Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Freshman Fifteen? How About the Newlywed Twenty!

It's amazing what marital bliss does to one's waistline.

I've always been a pretty skinny guy my whole life and laughed at my married friends who told me what to expect once I got hitched.

Me? Get tubby? Are you kidding?

Well, the elaborate meals and the careless attitude about my appearance that comes with having a significant other have taken their toll on yours truly over the past year.

I hadn't stepped on a scale since I got married in October of 2006 but decided to see where things stood on the weekend. I knew I was getting bigger...sucking in the gut to get the pants on...the shirts fitting tighter...Harris saying I had man boobs...you get the picture.

It's gotten so out of hand that I have trouble finding a seat for my big ole butt when going to the club with Harry and Toast to have a tasty burger. See below for photographic evidence.

I took down two of those bad boys...

Ok, in all seriousness, I've gotten quite a bit bigger. I'm 6'0" tall and was about 165lbs or so when I got married. I had NEVER eclipsed the 170 pound barrier.

I figured I might tip the scales in the high-170s...

Imagine my shock when I looked below at the scales and saw 189.1 pounds.

Holy CRAP!!! I've gained over 20 pounds since I got married!

Well, the party in my stomach is over. I've had enough. I'm writing this blog to embarrass myself back into reasonable shape.

The only exercise I've been doing in the winter months has been to play hockey once or twice a week. Of course, downing a couple beers after those games pretty much renders that exercise useless. So I need to exercise more and I'm also pledging to maintain a healthier diet - no more late-night subs from Jumpin Jaks I guess.

The plan is to get back to under 170 pounds. Ideally, I'd like to be at 170 by the middle of April.

I'll write a weekly update on my progress and will now just sit back and wait for the snarky comments from Harry and Toast.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fun Little Time-Waster

I came across a neat little time-waster while surfing on Golf Club Atlas this evening.

There is a fun little online golf game where you can play all 27 holes at the world famous Stoke Poges Golf Club. James Bond fans like myself will remember the famous scene in Goldfinger, as Bond battled Auric Goldfinger himself on these famed links.

Check it out
right here.

I shot a 32 (-4) on the Colt Course on my second attempt with a hole-in-one and a double bogey on #9 when I forgot to change to a wedge and blasted a 3-iron through the green instead.

Fun stuff for Harry while he's at work pretending to clean gloves.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Look Ahead - Tentative 2008 Tournament Schedule

Well, it's still well below freezing here in the Niagara Region and the white stuff is still on the ground. However, I'm really starting to get the golf itch.

Golf season is probably still a month and a half away at best, as courses here usually don't open until the first week of April. The official golf season in Ontario begins in the middle of April and my tournament schedule commences soon afterward.

Here's a look at what events I'm participating in as things stand right now:

APRIL 28, 2008 -
Brantford Golf & CC, Brantford, ON.

For the second consecutive year, Harry and I will be giving it a go in the Ontario Better-Ball qualifier. Last year, we teamed up to shoot a decent 74 but we fell four shots short of qualifying for the actual event. You can relive our day at Bridgewater by checking out this post.

This year I decided to sign us up to play Brantford G&CC, a 1919 Stanley Thompson design (with help from Nicol Thompson and George Cumming). Neither of us have played here before but I was attracted to the fact that it is considered the 29th best course in the country by Score Golf Magazine. At the end of the day, it should be a fun round on a great course, one I'm really looking forward to.

Should we qualify, something that will likely take a round of 70 or better, we would move onto the tournament proper, being held at Oakdale G&CC in Downsview on May 15th.

MAY 4, 2008 -
Peninsula Lakes GC, Fenwick, ON.

The first event of the season on the Niagara Men's Tour takes place at Peninsula Lakes, a 27-hole facility located just outside of Fonthill, Ontario.

It's an above average track for the area, which doesn't really say much but it is well manicured at all times and a relatively fun place to play. I'm fully-exempt on the tour again this year after finishing 12th overall last year. This will be the second consecutive year the tour has played at Pen Lakes and I have decent memories of last year's 77, which included a quadruple bogey nine on my card.

MAY 6, 2008 -
Club at Bond Head (South Course), Bond Head, ON.

For the first time, I'm going to attempt to qualify for the provincial mid-amateur championship. Once again, I made the bold decision to pick a qualifying course that I've never seen before.

Bond Head wasn't my first choice: that would have been the very well regarded Westmount G&CC in Kitchener, rated in the top twenty in the country by Score Golf. However, the Westmount qualifier filled up to capacity within a week, so my chances of playing there vanished quite quickly.

Bond Head will be a tough test. A firm, fast, linksy layout that measures well over 7000 yards from the tips and features wild bunkering and long fescue grasses, scoring will be high here. I see a couple of advantages playing here: first of all, it's a public track and there are no members of the course playing in the qualifier from what I've seen. Secondly, tough courses usually favour my grinding game so if I can get in to the clubhouse in less than 80 shots, I'll likely make it through to the actual event, which is being held at Thornhill G&CC during the first week of June.

I really want to make it through in this event and I'm looking forward to the chance to play a practice round here before the qualifier. Harry is also teeing it up in the qualifier at Bond Head so again, it should be a fun day.

MAY 25, 2008 -
Grand Niagara Resort, Niagara Falls, ON.

The second leg of the men's tour takes place at the Rees Jones' designed Grand Niagara Resort, a course I've played a few times with limited success.

The tour first played Grand Niagara in 2006, a year after the course opened for business. I shot 80 in that event, my best score in three tries at the place but it was good enough to finish in 15th at that stop. It's a pretty bland track but usually in great shape.

JUNE 8, 2008 -
Riverview Golf Club, Fenwick, ON.

