Friday, February 19, 2016

Poll: Which Course Profile Do You Want to See?

With friends at the incredible Shinnecock Hills GC in 2013, just one of the many courses I need to finally write about!

Which Golf Course Should We Profile Next?

In my last "Year in Review" post, I mentioned the fact that the most popular blog posts on this site, as per Google Analytics, are my course profiles, yet I've hardly written any in the last few years.

It's time to change that!

If you click on the links above that showcase my Canadian and US Course Profiles and scroll to the bottom, you'll see that I have 25 Canadian courses and 27 US courses that I've played yet still haven't profiled.

I've put up a poll with 13 potential choices, arguably the most well-known of the fifty-two courses I haven't profiled. If you'd like to see me write about one (or more) of those 13 courses, please submit your choices before Sunday February 28th at 5:00pm. You aren't limited to one choice and if desired, can select all of them and really put me to work!

Alternatively, if you'd like me to profile a course that isn't listed among those 13 choices but IS one of the 52 courses documented at the bottom of those links listed above, click on "OTHER" and then tell me the course name in the comments section.

Once the winner of the poll is determined, I'll pledge to get a course profile up within a weeks time.

Happy voting and thanks for reading!

EDIT (3/7/16) -

You'll likely note that the poll isn't showing up anymore. It turns out that once the poll ends and is replaced by something else, that original poll disappears. That kind of sucks! Let it be known that the results of the poll were as follows:

Crystal Downs CC: 6 Votes
Banff Springs GC and Scioto CC: 5 Votes
Jasper Park Lodge GC: 4 Votes
Maidstone and Pinehurst #2: 3 Votes
Arcadia Bluffs, Kiawah Island Ocean and Shinnecock Hills: 2 Votes
Muirfield Village, Oak Hill East, Oakland Hills South, Augusta National (write-in vote): 1 Vote
Castle Pines GC: ZERO votes

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This Week on the PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

That's me about to line up a birdie putt on the 11th green at glorious Pebble Beach

I've made this statement in the past on more than one occasion but it bears repeating. If the Masters Tournament is important for the fact it signifies that the golf season is upon us here in Canada, I'd say the PGA Tour's yearly retreat to the Monterey Peninsula and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is just as significant a step in the transition between winter and spring. This has always been the tournament that gets my golf juices flowing and I can't help but watch the telecast and dream about the days that lie ahead on the course.

Back in May of 2013, I was lucky enough to play two of the three courses on the AT&T rotation: Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links, perhaps the most famous golf course in the world. I didn't have enough time to visit the third course on the rotation, Spyglass Hill, but hope to do so at some point down the line.

I've included links below for my course profiles on both MPCC's Shore Course and Pebble Beach.

COURSE PROFILE: Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course)

COURSE PROFILE: Pebble Beach Golf Links

The picture postcard perfect par three 11th hole at the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club

Pebble Beach needs no introduction for even the most casual golf fan but the Monterey Peninsula Country Club still flies under the radar of most due to its exclusivity.

Originally a Robert Baldock and Jack Neville design from 1961, Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course was completely rerouted and redesigned by architect Mike Strantz, opening to great acclaim in 2004. This would be Strantz's crowning achievement in design and he sadly passed away only one year after its opening due to a rare form of tongue cancer. The course sits in lofty territory among the top 100 courses in America and deservedly so. It is the most recent addition to the course rotation at the Pro Am, replacing Poppy Hills in 2010.

These profiles are among my personal favourites and I hope you enjoy reading them. Enjoy the tournament this weekend!

Friday, February 05, 2016

2015 Year in Review Part Three - Looking Ahead

Oh, hello gorgeous! The stunning par three 17th hole at Sand Hills Golf Club

After golf trips that saw me visit Texas, Georgia and North Carolina in the spring of 2015, along with a lengthy family trip to Alberta last summer, 2016 should be quiet by comparison. As it stands now, I'm planning to take only one golf trip in 2016 but I'm guessing it will prove to be a memorable one.

Looking Ahead

I'm very excited to be visiting Nebraska for the third time in late June of this year.

I haven't finalized many of the details yet but my plan would be to fly out of Buffalo on a Wednesday afternoon and ultimately arrive at Dismal River Golf Club on Thursday morning, just prior to the start of the 2016 5th Major, a wonderful annual event put on by my friend Eric.

