Saturday, June 30, 2007

Glorious Weekend of Golf - Saturday Update

It's the Canada Day weekend and that means three days of golf right through to Monday.

I even had the chance to play Glen Abbey on Thursday as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton Charity Golf Tournament. The event raised about $40,000.00 on Thursday with a full shotgun and live and silent auctions.

It was a cool event to be a part of, as the money is going directly to the underprivileged children with single parent homes in the Halton region and we got a glimpse of what great things are being done with the funds. Cheryl Hickey and Rick Campanelli from GlobalTV's Entertainment Tonight Canada participated as did Stanley Cup winner Mark Napier.

There were a lot of cool auction items available, most involving outings at ClubLink courses but there was also a signed Steve Yzerman Team Canada jersey that went for $2000.00! Good stuff.


I've never won a scramble-type tournament before and even though we played great golf as a group, there always seems to be someone who comes in with a better score in these things. It's similar to those tournaments where you stink it up and shoot 90 - there is ALWAYS someone who shoots worse!

Well, we played a 'Shamble' format, which meant that on par fours and fives, you all hit tee balls, pick the best one and then all hit from there. That's where the difference kicks in - you all play your own ball from there on in. On par threes, you play your ball the whole way. That keeps the scoring pretty reasonable and it's almost like a four-man best ball.

I was playing with my father, a 17 handicap and our two guests. They are customers of ours at Kaumeyer and the restaurant owner father (Joe M) has won the club championship at Lookout Point on multiple occasions and holds a near scratch handicap. His son Josh played with us as well and is likely an 8 or so.

We had a 'ringer'-type group for sure!

We only played the blues at Glen Abbey, which stretch to a little over 6100 yards. That meant wedges and nine irons into a few of the par fives and eagle putts galore. On #16, a 485 yard par five, I drove the ball well over 300 yards, leaving us with about 145 in. We all hit the green and after I missed my 18 footer and Joe missed his 25 footer, my old man rolled in about a 12 footer for the eagle three!

The highlight of the day for me personally came on the famous 18th hole shown above, the same hole Tiger made that unbelievable 6-iron shot from the right fairway bunker on his way to a birdie and a one stroke win over Grant Waite to take the Canadian Open back in 2000.

We ended up using Josh's tee-ball, as we were running out of holes (we started on #6) and we hadn't used a drive of his yet. The problem was that he snap hooked his tee shot onto the adjacent 17th fairway. The good thing was that we had an excellent angle into the green with the pin tucked front left. We had 228 yards into the green and I hit a fantastic four iron that never left the flag, ending up 15 feet away for eagle. I ended up two-putting for the bird on one of the most famous holes in Canadian golf and you couldn't wipe the smile off my face!

We ended up shooting an 8-under 65 on the par 73 track and won by a single stroke! We each received a REALLY nice trophy, got $50.00 in gift certificates from Tim Hortons, a $50.00 gift certificate to a nice restaurant in Oakville (likely enough to buy one appetizer!) and also got our names on the big trophy! Just a great day on a very fun golf course. I know Glen Abbey gets bashed a lot, I find it to be an interesting place to play - the valley holes are a lot of fun and especially love the tee shot on the par four 14th, with the creek winding through the entire hole and challenging the player to bite off more than they really want.

I was especially impressed and surprised with how small and shallow some of the green complexes were - holes like the par three 3rd and the par four 10th really require a precise iron shot.

I shot a '73' in the shamble format but since we didn't use my tee ball every time, it's an unofficial round. Still a great day with our customers for a wonderful cause.

I followed it up today with one of the best rounds of my life but, showing the progress I'm making, it could have been much better.

I rolled in a 20 footer on the first hole for birdie and I was off to the races. I hit a poor drive on the par four 2nd and made bogey. I made solid two-putt pars on #3, #4 and #5 and made a nice recovery on the par five 6th for another two-putt par.

However, I three-whacked the par three 7th, missing an easy four footer. I came back in style, nailing a drive on the par five 8th and leaving myself only 197 yards into the green. I hit a perfect 5-iron to about 12 feet and barely missed, tapping in my birdie. I got up and down for a tremendous par on the long par four 9th to salvage an even par front nine.

Even Toast was impressed with my drive on #10, the short par five. I was 181 out and hit 7-iron for my second shot to about 15 feet. Barely missed that one and I was now in red figures. Routine pars on #11, #12 and #13 were followed with an unfortunate bogey on the par 3 14th. I hit a great chip shot to about three feet and somehow missed the entire hole on a straight-in putt.

