Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Tomorrow is Canada Day so Happy 'Eh' Day to my fellow countrymen. And to my American friends, happy Independence Day!

I have my first Langley Cup match of 2006 tomorrow. The Langley is the 0-7 handicap match play tournament and I'll be playing a fellow 4-handicapper in Brian, so we'll play straight up. Cool beans. I'll be playing with Toast and Harry so I'll have some moral & vocal support ("He's gooooooood") on the course. I'll be back with a report later this weekend.

Jacky and I will be heading to my friend Damon and Kerace's place for a pool party/barbeque in the afternoon and we also have a BBQ on Sunday afternoon at my uncles.

Have a good Saturday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

East Aurora CC - Back Nine

East Aurora's back nine starts with a very intimidating tee shot. The hole is only 339 yards but plays entirely uphill through an extremely narrow chute. Toast and I both hit 3 irons while Jay layed back with a 4 wood.


Everyone hit great approaches but I ended up three-jacking. Jay birdied and Toast two-putted for par. The eleventh is a great 403 yard downhill par four that doglegs left around a large pond. The green site is protected at the back by marsh and on the right side by an abandoned railroad track. I three-jacked here as well for another bogey. Ugh!

Twelve is a really short par five measuring only 453 yards. However, you're forced to lay back a bit off the tee, as the fairway ends about 265 yards from the tips. You'd literally need to carry the ball 300+ yards to clear the marsh that borders the right side of the fairway and cuts right across the middle. From there, the approach is uphill to a very elevated green site that slopes heavily from left to right. I was able to grind my way to a par here.

The 13th hole is a beautiful 190 yard one shotter (see below). The tee blocks and green site are both elevated but there is a large dropoff inbetween. Visually it's quite a striking golf hole and the green site has more bumps than a teenager's acne-filled face.


From there, you head back to the marshy surroundings at the 374 yard par four 14th. It's a big dogleg left with the green hidden from the tee behind a huge hill. I ended up driving into the marsh well right of the fairway and made a crippling double bogey here. I took a picture of the green site from the hill bordering the hole.


The 15th (seen below) is another great one shotter, with a deep-faced bunker fronting the right side of the green. The green slopes tremendously away from the bunker. Bottom line: you miss right here and you're dead. I did and was lucky to make bogey. Toast made an UNBELIEVABLE up-and-down for par from the same bunker I was in. He's good...


The 16th is another short par five measuring 476 yards. It's a very tight tee shot through a chute of trees and the fairway falls a bit near the landing area, propelling tee shots into 'go for it' territory. I cranked my best of the day here and left myself only 178 yards for my second. I duck-hooked my five iron into the front left bunker (seen below) and had to settle for par.


The par four 17th is very quirky in that it doubles as East Aurora's driving range!!! I kid you not. If you look closely in the picture below, you can actually see the hundreds of yellow golf balls in the fairway!


There is a bell beside the tee that you ring after teeing off to let the guys on the range know you're heading out into the fairway. From there, they presumably switch to hitting wedges until you clear the landing area. Very strange!

The last hole is just awesome: a 367 yard par four from an elevated tee to a fairway bordered on the left by marsh. A creek also splits the fairway about 280 yards from the tee, making a fairway wood or rescue shot the smart play.


From there, you have yet another uphill approach shot to a narrow but long and undulating green that falls off severely on both sides. Just a really cool finisher!


I could do no better than a 6-over 42 on the back side and finished with an 81 on the day. Without doubt, this is the toughest 6300 yard course I have ever had the pleasure of playing.

Actually, this is one of the BEST courses I've had the pleasure of playing. The rolling topography is exhilarating and the green complexes are among the best I've ever played.

What a treat it was to play out here! I'm looking forward to my next visit!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Exhaustion Starting to Set In

I'm dog tired these days...

Another incredibly busy weekend for yours truly. Played some early morning golf with Toast, Harris and Gary on Saturday and choked my way to a 78 after being 2 over through 14. I was able to pocket a whole $2.00 based on that effort. Yippee!

Went home, got showered and took Jacky to meet with our wedding cake maker, noted pastry chef Anna Olson. We got to sample some stuff and ended up settling on the details of both the actual bridal cake and a grooms cake, supposedly the 'hot' thing these days.

Yeah, it's certainly a great way to extract more money from my wallet.

From there, we had to go and buy a gift for my Godson's first birthday over at Toys 'R Us and then went home to get ready for the barbeque at my friends Jay and Laura's place. Unfortunately, Ryan and Christina weren't able to make the festivities to due illness on Christina's part but we had a fun night with the Bergens and their daughter Olivia.

Sunday was the first leg of the preliminary round of the Niagara Cup for 2006. Our opponents are from the Links of Niagara at Willo Dell and Port Colborne CC. I ended up getting paired with our assistant pro Cameron as we faced Willo Dell pro Joey McKenney and Bob, one of his members in a two-man match play scramble competition.

