Predictions: Ryder Cup

September 25, 2012

This year, Team USA and Team Europe converge at Medinah to play in one of golf’s greatest traditions: The Ryder Cup.  Team USA is captained by Davis Love III, while Team Europe is led by Jose-Maria Olazabel.

The teams:

USA

Keegan Bradley
Jason Dufner
Jim Furyk
Dustin Johnson
Phil Mickelson
Matt Kuchar
Zach Johnson
Webb Simpson
Brandt Snedeker
Steve Stricker
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods

Europe:

Nicolas Colsaerts
Luke Donald
Sergio Garcia
Peter Hanson
Martin Kaymer
Paul Lawrie
Graeme McDowell
Rory McIlroy
Francesco Molinari
Ian Poulter
Justin Rose
Lee Westwood

It should come as no surprise that given the depth of the US’s team and the recent success that they have had including Snedeker’s capture of the FedEx Cup, The PowerFade predicts that Team USA will be victorious! 

USA! USA! USA!

 

UPDATED 9/24 in bold

After watching Bill Haas stun Hunter Mahan last year with his Jesus shot (see https://thepowerfade.com/2011/09/26/play-of-the-week-24/), it became apparent to me that the Tour Championship is every bit as important (maybe more) than most majors, if for no other reason than what it pays. So, without further ado, LG and I predict the future below:

JK:
Who wins the Tour Championship: Louis Oosthuizen T-23. Congrats Sneds
Who win the Fedex Cup: Louis Oosthuizen
Rory McIlroy (1) will: Finish 15th T-10, two shots from T-15
Tiger Woods (2) will: finish 2nd T-8, five shots from T-2
Nick Watney (3) will: finish <20th 28th
Phil Mickelson (4) will: T-2 with Tiger. T-15
Brandt Snedeker (5) will: finish where he started, 5. won it
Story of the tournament will be: Rory falling while Oosthuizen putts his way to victory. Sneds solid play on the back 9
Tiger Woods will be: upset he didn’t win because his putter let him down yah
Phil Mickelson will be: happy he just got a chance to play in it this year yah
Dustin Johnson will: double-hit a ball chipping out of the bermuda. finish <20 T-10, better than i thought
Will you watch? Maybe parts of it over the weekend and the end on Sunday. exactly
Who is most likely to Hunter Mahan it? Tiger. no one really did
Will the weather hold out? It will rain all weekend. it was awesome all weekend
Number of references to Bobby Jones during the telecast on Sunday? I’m putting the over/under at 5. no idea, due to the answer three question above

LG:
Who wins the Tour Championship: Dustin Johnson T-10
Who win the Fedex Cup: Dustin Johnson
Rory McIlroy (1) will: Make Cut there is no cut. LG FAIL
Tiger Woods (2) will: Top 10 T-8, so yes
Nick Watney (3) will: Make Cut
Phil Mickelson (4) will: Top 10 T-15, so no
Brandt Snedeker (5) will: Make Cut I’ll say
Story of the tournament will be: Phil giving it away…again.
Tiger Woods will be: contending Saturday, forgotten by Sunday. how did you know????
Phil Mickelson will be: 2 stroke lead going into Sunday, giving it away on the back. not even close
Dustin Johnson will: WIN
Will you watch? If I’m not at the office
Who is most likely to Hunter Mahan it? Phil.
Will the weather hold out? I’m not even sure what this question means.
Number of references to Bobby Jones during the telecast on Sunday?  25.

Piggybacking on our discussion of toe hang, this section will describe another important aspect of the shaft and head interaction: offset and face progression.

“Offset” and “face progression” are the same thing but going in opposite directions. Many golfers have heard of offset because it is fairly prevalent in the golf industry. 50 years ago, golf clubs were made however the manufacturer could tie the shaft into the head. Usually, this involved the leading edge of the club aligned with the front of the shaft axis. In some cases, the face of the club progressed beyond the front of the shaft axis. For example, most persimmon woods included a shaft entering the club head somewhere near the center of the head (see below).

