Lag's Playing Blog (Out on the Links!)

Mare Island #11
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Top of the hill, top of the swing…
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Thanks for posting the photos. It was fun playing as always out at Mare. Such a tough little challenge out there!

The first photo is the tee shot off #11. You can’t hit it left or right because the green really doesn’t offer a run up option. You need to be in the fairway with a decent lie. Anything coming up a foot short of the green runs all the way back down the hill leaving a very difficult if not impossible pitch shot usually from hardpan, and often pocked up with divot craters. Over the green is dead because the green slopes severely from back to front with a hump running up the spine, so there really are two pin placements… right or left behind the bunker. On this shot I actually choked up on my driver to take some distance off the tee shot so the ball would not run out too far into the fairway bunkers right. This was a perfect drive and I hit a sharp spinning approach from a tight lie that ended up just past the hole 10 feet or so. Would rather have been short of the pin, but it would have been risky leaving it too short and spinning the ball back down the hill. It’s one of the more terrifying approach shots out there. Sometimes when the winds really kick up, you have to come in there with a long iron which is really crazy stuff. Right of the green is dead in a hazard, and the front bunker is not great either. You simply have to hit both the fairway and the green or else you bring in all sorts of bogey, double or worse as possibilities. Real US Open stuff here.

The second photo is the tee shot from #13 the elevation apex of the course. The views from there of the SF Bay, Napa Valley, and the Vallejo waterfront are stunning if not distracting. The tee shot is straight down hill, usually dead into the prevailing wind. On this day, the wind was slightly to our back which is very unusual. If you hit a hard low bullet down the right side and can turn it about 5 yards, there is a little pocket where your ball can slide in there and run right down near the green. You have to hit it just perfect to do this… but it is not a really risky shot, because if you leave it right you will just have a shot with the ball above your feet punching down to the green, or if you turn it too much, you end up down the left side of the fairway with a downhill lie but fairly level across the ball to foot line. The approach shot here is always fun because you can play a ground ball, and just run one into the green. Everything kinda funnels down there, and I often will play a 6 iron from 100 yards, and just get it rolling and let the ground take it. It’s nice to play a course where you can play these kind of shots. Sometimes I see players try to fly a wedge in high, but this is not advisable as it can often get caught up in the wind and end up short of the green or get blown over into the right bunker. The bump and run down the hill is the much better percentage shot.

I could write a chapter on how to play every hole out there multiple ways, and and all the risk and reward situations that exist, and subtle nuances that challenge the shotmaking arsenal. I never tire of playing out there.


Played today with Al Barkow out at The Metropolitan in Oakland.
Other than hitting a 6 iron eight inches from the cup on the 9th, it was fairly uneventful. 3 bogeys and just that one birdie. Missed a four foot par saving putt on the 4th hole, three putted the 14th on a hole that had a very severe pin placement, and clipped a tree on my approach shot at the 8th.

Hit a lot of nice drives, had plenty of 15 to 20 foot birdie runs… enough to shoot a few under with a decent putting round. Nothing bad going on… just a fairly unremarkable round. Had a nice run of solid play from the 9th with birdie putts on the 10th from 10 feet, 11th from 15, 12th from 20, 13th from 15. Knocked a 3 iron through the green right of the pin on the long par 3 15th… very well struck shot. Nice 7 iron into the 16th to 15 feet. Drilled a two wood over the water to the par 5 17th just missing the green left. Most every putt looked like it had a chance to go in… but they just kept sliding by.

All in all I came away feeling pretty good about the round, although I didn’t score as well as I would have liked.

Thanks Lag,
Too shoot low, our putters need to be behaving. But to shoot 74 and be happy, i can relate to that. Sounds like you hit it great, just no reward

Thanks for sharing


Green Valley Country Club


Zack and I teed it up today for an afternoon game at the beautiful Green Valley CC. 24 days since playing my last round and it showed. I had diced my left hand index finger pretty good a couple weeks ago after a piece of metal came lose on a power drill and spun around after catching on the bit and left a bloody mess pretty quickly… so couldn’t even do any module drills to keep a feel for form. Nice to have that heeled up. I never play or hit shots with an injury.

