Today I went to Foxwood Acres in Eighty Four Pa which is about a 50 minute drive from my house. This course plays about 6200 yards from tees that I played but can be stretched to 6500 yards and is a par of 70. As we passed the half way point of this 90 golf course trek I wrote that we had not played a course that was truly in bad shape. Well through the first four courses in the second half we have already two courses that are in very bad shape. In fact this course was in worse shape than Castle Shannon. The greens barely ran a 4 on the stimp and had many burned out places and bares spots. The fairways were mostly crab grass and tee boxes were not much better. The course did have some interesting and challinging holes but this did not make up for the bad state of the golf course. This course is fairly new and they recently added another 9 holes to make it an 18 hole golf course, but I think they should have spent the money on keeping the original 9 in better condition. I started at 8 am and course was empty and I got around in about 2 and a half hours and when I was done there was about 4 other cars in the parking lot. Needless to say there were no hot dogs. I played ok but could not muster any birdies and had 5 bogeys to shoot a ho hum 75. This is the second course now in the last week that does make me sad. This golf course is not bad from the stand point of design but obviously there is not enough poputlation to support this place and it is not likely to happen any time soon. At least I was the only one that had to suffer along with the conditions. One of the courses we were suppose to play by the name of Kings Creek in Weirton West Va. has just recently shut down and I expect this course and Castle Shannon may not be too far behind. Oh well, forty nine courses down and forty one to go.
Yesterday we went to Southeast Ohio near Steubenville to play 2 golf courses that were very different in many ways. The first golf course was Castle Shannon in Hopedale, Ohio, a wonderful lay out that was voted one of the top golf course in all of Ohio. It is about an hour and 5 minute drive from my house. Unfortunately despite being a great lay out, it has run into economic hard times, and despite an ownership change has not really caught on with the golfing public. This course was the first golf course, that I can say was really in bad shape. The “fairways” had a lot of crabgrass and the greens had some kind of blight on them that cause grassless holes all through them. Despite all this this course is so well designed and has some great holes it really did not bother me that much. Plus the price was right at 18 bucks with a cart. The greens ran at about a 5 on the stimp were not bad where there was grass. This course is about 6800 yards from the tips to a par of 71. Its possible that this course is a little too challenging but I think it is immensely fair and from the white tees it is only 63oo. I am always a little sad when I see a good golf course like this go in such decline. It is just a sign of the times but it still makes wish there was a golf course bail out plan. The hot dog at the turn was very good. I had the short game blues and shot an 82 and Pete matched that. Then we headed back toward Pittsburgh about 10 miles to Blackmoor golf course. This little trip was much more interesting than expected. First of all I was not paying attention to the gas gauge and I was only 20 miles to empty. Fortunately the next exit had a gas station and that embarassing moment was avoided. Then we had not been to this golf course in about 5 years and we got off the exit made the left hand turn and then the right and drove right into a church parking lot. Well they obviously changed some road somewhere and we did finally figure it out but we were about 10 minutes late for our tee time. Fortunately they were not busy at that time although the parking lot was pretty full, unlike the parking lot we left at Castle Shannon. So we were able to get out ok and I don’t know if it was the adrenaline rush from all the distractions but I birdied the first 2 holes. I then settled down to my regular game and bogeyed 5 of the next 7 holes. Blackmoor is an excellent track for the first 13 holes but then I guess they ran out of land or ideas, but other than the 15th hole which is a very good par 3 the other 4 holes are pretty rinky dink par 4’s. The last 2 are under 340 yards both going downhill and then uphill straight away. Blackmoor is a solid golf course otherwise, which plays about 6400 yards from the tips, and was in very good shape with greens running 5.5 on the stimp and were very smooth. I settled down on the back and shot 37 on the back for 76, and Pete shot 84. The hot dog at the turn was even better and overall we had a very nice day on a perfect weather day. Even though Castle Shannon was in such bad shape I still say these 2 golf course are worth the trip. Still struggling along but we are moving along. Forty eight down with forty two to go
THE HALF WAY POINT
Well, just past the half way point and no closer to an answer. A couple of close calls but just disappointment in the end. I have played 46 different golf course in this time and all of them have given me both pleasure and pain. None of the 46 have been in truly bad shape but there have some that were just fair. The most disappointing were the 9 burned out greens at Kennsington and they charged us full price and the fairways at Oak Tree. Since we are at the half way point lets rank the top 5 golf courses that I consider to be the best value and worth the trip. Number one and two are Millcreek South and Millcreek North, two great fair golf courses that are just about perfect. Number 3 is the recently played Yankee Run which is a great course with some great golf holes. Number 4 is Beaver Creek Meadow which is by far the easiest course on the list but the couuse is just plain beautiful with some great landscaping around the course. Copeland Hills and Quicksilver are a fifth place tie depending on the condtion of the course. If that is the same then I give Copeland the edge but that could be a little iffy at times depending on the weather conditions. Honorable mention goes to Lake Arthur, Scenic Valley, Highland Springs, and Castle Hills. You can not go wrong going to any of those golf courses. The top 5 hot dogs at the turn were, Firestone Farms, Linden Hall, Fort Cherry, Indian Run, and Hartmans. Remember don’t get a hot dog at Tam O, Shanter. Its been fun visiting some old courses that I haven’t played for awhile and playing some courses that I have never played before. Hopefully the process will speed up a little bit. We had a horrible spring so maybe we will get a break in the fall and be able to play well into November and December. Certainly not any closer to an answer but will continue on this double quest. I still believe that there is an easier way to play this game but maybe it won’t be discovered until the mid 2000’s who knows. Let the second half begin.