The same was true for irons and putters. For nearly all irons and putters, the shaft and club head met with the shaft entering the blade directly on the heel. There was no room for doing anything else. The prime example of such a design is the Calamity Jane putter.

When Karsten Solheim designed the PING Anser, it marked one of the most stark breakthroughs in the history of putter technology. Some features of this groundbreaking design will be discussed in later parts of this series. However, pertinent to the current discussion, Karsten Solheim’s design revolutionized the interaction of the shaft and the head of the putter (and, later, the golf club).

Karsten’s groundbreaking design was the “plumber’s neck,” which is given the name because of its resemblance to residential piping. The plumber’s neck putter provides a number of advantages over prior designs. First, it allows the shaft axis to be moved from the heel of the putter, allowing for some ability to modify the putter’s toe hang based on the placement of the plumber’s neck (see prior discussion regarding toe hang). More importantly for this discussion, it allowed for the concept of offset to be introduced to the golf world.

Karsten’s Original Anser:

A plumber’s neck by itself

don’t be confused, the plumber’s neck does not come separate for most putters; the photo above is included to allow the reader to see a detail view of what we’re calling the “plumber’s neck” on the original PING Anser

The plumber’s neck was a breakthrough, as stated already, because it allowed for the concept of offset to enter the putter world. Compare the two images below. What do you notice is different between these two putters?


If you look at the address pictures, you can tell a stark difference between the two putters. Even though the head shapes are fairly similar, the location of the face of the putter with respect to the shaft is remarkably different. In the first picture, the face of the putter aligns with the left edge of the shaft, as the shaft actually inserts into the center of the head (termed a “center-shafted” putter). In the second picture, the face of the putter aligns with or perhaps to the right of the right edge of the shaft. This occurs because the putter in the second picture has a plumber’s neck, which gives it offset.

So why is this beneficial or harmful? The answer has to do with your eye dominance.

Every person has an eye dominance that is usually (but not always) the same as that person’s dominant hand. As such, right-handed players are more often right-eye dominant and vice versa. However, the extent of the eye dominance may range from very slight to very strong. Many people don’t actually know what their eye dominance is, and there are not many reliable ways to tell. One way I’ve found is fairly reliable is what I’ve learned as the reading test. Begin reading a block of text with both eyes open. It helps if the text is small, repetitive, and relatively uninteresting, like credit card terms and conditions, or a printout of a cell phone call log, or one of LG’s PF posts (just kidding!). Read a few lines of text and then close one eye, taking note of how difficult it is to continue reading with that eye closed. Open both eyes and repeat the test, but this time with the other eye, taking note of how difficult it is to continue reading with that eye closed. Repeat as many times as you find necessary. Your eye dominance is whichever of the two eyes resulted in an easier read. For some people, the difference will be immediately noticeable. For others, the difference may be very hard to tell. There is no right answer–it’s only information.

However, where your eye dominance falls in the spectrum will determine if and how much offset or face progression/onset (the opposite of offset) you need. If you notice that you have about the same ease reading with either eye closed, your eye dominance is considered neutral. As such, you need a putter with a neutral offset position, meaning the face of the putter should be aligned with the center of the shaft. Assuming a right-handed putter (it would be backward for lefties), if you are left-eye dominant, you need a putter with the face progressing to the left of the shaft axis. In the pictures above, the center-shafted putter is a great option for a fairly strongly left-eye dominant player (assuming the toe hang is correct for your stroke type) because the face of the putter is aligned with the left edge of the shaft axis, which is a fair amount of face progression. Some putters–for example, some SeeMore putters and the Odyssey Backstryke–actually have progression of the face BEYOND the left edge of the shaft, accommodating a strongly left-eye dominant player. Similarly, if you are right-eye dominant, the plumber’s neck option will work better for you. In the pictures above, the face of the putter is aligned with the right edge of the shaft.

