Monday, April 28, 2008

Back from Sunny Florida

Harry and I flew back into town yesterday afternoon after a fantastic four night vacation in Palm Coast, Florida.

The Ginn Hammock Beach Resort was, in a word, spectacular.

The accommodations and hospitality were eye-popping and the golf was phenomenal. Jack Nicklaus' Ocean Course lived up to my expectations and Tom Watson's Conservatory Course EXCEEDED our expectations.

Shockingly enough, both Harry and I preferred the playing experience at the Conservatory over The Ocean Course but that's something I'll get into in the next couple days.

There is an awful lot to talk about from our vacation and we also attempted to qualify for the Ontario Better Ball Championship earlier today at the gorgeous Brantford Golf & Country Club, so there's a bit to say about that as well.

I'm also scheduled to play Eagles Nest GC in Maple, Ontario for the first time tomorrow morning so that should be a treat too.

I'll be back tomorrow with a report on our vacation.

By the way, thanks to Harry for taking the great photo seen in the header at the moment of me following through on a tee shot on the beautiful ninth at The Ocean Course.

And no derogatory comments about my legs! I've been working out! They aren't as tiny as usual!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Figuring Things Out

We were treated to absolutely gorgeous spring weather this weekend and that meant my first two full rounds of golf for 2008.

I'm just a bit rusty!

I shot dueling rounds of 82 both Saturday and Sunday. As a point of reference, I didn't shoot my second round in the 80's last year until my 10th round and I didn't shoot a score as high as 82 until the end of May.

I obviously need to hit a driving range and will get that opportunity on my trip to Florida coming up. My problems are likely fundamental in nature but all I know is that I'm having a heck of a time trying to hit a decent iron shot.

Not much really to discuss. I lost out on bets both on Saturday (had to buy lunch for Harry and Toast, who both beat me) and Sunday ($10 in skins lost plus I had to front cash for Harry, who also didn't claim a skin).

The thing that worries me is...that I'm worried about it. It usually doesn't take me this long to figure things out but I'm kind of lost out there. My chipping and pitching was horrendous as well so I couldn't hit greens in regulation AND I had no chance of getting up and down. Not a good combination!

On a positive note, I saw two pretty fine movies this weekend in No Country for Old Men and Juno.

No Country won the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards this year. Javier Bardem was sensational in a role that didn't contain an awful lot of dialog but his screen presence was incredible. There were some things that kind of left me wanting more, like the last time we saw the Josh Brolin character and the last scene of the movie. I would have liked to have seen a bit more there and felt a bit let down. Still, a fine flick but one I'm not sure is deserving of a best picture.

I'll tell you something though. I really enjoyed Juno. Really tremendous entertainment, with stellar performances from the entire cast. Ellen Page was phenomenal in the title role and was in almost every frame of the movie. She was nominated for best actress at this past year's Oscars but didn't win...a shame. She was that good. The supporting roles were also beautifully realized: Juno's boyfriend Beeker was spot-on perfect in his role and I also thought Jennifer Garner was excellent. I really enjoyed how fresh the writing was and the lack of cliches, especially with regard to Juno's parents, who likely qualify as the coolest and funniest I've ever seen in a movie. Highly recommended flick.

Anyhoo. Last post to be made for about a week. I've got business out of town the next couple days and then it's off to Florida. I'll have a lot to talk about when I get back!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Golf Season has Officially Begun

On Thursday night around 5:30pm, I rolled my opening shot of the season off the tee for the third year in succession to get things going in 2008.

I'd bogey our first hole, the tenth, and the 11th, double the 13th, birdie the 15th and double the 16th on my way to a 41, a score I would duplicate on Saturday morning playing with Toast, Harry and Preston.

Early in the season, I just want to try to find some rhythm with my swing and get the golfing muscles working again - I think I accomplished that in my first two nine-hole rounds. Next week, I'll concentrate a bit more on my putting and try to get that part of the game working.

Temperatures fell below zero last night and even though we woke up to sunny skies this morning, I decided to sit out and just watch the Masters instead. Nice to see a talented youngster like Immelman pull through for his first professional major championship. It was a real windy day in Augusta, making for quite the grind so there weren't a lot of fireworks in the final round. You just sat there waiting to see if Immelman could hold his lunch the entire round and he came through with flying colours. Good for him.

Just a week and a half before I head to Florida with Harry to play a bunch of golf in preparation for the Ontario Better Ball qualifier taking place on the 28th.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Open for Business in 2008!

Well, it's officially official. The club is open for play in 2008!

The pins went in for the first time this year on a partly cloudy and quite windy day here in our part of the world. No, I didn't have the opportunity to play and will likely hold off until the weekend, although there is a chance Toast, Harry and I will play a quick nine holes after work on Friday night.

