Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review

While everyone in the world is out partying on New Year's Eve, I'm at my keyboard writing up my 2009 Year in Review. Evan just woke up for a bit about a half hour ago but I got him back down and Jacky was in bed by 9:30pm.

We're the life of every party!

Usually, I write a very long-winded recap of my year, throwing out various statistics that bore everyone and prompt snickers and jabs from Harris and Cal. I've done away with the stats on the blog this year and I will stay true to my promise by not throwing a bunch of numbers at you even in this review.

Instead, I'll simply break my year down into the following categories: The Game, The Courses and finally, Looking Ahead.

The Game

I took a huge step backward in 2009 with my game. After briefly touching scratch status in '08, I started the year as a 1.7 and never came close to playing at that level at any point in the year, going as high as a 4.9 and ending the year at 4.1.

My scoring average was up over 2 shots a round over 2008 and I barely averaged less than 80 in my 58 rounds this year, a number that was down by seven rounds over the previous year.

Pretty much all my stats were down, none moreso than my greens in regulation percentage, which dropped to about 41% from about 49% the year previous. I also didn't break par once all year, with my low score being 73 (shot three times).

I played in far, far fewer tournaments in 2009, something that may have contributed to my poor play - I've always fared well when something is on the line and I didn't play in ANY Niagara Cup matches in 2009 and didn't go out for the provincial mid-am this past year either.

I played quite well at the Ontario Better Ball qualifier at Burlington with Harry, shooting a 74 on my own ball but bogeys on the last two holes meant we missed the cut by two shots. One year we'll get there...

I was completely mediocre on the Niagara Men's Tour this year, a big disappointment after winning an event in 2008. I finished 16th overall on the Tour in 2009 (was 11th in 2008) and only had one top five finish, with a 3rd place finish at the St. Catharines event. I only broke 80 twice in six events on the year, just a pathetic result.

I played in our Member/Guest tournament for the second consecutive year with my wife's Uncle Henry and we finished a very respectable sixth place this year. We led after the first round, which was quite cool, but we just couldn't keep up the pace in this handicap event. Still, a great time and one of the highlights of the year.

I flamed out early in the Langley Cup again, our club's match play competition for 0-7 handicappers, losing to Cal (the eventual winner in a classic match versus Harry) in the second round. It's the one event I want to win the most at our club, outside of the club championship.

Speaking of which, I finished T6th in the Club Championship at St. Catharines for the third time in my life, still my best finish ever. I shot 78 in the first round and was actually in second place but fizzled over the last two rounds.

Just a rough year for scoring. I was extremely inconsistent with my ball striking and I definitely need to put some more work into it when I'm not playing as much. Obviously, some late nights with our baby may have caused some fatigue but I won't make excuses. Simply put, it was my worst year on the course that I can remember from a scoring perspective and I hope I can rebound in 2010.

The Courses

I was pretty fortunate again in 2009 with respect to playing some excellent courses for the first time.

First, in late April, Harry and I played in the Ontario Better Ball qualifier at Burlington G&CC, a lovely Stanley Thompson design that is vastly underrated in my opinion. I have no idea how this course can be left off the ScoreGolf rating of the Top 100 in Canada. It's most deserving of that honour.

In mid-June, I had the pleasure of attending a Golf Club Atlas outing at Otter Creek GC in Otterville with the course architect Dick Kirkpatrick, fellow architect Ian Andrew (Mike Weir's design partner), writer Robert Thompson and a few other guys. We mixed the groups up so that all eight guys pretty much got to play at least a few holes together and we finished off the day at Ian's house, eating burgers and discussing architecture and watching the US Open. The golf course was pretty solid with a few notable exceptions - I'm not a fan of the 9th or 18th holes and there is some quirky routing on the 17th but Dick mentioned that his hands were tied on certain aspects of the routing.

In mid-July, I played the Devil's Pulpit for the first time (10th hole shown above) with Henry and a couple of Tim Horton's franchise owners. A very strong modern course with some neat options off the tee and glorious conditioning.

The highlight of the year, without doubt, was my trip out west to British Columbia.

First, I played Royal Colwood GC in Victoria, the 16th ranked golf course in Canada according to ScoreGolf. I wonder if I have been a bit harsh with my comments on Colwood but generally I think it's a tad overrated. The course does have some very strong holes, like the 18th (shown above)...and some ordinary ones too but I'm very glad to have gotten the opportunity to play this historic A.V. Macan course.

The next day, we played Bear Mountain's Mountain Course, a Steve and Jack Nicklaus co-design also located in Victoria. I was very impressed with the golf course, thought it was tremendous fun and the views are, at times, breathtaking. It's ranked in the bottom half of the Top 100 in Canada and definitely deserves that acclaim. A pleasant surprise.


The highlight of the year was my day at Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club (2nd green and 3rd tee shown in photos above) on Nicola Lake near Merritt. I've talked about my experience ad nauseum but I'll say it again - the day spent at Sagebrush was the most fun I've ever had playing a golf course. Options aplenty everywhere you look, from tee shots, to approaches, to cool shots around the greens and on them. It won Best New Canadian Course awards from both Golf Digest and ScoreGolf and I won't be surprised to see this course become a top 10 in the country. It's simply that good and I hope Richard Zokol's venture (that's Richard and myself at the top of the post) continues to be wildly successful in the years to come.

