Alright forum members, here is the situation: You wake up in the morning, check the forecast really quick and the weatherman calls for clear skies and 75 degrees, with only a gentle breeze of 0 - 5 miles an hour expected for the day. Pristine golf weather. And the rest of the week calls for rain, rain and more rain - you can't let an opportunity like this pass you by! So you call in to the office because you are *cough* *cough* "under the weather" *sniffle* *sniffle*, and then start making the rounds scouring golf now and the internet for a tee time. You find a course you have played a couple times, not a ton, but you remember it being a decent track and are pretty pumped to play it again. So you throw on your favorite golf polo and comfiest golf shorts (or pants, if 75 degree weather is pants weather for you crazy people in Arizona, California, etc.), eat a hearty breakfast, throw your clubs in the trunk of your car and head off to the course. You get to the course, pay the green fee and head off to the first tee box. It's moment of truth time gentlemen (and ladies, but mostly gentlemen in this case) - what tee box are you attacking the course from, and is this the box you should actually be going to battle from?
Personally, I used to play from the tee box just in front of the tips most of the time (generally the blue tee boxes on the courses around me). And I generally played there for the following reasons:
- When I started golfing, most of the people I played with always played from the blue tees. So I just got used to playing from those boxes.
- I can hit the ball pretty far. I am not tour pro long or anything like that,but for average joe golfer I can get the ball out there pretty good, so I thought that was the spot for me.
- It is an ego thing. I think I should be able to play from that distance and do it well.
- Blue is a much more manly color than white.
What I have realized though is that even though the blue tee boxes generally don't make the course too long for my game, I should probably spend more of my time teeing off from the white tee boxes (or the boxes one set behind the ladies tees if your course uses a different coloring system). Why is that? I score way better (and who doesn't have more fun when the score looks good!) Not sub par or low 70's better, but I can generally keep things in the low to mid 80's from there. I also don't have to hit as many shots with long irons or fairway woods to get home on holes, which limits the duffs and skulls and other nonsense I generally rack up throughout the round, which just makes the round more frustrating it needs to be. Golf is hard enough as it is! I also feel better about my pace of play. I don't feel like I am holding people up as much, searching for balls on wayward shots when my swing gets a little handsy, and when I hit a fat shot I am already closer than I was if I were playing from further away. I think the people playing behind me appreciate it more, as I know I get frustrated and out of rhythm when the group in front of me is clearly playing from the wrong tee box and slowing things down to a halt (I am looking at you banana ball slicer who only gets a FIR hitting the fairway of another hole but continues to tee it up from the back boxes).
So now I most courses I find myself playing from a hybrid set of tee boxes throughout the round, mixing it up between the white boxes and blue boxes. If the hole is too short, I back up a set, but I am not too proud to enjoy the game like it is meant to be enjoyed. What about the rest of you out there. Do you think you honestly play the right set of tees most of the time, or are you playing from further back than you should be playing?
Also, earlier I said this post was mostly for the gentlemen as I have yet to encounter a group of ladies teeing up from too far away for their game. In my experience, it appears those that can play from further back know it and do, and others tee it forward where they are comfortable playing from. But would love everyone to weigh in and give their opinions.
By Kenny B
Last week on Tuesday and Wednesday I observed the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA) process for rating golf courses. Why did I do this? Well, I was curious why I could shoot certain scores on some courses, but not fair that well on other courses with similar ratings and slopes. I'm still not sure about that, but at least I now know (sort of) the process used to come up with those ratings.
The team was led by the WSGA Director for Handicapping and Course Rating who is a WSGA employee. The five other team members are volunteers that have gone through a training program to learn the process. Each member has a USGA book that provides a number value for different features of the course for the scratch golfer and the 18-handicapper; for both men and women. All the number values for the holes are crunched to come up with the values we see on the scorecards. I didn't get into that, so how that works will be left up to those who want to volunteer and take the ratings course. The team can either break up and rate alternate holes, or they can all stay on the same hole and rate the different teeing grounds. We did the latter; maybe that was for my benefit so we could all be together.
