A busy week endend by playing course number 70 today, Buffalo in Sarver Pa. about a 50 minute drive. It was a gorgeous day in May and Buffalo was a real treat to play. The course plays 6500 yards from the back tees to a par of 71 with many interesting and challenging holes. The greens ran a 6 on the stimp and were very smooth. The course is very flat with many trees, and the fairways are wide and lush with the rough a little heavy but did not have any bare spots. This has to be one of the fairest golf courses I have ever played. With the exception of one short par 4 the holes are layed out where you can see where you are going and there are no false fronts on the greens. The flatnes of the course is a real treat here in Western Pennsyvania. My only suggestion would be to move up the tee on the first par 5 on the back and make it a more challenging par 4 and play the course to a par of 70. The hot dog at the turn was nothing special but the staff was friendly and the hot dog tasted good because of that. Won’t make the top ten but will be far from the bottom 30. The price was right for a Sunday as we paid 38 dollars with a cart. This course is worth the trip and if I lived a little closer I woud go to this course more often. In fact I think I will go to this course more often anyway. We had a threesome today with Tony shooting a very nifty 69 which included only 23 putts. Wow. I shot a nice smooth 76 and John an 83. On Wednesday I went to Indian Run and kept the streak going to 12 rounds in the 70’s with a 75. But on Thursday playing from the blues at South Park I staggered around and shot 81. The next day in the 2 man scramble at the same Park, Pete and I had a very respectable 66 and finished 7th in about a field of 60 teams . Not bad for a couple of old farts. Stil hitting the ball very well as I am pretty confident that I have found the answer to the physical side of this game and the controlling factor in the golf swing. But the mental game is looming large and that will be the next step in the answer to this goofy game. Speaking of goofy I think we need to get rid of the term short game. Just what the hell does that mean. I think golf should be divided into 3 parts. 1. The full swing which includes trying to work the ball. 2. Less than the full swing which is what the “short game” is. 3. Putting. So from now on I am not going to use the term short game any more. Well, we have 70 courses down with 20 or possibly more to go. Update on that later.
Added two new courses this week as the solid playing continued. On Wednesday we went to Champion Lakes in Ligonier, Pa., which is an 86 minute drive. This course is owned by two former Pittsburgh Pirates Jerry Lynch and Dick Groat. They bought the course sometime in the mid to early 60’s and last updated it in 1970. The golf course is a solid layout and has a beautiful setting with the mountains in the background. The course played 6300 yards from the white tees to a par of 71 and the greens were the old bent and ran a very fuzzy 5 on the stimp. The fairways were a little long and the roughs was grown in fine with little or no bare spots. The course has many tree lined holes and can be very tight in some cases. It has a lot of up and down holes but over all is an enjoyable course to play. It is a very old facility that could use a little updating both inside and out with the golf course included. There was no hot dog at the turn and we made the turn at 12:45 and I do mean in the p.m. So 88th place for Champion Lakes for the hot dog at the turn. I turned a spectacular ball striking front nine into a mediocre 39 with horrible putting. I putted a little better on the back by making some par saves and shooting a 77. Rich had a 75 with Pete coming in with an 81 and John an 82. A pretty good day for the group as this is not that easy of a golf course. Champion Lakes is worth the trip even though it is a brutal trip and would be better as part of a 36 hole day. On Thursday I went over to South Park with supreme confidence that my rounds in the 70’s streak would continue and when I birdied the first hole it looked like I might have a really good round. Then I bogied the next 4 out of 8 holes and made the turn 3 over thinking am I going to blow it on this course. But then I rattled off 8 straight pars and even with a last hole bogey shot 76. Today we went to Olde Stonewall in Elwood City Pa which is about a 50 minute drive. This is a course that I thought would not be on the list because it is a very high end course and the green fees are 150 dollars. Let that sink into your budget for awhile. But one of the guys in our group got a coupon for the month of May for 50 per cent off the green fees. So the guys were game and so I said what the hell why not. This golf course has some spectacular holes on it and the stretch of holes on the front 4, 5, and 6, may be the finest stretch of golf holes I will ever play but it is not and never will be worth 150 bucks to play the joint. This is also the home of the 5 dollar hot dog and it was very good and had the best bun I have ever had at a golf course,but it still is not worth it. Come on 5 dollars for beef intestines at the best. The course is in great shape with the fairways very tight and the roughs were good. This is also another example of a links course is Western Pa. where they allow a lot weeds grow up and call it heather. In the case of Olde Stonewall, they call it native grass. NATIVE GRASS!!. The greens ran a 6 on the stimp and were very smooth. Its these greens that make this course as difficult as it is. The greens are not very big but they have many small undulations which makes reading them very very difficult. This course would be worth the trip if it was a little more reasonable. Sixty five on the weekend would be just about right. I shot 77 and the streak remains alive. Tony shot 81 with Pete coming in a 88 and John a 95. We had a gorgeous day to play and it was nice to include a course that I thought would be left out. The course plays 6700 yards from the tees we played, to a par of 70. There are some spectacular views and holes that have greens surrounded by three sides with water and many many sand traps. This course without a doubt has the best conditioned sandtraps. I will say if you really like golf and live or visit Western Pa. you should play this course at least once. Well the streak is at 11 and the Memorial weekend is on the way and a 2 man scamble tournament is this Friday. Sixty nine courses down and twenty one to go.