Yesterday we went past the half way point with courses number 45 and 46. The first course we played was Oak Tree Country Club in West Middlesex Pa which is about an hour and 20 minute drive. Oak Tree use to be a private club but went public about 7 years ago. This course plays about 6600 yards from the tips, playing to a par of 71 and the greens ran about a 5.5 on the stimp and were very smooth. What wasn’t very smooth were the fairways. There were bare spots all over the place on just about every fairway. This is a very nice lay out with many interesting and challenging holes but the fairway condition was very disappointing to say the least. Being a former country club they still ask more to play there than the normal rate in this area and so because of the condition of the fairways I would have to say this course was not worth the trip. Even with the senior rate it was 35 dollars with a cart. Today Pete’s nephew played with us and group over all played pretty well. I shot 82, Pete shot 81 and Matt had a 90. The hot dog at the turn was just fair with a shortage of condiments, no onions. Next we headed up the road into Ohio to play Yankee Run, a true public course. First of all the senior rate was 20 bucks with a cart. The course was in excellant shape with greens running a 5.75 on stimp and again were very smooth. This course plays 6500 yards from the tips to a par of 70. This is another well designed course with many interesting and challenging holes. This course is just about an hour and half drive from my house which puts it at the tip of the distance chart but is worth the trip. There are other courses in this area that you could team up with this course to make a very enjoyable 36 hole day. The hot dog a the turn was very good and they even had purple onions and very good mustard, yummy. The group played pretty well again. I shot 77, Pete a 79 amd Matt an 87. My putter was bulky all day and the chipping wasn’t much better. If your short game is off you are not going to score anything great. A lot of wasted drives today. We are just past the halfway point and no closer to an answer but I think the answer is somewhere in the deep recesses of my pea brain. Forty six down and forty four to go
Today I played Indian Run in Avella Pa. which is about a 40 minute drive from my house. This was the course we were going to team up with Highland Springs but a thunderstorm and rain shortened our day. I joined up with a twosome and we got out at around 7:30 am. Indian Run plays about 6300 yards from the tips with the greens running a very nice 6.5 on the stimp and were in excellent condition. These were probably the smoothest greens I have putted all year. The course is somewhat like a links course but the 11 and 12 holes are tree lined. The course overall was in very good shape with the fairways and roughs very good. This course has had some issues with their neighbors recently and had to change the 18th hole from a downhill drivable par 4 to a slightly uphill 150 yard par 3 which took a little of the charm out of the course. The 18th was a great risk reward hole and now is just a little routine par 3. Even with that, this is a solid little golf course and definitely worth a 60 minute drive. The hot dog at the turn was delicious and the lady that served it was just as friendly as you could be. Obviously my cold/respiratory illness is better. I put myself on some antibiotics and although I am still not 100 % I am getting stronger everyday. I shot a nice solid 76 even though I missed a couple of short putts and because of a bit of luck I am back to high tech. I was at St Clair Country Club on Wednesday in an outing and won via a raffle a Taylor Made driver one of those with the white head. That is the first time in my life that I had won anything that expensive. I just thought the fates must be telling me something so I am back to the metal 3 wood and my Nickent irons and all that certainly seemed to help at least today. Hopefully my health continues in the right direction and we can do a 36 hole day next week. Forty four down with forty six to go almost half way home.