The greens were rolling out very fast. Zack said about 11 to 12 on the stint meter. Not easy walking out there onto those greens with zero putting practice for over a month. 5 bogeys, a kick in birdie on the 4th after nice approach, and a bomb for birdie on the 18th after a 7 iron ended up 40 feet past the hole. After lay offs, the first thing that goes for me is my feel for distances. After hitting the first 4 greens I played a nice 5 iron into the par 3 5th that came up short of the green. The shot felt good coming off the face and was right on line. Looked like I would have having another nice run at a birdie. The chip took a strange bounce and just started rolling sideways and I missed a 10 foot par putt. On the 8th I hit what I thought was the best shot of the round with a 6 iron from 160. The ball was coming down right at the flagstick but flew the green. The pin was back so according to the yardage, I should have been about 170. The shot must have carried 180 yards. I didn’t hit it particularly hard. I don’t know what happened… still don’t. Most of my iron shots on previous holes were coming up a bit short… so this was a shocker. Did the same thing on the next hole from center of the fairway with an 8 iron. Right over the green. I can only speculate that my brain was having to process a different shaft flex as I played the 1956 Dynas today which are a bit firmer than my Armour VFQ set which has the ProPel 1’s in them. After missing a 4 foot birdie putt on #10, I three putted #11. Missed a 10 foot birdie putt on #12, and failed to birdie the par 5 15th. The 16th is the longest four par and I played a nice drive and a 5 iron right at the stick that again came up short of the green. What I thought was a nice chip turned into another run away slider that seemed to take a very bad kick to the left once it hit the green. Hit a nice 2 iron onto the green on the long par three 17th coming up just short on the lag putt. Drive 7 iron and finally made a long putt on 18.

These are the kind of things that seem to happen after a layoff. I didn’t have 65 in the bag today, but had I felt a better sense of depth perception, I could have shot under par today even with the layoff.

I’m going to make and effort to get out and play a bit more.


Another round out at Green Valley CC. It’s a really good golf course. Tight off the tee, small greens and very very fast surfaces. Today we had some pretty good wind out there. The course sits down into the corner of a valley and the wind just seems to swirl and change directions very quickly. It’s fun to try to tap into that stuff on a more intuitive level.


I finally got around to reshafting my 2 wood so that I can play it right to left easier than my driver… Today I went out and just tried to hit a lot of fairways. 10 out of 14. Hit 12 greens. Birdied #2 and #3 out of the shoot but gave those back on #4 and #5 with poor tee shots. Had a really nice stretch of very good ball striking for six straight holes… the 6th through the 11th.
Hitting all the fairways with proper shot shape:

6 iron to 10 feet,
7 iron to 8 feet,
5 iron to 30 feet,
pitch to 6 feet,
8 iron to 20 feet,
8 iron to 6 feet.

missed a green on 13 just on the left fringe,

#14 hit a 7 iron 5 feet
#15 pitched to 10 feet.

Only made one of the those putts to convert… but a lot of nice looking putts that could have gone in on a more prolific day with the putter.


#16 is the longest par 4 on the course and it played dead into the wind… hit a perfect drive then hit a 4 iron right at the stick, but it came up just short on the fringe. Hit the pin with my chip.

3 birdies, 4 bogeys.

Made two 15 foot birdie putts and a six footer. Could have easily had 6 birdies today with a bit of luck.

All in all it was quite a better round than the last time I played. I can feel some good rounds coming up again soon if I can find the time to play in the next couple weeks.


That is a really good golf course. They have held U.S.Senior Open qualifying there quite a few times. Guys always come in thinking they are going to light it up because of the yardage and it seems like even par or just a couple under will get you in. When the winds get swirling and dry the greens out a little in can be pretty interesting!

