Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Countdown Begins

This was the last weekend of play before the annual club championship at St. Catharines and I was looking forward to bouncing back after a less than ideal round at East Aurora last Sunday.

The stats say quite a lot about my round on Saturday. I shot my third consecutive 82 but it was much different and much worse than the other 82's. I only hit five greens in regulation and only five fairways.

Worse still, I only made a paltry THREE PARS the entire day!

The 82 actually flattered me and was helped by the fact I also made three birdies, two of the tap-in variety including one two-putt bird. I had no 'grind' yesterday and my short game was off-the-charts pathetic.

I had a beer after the round, something quite rare for me and proceeded to the range after everyone left.

That's how bad things were - I actually PRACTICED for the first time all year. I've only been to the range a few times this year, all as warm-ups but this time I went to work on the swing.

I can't really say it was a productive session unless you believe that a person only has so many bad shots in them. If that's the case, I wasted about 100 more during the 45 minutes I was out there.

I went to the putting green after that and spent another 15 minutes on the short game. Again, I was fiddling around more than practicing but I made some putts and felt a little better after putting the work in.

I came out today looking for improvement. Thankfully, for the most part, I was rewarded.

My driver was AWFUL all day, with only one decent strike off the tee and many weak hooks. There is something technically wrong with my swing with the driver that I will have to figure out in short order.

However, my iron play was much better, as I hit 8 out of my first 10 greens, making three birdies along the way to go +1 through that stretch of holes.

I came undone a bit on the par three 12th after shortsiding myself in the greenside bunker. I hit likely one of the best bunker shots of the year, splashing the ball into the bank to deaden it and watched it trickle to about 15 inches.

I missed the putt. Ha!

Completely went out of my routine and I was ANGRY! I followed it up with a three-putt from off the green on 13 and kind of coasted in from there, shooting a 77 (+5) on the day. Still, it's an improvement. I even won my first skin in about a month today after almost holing my tee shot on the par three 7th today.

I went back to more of a three-quarter swing with my irons with good success but that philosophy doesn't really work with the big dog, so I'm going to have to figure the driver out in the next five days. My putting was a little better too - I'm trying to work the stroke with my shoulders more, especially on right-to-lefters, something that is a weakness for me - uncommon for a right handed player, I know.

I think I'm going to try to get in some golf this week after work, playing a couple nine hole rounds to keep me loose before the big weekend ahead. I can drop a few balls out there and hit some shots on the course, something that's much funner for me than mindlessly banging balls on the range.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Game Disappears; The Incomparable Open Championship

Short entry tonight, as I'm not really interested in waxing poetic about my golf game after a horrific weekend of play.

82 on Saturday at St. Catharines. 82 on Sunday at East Aurora.

I got absolutely nothing out of this weekend on the course except extreme frustration. My play has been great for over a month than I inexplicably lose every part of my game in one weekend.

I just don't understand.

East Aurora still is a great track and I can't say enough about the staff and members out there. You really feel like a member for a day when you visit that place.

The day got infinitely better once I got home. I PVR'd the final round of the Open Championship and watched the whole thing without knowing the result.

What drama! What entertainment! Why can't the Masters be like this anymore? Or the US Open?

First we saw great early morning runs from Americans Ben Curtis and Hunter Mahan and almost saw Aussie Richard Green shoot a 63 but he fell short at the last hole.

We then watched Andres Romero pretty much birdie every hole on the back nine but pull a trademark 'Van de Velde' on the 17th? How can you try to hit a 2-iron from the hay when you have a two-shot lead?! Stunning!!!

Then there was Paddy Harrington, with his wide eyes seemingly staring down an easy victory until he puts TWO BALLS into the burn on the 18th hole, making a crippling double bogey.

Now it's Sergio's tournament to win but what does he do? He gets noticeably impatient on the 18th fairway as the guy raking the bunkers in the group ahead decided to take his sweet time making sure every spec of sand was perfect before leaving the stage.

Garcia's shot was hit a bit fat into the greenside bunker and he would miss an 8-footer for his first major championship.

It's playoff time!