The first hole is a 495 yard par five and Cam and I both nailed our tee shots long down the fairway. From about 210, my 4-iron just went right of the green while Cam stroked his to the back of the green. We barely missed our eagle efforts and settled for a birdie 4, good for a halve.

We got into a bit of trouble on the tough 2nd hole, a 378 yard dogleg left. Cam's drive was down the left side of the fairway but he had absolutely no shot to the green on this crazy hole that rewards a shot positioned down the right side only. My tee ball was in the rough but safe on the right side. I hit a couple branches on my 9 iron approach and Cam did the same thing so we had a little pitch shot from in front of the green. I was able to coax the chip to about 5 feet and Cam could do no better so we had the toughy for par. The Willo Dell team were about 3 1/2 feet away but above the hole. I went first and missed the putt badly to the left on the sharp breaker. However, Joe was feeling generous and asked 'good/good', meaning we just take both putts and walk to the next hole.

No argument from us!

The 534 yard par five third was next. Again, Cam and I both killed great drives down the pipe and left ourselves about 260 yards into the wind. My strongest fairway club is my 2-iron rescue and I was able to get it just short of the green while Cam's 4-wood sailed into the left hand bunker. We chose my shot and could only pitch to eight feet. Cam was able to knock that putt in for our birdie, while the Willo Dell team parred, giving us the 1-up lead.

Both teams parred the next hole, a 180 yard par three which brings us to the tricky fifth, a short par four measuring 268 yards. There is a large creek that fronts the green, swallowing any mishit tee shot or approach. Cam wanted us to be aggressive all day so we both took out drivers. I nailed another beauty, clearing the water and just going over the back of the green and Cam did the same thing. We had more green to work with using his tee ball and my chip shot to 6 feet was the best we could do. Thankfully, I was able to make the putt for another birdie and the 2up lead.

Cam made a nice up and down par on the 6th hole to make par and halve with Willo Dell and then he absolutely stiffed a wedge from 115 yards on the 7th, giving me the easy tap in for birdie and the three up lead. That guaranteed us the 1 point for the front nine (the Niagara Cup format awards one point for the team who wins the front, one point for the back nine and one point for the overall match).

The Willo Dell team won the eighth hole when Bob made about a 30 footer for birdie after we were already in with par but we would get it right back on the 410 yard par four ninth. I hit a great eight iron from about 155 yards to about 6 feet and Cam made the putt to give us the 3up lead again and a sparkling 31 on the front nine (-5).

Both teams parred the 171 yard par three tenth. On 11, a 535 yard par five, I hit another beauty off the tee that left us about 240 yards out. My three iron rescue got to the front fringe while Cam hit his second shot long and left. We took my shot and were unable to chip in for eagle but I made the four footer for birdie and another win, as the Willo Dell guys both missed their short birdie effort.

Our scorecard was pretty funny - birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie. We wanted to end that streak!

The 12th is a 174 yard par three into the wind. I took out my six-iron and hit hit stiff to about four feet. Cam ended our 'on and off' streak by holing the putt for a commanding 5up lead in the match.

That's when we lost focus for a bit. The Willo Dell guys ordered some liquor from the cart girl and we decided to join them, grabbing a couple beers. It might have cost us, as we were unable to birdie the very easy par five 13th while greenside in two shots, losing the hole in the process.

Joey was pumped and DESTROYED a drive on the 343 yard par four 14th, getting to within about 20 yards of the green. My drive ended up exactly 67 yards away from the flag. We were able to squash their hopes of coming back when I almost holed the eagle shot with my lob wedge, the ball coming to rest about three inches away. Joey hit a great chip to about five feet and made the birdie putt, then conceded our tap-in to keep us four up with four to play.

Both teams were unable to make tough birdie putts on the 15th, settling for pars. That gave us the 4&3 overall victory in the match.

But there was still the one point on the back nine to play for. We were still one up on the side going to the 554 yard par five 16th, which features a crazy 90 degree dogleg to the left. I decided to hit a 2-iron rescue off the tee and crushed it bigtime right down the fairway. Cam's drive snap-hooked into the woods left so we had to take my ball, which was still about 300 yards away from the green. I hit another rescue to about 90 yards and Cam again hooked one into the creek bordering the left side of the fairway. This time he had an excuse, as a moth landed on his ball in his downswing, causing much laughter in the group after the strike.

The moth flew away unharmed.

We both hit our wedges long on the heavily sloped green and both barely missed the 18 footer for birdie. The Willo Dell team made no mistake with their effort and we were now tied on the back nine.