For the better players… this course really needs to be played with persimmon… because of where the fairway bunkers are located. There is a lot of strategy there in controlling distances off the tee. Just bombing it over the bunkers and wedging into every hole hitting a frying pan and a ProV is silly. There is such a test out there that is really fun and demanding if you understand and respect the layout a bit.

I think I have played the course 3 times now… which is great because I am starting to learn what the architect had in mind for options and strategy.

The greens are really really fast out there now… so you have to be very tentative when above the hole.

72 Mare Island


Back to Mare Island. It had been almost a month since I had played. I have been drilling a good bit on my module work, in particular a change in my backswing as I have been wanting to explore the offerings of a more inside takeaway. The reason has been that intuitively, I tend to want to come down on a similar hand path than my takeaway… and working on the Superslotting stuff has found me wanting more forearm rotation through transition. Getting the forearms rotating earlier seems to be helping me decrease the amount I need to further rotate them at transition.

All those thoughts go out the window on the first tee. It was a beautiful afternoon with a stiff wind coming right off the bay.
I played for a fade on the first two tee shots and hit both a driver on the first and a 1 iron on the second into the left rough.
I was able to get both of those shots onto the greens and made pars. The third hole at Mare is one of the toughest par 3’s I have ever played. From an elevated tee into a stiff wind we had to play 3 irons to a back left pin. Anything on the green here is a blessing. If you miss the green either left or right you are in a hazard. It’s really not much different than the TPC island green. Think of hitting a 3 iron into a smaller green at 17 TPC from an elevated tee. Anyway, I rifled a 3 iron at the pin, but as the ball descended down toward the green, it just drifted slightly left about 15 feet and landed into the brush.
I dropped and got up and down for bogey.

From here out I hit every fairway the rest of the day, hit greens 4 through 11 only missing the 8th with a 2 iron into a strong cross wind. No birdies on the front but had some nice looks. The greens had recently been punched and sanded but I did make a nice 30 footer for birdie on 10.

I missed the green on 12 just short but left an easy chip for the conversion. Missed on 15 right over the pin into the back bunker which was a very tough shot straight uphill, dead into the wind from an uphill lie. Pretty nicely struck shot. 16 I trickled it off the green to the right coming out of the left fairway bunker. Made nice par saving putts on both 15 and 16.
Drilled a nice approach into the par 3 17th to about 8 feet and just missed.

The 18th after a perfect drive, I just missed the green left with a 5 iron. Had an easy chip but it hit a bit firm and skidded about 8 feet past and missed the comeback for the only bogey on the back.

Not impossible, but a tough day to shoot low putting the sanded punched greens and a fair bit of wind in the air. After playing a few rounds at Green Valley, it’s amazing how narrow the fairways looked at Mare. All in all I was pretty pleased after not playing for a while and certainly drove the ball off the tee as well as I could ever have hoped for. The putter felt good with lots of nice rolls and a few key putts going in.


Mare Island

Another month had gone by… hard to believe it had been that long since I played. This was a very good 72 on a very windy afternoon round out at Mare. When the winds get up this high coming off the Bay, Mare really shows her teeth. It’s just flat out tough. I missed only two fairways just by a few yards and both those mistakes cost me bogeys. The other bogey came on #11 after a perfect drive and 6 iron dead into the wind came up about a yard short, then rolled all the way back down the hill leaving a very difficult chip off hard pan to an elevated green.

I’m really thrilled with my new Spalding driver Model 28 with the Gamma Fire insert and the 1 iron pole shaft. Everything about it feels right, and I am really getting used to it now. It feels like home in my hands. Mike and I experimented quite a bit putting some drivers together over the last year, and this is the one. It’s the heaviest driver I have ever played in my life at 15 ounces. So nice to be able to feel the head having not played in quite a while. The mass also forces the body to work and turn, something a lightweight driver does not require. It’s not going left. If I have to turn one right to left, I play my two wood which also has a 1 iron shaft in it… but not tipped quite as firm… still very stiff though. All my shafts now are spot on when tested on my deflection board. That’s the way to do shafts… not frequency matching, or worrying about swing weights. Lining them up based upon actual stress load.