When I told my buddy Toast that the tour was making a stop at Riverview, he hilariously said,

"What the hell is Riverview?"

That my friends is a course that lacks an identity. I've played golf on and off for over twenty years and never have teed it up at Riverview. I have no idea what to expect to be perfectly honest.

JULY 6, 2008 -
Rockway Glen GC, St. Catharines, ON.

The less said about this dump, the better...

Oh I can't help myself!

I hate this place. Worst golf course in the region in my opinion. Just a piss-poor design with horrible hazard placements throughout the course. There are a couple of holes out here that drive me crazy they're so awful. Maybe I'll just get hammered this day or something to dull the pain.

Ah who am I kidding? They probably don't even have a liquor license...

AUGUST 10, 2008 -
LochNess Links, Welland, ON.

From the worst course in the area to arguably one of the best, the former Hunter's Pointe Golf Club will be hosting the tour's fifth event.

This is a very sporty, Scottish links style course in Welland where wind can be a huge factor. It just might be one of Graham Cooke's best courses.

I've had some good rounds out here, with a low of 74 but you can easily blow up out here too. In fact, the last time the tour was out here in 2006, I shot a tasty 86. Regardless, I know the course well and have played it a ton. You need to drive the ball well here but if you do, you can score, as the greens always roll really true.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2008 -
Thundering Waters Golf Club, Niagara Falls, ON.

Ugh. I'm not a fan of this place either.

John Daly's first 'Signature Design' is extremely penal and not in the way you'd think considering the name of the celebrity on the front of the scorecard.

This is a very tight track with penal bunkering and odd design choices throughout. It may be sour grapes on my part, as my best score is 81 in the two or three times I've played out here...and the 81 I shot was me playing lights out!

The conditioning is brutal out there - they opened the course a year too early and it still hasn't fully recovered. The driving range only accommodates 7-irons or less and the putting green is thimble-sized. I will admit there are a few really nice holes out there and it has some decent 'bones' but the course overall is a disappointment. I always exit the 18th hole with steam coming out of my ears because of the nutty architecture.

There are many other tournaments I'll likely be participating in as well.

At the club alone, I'll obviously be making a run at my first club championship once again, with that event taking place over three days during the Civic Holiday weekend in August.

I will continue to support the club in the Niagara Cup competition. There are a bunch of different wrinkles added to the event this year and I'll go into more detail in the coming months.

I'm also going to try to get in the biggest club event of the season at St. Catharines: The Gentleman's Invitational, a member-guest event. Our club has one of the only three day invitationals in Canada and it is a two-man, best ball format. My wife's uncle used to play in the event for years and he's looking to play in it again this year so I told him I'd sign us up and hope for the best. It may take a year on the waiting list for us to get in this exclusive event.

There is also a chance the gang will head back down to Bradford, Pennsylvania to play in the Pine Acres Two-Man Better Ball Tournament. Pine Acres is a really cool little course in the mountains just across the New York State border and I've been fortunate enough to play in the event three times. We missed out last year but the event is being held in late-June again this year and there are no conflicts that weekend so I'll be sure to press everyone into going again in '08. We usually get about 8-12 guys that make the 2 1/2 hour drive. It's a really fun tournament.

Who knows what else the year might bring? One of the regulars at the club has told me a few times that he's planning on getting me into a couple other prestigious events but I'm not going to hold my breath.

And who knows if something absolutely ridiculous comes along, like the Oakmont charity tournament last year?

I do know one thing - I'll be playing at least one top-100 in the world course again this year...

One of my old friends just contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me he just picked up a job as assistant pro at venerable St. George's Golf & Country Club in Toronto. He said I'd better bring my 'A' game for that round!

Well, I don't have an 'A' game as everyone knows but I do know one thing. If I am lucky enough to get out there this year, I'll do everything I can to beat Harry's great score of 79 that he put up last year. And unlike him, maybe I'll actually invite my friends to play that day too.

After the man boobs comment, Harris' invitation will somehow get lost in the mail.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's Riviera Week!

One of the most famous old tournaments in golf begins on Thursday. The former Los Angeles Open, now called the Northern Trust Open will take place at famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

As my readers know, I was lucky enough to play Hogan's Alley in August last year while on vacation and it truly was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. For the uninitiated, I've left links for my three-post writeup on Riviera just below:


In the spirit of the week, I've also changed the header to a shot of Riviera assistant pro Mike and myself as we marched up the 18th hole after a great morning of golf.

I'll be glued to the TV set this weekend to see how the pros handle one of the great classics, the 29th rated course in the world according to Golf Magazine.

On another note, I'll be starting to post more regular content in the days and weeks to follow. I'm starting to get the golf itch, even though we just got about a half foot of snow dumped on us this evening.

I'll first talk about some of the tournaments I'm scheduled to participate in this year and a few of the great courses I hope to play as well.

I then plan on doing a series on my dream vacations of the future and the courses I'd love to play someday. Should be a fun series of posts for yours truly and hopefully an entertaining read. Hopefully, it will plant the seed with my buddies and get them thinking about some great trips in the next few years.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We Have a Poll!

Our good friends at Blogger have added the ability to put polls on the site so I've put my first one up in the sidebar, asking whether my header should be in colour or in black and white. Go vote!

I plan on putting up a new header every weekend just to keep the site fresh with photos of my great golfing experiences.

This week, we have Jon, myself, Harry and Preston giddy as school children as we pose on the 18th fairway at famed Oakmont Country Club late last year. No gratuitous shots of my uncovered legs here so I'm sure a few of my readers will be relieved.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Freshening Things Up a Bit...

I've been writing this blog for almost three years so I think a little cosmetic surgery on the look of the site is long overdue.

Consider this template a beta version or for the non-computer nerds out there, a work in progress...