Harrington would pull it out in the four hole playoff to win HIS first major as Garcia suffers yet another devastating loss.

The ultimate winner of the event is the R&A and Carnoustie - what a great setup for the Open this year, completely redeeming them both after the massacre from 1999.

That was one of the most entertaining golf tournaments I've ever had the pleasure of watching.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Langley Cup - The Sweet Sixteen

I didn't get the chance to play as much golf during my vacation week as expected due to some other important last minute commitments.

I played Tuesday afternoon with Harry and shot an uninspiring 79, hitting only three fairways and nine greens in the process. Harry's 74 killed me both in medal and match play (4&3).

I was scheduled to play the Cutten Club on Wednesday with Scotty T, one of my supply partners at Kaumeyer. However, the last minute stuff came up, necessitating the postponement of that round and also my Langley Cup match I was due to play on Thursday.

With all of the last minute stuff out of the way, I finally was able to play my Langley Cup match on Friday against Jamie K, an explosive newcomer at St. Catharines.

How explosive you ask? Well, his +1 handicap is just the start - this 20 year old won the club championship at Rockway Glen last year by 41 SHOTS!!! Ha!

The Langley Cup is the 0-7 handicap match play championship at St. Catharines and it's an event I've curiously struggled in the past two years. I lost in the first round both years - last year I lost to Brian B, who ended up winning the competition and in 2005, I lost to Frank P, who made it all the way to the finals.

In 2004, I played in the finals and lost to Joey B. I've never won the Langley but I own two overall match play championships at St. Catharines, winning in 2004 and 2005 before 'retiring' from that particular competition 'on top'.

Harris joined us on Friday and I was to get four shots from Jamie during the match - the first time I can ever remember getting shots in a match play competition at St. Catharines.

I'm going to give the capsulated version of events as opposed to my normal, longwinded recap.

Hole 1 (Par 4): I drive perfectly but hit my approach shot fat. My third ends up 8 feet away and I miss. I concede Jamie's par putt. Jamie 1up
Hole 2 (Par 4): We both make two-putt pars. Jamie 1up
Hole 3 (Par 4): I three putt for a bogey while Jamie makes a four footer to save par. Jamie 2up
Hole 4 (Par 3): Both of us make two-putt pars. Jamie 2up

I'm not too worried at this point, especially since I get strokes on the next two holes.

Hole 5 (Par 4): Jamie and I both drive perfectly. My 8-iron approach almost goes in the hole, settling about two feet away. Jamie misses his 12 foot birdie putt and concedes mine. Jamie 1up
Hole 6 (Par 5): I make a two-putt par and Jamie bogeys after a poor third shot. All Square

So I'm back in the match and I didn't even need the strokes.

Hole 7 (Par 3): We both make par. All Square
Hole 8 (Par 5): Interesting hole. We both drive perfectly; I have 235 yards left dead in the center of the fairway while Jamie is about 15 yards closer but sitting up in the rough. My 2-iron rescue is snap hooked into the trees; I drop and hit a provisional onto the green about 15 feet away. Jamie stays aggressive and his rescue shot is blocked way right into the fescue. His provisional sails over the green. Neither of us find our original balls. Jamie gets up and down for bogey and I two-putt for my bogey. All Square
Hole 9 (Par 4): I hit my approach into the greenside bunker and can't get up and down. Jamie misses the green right and also fails to get up and down. All Square

So we're even through nine and both of us shot less than stellar 39's on the front. The first hole on the back is a short par five but due to the club changing the handicap holes last year, I unbelievably get a shot here.

Hole 10 (Par 5): Jamie hits the green in two shots while I hit a poor wedge to 15 feet. Jamie misses his eagle putt and I ram home my birdie to win the hole with the shot and take my first lead in the match. Matt 1up
Hole 11 (Par 4): I hit a four-iron nicely down the middle. Jamie elects to hit driver and blocks it right; it ends up going out of bounds. I hit my second to about ten feet and Jamie concedes. Matt 2up
Hole 12 (Par 3): I hit into the greenside bunker and can't get up and down. Jamie makes a five footer for par to take the hole. Matt 1up

That was a big make by Jamie, as he has to give me my last shot on the tough par four 13th.

