Weather and Other Thoughts

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Hail on the greens and fairways of Bing Maloney Golf Course.

Where were you yesterday, May 16, 2018, when lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and a common spring shower turned into a deluge and then into hail?  My guess is that you were not on the golf course.  But your Northern California course rating team composed of  usually practical and intelligent men and women headed out from the Bing Maloney clubhouse to do their scheduled rating of the course.  Apparently, like the Postal Service, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will keep us from our appointed rounds.  You will appreciate this work ethic when we come to rate your course.  Let’s just hope all the fireworks in the sky didn’t distract us from an accurate rating.

On a more troubling note, we read in yesterday’s newspaper that William Land Golf Course, one of Sacramento’s most venerable courses, is facing an uncertain future.  First Tee of Sacramento operates the course and needs some budgeting help from the city to keep the facility up and running.  We golfers need to let the city know how valuable a nine-hole course within the city limits is, not only to golfers but to people who appreciate the Land Park history and ambiance.  Please see our blog “Play Nine” at Land Park from September 26 of last year to see just what we thought about our experience there.  (Use the search key to find “Land Park” among the blog articles.)  And go play this wonderful, little course.

Finally, we remember Dorothy Trevethick who died in March at the age of 98.  She gave so much back to the game through her many hours of volunteering at golf events and her work with the Sacramento Golf Council and the USGA.  We will miss seeing her on the course; we all benefited from her knowledge of any and all things golf.

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Spring Golf: Pros and Cons

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The Bachelor’s Club looking good at Mather Golf Course.

It’s Spring!  The birds are singing, the gardens are blooming, and the golf courses are filling up with players eager to tune up rusty swings and try out all those new swing thoughts they came up with over the winter.  We approach spring with renewed enthusiasm and an extra “spring” in our steps (sorry!); however, along with all those positive aspects of spring golf, a few negatives are always lurking behind the scenes.  Just take a look at our first two weeks of spring golf as an example of its ups and downs.

Our first course rating this year at Morgan Creek presented us with a new system under the auspices of NCGA and with new co-ed teams of raters.  Although getting used to the men’s system is a challenge, the rating went along smoothly until the spring skies opened up and thunderstorms rolled across the course.  We always enjoy playing the course after rating, but we will wait to play Morgan Creek another day, knowing that lightning and golf clubs just do not mix.

Spring was really “rockin'” the course on our next outing three days later.  We played in a delightful guest day tournament at Mather Golf Course (see our earlier blog describing Mather in detail).  The company was wonderful, the game was fun, and the food was good; but the course itself, in all of its spring finery, was the star.  It was hard to concentrate on a golf game when the course was in beautiful, green, spring condition and the wildlife was out in force.  On this day the turkeys were doing their spring thing – the males tirelessly displaying their good looks and the females either eating nonchalantly or running away.  To top it off we won the tournament lottery at lunch after play.  Ultimately, our golf skills brought us crashing back to earth.  Our team finished DAL in our flight even with four mulligans!  Kudos to Mather tournament chair Karen Biscaha for a well-run, fun event and to our buddies Mary and Nancy for inviting us.

Our next venture out (Did we become recluses over the winter?) was to play with the Tuesday Women’s Club at Ancil Hoffman (see our earlier blog describing Hoffman in detail).  They have a reputation of being a fun group, and they did not disappoint.  We were welcomed warmly by the women – not so much by the golf course.  Although we walked 18 holes and enjoyed every minute of the beautiful spring conditions, we were reminded that Ancil Hoffman is a tough course, no matter what tees you play there.  The Tuesday Women generally play from the black tees at 5,413 yards.  Our rusty spring swings just didn’t hold up.  Again, golf brings us back to reality.

We hope our spring enthusiasm for the game lasts all summer long.  We can’t wait to tee it up tomorrow.  How about you?

“Come out, Come out, wherever you are.”

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Bluebird(?) boxes surrounding the pond on #10 at Ancil Hoffman are just another sign of spring.

Navigating Our Blog

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A little golf love from Harvey Penick. This plaque is located by the first tee at Sunrise Golf Course.

You Golf Girl is beginning its second year of blogging.  It has occurred to us that you experienced readers may have missed some of our stunning and descriptive blog posts from last year, and any newcomers might want an idea about how our blog works.  As the new golf season of 2018 begins, here are some reading tips for both new and faithful followers.

If you receive our latest blog post on Facebook, you may be missing out on the rest of the blog website.  You might want to go directly to the website at https://yougolfgirl.wordpress.com.  There you can scroll down from the latest article to other fascinating articles in reverse chronological order.

An even better way to use the website is to click on the categories listed under “Topics” located to the right of the most recent blog post.  We currently post under the 5 following topics:

  • Course Rating 101 – What obstacles make a course easy or difficult.
  • Courses – Descriptions and evaluations of area courses
  • Critics Corner – Every once in a while something makes us mad (or happy)
  • FYI – Comments on golf-associated ideas in general (like shopping)
  • Practice Facilities – Places to go to hone your talents

Again, you may have to scroll down from the most recent blog post under the topic in order to locate a post that was written earlier.

Finally, click on the “Search” button to type in the name of a specific course or topic in which you are interested.  We have about 50 articles from our first year saved on the website – each one of them more fascinating than the next.  Thank you for reading our blog.  We hope your interest continues in this new golf year.