Another weekly wrap up a day later as I had a busy Mother’s day. The golf for the week continued to be pretty solid. There were no new courses this week but the week was interesting none the less. I had rounds of 78, 76, 78, and 78. The highlight of the week was a 2 under par back nine at St. Clair Country Club, which gave me the round of 76. I had two nines at Mt. Lebanon of 37- 41 and the other two 78’s were at Scenic Valley and Riverview respectivaly. The ball striking was good all week and the short game continued to make strides. I had putting issues at Scenic Valley and the weather yesterday was a little rainy with some lost concentration contributing to some bad bogies. The new method, which is not that new any more continues to get better and I am getting more comfortable with it every time I play. It continues to be a little difficult to totally trust it and believe that it could be this simple. Now that the physical side of the game seems to be solved for the time being it is freeing me up more to think of the mental side, particularly with the short game. If the scores are really going to come down then this will have to be the next step. I have broken 80, nine straight times and all the rounds have been between 75 and 78. To say the least this has been one of my most consistant periods of solid play, and I am still getting use to the swing. This week coming up we are going to add two more courses to the list and both are challenging lay outs so we will see if I have just jinxed myself. The keys will be continued improvement on the ball striking and getting the short game to click. We will see what this week will bring.
Another good week, and a very productive week, as I did course numbers 66 and 67. The first course was North Park, which is the county course north of the city and about a 40 minute drive. North Park and South Park, which we played earlier, are very similiar courses with greens that are exactly the same in the way that they look and putt. The day we played, the greens ran about a 5.5 on the stimp meter and were very smooth. North Park played 6400 yards from white tees which we played and about 6800 yards from the blues. I feel that North Park plays harder than South Park but the course rating and slope are higher at South Park. Many holes are tree lined and the course is hilly but there are not as many blind shots at North Park so maybe that has something to do with the lower rating. The fairways were good and the rough did not have many bare spots.The one other thing that I think makes North Park harder is that the greens have more undulations in them, than at South Park. North Park was in much better shape than South Park when we played there, but I think that has more with the fact that we have had one of our best springs, compared to the terrible spring we had last year. North Park was definitely worth the trip with very reasonable fees. The hot dog at the turn was just ok but the lady who served it was very nice. She was nicer than the starter who told us before we signed it that it would be a 6 hour round. The course didn’t seem that crowded to me when we drove in and I couldn’t figure out why he would say that unless he was trying to discourage play. Well the starter should become a weather forcaster because he was about as right as they are, as the round took only 4 hours and 6 minutes to play. When I turned in the cart key I told him he only missed it by and an hour and 56 minutes. He did chuckle so maybe he isn’t so bad after all. The game is coming around as I shot a 75 and Pete had a pretty good day with a 79. Today we went to Birdsfoot golf club in Freeport Pa. about a 55 minute drive. This is a solid golf course, that can be stretched out to 7000 yards but we played the tees that play 6500 yards. This course is newer, so there are not many trees, but they don’t have too much of that heather around, so the course is enjoyable to play. The greens were very smooth but a little slow at 5 on the stimp. The fairways were excellent and rough was not too bad with some bare spots. The course has a great variety of holes and is very hilly. This course is worth the trip, although their green fees can be a little steep at times. The hot dog at the turn was good, but it could head into the top five by a condiment, that was called vegetarian chile sauce. It made the hot dog taste just like a chile dog with a little spice but only better. It added 5 yards to my drives on the back nine YUMMY! This course is pretty tough and my 76 here was even better that the 75 at North Park. Pete had a one of those days that I have talked about before, when you are not playing well and even your luck is bad and struggled with a 90 and Tony had a 79. This week I had a 9 hole 39 and a 77 at Indian Run. The ball stiking is getting better and even the short game has had its moments but there are still struggles. The putting has been a solid good. I haven’t made many putts of length but I haven’t 3 putted much. I have tried some new things putting and chipping more on the mental side and they seem to be working out pretty well, but too early to tell if this is something worth sharing. I tweaked the “swing thing” a little but the basic principal is still the same. Progress is being made. The search will continue and the numbers will tell the tale. Sixty seven courses down and twenty three to go.