The highlights were sticking a 4 iron 12 feet on the par 3 third dead into the wind from an elevated tee, and then stuffing a 2 iron to 6 feet on the par 3 8th with a big right to left cross wind. It was one of those shots that was struck absolutely perfect, could feel the shaft flex hold and the ball just never left the pin in spite of the wind. Despite not playing for a while, I didn’t hit any really poor shots. Just good solid tee to green play, 14 greens, and rolled the ball very nicely making some nice par savers and a 20 footer for birdie on #10.

The other highlight was seeing how much Newman has improved his ball striking. Fun to see that happening and he has been putting in his drill time which is paying off.

Dad is coming out next week for a two week visit, so surely I’ll be playing more golf as he likes to play most every day.

Nice round John. Hope you get to play a bit more. I enjoy reading about your rounds and thought process.


Green Valley CC

Playing with Al Barkow, his son Adam who is going to turn pro next month, and Zach. Beautiful day, perfect greens, slight breeze, clear skies… late afternoon round teeing off at 3 PM.

Nice to start off the round with a birdie on short but tight five par. A nicely placed drive and my 4 iron approach up the hill actually hit the flag. Two putt birdie. Another birdie on a much longer five par #3… this time I really cranked a drive with a hard draw and fired a 1 iron into the green for another two putt birdie. Parred the next three with greens hit and two putts. Oddly enough I bogeyed both #7 and #8 after hitting beautiful iron shots right over the pin but three putted back to back from 30 and 40 feet. Both pins were up front and I played shots into the center of the greens but just simply rolled my putts by 8 and 10 feet for a pair of frustrating bogeys. Closed out the nice just missing a nice birdie putt that stopped hanging on the lip from 15 feet down a big left to right slope. Hit all 9 greens and two of the par 5’s in two but only managed an even par front nine.

After a pitch and another birdie on #10 making a hard right to left putt down a slope from 8 feet… I got back to red numbers. On #11 I tried to hit a hard draw around the corner but over cooked it into the left trees and clipped the top of a tree on my approach which led to a bogey.

My right foot slipped on my tee shot on #12 with a 1 iron which left me a difficult approach up the hill with a 6 iron. Hit a very nice shot just a hair right of the pin that skipped into the back rough. Made a tricky downhill par saver from 6 feet.

On the par 3 13th, hit a 7 iron right over the pin and canned a 30 footer coming straight down the hill for birdie. Hit my best drive of the day on 14 but hit a poor wedge shot in past the hole so I was not able to capitalize and settled for par.

My thought on the tee at #15, a very nicely laid out 5 par… was to try to birdie here and #18 so I could shoot 69. #16 is a long par four and #17 a long par three which are not really birdie holes. You have to lay up a bit off the tee on #15 as there is a creek across the fairway… and the green is heavily guarded by bunkers. After a perfect drive, I thought I would gamble and go at the green with a 2 wood…but I hit it dead straight into the left green side bunker as I was trying to cut the ball into the green. I had a poor lie and had to play a long bunker shot while standing outside the bunker and crouching down to play the shot. I caught it just a bit thin and carried it just off the back of the green. Hit a poor chip long coming down the hill and missed for bogey. Always disappointing making bogey on a par 5. Didn’t play # 16 very well but make a 12 foot par saver. Hit a 2 iron into the right bunker on 17 and didn’t convert. Missed my drive right on 18, played my approach pin high left and make a nice up and down.

A bit of a strange inconsistent round… a few poor drives, a couple poor chips. Felt like I played better than a 73, but when it was added up at the end of the day… it was a 73!

Hopefully some really good rounds are just around the corner.

good playing, love to hear this stuff. would be cool to see a video hear and there of you out on the course! :wink:

Just took a quick look and I have played 11 rounds this year in 4 and a half months with a stroke average of 71.9. I think 3 rounds a month should be doable… so I need to pick up the pace a bit and get out to play more. I would like to get my average down to 70.5. I feel that is realistic if I can post a few 66’s here and there. I feel it’s doable.

