Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Just wanted to wish all the readers of Now on the Tee a happy holiday season and best wishes for a safe and prosperous new year!

It's another crazy, warm Christmas Day here in St. Catharines, Canada, with temps over 40 degrees Fahrenheit and that has me thinking about golf.

I'm planning a post that essentially will be a master list of all the golf courses I've played since I took up the game again in 2001. The popularity of top-ten lists and the like has me thinking that I should devise some sort of ranking system of my own for the golf courses I've played to give you an idea of what may be decent and what, for lack of a better term, stinks.

I also want to put together a 'wish list' of courses I'd like to play in the next ten years or so, which should prove to be challenging but fun.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Killed by the Donk at Poker Night

I got absolutely destroyed on Wednesday night at the home game to the tune of $80.00. I should be careful of what I say though. Harry is likely going to run and tell his old man at the Hanukkah dinner table this week and I'll have yet another intervention from my crazy parents after Gary starts spinning lies.

It was easily my worst result in a poker home game. However, my cards were excellent throughout the night and I just kept getting beaten by fantastic hands. Trip Queens lost twice for me. AK preflop hit big on an AK3 flop but my opponent Jeff had pocket kings.

Another all-in lost there.

Then, the hand of the night saw me beaten by the king of donks himself, Mr. Toast. You can check out his recap of the hand
here at his blog. The thing he DOESN'T SAY (because it proves he's a donk) is that he called an $18.00 all-in bet when he had $2.00 invested into the pot with nothing but king high and an OESD.

Oh well. If he wants to keep putting his money into the middle as an underdog, so be it. He won so he must be a smarter player than I. At the end of the day, you can't get too upset - it's called gambling for a reason!

Insult was added to injury on the last hand of the night when my full house of sixes over threes was defeated by his set of kings over sixes.

Not my night. Brett and I were the only guys who lost money on the night while Harry, Jay, Toast, Jeff and Mike were all on the plus side.

Hopefully we can get one more game in before the new year sometime this coming week.

The next night, a bunch of our golf buddies ventured over the border to Mr. B's in Niagara Falls, NY for some pizza and wings at our annual Christmas get-together. Unfortunately, only eight of the guys showed up (Harry backed out because he was sick...more like he wanted to watch football alone on the couch) to make it a pretty lame night overall. The food was awesome, though, and ridiculously inexpensive as well. Eight guys, four full pizzas, 80 wings, numerous pitchers of draft: $91.00 Canadian. Not too shabby!

Monday, December 11, 2006

2006 Golf Season - Year in Review


The 2006 golf season officially ended for yours truly on November 8th with a birdie on the 18th hole at the Poipu Bay Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, the home of the PGA Tour's Grand Slam of Golf. A fantastic way to end a pretty pedestrian season.

Surprisingly enough, I actually played one MORE round of golf in 2006 than I did last year, even though I spent a lot of time planning my wedding.

Let's look at the numbers for 2006. In brackets, I've included my numbers for 2005 as a point of comparison:

TOTAL ROUNDS PLAYED: 63 (Last year - 62)
TOTAL TOURNAMENT ROUNDS: 14 (Last year - 20)
TOTAL NINE-HOLE ROUNDS: 4 (Last year - 7)

TOTAL ROUNDS (80 OR UNDER): 44 (Last year - 45)
TOTAL ROUNDS (75 OR UNDER): 4 (Last year - 11)
TOTAL ROUNDS UNDER PAR: 0 (Last year - 3)

DIFFERENT GOLF COURSES PLAYED: 19 (Last year - 21)
COURSES PLAYED FOR FIRST TIME: 9
- PGA Village (North, South and Dye Courses), Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA
- East Aurora CC, East Aurora, NY, USA
- Cutten Club, Guelph, Ontario, CAN
- Muskoka Bay Golf Club, Gravenhurst, Ontario, CAN
- Thundering Waters Golf Club, Niagara Falls, Ontario, CAN
- Princeville Resort (Prince Course), Princeville, Hawaii, USA
- Poipu Bay, Koloa, Hawaii, USA

OVERALL SCORING AVERAGE: 78.93 (Last year - 78.50)
SCORING AVERAGE (ST. CATHARINES G&CC): 77.91 (Last year - 77.55)
SCORING AVERAGE (OTHER COURSES): 80.38 (Last year - 80.50)
TOURNAMENT SCORING AVERAGE: 79.36 (Last year - 78.00)

A poor year all-around when comparing to my breakout 2005 year. I was down in every category except scoring average away from St. Catharines, which is a bit of a surprise.

I finished 24th on the Niagara Men's Tour this year after finishing 11th the year previous. One top ten finish this year, an 8th in the final event at Thundering Waters. Last year, I had two top six finishes, including a second place result at Beechwood.

I lost my only club match this year and didn't even try to defend the Newlands Cup crown, which I had won two years in a row.

I did, however, do quite well in the Niagara Cup matches, finishing with a perfect 4-0-0 record and winning 10.5 out of a possible 12 points in the process. Really, that's the only positive from the year.

Here are some more stats:

LOW SCORE: 74 (Last year - 68)
LOW TOURNAMENT SCORE: 76 (Last year - 71)
LOW NINE-HOLE SCORE: 34 (Last year - 33)

DRIVING DISTANCE: 264.49 yards (Long Drive - 331 yards)
DRIVING ACCURACY: 44.94% (Single Round Best - 92.86%)
GREENS IN REGULATION: 44.54% (Single Round Best - 77.78%)
PUTTS PER GIR: 1.94
BIRDIE CONVERSION: 18.28%
PUTTS PER ROUND: 30.78 (Single Round Best - 26)
SAND SAVES: 33.33%
SCRAMBLING: 36.79%
SKINS: +$209.50
TOTAL EAGLES: 1
TOTAL BIRDIES: 85 (Single Round Best - 5)

What do all these numbers mean? Well, I've got a lot of weaknesses, that's for sure. Hopefully I can put my money where my mouth is and actually PRACTICE my game in 2007. I don't have enough talent to get by on skill alone - I need to work on things a lot more.

I expect to play in a lot of tournaments again in 2007. I'm exempt on the Niagara Men's Tour and we'll play six events again, with one of them being a TWO-ROUND event! Pretty cool! I'll also attempt to get past the first round of the Langley Cup for the first time in three years and will work on making the Niagara Cup team again.

I may also work on attempting to qualify for the Ontario Mid-Am Championship. I pretty much said it was a lock that I'd try to qualify in '06 but I decided against it. We'll have to see.

Either way, I look forward to the 2007 season with great anticipation.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Guaranteed Win Night

I went into our poker game last night determined to play winning poker. I had played extremely loose the two previous nights and was especially reckless post-flop, which was the reason I ended up down $14.00 over those games.

No more crazy bluff raises with nothing. No smooth calling four outers. And most importantly, not tilting if Toast DOES BLUFF RAISE ME with nothing!

Nothing, and I mean nothing, gets him more excited then outwitting me at a poker table. And I’ll give Toast some credit. The bugger tried like hell to get me off my game last night but it wasn’t going to work on Guaranteed Win Night.

We had seven guys out last night: Toast (SLA), Harry (VLA-P), Gary (LP), Jeff (TA-P), Ryan (LA), Vito (LA) and myself (SLA). To sum it up, Toast and I are semi-loose aggressive (he’s tighter than I and more aggro but he plays too many marginal hands preflop to be considered tight), Harry plays a lot of hands and is hard to read because of his strange betting habits (sometimes overbets a pot, sometimes checks with the nuts), Gary is the calling station, Jeff is the rock, Ryan is hyper-aggressive but is certainly picking his spots better these days and Vito plays a lot of pots but raises often and effectively.

The game last night was 'cue announcers voice' No Limit Texas Hold’em with blinds set at $0.25/$0.50 and a $20.00 per person cap per hand. The cap has worked out well as a compromise to the one guy who hates playing no-limit in our game. And what type of player hates no-limit you ask? Well, the calling station, of course.

Let’s get this out of the way first. I absolutely love Gary. Just a great guy. But he’s not cut out for poker in the least. He HATES playing shorthanded (he won’t get out of bed unless there’s at least six guys playing) and despises heads-up play, which in reality is the essence of poker.

I hate to make fun, but here is Gary’s ideal hand (as told in online poker summary style):

Seven Players –
Hero (Gary) on the button with AhAd. UTG limps; MP limps, MP limps, CO limps, Button (Hero) happily limps, SB calls, BB checks.
FLOP As7cAc
Everyone checks to Button; Button checks.
TURN 4d
Everyone checks to Button; Button checks
RIVER Js
Everyone checks to Button; Button checks

Button shows a pair of aces. Button wins the pot ($3.50)
Button: “Whoooooooo”

Ok, maybe even Gary would bet with quads but the gist of the matter is that Gary would rather just play limit poker, have everyone play every hand with no strategy, deception or subtle action involved, turn the cards over and see who has the best hand.

That’s not poker, my friends.

I say all of this only because Gary set a home poker game record by busting out of a capped N/L game less than 15 minutes in. He went through 3 buy-ins in about 8 hands and just walked out.

The last hand says everything you need to know. Gary got involved in a raised pot preflop and called with Ax, both hearts. With three clubs showing on the board, Gary called a $13.00 all-in bet from Toast. Gary had the ass end of a wheel.

Gary: “I got the flush”

Ugh. No you don’t Gare…but Toast has one…and the nuts at that.

On goes Gary’s jacket.

While I make fun, the whole turn of events really sucks, because I love having Gary at the game and I fear that he won’t be playing much anymore. As the guy who organizes the game most of the time, I like to keep everyone as happy and comfortable with the games and stakes as possible. Problem is that Gary is the only one who dislikes N/L and the only one who complains about table stakes. So I don’t know how often we will revert back to Limit when it’s not the consensus game of choice.

Hopefully he comes back to the game because he’s a fun guy to hang around with and I want everyone to have fun when playing, not just the good players like Toasty.

