What Grass are You On?

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Lovin’ the grass at Bailey Creek.

No, not that kind of grass; the grass (-es that comprise the fairways, greens, and rough.)

Have you noticed that with the extreme heat some golf courses are watering like mad even to the point that there is significantly less roll in the fairways?  Other courses, although watering during the heat spells, seem to be able to maintain their grasses with less water and therefore have more roll and the grass seems to be thriving.

Welcome to the Sacramento Valley where no grass type is able to grow 12 months out of the year.  Some grasses like the hot summer and some like the cool, wet winter, but few grasses likes both.  A few newly developed hybrids do pretty well, but their cost for a golf course is prohibitive.  You might be able to afford enough of this hybrid seed to plant the lawn of your patio home.

Golf courses that have the money or that have been constructed more recently (in the last 20 or so years) generally plant the fairways and green surrounds with one type of grass.  The two most popular grasses for golf in the Sacramento Valley (because a golf balls sits on top of the grass when it is cut short) are bermuda and rye.  Older courses and those without luxurious budgets tend to have a mixture of grasses including bermuda, rye, and other local grasses.

Grasses fall into two general categories, warm season grasses and cool season grasses.  Bermuda is a warm season grass; it does well in the heat and goes dormant in the winter.  Rye is a cool season grass; it does well in the cool weather and struggles to survive the valley heat.   When you see cart restrictions, lots of water running, and bare spots during our hottest summer days, that course is likely to be planted in rye grass.

Personally, I prefer bermuda grass because the ball sits so well on it and I don’t play in the winter. (Mary is the President of the “Play It Warm, Dry, and Forward” fan club.)  While rye grass is green and offering its best lies in the winter months, Bermuda is “USGA golden” brown when it is dormant which draws complaints from those who live on a course planted in that grass.  The dormant grass does offer playable lies for those of you who insist on playing in crappy weather.

The type of grass that is planted in the fairways will also dominate the rough.  Warm season grasses make it more difficult to hit a ball out of the rough than cool season grasses of the same length.  If you are playing on a course with bermuda as the dominant grass, be aware that your lies in the rough may not look deep, but they are extremely difficult.

One final note:  If you need to sleep, try a Kush.  If you like a “busy” grass, you will want a green style.  If you are playing golf, neither works.

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Surf the Earth with a Golf Board

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Nan Wiik enjoying her “Board” at Bailey Creek.

Introducing the Golf Board

Are you a wannabe surfer girl who had to give up her beach dreams and take up golf instead?  Or perhaps you are a winter snow boarder, always imagining your shredding moves, but playing golf instead in the summer months.

Upon returning from our eye-opening trip to Bailey Creek Golf Course near Lake Almanor, we have great news for you.  We have discovered a  board, the Golf Board, that will allow you to practice your board moves and play golf at the same time.

The Golf Board is  actually a four-wheeled motorized vehicle.  The player’s golf clubs are mounted on the front while the player herself stands on the board located between the front and back sets of wheels.  She steadies herself by grasping a handle bar, and she steers by shifting her weight like a surfer or snowboarder.  The board on the heavy scooter-like cart is very stable and can move at speeds up to 14 miles per hour.   The inventors describe the Golf Board as “a faster way of walking” and claim that it can improve pace of play and attract a younger group of players because it will bring more fun to the game. (Apparently the inventor has not played with many women golfers – we’re fun and fast)

We observed the Golf Boards at work and play firsthand when we were paired with 2 first-time  boarders, Dave and Nan Wiik (from Lake Wildwood), for our round at Bailey Creek (see prior blog post under “Courses”).  Both are excellent golfers; we didn’t think that learning the new boarding skill affected their games too much.  It did not take long for them to look very proficient on their boards.  By the end of the round Dave made the last few fairways his own private slalom course, leaning into his “carved turns” with ease.  Nan agreed with the company’s claim that Golf Boards provide great core exercise although she warned that her left knee, which bore most of her weight as she leaned into turns, might hurt in the morning.  We haven’t heard from her on that front.

