I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to play Pebble Beach on Christmas Eve of this year.  Though it is our aim to review courses that the average joe will be able to play, this is one that every golfer must play before they leave for the putting green in the sky.  I’ll spare you the play-by-play and leave you with a recommendation:  go play Pebble.  There really are no words to describe this place.  JK describes Augusta as a place that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  I’d say the same about the Old Course.  I can confidently say that Pebble Beach fits that very same description.  It truly is one of those “religious experiences” for a golfer.  The price tag is daunting, but I assure you that as soon as you step up the first tee, you will not regret it.  The course was very playable, even when wet, so don’t fear the winter season (usually with better rates than normal $499).  One critical recommendation:  take a caddie.  The caddie fee at Pebble is $75 with a suggested gratuity between $35-50 depending on service.  I was lucky to have one of the most experienced caddies in Pebble’s stable.  Larry had just cleared 5,000 rounds in March and has caddied at Pebble for 15 years.  He was able to provide some great local knowledge (especially around the greens) that proved invaluable.  Larry also knew all the good places to take pictures and made sure to point out all the spots on the course where a memorable moment from the tour took place.

I had a difficult decision to make right at the get-go: which tees to play.  My goal going into the round was to have a good time and enjoy myself.  After all, this was my present for passing the bar exam.  I decided on playing the gold tees rather than the 2010 U.S. Open tees on recommendation from the Starter and my caddie.  Though it really doesn’t matter what tees you play at this course, I occasionally found myself wishing I’d played the Open Tees just to be able to say I’d played a U.S. Open course.  To this effect, I played the 8th Hole from the U.S Open Tee.  What a beautiful hole.  Though my first ball cleared the gap (just barely), I hit a couple of extra balls just to re-live the experience in the moment.  There may be no greater second shot in golf.  The only decision I truly regret about my day is hitting Driver on 1.  Hybrid next time.  No need for anything longer.

I’ll leave you with one story from my trip.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  The wind was blowing between 15-17 mph constantly with gusts between 25-30mph.  As we rounded the 16th green to the 17th tee, a slight gust picked up.  Larry suggested a full five or knock-down 4 into the front right-hand pin position.  I teed the ball and rehearsed a nice smooth knock-down swing.  I stepped off the shot because a group of tourists began yelling at their small child who wanted to come see what was going on.  I aimed about 3 yards right of the edge of the green and trusted my draw to bring the ball back to the green.  I hit the ball a little thin and a rocket took off straight toward the flag.  Here’s the resulting second shot that I thankfully holed for a nice tweeter on 17:

I recall there being another not-so-perfect swing that resulted in an important kick-in birdie at 17 during a U.S. Open… One day… (for those of you who are not up on your golf history, click here)

Overall: 10/10.

The signature 7th hole.  Shortest hole in U.S. Open history and the site of a beautiful LG par. (knock-down 9-iron to a back right hole location.  missed the 14 footer for birdie by the roll of the poa; next time, no taking chances, slam it into the back of the cup.)

View from the 8th Hole vista

A look back up the 18th from the fairway.  Rated the best finishing hole in the world by anyone that plays golf.

LG Painting a club: new tips

December 23, 2010

Following JK’s lead, I decided to paint my clubs.  Here are the before and after shots, as well as a description of my shortcomings and new tips.

Problems I encountered:

1) White is REALLY hard to get right.  Be sure you’re committed to taking the time to do this process correctly if you’re going to go with white.  The results (particularly the driver) are pretty amazing when it works though.

2) Electrical tape goo will mess up the paint if you catch any of it on the sandpaper during the polishing phase.  Be extra careful, otherwise you’ll get black smudges like i did on the Titleist 3w and the Callaway hybrid.

3) Take as much time as you can with the taping.  At no point do you want to have to free hand the edges with a blade.  Otherwise you’ll end up with scratches.  See, for example, the face of my 3w :(.

4) Don’t use too much paint on any one layer – you’ll end up with something that looks like the Callaway hybrid here.

Tips:

1) Use the paint stripper (Mar-hyde brand Tal-Strip Paint remover) I used in the previous post: Quick Tip: New Life for Old Irons.  This stuff works great for getting the paint off the crown of the club too.  Rather than the labor of sanding, the paint will simply flake off 10 minutes after you spray it on.  WARNING – use proper eye, nose, face, and skin protection when using this substance.  I accidentally touched a glove that had some on it with my bare hand and it burned like crazy.  This method is MUCH easier than sanding.

2)  Be EXTREMELY careful during the sanding process around any edge and any place where paint meets tape.  These are the most likely areas for breakage.  If you’re particularly worried, don’t sand these areas until the paint cures after 4-5 days.

3)  JK recommends waiting 15 minutes between coats.  I waited 20 between coats on the driver and really like the results.  be your own judge, but don’t tack cloth the club until the paint is dry to the touch.  This is a mistake I made with the hybrid and the result was mediocre at best.