Why is this important? When setting up for the putting stroke, your dominant eye will guide your alignment. If the ball is not under your dominant eye, your setup will twist and torque to try to get it back in line. This will lead to improper setup alignment and missed putts. A left-eye dominant player playing too much offset will usually pull his putts; a right-eye dominant player playing too much face progression will usually push his putts.

In essence, we want every player to set up the same way: with the putter set up so that the hands are at the bottom of the stroke at impact. For most people, this occurs when the hands are in the center of their stroke. As such, the player should set up with the hands roughly in the center of his stroke. A putter with face progression will allow the left-eye dominant player to set up with his hands in the middle of the stroke and the ball toward his left foot, under his left eye. A putter with offset will allow the right-eye dominant player to set up with his hands in the middle of the stroke (just like the left-eye dominant player, promoting consistent mechanics between the two) but with the ball toward his right foot, under his right eye. As such, the amount of face progression/offset can be an important factor for getting the most consistent putting stroke in concert with your own individual eye dominance.

So how do we get this? Well, there are more options than just plumber’s necks. Here are some examples:

Heel Shafted:

Long Neck:

Center Shaft/Straight Shaft:

Goose Neck:

Flow Neck (aka Santa Fe or 1.5):

Double-Bend Shaft:

Single-Bend Shaft:

Modular Center Shaft:

And More!

Keep in mind, the location of the shaft affects not only the offset but also the toe hang of a putter, so many of these variations are attempts to get both an offset and a toe hang that matches a particular player’s specifications. However, the point here is that, if you know what you need, you’ll be better prepared when you take your game to the course.

Comments are welcome.

One aspect of putter fitting that was often misunderstood years ago but has recently gained some good press and understanding is the concept of toe hang and what it is there for. It seems like when I was growing up, every new putter coming out was face balanced, and advertised as such, as if face balancing were some sort of great thing that cured all ills of the putting stroke. In reality, little is further from the truth. Face balancing only helps people whose stroke fits a face balanced putter. We’ll talk more about this in a few minutes. What this doesn’t mean, however, is that a particular style of putter will work for everyone.

Now, we need to be clear on this: the theory posted below is only general theory. There is no hard and fast rule that someone follow the advice below. If you find something that works for you, go with it. However, the theory below will help you maximize the chance that your putter works for you. The thoughts below will help you select a putter that works with what you do rather than you trying to fit your stroke to make a certain putter work.

There are generally accepted three types of putting strokes: Straight Back Straight Through (SBST), Arc Stroke (or “gated”), and Inside Then Down The Line (IDTL). Although there are many different ways to swing a putter, these are the three that are most common and are most taught. Teachers like Dave Pelz advocate for the SBST stroke, which is exactly what it sounds like; the putter travels straight back on the backswing and straight through on the follow through, and the face stays square to the target at all times. Other teachers like Stan Utley advocate for the gated stroke, which is called “gated” or arc because it resembles a gate swinging on a hinge. The putter face opens and comes inside the line of the putt on the backstroke, closes until impact where it is square to the target and on the target line, and then closes and travels through impact to the inside of the line. IDTL may be the most used option (see e.g., poll at http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/646692-which-stroke-type-do-you-use/). For this stroke, the putter travels inside the line of the target on the backswing and then down the line on the follow-through. It allows the player to combine the best parts of the swinging gate and the arc stroke. Many good putters use this method. A comparison of stroke types is shown below (arc in red, SBST in green, IDTL in orange).

Which stroke type you choose is up to you, and this blog is not here to give instruction or to pick a preference for one stroke type over another. But, you might be asking: what does this have to do with face balancing?

Well, the answer is pretty simple: toe hang and “face balancing” should be chosen to match the stroke type you use.

But you might be asking “what is toe hang?” Toe hang is, simply put, a quantification of where the toe points if a putter is allowed to hang naturally. It gives the player an idea of where the shaft axis is located compared to the center of gravity of the putter head.