Today we went to Lake Arthur near Butler Pa which is a 55 minute drive from house. This course plays 6600 yds. from the blue tees and the greens ran a 5.5 on the stimp meter and were very smooth. This was suppose to be a 36 hole day but yours truly’s cold has gotten much worse and I probably should not have played at all today. After the first 18 I knew I had had it and we had to call it a day. This golf course is very nice and challenging. It is a very flat golf course which is unusual in this area and has a great variety of holes. Many of the holes are tree lined but the course is not overly narrow.The course was in very good shape but there were some real wet spots on the course so they must have a little bit of a drainage problem. This golf course is worth the trip even if you are only going to play 18 as we did today. Even the sand traps were in pretty good shape. This is one of those courses that has a lot of easy holes and then it has some fair but real difficult holes. The nicest thing about the course is the flatness which makes it easy to walk if you like to do that. The hot dog at the turn was very tasty and the onions were particularly flavorful. The group had its ups and downs today but overall played ok. I was out of it most of the day but managed an 82, Pete shot 85 and Donna had a 93. As I said my cold or whatever this is has gotten a lot worse so I am going to have to take it easy until it gets better. I did find one answer today. Don’t play golf when you feel this sick. Forty three down with forty seven to go.
Yesterday we played Quicksilver golf course in Midway Pa. which is about a 25 to 30 minute drive from my house. Quicksilver is one of the more well known golf courses in the area. The course has hosted Senior tour events and Nationwide tour events and some Open qualifiers. The course and clubhouse was renovated about 20 years ago and they did a beautiful job. The bad thing was, after the renovations they charged an arm and a leg to play the course. New owners took over the operation about 5 or so years ago and that has improved somewhat but the course is still a bit pricey. Fortunately being old we got the before 11 am Mon. through Thur. senior rate of 29 dollars with a cart. We played from the blue tees which played about 6800 yds and greens ran about a 6 on stimp. This course is pretty hilly and will give a lot awkward lies something the Senior tour did not like. I have played this course probably once or twice a year over this 20 year period and the thing that bothers me the most is sometimes this course has not been in the best of shape. Now yesterday it was in very good shape the fairway and roughs were good and the greens putted very smooth. If you are going to charge a premium price then the course should be in premium shape. This course is a pretty difficult course with some severe sloping greens and has a course rating of 73.9 with a slope of 137 against a par of 72. I only mentioned this because yesterday I had my best round of the year in relationship to the course rating by shooting a 75. On top of that I have a cold. On top of that the conditions were windy with periodic showers. Another example of how this game is just plain goofy. The hot dog at the turn was ok but nothing special. At least the ketchup and mustard didn’t look like they were handled last by 6 year olds. As with everything else at this place it was overpiced at 2.50. Is this place worth the trip? If you can get the senior rate absolutely. On their website they say its 65 with a cart on the weekend, so forget it, although they seem to have a pretty decent fall rate. Pete shot 82 and Donna had 91, again under less than ideal conditions. Who knows what happen to me today. I guess you could say that I only play well when I am dehydated or my body is being ravaged by a virus. So my plan now is to not drink any water the day before and visit lots of day care centers and get real close to kids with colds. I feel that I am getting close to an answer with this plan. Forty two courses down and 48 to go.
Yesterday we played Mannitto in New Alexandria Pa which is about a 55 minute drive east from my home. This was the first time I had played the course and it was a solid golf course. The course played about 6300 yards from the tees we played from and is about 6700 yards from the back tees, and plays to a par of 71. Ususally we play from the back tees but there is not much different from the whites except for a few holes and the par 3’s which were very long. The course was in good shape, although it seemed they had over watered in places and the greens ran a 5.5 on the stimp and were smooth. The sand traps were not in great shape which is typical of many public courses. There is two things that must cost more than I realize and that is sand and asphalt. The condition of sand traps and cart paths are usually not up to the other standards of the golf course. The price was right for the weekend 35 dollars with a cart. This course was built in the early 60’s but reminds you of a course that is a lot younger becausse there are not many trees and the course is wide open and a little stark looking on a lot holes. There is a good variety of holes and if you live within an hour of the course it is worth the trip. The hot dog at the turn was only fair and the mustard (2) and ketchup bottles looked like they had not been cleaned in a week. The group had its ups and downs. The greens were quite undulating and if you had the ball on the wrong place on the green it made putting difficult. I shot 79, Pete 77 and Donna had just one of those days where nothing goes right and had 101. It was a beautiful but hot day with low humidity which didn’t make it too bad. My struggles continue and the quest goes on. I think I have a better chance of discovering a new continent. Forty one down and forty nine to go.