Final Fall Rounds

I’m embracing the mantra, “Have fun golfing.” My last four rounds include a back-yard course, a tough man event, a round with dad, and six holes with hickories.

Dad and I skipped out last Wednesday for our annual nine holes, which is usually played on Father’s Day. The afternoon was the middle of a 70s-in-November stretch of perfect weather. The leaves were down and it was windy. If was a fun round, and we both agreed that we should play more often and add in Lindsey and the boys sometimes.

This afternoon, Dan and I played a half-dozen holes while Lindsey and Peg played with Harvey and Carson. It was cool and breezy, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky … and only two other golfers on the course. I had fun playing with the hickories and finished with a couple pars after figuring them out (again)! I’d like to play with them more often next year.

Here’s a link to the Nightmare on Union Street event from a couple weeks ago.

  
The 23 brave participants.

Modern Pin Locations

“In the past, we used to think that front hole locations were more difficult when they were protected by hazards,” he says. “But today, players hit the ball so high and they impart so much spin, getting the ball to those locations is not so difficult . . .

“Often, it is hole locations at the back or the corners of the greens that are most difficult because players want to fly the ball, even beyond the flag, and spin it back.

Source: Creating a new kind of championship course for the future | Golf Course Architecture

Valley High C. C.

I had the pleasure of playing the Valley High C. C. on this beautiful 71° sunny October Sunday. Ed and Tyler had played before, but Brandon and I we’re seeing the unique 9-hole golf course for the first time. We played once to record individual scores (35 for me) and again for scramble scores (25 for team Brandon & Chris; 24 for team Ed & Tyler … the champs!). Even after one round I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on where not to go. Great fun! Here are some pictures.

Actual yardage, 123 yards. Below, looking from the first tee to green.

Hole 4 tee shot, 49 yards. A fat half sand wedge works well. Next is a shot from over the green. The penalty for going long is a second shot much longer than the tee shot.

Beautiful view of Lake Michigan. If you look closely, you can see Gull Island and the stone fireplace ruins of the old Ustick house where many cherry pies were baked in the late 1930s. Here’s a link to the full story.

Above, Ed and Brandon putting on the 6th green. I’m wearing my souvenir hat.

Looking across the 8th green, down to the 9th green. Clubhouse behind; range to the right.

2015 Union Championship

Nine guys. Many laughs. One hole-in-one.

I left early this morning to play the 2015 Union Championship. A few guys played a round Friday afternoon, but I was joining for the 36 holes at the Kingsley Club today. There was 18 holes at Arcadia Bluffs planned for Sunday, but that was cancelled for lack of attendance. The benefit of having the event close to home is that many of us don’t have to drive too far. The downside is the lack of a “captive audience.” Still, it was great to have a full day of golf on a tremendous course. We got a mix of weather – rain earlier in the day, wind throughout, and our fair share of sun.

This year’s participants were:

Joel Bush
Andrew Calcutt
Mike Dean
Sean Hutchinson
Chris Kellogg
Justin Mack
Eric Olson
Chris Rogers
Jonathan Wicksall

If’s fun catching up with these guys – some high school friends and others solely through this golf group. I hope that the group stays together for many years, and we continue to make the effort and take the time to plan these events at premier courses.

To review some of the play: Mike Dean made his first hole in one on the 9th hole in the morning. Following my lip-out PW, he hit a PW just left of the pin and spun it in. Congrats! My play was up and down all day. 78-76. I made my share of birdies, but also made too many doubles. Hutch had the round of the day in the afternoon when he posted a solid 69 (two under). I was glad to have him as my partner!

Morning “two best-ball of three” went to the team of Kellogg, Hutchinson, and Wicksall (I believe).

Afternoon “one best-ball of two” went to the team of Rogers and Hutchinson, although the team of Kellogg and Dean was close until the 17th hole.

Thanks to the Kingsley Club and Justin Mack for hosting our group, serving delicious breakfast sandwiches, and providing a stern and enjoyable test for the 2015 Union Championship.

Here’s a video from the day.

Husband & Wife Club Champs – Five-peat

Lindsey and I won the TCGCC Husband and Wife Club Championship for the fifth year in a row. We’re on a roll! I think we shot four under, total. Six holes are best-ball; six are alternate shot; and six are scramble. Always a fun event. Especially, with such a beautiful, straight-hitting partner!