The tough 184 yard par three 17th was next. I hit my shot into the front left bunker and that was unfortunately the best we could do, as Cam missed way left with his tee ball. I hit a poor bunker shot to 20 feet and Cam was able to do a bit better, getting us to 12 feet. The Willo Dell guys were already in with a two-putt par so we HAD to make this putt. I went first and barely lipped out the putt but Cam walked up and nailed it into the back of the cup to keep us square on the back.

The dogleg left finisher is 434 yards and I pounded another beauty to about 180 yards right in the middle of the fairway. We took my drive and after Cam hit a shot way right of the green, I was able to come up with a great swing on my six-iron, hitting it pin high about 20 feet away. The Willo Dell guys picked a drive that was in the trees for some reason (they had a ball that was about 190 yards away but in the fairway) and were only able to get the ball to about 15 feet off the putting surface. They hit their chip to about 7 feet so we had the putt for the win.

I easily hit the best putt of the day for myself, watched it hit the hole and COMPLETELY HORSESHOE OUT. I was walking that sucker in and it takes a peek and spits it out. Bastard!

Cam took the read and hit his on line but just short so we settled for par. Bob was able to make the tough 7 footer for their par and the back nine halve.

So we were able to extract 2.5 points out of 3 for the match but felt disappointed in the result. We shot a pretty solid 64 as a two-man team but we were actually thinking 59 back on the 11th green so it again was a bit disappointing. Oh well, a win is a win.

The club comes away with six total points out of the 18 awarded which places us in second behind Port Colborne CC, who had 8.5. Willo Dell is at 3.5. There are two more events in the preliminaries: first, we head to Willo Dell for the two man best ball event in July and then the last event is at St. Catharines for the singles matches. The team with the most points after that event goes on to the finals, being held this year at Beechwood Golf and CC in Niagara Falls.

I ended the day by going over to my buddy Brandon's for my godson's birthday party.

Just so tired.....

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Game is Coming Around

I played 18 holes after work today with Toast and Harry and finally things are coming together with my swing.

I hit 12 greens in regulation today, my best number on the year, on my way to a solid 76 from the tips at St. Catharines. I didn't make one putt all evening of any consequence (one two-putt birdie and another tap-in bird) but I was scaring the hole every time.

I think I'm close to putting my first subpar round of the year together, which is pretty exciting! Hopefully tomorrow, when good buddy Gary joins Toast, Harry and myself for some crack-o-dawn golf!

In other news, I was lucky enough to get chosen as a captains pick for St. Catharines' Niagara Cup squad for the second year in a row. The first leg of the preliminary round is Sunday morning at Port Colborne CC, where I'll be teaming with our assistant pro Cameron in a scramble match against the Links of Niagara team consisting of professional Joe McKenney and a partner of his choosing. I'm looking forward to the day with the pros!

The annual NHL Draft is being held in Vancouver tomorrow starting at 12:00pm. Buffalo holds the #24 pick this year, the furthest they've been from #1 in well over ten years. This is due to the fantastic season the Sabres had, finishing 5th overall in the league.

Buffalo will be looking to move up in the draft through a trade, possibly dangling backup goaltender Martin Biron or excess forwards like Maxim Afinogenov (hopefully not) and J.P. Dumont (I wouldn't lose sleep if he was moved).

The key to any deal, if it happens, is that Buffalo moves into the top 12 in the draft - this is an abnormally deep draft at the top but weakens considerably after the first dozen prospects. Buffalo, as always, will be looking for a stud defenseman to draft but also will need to look at picking up a good goaltending prospect in the second round. This was a position of strength for Buffalo at the beginning of the 2005 season but with the deadline trade of Mika Noronen and the eventual trade of Biron, Buffalo will need to groom a backup for Ryan Miller in the next year or two.

I absolutely LOVE the draft and look forward to seeing Buffalo's choices tomorrow.

I won't have the chance to watch though, as I have a meeting with our wedding cake lady, noted pastry chef Anna Olson. Anna has her own show on the Food Network in Canada and Jacky is PUMPED that she's doing our cake. She was literally SKIPPING DOWN THE STREET after meeting her a few weeks back. Should be a fun couple of hours, as we get to sample lots of different cakes. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

I want to go looking for tuxedos as well for me and the wedding party tomorrow and later in the evening, we'll be getting together with my buddy Jay, his wife Laura and my other buddy Ryan and his wife Christina for a barbeque dinner.

I'll be back soon with the back nine of East Aurora and details on my round from Saturday. Have a good one!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

East Aurora Country Club

East Aurora Country Club
East Aurora, New York, USA


6285 YARDS (PAR 71)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 72.6/126
COURSE ARCHITECT: William Harries and A. Russell Tryon (1916)
ACCESSIBILITY: Private
COURSE WEBSITE: http://eastauroracc.com/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 4
LAST PLAYED: July 22, 2007.
LOW SCORE: 76 (+5)


The person who says you need a 7000 yard golf course in this day and age to combat technology has never played the fantastic East Aurora Country Club in East Aurora, New York.

