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Is there something wrong with me?

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Is there something wrong with me (or even you)? Quite possibly. As a boy I lived right next to one of the holes on Bend of the River 9 hole Golf Course in Hadley, NY. I have never had the opportunity to play a round there. Not as a kid and not as an adult. 

As a golf course goes, it’s really nothing all that special, its uniqueness lies in that it was my first experience with golf. Just like many of you (you do have one don’t you?), I have a "must play" golf course list. Actually, it is an excel spreadsheet. This list is a constant work in progress, I always seem to be adding new courses, yet never crossing off enough of the ones I have played.

The courses in black have been played (see inset pic) , the courses in light gray are waiting (impatiently) to be played. So much golf to play and so little time to do so. Surprisingly, my list is void of Pine Valley, Augusta National,Winged Foot, Seminole (this is my Augusta), Olympic Club, Riviera, Oakmont, Merion, and the like. I am a realist and I understand that about as close I’ll get to playing those historic venues is owning a scorecard from there! No, my list has golf courses, both public and private, that I hope to get a chance to play. Of course, if someone from Seminole called and invited me to play, I would be there tomorrow, maybe even sooner. My list is almost 100% accessible, my only handicap or obstacle is money and time or even both. I seem to be on a mission to play as many "new" courses as possible and at times I get disappointed when I have to play the same course over again. This may be why I have been reluctant to join a private club. I’ll join one eventually, but for now I have a pressing need to make a dent in my list.

Resort golf courses? Sure, got a bunch on there; TPC Sawgrass, Sea Island, The Greenbrier, Whistling Straights, Pebble Beach and friends, Kiawah Island, and about 30 courses near Myrtle Beach. Courses that you may never have heard of; Cape Arundel in Maine, Rip Van Winkle Country Club in the Catskills (NY), The Presidio in California, Miami Shores GC (Donald Ross’ last designed course), Hyde Park Country Club near Jacksonville, Florida (I have to best Ben Hogan’s 11 on a par 3 there), both Donald Ross courses on Fort Bragg, NC (Stryker and Ryder) and The Bayonet and Blackhorse courses at the now defunct Fort Ord in northern California just to name a few. Overseas? Ireland, Scotland and England, I won’t even go there, that list is way too long. I may never want to come home once I golf there. We’ll be going to Northern Ireland soon, on a family vacation. Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, here I come. Alaska? I went there for three weeks a few years back to camp and hike all over. I passed up on playing golf at 2am in the morning, I am still kicking myself for that one.  Unfortunately for me, I have pretty much "exhausted" all my choices in the greater Cincinnati area, both public and private. Ultra exclusive Camargo Club (#55 on America’s 2007-08 Top 100 Private Courses that you can’t play), it is Cincinnati’s toughest course to get on, and I played it twice. Fortunately, I still have Columbus and Cleveland to make a dent in. Heck,  Kentucky is right across the river and Indiana is a hop, skip and a putt away.  Luckily for me, my in-laws live in Michigan and we frequent there fairly often. In case you didn’t know it, Michigan is chock full of incredible golf courses.  Maybe more golf courses than you could actually play in a lifetime. My goal this year was to get in 40 additional "new" golf courses. I am stuck at 27 with a slim hope of making it to 35 before winter. Of course, I played no less than 10 courses that I have already played in the past as well. I’ll be passing through northwestern Pennsylvania at the end of the month.  I am meeting up with a few old friends from Connecticut to squeeze in a few rounds of golf in a weekend before winter finally sets in. We are playing Scottish Heights, Treasure Lake Silver and Bavarian Hills. Never heard of them? Neither have I. They’ll get me to 30, but still ten short of my goal of 40 new golf courses. My friends don’t know it, but on my way back home I’ll stop and play America’s oldest continually operated golf course, Foxburg Country Club.  They have been playing golf there since 1887. A classic, old school  9 hole course, complete with postage stamp sized greens and a golf museum in the clubhouse. I don’t think I am anywhere near an obessive-compulsive disorder (am I, or are you?) with my excel spreadsheet of courses, after all I still haven’t typed in Augusta National. The number one course I want to play in the USA? That’s easy, Bend of the River Golf Course. It’ s been over 31 years since a young boy of 9 sat on the tee box selling golf balls to guys teeing off, watching them in their funny plaid pants joking around, (being with your buddies is a big part of golf) and hitting their drives (many of which sliced into the treeline and I later found their golf balls only to sell them to another foursome the next day or a few hours later) up the hilly fairway. I am thinking that after I play there, I just might let go of this ever increasing golf course list, err spreadsheet. Well, I doubt it, because I’ll surely discover four more golf courses that I’ll need to play on the way home! Reality tells me that I’l never come close to playing all the courses on my ever growing list. It’s just not possible. However, my motivation tells me that I’ll go down swinging in an effort to do just that.