The rest of the night saw some solid gambling and three winners. Toast ended up coming back from far in the hole to profit $15.00. My strategy to play ‘winning poker’ proved successful, as I ended up $30.50 on the night. I made a loose call late in the game on a Toast all-in that went his way but other than that, I played real solid.

The big winner, again, was Vito, who profited almost $90.00 on the night! He doubled up the first time he played as well so I’m sure he’s anxious to play again with us donks sometime soon!

What I REALLY want to do is set up some type of ‘Standings’ chart and have a bit of money kept aside (perhaps a buy-in of $5 per night per player). After each night is over, each player is given points for how profitable they were on the evening and after 10 nights, we disperse the money to the top three players in overall points.

I think this type of ‘Poker Tour’-type of game would make things REALLY interesting late in games, as guys protect their lead or go for broke at the end to try to make up for losses.

I’ll have to consult with pokermaster Toast to see the viability of such a venture.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Poker Night is Back!

Toast is pretty pumped about the fact that the weekly poker game is on once again after a summer-long absence.

We started it up again on November 14th and had seven guys playing $1/$2 over at my place. I lost an unsightly $2.00 that night playing EXTREMELY loose. Unacceptable!

One week later, on the 21st, we had seven guys again, with Gary doing the hosting duties. We moved the stakes down to $0.50/$1 but the chips still flew wildly. I lost $10.00 that night and got no cards to speak of the whole time.

We took last week off because the addict (Toast) was off hob-nobbing in Florida with other computer geeks like himself. Guess I can't make fun when I'm in the toilet paper business but I digress...

So I'm down $12.00 overall in the game and we're back in action tomorrow night over at Harris' place. He's happy because he can 'burn at will without having to go out into the freezing cold' but I figure he wanted to host so he can watch Thursday night football while playing cards. I'll have to record the Sabres game on my PVR but that's cool...I love getting together to play cards with the boys so it should be a fun night.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Fantasy Football Update - Receivers

Now let's move on to my situation at receiver in the Trash Talking is a Must fantasy league.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS -

DRAFTED:
Roy Williams (DET); Joey Galloway (TB); Donte Stallworth (PHI); David Givens (TEN); Heath Miller (PIT); Devery Henderson (NO); Chad Jackson (NE); Marcus Robinson (MIN)

WHAT I SAID IN AUGUST:
"I'm a bit weak at wideout when it comes to front line talent but I got a lot of depth and phenomenal value in the middle and late rounds. I picked Roy Williams as my first wideout with my third pick. He's got great size and speed and hopefully will flourish under Mike Martz in Detroit. I got Joey Galloway from Tampa (who may not get as many looks with Michael Clayton healthy) and Philly's recent pickup Donte Stallworth, who'll be one of McNabb's main targets once he grasps the west coast system. Givens was a value selection but I'm not a big fan of his. I like the Heath Miller pick - tight ends aren't required in this league but Pittsburgh will likely utilize Miller quite a bit this year as they don't have a lot of options in the passing game with the loss of Randle-El. Henderson from New Orleans gets promoted to the starting lineup with the trade of Stallworth so I love that pick in the 15th round. Chad Jackson from New England is a huge reach, since he's been injured all preseason but if he's healthy, he'll make an impact since Branch is a goner in Patriot land. My last pick of the draft was Marcus Robinson, the number 2 guy in Minnesota. Great value there."

CURRENTLY ON TEAM:
Roy Williams (DET); Joey Galloway (TB); Wes Welker (MIA); Devery Henderson (NO); Donte Stallworth (PHI); Heath Miller (PIT); Marcus Robinson (MIN)

What a sorry state of affairs here. I've had two mainstays in my lineup at this position in Williams and Galloway, who have started for me every week (not including their byes). Let's start with my hoss Roy Williams. I drafted him in the third round and he's easily been my most consistent receiver, compiling 183.5 points (16.68 average) which puts him as the 9th best fantasy receiver in the game. Detroit has been brutal this year but it just goes to show how talented this guy is that he still gets decent fantasy numbers without getting the touchdowns to show for it. He's a marginal #1 receiver in fantasy but would be a bonafide #1 if he had a better support staff.

My #2 has been Galloway and he's compiled 140.9 points (12.81 average) so far. What's impressive is that he's had TWO ZERO POINT WEEKS where he didn't even get a single catch but he's still rated as the 21st best receiver in fantasy based on his totals. He's been an average (at best) #2 guy and was a stretch as a fifth round pick.

My sixth round pick was Donte Stallworth and it's hard to rate this guy. He's been TREMENDOUS when in the lineup and seemed to gel with quarterback Donovan McNabb right from the outset. However, a nagging groin injury has sidelined Stallworth for four weeks, limiting his impact in fantasy. He's picked up 97.7 points in 7 games (13.96 average) and two of those games he was struggling with the groin and wasn't effective. When healthy, he's a fantastic #2 but that's always a challenge with Stallworth. Once again, he's favouring the groin and I may have to keep him out of the lineup this week against Harris.

My next receiver selected was David Givens and he was a complete bust this year. He wasn't getting looks early in Tennessee and then got injured. I dropped him in week four and never looked back. As I said in my analysis in August, I didn't like him then and I sure as hell don't like him now. Bad pick.

Another bad choice was Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller, who's still unfortunately on my team. He had one productive week this whole year and that was week one when he caught a long TD. However, he was on my bench that week so I couldn't utilize his one good performance. Due to the Stallworth injury and byes, I was forced to use Miller twice this year. He put up about 5 points in each game. I miscalculated on his impact in Pittsburgh this year and is one of my worst picks in this draft.

My last three receivers chosen were shots in the dark for the most part although I thought Devery Henderson was going to assume the #2 receiver position in New Orleans after the departure of Stallworth. I was wrong there too. That slot went to unheralded Marques Colston, who's had a HUGE year for the Saints when healthy. Henderson was relegated to the slot receiver position and had some decent weeks on my bench. However, with Colston hurt recently, Henderson has moved into the #2 position and has put up three huge weeks in the past month. My best move as a GM in this league was putting Henderson in my lineup for the first time last weekend in place of Stallworth. It worked out tremendously, as Henderson put up a spectacular 25.8 points while Stallworth sputtered with Jeff Garcia throwing, catching only 2 balls for 9 yards.

Chad Jackson was a reach when drafted and never got a chance to play in my lineup due to injury and lack of playing time. He's since been dropped. My last pick in the draft was Marcus Robinson. He's battled the injury bug as well but when healthy has contributed to the Vikings. However, I haven't had him in my lineup yet due to his inconsistency.

I haven't been forced to make too many pickups this year but one of my better ones was Wes Welker. I picked him up in week five and he was in my lineup for three weeks during byes and as Stallworth's injury replacement. While not spectacular, Welker picked up about 13 points per week and was an effective replacement. He's still on my team and I may have to give him a look this weekend.

I also had sieves like Hank Baskett (1 week) and Eric Johnson (2 awful weeks) in my lineup because of injuries and I lost every week those guys played. They're goners now.

Not a great year overall for my receivers but funny enough, they are doing really well for me right now. With Henderson putting up mad points and Williams' consistency, I'm starting to get good production from the flankers.

I'll be back tomorrow with the final discussion on my kicking game and my team defence.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fantasy Football Update - Running Back

Here is a look at my running back situation in the Trash Talking is a Must league.

RUNNING BACKS -

DRAFTED:

Ronnie Brown (MIA); Warrick Dunn (ATL); Mike Bell (DEN); Deuce McAllister (NO); Brandon Jacobs (NYG); Jerious Norwood (ATL)

WHAT I SAID IN AUGUST:
"I got Ronnie Brown with my first pick and I'm pretty happy with the choice. This is a running back heavy league so I picked another with my second choice in Warrick Dunn. I'm not so happy with that pick but at least I know what I'm getting with Dunn as opposed to the other guys that were available there like Chester Taylor and Rueben Droughens. I was later able to handcuff Dunn to his backup Jerious Norwood (which is good fantasy strategy) so I'm happy about that. I got good value with the rest of my RB's. Mike Bell is the opening day starter in Denver and Mike Shanahan just loves using unheralded backs in his system so I should be good to go there. I also picked up Deuce McAllister in the middle rounds - he's looked great in the preseason and will likely share the load with Reggie Bush to start the year. I also scooped Tiki Barber's backup in New York, Brandon Jacobs. This is a good pick just because of the fact that Jacobs gets most of the goalline carries in New York and will likely score at least 6 touchdowns this year. I'm really happy overall with my backs."

CURRENTLY ON TEAM:
Ronnie Brown (MIA); Warrick Dunn (ATL); Mike Bell (DEN); Deuce McAllister (NO); Brandon Jacobs (NYG); Jerious Norwood (ATL)

I've made no changes to my running backs all season and to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed with my results. Most of the disappointment lies with the performance of my first pick, Ronnie Brown. I had the 10th pick in the draft and was REALLY hoping that Steven Jackson would fall to me but he went a couple picks earlier. Brown was the best option but I really felt he'd be a force both running and receiving. That hasn't really been the case. He's the 11th best running back in our league right now, picking up 148.2 points (13.47 average) and that's not really great for a 10th overall pick. The offensive coordinator in Miami, Mike Mularkey, hasn't done me any favours with his shady playcalling either.

With Dunn, my second round pick, I knew that I wouldn't be getting many touchdowns and it looked like the pick was going to turn out great after a scolding hot start. However, the Falcons have been going through an identity crisis for most of the year and it has resulted in Dunn getting fewer carries than usual. Dunn is my third best back and ranked 18th in fantasy football at his position with 127.3 points (11.57 average), not good enough for where he was drafted.

My third back chosen and fifth round selection was Denver's Mike Bell, who impressed in camp and was Shanahan's choice to start the season. Bell had a solid first week but really stumbled in week two and that's all it took to get in the coach's doghouse. I was forced to put Bell on the bench and almost dropped him but he's had a few huge starts in the past five weeks - unfortunately, he was on my bench both of those weeks so I didn't benefit from the 20+ point performances. He's only been in my lineup for three weeks this year and was only productive in the first week so needless to say, Bell has disappointed.

