On Wednesday April 27th we had our first 36 hole day of the year. We played Meadowink Golf Course in the morning and Murrysville Golf Course in the afternoon. Both of these golf courses are in Murrysville which is about a 30 minute drive from my home. The courses are only minutes from each other and they are very similiar. Meadowink is 6036 yds from the tips and Murrysville is 6139 yds at its longest. Both courses have a par of 72 only because they have very easy holes for par 5’s and really should be par 70’s courses. The courses are very enjoyable to play and have a good variety of holes. Meadowink in particular has a lot of unusual but fair holes. These courses are older courses but these are the courses that should be still built today and are not. These courses have lots of trees and are beautiful, not like a golf course that pretends to be a links course because they do not have trees and lots of weeds around that they call heather. Both greens putted very smoothly and ran 5 on the stimpmeter. I have played Meadowink many times and this was the first time I had played Murrysville. The price to play at Murrysville for a Wednesday afternoon I think was a little steep with the “senior” rate being 35 dollars. The regular rate was 38, why bother. As you know from privious posts there are a lot better deals around than that on a lot better courses. These courses were in very good shape with the roughs very lush and difficult to get out of. We have had a lot of rain here in Western Pa for April and the golf courses are very green. The day was unseasonably warm in the mid 80’s with lots of wind. Were these golf courses worth the trip. I would pair Meadowink up with another course out that way and say Yes,but with the price to play Murrysville it was not a good value. Meadowink also won the hot dog at the turn, as it was much better than the dog at Murrysville. The condiments were better and the server much more friendly. The guy at Murrysville was definitely not happy to be employed. Meadowinks dog might make the top 5 but it still does not come close to Firestone Farms. Maybe the guy that cooks the hot dogs at Firestone should take care of the greens. Our threesome did pretty well considering the strong winds but yours truly is kind of floundering again. I shot 83 at Meadowink and 79 at Murrysville. Pete had 77 and 76, and Donna had 93 and 89. At Murrysville Donna’ round was highlighted by a near hole in one on the 2nd hole. She hit a 3 wood about 160yds that stopped just 6 inches from the hole. Hopefully now we will get a break in the weather and begin to pick up the pace on playing the courses. Seventeen down and 73 to go.
Today we played Scenic Valley Golf Course in Peters Township which is about a 25 minute drive from my house. This course is about 8 years old and is in great shape. The greens ran about 4.5 on the stimpmeter due to conditions. We had planned on playing 36 holes today but the weather did not co-operate with a threat of storms in the Am and high winds in the Pm. This course is very enjoyable to play with challenging greens and one of the best finishing holes in the Western Pa area. It is a par 5 with a lake that can come into play on your tee shot and 2ond shot. If you hit your drive to far to the left you will go into the water but if you are too conservative and play out to the right then you will have a hard time going over the lake on your second shot. It is a really great hole. This course is worth the trip to play. It measures 6333 from the tips due mostly to short par 4’s, but the par 5’s and the par3’s are really good. These greens can be real challenging to read and when they get a little fast they can be treacherous. The group struggled at times with the high winds but we did have our moments. We all shot fairly high. I had an 85, Pete had an 84 and Donna had a 92 but she had a real good stretch on the back nine where she was 3 over par for 7 holes. This was a day for me that shows why this game is truly goofy. I struck the ball really well today. My short game was worse than awful and I am not going into details but it obviously gave me a score that would tell no one that I had a good ball striking day. The main thing a day like this does, is it really magnifies your bad shots. It does so to such a degree that if effects the way you think about your golf swing, like it is not functioning properly, when in reality your botching up chipping and putting. But enough of this drivel, we had a good time and the course is good and hopefully we will get 36 hole weather. There was no hot dog at the turn today because of lack of players but I have had hot dogs here before and they are better than most especially the jalapeno dog yummie. Fifteen down and 75 to go.