Hole 13 (Par 4): We both drive perfectly and I hit my pitching wedge about 15 feet past the pin. Jamie goes about 35 feet long. He hits a poor lag putt to 10 feet and I snuggle mine to gimmie range to give me the hole. Matt 2up
Hole 14 (Par 3): I hit a nice shot to about 15 feet and Jamie hits a horrible hook and can't get up and down. I make par. Matt 3up
Hole 15 (Par 5): I hit my first really poor drive of the day when I have the chance to close things out. I have to pitch out of trees twice and end up stumbling to a bogey. Jamie makes a routine par. Matt 2up
Hole 16 (Par 5): Jamie hits a perfect rescue to 235 yards but elects to lay up in a move that surprised me somewhat. He hits wedge to ten feet and misses, making par. I hit four-iron off the tee nicely, a 6-iron down the hill then wedge to 8 feet. I miss my chance to end the match but now I have him dormie. Matt 2up
Hole 17 (Par 3): Jamie hits a gorgeous shot right over the flag but ends up about 25 feet past the pin. My 4-iron comes up short right but my chip shot nestles right beside the hole. Jamie's birdie attempt flies 6 feet past the hole and he concedes the match. Matt Wins 3&1

I end up bogeying the last hole to shoot a 76 ("Why couldn't you hit those shots during our match?", Jamie said hilariously). Jamie was unable to ram home an 8-foot birdie putt, shooting a 77. It just wasn't his day. He definitely wasn't at his best but this kid can really play - I expect him to be a major contender at this year's club championship, that's for sure.

I really enjoyed the day. Harry played quite well too but fell apart a bit after a 38 on the front. I believe he shot a 78 or so to continue his stretch of good play.

I move on to the quarterfinals, where I will face Joey B, the same man who beat me in the Langley Finals three years ago. I believe Joe is playing to about a five these days so I'll have to give him a couple shots. I imagine we'll get the match in sometime before the end of the month.

My solid play continued over the weekend as I shot rounds of 75 and 76 while making only ONE birdie during the two rounds. My driver is on fire lately, as I've hit almost 70% of my fairways during my last three rounds - definitely a record for me and my greens in regulation percentage is back up to an even 50%. My putting isn't necessarily bad but I'm just not making anything right now.

The handicap is at 2.5 and that's with me losing my 69 from earlier this year. Looking at how the 20 current rounds are dispersed in the computer, if my present solid play continues I'm guessing I might crack the 2.0 barrier for only the second time in my life within the next couple weeks. My lowest index ever was 1.7, back in late 2005 after shooting my career-low 68.

Gives me something to shoot for!

Should be another good weekend coming up - first, Harry, Gary P. and I will be heading to a charity boxing card here in St. Catharines on Friday night. The regular gang will be out at St. Catharines on Saturday then Harry, Toast and Ryan D, an old buddy of mine, will be heading out to East Aurora Country Club just outside of Buffalo.

One of our favourite tracks! Can't wait!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Niagara Men's Tour: Port Colborne G&CC

The fourth leg of the 2007 Niagara Men's Tour took place yesterday afternoon at windswept and rainy Port Colborne G&CC.

I want to first set things up by briefly going over my 'warm-up' round Saturday at St. Catharines.

I've been playing some of the best golf of my life lately and my ball striking especially has been incredibly good in relation to what I've done previously. The key for me has been two subtle changes:

First, I lowered my hands at address and let them hang down naturally instead of setting them high. For me, it almost feels like I'm pressing my arms down into my stomach but in reality that's not the case. This is allowing me to start in a proper position on the backswing and my hands are returning to where they should be on the downswing.

Secondly, I am setting my wrists earlier than I have in the past, cocking them around 9:00 on the dial. For whatever reason, this is simplifing things at the top of my swing and taking some moving parts out before my transition to the downswing.

These two rather simple moves have me hitting almost 12% more greens in regulation than I was at the same time last year. That's nothing earth shattering but one or two more greens in reg means less up and downs for par and more birdie opportunities.