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  1. Brook Siudy

    Aug 31, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Did you ever happen to know some one about your age named Mark Siudy or maybe the Siudy family? They all grew up in Hadley and played Bend of the River. I am Mark’s 17 year old son, small world huh.

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Courses

No. 12 at Augusta National: The Golden Bell tolls for Koepka, Molinari

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On Sunday, Tiger Woods accomplished what many thought he could never do by winning another major championship, the 2019 Masters. In collecting his fifth green jacket, Tiger added a new luster to what was already a brilliant legacy. Woods overcame unusual start times, difficult conditions and a generation of young golf warriors that he helped to create. And like every champion before him, Woods had to contend with holes 11 through 13 on Sunday, the beautiful beast nicknamed Amen Corner by the great golf writer Herbert Warren Wind.

Of the three holes, it seems that 12 is the one that has drowned more hopes and dreams in the creek that winds through the terrible trio than either of the other two. Arnold Palmer made six on Sunday in 1959 on the way to losing to Art Wall by two. Tom Weiskopf made a mind-boggling 13 in 1980. Greg Norman had a double bogey during his Sunday collapse in 1986. And there’s Jordan Speith’s quadruple bogey in 2016, which some think he has still not recovered from. Through the generations, the hole named Golden Bell has sounded a death knell for many a would-be champion.

This week, I had the opportunity to walk the back nine at Augusta National with Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Jones is an acclaimed golf course designer in his own right but he is also the son of the legendary Robert Trent Jones, the man who designed the second nine at Augusta National as we know it today and therefore shaped history and the outcome of so many Sundays for so many players.

As we walked along the holes Jones described the changes both dramatic and subtle that his father had made in 1948 to shape the second nine, and I came to a greater understanding of why the stretch is so special. The second nine was deliberately crafted as the ultimate offer of risk/reward. It was designed to create heroes and tragic figures of epic proportions. As we got to the tee box at number 12, Mr. Jones’ well-known face (as well as the microphone I was holding in front of it) caused a crowd together around us as he described what his father had done with the most famous par three in golf.

Jones pointed out how the wide, narrow green on the 12th follows the path of Rae’s Creek which runs in front of it.

“It appears that the creek and the green are running almost perpendicular to the tee box at 12, but the right side of the green is actually significantly further away from the golfer than the left side. This is critical when it comes to playing the Sunday hole location on the right side of the green. Because of the way the hole is framed by water and bunkers, the golfer is deceived into either selecting the wrong club or taking a half swing, which often leads to a shot into the water.”

Jones’s words proved prophetic, as Brooks Koepka and Francisco Molinari made watery double bogeys that doomed their championship hopes. Woods, on the other hand, made par on 12, providing the spark that eventually led to his victory. How did Woods negotiate the 12th?

Again, RTJII shared his crystal ball. “Jack Nicklaus played the 12th better than anyone because he always played to the middle of the green,” noted Jones. “Jack felt that whether the pin was on the right or the left, a shot over the front bunker to the center of the green would take a big number out of play and maybe leave an opportunity for a birdie.”

Sure enough, on Sunday while pretenders to the throne went pin seeking with either the wrong club or ill-advised half swings, Woods channeled his inner Nicklaus, hitting a full-swing 9-iron with conviction to the middle of the green and safely two-putting. It was at once humble and heroic. It was the thing that heroes and champions do: survive demons in order to slay dragons. The moment his tee shot on 12 landed safely was the moment that I, and many others, knew in our hearts that Tiger Woods was, in fact, going to win again at Augusta. It is a singular accomplishment, made possible by his combination of wisdom and nerve at number 12 on Sunday. Amen, indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 6. Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale, Cork

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In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.

In Part Five of our Exploring Ireland Series, we travelled to Parknasilla Golf Club in Kerry. For Part Six, we’re staying down South and heading into County Cork.

Known as “The Rebel County” dating back to the days of Henry VII and also for its role in the Irish War of Independence, Cork is one of the biggest cities in Ireland, and its locals will tell you that it is indeed Cork and not Dublin which is the real capital of Ireland. Cork caters to everyone, full of history, natural beauty and ruggedness, and it also possesses one of the nicest city centers in Ireland, full of top restaurants and bars

Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale, Cork

@FairwaysFundays

While for the most part in this series we’ve been focusing on slightly lesser known courses in Ireland and keeping the purse strings a little tight, when you get to County Cork there’s one golf course that you just cannot ignore, no matter the price. Old Head Golf Links is the course in question, and in all honesty, if you haven’t heard of the course yet, then the photos will likely be enough for you to put this course on the bucket list.