However, I made up for the Bell miscue with my next back: the Saints Deuce McAllister. The other GM's must have been scared off by his injury from the year before and the drafting of 'the Franchise' in Reggie Bush. I was able to scoop Deuce in the 8th round and hoped he could build on a great preseason. Indeed, Deuce has received the majority of carries in the Saints backfield and is the main man in short yardage situations, which has resulted in an impressive 9 touchdowns through 11 games. With 145.8 points (13.25 average), he's ranked 12th in fantasy football at the position and is about to become my top running back with the injury to Ronnie Brown. This was a great pick for me.

Brandon Jacobs and Jarious Norwood were depth selections and neither has been able to crack my lineup even once this year. Jacobs has actually exceeded my expectations, garnering an impressive 8 touchdowns in 11 games (I guessed six in the preseason) as Tiki Barber's backup and the Giants go-to guy in short yardage situations. However, he only sees about 5-8 carries a game and can't be relied on as any more than a flex-option. I will give him a look this week, however, with Brown out of my lineup. He has compiled 94.8 points (8.62 average) and is probably one of the better backups in the league. Norwood was selected as insurance against Dunn going down but the little guy has proven to be resilient this year and Norwood, while spectacular in spots, has been a non-factor for most of the year.

I have 3 of the top 18 backs in fantasy, so it's not all bad. However, none of my guys are true #1's and it has hurt me this year, especially in the middle portion of the season during bye weeks.

Up next will be my wide receiver report.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fantasy Football Update - Quarterback

I thought it would be fun to look back at what I said about my fantasy team in the Trash Talking is a Must league back in August and compare that with the results thus far. I'm about to improve to 7-5 on the year and effectively will lock up a playoff spot on the strength of 4 wins in a row. I'm safely in fifth place right now out of the twelve teams in the league and am in the process of destroying the second placed team this week.

Let's start with the man behind centre.

QUARTERBACKS -

DRAFTED:

Tom Brady (NE); Chris Simms (TB)

WHAT I SAID IN AUGUST:
"It's not a quarterback league but I got a real good one in Brady with my fourth round pick. I just wanted a guy who isn't injury prone and Brady can turn water into wine with pretty much any scrub. Brady is an excellent fantasy player and will do well for me. Simms will suit up for my team for only one week - week six when New England has a bye. I picked Simms because Tampa is at home against a pretty crappy defensive opponent in Cincinnati in week six; the only other alternative was Mark Brunell from Washington as they play lowly Tennessee but I just hate Brunell and he's having a horrible preseason."

CURRENTLY ON TEAM:
Tom Brady (NE)

My analysis was spot on before the season started. Brady has been up and down this season but is the 6th best fantasy quarterback in the league this year (behind Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer) and is my best player, having compiled 216.9 points (19.7 per week average).

Unfortunately, Chris Simms took a huge hit in Week Three and suffered a ruptured spleen, knocking him out for the year. I was forced to pick up Vince Young from Tennessee for Brady's Week Six bye and Young picked up only 13.05 points but I was able to win that week, actually notching my best point total of the year in the process.

So, needless to say, I've been happy with my quarterback play thus far.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Updates to Come...I Promise


I'll have some more from my recent wedding and subsequent honeymoon in Kauai up in the next few days. I've been busy celebrating another Fantasy Football victory in my Trash Talking League that I'm in with Harry. He once again got smoked by another team who had a career week...it's pretty comical how Harry gets the best player in football (L.T.) and just can't build a team around him.

I can't wait for the trash talk to begin tomorrow among the Quebec participants. I'm now getting closer to locking up a playoff spot. Harris should just trade me LT for some bum right now so an Ontario resident has a chance of winning...food for thought Harry!

I might skip over the wedding and just talk about the honeymoon for now, simply because I don't have any pictures from my photographer yet! We'll see...

While in Kauai, I played golf twice and I have some pictures from both courses: Princeville (Prince Course), which has been rated in the Top 100 US Courses by Golf Digest Magazine and Poipu Bay Golf Club, which is the home of the PGA Tour's Grand Slam of Golf, which coincidently is being played this coming weekend.

The picture above was taken from the pool area of the Princeville Resort where Jacky and I stayed while in Kauai. Just gorgeous...lots more photos to come!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Brush with Poker Superstardom

The night before my wedding, Friday October 27th, we held a rehearsal at the St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Jacky and I arrived a bit late as I continue to live up to my 'Tardy' nickname. There were a couple of others who were even later than us from our wedding party but we finally got started around 6:10pm. After the rehearsal, everyone was invited back to our house for some pizza, wings and refreshments.

We had a full house, entertaining about 25 people that evening. A few of Jacky's friends wanted to head over to the Casino later that night and Jacky put on her best sad face, wanting to go as well.

I wasn't convinced that going to the Casino the night before our wedding was a good idea but I realized shortly thereafter that getting Jacky's mind off all the planning was in our best interests and said we were in.

So Jacky's friend Shelly and her husband Vito (who went to PGA Village with Harry, Preston and I earlier in the year) and Jacky's friend Jodi and her husband Dave (the former Canadian Football League star) were off for some Casino entertainment at about 9:30pm.

Vito is an employee of the Casino and is strictly forbidden from playing at the Fallsview Casino so we decided to lay low instead at Club 365, where a few bands were playing.

The place was packed and you could tell that there were a number of poker pros in attendence due to the World Poker Tour event being held at the casino. We were able to get a table pretty quickly, surprisingly enough and got comfortable watching the band play with our drinks in hand.

A big guy with a backwards 'Full Tilt Poker' hat was sitting beside us. He took out his cellphone and promptly snapped a picture of my wife-to-be and then showed it to her. Jacky quickly realized that the dude was flirting with her and shot back with the words "I'm getting married tomorrow!".

"You're kidding? To who?", he asked.

Jacky pointed to me and he smiled, offering his congratulations. The guy looked REALLY familiar.

My mind started working when I saw him signal for the waitress. While talking to her, he motioned towards our table and circled his hands in the air.

"Oh man", I said to Dave. "That guy is buying us a round of drinks!"

Wouldn't you know it but two minutes later, the waitress comes back with a full round of drinks for our entire table.

We raise our beers and drinks to him in thanks and I lean over to Jacky and say "you have to ask this guy what his name is...I'm sure he's a poker pro but can't place him."

She was a bit shy about it so I motioned for him to come over to our table. "What's your name?", Jacky asked. "I've seen you on TV before haven't I?".

He laughs. "Maybe. My name is Gavin."

I blurt out "Oh, Gavin Smith right? The Canadian."

We exchange small talk from there for a few minutes about poker, about his hometown of Guelph and other things. We thank him again, shake hands and he sits back down with his crew at the table beside us.

A few minutes later, I see him get up and go over to the bar and watch him make another gesture toward our table.

He seemed a bit frustrated a few minutes later when nothing was happening and got up again to talk to the bar. Wouldn't you know but a minute later, the waitress was at our table, presenting a bottle of Dom PĂ©rignon and six chilled champagne glasses to us, courtesy of Gavin Smith.

Unbelievable.

Gavin wouldn't join us for a toast, saying "I never touch the stuff! I'm a Bacardi guy!" so the six of us enjoyed the bottle with a bunch of interested onlookers taking in the action in the bar.

Gavin did relent and let us take a picture with Jacky and I by his side with our Dom in hand using Jacky's cellphone.

The fun was just beginning.

Gavin was chilling out with a few ladies and another poker superstar, who I later found out was recent WPT winner Joe Bartholdi, who won an incredible $3.7 million dollars for that victory. Both guys were holding huge wads of money throughout the night (especially Gavin) and true to form, they decided they needed to do a bit more gambling on this evening since they were out of the Niagara WPT event.

They asked Dave to get up and do a few spins for them. Gavin and Joe were playing 'Guess his weight' for money. Gavin 'set the line', going first by saying 210 pounds. After careful deliberation, Joe shot back with "209!".

Dave said something like "215" and Gavin was out of his chair, fist pumping. After taking Joe's money, he said "Matt, it's your turn!".

I bolted out of the chair and started doing a few turns, even lifting up my shirt to show them my svelte waist (haha), getting our table to burst out in laughter.

Gavin set the line at 155 pounds and after about 20 seconds of thought, Joe went with 154 pounds.

"168!", I exclaimed and Gavin had won again, eliciting howls from his table and ours.

This likely would have went on all night but we had a wedding to get ready for and it was almost 12:30am by this point so we once again went over to Gavin's table, shook his hand and said goodbye to our drinking partners.

I even told Gavin that if "you and your friends are bored, stop by the DoubleTree across the street tomorrow around 9:30pm. The drinks are on us."

"Don't be surprised if we show up", he said as he shook my hand for the last time.

Unfortunately, they didn't come to our reception but this ended up being a night none of us will soon forget.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Married Man Returns

Well, I'm officially hitched!

The wedding took place on Saturday October 28th and (quite) a few hiccups aside, everything went great.

Jacky and I ventured to Princeville, Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands for a ten-night honeymoon and we just returned to Canada earlier this evening.

There are A LOT of great things that I'll be discussing on my blog regarding the last few weeks. I had the fortune of meeting hugely successful professional poker players Gavin Smith and Joe Bartholdi the day before the wedding and it truly is a great story.

Of course, there's also the wedding and the honeymoon, which featured unbelievable weather, a lot of relaxation, some fantastic golf and the easily the scariest and craziest thing I've ever done in my life.

See ya tomorrow!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me?? Ummm, No.

Harry and Toast somehow got the impression that it was my birthday yesterday and wrote lovely tributes to me on each of their blogs.

Check out the hilarity at
Sports, Entertainment and Smack and Golf + Poker.

They will have to repeat the tribute on my actual birthday in April next year.

In other news, I officially have one week of single life left. Jacky and I are getting hitched next Saturday in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I'm still not too nervous but I'm sure that the nerves will kick in on Thursday when I'm off from work and have nothing else to think about.