My buddies Toast and Jay joined me on Saturday afternoon for one of the most pleasurable golf experiences in some time. East Aurora CC is a reciprical club to St. Catharines and the opportunity to play was provided when our club held the final round of the annual Member-Guest tournament on Saturday morning.

After breakfast at the now famous Mozie on In diner, we took the easy 45 minute drive to EACC. The par 71 golf course plays a meager 6285 yards from the back tee deck but we knew it would be a test based on word-of-mouth and the 72.6 course rating.

We had a nice chat with the pro upon our arrival, hit a few putts on the unbelievably slick greens and headed for the first tee, a dogleg right par four measuring 422 yards. Jay and Toast nailed perfect drives down the pipe while my tee shot sprayed off into the trees right of the fairway. I was forced to pitch out and then hit a 9-iron about 20 feet past the flag. Toast and Jay both had trouble with their approaches, leaving them short and followed my lead, hitting their third shots to about 25 feet.

That's when we received our first lesson about playing East Aurora - don't leave yourself above the hole.

Toast ended up having the shortest second putt out of the three of us...he was 15 feet away! Fast doesn't even begin to describe the greens out here! Both Toast and I made double bogey sixes while Jay was forced to settle for a triple. What a start!

The second is a 157 yard par three. I hit a nice tee shot but overclubbed, with the ball finally coming to rest directly behind a monsterous oak tree. I was forced to chip completely away from the pin and my ball ended up going through the green once again, leaving myself another 45 foot chip. I muttered all the way across the green before chipping my third shot right into the cup for the unlikely par!

Hilarious.

The third hole is where things get interesting. It's a very short par five measuring 463 yards. The tee shot is severely uphill and blind and doglegs close to 90 degrees left, forcing us to drive our cart up into the landing area to investigate. The second is a tester; if you lay up, you'll find that the fairway ends about 95 yards from the green and falls off severely into a large depression area. The first photo below is a shot from about 105 yards while the second photo is from behind the third green. You can really see the rolling terrain that is featured at EACC.



I was able to make a nice up and down for birdie here to get back to one over. Then came the fourth, a 236 yard monster par three where we were forced to hit rescue clubs and 4 woods. I ended up going long left and made a three putt double bogey, the same result as Jay. Toast made a great up and in for par as we moved on to a couple of shortish but VERY TIGHT par fours.

The fifth is a 329 yarder with out of bounds looming right of the narrow fairway while the sixth, at 369 yards, is a tree-lined dogleg right with a diabolical putting surface. I bogeyed both holes.

The seventh is the longest hole on the course, a 533 yard par five with an uphill tee shot to another narrow fairway. The second shot is also played uphill but the land falls dramatically again around 150 yards from the green, leaving a downhill third shot. The two photos below show the differences in the tee shot and the approach.



Just outstanding topography! Unfortunately, my decent approach to the middle of the green took the slope and rolled thirty feet left right off the green! I'd be unable to get up and down and took yet another bogey to move to +6 through seven.

The incredible uphill par three eighth is next (see below). You barely could see the top of the pin from the tee down in the valley and I proceeded to again overshoot the green. My chipping was on today, however, and I rolled another one right into the middle of the jar for my second chip-in and second birdie of the day!


The ninth is a 390 yard par four. Trees line the left side of the fairway while the right side is pretty open. I ripped my biggest tee shot of the day here and had only 88 yards left for my second. I hit a mediocre wedge to about 25 feet and somehow was able to coax it in for my second birdie in a row and third of the day, giving me a front nine score of 39 (+4).


East Aurora's back nine starts with a very intimidating tee shot. The hole is only 339 yards but plays entirely uphill through an extremely narrow chute. Toast and I both hit 3 irons while Jay layed back with a 4 wood.


Everyone hit great approaches but I ended up three-jacking. Jay birdied and Toast two-putted for par. The eleventh is a great 403 yard downhill par four that doglegs left around a large pond. The green site is protected at the back by marsh and on the right side by an abandoned railroad track. I three-jacked here as well for another bogey. Ugh!

Twelve is a really short par five measuring only 453 yards. However, you're forced to lay back a bit off the tee, as the fairway ends about 265 yards from the tips. You'd literally need to carry the ball 300+ yards to clear the marsh that borders the right side of the fairway and cuts right across the middle. From there, the approach is uphill to a very elevated green site that slopes heavily from left to right. I was able to grind my way to a par here.

The 13th hole is a beautiful 190 yard one shotter (see below). The tee blocks and green site are both elevated but there is a large dropoff inbetween. Visually it's quite a striking golf hole and the green site has more bumps than a teenager's acne-filled face.


From there, you head back to the marshy surroundings at the 374 yard par four 14th. It's a big dogleg left with the green hidden from the tee behind a huge hill. I ended up driving into the marsh well right of the fairway and made a crippling double bogey here. I took a picture of the green site from the hill bordering the hole.