Set upon 220-acres of sprawling land above the Atlantic Ocean, Old Head Golf Links offers unrivalled views of the south coast of Ireland. The rush you will feel when walking this golf course is like nothing else, and even the quickest of golfers will find themselves more than likely playing more deliberately in order to soak up every moment of their experience here! The famous Lighthouse watches over you as you make your away around the iconic grounds.

@wunderlan

You’ll hear the Atlantic Ocean crashing into the giant cliffs as you play, and you’ll smell the salt in the air on every shot. While that sounds fantastic, you can also expect some brutal winds from time to time, so pack the appropriate clothes and also stock up on some golf balls, as even the straightest of hitters are bound to lose a few to the deep blue sea.

The course itself features six tees, which is not just great since it caters to golfers of different standards, but it also allows for adjustments should you find yourself here on a particularly rough weather day. Those tees range from 5,413 yards to over 7,100 yards, and the course plays as a par-72 with five par-5s, eight par-4s and five par-3’s. The inconsistent wind makes matters very tricky around here, but the club does attempt to help their visitors out as much as possible by setting up the course differently daily depending on the weather forecast.

@EIGtravel

Relatively new, work began on creating this special links course in 1993 when visionary John O’Connor together with his brother Patrick set their sights on building one of the most beautiful golf courses in Ireland. The course opened for play in 1997, and while some controversy lingers over a private golf course being situated on The Old Head of Kinsale, the links course continues to provide its visitors with a breathtaking experience.

@fariwaysfundays

A visit to Old Head Golf Links does however come at a price. The course closes in Winter, and during the off-peak period (April-May, October) the green fee is around $200, while during the summer months the rate rises to $350. The course also features a top-class restaurant and a spa. It may cost an arm and a leg, but for the golfing purists out there, it will undoubtedly be worth the money.

Food & Drink – The Spaniard/The White House

@johnspillane09

Despite going top-heavy on the golfing experience in this trip to Cork, there are some excellent bars in the village to enjoy a well-earned pint and chat about what you’ve just experienced on the course. Staying in the village of Kinsale, you have both The Spaniard Inn and The White House which provide two different, yet two equally excellent options for a fun night.

@Lordted2011

The Spaniard Inn looks more like a little house than a pub. The thatched-roofed cottage is an old-school atmospheric pub that puts an emphasis on conversation, music and good homely meals. The pub also has a restaurant if you want to dine more formally, but the pub grub is just as tasty, and being so close to the coast makes their fish dishes a must try.

@KCSPA_FundRaise

The White House is a little different in that with its brighter look it doesn’t quite capture that homey feel, but it makes a big deal over its food, and it also provides live music. Should you visit here, then it’s well worth booking a table at their restaurant where they offer the freshest Lobsters, Oysters, Scallops etc. You name the fish, and they more than likely have it!

Where To Stay

From $275-375 a night, you can stay on-site at Old Head Golf Links in one of their suites. The price doesn’t just include the convenience of being able to sleep in before your tee-time, the suites offer impressive views of both the Ocean as well as the courses 18th green.

For a cheaper option, The White House provides rooms for around $140, and from there it’s just a 20-minute drive down to the spectacular Old Head Golf Links.

@gotoirelandus

Blarney Castle and Stone is one the most popular tourist attractions in Cork. According to folklore, those who kiss the Blarney Stone are said to receive “the gift of the gab” (translated in English: Ability to chat well about all sorts of topics!).

@kal__1211

I’d also highly recommend a visit to Cork City Gaol, which was open from 1824 until 1923. The prison was all-female from 1878 to 1920, and it’s well worth a trip if you find yourself in the Rebel County.

For history buffs, a visit to a Michael Collins attraction is a must while in Cork too. A museum for the Irish revolutionary soldier and politician who was instrumental in creating an independent Ireland lies in Clonakilty, which is a 40-minute drive west of Kinsale.

How To Get There

Kinsale is a 25-minute drive from Cork airport, and if you’re making your way here from Dublin City Center, then you can expect it to take at least three hours to get to the southern village.

 

 

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Sharp Park in Pacifica, California

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member Zach Heusser who takes us to Sharp Park in Pacifica, California. The course has been around since 1932, and according to Zach Heusser, the supreme layout of the track justifies a visit, while cautioning that the maintenance budget appears to be minimal.

“Seaside MacKenzie track. Unbelievable layout.”

Fellow GolfWRX member pt73 is also one who champions the course as a hidden gem, stating

“I played there a few times when I lived in the Bay Area (San Mateo) back in the late 1990s and loved the course layout.”

According to Sharp Park’s website, 18 holes around the Californian course will cost you $49.

@jemsekgolf

@gfordgolf

@findagame

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

 

 

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