Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Hidden Southern Gem For Ya'll

The last time I wrote I talked about "dumps." Today it is about the really special course.
I had the best experience of golf a few years ago in September when I went to visit my father in South Carolina. Since the launch of I don't get to visit very often, so I was looking forward to this trip with dear old Dad.

We usually play the "muni" courses in Beaufort, the Marine base course on Paris Island, and occasionally Secession golf club. This trip he told me that he was taking me to a new course and he hoped I had been putting well. He said they had the hardest, as in difficult, greens he'd ever played on, and I know from his stories that in his younger days he played Oakmont on a few occasions.

He said he was taking me up to the low country, which doesn't make sense because how can you go up to the low country. Southerners! He explained to me that the owners of the course were golf course developers, and that they were/are frequently used to help redo the greens at Augusta. I am just saying what he told me. He said the course was rather unique.

So I'll cut to the chase. Did you ever see the movie Field of Dreams? That's what this place is. There are no signs to find the place. You're in the middle of pine country, thick pine country. You turn a corner and there is a small driveway that goes for about 1500 yards, and all of a sudden there's a small farm house that was turned into a club house. This was a Saturday morning about 10 am and there are only 4 cars in the parking lot. When you are on any hole, you don't see any other hole. They are all hidden by the pine trees.

I couldn't put the experience into words until after the round. I told my dad that I thought this was someone's personal course, which they allowed us to play. I was in the clubhouse and saw an article on the wall entitled "the field of dreams for golf." That's it, exactly!

I know there are a lot of great courses in the world, most I will probably never play, but I can't imagine a more unique experience. It felt like holy ground. I really hope to be fortunate enough to play it again someday soon.

By the way, I hit the first 7 holes in regulation that day... I ended the day with 9 three putts.

Hard greens? Thanks dad! I will never forget that round. It was one of the top five golf experiences I have had. 

Stay tuned for my next installment... Till then, I'll be back at work making cool golf belts and exotic leather putter grips.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Courses I Never Play... And Other Such Lies

Last week I decided to play a course I hadn't played in years, Stone Creek. I used to play it fairly often when I moved to Scottsdale ten years ago, mostly because it was priced right for me at the time. Over the years, I started to play more of the "brand name" courses. Last week I was ticked at my golf game and thought about not playing for a while. That lasted for two days; however I didn't want to shell out a bunch of money and risk having a crappy score like I just had. STONE CREEK!! Perfect. It's a cheap round and an easy way to figure out if I give up this game or continue with it.

After the fifth hole I realized something, I missed playing this dump. It also dawned on me that some of my favorite courses I've played in my golfing "career" have been "dumps."

While I lived back in Chicago, my favorite course was Fort Sheridan. Fort Sheridan was a Lake County municipal course on the old Fort Sheridan army base between Lake Forest, Highwood, and Highland Park. I loved that course. They charged $18 for a round of golf, cart, hot dog, and a coke. I used to get my butt kicked there by my little brother (10 years younger). My brother would always complain about his awesome tee shot ending up on a dirt patch in the fairway. "This is crap! If I were on tour the fairways wouldn't be like this." It was the first place I ever saw a hole in one when a guy in the foursome in front of us hit one on the 16th hole. It was also the place where I hit a ball into the back of a pickup truck as it was traveling south bound on Sheridan that runs parallel to the 18th hole. There was an old runway that ran parallel to the par 5 15th hole. I used to take a six iron and pitch is down the runway; letting it bounce to the end of the runway where the green was. Brilliant! I loved that dump. It is still one of my all time favorites.

Years later, I made the mistake of picking up my Chicago stakes and chased some tail to Las Vegas. That's a whole other story for another day. But I found a replacement for Fort Sheridan just a few minutes away from my home in North Las Vegas, Craig Road Ranch. If Fort Sheridan was a dump, Craig Road Ranch was the film of an arm pit, but I loved this place. They charged $15 for a round of golf with a cart, 75 cents for hot dogs, and $3 for a six pack of beer. There were many days where I played golf, filled my belly, and stumbled home for less than $30. It was awesome! The best part about this place was that it got me out of the house and away from the train wreck I moved to Las Vegas for. The other great thing about this course was that they didn't have many sand traps officially. They also didn't have much grass in the fairways either. I went back to Las Vegas a few years ago and took a drove around the old neighborhood and I was really sad when I discovered the "course" is now a casino.

There is something about these "dumps" that I really love. Scottsdale has a few that I like. Silverado is one and I don't know if "dump" really fits. They actually keep it in pretty good shape. It comes to mind because they don't have a range and that kills me for the first three holes or so. Playing "cold" sucks, but it was always a good "fix" and close to my original home in Scottsdale. Continental golf course is another and I would call this a dump. It's a par 3 course with maybe one or two par 4's on the course. This course was fun because it was located a pitching wedge for my old employer's office. I used to tell the guys in the office, "bring your clubs to work tomorrow, we're getting off early for an employee golf outing."

One of the things I've realized about golf courses is that the level of fun I have has nothing to do with the condition of the course or the price they charge. There are a lot of courses out here in Arizona that think quite highly of themselves and charge a few bucks to play, that I wouldn't play if they paid me. Being that I would like to have my products (See or my golf belts or my exotic leather putter grips) in some of their pro shops, I will not mention them on here, however send me an email and I will fill you in. 

Till Then,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm In Love With A New Set

I think I have mentioned earlier that I have a little golf addiction. As I mentioned in my last post, I sent in a set of clubs to BOS Golf to get refinished. Because I was a little nervous about sending my gamers in, I sent in an old set that had been resting in the garage. I know that they are going to come back special and I will want to send my gamers in. (This is where the addictive part comes in) I ended up buying a set of Mizuno MP 57's off of ebay. My reasoning was that I would probably need a set when I sent the gamers in. I know, you're probably saying that I would have the newly returned spa clubs to use. True. However, what if they're too pretty to use was my thinking. Therefore, with that logic, I had to pull the trigger on the Mizunos.

This is where my dilemma begins. I pulled my gamers out of my bag to test out the Mizunos when they arrived. They haven't made it back into the bag and I've probably played seven rounds since then.

I have no idea what it's like to cheat on a significant other with a mistress. There was one time in high school when I was drunk and I messed around with a girl while I was dating someone (Sorry again Amy), but I don't even remember what I was thinking. I feel like I'm having an affair on my gamers. These clubs are so nice. They fly straight. They look so shinny and pretty. It doesn't take much to get them to do what I want. They treat me well. My ego is stroked every time I take them out. Bottom line, I think I'm falling for a new set.

I keep thinking that maybe my "gamers" will come back from the spa and everything will be alright. Maybe, right?

I feel so bad. And at the same time when I'm with the new set, I feel sooooo good.

Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons Handmade