Category Archives: Golf Course

Presidio Golf Course

Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco, CA

presidio golf course graig mantle
Jordan, me and Dave

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 18, 2015, 11:10, 68 F, sunny and windy

Designer: Robert Johnston, 1895

Playing Partners: Dave Jensen and Jordan Stankowski

Tees: White, Par 72 (70.7 rating/129 slope/6,101 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (5.7 index)

Stats: 80 (40-40); 32 putts; 5/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

Set in the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s Presidio Golf Course is a beautiful gem in a city full of them. Just don’t look too closely at the city or you’ll see all the flaws too, like a porn star in HD. Anyways… I would’ve played anywhere today given the circumstances. I got to get a round in with two good college friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (and it would’ve been a third if not for some random conference). And just like the old days, I made a couple dollars and beat Jordan by a couple dozen (actually 80 to 96). Somehow it’s already been over ten years since I spent a year sharing an 11-foot by 13-foot room with another human being, and a shower with about 40 others. Continue reading Presidio Golf Course

Half Moon Bay (Ocean Course)

Half Moon Bay Ocean Course in Half Moon Bay, CA

half moon bay ocean course

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 15, 2015, 2:20, 68 F, overcast

DesignerArthur Hills, 1997

Playing Partners: Craig, Larry and Leonard

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (71.2 rating/125 slope/6,470 yards)

Course Handicap: 6 (5.7 index)

Stats: 87 (44-43); 37 putts; 6/13 fairways; 8/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

golden eagle
Before I go on, check out this badass golden eagle

Based on the pictures alone, Half Moon Bay’s Ocean Course is a must play. I’ve heard stories of five and six hour rounds, which is always a mood killer and stayed away. But since I had some time to kill before Stanford’s 7:30PM Thursday-night dismantling of UCLA, what better way than to spend a few hours next to the ocean just a few miles from Palo Alto? I was taking a gamble with a 2:20 starting time, given that sunset right now is just after 6:30. Surprisingly, there were only a few waits and we managed to get all my 87 strokes in before the stars came out. While slow play is the worst thing in golf, there are worse places to be trapped than on this relatively new links layout on the Northern California coast. And at a fraction of the cost of some other cliffside courses a few miles down the road, any Bay Area resident or guest should head out here once. Continue reading Half Moon Bay (Ocean Course)

Oakmont Country Club

Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA

oakmont country club
Mr. Space, me and my dad

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 13, 2015, 9:00, 64 F, mostly cloudy, breezy

DesignerHenry C. Fownes, 1903

Playing Partners: Richard Space, my dad

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (73.3 rating/136 slope/6,436 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (5.7 index)

Stats: 87 (43-44); 35 putts; 8/13 fairways; 3/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

I got to make a quick trip to the beautiful city of Pittsburgh for a fall round of golf at Oakmont Country Club, the #6 golf course in the country according to Golf Digest’s most recent rankings. It always seems to hover around this spot on the ultimate golf leaderboard, dancing above or below fellow Pennsylvania course Merion, which I had the good luck to be able to play earlier in the summer. So maybe I can weigh in on which should be ranked higher, and then after that I’ll figure out if Augusta is worthy of its #1 ranking… Continue reading Oakmont Country Club

TPC Louisiana

TPC Louisiana in Avondale, LA

TPC Louisiana
Jordan, me and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: September 6, 2015, 10:20, 88 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Pete Dye, 2006

Playing Partners: Jordan Ritenour and Greg Ryan

Tees: Tournament/Players, Par 72 (71.0 rating/133 slope/6,374 yards)

Course Handicap: 8 (7.0 index)

Stats: 85 (45-43); 34 putts; 8/14 fairways; 6/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes

The Course

Home to PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic every year, the TPC Louisiana is one of the few premier courses in the New Orleans area, about twenty minutes south of the sights and smells of Bourbon Street. At first appearances, it’s obvious that this course was designed to be spectator friendly. Wide expanses allow of easily moving among the holes routed in a good way to see your favorite golfer or park at one hole and watch players come through. No elevation change whatsoever. On a hot, muggy, post-thunderstorm day with a sparsely populated tee sheet, TPC Louisiana comes across as a benign, pleasant place to play a round. Located in what was a swamp just a few years ago, you’ll still see remnants of that. The bald cypress and their “knees” dot the fairways. The water birds wade along the shores of the ponds and turtles enjoy their pool days. A serene setting even in the oppressive late-summer heat. Continue reading TPC Louisiana

Fallen Oak Golf Club

Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier, MS

fallen oak us
Jordan, me and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: September 4, 2015, 8:24, 95 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Tom Fazio, 2006

Playing Partners: Jordan Ritenour and Greg Ryan

Tees: Third, Par 72 (71.7 rating/138 slope/6,549 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (7.0 index)

Stats: 88 (45-43); 36 putts; 6/14 fairways; 8/18 greens; 5 penalty strokes

The Course

A stay at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi is required for access to Fallen Oak Golf Club. That is not a bad thing. An MGM casino, the Beau Rivage is the most luxurious casino resort on the gulf coast. The flair and flash of the Las Vegas strip combined with the southern hospitality of the South. It’s literally right on the coast. Exiting the I-10 takes you to the off ramp over the water. With the brand new MGM Park, home of the AA Biloxi Shuckers baseball team, right across the street, a game and some gambling is a great way to spend your night before getting out to your round the next day. The actual course is about twenty miles north in Saucier, through a private gate and down a road into the Mississippi woodlands. This is where you get to you enjoy a little slice of heaven for a few hours. Continue reading Fallen Oak Golf Club

Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club

Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club in Wickenburg, AZ

wickenburg ranch
Sean and I relaxing on a random couch

The Stats

Tee Time: August 21, 2015, 11:15, 100 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett, 2015

Playing Partners: Sean Cohan

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (70.6 rating/134 slope/6,486 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.0 index)

Stats: 77 (36-41); 36 putts; 9/13 fairways; 11/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

If Phoenix is the sun, then the 101 freeway is like the orbit of Mercury. The 202 is Earth or Mars. The newly discovered 303 is like Neptune. That would place Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club, in this Valley of the Sun solar system, somewhere out where Pluto resides. And just like Pluto, the journey out to this distant location is well worth it. Located in a new housing development in Wickenburg, this might be the most exciting thing to come to this part of Arizona since all the gold was mined out of Vulture Mountain many years ago. The course just opened in 2015 and I can guarantee you’ll be seeing it rated on a few lists in the near future. For now, while the houses are still being built and sold, the plan is to stay open to the public for a couple years. Just like the gold, come out and get it before it’s too late.  Continue reading Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club

We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro)

We-Ko-Pa Saguaro Course in Fort McDowell, AZ

wekopa saguaro
Sean, me, Ryan and Mike

The Stats

Tee Time: August 7, 2015, 7:58, 101 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, 2006

Playing Partners: Ryan Cohan, Sean Cohan, Mike Harvey

Tees: Purple, Par 71 (70.2 rating/132 slope/6,603 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.1 index)

Stats: 83 (41-42); 36 putts; 9/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

Four years in the desert and I finally made the trip out to We-Ko-Pa Golf Club with summer rates begging me to play. The pair of courses, Saguaro and Cholla, come heralded as two of the finest places to play golf in the entire Southwest. It’s always a battle between the two here and the two at Troon North for the top spot in many rankings. The best part about being a resident is I can play all four and judge for myself. We started with the Saguaro, and I’ll be sure to loop back for the Cholla shortly. The Saguaro course is younger by a few years, having been commissioned after the Cholla course proved successful. Saguaro was designed by the elite duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who have a “lay of the land” philosophy to designing the courses that has led to some world-class golf around the world. Just take a look at this resume! On top of the fantastic golf, We-Ko-Pa features some stunning desert scenery. I’d love to take my clubs and camera out for a twilight round and catch a radiant Arizona sunset over this layout. Even a morning with some rain produced some stunning photos. So stunning you might just look at the pictures and ignore all my three-putts. Continue reading We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro)

Merion Golf Club (East)

Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA

merion golf club east
Me, my dad, Larry and Robin

The Stats

Tee Time: July 28, 2015, 9:36, 90 F, sunny

Designer: Hugh Wilson, 1911

Playing Partners: Robin Baggett, Larry McNabb, my dad

Tees: Middle, Par 70 (71.3 rating/144 slope/6,126 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.2 index)

Stats: 79 (44-35); 34 putts; 6/14 fairways; 9/18 greens

The Course

I had the extremely good fortune of getting to play Merion Golf Club’s East Course in Ardmore, Pennsylvania to get to 23 states completed. Known for its unmatched collection of great golf holes, several memorable US Opens and those wicker-basket flagsticks, I looked forward to this on my calendar for three months. Christmas came early. A couple of things about the club first. This is the first club I have been to with this much history. Built in 1896, the heritage and tradition run deep. Caddies are mandatory, there aren’t any yardage markers. No golf carts. No hats indoors. The course is always kept in championship condition. Slick greens, long rough and narrow fairways. Pace of play isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a requirement. Members who don’t complete rounds in under 4 hours get reprimanded and repeat offenders are temporarily benched. They honor the rules here. Not even a breakfast ball. I have a few friends who would struggle with that one. And really, if you’re going to knock it around at a place as esteemed and historic as this, the letter of the law is the only way to go. The club works hard to keep Merion the same as it played when it first opened, and it’s awesome to think you’re experiencing the course just as Bobby Jones did. Fortunately, they don’t go completely old-school and make you play with wooden woods and feather-stuffed balls. Continue reading Merion Golf Club (East)

The Golf Club at Equinox

The Golf Club at Equinox in Manchester Village, VT

golf club at equinox
Me

The Stats

Tee Time: July 22, 2015, 11:50, 69 F, scattered showers

Designer: Walter Travis, 1926/Rees Jones, 1991

Playing Partners: Bill and Rich (I said BILL and Rich, not these guys…)

Tees: Gold, Par 71 (70.8 rating/129 slope/6,423 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.2 index)

Stats: 86 (44-42); 28 putts; 6/15 fairways; 6/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

golf club at equinox hole 1
Just look how beautiful this scene is on the 1st tee

Finally the journey to new states resumes. It’s July 2015 and the last new state I had visited prior to today was New Hampshire in July 2014. A year later I’m about a par-4 west of Portsmouth, in the Green Mountain State, Vermont. Located in the small town of Manchester Village, The Golf Club at Equinox was an easy target for me. I spent the last couple weeks in Cooperstown visiting my parents and rubbing elbows with Hall of Famers (or in Bert Blyleven’s case, having bunny ears cast upon my head) for induction weekend. A top rated course in Vermont, Equinox is a scant 99 miles from my parents’ new cottage. Of course, if that’s 99 Arizona miles, this is about an hour. In New England, it’s 3 hours of winding upstate two-lane highways in a soft-top Jeep that is as quiet and comfortable as a John Deere tractor. Continue reading The Golf Club at Equinox

Bellevue Country Club

Bellevue Country Club in Syracuse, NY

bellevue country club
Jerry, Charlie, my dad and me

The Stats

Tee Time: July 21, 2015, 11:00, 90 F, overcast

Designer: Donald Ross, 1914

Playing Partners: Charlie Cline, Jerry Wallace, my dad

Tees: White, Par 71 (70.7 rating/132 slope/6,157 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.2 index)

Stats: 89 (42-47); 31 putts; 2/14 fairways; 2/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

As much as I love playing courses designed by old school architects, I’ve amazingly only played one Donald Ross course to date: the Biltmore down in Miami, recently featured on Ballers! Luckily, I was able to get a second taste of the famed architect. Upstate in Syracuse is Bellevue Country Club, a design from 1914 that still has teeth today. All the freshest movable-weight drivers, speed-enhancing gradational core golf balls and spin-milled wedges on the market couldn’t get me around this place any better than a member playing 1930’s Spaldings and hickory-shaft persimmons. The setting is spectacular; a quiet country club atmosphere that focuses on pure golf. Continue reading Bellevue Country Club