Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course - Course review

    Source; www.tpc.com/scottsdale

Look who’s back, BurghGolfer is Back…..Nah Nah, Nah.  Ok, I am no Eminem but I felt it is appropriate since I have not posted a Blog on this site in a LONG time.  It is not that I have lacked things to say, I have just been busy. 
So, I wanted to start back by writing a few course reviews from our recent Annual Spring Golf Trip.  We went to Scottsdale again this year and played four great courses.  As we have done in the past we played TPC Scottsdale on the final day.  Once again, we had awesome spring weather, 70’s at tee off and low 80’s throughout the round. 

I have to say I love playing this golf course.  First, it is cool to play a great golf course that the pros play each year.  Second, the TPC is a very “playable” golf course for the average player.  What do I mean by that?  The course is right in front of you.  There are few blind tee shots, hidden fairway bunkers, etc.  Second, the forecaddies are great.  I love playing golf with a caddie, but if you cannot have a full caddie the Forecaddie is the next best thing. 
We have all seen the bleachers on TV of the 40,000 fans on the par 3 sixteenth.  So, the staff has told us on two different occasions that it takes three months to put the bleachers up on that hole and two months to take them down.  Can you imagine all that effort for the 5 days the players are there?

Another thing I like about the course is that it is a second shot golf course.  As I mentioned the course is right in front of you off the tee.  However,   you really need to know where to hit your second and approach shots into the green.  For example, on 18, I bombed a drive off the tee and only had 117 into the green.  I was in between clubs and the caddy reminded me to stay right of the pin to avoid the slope.  I did listen to him however; I hit my 52 degree wedge harder than normal and pull my second shot.  This led to a difficult first putt which I left 10 short of the hole.  Which I went on to miss and three putted.
In my normal course reviews I talk about the golf course, driving range, facilities, pro shop and service.  However, for this review all I can say is that it is world class.  It has everything you could want, need or desire in a public golf course.  The staff is exceptional, the pro shop is fully stocked and if you need to work on your game there is no better range.
Sadly, they are about to redesign the TPC course starting in April 2014.  Not that I am opposed to changes to the course but it will never be the same again.  So, they will be closed for 8 months while the renovation takes place.  I am sure the redesigned TPC will be just as fun and challenging as the original.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hitting down the target line

I recently had the opportunity to play in our states Mid Amateur Championship.  I was excited to play with other guys my age, and on a great golf course under tournament conditions.  One of the main reasons why I play in these types of events is to test myself but to also discover the weaknesses in my game.  When playing a difficult golf course under pressure the weaknesses in your game will come through.  In this particular event my weakness was my iron play accuracy.  I was striking the ball cleanly enough; however, my accuracy was not what it needed to be.  So, after some reflection on a cause and I came up with a remedy. 

A friend of mine always used to say “a road to somewhere leads nowhere”.  He used that in context of business planning but I also see an application in golf.  In other words, when you setup to hit a shot without an exact target you are not likely to hit it.  So, I went to the range to apply this philosophy in my practice routine.  I decided to use the same routine that Jack Nicklaus has always taught about target alignment.  Jack always says to stand behind the ball while lining up the shot and then select your target.  From there, pick your end target as well as an intermediate target such as a spot of grass in front of your ball.  The idea being that it is easier to line up to a target a few inches in front of the ball rather than a hundred yards out.  So, I employed this method but took it one step further and here is where it made the difference for me.  I not only aligned to that intermediate target but I also hit through the ball on that line to the short range target.  The positive results for me were two things.  First, my ball was starting out on the exact target line I was aiming for and ultimately, ending up at the target.  Second, my clubface was much squarer at impact resulting in a more solid strike.  This leads to better distance control and shot trajectory.  My thinking was if this drill is good enough for the greatest player of all time, then it is good enough for me.  There is one final aspect to this method that I like.  In performing this technique you will find yourself driving down the target line and through the ball.  In other words, your focus becomes driving through the ball to the target rather than the “hit” at impact.  Most of us are so focused on hitting at the ball not hitting through the ball.  Your focus becomes more target driven than impact driven.

I am not a PGA Professional nor do I claim to be.  However, when I do find a drill or tip that works both on the course and practice range I like to share it.  So, the next time you go to the range give this tip a try, you may also find that it leads to better impact and more accurate golf shots.

Let us know if this works for you, I would like to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Practice vs. Preparation

