Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Since I'm up so damn early, I figured I may as well put up a post to wish all of my readers Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a happy and safe new years.

I'm soon heading out with some buddies for what's become an annual tradition - the Boxing Day electronics extravaganza at Best Buy and Future Shop along with a buffet breakfast that follows. We've awakened early for this silliness for about four years running and we should have a nice little crowd again today.

I'm actually a buyer this year and have my eyes on yet another HDTV, this time for the family room. She's insisting on a 42", completely ridiculous in my opinion as it will be too big for the room and we already have a 50" TV downstairs.

"But it's ON SALE!", she says.


The wife is also allowing me to look at a beautiful 22" ViewSonic monitor, on sale as well. We'll see about that...

Anyway, hope everyone found what they were looking for under the tree this year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

St. Catharines G&CC Shoots Down Course Improvements

Last night, at the St. Catharines Golf & Country Club annual shareholders meeting, the membership voted against making improvements to the course as outlined in the club's Master Plan.

Consulting architect Ian Andrew made a presentation to the club a few weeks back and I thought that meeting went pretty well. He went over the proposed changes on a hole by hole basis, utilizing his personal drawings of each hole to show his reasoning from both a strategic and aesthetic point of view.

Our bunkers were going to be addressed, some new tees added, some dangerous trees were being removed and a couple of holes were being modified, most notably the quirky par five 16th. I've included Ian's rendering of the changes to the par five sixth above and the par three 14th below.

However, for reasons beyond my comprehension, only 47% of the membership voted in favour of the proposal and it was unceremoniously shot down.

First, we had the Queenston debacle earlier in the year that was voted down because the membership wanted to stay in St. Catharines and NOW the membership votes down making changes to the existing layout.

The meeting was supposed to take place last Monday and was rescheduled to yesterday - I wasn't able to attend last night but delivered my positive vote by proxy. I have heard all of this news through my father and will attempt to get more information on what went down last night before talking about it further.

I'm entirely too livid to discuss this at the moment without more information. I've always been very loyal to my club but I'm starting to think that the old farts that roam the grounds on a daily basis are content to see the club go into the ground with them in the next ten years.

Words can't express my disappointment.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

2007 Golf Season - Year in Review

What a year 2007 was on the golf course for yours truly!

No, I didn't win anything of substance. Check that...

I didn't win a bloody thing!

However, I got to play a lot of golf this year as a newlywed and with the wedding planning from 2006 behind me, I actually was able to play decently again.

The most interesting development though was getting on two pretty exclusive top-100 courses in the world. First, I stayed three nights and played a round at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California in August while on a business trip. You can check out my three post document of my time at Riviera right here and the picture above is of me posing on the elevated first tee.

I also got to participate in a charity event later in the year at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, home of this year's US Open. You can check out my experience at Oakmont here, with a picture from the expansive ninth fairway below.

Let's take a look at my numbers for 2007. In brackets, I've included my numbers for 2006 & 2005 as a point of comparison:

TOTAL ROUNDS PLAYED: 65 (2006: 63; 2005: 62)
TOTAL TOURNAMENT ROUNDS: 19 (2006: 14; 2005: 20)
TOTAL NINE-HOLE ROUNDS: 2 (2006: 4; 2005: 7)

TOTAL ROUNDS (80 OR UNDER): 52 (2006: 44; 2005: 45)
TOTAL ROUNDS (75 OR UNDER): 13 (2006: 4; 2005: 11)
TOTAL ROUNDS UNDER PAR: 2 (2006: 0; 2005: 3)

DIFFERENT GOLF COURSES PLAYED: 19 (2006: 19; 2005: 21)
- Cherry Hill Club, Ridgeway, Ontario, CAN
- FireRock GC, Komoka, Ontario, CAN
- Glencairn GC, Halton Hills, Ontario, CAN
- Monarch Bay Golf Links, Dana Point, California, USA
- Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, USA
- The Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California, USA
- Wooden Sticks, Uxbridge, Ontario, CAN

OVERALL SCORING AVERAGE: 77.74 (2006: 78.93; 2005: 78.50)
SCORING AVERAGE (ST. CATHARINES G&CC): 77.09 (2006: 77.91; 2005: 77.55)
SCORING AVERAGE (OTHER COURSES): 79.32 (2006: 80.38; 2005: 80.50)
TOURNAMENT SCORING AVERAGE: 77.89 (2006: 79.36; 2005: 78.00)

This was easily the best year of scoring I've ever experienced. I shot an early season round of 69, a late season round of 70 and two rounds of 72, with both of them being from the back tee deck. I didn't break my personal best of 68 and my two sub-par rounds fall below the three I had a couple years back but that's just picking nits.

However, I was much more consistent this year with my game and a lot of it has to do with the new irons I purchased in May. I was fitted with the new TaylorMade r7 TP's in the early spring and it allowed me to gain about 10 to 15 yards of extra distance while also improving my accuracy.

I had a decent bounce-back year on the Niagara Men's Tour, finishing 12th this year after barely making the exempt list in 2006 when I placed 24th. I had two top-ten finishes on tour this year: the season-opening two round event that took place at Lookout Point CC and Peninsula Lakes and I also finished in the top ten at the Port Colborne CC stop, where I shot a solid 74, my best round in competition this year.

