Yesterday, Memorial Day we went to course no 22 Linden Hall in Dawson Pa which is about 15 miles north of Uniontown Pa. It is about a 75 minute drive from my house depending on the traffic. This golf course is unique in that it is owned by the United Steel Workers Union. This golf course plays about 6600 yards from the tips and is fairly wide open with a great variety of holes. The greens were a little slow, running 4.5 on the stimp meter, but were smooth. The course was in good condition, and of course with all the rain we have been having, the rough was lush. We teed off at 7:20, and it was a hot summer day getting into the 80’s by 9 o’ clock. The hot dog at the turn was delicious, and churned its way into my stomach to a solid 2ond place. In fact, the Firestone farms condiments is the only thing that really gave it the edge. It had been almost 3 weeks since we have been able to play one of the golf courses on the list as a group. I was away for 6 days visiting grandkids and the weather until rccently has been an issue. I have been playing, of course, during this time, with various results as usual, but yesterday for some reason I really did not want to be there. After hitting a beautiful opening drive my day took a steady decline of horrendous driving and spasmotic chipping and putting. After taking 4 strokes from 25 yards in, on a short par 4 and hooking my drive on the 12 hole into the woods that were 100 yards left on where I was aiming, I just starting walking down the right side of the hole with the intention of just skipping the hole, and going to the next tee. Then I remembered there was this dirt road that went along the par 3 no 13 and it headed right up the 17 th hole to the 18th and to the parking lot, and I just kept on walking. No good by to the group, so I don’t know what they thought, but I had had enough. I was dead tired when I approached the 12th tee box and the first thing I noticed as I was walking in, was that there was more of a hop in my step as I felt the exhileration of getting the hell out of there. No more of being totally incompentant. No more humiliation. I must have walked a good solid mile with my clubs on my back but by the end I was no longer tired and could have easily walked another mile in the heat. I think golf is the individual version of the Peter principle, where you reach your own level on incompentence. I started having a handicap in 1986. During this 25 year period my handicap has been between 2 and 7 and probably for 24 of those 25 years its been betwee 3 and 5. In other words I would go into a slump, and for awhile, and I would be a 6 or 7, or I would get a little bit of a hot streak,and be a 2 or 3. I am sure there are many other players the same way. You start playing golf you improve to a certain level, no matter what that level is and thats it. No matter what you do, you really don’t get any better. I don’t think this is a physical thing either, it is definitely mental. So the 90 golf course quest is going to be put on hold for awhile. After all the blog is called searching for the answer not the 90 golf course trek. I would probably just quit, but I just bought 3 dozen golf balls, and so maybe thats what I will do, play until I run out of balls. Of course I imagine some people already think I have run out of those. By the way Linden Hall is worth the trip, especially if you want to make a weekend ot it because there is a hotel there and other things to do. A very nice enjoyable golf course in a very nice setting with great rates. Yesterday, a holiday it was 28 dollars with a cart. I am taking a break from playing. I don’t know for how long a week ,a month, a season who knows maybe the answer will come in a dream.
Yesterday we went to golf course no. 21 Moon Golf Club located in Moon Twp. Another short course measuring about 5805 from the back tees. Yesterday was by far the best day we have had to play golf in a long time. Nice and sunny with temps in low 80’s. This course is about a 20 to 25 minute drive from my house. The course is very near the Pittsburgh airport and so you do get to see a lot of planes going over head but they were not very bothersome. The greens ran about a 6.5 on the stimpmeter but were very bumpy. Overall this course was not in as good as condition as the previous 3 courses we have played. The course was not in bad shape but not as nice as these other very similiar short courses. This course is very hilly so if you are going to walk it, be prepared. In fact this course may be too hilly which makes it not that enjoyable to play. Most of the holes are tree lined and like the other short courses it has some pretty challenging holes but also a lot of very short “par” 4’s. The hot dog at the turn was a lot like the golf course, it was good but nothing special. You definitely get a better conditioned course and more value at Chippewa, Rolling Green and Oak Lake. Despite the great weather and an easy golf course the group struggled mightily. I shot 80, Pete had 86 and Donna 94. I am on a birdie drought of record proportions. No matter how easy the hole I am not making any birdies. I am just wandering around in the golfer’s haze of bewilderment and frustration. The lost soul of missed putts and wrong decisions. Maybe we should consider putting some par 3 courses on the list just so I can at least make my bag a little lighter. Anyway 21 down and 69 to go, can it snow in May.
On Mothers day, May 8th we played course no.20 Oak Lake, another one of the short but interesting courses we have been playing lately because of the very soggy conditions in Western Pa. This course is about a 45 minute drive east from my house in Upper Burrell Pa. Yes there is a Lower Burrell. This course is only 5485 yards from the back tees but does have some challenging holes. The second hole is a long 433 yd par 4 and the 18th hole is a 382 yd par 4 with lots of water that comes into play. The greens were very good running a 6 on the stimp meter and were very smooth. Many of the holes are tree lined and it is somewhat hilly. The course was in very good shape overall. This is another golf course that is enjoyable to play although it does have a lot of short par 4’s. We had by far our best weather day as the temps started in the 50’s early in the morning and climbed to the mid 60’s by the time we finished around noon with little or no wind. Nothing much happened with the group today. I started out with 10 pars on the first 11 holes and then took a double bogey on a very easy par 3 and even though I made a birdie 2 holes later, I staggered in with 3 bogeys on the last 4 holes to shoot a 5 over 76 on a reletively easy course. Pete shot an 80 and Donna had a particularly tough Mothers day shooting 97. This course is not very friendly for women in that most of tees are only a few yards in front of the mens tees. The hot dog at the turn looked a little odd and tasted a little odd but here I am 2 days later typing and still standing upright for the most part so I guess there was nothing wrong with it. It didn’t taste bad not like at Tam O’ Shanter but was different. Overall a very enjoyable but kind of a blah day. My game is still searching for the answer which I think may be just making that toss of the clubs in the lake but that will have to wait since we have 70 courses to go.
Yesterday, May 4th we were able to get in 36 holes, despite less than ideal weather conditions. We continued with older shorter courses because of those weather conditions. The temperature started out in the low 40’s and barely touched 50, with a brisk wind all day, with very little sun. The morning course was Chippewa in Bentleyville, which is about a 40 minute drive from my house. The course plays 5884 yards form the tips, is pretty hilly, and is a very pretty tree lined golf course. One of the unique things about this golf course is that there are no sand traps. So anybody with a bad bunker game this is your golf course. The greens were in great shape and ran about a 6 on stimp meter. The course is very enjoyable to play and overall is in good shape. The hot dog at the turn was very good with the famous Olgebay Park dehydated onions. These onions look like rice and they have a really great taste. I grew up near Olgebay Park in Wheeling, W. Va. and these onions were always there but I rarely saw them any place else. They were at Chippewa yesterday. With the weather conditions mainly the cold, the group struggled on a fairly easy course. I shot 81, Pete shot 82 and Donna had a 90. The afternoon course was about 15 minutes away in 84 Pa. Rolling Green. Another short course that measures 6011 yards from the tips. Their greens were also in great shape and ran a 6 on the meter. This course has a nice variety of holes and is very hilly. Overall a very nice golf course. Because the golf course was not very busy they had to nuke my hot dog at turn but despite that, it was very tasty so it had to be a good quality dog. I discovered my short game and was able to manage a 72 which is one over par. Pete shot 78 and Donna shot 92. Are these courses worth a 90 minute trip. Of course not. But if you live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not give these courses a try. They are in great shape and despite being short have some real challenging holes. Nineteen courses down and 71 to go.
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.