Book Review: “Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes”

FIVE STARS. The only thing that would make it better would be pictures! And there are plenty of those online.

I recently finished, Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes, and it has awoken in me an interest in golf architecture. The book is authored by Stephen Goodwin, and is an excellent account of Mike Keiser’s growing passion and development fundamentals and the architectural details of bringing links courses to the west coast of the United States. I could hardly put it down, and was further intrigued by the extended details about the construction of Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald, both designed by Tom Doak, whose design firm, Renaissance Golf Design, is located in Traverse City, MI. And little did I know that my favorite course growing up, High Pointe Golf Club in Acme, MI was his first design. If only it were still open, I would love to go back and explore its many still-familiar features. And I learned of “The Dunes Club,” Keiser’s first course, located in New Buffalo, MI (!) . . . a nod to Pine Valley and one of, or the, top nine-hole club in the country. (Who knew?!)

Upon finishing the book, I went to the public library and checked out two golf architecture books to flip through, initially, with hopes of reading more in depth soon. I’ve even scouted farmland nearby, dreaming of digging a nine-hole links course with little more than the spade in my garage and good intentions. Alas, I may need to make my millions before I venture down that road. But at least Dream Golf has brought a new part of the game to life for me.

I’ve since learned that there are the following courses at Bandon Dunes, all of which comprise “a golf trip that must occur”:

– Bandon Dunes – D. Kidd
– Pacific Dunes – T. Doak
– Bandon Trials – B. Crenshaw & B. Coore
– Old Macdonald – T. Doak & J. Urbina
– The Preserve – B. Crenshaw & B. Coore
– The Punch Bowl – T. Doak & J. Urbina
– Shorty’s – D. Kidd

Following are some of my favorite excerpts from the book.

“As a golf course developer, he was starting out pretty much from scratch. He had never invested in any kind of golf deal, and he wasn’t even a member of a golf club. But golf was in his blood, and when he said no to the investment bankers dangling their schemes in front of him, he knew in a general way what direction he wanted to take. He was headed toward that shining, elusive realm known as the kingdom of golf.”

“But the best architects still believed that good land—undulating land, not steep but with pronounced topographical features, and with porous soils, not a heavy clay—was a sine qua non for a good golf course.”

“To learn golf architecture one must know golf itself, its companionships, its joys, its sorrows, its battles—one must play golf and love it.”

“He wrote thoughtfully and persuasively about the principles of design, declaring that golf holes were either heroic, strategic, or penal in nature, and that a good architect mixed these three types of holes according to his site, blending them into one harmonious composition.”

“Mike was in heaven. He loved the simplicity and grandeur of the golf courses and the complete lack of pretension in all the other arrangements. The clubhouses were modest, the food was plain, the hotels were drafty, the weather was the usual Irish mix of rain and mist with occasional peeks of sunshine, but the golf was splendid.”

” “The Almighty intended this place for gawf,” Old Tom declared when he first laid eyes on the dunes of Machrihanish.”

” “It seemed that this land had been lying here for years waiting for someone to lay a golf course upon it,” Bobby Jones wrote after his first sight of the valley that now forms the amphitheater at Augusta National.”

“A great golf course is “nature perfected.” It is neither wholly natural nor can it be wholly unnatural or manufactured.”

“A walk in the vast and barren sand hills of Nebraska is not nearly as compelling as a round of golf at Sand Hills Golf Club.” (A course I had the privilege of playing in the fall of 2014.)

“For Mike, the lesson was crystal clear: If you wanted to create something exceptional, something extraordinary, you had to be fearless. You had to be prepared to follow your dream.”

“Though educated as a lawyer—he was assistant district attorney and later assistant city attorney in charge of prosecution in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas—his lifelong passion had always been golf course design, and, after becoming a contributing editor on architecture for Golf Digest in 1985, he had become one of the most influential critics in American golf.”

“Though he didn’t say so in the letter, David imagined the clubhouse and village as having an effect similar to the one that towns in Scotland had. In towns like Machrihanish or North Berwick or Carnoustie or St. Andrews, the golf course starts at the town’s doorstep, so to speak, pushes off into the wilds of nature, and then, at the round’s end, returns to civilization.”

“He relied heavily on his land-use attorney, Al Johnson, whom he’d selected partly for his unflappable calm. (“Al wore sweaters like Mr. Rogers. He was the ultimate down-home lawyer, which was exactly what I wanted.” (Note that I like this quote because I’m a lawyer and my last name is Rogers.)

