Because of weather, and visiting grandkids, but mostly the weather, I have not been able to play a new course for the last 2 weeks. Therefore, I thought this would be a good time to write about the search for the answer and some of the things I have looked at over the years. This blog I will cover the garbage. The things not to waste your time on in the golf instruction literature. The first thing to avoid is any of the so called golf methods. These include the square to square method, natural golf, stack and tilt, Jimmy Ballard method, swing the handle and automatic golf just to name a few. I compare method golf to weight loss diets. They help some people but they are not for everyone. The only thing you can say about both things is that who ever invents them, its puts a lot money in their wallet. Its not to say that there are not some good things in these methods but if you follow them to the letter you will always be a frustrated golfer. They always have some tour player that has used or is using the method with great success but more often that not, 5 years or so later, he or she is doing something else. Now lets get to worst instuction book that was ever written and that is The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan,written in 1955. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Annika Sorenstam, all wrote instruction books that described the way they played golf and were titled accordingly. The idea of these books is to show in detail how these great players go about hitting a golf ball and if the average golfer can apply some of this to their own game, so much the better. If the Ben Hogan book had been titled similiarly, like How I Play Golf by Ben Hogan, then I would have no beef with the book. Ben Hogan was a golfer who was plagued in the early part of his career by a terrible duck hook. So everything he describes in this book concerning golf technique is with the sole purpose of keeping a player from hitting the ball from right to left. The problem is that 90% of all people that have taken up the game are slicing the ball, hitting it from left to right. So if you pick up this book thinking that it is truly the modern fundenmentals of golf, you won’t last very long playing the game. However if you are troubled by a duck hook then this is the book for you. The problem is the book doesn’t really say this and that is why I think it is the worst book for instuction ever written. Now that we have taken care of the garbage, on the next golf swing blog we will get to what you really have to do to hit the ball reasonalbly well. Hopefully the weather will improve and we can get to course n0. 61 in the next 7 to 10 days.
Yesterday played course number sixty, 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills which is a 25 to 30 minute drive. I had played this course about 20 to 25 years ago and remembered nothing about it. The course was in very good shape and had the fastest greens we have putted so far. They ran a 7.5 on the stimp and were very smooth. The course was still very wet despite all the sunshine we have had, as again the temperatures hit the lower 80’s. The course was typically hilly but was fair and very enjoyable to play. We played from tees that made the course play about 6300 yards,to a par of 72 You can play from tees that will stretch the course to 6800 yards plus. The course played long enough, with the wet conditions. The hot dog at the turn was fair as it was one of those bigger fatter dogs that just doesn’t taste as good as the smaller round hot dogs. My swing change continued to work well and I shot a 75 and Tony came in with a nice 76. This course use to be a country club but went public about 5 years ago. I am sure these greens were even faster back then but it was fun putting on a relatively quick putting surface. The greens did have some undulations in them but overall were very fair. The course had some tight holes with many trees and even from the middle tees was good challenge. This course was definitely worth the trip. As I said the swing change I made seems to have helped me quite a bit. It is not a new thing as far as golf instruction is concerned and so I am no closer to any new discoveries concerning how to hit this little ball or playing this game but the quest will go on. It is a little easier to continue the search when you hit the ball reasonably well. This past week was great weather wise and I got 5 courses in. However things are looking a little shakey this week so we will have to see if any are going to get added this week. Two thirds of the way home with 30 to go.
Yesterday with beautiful fall condtions I had another 36 hole day. The first course was Stonecrest in Wampum Pa. about an hour and 5 minute drive. This course plays about 6400 yards from the back tees with most of that on the back nine, and plays to a par of 71. The course was in very good shape with the greens running a 6.25 on the stimp and were very smooth. This course is very flat and has a very good design. The three finishing holes are very long and demanding par 4’s playing 440, 468, and 426 and with the wet conditions played all of that yesterday. There are many tree lined holes but yet the course is not super tight. The hot dog at the turn was very good. I got off to a horrible start but did make a swing change in the middle of the round which seemed to work well for the rest of day. But for this 18 because of short game blues again, I could only muster an 83 while Pete shot 80. Then we headed about 6 miles south to Beaver Falls to Fox Run golf course. I had never played this course before and this was a pleasant surprise. It was about 6500 yards from the back tees and again most of this was on the back nine. The par was 72 and the course was in very good shape with these greens running a 5.5 on the stimp and they too were in excellent condition. This course had many interesting holes with lots of water that came into play. The course was hillier but was again very enjoyable to play. Two of the more interesting holes were early in the round. The 2ond hole was a 365 yd. par 4 with a dogleg left. The dogleg was well down the hole about 260 yards out and the green which was relatively small was surrounded by very large trees. The third hole was a short par 4 of 297 yds. with a large tree directly in the middle of the fairway about 200 yards out. Again on the back nine there was a stretch of demanding par 4’s, 12, 13, and 14 that were all over 400 yds. My only compaint about this course was some of the scorecard yardages seemed to be off but it is a minor complaint as this was a good solid golf course. My swing change started working well on the front nine and I shot a 1 under 35 on the front but the wet conditions and again bad chipping caused me to stagger in with a 40 on the back for 75. Pete shot 82. The hot dog at the turn was good but they had no relish or onions. Overall with the beautiful day and two solid golf courses this was one of the better days of the trek. These courses are worth the trip and I will be going back. Fifty nine down and Thirty one to go.
Yesterday was a 36 hole day as I headed back to the Steubenville, Wintersville area. The first course we played was Red Oaks which is about an hour and 10 minutes drive. This is a short course playing about 6000 yards from the back tees, to a par of 72. The greens were excellent and ran about a 6 on the stimp. We have had a lot of rain in the area for the last week and the course was very wet. This was only the 2ond time I had played the course and that was about 15 years ago. There are a lot of blind shots and there are parts of the back nine which is very tight and hilly. We had a foursome today and with the wet conditions and some early fog we all had out problems. I managed to scrape out a 79, Pete had 84, Rich 85 and John an 89. The hot dog at the turn was very good. Then we headed back to Pittsburgh a little ways to play Spring Hill. This course plays 6200 yards, with a par of 71. The course is a little less hilly is a little more open and therefore more player friendly. The greens were good and ran 5.25 on the stimp. One of the unique things about these greens is they were very grainy. This affected the speed and break of the putt more than we were use to and everybody had their share of problems on the greens. I really had my problems and shot one of my worse scores an 85. Pete shot 78, Rich 79 and John who had as much problems on the greens as I did had 93. The hot dog at the turn was excellent with one of those smaller V shaped buns that allowed the condiments to be under the hot dog. Both of these courses are not worth the trip but if you live in this area both course are enjoyable to play and are in very good shape. If you are headed down south and are going to play Bermuda greens Spring Hill is a good place to go, to get use to putting on greens with lots of grain in them. Obviously I had pretty bad scores today, and most of this was due to some real short game blues. We had beautiful weather after a miserable weekend of cold wind and rain. Hoping to knock off 3 more courses over the next 3 days. Fifty seven down with thiry three to go.