The 15th (seen below) is another great one shotter, with a deep-faced bunker fronting the right side of the green. The green slopes tremendously away from the bunker. Bottom line: you miss right here and you're dead. I did and was lucky to make bogey. Toast made an UNBELIEVABLE up-and-down for par from the same bunker I was in. He's good...


The 16th is another short par five measuring 476 yards. It's a very tight tee shot through a chute of trees and the fairway falls a bit near the landing area, propelling tee shots into 'go for it' territory. I cranked my best of the day here and left myself only 178 yards for my second. I duck-hooked my five iron into the front left bunker (seen below) and had to settle for par.


The par four 17th is very quirky in that it doubles as East Aurora's driving range!!! I kid you not. If you look closely in the picture below, you can actually see the hundreds of yellow golf balls in the fairway!


There is a bell beside the tee that you ring after teeing off to let the guys on the range know you're heading out into the fairway. From there, they presumably switch to hitting wedges until you clear the landing area. Very strange!

The last hole is just awesome: a 367 yard par four from an elevated tee to a fairway bordered on the left by marsh. A creek also splits the fairway about 280 yards from the tee, making a fairway wood or rescue shot the smart play.


From there, you have yet another uphill approach shot to a narrow but long and undulating green that falls off severely on both sides. Just a really cool finisher!


I could do no better than a 6-over 42 on the back side and finished with an 81 on the day. Without doubt, this is the toughest 6300 yard course I have ever had the pleasure of playing.

Actually, this is one of the BEST courses I've had the pleasure of playing. The rolling topography is exhilarating and the green complexes are among the best I've ever played.

What a treat it was to play out here! I'm already looking forward to my next visit!



Friday, June 16, 2006

Low-Key Weekend Ahead!

I actually have a manageable schedule this weekend!

Tonight, Jacky and I have a meeting with another photographer, a California-based hotshot named Michael Pascoe. He's in the region for the summer so he's taking photography jobs while here. I'm still very much interested in Stephen Dominick's services but if Pascoe is good (and less expensive), I'll give him a shot (no pun intended).

I'm extremely pumped about golf on Saturday. St. Catharines is running their annual Gentlemen's Invitational (member/guest) Thursday, Friday and Saturday, an event I'm not playing in. Maybe next year if I find a partner.

So the club isn't available for play on Saturday. I was able to get one of the assistants at the club to get us on East Aurora Country Club in East Aurora, New York, one of St. Catharines' reciprical courses.

East Aurora CC has held the very prestigious International Junior Masters for over 50 years and is a very well-regarded golf course. At only 6300 yards from the tips, it's very short by today's standards but I'm told the track is exceptionally tight and hilly with very undulating green complexes.

My buddies Toast and Jay will be joining me for the round on Saturday so it should be a great day. We'll hit the 'Mozie on In' restaurant for a spectacular breakfast beforehand and hopefully arrive at the course for around noon.

Saturday evening is 'date night' for me and Jacky. I'll be making up for all the golf I've played over the past couple of weeks by taking her out to the schmaltzy chick flick 'The Lakehouse', starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. My expectations for the movie are pretty low but Jacky will really enjoy it.

I'll finally get a chance to play St. Catharines on Sunday with the regular group for the first time in three weeks. I need some spending money so hopefully I'm able to win a couple of skins! ;)

I'll likely head over to my parents for a bit to wish my dad a happy father's day and spend the rest of the afternoon watching the US Open.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sports, Entertainment and Smack: Harry's New Blog

Just when you thought it was safe to surf the net...

Along comes 'The King of Boss', aka: Harry, aka: Harris, aka: 'Thumbs' offering his unique insight into the world of golf, fantasy football, glove cleaning and life in general at Sports, Entertainment and Smack.

Check it out but don't listen to his fantasy football advice...hell, look at his team roster in those leagues he's in for proof!

Good luck with Mike McMahon this year! :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pine Acres Better Ball Tournament

For the third consecutive year, I joined a group of St. Catharines members for the journey to Bradford, Pennsylvania for the Pine Acres Better Ball tournament.

I teamed up with Toast for the second year in a row and arrived at Pine Acres with a putting stroke for the first time. Pine Acres is a really nice traditional layout with tall pines framing the fairways and extremely slick putting surfaces that slope severely from back to front. I love this course.

Things started out well enough, with a narrow birdie miss on our first hole (the par three 7th) in the shotgun event. I also parred eight, nine and ten to keep us at even par. Toast took over for a few holes, making nice par saves on eleven and thirteen after bogeys by yours truly. I almost birdied the very difficult dogleg right fourteenth but we finally broke through on the straight-away 15th, our first par five of the day.