I was fighting the flat stick!

Solid par on the par five 15th but another short six foot putt missed on the par five 16th to leave me at +1. Ugh.

I hit one of the better shots of my day on the 222 yard 17th, a perfect four-iron that sailed off the hillside and ended up at the back of the green. I almost made it but settled for par.

Closing out in style, I nailed my drive right to 158 yards and hit a perfect 7-iron to about 8 feet. I was able to coax that in for an even par 72, tying my best ever score from the back tee deck at St. Catharines as all of my subpar rounds at the club have come from the blue tees.

Regardless, it was a nice ball striking day for me but all of that and I would have only won 1-up versus the Toast man in a match, as he came in with a lovely 74 himself, putting the freaking lights out all day. It would have been a TV worthy match, let me tell you.

The great weekend continues tomorrow with regular play at St. Catharines and then the highlight of the long weekend comes Monday, as Toast and I will team up in the 2nd Annual Happy Jack's Open against Harry and his good buddy Preston. Winner of the two-man best ball match gets a dinner made for a king at revered Happy Jack's Restaurant in Fort Erie.

Relive the beautiful result of our first match, which took place late in 2005 at Grand Niagara and saw Toasty and I get all fattened up, courtesy of Preston and Harry, after a big win.

Oh yeah, did I mention the fact that the 2nd Annual Happy Jack's Open is taking place at the much-revered Cherry Hill Club in Fort Erie, home of the 1972 Canadian Open won by Gay Brewer and the 1982 CPGA Championship, won by Jim Thorpe?

It's days like today that I shake my head, knowing just how lucky I am in life. Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone - I'll be back with pictures of Cherry Hill and a course review sometime early next week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Niagara Cup - Round One Results; Playing the Abbey

The first round of the Niagara Cup regionals was played on Sunday afternoon. Our club faced off against Peninsula Lakes and Lancaster Country Club at Pen Lakes and we pretty much overwhelmed them both.

St. Catharines took 11 out of a possible 12 points in the first leg, a tremendous result.

I teamed up with Dave F, a fantastic young player who has a provincial junior championship on his resume as well as a club championship at St. Catharines as a teenager. After we all parred the first hole on the Hillside nine, my par on the long par three second gave us the early one up lead.

Things looked really rosy on the par five third when Dave chipped in for an eagle three to give us a two up lead.

We gave one back on the fourth hole after a birdie from our Peninsula Lakes opponents but reclaimed the two-up lead on the par five seventh when Dave made ANOTHER eagle!

Talk about being on fire! He pitched in from about 40 yards on this one!

We took a three-up lead on the 3rd hole on the Orchard nine, our 12th hole of the day when I made the only par in our group. Pen Lakes birdied the next hole to pull within two but we halved every hole remaining to win the match 2&1 and take 2.5 out of 3 available points. We missed out on a half point due to tieing the back nine.

I shot a tidy 75 (+4) on the day and I think Dave shot an even par 71 with a seven on his card - this kid makes golf look very easy!

I'm playing in a charity golf tournament tomorrow for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton. The event takes place at Glen Abbey GC and is going to be played under a modified best ball format. We essentially play our own ball the whole round so I'm interested to see what kind of score I can put together.

Should be a fun day for an excellent cause, as there is an auction later in the evening after a Marche-type meal. I will try to bring the camera out for some shots of the course - say what you will about 'the Abbey' but it is a fun golf course to play, especially the valley holes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Rained Out at St. Thomas; Niagara Cup Matches Commence

We had a very disappointing start to our day off on Tuesday, as Toast, Harry and Adam R. all made the trip to Union, Ontario to play highly-regarded St. Thomas G&CC.

We hit some balls and grabbed lunch in preparation for our 1:39pm tee time but the clouds rolled in, bringing thunder and lightning and just before we were to hit the tee, the rain came down in sheets.

It finally subsided around 3:00pm and the sun broke out as we awaited word from the pro and superintendent.

"The course is closed for the day boys. Too much water. We are really sorry."

Yeah. Wonderful.

So no St. Thomas after a two and a half hour drive. We weren't about to give up and called a few local courses, including Forest City National in London, but most were booked.