On Sunday April 3rd we played golf course no. 14 Butlers Lakeside. Last fall we played the Woodside so this completes the 36 holes at Butler. The golf courses are located in Elizabeth Pa. which is about a 40 minute drive from my house. The Lakeside course has 2 completely different 9’s. The front 9 is part of the original course that use to be a 27 hole layout. Then about 10 years ago they added a new 9. The front nine is fairly easy but the new back nine is more difficult and has some hilly tough holes. The course plays about 6700 yards from the blue tees. The biggest problem with the set up is that the front nine greens and the back nine greens are usually running at a little different speeds. Yesterday this was true with the front nine speed at about a 5 and the back nine was around 4 to 4.5 on the stimp meter. The course was in pretty good shape for early in the season and greens putted very smooth. Again the group has a lot of the early season rust. I shot 81, Pete shot 85 and Donna had a 90. I have played both of these courses many times over the years and they come under the heading of even though there is nothing terribly wrong with them, there really is not a lot to like about them. The greens and fairways have always been long and the course runs from fair to good in overall condition. Are they worth the trip, No. My game yesterday was up and down with a lot of short game rust. I am still a work in progress right now with the progress being slow. There was no hot dog at the turn yesterday because of the weather but we had a dog there in the fall and it was fair. Fourteen courses down and 76 to go.
Well the quest started up again today as we went to course number 13. We went to Grandview golf club which is just east of downtown Pittsburgh. This is without a doubt one of the most unique golf courses anyone could play. I didn’t say it was good just unique. What makes it so unique is that it is very narrow but also most of the fairways fall off the side of a cliff. Now on some holes this isn’t so bad because your ball just winds up on the adjoining hole but it is like 50 to 100 feet of straight drop. When they built this course they forgot one piece of equipment, a bulldozer. The sad thing is this course is in really good shape. Now this is March 20th but you can tell they take really good care of this place. Is it worth the trip, of course not. The greens for early in the season were good and ran a 5 on the stimp. The course is short at about 6100 yards but you can lose a ball on almost every hole. I only lost one but tried to lose more. We all had typical early season rounds. I shot 85 Pete shot 90 and Donna shot 90. The weather was good in the upper 50s or low 60s. Things are progessing quite nicely with the swing thing that I not ready to reveal but it makes 6 rounds now that I am doing the same thing and my ball striking is going pretty good. It was nice to get a course in relatively early but I don’t think we are going to make the 90 courses by the end of this golf season so the quest may have to go into 2012. There was no hot dog at the turn but if the hot dog maker is related to course designer then I don’t think that Firestone Farms has anything to worry about. The weather is not looking too good for this week but you never know. Thirteen down and Seventy seven to go.
Well today was golf course no. 12 Cedarbrook Red near Belle Vernon Pa. This facility has 36 holes and is about a 45 minute drive from my house. The other course is called the Gold course and we will be playing that course some time next year. The Red course is the easier of the 2 courses and both courses are in great shape. The Red plays about 6200 yds. from the tips and is a solid lay out. The front nine is shorter than the back and the greens today were running about a 6.5 on stipmeter. This facility is worth the trip especially if you are going to play 36 holes. The weather was good after a little chilly start and the wind wasn’t bad as the temperatures climbed into the low 60s by 1 o’ clock. The fairways were good and the rough was for the most part was grown in fine. The only thing that Cedarbook lacks are nice sand traps. The fairway traps have become ground under repair and the greenside bunkers aren’t much better. The group today played ok. Pete and I both shot 80 and Donna had a 93. My short game is still a big problem for me right now and it shows in the scoring. Obviously the season is winding down and hopefully I can straighten that out by next year. This new thing with the swing is definitely working and I am hitting the ball extremely well. The thought process out on the course left a lot to be the desired today and that was another reason the score was not all that good. There was no hot dog at the turn because of the end of the season and not that many there, but we will catch that hot dog next year. This will probably be the last course for this year as the weather looks like it is going to turn a little cold and it is a little unfair to evaluate some courses as the year winds down. We only have done 12 courses so far so we will have to pick up the pace next year if we want to get done by this time next year. The search for answer will continue with some hope right now as I have been doing the same thing for the last 5 rounds and I hope I am on to something. Only time will tell. 12 down 78 to go.