I was nestled in tight for birdie but Toast rammed home a 20 footer from above the hole to get us into red figures. We ran into trouble for the first time all day on the par four sixteenth: I drove into the trees and was forced to chip out and then hit an indifferent chip shot to 25 feet. Toast hit a great drive but his wedge rolled through the green. He hit a mediocre chip to 20 feet, leaving us both with improbable par putts.

Somehow, I was able to coax mine in for the great save.

The next hole was hilarious too. I half-shanked my eight iron on the par three 17th into the woods, leaving myself with a pitch shot through the trees, over a bunker to a tight pin location. I told Toast my intention of banking the shot off the face of the bunker and having it hop onto the surface.

It was my Babe Ruth moment and somehow I pulled it off, the ball coming to rest only eight feet away. High-five from my partner for that one and another when I made the improbable par putt moments later.

The magic would soon end for this tandem, however. We both hit excellent tee shots on the par five 18th, Toast ending up 235 yards away and myself 225 (yeah I outdrove him once). He asked me if he should layup in front of the water but I told him no way, go for it! He stroked a beauty two-iron rescue onto the back fringe and I followed up with my best swing of the day, a three-iron rescue to about 40 feet. Toast's putt ended up going 8 feet by the hole while my eagle putt snuggled to about 3 feet.

Cue the drama...

Toast just missed his birdie putt but he unknowingly swatted his ball away without tapping in, thereby not giving me the chance to be firm with my short birdie putt. I was already doubting my line, since our playing partners both missed short ones just before my birdie effort. My weak mental game was evident when I missed the shortie and proceeded to curse my way to the next tee.

I got the chance to cool down somewhat when our partners took off for the beer keg and was able to hit a decent tee shot down number one. My water started boiling again soon after, as I noticed our partners had marked an incorrect score down for Toast on our third hole of the day. I had already called them on giving me an incorrect score earlier in the day so I wasn't too pleased.

"Hey guys, you put us down for a four on number nine but Toast gets a shot on that hole", I said with venom. "I'm gonna have to inspect the whole card now."

Jim, one of our partners quietly retorted.

"Well, Toast never finished out the hole. You made your par and he picked up his two footer so we can't count his score on the hole. Since you DON'T get a stroke there, it's a par."

I gave Toast the death glare for his second miscue but I was really just embarrassed at myself.

I was just hot because of my own brainfart miss on the previous green and here I was getting out of hand at a fun two-ball tourney.

I apologized profusely and agreed they scored it 100% correctly. Needless to say, Toast and I putted EVERYTHING out for the rest of the day and I comically ran about 50 yards from the first green to our cart to see if Toast got a stroke on the hole as he stood over an otherwise meaningless par putt! Funny stuff.

I missed a pretty makeable birdie putt on number two and we fell apart shortly thereafter. We both bogeyed the tough par three third and then both hit our drives out of bounds on the dogleg par five fourth. I ended up making an eight while Toast made seven on the hole.

We both bogeyed the next hole as well but I was able to coax home a 15 footer for birdie on our last hole to give us a best ball score of 74 (+2), the same score we shot the previous year.

I ended up shooting a 76 while Toast came in with a 78. We just haven't been able to make enough birdies to do well in this event but I think we both have the games to play better in the future and maybe make 'the money'.

I know we'll be back next year.

The ice cream continues to rule the world ($2.50 for a HUGE sundae!) and the course is an absolute pleasure to play.

My handicap has gone up to 3.4 - double what it was when I started the year. My short game is great but I'm having a tremendous amount of difficulty with my ball striking. I'm having problems right at address with my irons - my alignment is off and I'm doing weird things with my hands to compensate. I've got some time this weekend to practice a bit so hopefully I can surprise myself and get out to the range for a bit to work on the swing.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Niagara Men's Tour at Links of Niagara

There was a lot of golf on my schedule this weekend.

Toast, Harris and I played on Friday after work more or less as a tune-up for the weekend of tournament golf. My ball striking continues to be a concern, as I hit only 7 greens en route to an awful 83, one of my worst scores of the year.

Things got better in a hurry after a tasty dinner at Sahla Thai with the guys. Nothing like Pad Thai (spice level seven) to turn my frown upside down.

I did a bunch of lawn work on Saturday morning before heading to the Links of Niagara at Willo-Dell for the third leg of the Niagara Men's Tour. Willo-Dell is a pretty straightforward golf course and I expected scores to be very low.

I couldn't be more wrong.

The course was set up with extremely difficult pin positions and the windy conditions reaked havoc on the players. I continued to strike the ball indifferently but managed to escape with a 79. Unbelievably, that was good for 14th place.

I played with the reigning champion from last year's tour, Jamie, who shot an 80. My friend Bernie, himself a multi-event winner on tour, shot 83. It's been a tough stretch of golf courses thus far and won't get any easier next month at Hunter's Pointe, a real tough Graham Cooke links-styled course.