I certainly enjoy playing and find it a unique challenge to shoot good scores without the safety net of pounding thousands of balls and endless hours refining the short game. Good technique is what is going to allow me to play respectable pro level golf in spite of very limited practice time.

I’m pretty thrilled at how I putt now. Using the chip rolling method has been a lifesaver. I feel confident I can hole a few quality putts nearly every round I play with zero practice. When I was on tour I would spend an hour or two hours a day putting… and about the same chipping and pitching. That stuff is the real scoring area and on the pro tour… you have to be very sharp on and around the greens.

During my playing years… I was a mediocre putter at best. If I didn’t practice I was a poor putter. I feel like I putt as good now with zero practice as I did with the more popular technique I used on tour. Upright, light putter, a special putting grip with a square or flat top putting grip.

The difference to me between playing full time… and two rounds a month with no practice is that I miss hit more shots now than I used to. But I would say that the quality of my strikes in general is better now. My golf swing has improved significantly and this enables me to strike the ball well without contriving consistent play through grinding golf balls. Had I played as little as I do now 20 years ago… I would not be scoring as well.

Practice cleans up the silly stuff. Sometimes I’ll hit a shot poorly and I know that I could drop 10 balls and play them all better than what I just did. This is an example of what quality practicing does.

Another self imposed boundary is that I don’t hit balls before I play. I only need to hit one ball. That tells me more than a bucket of balls would. The first ball tells me what my tendency will be for the day. I only get one chance to see that in it’s purity. As soon as I rake over a second ball… I am trying to FIX something. Adjust something. I can tee off without hitting a ball… and then have only one thought… strike and shape the ball in the direction I am aiming. If I hit one ball before I play, I can take a very definitive thought to my first strike on the first tee. I know I will need to feel more of this or that. Hitting 30 balls before I play will only aggravate my thoughts… add doubt and confusion and keep me open to more irrelevant thoughts.

However, I do like to loosen up… stretch and do some bag work… this gets my muscles ready to perform… but this is in contrast to trying to find a swing on the range before I play. For me… it’s clearly counter productive.
Bob Rosburg won the PGA Championship without hitting practice balls. I won the Las Vegas TRGA Event by 7 shots a couple years back without hitting any range balls before or after I played. The point is… it can be done. There is some validity to this approach. It’s not a popular one… but the better one’s technique is… the more viable such an option can be.


San Geronimo Golf Course Fairfax CA.

First time I made the trek up into the Marin highlands to play this course built in 1969. I had heard many many good things about this track… so we decided to head up for a game. I was a bit disappointed as I didn’t think the course was up to the standard of what so many had proclaimed. Too many wide open holes, and too many boring holes. There where no doubt some fine holes on this golf course… so I can see why some would jump up and down… but I feel the architect missed some opportunities to get the best out this beautiful property.

Great courses have risk and reward, and holes that shape correctly to the topography. A beautiful setting can of course bring out that specialness, and San Geronimo is in a beautiful location up in this valley 30 minutes north of San Francisco. But great courses don’t have throwaway holes… or horrible holes like the 14th.

The 14th is a par 4 that should not have been a golf hole. It’s a dogleg left with an extreme left to right sloping fairway topped off with a blind shot off the tee. Today, there was basically no way to keep a ball in the fairway. I played a 1 iron off the tee up the left side and my ball ended up in the right rough. There is a bunker short right of a fairly small green. There is no way to get a ball into the left side of the fairway to open up the pin. Today, I don’t think it was possible to get a ball into the fairway with a left to right wind.

It would have been better to turn the 13th… (a par 3) into a par four… and then turn the 14th into a par 3 from an elevated tee. The course would then have back to back par 3’s which is not common… but both 15 and 16 at Cypress Point are back to back 3 pars.