We ended up settling with FireRock GC, a recent Thomas McBroom design in Komoka just west of London.

It was a nice choice for only $60.00 and was a pretty difficult track, especially the long par three 3rd hole that plays between two huge dunes and into a gale-force wind (shown above). We all hit rescues or 3-woods into the green and our aggregate score was not pretty!

Overall, I shot an 82 out there with a triple bogey on the 2nd hole (after opening with a birdie on #1) and was low man in our group. Crazy.

The Niagara Cup begins today at Peninsula Lakes, with American club Lancaster G&CC being the third team in our regional. I'll be teaming up with young Dave F, a former club champ at St. Catharines for the first team better ball match.

I'm not scoring particularly well right now but my swing feels fine and I'm looking forward to the challenge today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Heading to St. Thomas

Toast, Harris, Adam R and myself are making the two and a half hour drive to Union, Ontario this morning to play the respected St. Thomas G&CC, a Stanley Thompson design.

Our club has reciprical privileges with a number of Thompson courses in the province, including St. Thomas, Sunningdale, Galt, Dundas Valley, Cutten Club and others. You state your desire to play one of the courses and there is a monthly draw to determine who 'wins' the times. There are only two tee-off times per month per course available so it's not easy.

I put our name in for St. Thomas and for Sunningdale and hoped like heck to get St. Thomas and was fortunate enough to get it. Friend of Now on the Tee, architect Ian Andrew, is convinced St. Thomas is a Top-25 course in Canada.

In fact, he rates it 13th in the ENTIRE COUNTRY
on his blog. That gets me just a little excited, let me tell you!

Should be a great day as we cross our fingers that the expected thunderstorms stay away. I'll be back with photos and a review either tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wooden Sticks

*** Now on the Tee has MOVED to our own domain!!! ***


Wooden Sticks Golf Course
Uxbridge, Ontario, CANADA

7025 YARDS (PAR 72)
LAST PLAYED: June 16, 2007.
LOW SCORE: 82 (+10)

- ScoreGolf Top 59 Public Courses in Canada 2015: #56

Toast, Harry and I were on the road at 4:15am on Saturday to make the two-hour trek to Uxbridge, Ontario to play Wooden Sticks for the first time.

The course is a collection of replicas of famous holes from around the world and also has six originals within the mix.

We got into town right around 6am and the staff was already there ready to take our bags. One of the perks of playing Wooden Sticks is that they feed you both breakfast and lunch as part of the green fee. We threw down some eggs, bacon and hash browns and headed to the range and putting greens.

We got a reduced rate to play on Saturday ($125.00), most likely due to the fact that we would be participating in a shotgun due to a tournament taking place late in the day. And this shotgun was completely full.

The shotgun had us teeing off on the fifth hole but for the purpose of the review, I'll start with the first hole and work my way from there. We played the tips so all yardages are from those markers.

The first hole is a 451 yard par four that plays downhill and was inspired by the site of this year's US Open, Oakmont CC, due to the 'church pew' bunker feature that frames the right side. Real pretty hole from the elevated tees. I drove nicely down the left side, chunked my second short and couldn't get up and down, making bogey here.

The second hole (shown below) is a Garl original and is 331 yards downhill. The green site is very well protected and very shallow. I hit a perfect drive to 41 yards, muffed my lob wedge a bit and again couldn't get up and down, making another bogey.

The third hole is inspired by the 12th hole at Augusta National and is 188 yards from the tips. Very shallow green here but my six-iron found the right side of the surface. I kept my bogey streak alive, however, with an ugly three-whack. All three of us hit this green in regulation, a nice feat.

The fourth continues the Amen Corner theme by mimicking the 13th at Augusta. It's a 510 yard par five that bends right to left. It's pretty wide open from the tee but you REALLY see the resemblance once you get a visual of the green. The immense bunkers behind the hole define the green site and it even has the added touch of the Masters scoreboard in behind. Absolutely awesome.

That is Toast putting for birdie (below) on what was our last hole of the day as I continue to protect his identity for some reason. I drove nicely but still had 257 yards to go for my second. What would you do in this situation? You're at #13 at freaking go for it! Well, I duffed my 2-iron rescue and still had about 140 left for my third. I stuck that to six feet and missed, making par.

The fifth hole (below) is an uphill par four measuring 331 yards. It's a Garl original and was our first hole of the day. I hit four iron down the middle and a 9-iron second to about 18 feet, eventually making par.