I have one more golf game left in me this year at home, as the weather is starting to turn on us. So tomorrow is likely it for this guy. I'll play in Hawaii on my honeymoon at least once as well.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Just been busy getting my
Sabres blog up and running and obviously busy with the wedding plans. I'll be back soon...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Golf Season is Winding Down

What a depressing day weather-wise in Southern Ontario.

Here it is, October 12th - three days removed from an absolutely gorgeous holiday weekend where the temperatures hovered around 20 degrees (65+ fahrenheit)...

We got hit with snow today.

Now there are two reasons for being a bit down about this turn of events. First of all, I can't remember it ever snowing earlier than this. Not too big a deal, as the snow didn't stick and the temperatures will stay above freezing over the next few days.

But the second reason for being upset is because I have a wedding coming up in 16 days (yes I'm counting) and this is NOT the weather I need!!

Oh well. I'm sure everything will be fine regardless.

I was able to play all three days this past weekend in my 'last hurrah' of 2006. Needless to say, the rounds were no different than any other this year - mediocre.

The club had its closing day tournament on Saturday, which I passed on in favour of a last round at East Aurora CC in 2006. This was my third trip to EACC and it gets better every time. Harris, his buddy Preston and our good buddy Toast all ventured over the border for the round and the course was in phenomenal shape, as usual.

I hit the ball really well on Saturday and turned in a 'Computer 76', my personal best at East Aurora. The computer 76 was necessary, as we could only get in 16 holes due to a commitment I had later that night with my priest for the wedding. The 17th hole was the 3rd handicap hole so I had to take a bogey there and a par on 18 gave me the 76. I hit 10 of 13 fairways on the day, which is awesome for me but my putting held me back a bit.

Sunday and Monday were pretty uneventful, as per usual at St. Catharines. The course has never been in better condition. Dennis, our superintendent, has been masterful since taking over for his father at our club and deserves every penny he makes. It's truly a treat to play St. Catharines these days.

I shot 78 both Sunday and Monday, a score that's becoming almost customary for me. I won't complain...it's just been frustrating that my best golf of the year was played in May. I just haven't been able to find the key to scoring well this year after having a breakthrough year in 2005. Everyone says it's the wedding plans that are keeping my mind off the game...maybe, but it's not exactly like I was a big practice-guy before I met Jacky.

Right, Harry?

Nevertheless, it looks as if par is safe this year. Not a good year for yours truly from a scoring perspective but the year did have it's moments, especially my Niagara Cup play.

I'm only playing on Sunday this week and likely will do the same the next week, which means two more rounds of golf before I get married. I'll play either once or twice in Hawaii so I've got four rounds of golf left for the year.

I've certainly had a lot of opportunities for a guy who's had to help plan a wedding, so no complaints.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bleeding Blue and Gold

Like I have enough time for this...

I've lately been contemplating doing a new blog specifically on the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, my favourite sports team.

I finally bit the bullet and started working on it on Monday and just now released the blog for public viewing.

You can check it out
here.

And to my regulars...don't worry! You can still expect my one post per week average to be maintained! ;)

Monday, September 25, 2006

St. Catharines Blows it Again

I really thought this was going to be our year at St. Catharines G&CC in the annual Niagara Cup competition.

We stormed through the preliminary round in spectacular fashion, culminating in the singles event at home where every team member won their match. Just dominating.

The finals were held at Beechwood G&CC and the course has seen better days. The fairways were filled with standing water, necessitating lift, clean and place in the short grass and the greens were so butchered that they resembled mine fields. Just awful.

We were competing against the following five clubs, who all won their respective preliminary's like us: Niagara Falls Country Club (Lewiston, NY, USA), Sparrow Lakes GC (Pelham, ON), Rolling Meadows GC (Niagara Falls, ON), Hunters Pointe GC (Welland, ON) and Lookout Point G&CC (Fonthill, ON).

I was the last player to tee off from St. Catharines and drew Frank from Lookout as my opponent. Frank is a very fine player who plays on the Niagara Men's Tour as well.

I'll give you the Toast encapsulated version of the match:

Hole 1 (Par 4): Frank gets up and down for par; I get up and down for par All Square
Hole 2 (Par 3): Frank misses the green and makes bogey; I hit six-iron to five feet, miss but make par Matt 1up
Hole 3 (Par 5): Frank hits his second and fourth shots OB and concedes my birdie putt Matt 2up
Hole 4 (Par 4): Frank makes a great up and down for par; I make a two-putt par Matt 2up
Hole 5 (Par 4): Frank and I both make two-putt pars Matt 2up
Hole 6 (Par 4): Frank and I again make routine two-putt pars Matt 2up
Hole 7 (Par 4): Frank slices his drive OB and makes double; I three-putt for my first bogey on the day Matt 3up
Hole 8 (Par 5): I get into trouble off the tee and hit my third into the water; I concede Frank's par when I'm putting for bogey Matt 2up
Hole 9 (Par 3): Frank hits short left and makes a 15 footer for par; I hit a perfect 2-iron rescue to 15 feet and two putt for par Matt 2up

I got the point for the front nine and had the two-up lead overall but I felt momentum was slipping. My tee shot on ten didn't help matters nor did the weather, which took a real turn for the worse. Rain was coming down sideways and the temperature had dropped to about 12 degrees.

Hole 10 (Par 4): Frank makes a routine two-putt par; I hit a perfect drive that catches a hydro wire that crosses the fairway and the ball drops straight down - I have to reload (local rule) and duckhook it left into the rough. I compose myself, hit it on and two-putt for par Matt 2up Overall; All Square Back Nine
Hole 11 (Par 3): Frank and I both hit way left; he taps in for bogey while I end up making a seven footer for bogey Matt 2up Overall; All Square Back Nine
Hole 12 (Par 5): Frank makes a two-putt par; I three-putt for bogey Matt 1up Overall; Frank 1up Back Nine
Hole 13 (Par 3): Frank misses the green long and can't get up and down; I two-putt for par Matt 2up Overall; All Square Back Nine
Hole 14 (Par 5): Frank makes a two-putt par; I almost hole out for eagle, settling for a easy birdie Matt 3up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 15 (Par 5): Frank goes long on his third and makes bogey; I get into trouble on my second shot, go long on the third and can't get up and down either Matt 3up Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 16 (Par 4): Frank goes right off the tee, chips out and makes a two putt bogey; I come up short on my approach and can't get up and down either Matt Wins 3&2 Overall; Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 17 (Par 3): Frank and I both make two-putt pars Matt 1up Back Nine
Hole 18 (Par 4): Frank hits into the water on his second and concedes my par putt Matt Wins 2up on Back Nine

So I got all three points available in my match but unfortunately the rest of the team wasn't as fortunate on this day. We got shutout in two matches and a 1/2 point in another and ended the day with only 10.5 points, which put us in fifth out of the six teams in the finals. Niagara Falls CC won for the second year in a row, taking a one-hole playoff with Rolling Meadows.

I had an excellent Niagara Cup year, going a perfect 4-0-0 in my matches and taking 10.5 out of a possible 12 points in the process. But it's meaningless in defeat. One of these years we're going to win this thing!!!

Oh yeah. Marriage preparation classes on Friday and Saturday went pretty well. It was certainly worth the $50.00 investment.

And to those comics Harry and Toast, who've been riding me on their blogs (Golf + Poker and Sports, Entertainment & Smack respectively). Keep teasing me all you want about marriage and the whole "hope Jacky lets you out next weekend thing". Remember this...

I played just as many times this weekend as you Toast and one more time than Harry's zero. And it maybe doesn't say anything but I guarantee that my married ass still got 'permission' to play more rounds of golf this year (55) then you poker loving, Boss-smoking, hip-hop clothes wearing, Mazel Tov spouting, Rosh Hashanah celebrating delinquents!

Take that! :) Whoo!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Week That Was

Life is a blur right now...there's no time for anything except wedding stuff and work it seems. But there has been a little bit of 'fun time'.

As Harry pointed out on his blog, Saturday last week likely didn't qualify as fun but it was a relatively successful day.

We played in the final event on the Niagara Men's Tour and it took place at the ridiculously difficult Thundering Waters Golf Club. I'm not going to bore you with the ALL the details but I started off six over through the first seven holes - six bogeys and one lonely par. I wasn't playing poorly but just couldn't make a six footer for the life of me on the shaggy greens.

I almost holed a seven iron from the tee on the par three eighth and tapped in the easy 15 incher for birdie to get back to +5. A three-putt on nine for bogey gave me an underwhelming 42 on the front, pretty much what I expected before the day began.

However, I was able to finally start making pars on the back nine and after hitting my second shot into the water greenside on the par five 18th, was able to get up and in for par and an incoming 39 for an 81 overall.

I didn't make ONE other on the day, with bogey being my worst score. I did make TEN of them but I was able to make it around this tricky course without getting into any real trouble - quite the accomplishment for me!

I knew the scores would be high but I never thought that my 81 would get me close to the top ten. But what do I know?! I ended up finishing a very surprising 8th on the day (73 was the low score) and moved up 9 spots in the overall standings to finish the year off in 24th place. Respectable but still disappointing. I won a nice pair of golf shoes for the finish but the real prize was given a few days later. One of the member's of the tour board called me to tell me that I was going to be exempt into the 2007 tour after all! They ended up going back to their original plan of taking the top 30 players as opposed to the top 20 so I was comfortably in!

I don't know if I would have tried to qualify next year if I was on the outside looking in...$100+ dollars to get the CHANCE to make the tour? Ah, who am I kidding? I like the competition too much and would have tried for sure.

I flew to Quebec City early Sunday morning for a four-day business conference. It was my first time and let me tell you: it's a GORGEOUS city. Beautiful stone-faced architecture, great history, fantastic restaurants and very nice people. I'm not fluent in French so I thought that might be a problem but I found everyone there to be very accomodating.

We hit the Plains of Abraham, the Citadel, Chateau Frontenac and all that good stuff in old Quebec. We even got to do some partying while there, hitting a nightclub on Monday night and getting taken out to a fancy dinner and later a pub on Tuesday night. The business aspect of the trip was good as well.