I'm sitting in 18th place overall on tour after three events. I won't be playing the August event at Sparrow Lakes so I'll really have to play well at Hunter's to move up in the standings before the 'major event' finale at John Daly's Thundering Waters Golf Club in September.

I'll have details up soon about the Sunday trip to Pennsylvania for the Pine Acres Better Ball tournament.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Have my Computer Back!

It turns out that the problem with my computer was video card-related. The problem has been rectified and I'm back in business! I appreciate your patience!

Just updating you all on my progress on the Niagara Men's Tour: I shot another uninspiring 80 at Grand Niagara but surprisingly placed in a tie for 15th in the event.

I must admit that the scores have been really high this year so far - hopefully everyone's just a bit rusty (like me!) and the scores will come down. It's not good for the tour when 78's and 79's get you in the top ten.

I hit the ball as poorly as I can ever remember during that round, hitting only ONE of my first FOURTEEN greens in regulation. I somehow shot a 38 on the front inspite of this, taking only 11 putts on the outward nine. The wheels fell off with THREE CONSECUTIVE DOUBLE BOGEYS from 10 through 12 but I recovered from there, going even to the clubhouse for the 42 on the back.

I've been fighting my swing now for a few weeks and haven't had a chance to work things out due to the busy schedule. I'm planning on a little after work golf on Friday (first time in awhile for that) in order to work out the kinks. Fundamentals and tempo are key for me - if I get those inline, I'll be okay.

I'll have a small preview of the third leg of the tour before the event on Saturday. Unfortunately, I won't be able to go for a practice round out there and will be playing blind. It's been years since I've played the Links of Niagara at Willo-Dell - quick, true greens but a pretty dull and flat layout mean scores will likely be low. I expect at least one round in the 60's and a lot of sub-75 rounds.

Hopefully I'll be there too...

I'll also post a preview of Sunday's better ball tournament in Bradford, Pennsylvania at the delightful Pine Acres Golf Club. I'll be teaming up with my buddy Toast for the event and hopefully I can redeem myself after a poor showing last year.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Week in the Life of a Groom-to-Be

Where have you been NoSkillz?

You won't hear me complain, as I know there are PLENTY of people who lead busier lives than I but here's a quick recap of how things have gone since I last wrote.

Tuesday May 30 -
I worked until 5pm or so but Jacky and I had to cancel our 6pm appointment with a wedding photographer tonight because of game six in the Buffalo Sabres/Carolina Hurricanes series. Since Jacky was exhausted from all the planning, she passed on the game and I took my buddy Brandon instead. We both missed our ball hockey game as well. The Sabres won in overtime to extend the series to a seventh and final game.

Wednesday May 31 -
I worked until about 5:10pm and quickly ventured off to West St. Catharines to meet with my realtor at a house Jacky and I were interested in. We had walked through the place on Monday night but wanted to take a second look before placing an offer. We both brought our parents for the inspection - everyone LOVED the place. Great neighbourhood, good schools, beautiful home...it has it all. After about an hour, Jacky and I went to the realtor's office to prepare an offer on the place. Very, VERY exciting!!! We gave the sellers 24 hours to accept our proposal. We got home around 9:30pm and watched the George Clooney-directed film 'Good Night, and Good Luck'. Very interesting piece and it makes me want to learn more about Edward Murrow, the newscaster who essentially helped end McCarthy-ism.

Thursday June 1 -
Work until 5:30pm. Pick up Jacky at home and head off to the realtor to check out the counteroffer. I was pleasantly surprised that it was lower than anticipated but with two disappointments - they rejected our wish to have the brand new washer and dryer included in the deal and also had scratched out our clause regarding 'Condition of Sale'. Jacky will have to sell her house and wants to try to do it privately for about a month; this way, we don't have to pay realtor commissions. Of course, the seller wasn't comfortable with us selling without a realtor's help and scratched the clause but reduced the price a bit more to compensate.

We weren't concerned about the clause anyway, having built in a nice buffer with a 90-day closing date so no problems there. I still wanted a bit more money though and instructed our realtor to ask for $1500.00 more...it was maybe cheap on my part but it's $1500.00 that I can use for the wedding.

Of course, the seller's realtor says her client will not go any lower on price. We come back and say the price might be good if they threw in the washer and dryer (they're actually worth more than $1500). She says she can sell that concept better than taking money off the deal and will get back to us the next day. We take off around 8pm, eat some dinner then I head off to a 10pm ball hockey game.

Friday June 2 2006 -
I got the call from my realtor at about 9am. "Matt, start packin'!"

I have purchased my first home!!!

Jacky and I talk a bit during the day about getting her house ready as quickly as possible to sell it privately. Her mom came over Friday night to help us clean the place up. I had another ball hockey game at 8pm but when I got back at 10pm or so, EVERYTHING was spotless!! We pounded the 'For Sale' sign in the lawn that night and hit the sack.