“In Anatomy, Tom’s chapter on “The Green Complex” carries as its epigraph a quote from C. B. Macdonald: “Putting greens are to golf courses what faces are to portraits.””

“Throughout the round, he made sure that I noticed the weave and roll of the greens, and the variations in the Chicago Golf Club version of the Macdonald/Raynor iconic holes—the Punchbowl, the Cape, the Biarritz, the Double Plateau, the Redan, the Eden, the Road.”

Top Public Golf Courses in Michigan

According to this Golfweek article, the following are the top public golf courses in Michigan. The “m” means modern course and the “c” means classic course. I placed my initials next to the ones I’ve played . . . looks like I have some playing to do!

It’s interesting to note that there is only one classic course on the list, which is the University of Michigan course. I have fond memories of my college rounds there and keep hoping to get back and play it, but we’re usually down there for a football game when they are parking cars on the course.

1. Arcadia Bluffs, Arcadia (No. 34 m) CGR
2. Greywalls, Marquette (No. 66 m) CGR
3. Forest Dunes, Roscommon (No. 85 m)
4. Belvedere GC, Charlevoix (c) CGR
5. Black Lake, Onaway (m)
6. Tullymore GC, Stanwood (m)
7. Eagle Eye GC at Hawk Hollow, Bath (m)
8. University of Michigan GC, Ann Arbor (c) CGR
9. Lakewood Shores Resort (Gailes), Oscoda (m)
10. TimberStone Golf Club, Iron Mountain (m)
11. Treetops (Signature), Gaylord (m) CGR
12. Sweetgrass, Harris (m)
13. Black Forest at Wilderness Valley, Gaylord (m)
14. Bay Harbor (Links/Quarry), Harbor Springs (m)
15. Orchards GC, Washington (m)

2015 Golf Season Wishlist

With the start of the 2015 golf season in the Midwest just around the corner (hopefully!), I’ve compiled the following wishlist:

Valley High Country Club
1067 Garthe, Northport, MI
(231) 386-5159

Forest Dunes, Original Course

Oakland Hills, South (“The Monster”)

University of Michigan Golf Course

Whistling Straits, The Straits
Before August
Closed Aug 1 -18 for 2015 PGA Championship

The Dunes Club
I.e., the Pine Valley of the Midwest
New Buffalo, MI
First course built by Mike Keiser

Sunny California

Lindsey and I traveled to California last week. We spent two days in Santa Monica and Hollywood touring celebrity homes and Rodeo Drive. We spent the balance of our seven day trip at the Pelican Hill Resort located between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

The trip was the first time we both left Harvey, and was also our longest time away from him. He stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Rogers and Aunt Katy, and had a great week visiting the library, museum, and other hot spots. We FaceTimed with him almost everyday, and were a little jealous of all the fun they were having.

Here’s a few pictures from the trip.

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And the brightest part of our trip . . . seeing this little guy upon our return to the Winter Wonderland.

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Happy Retirement, Coach Lober

We attended Coach Lober’s retirement party this evening with Gradpa Rogers, and Grandma and Grandpa Jonkhoff. It was fun to see all of the friends connected through the Traverse City Junior Golf Association. I still remember the excitement of playing in junior tournaments beginning at age nine.

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Sand Hills Golf Club

I played Sand Hills Golf Club with Grandpa Dan, Steve, and Adam. The course is recognized as the #1 modern course in the United States, and it lived up to its ranking – mostly because of the golf course and partly because of the unique solitude of the location.

Mile marker 55
Lodging on the Dismal River
Basic range
Ben’s Porch
Large, undulating practice putting green
Great opening par 5
Diamond, square and circle tees
Firm and fast
Beautiful cavernous bunkers
Challenging short par fours
Golf all day, eat dinner
Spartan lodging, good water pressure
Escape, experience

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(Kyle, the Super at SH; Me; Steve, the Super at TCGCC; Grandpa Dan, the pilot; and Adam, Executive Director of MiGCSA)

Flashback

While talking on my cell phone to Lindsey and putting one-handed with my Scotty Cameron Santa Fe putter, I had a brief flashback to talking to my parents via cell phone while putting one-handed with the same putter on the U of M putting green in the fall of 2004.