If you ever get the chance, don't pass it up. Quebec is lovely.

I got back yesterday morning and after work had to go out looking for wedding bands for myself with Jacky.

This weekend should be interesting as well, as we have to take part in 'wedding preparation' classes at the local Catholic church. I'm NOT particularly looking forward to this but it's a necessary evil at this point.

On Sunday, I have the last golf tournament on the 2006 schedule: the finals of the Niagara Cup competition. It will be nice for St. Catharines to take home the title after being bridesmaids for every year that I've taken part in the event but there are a lot of really good clubs participating. I have always preferred match play over medal so hopefully I bring enough game to help our club.

So tired...all I want to do is take care of my lawn! Maybe I'll find fourty minutes to finally cut it on Sunday morning!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Niagara Men's Tour 2006 Finale: Thundering Waters GC

Tomorrow afternoon marks the last stroke play tournament of the year for yours truly, the final event on the Niagara Men's Tour which takes place at Thundering Waters.

It will take a finish similar to last year's (when I finished second at Beechwood) just to maintain 'exempt' status on the tour for 2007, as the tour's board has decided to allow only the top 20 players that luxury.

It's a bit of a piss-off to me only because they've gone back on what they said earlier in the year, when they said the top 30 would be exempt.

Maybe it's sour grapes on my part since I'm currently in 32nd place or something after finishing 11th last year. Regardless, I haven't played great this year anyway and it's almost impossible for me to get into that top 20 barring an elusive top-three finish.

It's compounded by the fact that we're at Thundering Waters tomorrow, a course that quite simply doesn't fit my eye. Maybe the third time will be a charm for me but with the state of my game as it is now, I have doubts that I can shoot a score. I haven't played much at all lately and I really have no idea what to expect.

I'm just exhausted from all the wedding and stag planning and work has been really taxing lately as well. I head to beautiful Quebec City on Sunday morning for a four day business trip so I have that on my mind as well.

I also suffered a pretty bad fall playing hockey the other day and even daily trips to my new hot tub haven't been able to cure what aches...

For the first time all year, I have no plan for the round. Nothing.

I'm going to try to hit some balls before the round (haha...right) and see how the swing holds up.

At least I'm playing with Brian, one of the Sunday regulars at our club in the event so we should have a good time. If I shoot a 45 on the front or something similar, I'll be cracking a beer with him without doubt!

In other news, NHL training camps opened today! Now THAT is exciting news!

The Buffalo Sabres look really strong this year and are in position to perhaps improve upon their fantastic performance in 2005/06. They will be unveiling their new uniforms for the coming season tomorrow morning but the jersey's were leaked to the public accidently yesterday. Here's a look:


I still hate 'the slug' logo (as its detractors are calling it) but to be honest, I still kind of dig the look. The colours are great and it's just nice to be going back to the blue and gold.

As you all know, I'm a huge Sabres fan and I'm thinking of possibly starting a new blog that just talks about the team. Like I have enough time for that! But I dunno...I always wanted to be a sportswriter and blogs give you the ability to write about whatever fits your fancy PLUS it's pretty easy to find an audience.

Food for thought...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another Crazy Week

The Golf Association of Ontario resurrected the George S. Lyon Tournament, a tournament that takes four top amateurs from each golf club and has them play at four different courses. It's a stroke play event and the team's score is all of those four rounds added together.

Cam, our head assistant at St. Catharines, asked if I would be interested in replacing one of the guys who had to drop out of the event. When told I'd be playing at Cedar Brae CC in Scarborough, one of my favourite courses in Ontario, I took him up on the offer.

Unfortunately, I almost got our team disqualified when I miscalculated the amount of time it would take to get to the course Thursday morning. I showed up with 6 minutes to spare, as my group was just getting their scorecards from the starter on the first tee.

Whew.

Without so much as a practice shot, I stroked probably my best ball of the day down the first fairway and ended up making a solid par on the very difficult 452 yard par four.

The solid strokes wouldn't last.

I three-putted the next THREE holes, going four over in the process. I made the turn at +6 but after a birdie on #10 and solid pars on 11, 12 and 13, I thought I could eke out a good score.

Umm...no sir.

I finished double bogey, bogey, triple bogey, par, double bogey to shoot an unsightly 85.

I just haven't had a game all year.

We finished around 34th out of 55 teams after Bernie's 78, Andy's 80 and Charlie's 83. There were a number of big names at the event, like Rob Cowan, Warren Sye (who ended up dropping out at the last minute), Kelly Roberts and even noted Canadian rock star Tom Cochrane.

Nice guy that Tom!

Friday was absolutely nuts for me. It was my stag night and I needed the entire day on Friday for preparations. I had lots of trouble earlier in the week getting my liquor license for the event and had just as much difficulty getting the keys to my hall in order to get the beer and pop in the fridge.

The event itself was fun once I calmed down from all the stress of throwing a big party. I was slightly disappointed in the turnout (maybe 100 people total), especially the fact that besides her uncle, there wasn't ONE PERSON representing the bride's side of the family or her friends. Not one person. They're all coming to the wedding but they couldn't fork over ten bucks to support us for the stag?!

A bit of a pisser but I'm over it.

I wish I had kickstarted the craps game earlier though. It was a big hit at the end of the night and money was flying fast and furious. I would have made out like a bandit in the game on tips if I wasn't so stubborn to play myself (and lose about a hundred on it).

Oh well...I had great fun anyway.

I barely made a profit on the night though, which really sucks. The hall and food were likely too expensive for the amount of people I had attend. I must say thanks though to anyone who donated prizes for the event - we had a ton of stuff that was given out to the guests and I think everyone went home happy.

Saturday was spent returning the games and doing some 'window shopping' with the fiance. I promised a "Jacky day" since I'd be spending all of Sunday doing manly things like golfing, cutting grass and watching NFL football.

Thankfully, the window shopping was at Leon's, Best Buy, Future Shop and Costco. We're looking at getting an HDTV and I'm wondering if any of my visitors has an opinion on what to get...

I'm presently leaning towards getting an LCD television. I have heard some negative things about plasma. As far as brand, I'm looking at Sony or Samsung and I'm looking at getting something around 46".

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery??

I golfed on Sunday and shot another of my patented 77's. Played like junk most of the day but was awesome around the greens on the front nine and was able to scramble around enough to post a number.

It just wasn't meant to be this year. I won't be playing much the rest of the year - I might have 8 rounds left in me. I play at Thundering Waters in the finale of the Niagara Men's Tour on Saturday and my prospects for playing well are pretty bleak. It's just not my type of golf course and I'll be fortunate to break 80.

Lastly, on the fantasy football front, I lost all three of my matchups this weekend and only went 7-9 against the spread in the work pool. I play Harry next week in the 'Trash Talking' league so I'll have to be ready. I've already fired the first missle...we'll see if he responds!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The New Pad - Part One

Here are a few pictures of my new place. We'll start with the outside today and maybe I'll post a few shots of the inside tomorrow.


The first picture is obviously from the front of the house. It's a two-story 'Salt Box' design with a cedar shake roof. Nice birch tree in front but I will continually have to trim the sucker so it doesn't rub up against the siding. It's a pretty wide property at the front (74' wide) and the landscaping is excellent throughout.


Here's a shot from the side of the house looking in the back. There's a nice herb garden right in front and the backyard has a great looking red maple tree that provides a bit of extra privacy. We also have a bolted down gazebo on the lower section of the patio.


This is a picture taken from the backyard back toward the house. The sloping roof is a 'Salt Box' trademark and you can see that the skylights (we have four in total) prove the house with a lot of natural light. You can also take note of the privacy fence on the left which is there for...


The hot tub! It's an eight-seater and will likely provide a lot of therapy after a particularly brutal day at work or on the course! The previous owners really pimped everything up too, putting speaker wire right by the tub and patio so we can have music pumping outside while entertaining our guests. They even installed lights in the stone surrounding the tub and along the sides of the patio that are on an automatic timer in the evening. It absolutely looks great back there at night!

I'll be back with pictures of the inside next.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm Officially a Home-Owner; Niagara Cup Matches; Fantasy Football

We have a lot to cover in today's installment!

The most important news is that I received the keys to my new house on Friday morning and moved in on Saturday, with the help of six of my closest friends. Jacky's mom also came and was great in helping put everything away. Big thanks to Brandon, Deron, David, Jay B, Jay M and Damon for all their help!

The place was absolutely immaculate - I can't say enough about the previous owners of the house. They were actually cleaning when we first arrived on Friday afternoon after receiving the keys and Dave, the husband, was actually in the process of cleaning out and refilling our hot tub for us. They gave us a bottle of champagne and their six-year old daughter wrote us a personalized card welcoming us into our new home. Really nice stuff.

I'll post pictures of our new pad later tonight on the blog.

Sunday saw the third and final leg of the Niagara Cup regionals, with St. Catharines locked in a battle with the Links at Willo-Dell and Port Colborne CC for the rights to advance to the finals against all the other regional winners. Our club had a nice sized lead but the last leg consisted of singles matches, meaning that there were double the amount of points up for grabs. With 8 guys per team, that meant that there were 24 points available to a club that swept the matches so it was still anyone's ball game.

I got a great matchup: Aaron T. from the Links of Willo-Dell was my opponent. I've never played with Aaron before but I actually grew up with him in Niagara Falls and was really good friends with his brother Adam, who was my age. Aaron is quite a bit younger (maybe six years) but he used to always try to play hockey with us when we were younger so I knew him well.

I heard he was a good player so my strategy, as always, would be to try to par him to death and wait for him to make a mistake.

I executed my strategy perfectly but it almost wasn't enough...

I played almost flawless golf to start, parring the first six holes. However, it wasn't good enough, as Aaron parred the first two, birdied the third and parred four, five and six to take a 1up lead to the par three 7th. I hit my first bad shot of the day, hooking it into the greenside bunker while he was safely on the putting surface. I hit a good bunker shot to seven feet and made it for the par but Aaron made a five foot comebacker for his par to continue with the 1up advantage.