Golf Shopping – ‘Tis the Season

Today’s blog entry started out to be all about practicing at Haggin Oaks; however, I have postponed the practice, as I often seem to do in winter months, to focus on another important area of interest to golfers – retail goods.  Yes, Christmas is coming, and I couldn’t resist all the shopping possibilities here.  For the golfers on her list, a Christmas elf really can’t go wrong at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex.

Out of habit and because I needed my driver re-gripped, when I arrived I made my way to the pro shop which overlooks the first tee.  The check-in desk caught my eye first, but soon I realized that most of the space in this building was filled with shoes – stacks and stacks of boxes of shoes and all walls filled with colorful shoe displays.  Haggin Oaks may be the golf shoe capital of Northern California with Foot Joys, Adidas, Sketchers, Nikes, New Balances, Under Armors, Pumas, Eccos, Callaways, and others stacked in neat piles of boxes.  It carries virtually all brands – a bit confusing since I expected shoes to be located in the Superstore, a large building adjacent to the driving range (where I should have been practicing).  Almost hidden among all the shoe boxes was the small club repair shop where it took Dan three minutes to re-grip my driver for about $10.  What more could I ask for?

The Superstore, a cavernous building that requires a map to get around, basically carries apparel (other than shoes) and any piece of golf equipment a player desires.  Women’s clothes are a featured attraction.  Holiday shoppers can choose from Nike, Puma, Tail, Adidas, Sunice, Jaimie Saddock, etc.,etc.,etc.  A clerk was excited to tell me about the deal they were offering on Jaimie Saddock: buy 10 items and get 1 free.  Of course, if I bought 10, I really couldn’t afford to play golf anymore.  Approximately half of the Superstore is dedicated to hard goods: balls, clubs, bags, pushcarts, even cute, fuzzy little headcovers that could also function as puppets to entertain the kids.  Shoppers are welcome to test prospective clubs on the driving range behind the Superstore; they simply need to sign up, leave a driver’s license, and swing away.

Located at the center of the Superstore, the Concierge Desk is the heart of the operation.  The desk is manned (or “womaned”) by Sterling who is as valuable as her name suggests at tasks such as arranging group or private lessons with PGA teaching pros, setting up appointments for club fittings using the latest Doppler Radar technology (sounds more like a weather report), reserving one of the Academy Holes for practicing that short game, and even purchasing gift certificates for Christmas.  Look for more about using the Concierge Desk in a blog about Haggin Oaks’ practice facilities coming up in the near future – depending on how many times I postpone writing it.

The best thing about Christmas shopping at Haggin Oaks is that you can get all the gifts on your golfing list so quickly and conveniently that you will have time to play the MacKenzie 18-hole course or one of the Arcade Creek 9-hole courses when you have finished – a little Christmas present to yourself.  Happy holidays!

 

Golfing in Egypt

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Temple of Luxor at sunset.

Beware!  The title is a trick.  We never saw a golf course on our just-completed trip to Egypt although they do exist.  Some are located on the Mediterranean coast to the north and some on the Red Sea to Egypt’s east.  The largest cluster, according to Google Maps, is around Cairo where most of Egypt’s population resides.  Palm Hills, a John Sanford and Nicklaus design, even uses the pyramids of Giza as a backdrop.  However, on our trip from Cairo up the Nile River to Aswan and Abu Simbel and back again, we admit that golf was not on our minds.  The following list touches on some of the amazing sites we experienced:

1)  The sun setting on the Nile River as it winds through Cairo, a city of eclectic architecture, high rises, and bright lights.  Egypt needs to take better care of its life-giving river, perhaps the most important river in the world; sadly, it is polluted and its banks are littered with garbage.

2)  Waking up one morning to find the Temple of Kom Ombo, brilliant as the sun rose, directly outside our riverboat window only steps away.  It has been there for 2200 years.

3)  Walking through the barren hills of the Valley of the Kings in brutal 100+ degree heat in order to duck into the cool, elaborately decorated tombs of pharaohs who had undertaken their journeys to the afterlife 3500 years ago, an indescribable feeling.

4)  Traveling 300 miles by air just to see the breathtaking Temples of Abu Simbel, a double miracle.  First – that human beings of the 13th century BC could have carved the temples out of a solid cliff.  Second – that human beings in the 1960’s could save the temples by relocating them piece by piece to higher ground before the waters of newly created Lake Nasser could engulf them.  Thank you Egypt and UNESCO.

5)  Passing by hundreds of Nile riverboats either abandoned, retired, or out of work on the banks of the Nile from Luxor to Aswan.  The crowds of tourists have disappeared; at times we were the only tour group at a site.  Our Uniworld boat (ship?) had an eighty passenger capacity; only thirty of us enjoyed this river cruise, great for sightseeing but terrible for the Egyptian economy.

Do not journey to your own afterlife not having seen Egypt.  The country poses no more dangers than any tourist destination you visit these days.  We traveled with Uniworld River Cruises and felt very safe at all times.  If you travel in the near future, you will encounter smaller crowds and always very warm, welcoming people.

As the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus so eloquently said of Egypt, “Nowhere in the world are there so many marvellous things of unspeakable greatness.”

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.

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!