Six is another original and a beauty, 458 yards downhill and doglegs left. I drove nicely here and hit an awesome 8-iron from 183 (downhill & downwind) to about 8 feet. Missed it and made par...sense a trend?

Seven is yet another original and is a tight 398 yard par four with a huge ravine in front of the green. The fairway runs out at 270 yards from the tee and that's my tee ball just through into the rough. I hit a nice pitching wedge from here but it was long and I couldn't get up and in, making bogey.

The 8th hole at Wooden Sticks is a 230 yard par three original and is well protected by bunkers in front and left. I hit a 3-iron rescue to the back of the green and made a nice two putt par.

Nine is a 548 yard par five inspired by Pine Valley. There is a huge waste area that runs in front of the tee for about 200 yards and another huge waste area closer to the green. That is Harris teeing off in the photo below. I hit a nice drive here to about 250 yards but decided to lay up. However, I blocked my five-iron into the waste area right of the green and did well to scramble for par to give me a 40 (+4) on the outgoing nine.

Ten is a 385 yard par four that mimics the first hole at St. Andrews. The fairway is about 100 yards wide and only a nutball like Harris could miss this sucker. I only had 90 yards in for my second shot and hit it to about 12 feet but couldn't make the putt.

The 11th is a 145 yard par three that was inspired by the 'Postage Stamp' hole at Troon. The green is very narrow and there is a huge dune left of the green. The hole falls off severely right as well, with extremely deep pot bunkers. The view from the tee is below while a shot right of the green follows, showing you just how severe the dropoff really is. I hit 9 iron to 15 feet and parred.

The 12th is the #1 handicap hole on the course and is another hole inspired by Pine Valley. It is a great golf hole. The drive is very intimidating (shown below), as you have to clear a vast waste area while also avoiding a bunker right and fescue left. Once you get off the tee, you have a very challenging second to an elevated green that sits over a ravine and has a diabolical putting surface. Just incredibly difficult. I hit two of my best shots of the day here to get to 30 feet but three whacked for the second time on the day to make bogey.

#13 is the last of the original holes on the course, although it too has a waste bunker feature on the left like the other Pine Valley-inspired holes. It's a true bear from the tips at 485 yards but the par four plays downwind. I barely cleared the waste bunker off the tee and my four iron from well over 200 yards fell just short. I chipped on and three whacked again, this time for a costly double. Ugh.

That brings us to the 14th, a reachable par five measuring 508 yards and it's inspired by 'Hogan's Alley' at Carnoustie. There are a couple of intimidating pot bunkers right in the middle of the fairway that must be avoided. I drove beautifully here, leaving myself only 213 yards for my second shot. I nailed my five-iron flush and rolled just 12 feet past the pin. My eagle attempt rolled just past and I made birdie. Fun hole!

The 15th is a brute of a par four measuring 480 yards into the wind. This hole is patterned after the 'Road Hole' at St. Andrews and features a rock wall that runs down the fairway in the hitting area and near the green. It also has a stone road that runs alongside the green, with both the road and wall in play, just like it is at the Old Course. I skied my drive here and had 259 yards left for my second. I then hit one of the shots of the day for me, nailing my 2-iron rescue onto the front of the green. It was the most I had in the bag, although Toast wondered why I didn't hit driver off the deck.

I actually had to chip my ball on the green, as the back left pin location wasn't accessible due to the Road Hole pot bunker (see below). I couldn't get up and in and that counts as another three whack even though I only officially putted twice.

The 16th is another Pine Valley-inspired hole and is a par five measuring 570 yards. There is a huge waste area that needs to be cleared with your second shot and it leads to an open-fronted green. I hit a nice drive here, layed back to 90 yards but misjudged the wind with my third and couldn't get up and down, making bogey.

That brings us to #17, which is the 135 yard par three that mimics the 17th at Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship. The island green is pretty damned intimidating and looks eerily similar to the real thing.

The shot below shows what we had to face from the tee, as the shot above was taken from the tee on #11. Unbelievably, all three of us hit the green on our tee shots, delighting the group that was behind us - it was a really long round due to the shotgun so we saw these people pretty much all day. I got the 'greenie' for being closest and we all managed to make our pars.