The next two holes really set the tone for the rest of the match.

We both drove perfectly on the par five eighth. I was about 244 yards away for my second into a decent wind and decided to lay back around 90 yards. Aaron was only about 220 away in definite 'green light territory' but his lack of knowledge with the course failed him - he decided to layup as well (which really surprised me considering the fact he hadn't missed a shot all day) but wasn't committed to the shot and hit it way right near the trees.

His third shot was a shocker, as he cold shanked it into the trees bordering the third tee. Wow!

He dropped and hit ANOTHER SHANK, this time keeping it in play near the rope tow that helps golfers get out of the valley after putting out on the eighth green.

I calmly knocked my approach on the green and when Aaron didn't hole out his next shot, his sixth, he conceded the hole to me. I didn't even attempt my birdie putt after the concession although I probably should have since there was a skins game going. Oh well...the match was more important.

I finally got my chance to hit first on nine and poked another perfect drive down the middle. However, my ball was in a huge divot and I was unable to make a good strike from 184 yards, hitting the ball right of the green. It left me with a very difficult shot to a pin tucked close to the greenside bunker. Aaron hit his approach to 20 feet so I'd need to somehow get up and down to halve the front side and take a half point.

I opened the face of my wedge and hit a really nice shot but still could only get to within 15 feet of the pin. Aaron was up and I was a bit surprised to see him knock the putt about 3 1/2 feet by. Not a big concern though, as his par putt was straight in up the hill.

I had the 15 foot slider for par and I somehow was able to compose myself and knock that sucker in for the par (with fist pump attached)!

Aaron then unbelievably MISSED his three footer to give me the hole and the 1up decision on the front nine.

Unbelievable!

I finished the front nine with a 36 and nothing but pars on the card. I kept the pressure on...

I finally made my first birdie of the day on the 10th, ramming in an 8 footer to take the 2up lead. We exchanged pars on the short par four 11th but he bogeyed from the back bunker on 12 and my par stood up for a 3up lead. I hit another great drive on the tough 13th and Aaron hit his drive about 40 yards out of bounds, giving me the 4up lead. We both parred the 14th which put him dormie on the 15th tee.

I still was -1 for the day and bogey-free. As Harry and Toast would say, "but of course...it's the end of the year!"

Well, I guess I subconsciously wanted to make things interesting.

I hit a really big drive on 15 again down the middle (I hit 10 of 13 fairways on Sunday) but ended up completely duffing my second shot with my rescue, leaving me about 185 yards away for my third on the par five. I took a six iron and hit it slightly fat, with the ball coming up just short of the green. I wasn't able to get up and down, making my first bogey of the day and more importantly, losing the hole to Aaron's par.

He made the rookie mistake of hitting driver off the 16th tee and almost hit it into the hazard through the fairway. My rescue was in perfect position, 245 yards away. I layed up nicely to about 80 yards while Aaron hit his layup way left.

Cue the drama.

I completely layed the sod over my gap wedge and was stunned when I couldn't find my ball in the rough in front of the creek. There was NO WAY I should have lost that ball but four guys couldn't find it in five minutes. Unreal!

Aaron stumbled to a bogey on the hole but it was good enough to beat my double.

My collar was tightening!

It loosened up considerably when Aaron hit his tee shot straight right into the hazard on the par three 17th. I stepped up and promptly duck hooked my iron shot into the bunker but I was at least safe. I hit a beauty to seven feet while Aaron hacked his ball out of the hazard behind the green. He chipped short, then hit his bogey chip well past the hole and ended up conceding the match to me.

I won the match 3&1 and took all three points available in our showdown. Everyone else on the team followed suit, as St. Catharines took an incredible 20 out of 24 available points to easily win the regional and advance to the finals. Every guy from St. Catharines won his match and garnered at least two points, quite the achievement! We will play the finals at the end of September, likely playing at Beechwood G&CC.

Last night I participated in the 'Trash Talking is a Must' football pool with Harry and his buddies. It's pretty intense, especially considering the entry fee of $150.00. I got the unfortunate draft position of 10th out of 12 teams but I did pretty well, all considering. Let's look at the team:

LEAGUE NOTES -
- $150.00 Entry Fee
- 18 Total Players Drafted
- 9 Starters: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR/TE, 1 FLEX, 1 DEF, 1 K
- 9 Reserves

QB: Tom Brady (NE); Chris Simms (TB)
RB: Ronnie Brown (MIA); Warrick Dunn (ATL); Mike Bell (DEN); Deuce McAllister (NO); Brandon Jacobs (NYG); Jerious Norwood (ATL)
WR/TE: Roy Williams (DET); Joey Galloway (TB); Donte Stallworth (PHI); David Givens (TEN); Heath Miller (PIT); Devery Henderson (NO); Chad Jackson (NE); Marcus Robinson (MIN)
DEF: Tampa Bay
K: Jeff Reed (PIT)

It's not a quarterback league but I got a real good one in Brady with my fourth round pick. I just wanted a guy who isn't injury prone and Brady can turn water into wine with pretty much any scrub. Brady is an excellent fantasy player and will do well for me. Simms will suit up for my team for only one week - week six when New England has a bye. I picked Simms because Tampa is at home against a pretty crappy defensive opponent in Cincinnati in week six; the only other alternative was Mark Brunell from Washington as they play lowly Tennessee but I just hate Brunell and he's having a horrible preseason.

I got Ronnie Brown with my first pick and I'm pretty happy with the choice. This is a running back heavy league so I picked another with my second choice in Warrick Dunn. I'm not so happy with that pick but at least I know what I'm getting with Dunn as opposed to the other guys that were available there like Chester Taylor and Rueben Droughens. I was later able to handcuff Dunn to his backup Jerious Norwood (which is good fantasy strategy) so I'm happy about that. I got good value with the rest of my RB's. Mike Bell is the opening day starter in Denver and Mike Shanahan just loves using unheralded backs in his system so I should be good to go there. I also picked up Deuce McAllister in the middle rounds - he's looked great in the preseason and will likely share the load with Reggie Bush to start the year. I also scooped Tiki Barber's backup in New York, Brandon Jacobs. This is a good pick just because of the fact that Jacobs gets most of the goalline carries in New York and will likely score at least 6 touchdowns this year. I'm really happy overall with my backs.

I'm a bit weak at wideout when it comes to front line talent but I got a lot of depth and phenomenal value in the middle and late rounds. I picked Roy Williams as my first wideout with my third pick. He's got great size and speed and hopefully will flourish under Mike Martz in Detroit. I got Joey Galloway from Tampa (who may not get as many looks with Michael Clayton healthy) and Philly's recent pickup Donte Stallworth, who'll be one of McNabb's main targets once he grasps the west coast system. Givens was a value selection but I'm not a big fan of his. I like the Heath Miller pick - tight ends aren't required in this league but Pittsburgh will likely utilize Miller quite a bit this year as they don't have a lot of options in the passing game with the loss of Randle-El. Henderson from New Orleans gets promoted to the starting lineup with the trade of Stallworth so I love that pick in the 15th round. Chad Jackson from New England is a huge reach, since he's been injured all preseason but if he's healthy, he'll make an impact since Branch is a goner in Patriot land. My last pick of the draft was Marcus Robinson, the number 2 guy in Minnesota. Great value there.

I got Tampa as my defense and they will be a good one - they have a lot of ball hawks and possess a lot of speed on the outside so interceptions and sacks should be plentiful. Jeff Reed will work out well for me at kicker, since I think Pittsburgh's offense will stutter a bit this year and will open up a lot of field goal opportunities.

All-in-all, I'm pretty happy with the team. Let the trash talking begin!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Signs of Improvement

I played a really nice round of golf yesterday and while there's still a lot of room for improvement, I'm not the disaster I thought I was.

It helped that I was playing with Mike and Bernie, who both were playing solid golf themselves yesterday. I was +1 through 16 holes yesterday and was behind both guys. In fact, Mike (who's taking his playing test later this week to become a pro) was -2 at that point and Bernie was even.

It's always great to have everyone feeding off the other.

I unfortunately threw up all over myself as usual, going double bogey/bogey for a 76 but I'm not concerned about the number. I hit the ball great off the tee (9/13 Fairways) and was good enough with the irons to hit 10 greens in regulation as well - great numbers for me this year.

I received a tip from Cam, one of the assistants at my club, and it's working out well for me at the moment. We were chatting about possibly hooking up for lessons when he said "the first thing I'll be telling you is to drop those hands of yours".

What he means is that I've always held my hands high at address (very upright) and it's not doing anything good for my ball striking consistency.

Well, I took that nugget of advice with me to Muskoka and just let my arms hang naturally from the sockets when taking my grip. My first thought was "MAN, does this ever feel FLAT!".

My impression after hitting a few shots was "boy, they are all flying right at the flag"!

So I took the new setup to the course and was very solid in my two Muskoka rounds and even better yesterday, a few loose shots aside. I'll keep working on it - my iron play still needs work but I'm really comfortable right now with the driver.

Maybe I do have a subpar round in me this year! *FINGERS CROSSED*

Speaking of the assistant pro Cam, he got an exemption into this week's Canadian Tour stop in Niagara Falls, the Fallsview Pro-Am. It's a four-day event that's taking place at the Grand Niagara Resort and at Thundering Waters as well. Cam knew that I'd played at Thundering Waters and asked me if I'd mind going out there with him yesterday afternoon to show him lines off the tee and talk strategy.

Sounds good to me!

So we made a couple stops (first to the local Mizuno rep where we were invited into his 'Batcave' to see all the latest and greatest stuff from his company), then to Grand Niagara for registration and finally to Thundering Waters.

I caddied for Cam and pointed out targets off the tees for the first seven holes. It was extremely slow out there so we walked in and grabbed a cart to check out the rest of the holes, with hopes of getting done in time to watch the end of the PGA Championship.