Regardless, I have a lot more confidence than ever with long irons in my hand.

All that being said, it's like I forgot how to play golf on Saturday. I started my round with five consecutive bogeys and no fairways or greens hit in regulation. Just peutrid in every respect.

Boy was I discouraged.

But I made a nice up and down for par on six and parred the other holes on the front to go out in 41 shots (+5).

That's when I got hot.

I made a nice putt on the 15th hole for birdie to go THREE UNDER on the back nine and only +2 on the round. I'd lip out for birdie on #16 as well but then the wheels fell off at the end of the round, as I finished bogey-double to shoot a 77 (+5).

I was pretty peeved about the finish but it was a pretty solid result overall considering my start.

So anyway, that leads us to Port Colborne and the 4th stop on the men's tour. I entered the day in 14th place overall on the tour after finishing sixth in the two-round first event at Lookout Point and Peninsula Lakes, an ugly 32nd at Whirlpool in the second event and a disappointing 12th place finish at St. Catharines, my home course.

I truly felt that I had a solid chance to shoot a subpar round on Sunday and possibly contend for my first ever win on tour due to my recent form.

I had a great group: I was playing with the current points leader on tour, Matt G, a former Ontario Junior champion and another young gun, Andrew E, who is currently 6th overall on tour. Both of these kids can flat out play. Our fourth was Frank M, a great guy from Lookout that I beat in the
Niagara Cup finals last year at Beechwood.

I nailed my first drive perfectly down the middle of the par five first and we were off. I got a bit antsy waiting for the group ahead as I had only 235 yards in for my second and ended up snapping it well left of the green. I ended up nailing my lob wedge long, chipped over the green again and finally got up and down for a brutal bogey. Ugh.

The second hole at Port is a toughy: 378 yards dogleg left with a little creek running down the left hand side. I drove perfectly to 115 yards and my pitching wedge to the back pin location stopped four feet away. Made it for birdie to get back to even. Whew!

I drove perfectly again on the par five third but again, my rescue approach left little to be desired and ended up in a creek right of the green. Thankfully, the creek was completely dry and I was able to play it out nicely to 20 feet and two putted for par.

I parred the 180 yard par three fourth, using a nine-iron off the tee which illustrates just how much wind was out there. This hole was playing three clubs downwind!

That brings us to the interesting risk-reward par four fifth hole. Playing only 268 yards from the tips but there is a large pond in front of the green. I decided to go for it and ended up about 15 yards to the right of the green in good shape. My pitch shot went 12 feet by but I inexplicably three-whacked for an infuriating bogey.

The 210 yard par three sixth was playing into the strong wind but my perfect 3-iron rescue went long. Couldn't get that up and down either and now I was +2.

My struggles continued on the difficult par four 7th but I made a nice up and in from 20 yards in front of the green for par. I'd get into trouble once again on the 402 yard 8th hole, necessitating a pitch out from trees. Another bogey there and a routine two-putt par on nine for a 39 (+3) on the front.

Matt G had a disappointing even par 36 on the front after starting out -2 through 4 holes while Andrew also shot a steady 36.

I started playing much better golf on the back nine. Routine two putt par on 10 and a disappointing par on the par five 11th. I barely missed my 15 foot birdie putt on the 174 yard 12th and was still even on the back.

My poor form on par fives continued on the 13th. Great drive; pathetic rescue shot just right of the green and I couldn't get up and down, having to make a tough four footer just to save par. Geez. The par fives out here are very benign and I just couldn't take advantage.

I ripped a nice drive on the straightway 14th, a 343 yard par four and my wedge approach ended up 15 feet past the flag. I knocked that one down for birdie to move to +2 overall on the round.

I made a nice up and in for par on 15 and barely missed my birdie effort on the par five 16th to set things up for the difficult 17th just as it started to ABSOLUTELY POUR!

It's a 184 yard par three that was playing into an unbelievably stiff breeze and a large pond fronts the green. We also had to sit in the rain for ten minutes as the group ahead of us finished. Bernie B, a fellow St. Catharines member, was playing in the group in front of us and chunked his tee shot here all of 25 yards. We watched as he flew the green on his approach and somehow got up and down from there for the great bogey.