The 16th is another opportunity missed. There is a natural hazard that pokes out into the left third of the fairway. I hit a 1 iron off the tee perfect about 15 yards short of the hazard… but this left me only a wedge in from about 110 yards. A driver down the right side would leave me 50 to 70 yards? Now if a 1 iron left me a 6 iron … and there was a driver option down the tight right side so I could get a wedge in my hands to play into a small firm green… then there is a real temptation… but 1 iron to 110 or driver to 70 is not taking advantage of a risk reward situation that this hole could be offering.

If Geronimo were super tight and tree lined, which it surely could have been… this would be a much better track. The greens had too much slope in them for as fast as they were running which is an issue created by modern agronomy… I doubt the intention was to ever have them that fast in 1969.

It’s a pretty place to play. The back nine is much more interesting than the front. It’s not an easy course… and rated at 73 which I thought was accurate… but I would not likely play there again. It’s not a bad golf course… but with that beautiful of a property, topography and terrain… I think the architect could have done something much more compelling.

My game was fair today. Birdies on #9 (wedge to 4 feet) / #10 (1 iron to 30 feet two putt 5 par) / #16 1 iron off tee, wedge to 20 feet) / #17 pitch to 6 feet on 5 par.

Bogeys from a 3 putt, a iron that went over the back of a green played from extreme downwind, a drive into the right trees, a poor chip from right of a green.

I didn’t have 66 in the bag today. Very windy conditions… drove it ok… not great… irons ok… not great… putted ok… not great. Shot 72… ok but not great! lol

Didn’t feel I was rotating as well post impact as I would like. Felt a bit lazy at P4… so I’ll work on that a bit the next few days.

71 Rancho Solano

With dad in town for two weeks… it’s time to play some golf. He loves to play most everyday… so this give me a bit of motivation to get my number of rounds up for the year.

I took a quick video of my swing this morning and noticed it looked a bit sluggish. So I decided to firm things up… focus on taking it back as flat as I could, and firing hard into a left side torso crunch. I took a few swings with the powerboard on the deck before we headed off the the course.

I can’t remember a day I have driven the ball better off the tee. Hit 13 of 14 fairways, and the only fairway I missed was from a bad kick as I perfectly cut a drive around a corner. I had complete control of shape and trajectory off the tee as well as distance control… and was striking some very long drives when I needed to. Mike (our ABS club maestro) joined us and he said a few of my drives were in places that he doesn’t even see guys with frying pans getting to. With his GPS, he calculated drives of 287 on the 6th, 296 on the 7th, and 305 on the 17th. For some reason, my body was feeling really alive with strong rotation today. Mike mentioned that their must be something to my theory on using a 43 1/2 inch 15 ounce persimmon with a telephone pole shaft in it. It was the first time he saw me play this Spalding Model 28 he built for me with the rare Gamma Fire insert. He is making me another one from a super hard Spalding block I had on my work bench last week. It is just so nice to be able to go at a driver 100 percent and not fear hooking the ball left.

Hard to believe I didn’t shoot lower than 71 hitting 15 greens. Four birdies three bogeys. All three greens I did miss where on the 3 pars. The first two landed on the green and ran through with 3 and 2 irons. The third was simply the only really bad swing I made today hitting a 3 iron short right into the water on the par 3 12th.

I didn’t putt poorly by any means… as I made a nice par saver on #8 from about 15 feet. Made a 40 foot birdie on 14, and a 6 foot birdie putt on 15. But I did miss 6 putts inside 10 feet… so that is why I would say that I had 65 in the bag today tee to green. I often read articles about guys like Rory and Tiger that play 72 holes without missing a putt inside 10 feet. But considering I don’t practice putting… I still have enough quality putting rounds to feel good about my technique. I don’t fear embarrassing myself on the greens since moving to the chip rolling method a while back. Came pretty close to making birdies on that last 5 holes. After making back to back on 14 and 15, my putt on 16 came up just inches short right in the jar… and I three putted 17 for par after hitting driver - 2 wood to 40 feet from 240 out. The 18th I hit my approach 6 feet and lipped it on the high side. The putt on 17 did a 360… didn’t think for a second I missed it. But if I keep striking the ball like I did today… I’ll be back shooting some lower scores soon.

