Thursday, August 02, 2007

Evening Golf; Going to California

It had been a long time since I've played a round of golf by myself at night.

The streak ended tonight as I decided to hit the links after some short game practice after work this evening. What great fun it is just to hit the course with no agenda other than to have some fun and keep the swing loose!

Playing by myself, I decided to play two balls and have a little competition between each one - one was a Pro V1, the other a Pro V1X.

The Pro V1X, my normal ball, got off to a solid start with two pars while the regular Pro V doubled the second and was +2. However, THREE STRAIGHT BIRDIES by the Pro V enabled the ball to take a two shot lead through six holes. What a blast!

I was playing behind a couple foursomes and decided to play the 8th with another couple at the club who were behind me, so I pocketed the second ball. By the time we hit #9, I noticed one of my buddies, Bernie, playing #2 so I hopped back over with him and once again played 3 through 9 with him.

So I ended up playing 15 holes on the day in about 2:20. I think I'm going to play pretty well this weekend - no reason really, just a feeling.

On another note, I will be heading to California in two weeks for a 'business' trip. I use the quotations only because the actual business portion of the six-day conference will last about a half day, likely giving all the participants the ability to write it off as an expense.

We're flying into Los Angeles and getting shuttled down to Dana Point, about halfway between LA and San Diego. It's essentially a social convention for all of the owners of the independent distribution companies within the Balpex buying group, of which my company is a member. This happens each year and this will be my second appearance with my wife after staying at the Taboo Resort last August.

My parents usually go but with my father slowing down as the years pass, he feels it's important that I represent the company at these events.

No complaints from me!




While there, I'll be playing a bit of golf. The Balpex tournament will be played at Monarch Beach Golf Links (shown above), a Robert Trent Jones Jr design from 1983.


I usually only get excited about old, traditional golf courses and my expectations for this course aren't too high. But it sure does look pretty. The shot above is from the clubhouse patio looking toward the Pacific.

Jacky and I will be taking an additional three days after the convention ends to stroll around California, with our likely destination being the Santa Monica area.

The highlight of the trip will come on our last full day in California...

I will be teeing it up at The Riviera Country Club, one of the most exclusive private clubs in the world!


Nicknamed "Hogan's Alley" after golfing great Ben Hogan won three tournaments in an 18 month span back in the late '40s. It's the annual home of the Nissan Open, home of the US Open in 1948, home of the PGA Championship in 1995, home of many Hollywood stars and one of the most famous clubs in the world. It's also ranked inside the top 100 courses in the world by pretty much every golf publication.

This 1927 George Thomas design is a genuine classic and I couldn't be more excited about getting the chance to play out there. There are so many notable and famous holes but the driveable par four 10th (shown below) may just be the best short two-shotter in the game. You could play the course ten times and likely play it ten different ways off the tee - the amount of strategic leeway Thomas provides is astounding.


The course is also notable for its wonderful set of par threes, including the famous 6th hole with a bunker in the middle of the green (see below). The bunkering work done by Thomas' associate Billy Bell looks to be a highlight throughout the course.


Of course, one of the most famous finishers in the world is the 18th at Riviera, an extremely long, uphill par four with the gorgeous clubhouse in the background and the great amphitheater setting, as seen below.


Wow. I literally can't wait.

To top it off, the head pro out there has been unbelievably accommodating through a few emails that we've exchanged. There is a good chance Jacky and I will actually stay at Riviera in one of their guest rooms for a night or two, allowing us to soak up the atmosphere even longer! A shot of the room is shown below.


Unbelievably, it doesn't end there! The gracious pro suggested that I also play ANOTHER of LA's great private clubs, saying he'd be happy to help me get on Bel Air CC, Los Angeles CC, Sherwood CC or Valencia!

I'm not entirely sure I'm going to take him up on the offer to play elsewhere anyway, due to the fact it won't be cheap and I'm already going to have to take out a second mortgage to play Riviera. Kidding of course...kind of. That's to say nothing of the fact that I also have my ever-patient wife waiting for me to actually do something with her!

But you only live once and these type of opportunities just don't come up every day. I'm leaning toward Los Angeles Country Club and their North Course, another top-100 in the world design by Thomas (shown below).


Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? Have any of my readers ever played any of these courses?

Either way, it will be a vacation of a lifetime!

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