Today was course no. 11 Westwood Golf Club, in West Mifflin Pa. This use to be Duquesne Country Club but went public about 7 years ago. It plays about 6300 yards from the blues but the 2 nines are totally different. The front 9 plays 3500 yards with a par of 37 and the back is only 2800 yards with a par of 34. The greens were running about a 6 on the stimp meter and were pretty bumpy due to some kind of disease or something on the greens that made little depressions in the green where there was no grass. The fairways are good and the rough is not bad although there are places that are bare. The pins today were in some brutal places and this course has never been really player friendly. It is like they never lost their country club attitude. Of course there was no hot dog at the turn so they fall to 88th place in that department and will probably fall somewhere between 80th and 90th on the enjoyment level. So naturallly this course is not worth the trip. The group played fairly well although I continued to have short game and mental blues and shot an 81. Pete shot an 80 and Donna an 89. However as they say at the 87th precinct I may have some real meat here concerning the golf swing. If your not familiar with the 87th precinct it is a great series of books that covers police work for almost 50 years. Its to0 early to tell but we will see. Last Sunday I shot an even par 71 and today I struck the ball extremely well but I was adding some finishing touches on the swing and it was difficult to score. I hit a lot of good shots today that were long because of some solid ball striking. The season is winding down and the weather is supposed to turn nasty the next couple of days but Sunday might be a possibility. It was nice to get this course out of the way. Eleven down 79 to go.
Today was course no 9, 7 Springs in Elizabeth Pa which is about a 35 minute drive from my house. Yes that’s right 7 Springs not to be confused with Seven Springs the resort. This course is short but hilly. It plays 6110 yds from the tips but has some challenging holes. The greens were in great shape, they ran about a 5 on the stimpmeter which is good because if these greens run fast they can be treacherous if you get above the hole which I did a lot today but because they were slow, it was not an issue. The fairways were in great shape and the rough had some bare spots but overall this course was in good shape. Is this course worth the trip No but if you live within 40 minutes it is not a bad track. The only real issue I have with the place is they allow fivesomes to play. This is not a good thing. If you get stuck behind one of them it could be a long day. Our group would play there a lot more if it were not for this. The hot dog at the turn was good. Very good mustard but will fall in the middle of pack I am sure at the end of the ninety course trek. Its been a little bit of time between courses but trips to see grandkids and a golf trip to Arizona has gotten in the way. The group played pretty well. I shot 75 Pete shot 79 and Donna had a 90. Am I getting any answers here. Not really. In the time frame between courses here I have gone through 2 different philosophies and am working on a third that is producing some results. I have not been playing much. Only 3 rounds since course no 8 but the one before this I shot even par for the first time all year. Today after a slow start 4 over after 3 holes I played the last 15 holes even par. At least that is some respectable golf and there may be some light at the end of tunnel but we will just have to wait and see. The weather today was brisk and fall has arrived. Nine courses down and 81 to go. Hopefully we can knock off 2 more within the week.
Today we played course number 8 Riverview in Elizabeth which is about a 30 minute drive from my home. This course is very nice, plays about 6400 yards from the tips and was in pretty good shape. The greens were about a 6.5 and putted very smooth. This course is typical of a lot of golf courses in this area, in that the first hole is one of the more difficult on the golf course. It is the number 3 handicap hole. This breaks a basic architectural rule in that the first hole should not be the toughest or the easiest hole on the course. I always thought one way to solve this problem was to reverse the nines. The first 6 holes at Riverview are pretty challenging and then after that the course plays much easier. Those first holes would then be 10 through 15 and I think it would speed up play because players would be more warmed up to play the more difficult side. The greens at Riverview are the biggest challenge. They have a lot of undulations and sometimes they can be quicker than 6.5 which can make them down right treacherous. The hot dog at the turn was very tasty. In fact I would say it would be placed in 2ond at the moment,only to Firestone Farms. Is this course worth the trip. No no more than a 40 minute drive. Everybody played pretty mediocre today. I shot a 79, Pete shot 78 and Donna 94. For me it was it was just a plethora of mistakes. A pulled 8 iron on 4, 3putt on 6, pulled 9 iron and skulled sand shot on 7, 3 putt on 9, bad chip on 10, horrible duck hook drive on 13, major block to right at least 50 yards on 14, and fat 5 iron on 15 for a 79. I had one birdie. My swing thing as I will call it, I am still doing it but modifying just a bit. One thing I do know, is what not the answer is. The swing is not the thing. There are so many swings on tour and every one is looking for what’s common in the swings of the pros. I can tell you right now, nothing. You will here people talk about how impact position is so important and how everybody looks the same. Even if that was true which it is not, of course they are very close because these guys hit the ball solid and straight. Everybody worries about their swing but believe me once you get the basic concept of the swing which is to turn the body away from the target on the backswing and turn your body toward the target on the downswing then how you do it is very unimportant. My putting pretty well stunk today but that is another story all together. Well we have 8 down and 82 to go. Certainly no closer to an answer.