The last hole at Wooden Sticks is a 410 yard par four that appropriately shares the same fairway with the tenth hole. This is due to the fact that the hole mimics #18 at St. Andrews, right down to the Swilcan Bridge just over the 'bog'. My second shot here came up short in the dreaded 'Valley of Sin' as you can see below and my appreciation for the Tour players increased when it took me FOUR shots to get down from here as I made double.

I ended up shooting 82 (+10), a pretty crappy score considering the fact I hit the ball great almost all day. I hit 11 of 14 fairways and 10 greens but had 37 putts and FIVE three putts. Well, that explains it! Harris shot 83 but did beat me in our match play game, as did Toast, who shot a tremendous 76 (+4) while making a quadruple bogey on #12!

I used every club in the bag here except my 7-iron so that's a huge plus. However, the wide-open nature of the course allows you to be relatively wild off the tee and you aren't really forced to shape shots out here. Higher handicappers will benefit from this and it truly makes the course playable for all skill levels.

We played the tips and expected high scores but 83 (+11) was the highest in the group. We all played pretty darned well and hit some great irons but I don't think the course is quite as difficult as the slope and rating suggests. You can definitely score out here. Obviously Garl has a lot of influences to work from on this design and he borrows liberally from Pine Valley especially. Wooden Sticks is quite a memorable course, since you're playing famous holes that you've seen on television time and time again. Every hole brings a new form of excitement.

The land moves a lot more than I expected and is visually appealing for the most part. Extremely pristine from a conditioning standpoint and surprisingly so for a course that likely gets a lot of public play. I doubt many play the tips out there and I can honestly say that the tee boxes were as lush as velvet. The greens rolled true all day and I certainly can't blame them for my putting woes.

Ambience takes a hit due to the fact it was a mind-numbing six-hour round. There were always two groups on every tee and we got a little fed up with the group behind us, as they continually showed no respect for others by roaring up in their carts while we were hitting.

Cart only out here. It would be pretty impossible to walk due to the very long drives between holes.

The staff is great and the fact we were fed both before and after the round was a nice bonus. But the most important thing is that this is a hell of a fun golf course to play. We knew we were in for a treat pretty much right away and were talking about coming back only two holes in.

Wooden Sticks is a recommended play from Now on the Tee!

Friday, June 15, 2007

And the Winner Is?

Wooden Sticks!

Toast, Harry and I will be heading off to Uxbridge at 4:00am Saturday morning to play Wooden Sticks for the first time.

The 44th ranked course in Canada by Score Magazine is a collection of holes inspired by the world's greatest, with Augusta National, Sawgrass, St. Andrews, Troon and Pine Valley all represented, among others.

Thanks to all for your suggestions and offers. We had some interesting ones, that's for sure - some very interesting (Ridge at Manitou) and one alarmingly disingenuous (famed Oak Hill CC).

I must say that this week has got me thinking about some of the great courses of North America that I would love to play but haven't had the opportunity present itself.

It sounds like a great blog post and it will be one explored sometime early next week.

I'll have pictures and a review of Wooden Sticks up either tomorrow night or Sunday.

Happy Father's Day weekend to all the dads out there!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Niagara Men's Tour: St. Catharines G&CC

The third leg of the 2007 Niagara Men's Tour took place at my home course, St. Catharines G&CC on Sunday afternoon.

I had the last tee time of the tournament at 2:37pm and was to play with Bob G, the points leader on tour this year. I was really excited and anxious for the event.

So much so that I arrived at the club at 12:15pm, well over two hours early, breaking with my normal "out of the trunk and to the tee" routine.

I think it really cost me and allowed the nerves to kick in.

I chilled out in the 19th hole with the Sunday morning regulars and had numerous well-wishes sent my way. The home-course pressure was building.

I killed an hour before heading to the range for the second time in two days, a record for me. Hit balls for about twenty minutes then hit the new short game facility for the first time.

Pretty awesome chipping area we have now and it will even be better if they get the greens rolling similar to what is on the actual course. I fooled around there for about another twenty minutes and then found out that we were about 18 minutes behind on times.

Great. More delays.

We finally hit the tee around 3pm and I proceeded to shank my first tee shot straight into the willow alongside the tee box.

Wonderful start pal.

I pitched out to about 150 yards, hit on and two putted for bogey. Could have been worse...

I snapped my drive on #2 right beside the 17th tee in a huge swale area and once again had to pitch out. From 100 yards, my third shot nestled into about five feet and I made it for the unlikely par.