But I can’t remember a round driving the ball this well since I was on tour. I remember playing with Grant Waite in the final round of the BC Open, and hadn’t missed a fairway all day. On the 18th… Grant said to me…
“how good are you hitting your driver today?” I told him " good enough to start this at the left bunker and cut it 5 yards to the right and still out drive you by 10! That’s exactly what happened… and we both had a laugh!
It sure makes the game easier when you are playing from the short grass… although I am sure Tiger and Phil might differ in opinion.


Mare Island

Mid afternoon round with a brisk wind coming off the bay. Greens were pretty quick and firm with the usual afternoon bumpiness. Two bogeys, One birdie. Hit 13 greens and got up and down 4 out of 5 times failing to convert on #1. The other bogey was a three putt on #11.

The lone birdie of the day came on #4 making a tricky 15 footer from above left of the hole.

Three rounds in a row in three days. Been quite a while since I have played this much golf… but with Dad in town… golf is daily thing!

Didn’t drive the ball as well as yesterday missing fairways on #1 and #5, but hit all the others (13 of 15).
Again I went with the quick and flat backswing into a very flat turn going through.

Putted pretty well with some nice saves on the greens I missed. I missed 3 putts inside 10 feet, but that is to be expected on the bumpy greens.

Pretty good solid uneventful round of golf… which is kinda of the goal.

With the big Memorial Day Weekend coming… I don’t think we will be playing for a few days to avoid the rush of everyone who got golf clubs at Christmas making their dash to the course on the holiday weekend. Probably looking to head up to Bodega Bay next week and maybe a round with Zack out at Green Valley CC. Might play a round out at Metro with Barkow if he is in town.

I did have a Deja Vu moment regarding something Moe talked to me about years ago on how he trained his backswing. I might spend some time working on that and will report back on my findings if I can solidify and clarify his words of wisdom.

71 Mare Island

Dad, Zack and I hit the links again after not playing across the busy Memorial Weekend. The greens seemed a bit battered up from the heavy play.

Today I had another shot at hitting all 18 greens. Doing so is quite a accomplishment and I really doubt it has ever been done by anyone. Playing Mare especially in the afternoon winds is like walking through a mine field.
There are just so many things that can happen or go bad, even hitting relatively good golf shots. The obvious land mines are:

#3 par 3. Long iron from elevated tee with cross wind to a small green that looks about the size of your thumb from the tee.

#7 par 4. Very tight driving hole with a postage stamp green with a false front. Approach shot is from a side hill lie with a prevailing cross wind.

#8 par 3. Long three par requiring 2 or 3 iron with a usual right to left cross wind.

#9 par 4. Tightest driving hole. Dead right, very hard to get anything on the green left of the fairway. You have to hit this fairway to hit the green… and the green is the smallest on the course with a prevailing strong left to right cross wind.

#11 par 4. Very tough shot into a very shallow green with a false front. If you miss the drive at all, you might have a long iron in which is very difficult to hit the green from there.

#12 par 4. narrow fairway, but the second shot is straight uphill… about 3 clubs in elevation to a firm green with a big bunker in front. The green often gets very windswept and sometimes good shots don’t hold. Wind often throws the ball down into the front bunker with well struck shots.

#15 par 4. Similar to #12, straight uphill off uphill lie to very small green but dead into the wind off the bay. Very difficult to pull the right club. Green has a big false front that you can spin the ball off the green and it runs back 50 yards down the fairway if you do.

#18 par 4. A long iron into a very small green and a blind shot to boot.

So today I hit the first 14 greens. Came to 15, hit a perfect drive… hit an 8 iron solid just left of the flag and when I got up to the green it had skipped into the back bunker. Made a great save for par.

Hit the greens on 16 and 17 missing birdie putts. Missed the green on 18 with a 3 iron just off the right fringe, and missed a 5 foot putt for the only bogey of the day.