I watched as my fellow playing partners went right (Matt G) and left (Andrew) before I hit the tee. My 4-iron was perfect: right at the flag the whole way and it stopped only three feet away as the rain continued to come down hard! Awesome!

I curled that in to applause from my playing partners to reach +1 on the day and have a chance at this thing!

However, I lost my grip a bit in the rain on the 18th tee and had 214 yards left on the 434 yard par four finisher. I ended up just right of the green, chipped to three feet and MISSED, making a disappointing bogey to finish with a 74 (+2).

Andrew ended up shooting an even par 72 while Matt G must have been feeling some of the home-club pressure I felt at St. Catharines, as he stumbled to a 41 on the back and a 77 overall. Frank also came in with a 77.

The scores were a bit lower than usual at Port, with the wind and rain really the only things causing havoc out there. I finished in a tie for 8th spot. There were two 71s, two 72s and 3 73s.

Still, the 74 is tied for my second best score ever on tour, with only my 72 at Beechwood two years ago bettering it so I'm pretty pleased. I believe my finish at Port will move me up to 11th overall on tour with only two events left. I also get to 'throw out' my worst round, as the tour uses only the best five events when calculating the standings at the end of the six event tour so hopefully I will improve even more when they throw out my poor result from Whirlpool.

The next leg of the tour takes place in August at Pelham Hills G&CC in Welland, another course where scores will be low.

I'll be playing quite a bit of golf this week as I'm finally taking a week of vacation time, my first since my honeymoon in November of 2006! I'm scheduled to play St. Catharines tomorrow, Cutten Club on Wednesday then I'm back at St. Catharines on Thursday right through Sunday.

I play my first Langley Cup match (St. Catharines G&CC match play championship for 0-7 handicappers) on Thursday and will be getting FOUR SHOTS in the match, as I play young up-start Jamie, a +1 handicap! What a match that will be!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cherry Hill Club

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


Cherry Hill Club
Ridgeway, Ontario, CANADA

6891 YARDS (PAR 72)
COURSE ARCHITECT: Walter Travis (1922)
LAST PLAYED: August 22, 2018.
LOW SCORE: 76 (+4)

- Canada's Top 100 2017: #82
- ScoreGolf Top 110 in Canada 2018: #44

"Cherry Hill...drew more genuine and unstinting praise from the pros than any course in recent memory, even Augusta.”
- Golf World Magazine, July 1972

The 2nd Annual Happy Jack's Open took place at the highly-esteemed Cherry Hill Club in Ridgeway, Ontario on Monday afternoon.

For the uninitiated, the Happy Jack's Open is a two-man best ball contest, with Toast and I teaming up against Harris and his buddy Preston. The losers of the match have to spring for a feast at Happy Jack's Restaurant in Fort Erie, a lovely Chinese food restaurant.

Toast and I were fortunate enough to win the first annual matchup in 2005, which took place at the newly-opened Grand Niagara Resort. There wasn't a tournament in 2006 due to scheduling conflicts, something that may be rectified this year by having two events.

Anyway, the private Cherry Hill Club was to be the host of our event, something that excited us all. Harris has an in through his membership at the St. Catharines Club, which is not affiliated with the St. Catharines G&CC by the way.

I played the course about 18 years ago with my father when I couldn't appreciate it properly so I was really looking forward to seeing the place 'for the first time'.

Harris and Preston were playfully complaining about the fact that they weren't receiving any shots during the event. Harry is a 6 or 7 handicap these days while Preston is likely around the same due to a wrist injury suffered playing basketball earlier in the spring. Toast's fine recent play has him down to a 2.1 while I came into the day as a 3.0. We conceded by saying that a match ending in a tie would see the dinner being purchased by Toast and I.

We were set!

The first hole is a downhill par four measuring 350 yards. I decided before the round that I was going to play aggressively all day - no irons off tees unless the hole absolutely demanded it. So I nailed a driver down the right side and we were off. You can see the approach into the first hole above. I had a 60 yard pitch into the green and two-putted for my par from about 15 feet. Harris made a nice up and down from in front of the green to halve us.