That’s a lot of jargon, so I’ll take it one at a time.

The Center of Gravity (COG) of any object (literally anything, not just a golf club) is just the center of its mass–or, in simpler terms, it’s the balance point. If you take an ink pen and try to balance it on your finger, the point where it balances is the COG. This is because the mass (or weight) of the ink pen is evenly distributed on both sides of that point. If there are 10 grams of weight to the right of your finger, there are 10 grams of weight to the left, and the ink pen balances perfectly at that point. If this is not true, there is no way the pen can balance on your finger. The imbalanced weight will make the pen rotate so that the heavier side dips and the lighter side raises up in the air until the pen falls off your finger.

While a pen is just a thin line, the COG can be found on any object. When you see a waiter balancing a set of plates on his arm, he has lined the COG of each plate directly over his arm (very skillfully) so that he can carry multiple plates. Just like the plates, a putter head has a COG, which is the point where the mass on the heel side is about balanced with the mass on the toe side. This point may not be in the exact center of the putter head in some cases.

The toe hang is a representation of how the COG of the putter head interacts with the axis of the shaft. When describing toe hang, the typical way of measuring it is based on how the putter head hangs as related to a clock. If the putter is face balanced, there is essentially no toe hang because the face points to the sky when it is allowed to sit freely. In other words, the toe of the putter does not hang down, meaning that the toe of the putter points to about 3:00. This occurs when the COG is in line with the shaft axis (more on this later). If a putter has toe hang, then the toe falls down so that the face does not point directly up when it is allowed to sit freely. In some cases, where toe hang is pronounced, the toe will point toward the ground and the face will point along the horizon. In other words, the toe points to about 6:00.

The picture below represents the toe hang of a putter:


(see, http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/402148-what-is-toe-hang/)

As you can see, when allowed to fall freely, this putter aligns itself so that there is about a 45 degree angle made. This is typically referred to as “1/4” toe hang or “4:30” because, if the putter head were the hand of a clock, it would point to 4:30 on the clock.

For a face balanced putter, the face will point directly to the sky, as seen below:

For a putter with toe hang, the face can point “1/4” as shown above or a number of other places. For example, the putters shown below have “full” toe hang, meaning they can’t hang any further, or nearly full toe hang (the putter on the right is about 5:00):

Putter makers have many different offerings of toe hang along the spectrum of what one might need, as seen below. One old Scotty Cameron putter even had some HEEL hang, meaning it was beyond face balanced!


(see http://media.titleist.com/images/titleist/pdfs/US/2012/sales/2012_Art_of_Putters.pdf)

The way toe hang occurs is that the shaft axis is offset from the COG. If the shaft axis and the COG are aligned, the putter is face balanced. If the shaft axis and the COG are misaligned, some toe hang will occur. The extent of the misalignment determines the amount of toe hang.

This makes sense, if you think about it. No matter what object you hold, if you let it go freely, it will fall in a way that the center of mass points toward the ground. As seen with reference to the 1/4 toe hang picture above, if the COG is offset from the shaft, the COG tries to get underneath the shaft when it is allowed to fall freely. As such, when the COG is aligned with the shaft, it is already under it and the toe of the putter does not need to hang down to align the shaft and the COG. If the COG is misaligned with the shaft, then some rotation occurs when the putter is allowed to fall freely so that the COG can line up with the shaft axis. (don’t worry if you don’t understand this explanation–it’s not necessary to understand this part).

So what does this have to do with putting?

Well, as we reviewed earlier, players using various stroke types should select putters with different toe hang to match their strokes. If you putt SBST, a face balanced putter will help you make your SBST stroke. An SBST player will not want to feel any torque in the putter head due to the offset of the shaft and the COG. The SBST player won’t know what to do with this information. It will only tell him that he’s doing the putting stroke wrong, when really he is not. Having the shaft axis aligned with the COG prevents the SBST player from feeling torque which would be negative feedback for the type of stroke he is using.

