Fail of the Week 1

April 30, 2011

As an appropriate counterpart to our ever popular “POTW,” we humbly introduce the Fail of the Week.

In his Nationwide Tour Debut, Former Atlanta Braves Pitcher John Smoltz missed the cut at the South Georgia Classic by, not 1, not 2, not 3, but 27 strokes.  He backed up his opening round of 84 with a gentleman’s 87.  Sorry, John, but they count all the strokes out on the tour.

http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/news/story?id=6456512

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Today, I review Bridgemill Athletic Club.

I recently had the opportunity to play Bridgemill for the first time. The course in Canton, GA, used to be a fully private club but has recently moved to semi-private.

Having never played the course before, my first impressions are always lasting. Typically, I find something to complain about on the layout–either that it is unfair or did not give enough cues as to where to hit the ball or whatnot. Bridgemill, I must say, was extremely fair. There are no truly blind shots, no unknown landing areas, no unfair drops. The closest thing to “unfair” was a hole (I believe #6) where the fairway sloped severely to the right once you got over a hill, but the ball would not be lost just because it was hit there.

At over 7,000 yards from the tips, one would guess that the course played very long. However, I did not get the feeling that the course was out of reach. Many of the par 4’s are under 420 yards. The longer they are, typically the more open they become. I hit a good number of fairway woods from par 4 tee boxes, even from the back tees. Where the course makes up yardage is on the par 5’s. No par 5 is less than 545 yards, and the par 5 9th hole is over 600. The par 3’s are also no joke. Although one is downhill at 173 yards, the others range from about 190 up to 237! The 237-yard 5th is all carry to a large green. Thankfully, there is a bailout right. The signature 199-yard 16th hole, however, has no bailout, being an island green.

Also, the greens were in the best shape of greens I have seen this year. Rolling fast and true, they had no signs of aeration. There were a number of slopes and undulations, including multiple 2-tiered greens, which I enjoy. Moreover, they were bent grass, where so many of the local courses have chosen to go the bermuda route (which I cannot stand).

The clubhouse is very nice, and the practice facility at Bridgemill is top notch. Two practice greens, a nice range, and a bunkered chipping/pitching area were all in fantastic shape, ready for players. Moreover, at $55 on a Thursday morning, the price wasn’t terrible either, at least for the experience. And it isn’t a bad place to hang around–the homes that line the course, simply put, beautiful.

As always, The Bads: The course is a ways from Atlanta. Although it is in a beautiful part–with mountain vistas on the drive in–the drive in was a long one. The staff were a little prickly, as well, pairing us up with a single when there was no apparent reason to do so, as well as “forgetting” to tell us that a shotgun tournament was going to hold us up, and restricting us from going to the first tee before our tee time because “maintenance won’t be done yet.” Still, the course was a great one, and I enjoyed it very much. Although it had rained just the night before, I also must note that the course was pretty soggy.

Layout: 9/10
Greens: 10/10
Fairways: 9/10
Other Maintenance/Upkeep: 10/10
Cost: 6/10
Value: 8/10
Location: 6/10
Staff: 4/10

Overall: 8/10

For more photos of Bridgemill Athletic Club, visit http://www.atlantagolfpics.com/BridgeMill/bridgemill1.htm

Next to 17 at Sawgrass, the Devil’s A**hole at Pine Valley, and the Road Hole Bunker, this might be the scariest hazard in all of golf…

http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/blog/devil_ball_golf/post/The-most-hazardous-water-hazard-ever-a-shark?urn=golf-wp1022

Play of the Week 12

April 18, 2011

This week’s play of the week is…..ME! I’ve finally conquered the golf swing. 5 straight rounds without a lost ball, and on Saturday (4/16) I hit my 5th hole-in-one–161 yards with an 8-iron. I also holed out from the fairway on a par 5 for eagle, and nearly slam-dunked another ace on the next par 3. If only I could’ve putted and chipped half as good as I did at the end of last year, this would’ve been my low round by far. As it is, the round wasn’t all that spectacular. Oh, except for my 5th ace!

I wish I could say it was pure as the driven snow, but, unfortunately…the exchange went something like this:

Me: “Oh no, that’s off the toe….Get up over that bunker!”
Friend: “You made it, it’s on the green.”
Me: “OK. Hey, did that go in?”
Friend: “I don’t know. I saw it land, and I don’t see it now, so, it must’ve gone in”

Well, I take them how I get them. So, here’s to me. I rule. Kind of.