The second is a dogleg left par four measuring 409 yards. Great drive here that left me 137 yards in but my pitching wedge went long. I was able to make a five footer for par here but Toast had already made his putt to halve Harry again, who two-putted.

The third hole is a straight-away 383 yard par four with a diabolical putting surface. The green has a huge ridge that bisects the entire surface and the pin was just on the top part of the ridge, making for tricky putting, something you can't really appreciate from the picture I took above. I made a pretty routine par here while Harris barely missed his short birdie putt, keeping the match tied.

The fourth hole is the toughest handicap hole on the course, a 428 yard par four that doglegs left. Really good golf hole here with another tough green complex. I hit my first poor shot of the day here, driving the ball well left of the fairway. You can see the approach from the centre in the photo above. I ended up nailing a tree dead-on while attempting a punch into the green and ended up three-putting from the fringe for a costly double bogey. Thankfully, Toast made a solid par to match the steady Harris to keep the match level.

You finally get away from the par fours on the fifth hole, a lovely 188 yard par three with a pond fronting the green on the right side. The pin was tucked on the front left here of a long putting surface that slopes sharply from back to front. I nailed a great 5-iron into the wind but it flew the pin and ended up in the back fringe. I would putt the first one right off the green and wasn't able to make the comebacker, settling for a bogey. Harry made another routine par to give him and Preston the 1-up lead.

We were able to get that back on the next hole, a dogleg left par five measuring 538 yards. I hit a nice drive and had 258 yards into the green, with bunkers both left and right. I absolutely pured my 2-iron rescue and was able to get to within about 15 feet for eagle. Missed that but tapped in my birdie to get us back to even.

Another par five follows, as the 7th is a short 484 yarder that played as a par four in the Canadian Open back in '72. The club could easily add another tee box to lengthen the hole, as there looked to be about 30 yards of room in behind the back tee as it stands right now. Anyway, this is a big-time birdie opportunity that I blew after nailing a great drive. I only had 193 yards into the green with the wind helping but my 6-iron drew left into the bunker. By the way, the shot above is of Preston hitting his second into the green. I hit a great trap shot to about five feet but missed the putt for a disappointing par. Toast hit the green in two with an awesome four-iron to about 12 feet and two-putted for birdie, giving us our first lead in the match.

The eighth hole is a beauty: 430 yard par four with two ponds down the left side and a huge bunker down the right. Precision off the tee is a must here. I drew my ball off the tee dangerously close to the second pond but just fell short, leaving myself about 200 yards into the green. I nailed another 5-iron about 18 feet over the flagstick to give me a decent chance at birdie. However, my slick downhill putt scooted about 10 feet past and I missed the comebacker for yet another three-putt and an ugly bogey. It was especially ugly since Toast also three-whacked and Harris made another nice up-and-in for par, squaring the match once again. Harris had parred the first eight holes in a row at this point.

The ninth is a great par three, 207 yards uphill with a well-protected green. I hit 4-iron over the bunker just right of the green and made a nice up-and-down to salvage par and a halve. Preston made a long putt for par here to bail out his partner, as Harry missed a shortish par putt for the only blemish on his card on the front nine.

So the match was all-square through nine. Harry was playing out of his mind, going out in 37 (+1). I hit the ball great but three three-whacks left me with a 39 (+3). Toast was a bit squirrely off the tee, making three doubles on his way to a 44 while Preston struggled to a 46. We were playing singles matches all around too and Harris was dominating, leading me by one, Toast by four and Preston by five.

I hoped to get back on track with a solid back nine but things didn't start out well. The tenth is a beautiful looking downhill par four measuring 410 yards. The green is absolutely awesome, as it pitches SEVERELY from right to left. Toast hit a shot that landed on the right front portion of the green and rolled all the way to the back left, leaving an eight foot birdie putt. It was fun just WATCHING his ball trickle all the way back and to the left like that! I drove into the fairway bunker left, duffed my ball out and did well to make bogey while Toast and Harry halved with pars.