Today we went to the local county course South Park. This course is only a 15 to 20 minute drive from the house. This was also the South Park senior championship which the 3 of us played. The course is about 80 some years old and almost takes care of it self and that is the key word almost. We have had a really hot and dry spell and the course was certainly paying the price. The greens were browning out and the fairways were brown and sparse. The course played about 6400 yards today and the greens ran about a 5 on the stimp. This course is not worth the trip unless your trip is very short like mine. The group did pretty well today. Pete shot a 73 and finished 2nd overall and 1st in our age group. I shot 79 and while I did not strike the ball well my putter and chipping were the main problems today. Donna had 91 and finished 3rd in her age group. The park has always been a course that has had condition problems but at times has been in excellent shape. This was not one of them. The course is fairly open but it is hilly with lots of uphill blind shots. Pretty boring and not the most enjoyable course to play but their rates are reasonable. Needless to say the search continues and now it is for some short game answers. If your just starting to play golf I would recommend the 9 hole course there. It is not crowded on Friday or the weekends and is good place to start to learn golf, that is, if you want to learn this game. I would not recommend it myself. The hot dog was pretty good but nothing special. Well 7 down and 83 to go.
Yesterday August 27th we played golf courses 5 and 6. This time at least we did stay in Pennsylvania but again we headed about 75 minutes north of Pittsburgh to play Tam O Shanter and Castle Hills golf courses. This was by far our most enjoyable day. The weather was perfect and both of these golf courses were in excellent shape. Both courses were very similar. Tam O Shanter played about 6500 yards and Castle Hills played about 6300 from the tips. We started with Tam O shanter in the morning. This course is fairly tight with lots of tree lined fairways and some excellent par 3’s. The greens were running little faster than 5 and were very smooth. The pro shop at Tam O Shanter has to be one of the most well stocked of any public course. If your looking for clubs I would suggest to play and look at this good selection. The only negative of the day was that the hot dog at the turn stunk. It was basically uneatable. In fact it was worse than having no hot dog like at Kensington. The hot dog at Castle Hill was fair at best but it tasted like filet mignon compared to the other piece of garbage. I only ate half of it and I only ate that much in disbelief. I thought maybe my mouth was dry and it was making it taste bad. As my Dad use to say” It was enough to make a buzzard puke”. Off we went to Castle Hills and again another pretty course with some excellent greens . The best we putted so far. They ran a solid 6.5 and you paid the price if you got above the hole. This course was not as tight as Tam but it made up for it with quicker and more undulating greens. [ To show you how similar these courses played, I shot 77 and 76, Pete shot 80 and 80 and Donna shot 92 and 93. I hit the ball very well today and I am working on something that may have a lasting effect on my golf game,we will have to wait an see. The most interesting thing about my play today was how the way the ball was lying on the grass affected the shot. Tam’s fairway were more lush than at Castle. This made iron shots particularly short irons fly farther at Tam and this cost me about 3 times during the round. When we got to Castle Hills the fairways were shorter just a little sparse in places and the short irons did not go as far. If you can play these courses as a tandem they are definitely worth the trip. The greens were spectacular and there is a good variety to the holes. My game has been improving and we will see if this new process with the swing will continue to progress. It could just be temporary solution number 387. The biggest thing I came away with from these 2 rounds because of the difference in the fairways is to pay attention to how that ball is lying and how much grass is underneath it. It can make a difference of 20 yards even on a pitching wedge. It was a great day and with some hope on the horizon. 6 down 84 to go.