Alright, let's get moving!

Umm. No.

After a mediocre drive on #3 just left of the fairway, my 6-iron approach went about 15 yards right of the green, over the bunker and over the cart path. My goodness. I hit a good pitch but the firm greens weren't receptive and the ball rolled 30 feet by. I would THREE PUTT that for a lovely double.

Three holes in. Three over par. One hour and five minutes.

I kid you not. Gosh these guys are slow on this tour.

So we had a 15 minute wait on the par three fourth and I hit my first good shot of the day to about 18 feet. Thinking birdie, I three whack AGAIN and now I'm +4 through four.

I semi-skied my drive but the 438 yard fifth hole was playing downwind so I only had about 175 in. I hit a nice six-iron to the back pin location but it went long. I hit a poor chip to 8 feet but made the par putt with the St. Catharines Standard photographer taking pictures of us beside the green.

They don't put pictures of guys in the paper that are +4 through five though. Ha.

I continued to hit the ball like a 25 handicapper (maybe that's an insult to 25 handicappers though) but kept grinding away as usual. Snap hook drive on six, great recovery to 105 yards, wedge to 15 feet and a two putt for par.

Pushed my tee shot on the par three seventh, hit a chip too firm but made a ten foot comebacker for another par.

Snapped yet another drive on the reachable par five eighth and had to hit a rescue three-iron just to reach the lower fairway. Best shot of the day left me only 105 yards in and I hit it to about 12 feet. Missed it but made par.

The 450 yard par four ninth saw me almost push my tee shot onto the driving range. Yeah, I was solid with the driver alright! Good 6-iron recovery just left of the green and I got up and down for par and a +4 40, not bad considering how poorly I hit the ball. One fairway and three greens hit on the front.

I lipped out for birdie on #10 and made par on #11 which brought us to the tough par three 12th and two groups waiting on the tee. Ugh.

Usually, I just stew in these situations then eventually hit my ball in the water and blame the slow play. This time, I just dropped to the ground and took a nap for 15 minutes.

When it was our time to hit, I nailed a great four-iron from 212 into the wind to about 25 feet. I was starting to figure some things out with the swing, as my hands were too high earlier in the round. I two-putted for yet another par.

#13 is arguably the best hole on the course, especially from the back tees. I picked this time to hit my best drive of the day - I just RIPPED it down the pipe. I let out a mock cheer after that one. Hit 9-iron in to about 15 feet and barely missed yet another birdie putt.

Par on #14 as well, my tenth in a row which brought us to the 578 yard par five 15th. I hit another excellent drive but hit just a horrible layup - I had great intentions, only hitting 8-iron but I put my best anti-left swing on it to avoid the water and hit it into the trees. Pitched out, hit short left, chipped on and two putted for a disappointing double.

I would recover by making my only birdie of the day on the par five 16th but bogeyed 17 and 18 to shoot an uninspiring 79 (+7).

I ended up finishing in a tie for 12th at the event and was happy to see that one of my regular playing partners, Bernie B won the tournament with a scintillating 69. I know it was really important for Bernie to play well at his home course, like it was for me - I'm glad one of us came through!

I was 12th overall heading into the event but actually fell to 14th overall due to the way the points are handed out.

I really am having difficulty off the tee for the first time all year and my iron play was horrible all day, as I hit a season-low six greens in regulation. I am thinking of going to a cut shot and might continue with my unprecedented range work this weekend in hopes of turning things around.

I am not too worried, as the putter is still working for me but I want to get to a point where I actually know where the ball is going to go after I hit it. I'm not there right now.

I will have to get there soon because once again, a leap of faith was taken and I was once again selected as a captain's pick for St. Catharines' Niagara Cup team. Very, very unexpected but I'm very appreciative of the opportunity. I just love this competition and I look forward to proving that I belong out there with all those excellent players.

On a sidenote, Toast, Harry and I are looking for a place to play on Saturday this weekend due to the Member/Guest at our club. Any suggestions from my readers? We would travel outside the region if the golf is good!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Men's Tour Preview - Event #3

The third leg of the 2007 Niagara Men's Tour goes tomorrow and I'll have home course advantage, as St. Catharines G&CC is hosting the event.

This coincides with the worst stretch of golf that I'm playing this year so I'm not exactly full of confidence.