The 11th (seen above) is a longish par three at 192 yards with deep bunkers protecting both sides. Another beauty. Harry continued his excellent ball striking, nailing his 6-iron to about a foot and a half. Toast followed with a beauty of his own, falling short of the pin by about four feet. Awesome stuff. I came out of my 6-iron just slightly and ended up in the right trap. I hit a fantastic bunker shot and actually lipped out for birdie but salvaged a satisfying par while Harry and Toast both rammed home their birdies to keep the match square.

The TSN Turning Point came on the par five 12th hole. Playing much longer than its 540 yards due to a strong headwind, with water right off the tee and bunkers left. I drove nicely here and had a little over 260 left into the hole. My 2-iron rescue came up just short of the greenside bunker. Harris was right behind me so it would be a chipping contest to see who came away with the hole. Toast layed up his second shot and hit his third to about ten feet so he was in good position. Preston took himself out of the hole after hitting his second into the water. Unfortunately for Harris, he talked himself into a bad shot when he said "that one would have went right in the bunker" after a practice swing. That's exactly what happened on the real thing. I had pretty much the same shot but was a bit closer to the bunker, making it a bit easier of a play. I chipped nicely to about three feet to put the pressure on. Harris completely lost his patience, duffing his bunker shot out, chipping long and missing the comebacker to make a costly double. Toast was able to make his ten footer for a second consecutive birdie to win us the hole and I made my birdie on top of him to give us the 1-up lead.

The 13th, shown above, is a visual treat, with bunkers pretty much everywhere off the tee on the 371 yard par four. The green is elevated from the fairway and extremely well-protected. Things looked great for Toast and I as Harry continued his shocking meltdown, driving his first ball way out of bounds right then almost doing the same with his second ball to take himself out of the hole. Toast and I both hit our wedge approaches long and Preston made a shocking 35 footer up the hill for birdie to improbably even the match again! Toast was able to get up-and-in but I couldn't do the same, making bogey.

The 14th is an absolute brute of a par four, a dogleg left measuring 470 yards and playing into the wind. Harris continued his struggle here, driving next to a tree then unsuccessfully trying to left-hand his way out on a way to a third consecutive double. Toast also got into big trouble here, driving into a ditch left while also making double. It was down to Preston and I who both drove to the same area about 205 yards out. Preston's iron shot came up short into a bunker while I was able to smoke my 5-iron just on the front fringe. I ended up two-putting that for par to take the hole and give us another 1-up lead.

The 15th (shown above) is another lovely hole, a 380 yard dogleg left par four with a large pond fronting the green and a ridiculously sloping green complex. All four of us drove into fairway bunkers: Harry went right while the other three of us went left. Harry hit a great shot to about 15 feet and looked golden when Toast went long right, Preston went long left and I ended up spinning my 8-iron back to the front of the green. I had pretty much an impossible 45 foot putt, as there is a huge ridge bisecting the green and the pin was on that ridge on the right side of the green. I aimed my ball about 20 feet left and hit the putt up the hill and watched it start falling sharply right toward the hole.

"It's got a chance!" Toast exclaimed as it trickled almost backwards towards the hole.

As Harris watched in absolute horror, the ball hit the back of the hole and stopped on the back edge for about a second or so...before falling back in for one of the most amazing birdies I've ever made in my life!

I let out a huge roar after that one!

Harris was BESIDE HIMSELF in complete disbelief. He was a zombie as he approached his uphill and very makeable birdie putt but left it at least six feet short, giving us the 2-up lead with only three to play. Wow!

#16 is the shortest hole on the course at 138 yards but has a deep bunker fronting the green and bunkers left and right as well. I came out of a pitching wedge here but was just right of the green. I was able to hit an awesome chip shot to a very undulating green and ended up about a foot and a half away from my par. Harry destroyed his wedge, going about 20 yards long and made yet another double. When Preston couldn't make his par putt, I was able to tap in mine to give Toast and I the 3&2 victory in the match and yet another dinner courtesy of Preston and Harry!

The 17th is a straight away par four measuring 402 yards. The green is pitched severely from back to front like many out here and I barely missed an eight footer for birdie, settling for par. Toast made his fourth birdie of the day after stiffing his wedge shot to pull to within one of me in our $5 match, giving him a chance to square things on the last.