            As we enter the summer golf season it is time to sharpen our games for competitive golf events.  This includes all aspects of our game both physical and mental.  I do not play that many events each year due to my work schedule however, I try and play a handful that I enjoy competing in.  I know that I am not one of those guys who has endless access to practice facilities, lessons and competitive games to prepare.  My schedule mainly consists of a few Mid Am events that I can qualify for, the Club Championship, a Match Play event and a few invitational’s.  I would love to play more competitive golf but the bottom line is that I do not have the time to spend on my game in order to prepare. Actually, I prefer to play competitive golf over social golf any day of the week but that is not an option.
I decided to write this blog because I wanted to put my thoughts down on paper describing the differences between practice and preparation as I see it.  I see practice as more of a repetitive, physical action that comes from the time spent on the practice tee.   Whereas, I see preparation as more of a mental exercise.  I truly believe to play great golf in competition you need both elements and need to prepare for both accordingly. 
Now, it is no secret that you need the physical and mental aspects of the game.  What I am suggesting however is that you need to focus on both and think about both distinctively.
For practice, there is no substitute for going the range and hitting golf balls to hone your swing.  Likewise, there is nothing better you can do to improve your scores than to spend time on the practice green chipping and putting.
The difference for me in preparation is how do you think about your practice and how do you situationally prepare?  Most of us go to the driving range or practice green and just hit balls, chips and putts repetitively.  There is very little thought on what the target is, where the ball should land or how the putt will break.  When I prepare for an event I hit each practice shot to a specific target, each chip to an intended spot and each putt on a particular line.
Another preparation tip I employ is to put myself in a frame of mind during practice to hit that specific shot, chip or putt as if it was under intense pressure during tournament conditions.  I know that is difficult to reproduce those feelings of pressure that you get when playing in competition.   However, we must make every attempt that we can to try. 
So, the next time you prepare for an event do not just stand there and beat balls.  Do not stand there and just hit chips.  Do not stand there and putt to the nearest hole.  Instead, hit a golf shot that you will face during the round.  Hit pitch shots or chips that will matter in saving a stroke or a hole.  Finally, do not just lag the putt rather, try and make it while at the same time leaving yourself a short comeback putt.

How do you prepare for golf tournaments?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Golf and Life Lessons

source: sportsillustrated.cnn.com
For those of us who have been playing golf for a long time, we know that there are parallels between golf and life.  Golf is not simply a sport or hobby as some like to call it; the game is much more than that.  At least that is how I feel about it as I have experienced many events that cross over, like dealing with adversity.  Over the past few years our family has had to deal with numerous health issues and deaths of loved ones.  That adversity makes a person stronger, teaches you lessons about how to deal with certain situations and provides you with an appreciation of day-to-day life.
Likewise, dealing with adversity on the golf course is much the same way.  Golf adversity is not as important as life; however, the process you go through is similar in both cases.  Everyone copes with adversity differently.  Some people run away and hide.  Others rely on someone else to take care of things for them.  Then there are those folks who rise to the occasion and face the challenge head on.
I would like to think I am the latter.  However, I am probably a mixture of all three depending on the situation.  On the golf course I tend to face the situation head on as I am a competitive person.  If I am down in a match or if I am struggling with my game, I am not one to give up.  If I get a bad break I may complain about it but then usually refocus and do my best to get through it.  I think match play events have taught me the most about dealing with adversity.  I have played in many match play events in my life dating back to high school.  In match play you have many ups and downs in the course of a round and you need to learn how to deal with those situations on the fly.  There is no one there to bail you out.  There is no one there to pass the ball to or substitute.  In golf, you cannot even call a timeout so you learn to deal with the situation at hand the best you can and learn from the outcomes.
Life also deals us adversity and fortunately we generally have more time to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.  We can get counsel from friends and family members.  We can reflect and consider our options.  However, in the end we still need to be strong, make sound decisions and accept the outcomes.  Just like golf, life does not always deal us a fair hand and sometimes we have to accept the outcome.  However, just as in golf, we can learn from the experience and apply it to our life the next time we are in a similar situation.
How do you handle adversity in life or in golf?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Troon North Course Review

           This is the second in a series of three course reviews from our recent Arizona golf trip.  On day two we played the world-renowned Troon North Golf Club.  Troon North features two world class golf courses; the Monument and Pinnacle.  We played the Monument Course on this outing.  The Monument Course plays to a yardage of 7,070, has a course rating of 72.9 and a slope of 147 from the Black Tees.  We chose to play the Gold Tees.  The Gold stats are: yardage - 6,716; course rating - 71.6; and slope of 137.  It was still quite a challenge from these tee boxes.
Troon North, like most great desert courses, is first class all the way.  This facility has every amenity a golfer could want.  They have a wonderful driving range and putting green that players can use to knock the rust off.  They also have a fully stocked golf shop with anything you might need in case you under packed.  If your foursome is looking for a facility that offers a great place to practice, as well as a great golf experience, you cannot go wrong with Troon North.
One of the features that impressed me the most about Troon North was that it is a true championship golf course.  This course will challenge you in every aspect of the game.  Although the greens were a little on the slow side the day we played, you can tell they can make them quite challenging for a tournament setting.  The only element of the course that I did not prefer was the surrounding residential subdivisions which took away from the natural views.  However,  I realize that in modern golf course planning, expensive homes dotting the fairways is a given.  Even with that I still loved the layout.
One element that you need to be wary of on this course is that there are a lot of forced carries off of the tee boxes.  So, if you struggle off the tee or are a short hitter be sure and take plenty of golf balls.  There are rattlesnake warning signs positioned around the course, so you might not want to go searching for your lost ball in every instance.
The Monument course has a great variety of holes.  There are challenging par 3s, reachable par 5s and long par 4s.  My favorite par five on the course was the eleventh which played to 504 yards.  This may sound like a short par five but it is straight uphill the entire way and has a pretty daunting tee shot.  The tee shot is framed by large boulders and has a fairly lengthy carry to get to the fairway.  I also really enjoyed the par three 13th which played to 206 yards. This hole is bordered by a lake on the right and plays at least one club downhill.  It offers a large green and a generous approach area where you can run the ball in from the front.  The miss is short or left where you also have a number of chipping options.
All in all there are many great holes on this course and it is a must play if you get to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. 
Send us a comment if you have ever played Troon North; we would love to hear your feedback.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Positive Thinking on the Golf Course

