Yesterday I went to Hickory Heights in Bridgeville Pa which is a 20 minute drive form my house. This golf course has been around for close to 20 years, has had many changes in ownership and the only reason I think this golf course has been able to survive is that it is located around a lot of poputlation. This course was designed by some well know golf architect and all I can say is he must have been on some kind of acid trip when he built this golf course. To get to the basics the course plays about 6500 yards from the back teess and the greens were running a solid 6.5 on the stimp and were very smooth. The fairways were in good shape and the rough was long but had a lot of bare patches. However the greens are poorly designed, the holes are very narrow and if you have a desire to see just how unfun golf can be I suggest that you buy 2 dozen cheap balls because you are going to lose at least half of them. I was charged 35 dollars to play this golf course from hell and when I got home their web site did say they have a senior rate but gave no details. I guess they only give you this rate if you look like death warmed over. On the web site there is guy on there that says that one of their holes is part of his dream 18. I almost puked on my computer. The only dreams you are going to have about this golf course would be classified as nightmares. I was so disgusted I didn’t bother having a hot dog. I went around the track in 77 which is 5 over par. I played well in the middle of the round and made some nice short game saves at the end when my swing went south. Still no closer to any answers but at least I have this course behind me. Fifty two down and 38 to go.
Today was course no 51, Rolling Fields in Murrysville Pa., which was about a 30 minute drive. I had not heard much about this course and this was the first time I had played it. I knew it was one of these short courses that would probably not be in that great of shape. I was right about that. The course was not as bad as some of the more recent courses but the fairways were choppy and sparse and the rough was about the same length as the fairways. The greens were not cut today but they were in pretty good shape but because of the dampness and not being cut they ran only about a 4 on the stimp. The course plays about 6200 yards from the tips to a par of 70. The first 10 holes were pretty much what I expected a lot of short par 4’s and a short par 5 and one really nice par 3 of about 180 yards over water. The 10th hole in fact is nothing more than an uphill par 4 of 270 yards. Then you get to the 11th hole and welcome to the PGA tour. 11 is a 420 yard par 4 a lot uphill, then 12 is 440 par 4 down and uphill. The 13th is a 375 yard par 4 with a tight dogleg to the left. 14 is nice straighaway par 3 at 180yds. 15 is a so so short par 4. Then we are back in business a 190 par 3 over a ravine. A short par 5 is then followed by a solid finishing hole a 410 yard par with at least a 230 yd. carry over water with more trouble on the right. I do not think I have ever seen such two contrasting 9’s. If the greens had been cut I would have probably enjoyed this course more. The hot dog at the turn was fair with another dirty mustard and ketchup tops. Needless to say I had only relish and onions. I had my typical up and down day with some really bad short game shots. I hit the ball pretty good overall but made too many bogeys against 3 birdies to shoot 75. I must say the back nine was quite a surprise but this course is not worth the trip. Overall it was a rather pleasant day even though it was a little cloudy and murky but at least I stayed dry. Fifty one down and thirty nine to go.
Today was course no 50 Lindenwood in Peters Twp. which is about a 25 minute drive from my house. This course has 27 holes and we played the older 18 holes. We have had a lot rain the last 2 days and the course was soggy but held up rather well. The greens were running a 5.5 on the stimp and did have some rough spots on them. The course was in good shape overall. Lindenwood plays about 6400 yards from the tees that we played. We did not play from the exteme back tees because the first nine plays over 3500 yards from the tips. Lindenwood has always been close to where I have lived but I have never played the course very much because generally they want too much to play it and the course is never in really great shape. The greens have always been just so so and today was no exception but they were a little faster than expected despite the rain. There was no hot dog at the turn today because there was no service even though it was 12:30 and 2 to 3 people were waiting. After 20 minutes I left. Lindenwood has always had their nose up in the air a little bit for a public course and most of the time its really been up their ass. Because of the weather we were one of the first one’s there and the lady at the pro shop took forever to ring us up and we gave her exact change. Then the starter said keep those receipts for the rain check and I who look at the radar said “Oh its not going to rain” Then he curtly said well ok then just rip them up. And then no service at the snack bar was the final straw even though people were yelling, anybody back there. Obviously this course is not worth even a 25 minute trip. The play was mediocre today as I shot an 80 and Pete had major putting woes and had an 86. I may have come up with something today though, and again time will tell. One of these blogs I will go through some the experimental swing ideas I have had during this 1 year trek so far. One of the reasons I haven’t gone into details on some of these swing ideas is out of embarassment. Some I have kept for a few weeks like the one I had at the end of last year and some have not even lasted a round. I may save all that for the end of the season blog. Fifty courses down and 40 to go.
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