I played today with my regular partners Toast and Harry and things started off decently enough. Starting on the back side, I bogeyed the 13th hole, birdied 16 then bogeyed 18 from a greenside trap for a one over 37.

After hitting it stiff on #1 and making birdie, I was even par through ten and feeling pretty good.

That was before I "T.C. Chen'd" my chip shot on #2 - the old double hit! Sweet! Funny enough, we were all pretty unsure of the penalty but we got it right and I made a double there.

Was in a daze for a couple holes, skying my drive on #3 and making bogey and then almost shanking my tee shot on the par three fourth. I duffed a pitch from a bad lie and had to get up and down from a bunker just for bogey.

After snapping my drive on #5 against the fence, I let out a little bit of frustration, so to speak.

The madness continued when I saw my ball right up against the fence, necessitating an unplayable. I was so out of it that I only gave myself one club relief instead of two and hit LEFT-HANDED because I still had the fence in my way. Nailed the inverted 7-iron about 150 yards too.

I made double there as well but settled down after that, almost making an all-world birdie on #6. I parred #7, birdied #8 and parred #9 to shoot 77 (+5).

The round was once again under tournament conditions, as I'm still foolishly trying to qualify for our Niagara Cup team, something that just isn't within my grasp the way I'm playing.

The glutton for punishment that I am, however, means that I'm going to try to play 36 HOLES tomorrow in a last-ditch effort to make the team. I'll need about a 70 or so but what the hell.

The men's tour event sees me teeing off last tomorrow in the 2:37 slot. We'll be playing the back tees and hopefully I can figure things out in my morning 18 to get my confidence back for the tour event.

EDIT: 9:30am Sunday
Well, there was no morning 18 as I would have broken a rule that stipulates that you can't 'practice' on the day of an event at the golf course. Too bad...I woke up at dawn for nothing!

Oh well, wish me luck this afternoon.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Wasted Weekend on the Course

It was not a good weekend on the golf course and it will possibly cost me a spot on the Niagara Cup squad for St. Catharines G&CC in 2007.

As regular readers of my blog know, the Niagara Cup is an annual interclub competition in a 'Ryder Cup' format between all of the clubs in the Niagara Region along with three entries from upstate New York.

I've been fortunate enough to get selected to the team for three years straight, the last two of which I was a 'Captain's Selection', kind of a wildcard pick by our professional.

There are eight total slots on the team and it is made up as follows: one spot is for the club professional; one is for the overall Mens Club Champion, four slots are open for the low qualifiers plus two Captain's Picks.

The qualifier is held over two weekends and golfers have those four days to put together a two-round aggregate score. You can play as many rounds as you like and the top two scores are used for every player.

Well, I played both days this weekend and shot 78 both days. Simply put, it's nowhere near good enough to make this squad. We've already seen a 69, a 70, a 72, a 73 and a 74 over the first two days and I figure anything worse than a two-round aggregate of 149 (+5) will not be acceptable.

Therefore, I have to hope I can somehow get out of my mini-slump next weekend and post two good scores. I'm not very optimistic.

I played horribly on Sunday morning and my 78 flattered me immensely. I literally hit two decent golf shots and still can't believe I was able to put together a sub-80's round - it felt like an 85.

I'm suddenly having trouble with the new irons and think my ball position is off a bit. My driver failed me as well yesterday, as I haven't seen that much lumber since I went camping in Algonquin Park about five years ago. I may try to find time this week to either hit the range or play a quick nine to work through my problems.

Thankfully, my short game is still pretty solid.

While the weekend on the course was a waste, it certainly wasn't off the course. I spent pretty much the whole afternoon working on landscaping and planting yesterday and I'm completely exhausted.

We just bought the house in August last year so this was my first real foray into gardening and landscaping. The wife and I hit Mori's Nursery on Saturday afternoon and bought two full-sized Japanese Yew trees as bookends for our front walkway. We also bought six hydrangeas for the backyard. I also had 4 1/2 cubic yards of Black Cedar Mulch delivered to the house on Sunday.

We had some help from my wife's family and it was much appreciated with the ridiculous humidity we had to deal with yesterday. I went through about six beers yesterday and sweat them all out almost instantly. Digging holes for the Yew trees proved to be the most arduous task but the pain and suffering was worth it, as gardens look tremendous.

I also put on the chef's hat and grilled up some burgers and dogs for the family afterwards. Very productive afternoon!

I'll maybe post some pictures of the work later this week.