Meanwhile, a player that swings the putter with a strong arc stroke should select a putter with more toe hang. A strong arc player wants to know that the face of the putter is opening and closing during the stroke. The torque the player experiences by virtue of the shaft being offset from the COG tells that player that the face is moving, which is what that player wants to know during the stroke. If a strong arc player uses a face balanced putter, he will get no feedback on the location of the face. As such, he’ll be lost in the stroke and won’t know how fast the face is opening or closing. This lack of knowledge will prevent him from timing the release of the face with impact to the ball. Players between SBST and strong arc (for example, IDTL and weaker arc players) should choose putters with less toe hang but not fully face balanced.

As stated earlier, the whole point is to get the ball in the hole. If you are an SBST player and use a heel shafted blade (like a Wilson 8802, which has a lot of toe hang), you can surely putt with that putter AND be successful. Likewise, if you have a strong arc and use a face balanced putter, nothing says you must follow the rules. However, if you are looking for a putter and don’t know what to select, the best advice you can get is to select a putter with toe hang that matches your stroke so that you maximize the chance of finding a putter that works best for you.

Comments are welcome.

Perhaps one of the most commonly-referenced (but still misunderstood) aspects of a putter is the “L,L,L”–also known as the loft, length and lie. Multiple theories abound for what these numbers should be. Although many theories exist, one always must keep in mind that there is no single right answer when it comes to putters. Ultimately, the thing that works best for you is what should be used. However, the theories surrounding putters should point someone with little or no knowledge in the right direction, and should provide a person with the greatest chance of success in a given set of circumstances.

The common varieties of putter lengths (for standard putting) are 33 inches to 35 inches, but there is a catch. Not everyone measures putter length the same way. Some measure the length to the ground while others measure to the sweet spot; some measure to the end of the grip cap, others to the end of the shaft. Moreover, even though these lengths are common, there is no hard and fast rule about someone using a set length putter. Robert Garrigus on the PGA Tour used to use a 26-inch putter. Angel Cabrera won the masters with a 39-inch putter. Neither of these players is abnormally tall or short, but they used what they felt gave them the best chance of making putts.

Why are these numbers important? A putter that is the “wrong” length will put your hands in an uncomfortable position and will increase the chance that you try to correct your discomfort with wrist movement. Common advice in any putting stroke is that wrist movement causes inconsistencies when putting. Most putting theory states that the putting stroke is, essentially, a very simple action. The putting stroke can be accomplished without a great deal of hinging. It is so simple–and low energy–that a simple rotation of the shoulders can propel the ball the required distance. As such, common teaching holds that a player should seek to putt using the “big muscles”–such as the back and shoulders–rather than “little muscles”–like those in the wrists and hands–because it is easier to consistently rotate about a spine than to consistently twitch a pair of wrists. As such, a putter length that is comfortable is a key part of the analysis. A comfortable putter length can help a player remove any corrections that might be needed from a player twitching wrists. If a putter is too short, the player’s hands will be far away from his body; if a putter is too long, the player’s hands will feel cramped up against his body.

However, what is “comfortable” is in the eye of the beholder. Most instruction on putting says that the player should have his eyes directly over the ball or just inside the line of the ball (illustrated by the green dotted line below). It is also best if the forearms make a straight line with the putter shaft when viewed from the back (illustrated by the red solid line below). How this fits you depends entirely on our personal dimensions (arm length, height) as well as how you approach the ball (standing taller, more crouched over, etc).

Moreover, the lie angle plays a big part in how a player sets up to the ball. As LG pointed out in his post about getting fit for iron lie angles (here: https://thepowerfade.com/2012/07/10/review-lie-fitting-with-brian-razzari/), an improper lie angle can cause misses to one side or another depending on whether the lie is too upright or too flat. Although the “standard” lie angle is around 70-71 degrees, players are all over the board on lie angle, and I have personally heard everything from 64 to 76 degrees. In no event may a lie angle be more upright than 80 degrees, however, according to USGA rules. Much like length, the lie angle you choose depends entirely on how you approach the ball.