So a bit of frustration and I thought I might have another go at hitting all 18. last year I came to #17 having hit all 16, but missed the green slightly left with an 8 iron… and then hit #18 for a 17 green round. So today was equal to that round coming into 18 which I just missed. Always good to hit 16 greens at Mare… as that was my best for several years.

35 putts today… no three putts… just lots of close calls… and no birdies. Zack got shut out also… so I don’t think it was our putting strokes as Zack is a good putter also.

Drove the ball very well again today missing only two fairways… and neither drive put me in any serious trouble.

If I had a PGA Tour hot putting round… one of those Tiger or Phil 25 putt rounds… well… it would have been a 61!

I’ll just keep rolling the ball and hopefully will get hot with the blade soon to post a low round.


Blue Rock Springs West (The Old Course)


With a 4th straight 71, I think might have a chance for an all time personal record tomorrow of shooting the same score 5 straight rounds. I once shot the same score 4 straight days in the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne.

Besides that, it might be a bit ironic that I had never played Blue Rock Springs, even though it is the closest golf course to our home here in The SF Bay Area. Just 10 minutes to the first tee. I suppose the reason I never played there is because of my love for Mare Island. The other probably being that I watched the movie “The Zodiac Killer” and found out that the second gruesome killing happened in the parking lot of this golf course. While it was a long time ago, I often get asked by visitors about the nations most notorious unsolved serial killer, and I am to some degree always reminded of it on a simple trip to Home Depot as I have to drive by the sites of the first two crime scenes… the other being the parking lot at Lake Herman.

Putting that aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the golf course. While short at about 6000 yards, many of the holes are VERY narrow and require very precise tee shots. Being the first time I played here… I struggled a bit on gauging distances on approach shots. I don’t use yardages other than a glace at a general marker… even doing that I was flabbergasted on several occasions being off by 2 clubs even on a couple of short iron shots… probably due to hidden prevailing winds and subtle elevation changes.

While this might be a silly short course in the modern age for most… I found it charming in general… and I certainly didn’t go out and make a mockery of it. There was some surprisingly thick rough down many of the fairways and around the greens, bunkers with hard sand and greens that were far from PGA Tour surfaces. None of these things I mind. I like the challenge of golf on a more natural setting. We had some stiff winds out there also, and playing persimmon, this shows that golf does not need to be played on 7400 yard soccer fields to be a tough challenge.

I didn’t strike the ball nearly as well as I did yesterday… but thankfully made 4 nice birdie putts from 6, 10, 15, and a nice L to R 20 footer down the hill on #17 to lock in the 71. I easily could have shot 76 out there today and left the course shaking my head.

Apparently this course was originally built in the 1940’s. Small greens, tight fairways, gradual natural gradations. There was some kind of monument on the 6th teebox noting a list of Vallejo Golf Club presidents going back to this time. There was a lot of old foliage around the property to support such an observation. But there were a few holes on the back nine that showed the course was far from unmolested by modern architects.

Why take a traditional course and add 5 holes that have nothing to do with the feel and design of the rest of the course? Wide open… the typical boring overdone ski mogul mounding down and even in the fairways, around the greens, and suddenly huge greens and bunkers… out of nowhere. This just lost me and really took me right out of what was otherwise an enjoyable play across a very nice piece of property. Fortunately the course turned back toward the clubhouse into some very nicely designed classic feeling holes on 16, 17, and 18.

The other thing I found suspicious was having to walk 200 yards from the 4th green to the 5th tee which was of course not on the original layout as they didn’t do those kind of silly things back then.

I am interested in knowing what happened and if maybe this course was originally a nine hole layout, with additions coming at several different times as the first four holes felt like a late 60’s or early 70’s course, with the back nine holes feeling like the 80’s or 90’s ski mogul silliness. There were some really wonderful holes out there that I found inspiring. All in all I thought it was a better course than I would have expected… and would consider playing there again.