The criteria for rating courses assumes a scratch male golfer hits a drive 250 yards and a second shot 220 yards, whereas the bogey golfer hits a drive 200 yards with a 170 yard second shot. For the female scratch golfer, the drive is 210 yards with a 190 yard second shot, and the drive for the bogey female is 150 yards with a 130 yard second shot.
These numbers are important because what we did on each hole is drive to the spot in the fairway where the scratch and bogey players would end up and measure fairway width, observe types of hazards and distance to them, and distance to OB is any. If a bunker on the course was not within 20 yards of the landing area, it is not considered for that player. From the tables in their book, a number is assigned for the scratch and bogey players. Also considered are number and coverage of trees and the fairway stance difficulty. Around the greens the team measures the green size, coverage of bunkers and bunker depth with women getting a more difficult value depending on depth. Again, distances to hazards and OB is recorded and the tables in their book assign the number for both scratch and bogey. Of course green speed is measured as is the depth of the fairway rough. The team does these ratings in pairs, and after the hole has been evaluated, the pairs get together and compare numbers and if they don't agree, they resolve it immediately. We did that a couple of times by going back to the spot on the course and re-evaluating the landing zone.
The first course that we rated was Horn Rapids GC in Richland, WA. This course is the only all desert course in the state. There are houses on part of the course with more being built every day, but they don't come into play except for the really bad shot. The team is measuring the green on this short par 4 #1 with bunker in front and mounding left and long. These houses are the closest of any on the course.
Check out the sagebrush that comes into play on this par 5 #5.
The desert also comes across the fairway off the tee that is reachable by the scratch golfers and very close for the bogey golfers. For scratch it is considered a forced layup. The USGA book has a section specific for deserts.
From the tips this 220 yard par 3 #8 plays downhill. The team also measures elevation change which also translates into a number from USGA table.
The short par 4 #9 is difficult because the water is right next to the green on the left with a drop off on the right about 10 feet to a bunker. That tree comes into play if your are on the left side of the fairway.
This course is hilly and quite long between greens to the next tee box, and while walkable, carts are recommended. Rating this course took all day, but after the data was gathered, some of the team members played the course; one of the perks of being on the committee.
On day 2 the team went to the West Richland GC in West Richland, WA. This was my very first course that I played in town, and where I learned to play. My teacher is still the pro there. We played the course this last Sunday and with a sore rib muscle, I still managed to shoot 78. It's an easy, flat course in a flood plain, and it floods most every year. The Yakima River borders the right side of the course which is the back nine and a canal runs through the middle of #1, #9, #10, #11, and #12. Since it floods, maintenance is difficult and as such the course is usually pretty rough.
This is a picture this winter looking out at the #18 fairway from the clubhouse. The canal is actually above water, about 150 yards from the green.
The water is all gone, but the grass has not fully recovered in some spots on the course. Here is the team on the short par 4 #10 green.
Standing on the 190 yard #11 tee box looking through the grass bordering the canal. The river is left of the green.
After going through the process, I understand what they are looking for to determine difficulty of a course, but that doesn't mean that I necessarily agree with the ratings and slope they come up with. It's not a perfect model, but I think it is at least consistent in the application. The Director said that the USGA course rating system will undergo some changes in 2018 in an effort for the all rating systems worldwide to conform to one process. THAT ought to be interesting.
To sum up my experience, I now appreciate what the rating committee goes through to rate our courses. The Director has personally rated every course in Washington State, some many times. But it would not be possible without the help of non-paid volunteers. One of the volunteers was local, but the others all came from the Seattle area which is over 200 miles away. It's a constant process given how many courses there are in the state. Most volunteers are retired, which is how they are able to contribute as much as they do. Do I want to do this? Ahhh, NO!
By Kenny B
Well, I got my wife and I an early Christmas present. As you know we have been members of a 9-hole executive course for over 15 years. I even held the 9-hole course record for a few years! I saw it when it was built by our pro and it's been run on a shoestring ever since. It was a fun place to play even though the course was never in very good shape. We made a lot of friends; some are still there and many have moved on. We even got married on the first tee!!
