924.

Practice Area

The Ross course has an adequate putting/chipping area with a fantastic view (first photo), and very close to Hagen’s to insure the frosty beverages are topped off.

One drawback to the Ross and my only critique: there is no driving range.

Conclusion

The Ross Course is a pristine gem, full of history and personality.  It will challenge golfers of all abilities and especially those like me, who consider themselves good putters.  Be sure to plan a trip to French Lick to experience this historic golf course.  The French Lick Pete Dye course (review coming soon), the Ross Course, and the French Lick Resort and Casino make for a tremendous golf buddy trip.


Golf Psych 101: Competition

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, June 24th, 2016
Categories: GolfHackersMiscellaneous

swing_thoughts brainAt the time my handicap was the absolute best I was playing with a group of eight guys, none of whom was higher than a 5-handicap.  In the group there was a zero and a bunch of 1’s and 2’s.  It was a tough group.  If you didn’t bring your A-game, you had to make sure you brought your A-TM game.   I really loved the competition level and intensity of those years, and I think playing in that group helped me improve and play at a high level, for an amateur.  I was playing 4-5 times per week as well, which I’m sure helped. My handicap got as low as a 0.9.

Unfortunately that group dissolved.  I still play with some of those guys, a time or two a year.

Fast forward 10-15 years to now.  Because of where I am in life (translation: day job, wife, 3-year old, limited time), I can’t play 4-5 times per week.  I’m only able to play two times, and perhaps a 3rd time if I’m lucky.  Yes it sounds crazy that I say “only,” because many amateurs play once a week, once a month, or maybe a few times a year.  I realize despite a 50% drop in rounds, I play more than probably 90% of amateur golfers.   Playing less does not help my game.  Winter around here in northern Utah hurts the game as well.  Nothing hurts your feel and crispness as much as a six month frost delay.

But now that summer is here I’m past the spring rust phase.  I’m also playing quite a bit right now.  It’s not cold either.  Many of the reasons or excuses I could use for not playing well are not useable.  Up until about 1.5 weeks ago, I’ve struggled to break 80 with many rounds around 85.  Why?  If I knew that, I would fix it.

The last week and a half though, I’ve finally seemed to turn a corner.  Rather than mid 80’s, I’ve got a 74, 76, and two nine hole rounds that come in at -2 and even.  What happened?  Did I suddenly become a better golfer?  Did I change swings?  Did I put a new driver into play?  What?

So what is contributing to the better scores? I don’t feel like I’m hitting the ball much better, but I’m scoring better.  I don’t feel like my abilities have suddenly changed.  What has changed is my “playing environment.”  I’ve changed from the casual buddy group to the more intense competitive match play and tournament rounds.  Also played 18 with a different group a couple of days ago, all who hit the ball as far or farther than me and could clean my clock on any given day if I don’t bring the A-game.  It seems that perhaps for a while I’ve been in a playing rut due to the group I’ve been in.  All good chaps for sure, but I’ve gotten too comfortable in the group. I’m not focused. There are higher handicap players in the group as well.  Perhaps there’s a bit of “playing to the level of the other players” going on.  Perhaps being around a higher handicapper for round after round has caused me to lose focus in my own game. Try not to interpret that as an arrogant comment. Think of another individual sport like tennis. A high level tennis player may not improve or keep his skills in top shape playing an opponent who is not at the same level. Yes one could argue that another player’s game should not affect one’s own golf game and there could be some truth to that. But I’m generally the kind of player who plays better if I’m around better players.

So where does that put me if the above analysis is true? Part of what makes golf enjoyable is the camaraderie of playing with friends. Perhaps the approach should be to keep the serious golf on the schedule, and play the casual and less intense rounds with the buddies now and then too.

Or maybe all that is a bunch of nonsense and I’m just playing better now. It could just be the phase of the moon or because I put my left sock on first instead of the right one this past week. Wait, I think maybe the better play is because of better underwear scripting…


Proper Threads – Devereux Andrew Polo Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf GearGolf Lifestyle
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“Proper Threads”

I love that statement. It seems many golf apparel makers are going for shock value, and becoming less and less classy and sophisticated. Those flashy products may be hot for short period, but become passe quickly. Conversely, a product like Devereux with it’s simple and elegant styles, stands the test of time.
Devereux_polo

The simple and stylish Andrew polo, part of the “72 Collection,” is certainly not one where the user needs to know where the replacement batteries go.  The $75 Andrew is sharp, classy, elegant, and easy to put together in all sorts of apparel scripts.

“A closet filled with big bright in-your-face colors and dizzying patterns that SCREAM will not transform you from dud to stud. Oftentimes, the reverse is true.” ~Devereux

Colors/Sizes

The Andrew comes in four colors: steel (pictured above), aqua, coral, navy.  Each color easily pairs up with numerous short/pant combinations.  I recommend pairing the Andrew up with the Devereux Martin Shorts (review coming soon).

Sizes for the Andrew polo: small, medium, large, extra large, double extra large.

Specs

  • Oxford Performance Knit
  • Swing Free Tailoring
  • Spread Collar
  • Grosgrain Detail
  • Heather Effect
  • 60% Pima Cotton // 40% Polyester

On The Course

I’ve had the Andrew in play for many rounds this golf season, in some very different conditions.  Earlier in the spring I put the Andrew through the colder temps here in northern Utah.  Then a trip to Indiana had me testing out the polo in high humidity and 97 degrees.  And just this week I wore the polo for a round in which the air was extremely dry and the temperature at the end of the round was 104.  In those varying conditions the polo performed well and stayed comfortable.

During the golf swing some poorly designed polos can bunch up, pull, tug, and come untucked.  The Andrew’s cut keeps me comfortable.  Even with my violently spastic golf swings the polo stays in place.

The Andrew is great to wear while writing golf blog posts at HOG world headquarters, or when out on the town.  It can work great in business casual situations.

Conclusion

The Andrew polo by Devereux is a solid performer on and off the course.  It exceeds my strict requirements for golf polos: performance, comfort, style, and easy care.  Set your apparel script up with some proper threads.

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