No luck there but at least we saw all 18 holes. I always liked caddying and enjoyed the time out there yesterday with the pros. We just kept to ourselves for the most part but it was cool nonetheless.

Cam opened with a 78 today at Grand Niagara, which places him in a tie for 99th out of the field of 134. He'll likely need to shoot about a 70 at Thundering Waters if he's to make the 36 hole cut. That's a really tough number to hit out there but I can only imagine the feeling of teeing it up in a true Professional Tour event. You can follow his progress at the Canadian Tour Official Website.

Congrats to Cam!

I'll be back eventually with some pics from Muskoka Bay.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm Back...Just too Swamped to Write

I got back into town on Tuesday night but things have been way too hectic at work and at home for me to write.

I had a meeting at the Armenian Hall in St. Catharines on Wednesday regarding my upcoming stag but the guy I was supposed to meet didn't show. Unreal. From there, I went off to ball hockey. My buddy Jay was playing goal for the opposition and he was able to keep his team in the game long enough for them to complete a crazy comeback. They were down 5-3 with about five minutes left and 5-4 with about a minute and 50 seconds left but ended up winning 7-5. I was able to pot two goals and an assist against Jay but it's meaningless in defeat...next time buddy!!!

Yesterday night, my fiance, my mother and I ventured to the Doubletree Resort for our 'tasting'. We got to sample all of the options for our wedding reception dinner and it was a pretty cool experience. We are giving our guests the choice of two entrees: Beef Tenderloin or Salmon. We're also having six different hors d'oeuvres at our cocktail reception prior to dinner, which will include the choice of the two entrees, bread, salad, soup, vegetables and creme brulee. The afterglow will include coffee, tea and two different cakes: the traditional wedding cake and the new fad of the moment, the groom's cake. My hand is sore from writing so many cheques, that's for sure.

Quick notes on my business trip:

  • The Taboo Resort was very nice. Lots of activities on the water were available and I spent the entire day on Saturday on the beach. Very relaxing.
  • We got to go on the Muskoka Steamship for a dinner cruise on Sunday night. We travelled all around Muskoka Bay and got to see all of the cottages of the rich and famous, including Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Really fun night.
  • I played Taboo Golf Course on Sunday morning and they did make changes to the 16th hole, once a par five measuring 450 yards. It's now rightfully a par four and a difficult one at that, leaving the course at a par of 71. I played decently from the blue tees (approx 6750 yards) but made a bunch of doubles on my way to an 82.
  • While 29 players teed up on Sunday at Taboo, only FOUR decided to go out to the TREMENDOUS Muskoka Bay Golf Club. The new Doug Carrick design (assisted by my pal Ian Andrew) has got an off-the-charts 'Wow Factor' going for it, with about 15 elevated tee shots and granite outcroppings galore throughout the golf course. It was in great shape for a new course and it qualifies as one of the funnest tracks I've ever played. There are a few cool short fours (the fourth hole is very driveable) and two fantastic threes on the back nine. The par fives feature devilish putting surfaces - I don't have the scorecard in front of me but I believe the seventh or eighth features a HUGE camelback green that after hitting in two shots made BOGEY! The ninth hole, in my opinion, is one of the coolest holes I've ever played. Words can't really describe it - the only thing I can say is that it's like hitting a golf ball through a narrow hallway made out of granite on the approach. I'll have pictures and a detailed review up sometime soon. Overall, I played REALLY well out there but still was only able to barely break 80, shooting 79. Tremendous...more to come!

Tonight, Harris, Toast and I will be heading to Yanks for a nice pizza and wing feast, followed by our first poker homegame in well over a year. Should be a fun night!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Away on Business

There will be no posts from today through Tuesday next week, as I'm heading away on 'business'.

It's in quotations because in reality, there's only about 4 hours of business conducted during the mostly social convention, which is taking place at the Taboo Resort and Lodge in Muskoka. I get to bring Jacky, which is great because I really don't know many of the people who'll be attending.

I'm definitely playing the Ron Garl-designed Taboo while there and I'm also scheduled to play Doug Carrick and Ian Andrew's new course, Muskoka Bay. I'll report back on both tracks when I get back.

I'll also talk a bit about my experience at the newest course in Niagara, John Daly's Thundering Waters Golf Club.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Disappointment

There is no other word that fits when talking about my results in the club championship this year.

As you know, I was on the outside looking in upon teeing up on Sunday, needing a really good round just to make the cut after opening with a 78.

I started off well enough, making solid pars on the first three holes. But then, in the story of the day, we hit the backlog...

Every par three saw huge waits of up to three groups, making it very difficult to maintain any rhythm. I can't complain because everyone had to go through it but the fact of the matter is that I just have never been able to deal effectively with the long waits.

I finally tee off on the 182 yard fourth and literally hosel it about 110 yards off the tee. I have to make about a five footer just to save bogey. I follow up with another bogey on the next hole and make a routine par on six before birdieing the par three seventh for the second consecutive day to get back to +1. An easy par on eight and a two-putt par on nine allow me to close the front nine in 37 shots.

Okay, let's keep it going!

The 10th is a short par five and I take full advantage, almost hitting the green in two, pitching to about four feet and knocking in the straight putt for birdie, getting me back to even on the day.

I hit a nice tee shot on 11 but hit an AWFUL pitching wedge from 120 yards, missing the green way right. But my short game continued to bail me out, as I almost pitched in, leaving an 18 incher for the easy par.

We hit the par three 12th and find three groups waiting. Ugh. I get to sit and stew on my nemesis hole for twenty minutes...this isn't going to be good...

Twenty-plus minutes later, I finally tee up and make a ridiculous anti-left swing and the ball soars right of the cart path, leaving a next to impossible pitch shot to a tight pin on a green that falls away from me. I try to pitch the ball into the bank but I'm unsuccessful, with the ball coming up short. I then semi-skull my chip shot about 12 feet past the hole but incredibly, I regain focus and make that bogey putt.

Whew. I'm still in this!

I hit a very nice tee shot on the tough 13th and make a good par so I reach the par three 14th at +1 and in good shape.

I hem and haw about clubs, finally settling on a five-iron on the 176 yard hole that's playing into a stiff breeze with a back pin placement. I make a swing that's anything but confident and SHANK THE BALL straight right toward Burgoyne Woods.

I can only laugh as I tee up a provisional and snap hook it left and long of the green.

My buddy Jay, who was carrying for me in the tournament, thought he saw the ball riccochet off the tree but unfortunately, four sets of eyes weren't enough to find my ball on this day. I couldn't get up and down with my second ball, giving me a crippling triple bogey six on the hole.

I played the rest of the round in a daze and was unable to capitalize on a short birdie putt on the 15th then inexplicably lost concentration on a wedge shot from 80 yards on the 16th (it was in a divot but it wasn't a hard shot) and made bogey there. I made a nice save for par on the 17th and narrowly missed a 15 footer for birdie on the 18th, giving me a 77 on the day.

I was the clubhouse leader at the time and had a bit of hope when one of the guys in the next group, who was ahead of me after one round, shot 81 to fall back of me. I'd need one more guy to shoot in the 80's to get me into Monday's final round or have the leader shoot a 74 or worse.

Neither happened, leaving me out of the competition. The cut came at 153, just like I thought it would. My 155 put me in 9th out of 23 guys who played in the flight.

I just want to thank my buddy Jay for carrying my bag this weekend. He did a great job once again. Sorry I couldn't come through for you! Maybe next year!

I find myself at a bit of a crossroad when it comes to my game. I put this blog together with the intention of using it to improve my game by getting my thoughts and ideas down in written form. However, my game has taken a pretty resounding step in the wrong direction...

I know I have a lot on my plate this year but I've come to the realization that my swing just isn't good enough as it stands if I'm to become a better player. I don't feel like I can control my golf ball on a consistent basis, especially off the tee and I'm pretty sure that means only one thing...

It's time to blow the whole swing up and start from scratch.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Quick Round One Update

Can't talk much due to the fact I tee off in about an hour.

I fought hard yesterday but a double bogey on the last hole cost me dearly in a round of 78, the same score I shot in last year's opening round.

Problem with it this year is the fact that there are better players participating this year and my score finds me in a tie for 10th going into today's second round.

Top eight and ties plus those within 10 shots of the lead make the 36-hole cut. I figure that cut line is going to come at 153 or 154 so that means a 75 or 76 will be needed to squeeze through to Monday's final round.

Here's hoping for the best!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Club Championship Preview

It's pretty late and I tee off in about nine hours for the first round of the club championship at St. Catharines.

I'm playing in the open flight once again. I have absolutely no clue how my game is going to hold up this weekend - I haven't played an awful lot lately but I've been pretty consistent, shooting a bunch of 77's and 78's lately. I might play pretty well (74 or better) or I might be mediocre (78-79) but I'd be surprised if I scored poorly (80+).

Does that make any sense?

My buddy Jay will be on my bag for the tournament which will be fun and I have a great pairing tomorrow, playing with Will and Ben, two of the young whippersnappers with a lot of game. Hopefully I can ride their coattails to success.

The top eight and ties plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead come the end of the day Sunday make the 36-hole cut and get the opportunity to play in Monday's final round.

Again, I have no clue what's going to happen with my game. I've had a pretty poor year from a scoring perspective and I continue with my horrible starts almost every round. My putting has been uniformly excellent all year but my driving and overall ball striking hasn't been up to snuff. But you never know if it all will come together.

Let the grinding begin!

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of round one. Wish me luck...I'm definitely going to need it!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Heat Wave

I don't know if I've ever experienced heat like we had today in St. Catharines.

We hit a high temperature of 35 celsius today or 95 on the fahrenheit scale. If you can believe it, the humidex rating was 50 DEGREES CELSIUS, or 122 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

That is simply disgusting.

The silly thing is that I actually kept my promise and went to the club after work to practice. I hit about 40 balls on the range in bare feet (I kid you not...working on my balance a bit) but I was making ridiculously lazy swings in the stifling heat and hitting the ball like garbage.

So I sauntered off to the putting green, hit a few lackluster chips and putts and headed back to the clubhouse.