The Gift of Tiger Woods

April 13, 2011

LG and I agree–this is some incredible writing. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Bill Simmons of ESPN in one of the best pieces on this year’s Masters tournament.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110411

As JK mentioned in his previous post about Southland, our goal at the PF is to review courses that the average joe can play.  Enter Shoreline Golf Links.  This great little muni is located in scenic Mountain View, CA very near the headquarters of Google.  The course offers a full length golf experience at a reasonable price.  Who could ask for more?  Here’s the run down:

3 practice facilities – chipping, putting, and a practice bunker

18 holes- 4 sets of tees:

Red – 5437 yards – 66.5/116
White – 6061 yards – 69.3/123
Blue – 6608 yards – 71.9/127
Black – 6996 yards – 73.5/129

1st Hole - 579 yard par 5

Large Driving Range – Small bucket 5, large bucket 9 – range cards available

Full service pro shop with decent selection of gear and good deals on occasion.

Great bar/grill/snack shop

Resident rate can get you out at twilight for $21 walking (excellent deal for this area; I’ve finished 18 several times with this rate on the weekends)

The downsides:

1) JK and I played this course together when we were both working in Palo Alto.  We were both incredibly impressed by the volume of goose poop that littered this course.  We both recommended to the pro shop that the course retain a pack of dogs to help reduce the problem.  Seriously,  this amount of poop could be used to fertilize any number of “green” projects around the state.

2) We played the course in the mid-afternoon.  By the time we reached the back nine, the wind had kicked up so violently that we really had no chance to make any kind of score.  The notorious Bay wind really bears its teeth in the afternoons on this course.

3) The par 3s are not really that great.  As I play more golf, I realize that I tend to judge a course more by the quality of the par 3s than any other holes on the course.  These holes tend to be the most scenic and provide the best drama in most rounds of golf.  While I love the set of par 5s that this course offers, the par 3s probably equal out the rating.  Three of the four are long forced carries.  While I have no issue with this kind of hole, I find these three to be rather repetitive.  The par 3 eighth hole, however, has a very interesting green and a tricky bunker that make it an enjoyable hole.

Goose Poop

Review and conclusion:

After our initial negative experience, I was hesitant to revisit Shoreline.  After moving to Mountain View, however, I had little choice.  Time to play golf has become increasingly limited so even a windy round is highly welcomed.  After a few weekend rounds here though, I must admit that first impressions can be deceiving  Shoreline is as interesting a layout as almost any muni I’ve had a chance to play.  When compared to the Palo Alto Muni, it’s certainly the more interesting track.  The course opens with a 579 yard par 5 that plays uphill (I almost got there in two!) and does not get much shorter.  The back nine has some of the more interesting holes, to be sure, but the par-5 ninth and tenth (back to back par 5s!) offer two major scoring opportunities.  The 9th is a paltry 519 yards and its mate is 525.  An ace on either par three that bookend this pair puts you in prime position to do what Phil came up just short of at last year’s Masters – three eagles in a row.

Overall, if you are in the area and have time to get round of golf in, I’d highly recommend Shoreline over the other munis in the immediate area.  Not to knock the Palo Alto muni, but I’d rather pay less to play a more interesting layout with some goose poop on it than a long, boring track where you can see nearly every single flag from any place on the course.  It also probably doesn’t help my bias that I nearly aced the par 3 fourth hole (see below and POTW 6).

Near Ace - Par 3 Fourth

Greens: 6/10
Fairways: 5/10
Other course maintenance: 3-4/10
Cost: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Pace of Play: 7/10
Pro shop/clubhouse: 8/10

The Verdict: Great casual round, but if you’re looking for high end golf, look elsewhere.

Play of the Week 11

April 11, 2011

This week’s play of the week goes to Charl Schwartzel, Masters Champion 2011. A protege of Ernie Els, Schawrtzel played beautifully all week to capture the Green Jacket, the most coveted prize in golf.

Schwartzel shot 69-71-68-66 for a total 274, -14. All rounds under par, Schwartzel saw the leaderboard for 3 of the 4 days, but led the tournament only on the back 9 of Sunday, briefly on 15 before Adam Scott birdied 16, and then on 16, 17, and 18. Amazingly, Schwartzel is the only player I can recall who has birdied all four of the closing holes of Augusta. Although 15 and 16 are “under par” holes on Sunday, 17 is a usual stumbling block, and 18 can be treacherous if not played perfectly.

As is usually true at Augusta, the player who putts best usually takes home the jacket. Schwartzel, cool as the other side of the pillow, rolled in 15-footers on 16, 17, and 18 to pull away from the pack and shoot a final round, 6-under 66. At one point, LG and I thought we might have a large playoff (when Tiger and 4 others were tied at -10–and Schwartzel was not one of them), but Schwartzel’s incredible play put that to rest.

So here’s to you, Charl. You conquered Augusta in style. While we may not have picked you to do it, we certainly were happy for the performance you gave.