Over the years I've complained about certain things that I thought would be easy to fix and make the course a little nicer. The pro just laughed. One year I suggested buying some heavier flagsticks since the wind blows pretty hard here and the ones he had were very light weight and ruined the edge of the hole in a windstorm. He laughed. I was willing to purchase them, and started a campaign with some of the other members to buy them as a gift to the course. The pro got wind of it and bought them himself. It was a very good investment that I think he realizes now. The pro is the kind of guy that gets an idea and starts a project then it sits for months half done. Last year he started building a new tee box; it's almost done!
We can't complain too much because the membership is cheap for our area ($900 for both of us with a cart). It has a GHIN rating but I never post scores when I play it because I don't believe the rating is accurate. I have always used this course for practice and fun golf with friends. Certain times of the day I can head out to any hole I want and hit shots and nobody will come along; if they do, I just let them play through and keep practicing. The negative for this course is that the fairways are rough length at any other course in the area, and the greens are like other courses' fairways; putts are slooooooow! The final straw was a month or two ago when he filled divots on tee boxes and in the fairways with sand and gravel. That's right, gravel!! About 3/8" chip. When the grass grows back and my SCORs hit that, I will be really pissed.
Well, my wife and I discussed what to do and we decided to join another club for 2016. There is a pro that we like and play with quite a bit at a local muni, so we went to that course and played a few rounds. You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I shot 71 on that par 70 course. It's OK and it's the cheapest option but still twice what we are paying now. This picture is #18 taken a couple of weeks ago. As you can see, a little rough around the edges.
It's in a flood plain and it floods every year; sometimes up to the green shown here. There is also a sewage treatment plant located next to #7,8 and 9. This is the course where I learned how to play golf 24 years ago. It would be OK, but I was looking for something better.
We have one private country club that has hosted a Hogan, Nike, buy.com, Nationwide tournament but it's way out of my price range. We also have a semi-private country club, but membership is pretty steep too and we would probably not use the other facilities. That leaves 4 public courses to choose from. One is a little far away for evening golf after work (my wife still works; I don't!) and it has lots of tournaments and shotgun starts on Sat and Sun when they don't have tournaments. Another course is also a little far away and is laid out in a housing development with lots of elevation changes and long distances from greens to the next tee; not conducive to walking. The remaining two courses are similar in price and condition; one close and the other further away. The good thing about these courses is that they are owned and operated by the same company. While a membership in one doesn't get you a membership in the other; it does get you 50% off any posted greens fees. So, we opted for the closest one.
It's fairly short 6600 yards from the tips; 37/35 = par 72. Three par 5's on the front and one on the back. The course is rated 71.7/132. As you can see, there are not many trees and the wind can really affect your round. I normally play from the Blues which are 6100 yards, and shot 78 yesterday. The course can be easily walked, but now I have to make a tee time. How quaint! Never had to do that at my old course. The challenge now is to make new friends. Gee, I hope they are friendly here.
I am pleased to say that we are currently running another fabulous sweepstakes to win a 7 night, 5 round Golf Vacation for 4 people to Wales.
The lucky winners will play the pick of the crop in South West Wales with rounds at Pennard, Ashburnham and Royal Porthcawl - classic old school links courses; the modern day masterpiece Machynys Peninsula - designed by Jack Nicklaus; and the world famous Celtic Manor Twenty Ten Course - home of the 2010 Ryder cup.
You'll also enjoy 4-star accommodations throughout your stay in Cardiff and Swansea - fantastic cities to visit and enjoy the night life! Wales is riding high at the moment with national teams doing well in both the Rugby World Cup and the European Championships (soccer), so here is your chance to join in with the party, for a whole week, and play some world class golf! You can enter here: http://usa.golfbreaks.com/sweepstake/ Good luck.... and your entries need to be in by midnight on November 2nd. Guy
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