Finally, the loft of a putter can be a tricky topic in some circumstances. Scotty Cameron designs all of his putters with 4 degrees of loft, and this has become the standard loft largely because he is the most successful putter seller of all time. However, the loft depends entirely on the player, and “standard” is not standard. Scotty Cameron states that 4 degrees of loft is needed because of the weight of the ball. When the ball is at rest, he states, it forms a depression on the green, and 4 degrees of loft is needed to lift the ball out of the depression at impact so that the depression does not affect the roll.

While this may have been true 20-30 years ago, it is probably not too true today. Modern greens are typically much firmer and faster than those of the early 90s (when Cameron started his own putter-making business). Modern greenskeeping has done wonders for even the muni golf player. In reality, the ball on modern greens typically will not sit down into a deep depression. As such, putters as low as 2 degrees stock (such as Piretti putters) are now surfacing and gaining great market share for the “great roll” they put on the ball (we’ll touch on this in a later chapter).

However, like length and lie, the loft of a putter is something that is unique to each player. Many pro golfers “forward press” their putts, meaning their hands are in front of the ball when they start (and finish) their strokes (see photo below of Phil Mickelson’s forward press). Forward pressing serves to “de-loft” the putter face, meaning that these players must account for the loft that they are losing by changing the static loft of their putters. (For those that may not know, “static loft” is the loft of the putter as measured. This is to be contrasted with “dynamic loft,” which is the loft of the putter when used. A player who forward presses will have a “dynamic loft” that is less than the static loft because he is effectively de-lofting the putter face). On the other side, a player like Zach Johnson (see image below) actually needs negative loft on his putter because he reverse-presses the shaft at address and impact. As such, his dynamic loft is higher than his static loft.

The main point here is that there is no one way to set up your L,L,L. You need a static loft that matches your stroke (whether you reverse or forward press), a length that makes you comfortable, and a lie that matches your setup. The best way to ensure you get all of these facets right is to get fit for a putter. Science And Motion (aka “SAM”) putter fitting is probably the most expansive putter fitting, but there are many other ways to be fit. Edel fitting has been described as a fairly comprehensive way to measure your alignment before the putt. PING makes a putter app that can be used on any iPhone or Android phone. And many local pros are competent to fit putters even without scientific instruments or fancy calculations.

In the end, it’s all about finding something that works best for you, and, even if you don’t go to a pro for a fitting, a trial and error with various different lofts, lengths, and lies can do wonders for your putting stroke. I encourage you to take some time to examine your stroke and figure out what equipment setup would help you the most.

Those common readers of our blog know we spend a lot of time playing new courses at locales of travel with the hope of finding a few diamonds in the rough to share with you. While our main goal is to give golfers in our own locales some information about the many local courses in our respective areas, we also like to share our experiences on various travel excursions. One spot that both LG and I have frequented for golf vacations (and vacations in general) is Las Vegas.

Although not ideal from a price point, Las Vegas is a great place to play golf. There are numerous options that give the golfers of the city a chance to get out and see what desert golf (or some variant thereof) is all about. LG and I have reviewed several of these courses (and played several more). And while they all have their own character, they seem to bring different features to the party that is a Vegas vacation.

On my most recent trip, I had a choice between playing Paiute in the afternoon in August or playing Bali Hai in the morning. Given that the temperature was around 110 degrees in the afternoon, I chose to play Bali Hai in the morning.

Bali Hai is one of the iconic courses in Vegas if for no other reason than it is right on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka, “The Strip”). Although other courses are close (i.e., the course at the Wynn), I don’t know of any other courses that are actually addressed on the strip. As such, Bali Hai is a course that gets a lot of play year round if for no reason other than it is convenient to most major resort hotels in Las Vegas. Having heard about this course for years (heck, maybe even decades), I decided it was finally time to play it.