I finally got past the first round in the Langley Cup, the St. Catharines G&CC Match Play championship for 0-7 handicappers. I would eventually lose in the semifinals to one of my regular playing partners Joe, who would then lose to my good buddy Toast in the finals, giving him his first big win in a club event.

Club Championships were a reasonable success for yours truly. I finished in 6th place all alone in the open championship flight, tying my best performance and I only finished 8 shots back of the eventual winner, my buddy and regular playing partner Bernie. I held up pretty well despite having a hard time making birdies in the competition, shooting rounds of 77, 77 and 76 during the three-day event.

The other big annual event on my calendar was pretty much a dud this year: the Niagara Cup competition. I won my first match, a two-man best ball competition at Peninsula Lakes but the last two matches were cancelled due to the other clubs in our sectional not being able to compete. We therefore got a bye into the finals and I lost that singles match even though I played decently, shooting a 75 to only garner 1/2 point out of the three available, ultimately finishing 1 down. St. Catharines would finish dead last out of the teams that made the finals.

There was some talk that the format would be scrapped in favour of smaller team sizes but it seems that won't be happening and we'll continue with the status quo or something close to what's currently in place.

We didn't get down to Bradford, Pennsylvania for the annual Pine Acres Invitational, which hurts but hopefully we can get signed up in 2008.

Let's look at some more stats:

LOW SCORE: 69 (2006: 74; 2005: 68)
LOW TOURNAMENT SCORE: 74 (2006: 76; 2005: 71)
LOW NINE-HOLE SCORE: 33 (2006: 34; 2005: 33)

DRIVING DISTANCE: 272.88 (2006: 264.49 yards)
DRIVING ACCURACY: 45.49% (2006: 44.94%)
GREENS IN REGULATION: 49.32% (2006: 44.54%)
PUTTS PER GIR: 1.94 (2006: 1.94)
BIRDIE CONVERSION: 21.32% (2006: 18.28%)
PUTTS PER ROUND: 31.11 (2006: 30.78)
SAND SAVES: 31.37% (2006: 33.33%)
SCRAMBLING: 39.12% (2006: 36.79%)
SKINS: +$337.50 (2006: +$209.50)
TOTAL EAGLES: 1 (2006: 1)
TOTAL BIRDIES: 123 - Single Round Best -> 6 (2006: 85)

Pretty much all my ball striking numbers were way up. 3% increase in driving distance, a 1.2% increase in driving accuracy and a whopping 10.7% increase in greens in regulation. My putting across the board was down but I made a TON more birdies this year and a slightly better chipping game meant more up and downs.

I still have a lot of work to do with the short game but I'm pretty satisfied with the changes I've made in my long game, as I lowered my hands at address and set my wrists a bit earlier in the swing, which helped with ball striking consistency.

What am I looking to do as an encore in 2008?

Well, I'll likely play in a similar amount of tournaments again next year. I'm exempt on the Niagara Men's Tour and I really want to get into the thick of it this year and challenge for an event win. The chairman of the tour called me the 'most improved player on the tour' at the season-ending awards presentation, a nice title for sure but I want to take my tournament game to the next level and start contending and maybe winning events.

The main club events will also be on my radar: I'd love to challenge my good buddy Toast for the Langley Cup this coming year and of course, I want to be in the thick of things at Club Championship time.

The jury is out on the Niagara Cup - I'll continue to support the club in this event but I'm going to have to encourage others to do the same, as some felt put-out by the turn of events this year, whether it was the constant rescheduling, the cancelled events or the fact there didn't seem to be a real plan in place for substitutes, some of whom paid a lot of money to attempt to qualify but were overlooked when subs were needed. I've been very lucky to have been chosen as a captain's pick for the last few years and I love the commaraderie that a team competition like this provides so I'll continue to help out in 2008 to ensure that our club continues to put a competitive team on the course.

As for 2008, I wonder what great courses I'll get to see next year after being truly blessed in '07...

I'd love to do a weekend down at Bethpage and will also look at getting onto another top-100 course if possible. I've got one in mind but I'm going to keep it close to the vest as I continue to investigate the possibilities.

There are some more reasonable possibilities too: Essex in Windsor is doable, as Harry has an in there. Perhaps St. George's (possible) or Ancaster (umm...wishful thinking probably!). Toast has an in at Oak Hill in Rochester through a relative but he'd rather just try to fool people into thinking they can get on rather than actually DO something about it!

Money is going to be tight in '08 for the wife and I so I doubt I'll get the chance to get away on any type of golf trip down south but you never know...maybe I'll cave and go somewhere with Harry and his buddies if they find something reasonable.

Golf season is only about three and a half months away! I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Winter Weather Hits Southern Ontario

Well, the temperatures have dropped below freezing, snow is on the ground and posts have become sparse at Now on the Tee as a result.

I will have my traditional 'Season in Review' coming up as soon as tonight, with details on the state of my game in 2007. It was a notable year, both for scoring and a couple world-class courses I was lucky enough to play.

I will also have a daily feature I intend to start later this week that will go through potential changes to St. Catharines G&CC on a hole-by-hole basis based on the course's Master Plan, which has recently been reworked by architect Ian Andrew.

The plans were discussed in a general meeting at the club last week and it will go to a vote next Monday at the annual shareholders meeting.

I'll share my personal insight and thoughts on each of the changes and what it will mean for the course as a whole in each post. If there are no objections from the club or Mr. Andrew, I will also include the architect's drawings of the individual holes as well with my posts.