Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Catching Up

I just noticed it's been over a month since my last post - how quickly time flies when you're busy - here's a brief status update on things here at NOTT.

The Trip

Our trip to Northern California exceeded our already very high expectations. San Francisco is now one of my favourite cities in the world - there are so many attractions for the tourist in that gorgeous town and the food was equally incredible. Highly, highly recommended!

We spent five days there then another four days in Monterey, which has a completely different vibe from San Francisco but worked just as well for us. The trip ended with three nights in Napa, where we did the requisite wine tours and long, leisurely drives in the country. Napa was great but I wasn't as high on that portion of the trip compared to San Francisco or Monterey - I'd say having a 4-year old tagging along doesn't work as well in Napa but we managed just fine! And the weather...oh my! 12 straight days of glorious sunshine and perfect temperatures: 18-20 degrees Celsius in SF/Monterey and 28-30 degrees Celsius in Napa.

Needless to say, we all loved our time there and hope to return again someday.

Oh, what about the golf you ask? In a word - spectacular! A bit more on that in just a bit.

Two landmarks in beautiful San Francisco - cable cars and Alcatraz!

Pebble Beach, California in all its glory! Great photo of my wife and son...and yes, that's Cypress Point in the background!

2013 Gentlemen's Invitational - St. Catharines G&CC

For the sixth consecutive year, I played in my home club's member-guest tournament. I've had the same partner for all six of those events, my wife's uncle Henry. This year, he played with a very heavy heart, as his son (my wife's cousin) passed away unexpectedly four weeks ago. He was only 43 years old. I would have completely understood if Henry wanted to take a year off from the event but I think he really needed it to help with the healing process. Neither of us played great and we finished well down the list this year but I couldn't care less.

I always look forward to playing with Henry each year and I'm delighted he came down again this year. I told him that the invitation for next year is already set in stone and I look forward to getting out with him again next June for the three-day event.

My Game

There's not much to say here - simply put, my game has been stunningly bad almost all year. I had that magical round of 71 back in May that came out of nowhere then I promptly went almost a month before breaking 80 again. My handicap soared to a 5, the highest I've been in recent memory and things only got worse from a scoring perspective on the trip.

However, things have improved a bit since I've been back - I had rounds of 76 and 77 during the member-guest, with an 83 sandwiched in between and I shot a 79 from the tips this past Sunday, which included a two-stroke penalty for hitting the wrong ball. So, things seem to be coming around, albeit very slowly!

I've got a little over a month until The Rota, a low-handicap, two-man best ball tournament being held at Ballyneal Golf Club in Holyoke, Colorado. My friend Jim will be running the event and I'll be bringing Harris as my partner so hopefully both of us can get our games in gear for that one. To be honest, I'm not that worried - Harris and I both *love* Ballyneal and I have a feeling we'll be suitably pumped up playing such a great track.

Right after that, we have our club championship tournament - I'll use the next month to decide whether I'll play in the Open flight or whether I fall back into one of the lesser flights with the other hacks like myself!

Hundred Hole Hike

Speaking about my friend Jim, he just completed the first leg of his incredibly ambitious four leg, 500 hole odyssey to benefit the Solich Caddy & Leadership Academy. Jim, the founder of both the charitable organization One Divot and the Hundred Hole Hike, started his 2013 quest by walking 144 holes at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, starting and finishing his day on the famed #2 Course, site of the 2014 US Men's AND Women's Open. Jim will likely eclipse 150 holes at Ballyneal next Monday then head to Cabot Links on Cape Breton Island for a Canada Day hike with Cabot founder Ben Cowan-Dewar. Jim will conclude his marathon with 100+ holes at the home of golf, St. Andrews in Scotland only three short days later.

If you have the means, please go to Jim's page at the Hundred Hole Hike website and make a pledge to this great cause.

What's Next?

Well, I've got some course profiles to write!

My plan is to have at least one new course profile up each of the next four weekends, going through the courses I was fortunate enough to see while in California. We'll go in the order I played them, starting with the California Golf Club of San Francisco, or the Cal Club for short and end with the majestic Pebble Beach Golf Links, sandwiching Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course and Pasatiempo in between.

How about a little photo tease just to whet your appetite?

The par five 1st hole at Cal Club

Gorgeous open vistas abound at the Kyle Phillips' renovation at Cal Club

The treacherous par three 7th hole at Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course

The artistry of architect Mike Strantz at work on the spectacular par three 11th at the Shore Course

Look at that pin position on the recently restored par four 16th at Pasatiempo GC!

A tough one-shotter concludes the day at Pasa

Yours truly teeing off the famous par three 7th at Pebble Beach - and no, that is NOT my cart!

Only one word applies for this little harlot - SPECTACULAR!

My friend Vito putting out on the temporary 9th green at Pebble, as the real green was seeing some work being done

The most famous finishing hole in golf



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