A 2012 "Major" highlight: a 2nd place finish in the 5th Major at Dismal River in Mullen, Nebraska, with me in green shirt/black shorts and partner Tyler in baby blue

This will be my second appearance at both Dismal River and the 5th Major, with my first taking place four years ago in 2012, where I teamed up with Tyler K from the Winnipeg, Manitoba area and finished in second place. The photo above was taken just after Tyler and I lost out to a birdie (net eagle) on the last hole of the shootout in a thrilling finale. We played the Jack Nicklaus designed White Course for the event in 2012 and also had the chance to take part in a walking tour of the Red Course during the grow-in stages with the course's designer, Tom Doak.

Walking on Tatooine? Nope, just architect Tom Doak leading his flock on a tour of the Red Course at Dismal during construction in 2012

I'm excited to get the chance to play Doak's Red Course for the first time this summer and I'm greatly looking forward to seeing some good friends and enjoying the camaraderie at the 2016 5th Major. I still haven't decided if I'm bringing a friend to Nebraska to be my partner for the event or if I'll just go alone and pair up with another single. Lots of time for that decision!

From there, I'll be making my long dreamed about return to the exquisite Sand Hills Golf Club.

The glorious view from Ben's Porch at Sand Hills Golf Club, with the 9th green in the foreground

I was fortunate enough to visit Sand Hills for the one and only time in 2010 with my friend Harris, where we spent two full days and nights onsite, squeezing in six rounds during those 48 hours. I've written extensively about my thoughts on Sand Hills, with a pretty thorough trip report and a detailed hole-by-hole course profile being the highlights.

I've been incredibly fortunate to see some of the world's great golf courses in my lifetime and to this day, Sand Hills Golf Club is still the most special place I've visited. I'm honoured to have the rare opportunity to return and I can't thank my host enough for thinking of me and offering the invitation. There will be eight of us spending time together at SH, including a mutual friend of ours visiting the club for the first time so I'm sure it will be a very special couple of days.

From there, I think I'd like to head north to Valentine, Nebraska to play the two courses at The Prairie Club.

I haven't had the chance to visit the Prairie Club before and I'd really like to see the Tom Lehman and Chris Brands designed Dunes Course along with Graham Marsh's Pines Course. The resort also has a ten hole par 3 course designed by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford called the Horse Course.

Ideally, I'd spend about a day and a half onsite, which would allow me to potentially play three rounds on the two championship courses and one round on the Horse Course.

Dismal River, Sand Hills and Prairie Club...lots of potential for yet another memorable golf vacation!

That is it for golf-specific trips in 2016 but I'm guessing I'll be able to take some day trips here and there and perhaps get in a round or two during business trips.

One of those will be in early May when I head out to Vancouver for a few days of meetings. I'll have one free day while I'm there and I'd love to play two rounds of golf if possible. My two top choices would be Capilano Golf & Country Club, one of Stanley Thompson's most famous designs and Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, an A.V. Macan design. I've seen neither of these highly regarded courses in the past so it would be a thrill to visit them for the first time.

I'll also be taking another business trip in mid-August to the Detroit area, specifically the town of Birmingham. While there, it would be great to return to the storied Oakland Hills Country Club, where I played the vaunted South Course a couple years back. I'll be bringing my family for this particular trip so I'm not sure if I'll have enough time to play a round of golf but we'll see how things shake out as the summer approaches.

As for local day trips, I have plans to revisit courses like Beacon Hall and Lookout Point and also would love to finally visit courses like Toronto Golf Club, Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, the Toronto Hunt, Redtail Golf Club, Kawartha Golf & Country Club and the Country Club of Buffalo.

One of these years I'm going to get back into playing more competitive golf, whether it's at the local level (like the Niagara Men's Golf Tour) or at the provincial level. My game isn't quite ready for either yet but we'll see if I can build upon the improvements I made in my game last year.

As for Now on the Tee, it will continue to live on despite my sporadic writing output.

We had almost 17,000 pageviews in 2015, a number that is quite flattering but is actually down from previous years. Upon studying the analytics, it's quite clear why those pageviews are down - I'm not writing enough course profiles!

Most of the traffic on the site comes in through search engines and it's my course profiles that are easily the biggest draw. I only wrote two course profiles in 2015: Pebble Beach Golf Links and Champions Golf Club. I wrote NONE in 2014.

Simply put, I need to get back to writing these course profiles and I pledge to do that this year!

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me and I hope to tee it up with as many of you as possible in 2016.