4)  If you have a lot of scuff marks on the face of your club, you can smooth them down, and in some cases get rid of them all together by giving them a good sanding with the 2000 grit sandpaper you have left over.  This really cleaned up the face of my SMT driver and the non-grooved parts of my 3w and hybrid.  See for yourself!

5) Raised symbols/alignment markers – I was worried about painting over the arrow/line that are on the crown of the Titleist 3w.  I wanted them to stand out even after the new paint job because I like to use them to line up shots.  In order to make sure they’d show up, I took a razer and carefully cleaned off all the layers of paint that had built up on them prior to applying the clear coat.  I later realized this was probably unnecessary due to the sanding process.  JK did not do this and his results turned out just fine.  I also recommend the use of a metal needle for really fine clean-up jobs.

All in all, I consider this attempt a good learning step toward the final product that I hope to achieve.  Consider the above pictures a decent first attempt, but a promise that better results can be achieved with a little practice.  Next up, I will see how long this paint job lasts and hopefully come up with another color that is more forgiving to try next time.  Like JK says about this kind of painting, there’s a certain comfort you can take in knowing that if you mess up, all you have to do is spray the paint remover on and start over again.

Happy Painting!

From us, here at the PF, best wishes to you and yours.

-JK & LG

I just bought my own stamp set off of fleabay. I’m ready to personalize some golf clubs. I’d post a section about it, but someone has already set out the steps in very clear and concise detail. If you’d like to stamp/paint fill your own clubs, take a look at the link below.


http://www.mygolfspy.com/how-to-hand-stamp-golf-clubs/

Of course, I’ll be trying this ASAP, and–of course–there will be photos. Stay tuned, PF readers!

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Updated 12/20/2010

Here is another link that includes some extra tips, etc.
http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/237444-instructions-how-to-stamp-your-irons

Irons tend to lose their shine more quickly than any other club in the bag.  Those  with numbers stamped and painted on the sole tend to wear unevenly as well.  One technique I like to use to prevent irons from losing their beauty is simply removing all the paint fills from the club.  This takes very little time, and for about $7 (mar-hyde brand Tal-Strip Paint remover), can breath new life into your old forged irons.  All I do is use a spray on paint stripper (acetone never works for me, for some reason), and wait for it to do its thing.  NOTE, be sure to try a small amount of whatever solvent on a test area (or club you don’t use often) just to make sure it doesn’t take the finish off as well.  I haven’t ever tried this with a cast club, so proceed at your own risk.  See the pics below!

With paintfills:

without paintfills:

Paint stripper I used:

If you’re not a fan of the totally blank look, this is also the first step to doing your very own paintfills!  I’m considering experimenting with these guys during the upcoming days off…

Play of the Week 6.5

December 13, 2010

Congrats to LG for the great shot on POTW 6, but I’ve seen you hit em closer than that. Wolf Creek????

However, I had already tee’d up a POTW myself, so let me title it POTW 6.5.

This week’s POTW goes to a great golfer. To the man took down Tiger Woods in a playoff, congratulations. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the birdie putt on 18 go in to force the playoff. I couldn’t believe it when the playoff ended abruptly after a birdie on the first hole. Congratulations to you; you did great, and you took down the giant.

NO! I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT GRAEME MCDOWELL!

Congratulations to Billy Mayfair for taking Medalist honors in PGA Tour Q-School last week. Until Graeme McDowell’s performance at Sherwood, Mayfair was the only person who had ever beaten Tiger Woods in a playoff.

Mayfair has played some great golf lately, taking a 54-hole lead at Quail Hollow as a Monday qualifier. And, last week, he earned a new Tour card after shooting -18 for Q-School.

Even though Mayfair won a US Amateur Championship in 1987, to me, he will always be remembered for his stellar performance in holding off Tiger Woods to win the 1998 Nissan Open. Eerily similar to McDowell’s win over woods at the Chevron World Challenge, Mayfair sunk a birdie putt on 18 and on the first playoff hole to beat Woods.

But, more than McDowell, Mayfair beat Woods in the prime of his career–when he seemed to have a stranglehold on the rest of the golf world. While any PGA win is impressive, McDowell’s win just doesn’t carry as much weight–and, in some way, it makes what Mayfair did seem less on an accomplishment. Mayfair’s win was like the NY Jets winning the Super Bowl with Joe Namath–it was a foregone conclusion that it just wasn’t going to happen. Woods was the best of the best and doing what he did best–chasing down a championship. But, somehow, Mayfair overcame all the pressure and just played his game. And, in the end, he won.

So here’s to you Billy Mayfair. I’m looking forward to seeing your name at the top of the leaderboard in 2011–and, I can’t wait to see another duel with Tiger.

Play of the Week 6

December 12, 2010

This week’s play of the week goes to…..ME!!!

Shot of the day: 12/12/10

Par 3 Fourth at Shoreline Golf Links.  165 yards.  3 inches from an ace.

Not bad for not having hit a ball in a month, eh?