The 18th is a doozy of a par five: 571 yards through a shoot of trees, uphill all the way and into the wind. Bunkers left and right in the landing area. And oh my goodness...the green complex here?! UNFREAKING BELIEVABLE! Slopes everywhere, tiers everywhere. As described by Toast on his blog, legend has it that Arnold Palmer five-putted this green during the '72 Open and declared he would never again step foot on Cherry Hill's grounds again. Whether it's true or not is up for debate but it makes for a great story! Anyway, I again hit a good drive only to find it ended up in the left hand bunker. I hit a four-iron out to give myself about 120 yards into the green. Toast hits first and lands short in the greenside bunker so I decide to upclub to a pitching wedge. Bad decision. I end up on the back fringe with an unbelievably difficult downhill breaking putt. I kid you not...the thing was a QUADRUPLE BREAKER!!! After weaving left and right four times, I ended up 10 feet past. I missed that too, making bogey but Toast had just as much trouble and made double, giving me that match 2up.

What an interesting golf course!

The bogey on the last gave me a 37 on the back nine and a pretty nice 76 (+4) for the round, a score I'm very happy with. I ended up winning all my matches which made the day all the better! Toast came in with a solid 38 on the back for an 82 while Harry's struggles on the back, going +9 on his last seven holes meant a disappointing 81. He was playing great but one mental error just snowballed for him. Preston wasn't at his best healthwise and came in with an 89.

Harris and Preston again didn't skimp on the dinner, as we feasted on egg rolls, Happy Jack's rice, Shanghai Noodles, sweet and sour pork, crispy beef, shanghai shrimp and a few other dishes. Great stuff and highly recommended!

As indicated earlier, there are tentative plans to have our third annual tournament sometime later this year to make up for last year's missed event. However, it will be on Preston's home turf at a ClubLink course. He is favouring Greystone GC right now, a track I haven't played before and one that sounds pretty tough.

I literally used every club in the bag here. The Travis-design demands accuracy off the tee through the strategic placement of bunkers, which are plentiful out here. Lots of doglegs, lots of options to roll shots in. Great old-school course. There aren't really any forced carries at Cherry Hill and that makes for a very playable design for every level of player.

If you hit the ball well out here, you can score. The greens are likely the course's best defense but they roll extremely true. So if you have your touch, you can still score. From a variety perspective, Travis didn't have the greatest piece of land to work with here, as the course is pretty flat throughout. However, he mixes up the holes well, incorporating many doglegs to encourage bending the ball off the tee. There aren't many tricks out here; what you see is what you get. Memorability would likely one of the weaker attributes of the course. It's an extremely lovely golf course but there aren't a lot of 'wow' moments out here. It's just good, solid golf.

Lots of towering pine trees and gently rolling land make for a pleasant looking golf course. The cut of the bunkers is pretty non-descript compared to the other Travis course I've played at Lookout Point, however. That said, Ian Andrew completed a bunker restoration project in 2009 and I've heard rave reviews about his work.

Cherry Hill is very well maintained. The course was playing pretty firm and there was a bit of brown grass out there due to the dry conditions but that just makes the course play that much better. The greens are gorgeous and roll extremely true. You are hard pressed to find divots out here.

It's a very peaceful experience walking the fairways here, with the gorgeous trees framing the holes so beautfully.  It is an enjoyable walk, something we all commented on a couple of times during the round.

Cherry Hill is a wonderful old design and a course we plan on playing again later this year. Highly recommended!

UPDATE - July 2012

I had the distinct pleasure of playing Cherry Hill for a second time and for the first time since Ian Andrew did his restoration work on the course.

The bunkering has been largely restored and the overall look has been enhanced greatly after Ian's work. Some new tees have been added (par three 5th and the par four 17th are two that immediately spring to mind) and the angle of play has changed significantly on both of those holes.

The course has improved with these changes and the critics agree, as Cherry Hill has just re-entered ScoreGolf's Top 100 in Canada list at #77 after falling out for the first time in 2008.