In other interesting news, it looks like we will have at least one more joining Harry and myself down in Florida, as fellow St. Catharines member Dave S has cleared his schedule and is ready to go. We just have to confirm with the hotel that there is no issue with upgrading to a bigger room and we'll be set.

Let the posting begin!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"Tenth Hole Tower" Project Elicits Predictable Response at St. Catharines

It has been a very interesting year and a half at St. Catharines G&CC.

I've documented a couple of key proposals that have been shot down by the club's membership since January 2007.

First, there was the proposal put to the membership to look into purchasing a plot of land in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with the purpose of building a brand-new 18 hole course for the members and selling off our existing land to developers at a much higher cost. My first post, Intrigue at St. Catharines G&CC, talked about the intriguing proposal and my second post talked about the shareholders meeting, where architect Ian Andrew presented his routing plan for the new piece of land. My third post in this series, Shot Down!, discussed how this proposal was unceremoniously turned down by the membership after an official vote.

Late in the year, prior to our 2007 General Shareholders meeting, Andrew again made a presentation, this time discussing the work he did on the course's Master Plan and the work that was to take place over the next two years to improve our drainage, rework the bunkers and make some other needed changes. Much to my dismay, this proposal was also turned down and I documented my thoughts in this post back in December.

You can just imagine what some of our more sensitive members were thinking when this email was sent out last week by our club president:

I am very pleased on behalf of the Board of Directors to announce that a new development has been proposed to build a luxury high-rise condominium tower on our property in the proximity of the current 10th tee. Access to this development will be provided by building roadways through real estate that has been acquired leading from Highland Avenue.

Some highlights of what some are calling the new “Tenth Hole Tower”:

· It will be the tallest building in St. Catharines, ten floors higher than its cousin, the Port Dalhousie Tower, providing a magnificent view over the entire city.
· Net proceeds from this development have been conservatively pegged at $46MM of which $13MM will be invested in rebuilding the current Clubhouse.
· These funds will also allow us to address age old member concerns and reduce the monthly minimum F & B spend to $10 per member.
· Annual golf dues are expected to be $800 per year for the foreseeable future.
· Upper floor units will be offered to the public starting at $1.7MM per unit and current SCGCC Members will be offered priority at a 20% discount.
· The first floor of the new building will be dedicated to a new Pro Shop, below ground cart storage, workout room and six lane bowling alley.
· The golf course will undergo a major re-design with the 10th Hole becoming a short Par 3 with an island green and extensive improvements to Holes #9 & 16.

Clubhouse Manager, Jeff Germond:
“A fabulous plan that will enhance our ability to continue offering great programs to our members. This will help us expand and renovate the curling lounge and implement some new restaurant ideas. I’m seriously considering moving my own family into a lower floor unit in the Tower so that I can be closer to work.”

Director of Golf, Kevin King:
“I’m excited about the new course routing changes, the spectacular 10th Hole, and very pleased that my staff will be moved into a new state-of-the-art Pro Shop (with heat)”.

Grounds Superintendent, Dennis Piccolo:
“This is going to be a challenging project, but this is exactly what we need to address drainage issues and water supply on the West side of the golf course.”

Administration Chair, Alan Ralph:
“What more can I say? Finally a plan that is an absolute slam dunk – a true no-brainer!” Now that I’m retired, I really look forward to working on both my golf game and bowling with all my retired friends.

Local Resident:
“This is an improvement for me. I won’t have to look at those hideous driving range nets anymore.”

During the next few months we encourage and welcome input from the membership. I expect we will pickup some additional ideas as the plan evolves, especially suggestions on exactly what we should do with this new project!

I think I had tears of laughter in my eyes by the time we got to the six-lane bowling alley but some of our members, I'm afraid, either don't have much of a sense of humour, or were oblivious to the significance of the date at the top of the email, which read April 1, 2008.

I immediately put the over/under on complaints to the club at 15 but once again, I underestimated our fickle membership, as no less than 40 calls came into the club within a day and that number evidently shot up to 80 two days later. Some were upset they weren't consulted and others actually called to prebook top and bottom floor suites!

It garnered enough attention to make
the front page of the St. Catharines Standard the next day!

I think it was tremendous fun and I wish to thank both our club president and our new clubhouse manager for having the stones to pull off this prank and bring some light-hearted humour back into our club.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Pins are In! Well, Sort Of...

We've had a nice stretch of sunny and windy weather and I received word earlier today that the pins will be going in today...

On the practice facility.


Still, it's progress! If all goes well with the weather, the club is expected to open the actual golf course next Friday the 11th, just in time for Masters weekend!

Hopefully, I can get Harry and Toast out to our now traditional Saturday morning breakfast and we can follow it up with a little chipping and bunker work in the short game area.

It may be the only time all year that I practice, so it's a big moment! ;)