Scorecard at http://www.balihaigolfclub.com/course/scorecard/

Bali Hai is a south-pacific themed course with white sands, exotic flowers, palm trees, rock outcroppings, and various homages to south-pacific architecture and style. The course plays (in my opinion) very short at 7,000 yards, likely because of many elevated tee boxes and thin desert air. For example, my second shots into the four par 5 holes were made with 9-iron (531-yard 2nd), 7-iron (550-yard 7th), 8-iron (518-yard 10th), and 7-iron (550-yard 15th). Even with some long par 4s (482-yard 8th, 484-yard 17th, 486-yard 18th), I had no more than a 7-iron into any green. While the course does have a few tricky drives, there are a lot of opportunities to use the driver (something I don’t see a lot in Atlanta), and there is usually an open side if one side has a hazard or OB.



What this course has going for it is convenience. The price isn’t great (I was getting a deal at $125–the rack rate is over $200), but it’s not as egregious as some other places. For example, the Wynn course is over $500 to play. However, if you’re a person who values proximity, Bali Hai is a great value. For me, I had to play a round of golf in the amount of time my wife was at the spa, so the locale of Bali Hai was worth it for me on this trip. The photos below, showing great views from the 14th and 18th tee boxes, illustrate how close the course is to the Mandalay Bay, with the Luxor seen between the two towers of Mandalay Bay.



As far as Vegas goes, the course is OK. If this course were plopped down in an Atlanta suburb, it would see a ton of play and be voted amongst the best in the city. But in Vegas, it’s so-so. What I liked about the layout was that it had some elevation change. I’ve played a number of courses in Vegas that were so flat you could land a plane on them. Bali Hai has some elevated tees, some uphill shots to greens, etc. It also has good use of water features, with a few creeks, a few greens well-guarded, and a few interesting water hazards with sand leading down into the water.

The staff was friendly and helpful, and I appreciated their attention to detail, helping me in the process from the time I drove up to the moment I left. The course is well-watered, as they understand that the players need to be hydrated to have a good time (something very important in Vegas).

What I didn’t like about this course was the condition. I have to be fair–most courses in the area are pretty bad at the end of August, and Bali Hai (like many others) was about to close for overseeding. That said, the greens are bermuda, which is an immediate strike for me. They were running only 9 on the stimp and had a lot of burnt spots. The bunkers were inconsistent, some as hard as concrete under a thin layer of sand, some like Daytona Beach. The fairways and rough were recently cut, and apparently this world-renowned course does not have a bagging mower, because there were piles of bermuda leaflets everywhere. Also, another seasonal issue, the greens were hard as concrete. I hit two 7-irons into good spots on par 5s and ended up with the ball bouncing over the greens and into depressions that were difficult to chip from.

Further, the range was an oddity. It has a very cool automatically loading tee that allows the player to hit ball after ball without bending down to re-tee. However, the range faces the strip and is no more than 100 yards long. As such, it is entirely enclosed in netting, and your drives are essentially limited to the first 100 yards of travel. I hope you don’t have any late movement the day you play.

Oh, and, speaking of landing planes, the course is RIGHT next to Las Vegas McCarron airport. Being that it’s so close, you can expect to be buzzed multiple times by jumbo-jets bringing in starry-eyed vacationers and transporting drunken/hungover and broke folks out. It actually wasn’t as loud as I expected it to be, but it was distracting for sure.

Altogether, I think the course was nice and certainly suited my needs for the trip. However, I would probably prefer to play Paiute or Rio Secco next time I make it out, as I’ve heard great reviews on both.

Price: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Experience: 7/10
Condition: 6/10 in August
Course Accommodations: 8/10
Cache: 9/10
Overall: 7/10. Good to say I’ve played it, but won’t be back until I’ve played a few others or if I need to play quickly.