Developed by a surfer and a fitness entrepreneur, Golf Boards sell for $6,500; however, more and more golf courses are offering them for rent.  In the Sacramento area Haggin Oaks and Lincoln Hills both have a number of boards on hand for groups or individuals. Is this new ride a faster and better way of walking?  Golf Boarding is certainly more entertaining than riding in a golf cart. Apparently, they are also quite heavy which means that courses will have to regulate where the boards are allowed to go with respect to the green and tee areas. The big obstacle that the manufacturers must overcome is convincing the golf establishment, not known for embracing change, that this innovation will help the game.

We say, “Go for it!”  Golf is a sport for a lifetime.  Add some speed to the game!  A Golf Board and an even-par round  most certainly will get your adrenaline pumping!

Marge

The editors of this blog went to our dear friend’s funeral on Sunday, September 17.  Marge Neal was a wonderful member of our women’s golfing community.  She loved to laugh, enjoyed a nice glass of wine. and devoted herself to her family.

She loved and honored the game of golf.  She played it as it should be played.

We will miss her.

Mary and Leslie

Shopping at Fiddler’s Green

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Fiddler’s Green Golf Center is literally filled to the rafters with golf merchandise.

After a long two-week road trip that would have made Thelma and Louise proud and a particularly stressful day in I-5 traffic, there it loomed in front of us – the “Promised Land” in Eugene, Oregon – Fiddler’s Green Golf Center, home of the largest on-course golf shop in the USA.  We felt the tension drain from our tired bodies; we were about to go golf shopping!

We opened the front door and walked into a cavernous whole new world of all things golf related.  The store (it seemed as big as a football field) was an attractive warehouse with rows of colorful golf clothes for women.  I’m pretty sure it carried men’s clothing as well.  Toward the back around the 50-yard line, a cornucopia of golf clubs, all brands and all shiny and new, waited for a lucky player to select them.  At the far end zone was a wall of attractive (too attractive) golf shoes.  Fiddler’s Green also had separate rooms attached to the main large room, one dedicated to golf bags and one dedicated to wedges and putters, enabling a customer to make her choice away from the general hubbub created by the masses of shoppers.  As we wandered around the sidelines, we found everything a golfer could possibly need, including the latest technology.

We definitely needed a guide in this place that so easily overwhelms the senses, and Raymond Moore, a personable manager, came to our rescue.  He was eager to fill us in on the history of the golf center while he tempted us with various “good buys.”  Zeke, another personable and successful employee, was content to help Mary buy her first pair ever of full-priced golf shoes.

Raymond explained that the current owners founded Fiddler’s Green in 1976 when they took over a small, rundown golf course by the Eugene Airport.  Over the years they built addition after addition to the pro shop until golfers now enjoy the current behemoth they see today.  Fiddler’s Green still maintains the 18-hole, 2315-yard short course originally in place.  In addition, it has added a driving range, not only for warming up but for testing prospective purchases as well.  The original pro shop in the back is now a small coffee shop for both players and customers.  To get to the coffee shop from the shopping center, Raymond led us past an in-house embroidery shop, a golf club repair shop, a shipping/receiving space, and Mary and Zeke trying on shoes.  judging by all the services available, Raymond justifiably boasted that “customer service is primary” at Fiddler’s Green.

I know the big questions all you readers are asking are “did you buy anything” and “was it a good deal.”  The answers, of course, are “yes” and “yes.”  How could we resist?  I bought a golf watch that also counts steps, and Mary bought a new, longed-for pair of Footjoys. The purchases did not break the bank.  We will chalk them up to our road trip budget.

Hope to see you again soon, Fiddler’s Green.

Address: 91292 Highway 99N, Eugene, OR 97402.

4th of July Fact

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Feeling patriotic. Teeing it up at Mather’s red, white, and blue tee markers.

We learned so much history about the former Mather Air Force Base when we played Mather Golf Course that I thought I would share a little-known fact with you in honor of the 4th of July.  Mather was not the original name of the air field.  It was christened Mills Air Field, named after the community Mills Station where it was located.  Built in 1917 in preparation for World War I, it was one of the original Army Air Service training camps in the United States.