Saturday June 3 2006 -
Just a ridiculously busy day. This weekend, the golf club is holding its qualifying rounds for the Niagara Cup competition. If you've followed my blog since the beginning, you'll remember that I represented St. Catharines G&CC last year on the team and I certainly wanted to make it again this year. However, other commitments necessitated me missing Saturday's qualifying round, leaving me with only one opportunity on Sunday to make the squad.

I woke up at 7:30am and made it to my buddy Dave's house to help him move into HIS new house. Around 12:30pm or so, I had to leave in order to do the lawn work at Jacky's house in order to pretty it up before having people through. However, it was POURING RAIN and I wasn't able to cut it right away. Jacky and I had an appointment with noted photographer Stephen Dominick at 4pm in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I liked him a lot - he's extremely talented and I like his shooting style but I think he may be a bit too expensive...we'll see.

From there, we had to go to mass. Jacky and I are both non-practicing Catholics but it's important for her to have our future children baptised so we're having the church wedding with a priest. Mass ended at 6pm and then we met with the priest for the first time around 6:15pm. It went pretty well - we will have to take 'marriage classes' but that's just a weekend commitment these days so no problems there.

From there, Jacky and I headed to Niagara Falls for dinner with my friends Brandon and Donna. We were hoping to hit the Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse (great, lively place) but it was packed so we settled for the Keg instead. We ended the night with coffee at their place and got home around 1am.

What a day!

Sunday June 4 -
I must applaud the fact that the club has done EVERYTHING to allow a bunch of members enough time to qualify for the Niagara Cup - after hearing a number of us had conflicts, they decided to allow qualifying over FOUR ROUNDS, both this weekend and next. Great for everyone else but still bad for me, as I have a Niagara Men's Tour event on Saturday next weekend and the annual pilgrimage to Bradford, Pennsylvania for the Rolling Rock Better Ball Tournament next Sunday.

So this would be the only day I could post a score in hopes of qualifying for the Niagara Cup team.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of rust on my swing these days and I proceeded to bogey SEVEN of the first nine holes to go out in a disappointing 43 shots. I finally showed some life on the short par five tenth, chipping in from just off the green for my first eagle of the year to get back to +5 but it just wasn't to be on this day. I double bogeyed the tough par five 15th and bogeyed 17 as well to shoot a 37 on the back and an 80 overall, not good enough to make the team I'm sure.

There is a better than average chance I'll be a captain's pick but I wish I had the chance to earn my way on the team. Oh well...can't win them all.

I had lunch and then sped home to get ready for an afternoon of working on our wedding resistry! Supposed to be a lot of fun! I walk in the door and see a couple of younger gals walking through our house. Wow...that was quick!

They really seemed to like it and said they'd call back sometime. Well, sometime came about 10 minutes later. They wanted to come back in the NEXT HALF HOUR with their parents (the girls were sisters) to show them our place.

No shower for me yet! Can't mess the place up! So twenty minutes later, we had the girls and their parents walking through. Nice family and a perfect client for us, as the girls had no finanical worries and had no house to sell themselves. They said they were VERY interested and would be in touch soon.

I was finally able to take my shower and when I got out, Jacky told me the girls had called THREE TIMES with offers on the place. Jacky refused to budge even a nickle on the price, knowing that we were selling at a very competitive price (due to not working through a realtor).

"I'll take it!"

We sold the house only a day and a half after nailing in the 'For Sale' sign, with NO marketing help whatsoever! Unbelievable!!! The girls were willing to move in whenever it was convenient for us, meaning we can possibly move into the new house quicker than anticipated! Fantastic!

We didn't have enough time to do our registry though so we just kind of scouted stuff out. We went over to Jacky's mother's house for dinner with a couple relatives and to go over the final design for the bridal shower invitations. Thankfully, I just had a couple beers while the girls went over that stuff! Finally some time to relax! We got home around 8:30pm and watched 'History of Violence' with Viggo Mortenson. Well made but very different.

Monday June 5 -
I worked until about 2:45pm and left early in order to meet with my house inspector at our new place. He had already been there for a couple of hours and continued to work until about 4:15 or so. I got a chance to meet one of the sellers (the wife) while I was there. Everything seems to be in order at the house, although the inspector says to keep an eye on the roof (cedar shakes), and the furnace and A/C units (getting close to end of their life). Not unexpected...

From there, I headed over to my parents place to brief them on what's happening with the wedding and ended the night with Jacky at Canadian Tire to do that part of our registry. Barbeques and lawn mowers, here we come!!!

Tonight is more of the same, as we go to The Bay to do that part of the registry (china, housewares, etc).

I need more sleep.

ps: I still will talk about the Grand Niagara Men's Tour stop - maybe my next post!