I ended the trip with a round at 2008's Best New Canadian Course, Tobiano, located in Kamloops. Visually spectacular (1st hole shown above) but a completely different playing experience than Sagebrush, and not necessarily in a good way. This is a very penal test and that did not help matters at all when I had to leave the golf course after playing only 13 holes in four hours. When I go back out there, I want to give the place a second shot - I think it's a good golf course that could have been great but falls short in a few areas.

The last biggie was playing the 17th ranked Westmount G&CC in Kitchener in early September. A great old Stanley Thompson track that is very deserving of all the praise and acclaim it gets. Parkland golf at its finest (the par three 12th is shown above) and just a great member's club.

The most disappointing day of the year was when Cal, Ryan, Dr. Greg and myself took the day off to play the well-respected St. Thomas G&CC for the first time. After getting rained out a year earlier and getting no holes in, we thought the jinx was over after teeing off on the first. However, we got to the 7th tee and the storm siren went off again and within an hour, the course was flooded and unplayable.

Things got worse - wanting to get something out of our day, we drove to Tarandowah Golfers Club, a new Martin Hawtree design that's getting wide acclaim. This time, we got only four holes in before seeing a funnel cloud in the distance and running like mad back to the clubhouse.

I also had hoped to play Hamilton G&CC, The National GC of Canada and St. George's in 2009 but those invitations all fell through, unfortunately.

Still, despite those disappointments, that's ten new courses seen in 2009: all of them well respected and highly rated. I've now played a pretty incredible 23 of the top 100 courses in Canada!

Looking Ahead

Things are looking very promising for 2010.

From a tournament and competitive standpoint, I expect things to be very similar to '09. I will once again play on the Niagara Men's Tour and my goal is to win again and finish in the top five overall.

I will once again play with Harry in an attempt to qualify for the Ontario Better Ball Championship and I can guarantee we will play at the best golf course that they offer on the qualifying list. Hopefully something new that we haven't seen.

I will likely play in the Member Guest tournament at St. Catharines for the third consecutive year with Henry and will participate in both the Langley Cup match play competition and the Club Championship at St. Catharines.

I don't expect to have the time necessary to play on the Niagara Cup again in 2010 and while I'd like to play in the Mid-Am this year (Donalda is hosting the event), time will likely not allow me to participate there either.

That is because I am planning two long weekend golf vacations for 2010.

First, in mid-June, Harry will be joining me on a trip to Colorado to play Tom Doak's Ballyneal Golf and Hunt Club, already ranked 48th in the US and inside the top 100 in the world by Golf Magazine. We'll be spending three days at Ballyneal (photo shown above) with a bunch of fellow golf nerds and the experience is sure to be one of the great ones of my golfing lifetime.

I'm also working on something else very special for that particular trip but won't divulge details until things are set in stone for fear of jinxing everything. Let me just say this: if everything works out, this trip may end up being Epic. Yes, with a capital E!

I'm also planning on going back to British Columbia for a few days to play Sagebrush again, bringing some friends to share the experience as well. Looking at a mid-July trip for that one and may take another crack at Tobiano while we're there.

I'll be going on business trips to Ottawa in August and Mount Tremblant in September and will be playing at least one round of golf in each place. Not entirely sure which courses yet but I've heard good things about golf at Tremblant.

The one major daytrip that looks to be a lock is a visit to Redtail GC in St. Thomas for the first time ever. Redtail, with the ninth hole shown above, is ultra-exclusive and I'm hoping to bring out a few friends for 36 holes of fun and relaxation

I'm also very much looking forward to spending a day at the Devil's Paintbrush, the sister course to the Devil's Pulpit that I played this past year. The Paintbrush was closed in August in order to resurface the greens and will be back open for business this spring from what I understand. I took the photo above in July, arriving at the Brush thinking I was playing there but instead was on the tee sheet at the Pulpit.

There will likely be a few other day trips in there, maybe to some reciprocals during the Canadian Tour Championship week (coming back to St. Catharines for a second consecutive year) and maybe I'll finally get an invitation to Hamilton, the National or St. George's that sticks. Highly unlikely, especially in the case of St. George's which is hosting the Canadian Open this year, but a man can dream!

Regardless, as usual, you can expect to get honest and detailed reviews and great photos of all the courses I play in 2010. I already can't wait until the end of March!

Bonus Photo Tour

Sagebrush may have been the golf highlight of the year but the highlight of my life is this little guy, my son Evan. I shake my head every day, knowing how lucky I am to have him in my life.

It's amazing how quickly time flies...Happy New Year to all my readers!

January 2009 (Three Months Old)

February 2009 (Four Months Old)

March 2009 (Five Months Old)

April 2009 (Six Months Old)

May 2009 (Seven Months Old)

June 2009 (Eight Months Old)

July 2009 (Nine Months Old)

August 2009 (Ten Months Old)

September 2009 (Eleven Months Old)

October 2009 (One Year Old and Wearing His First Sabres Jersey!)

November 2009 (13 Months Old)

December 2009 (14 Months Old)

5 comments:

  1. Now how bloody much better is that post than hearing the made up stats about how far you drive the ball. It's a million percent better... it's not bullshit and it's got pictures, and its actual stuff and that makes it awesome.

    C

    ReplyDelete
  2. agreed. Much better then a manipulating stats to seem like a better player.

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  3. Cute kid, Matt. Oh, and some nice courses as well.

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  4. Matt, one would argue that your June trip is already Epic.

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  5. Robert -
    Thanks!

    Anonymous -
    No argument from me! Ballyeal for three days? Heaven!

    ReplyDelete