I likely spent about 45 minutes practicing...I'm done for the year now!!! Just kidding...maybe!

I may try again sometime in the next couple of days and will definitely play 18 on Friday with Harry and Toast if they're up for it. Toast is moving down to A Flight this year while Harry and I will battle the scratch handicaps in the Open Flight.

I'm going to spend the rest of the night studying fantasy football. This league is pretty expensive so I'm going to put in one night of work in preparation for a draft I likely won't be able to make, due to the fact I have the Niagara Cup singles matches on the day they want to run it.

Hopefully I can talk them out of starting the draft so early in the evening. Get on it Harris!!! 8:00pm start time, not 6:00pm!!!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Trash Talking is a Must!

I just got invited to play in one of Harry's big fantasy football leagues today. You know it's going to be a fun league when it's titled 'Trash Talking is a Must 2006'.

These guys are seriously hardcore. Harry wakes up about 6:00am on Sunday mornings, puts his little football jammies on and rushes downstairs like a kid on Christmas morning (or Hanukkah if your last name is Boselaberg). This guy starts watching the NFL Network at 7am on game days just to stay ahead of his fantasy competitors and is aghast that someone would even CONSIDER playing golf on a football Sunday.

I think they're all like this. Bunch of freaks!

These guys STUDY this stuff for hours on end. Harry would likely talk about fantasy football 24 hours a day if he could but he has to slave at work, watching his staff clean gloves for about 28 minutes a day (not including a 2 hour smoke break) before packing it in sometime mid-morning in the summer. It's a tough life. Then he goes and plays a ClubLink course for half price but really plays like crap because all he's thinking about is whether to choose the underrated Clinton Portis with his second round pick or take a chance on the soon-to-break-out Eli Manning.

Ooops! Sounds like I might know something about this stuff eh Harris? Well, I did beat your ass last year in a pool and still GOLFED EVERY SUNDAY MORNING! What happens if I actually TRY to do well? It will be another 'rebuilding' year for The Glove Cleaners.

I look forward to the challenge and the camaraderie and will have to start working on my trash talking.

I only played one round of golf on the weekend, as I had to help a buddy move on Saturday.

The round on Sunday was oh-so-similar to every round I've played lately: bogey on one, bogey on two, bogey on three, bogey on four. Two three putts included. I was able to par number five and I birdied six to get back to +3 on the day but promptly bogeyed seven after my first really bad swing of the day off the tee. I parred eight and nine for a 40 on the front.

I had another solid back nine, birdieing the 10th and 15th holes but an ugly double on the straightforward 17th meant a 37 on the back nine for a 77 overall. I ended up losing my weekly match with Bernie 2&1 but swept the Hollywoods in our fourball and won a skin to end up $9.00 for the day.

I hope to do some very low-key practicing this week. I'll likely keep it loose by putting and chipping around in my sandals tomorrow. Maybe I'll hit some balls too. I'm going to practice either Wednesday or Thursday as well then will play 18 on Friday night after work to tune up for Saturday's first round in the Club Championship. I finished in sixth place last year but the competition is better than ever in 2006 so I'll need a solid first round to stay in the picture.

I'll likely do a long-overdue hole-by-hole review of my home course, St. Catharines Golf and CC sometime this week to help me prepare my gameplan for the weekend.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Overcoming Dreadful Starts

I was playing the Cutten Club in Guelph the other day with one of my supplier reps, who was kind enough to bring me and one of my purchasing agents out for an afternoon of golf.

I started out by making a forty foot putt on the first for BOGEY, then doubled the second and doubled the third. +5 after three holes...

Skip ahead to the 17th hole. I've only hit five greens in regulation to this point. It hasn't been pretty. I look over a four footer and drain it for par to stay at +6 for the day.

Scott, my garbage bag supplier rep says, "My God you're a grinder!"

Toast and Harry are right. Not about the 'luckbox' stuff but I definitely am a grinder.

I pretty much have to be. I don't have the natural ability of a lot of guys I play with. Since I started playing as a pre-teen, my swing looks decent enough but I'm not a very good ballstriker, relatively speaking. Since I'm too stubborn to practice and haven't had time for a refresher lesson on fundamentals, I'm stuck working with what I have.

So I grind like hell.

I don't consider myself to have a great mental game but I've always prided myself on the fact that I can right the ship after a poor start.

Unfortunately, it's something I'm having to do way too often these days. The round at Cutten - I was five over after three and ended up shooting 78. Last Sunday at St. Catharines I was four over after four and still ended up shooting 77 with a bogey on 18.

Then the other night, I brought my buddies Jay and Ryan out to the course and I started bogey, double, bogey, bogey.

I go through quite the range of emotions after a stretch like that. I'll get mad or maybe I'll start feeling sorry for myself. I might be embarrassed too. But then I get defiant.

You have to!

I think to myself that "there's no way I'm shooting in the 80's today" and "it's time to bear down."

So I scratch and I claw, going -2 on the next 7 holes to get it back to +3 on the day as we reach my nemesis hole, the 12th at St. Catharines.

Of course, I hit my tee ball in the water and make double.

I fought my ass off for seven holes only to lose it all on one swing. What do I do now?

Might as well keep grinding.

I hit some nice shots coming in and was able to par holes 13 through 17. I bogeyed the 18th in the dusk to shoot another 78, pretty solid after another brutal start.

Why do I bring all of this up?

Well, I'm getting tired of the grind, to be honest.

The only thing consistent about my game these days is its inconsistency. The handicap is up to its highest level in over two years and my scores show no signs of improving.

I sound depressed but I'm really not. I'm excited...it's time to get defiant again. The point of all of this is essentially to give myself an online pep talk, something tangible to help motivate me out of the scoring funk that I've fallen into.

I have to get my butt out of bed early and actually hit the driving range this weekend before playing. It's a running joke between Toast and Harry (one that I enjoy actually!) that I never practice but if I want to start scoring better, I need to work on my game more. I know that.

I hope this post is the defining point of my golfing year. Time will tell if that is indeed the case.

Eight days and counting till club championship...

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Best Thing in the World - Business Golf!

Oh hell yeah!

I might get only one or two chances a year to play golf with one of our clients or suppliers. Tomorrow is one of those days.

I'm travelling to Guelph tomorrow to play the Stanley Thompson-designed Cutten Club, a lovely private course where one of my supplier reps is a member. I've never had the chance to play there so I'm really looking forward to the experience. Should be a great day!

The honeymoon is booked and we'll be spending ten nights at the
Princeville Resort in Princeville, Kauai.

Jacky and I actually narrowed it down to Princeville and the Maldives, a remote island on the Indian Ocean. It would have been pretty exotic but the flight costs would have been a killer for my sister, who just closed the deal on a new house in the extremely swanky Rosedale area of Toronto.

So Princeville it is, which means I'll get a crack at the resort's Prince course, a top-100 in the world track according to both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine. I'll be bringing my camera for that one! Check out a shot of the interior of the course below!


I played golf on Friday night with the crew (Harry and Toast), a rare treat this year. I shot 77, which is a pretty solid score for me this year but didn't hit the ball very well. 28 putts helped, that's for sure. Toast and I hung out afterwards on the patio and drank a couple tasty Stellas before going our separate ways.

Saturday was pretty depressing. It was absolutely pouring out and Gary and Toast, my playing partners, walked in after nine holes, leaving me on the tenth tee contemplating finishing my round all by my lonesome. I lowered my head and went inside instead, grabbed some breakfast and watched a bit of the Open Championship.

I HATE nine-hole rounds with a passion...it's like a waste of two hours in my opinion.

Later that night, Jacky and I frequented a new restaurant on Hartzel called 'Echoes of Asia', where they serve Thai/Vietnamese cuisine. I had a tasty dish called Chili Seafood Stir Fry - I still like Sahla Thai and Mai Vi better but Echoes is pretty good too.

We topped the night off by seeing Pirates of the Caribbean II. I absolutely loved part one but I must say that I am pretty ambivalent about the second installment. Way too long and devoid of sound plotting, this movie is basically an exercise in moving from action setpiece to action setpiece. Johnny Depp is excellent again, however and is worth ** alone for his performance. Overall, ** 1/2 stars out of four from this reviewer.

We had twelve guys out on Sunday for the $10.00 skin game plus I had a side game with Bernie, one of the top players at the club. He's a multi-time club champion at St. Catharines and recently rejoined the club after a two-year absence.

For the second consecutive week since his return, I got into his pocket, shooting another 77 to beat him 2&1. I also won two skins and was up in the Hollywood game to profit an incredible $45.00 on the day! Best haul ever I think!

I'm starting to hit the ball a bit better, as I hit 9 of 13 fairways on Sunday and am consistently hitting 9+ greens in regulation as well. My putting was a bit off on Sunday (32 putts) but I feel pretty good over the ball these days in all aspects of the game. Club Championship is in two weeks and I'm looking to make a statement this year.

My game has been generally pathetic this year - my hot putter has been the only thing keeping my scores reasonable. I'll never hit the ball as long as a guy like Harry but if I can just keep the ball in play and get some consistency with my irons, I should be able to make the cut again this year and perhaps fight for a top-three finish in the open flight. I'll have my buddy Jay on the bag for the second consecutive year so it will be a fun weekend regardless of score.

I'll try to take a couple photos out at Cutten tomorrow and post them here, along with my impressions of the course.

EDIT TO ADD:
Oh yeah, I never talk about it anymore here (much to Toast's chagrin) but I've been playing some online poker recently. I've been playing $1/$2 limit for the most part and pretty successfully too. Toast challenged me to move up to $2/$4 and after being up big after an hour, I promptly got spanked for my entire buy-in of $60.00. I came back again tonight though and won $113.00, putting me up $53.00 overall at the higher limit.

I'll likely head back to the $1/$2 games until I get up to $1000.00, which I feel is a reasonable bankroll for the $2/$4 game. Keep in mind I said reasonable, NOT optimal! I've got a little over $600.00 right now on the site from my original $100.00 so I've got a ways to go.