I played golf over the weekend with a good friend of mine and we had the opportunity to discuss golf strategy.  I told him that I am a huge believer in the power of positive thinking.  I am no Tony Robbins but I firmly believe in the power of positive thought in all aspects of life.  I do not know where this stems from or whether it is a learned behavior or a personality trait.  You will need to read a psychology blog to get an answer to that one! Regardless, I have experienced it enough in my life and noticed it enough in other people to trust in the power of positive thinking, but on and off the course. 
Anyhow, here is how the topic came about.  We were playing a match and upon entering the eighth hole the score was tied.  We were on the par five 8th hole when my buddy hit his third shot to two feet and made the putt for a birdie four.    I missed the green with my third shot and was pin high about twenty feet from the green.  I told my buddy that I need to make the chip to tie him.  It was not a particularly difficult chip shot and one that a player could make if you get the ball tracking online.  So, I approached the shot, hit it perfectly, and holed it! 
The discussion about positive thinking began on the 11th hole, which is another par five.  As I hit my third shot the turf gave way and my ball came up about ten feet short of the green.  I then chipped the fourth about twenty feet past the flag leaving myself a tough downhill putt -- not very good.  At this point I felt like the eleventh hole owed me one.  I said as much to my buddy as I approached my par putt.  I do not know why I think that way, I just do.  I always feel like if the course delivers a bad break, it owes me.  Needless to say I stood up and knocked in the par putt to win the hole.
I explained to my buddy my theory on the power of positive thinking and how I use it on the golf course.  If you play golf long enough you almost have to think this way.  This is especially true if you play any competitive golf events.  You always have to believe that you can still win the hole, the match or the tournament no matter how dire the circumstances.  Tiger Woods is the master at this.  He always thinks he has a chance to win and usually does. 
I personally believe that players either think positively or negatively on the golf course and there is no in between.  If you ask most players if they are thinking positive or negative thoughts during the course of the round they would probably say the latter.
The next time you are faced with a difficult situation on the golf course, think positive.  Imagine yourself remedying the situation, improving your score, making a better swing, etc.  Do not let negative thinking creep into your game.  If you think positively, I promise you will play better, score better and enjoy the game much more than you ever have before.
Please share with us stories you have about positive thinking on the golf course.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

WE-KO-PA Course Review

           I recently had the opportunity to play WE-KO-PA Golf Course in Arizona.  WE-KO-PA is located about twenty five minutes northeast of Scottsdale.  WE-KO-PA offers two courses to play; the Saguaro and Cholla.  Both courses are named after a variety of Cactus that is native to the area and that can be found throughout the course.  Just a little trivia I learned during my round.
We played the Cholla course and teed off in the early afternoon.  The course is situated beautifully amongst the natural desert landscape and offers tremendous desert and mountain views.  Several tee boxes set atop mounds and knolls with breathtaking views of the natural landscape.  In my experience, most desert courses are relatively flat and are surrounded by residential subdivisions.  Although you do see homes from the course, the fairways are not lined with them.  As far as natural beauty goes, this course is hard to beat.
Upon our arrival we were greeted at the bag drop by very courteous staff members willing to help us out.  They loaded our bags and directed us to the pro shop.  Like most courses in this area during the season, the pro shop is fully stocked and has a great variety of apparel options.  After check in we headed to the driving range to warm up.  The range was natural grass and offered plenty of flag distances to hit to.  The balls are included in the greens fee so you do not have to purchase them in the pro shop.
The Cholla Course offers five sets of tee boxes making it playable for all level of players.  We started off playing the combination tees which were a mixture of white and purple tees.  However, after the second hole we decided to play the purple tees the remainder of the round.  The purple tees are just in front of the championship tees and behind the men’s tees (white).  I found this course very playable and not to brutal off the tee.  There is plenty of trouble off the tee on certain holes but it is not overly demanding.  In fact, one of the things I liked most about this course is that it was very playable.  We found that we could relax, enjoy the views and just play.  I was able to hit a combination of three woods and drivers on the par four holes which are always fun.  All in all, it was a great day, the golf course lived up to its reputation and I will certainly go back.  The next time we play, I will try the Saguaro course to mix it up.
If you get to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and loved to play desert golf this is a must try. Before I close, I have to give props to the staff at WE-KO-PA.  Throughout the day every staff member we came into contact with was professional, courteous and helpful.   
We also played Troon North and the TPC Stadium Course on this trip which will be upcoming course reviews. 
If you have played WE-KO-PA leave us your comments.