Enlisting in one of the first training classes, Second Lieutenant Carl Spencer Mather proved himself a talented and well-liked pilot.  Sadly, while continuing his training in Texas, he was killed in a mid-air collision on January 30, 1918.  The remainder of his class requested that Mills Field be renamed in Mather’s honor.  Mather Air Field eventually became Mather Air Force Base and continued under that name until it was decommissioned in 1993.

Over that period of time the military also built a golf course named after 2nd Lt. Mather. I wonder if he ever played golf.  Probably not – he was too busy flying.

Let the Scorecard Be Your Guide

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Another lost ball! Playing from the wrong set of tees can be dangerous.

If you are in a position to choose the set of tees from which you will play, use the tees that match your abilities.  Ask yourself questions like – How many holes can I reach in regulation? How long are the par 4’s? Are the par 3’s reachable?  Haggin Oaks suggests that if you hit drives over 200 yards, you can play a 6,000 yard course; 160 to 199 yards, a course around 5,300; and 159 or less, a course under 5,000 yards.

The course distance rating/slope numbers can also help you choose the tees that will provide the most fun and better scores.  Remember, the distance rating, such as 71.2, tells you what a scratch player (one with a 0 handicap) should shoot on that tee.  The Slope number tells you how difficult the obstacles are.  Note: the average slope obstacle rating is 113.  See Mary’s post under “Course Rating” for more details on Slope.

In playing so many different courses, we have noticed some mistakes and omissions on printed score cards, especially for women.  For example, Turkey Creek has a misprinted rating number for the white/gold combo tees.  If a player posts using that number, she will see some surprising changes in her handicap.

Update: Turkey creek has corrected their scorecards.

Bartley Cavanaugh shows a woman’s rating/slope for only the forward tees which are very short.  Most women will probably choose the white tees at 5,393 yards. Unfortunately, these tees only show a men’s rating.  Be sure to use the rating for women, which is shown on the computer when you post.

Most important, no matter which tees you choose from the scorecard, have fun using them!

Mary adds:

Don’t forget, one of the factors to consider when selecting tees is the number of golf balls in your bag and the current price of a dozen balls.

Haggin Oaks Focuses on Women

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This magnificent oak tree is down at Haggin Oaks, another victim of winter storms.

“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” The lyrics from Cheers seem to be appropriate for a woman’s golf (and social) experience at Haggin Oaks Golf Course.  The facility boasts several opportunities for women to join a group, play every week, and establish a handicap.  First, the Sacramento Women’s Golf Club, one of the oldest established groups in the area, offers 18 holes of golf weekly on Wednesdays, club tournaments and activities and handicapping through the Pacific Women’s Golf Association.  Similarly, the Haggin Oaks Women’s Golf Club, also a PWGA club, tees it up for 18 holes every Tuesday while the Haggin Oaks Business Women’s Club (PWGA) plays every other Sunday. Nine-hole players are not left out; the Haggin Oaks Niners Club meets every Thursday.

What is most exciting about Haggin Oaks is how it is focusing on improving the overall golfing experience in an ongoing program to attract more women players.  Head pro Mike Woods has established a women’s focus group that meets monthly to discuss how the overall operation can make Haggin Oaks more women and family friendly.  To that end, they have hired Linda Reid as “Golf Ambassador” charged with creating and coordinating women’s golf activities.  She is a personable and energetic presence who has already made her mark on the program.  She is most excited about the two 9-hole leagues that she has organized, one Wednesday morning and one starting in May on Wednesday evenings.  Currently boasting about 50 players, many of whom are just starting to play, the foursomes include at least one mentor, an experienced player who shares information about all the idiosyncrasies of the game and about how to become more comfortable on a golf course so they can confidently play with anyone. What a fun and effective way to learn the game! Anyone interested in any of these clubs and/or programs is welcome to contact Linda at lreid@hagginoaks.com or (916) 808-0861.

With its very positive focus on women and its outstanding golf facilities, practice areas, and courses, Haggin Oaks offers something for every woman player.  Frankly, it is nice to experience a golf course that views women golfers as important and welcome.  If you are new to the game, looking to connect with a good women’s group, or just wanting to broaden your golf experience, Haggin Oaks just may be your answer.