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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Worst Place for Golf: NYC

New York City goes by many monikers: The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, and The Financial Capital of the World. I have a new one. The World's Worst Place for Golf.

I was in New York City over the weekend for the 30th birthday one of my brothers. He lives on the Upper West Side in a very nice neighborhood. In his apartment sit his golf clubs. And sit... And sit...

When people talk about golf in the New York metro area, they gush over the possibilities. You've heard of many of the big ones near town: Wykagl, Winged Foot, Fenway, Quaker Ridge, Baltustrol, etc. Then, there are the biggies on Long Island such as The National Golf Club of America, Shinnecock, Maidstone, Piping Rock, The Creek Club, Garden City Golf Club, and the like. However, if you're not a member at these clubs, you're stuck. Especially if you actually live in the city.

Getting out of the city to play decent public golf in New York or New Jersey takes a tremendous amount of effort and time. When you commit to playing, you must commit your entire day to the outing. Everywhere else in America, you can easily play public golf without using up more than five hours. The hassle of getting out of the city, whether it be in a car (should you be so lucky to have one) or on public transportation, makes getting up the energy to play extremely daunting.

There are plenty of good public courses in the New York Metro area. It's too bad that many would-be avid golfers only play them on occasion. Maybe there's a business opportunity here; a catered golf shuttle that groups can book to make their long, arduous journeys from The World's Worst Place for Golf more enjoyable. Only then could New York shed this unfavorable title.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Evidence That My Golf Goal Is Reachable

I have a new friend named Nick who at 67 years old, has already reached my major golf goal of playing 1,000 different golf courses. When I last spoke to him, he was at 1,094, and he's adding to that number all the time. In fact, he has played over 290 different courses that he had never played before during the past two and a half years. Simply amazing.

When I made my bet with my buddy Jim that I would play 1,000 courses by the time I turned 70, I was confident that I would do it. It's about 23 courses per year. In some years I'll play less, and in others I'll play more. However, what Nick reinforces for me is that once I retire, the sky's the limit. When I no longer have to work, I should easily be able to rack up 50-75 different courses per year. At least that's my hope.

Either way, Nick has shown me real evidence that I'm not crazy to set my goal at 1,000. He's even raised the ante; his new goal is 1,500. I'm not ready to raise my goal (I'm only at 161), but it sure sounds appealing...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

When the Old Is New Again

Last weekend I had the pleasure of playing Seaview's (Marriott) Bay Course, an old Donald Ross course that plays along Reed's Bay near Atlantic City, NJ. The only other time I had played there was about twenty years ago when I was around eleven years old. My grandfather, who was a member of Seaview prior to the purchase by Marriott (he never got over it), took my brother and I out for a memorable round.

Twenty years later, I actually remembered a few of the holes, even though an extensive renovation was completed several years ago to restore the course to something resembling what Ross had envisioned many years ago. The difference between how the course looked and played twenty years ago and today are significant. I really enjoyed my round even though I didn't play very well. The cross bunkering, mounding, and small greens (not to mention the wind)make Seaview Bay a challenging course, even though it is short by today's standards. The par 3s are especially solid and challenging. My favorite hole might be the 16th, a shortish par 5 with strategically placed cross bunkers that create yardage issues on your second and third shots. Ross used some design tricks to mess with your eyes - a feature that I always like.

The new has retained what was old at Seaview, but no matter how many times I play it in the future, it can never go back to the way it was when I could play it with my grandfather.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Galloway National. Whoa...

I recently had the good fortune of playing Galloway National GC in South Jersey. This is a Tom Fazio designed gem with a very small and proud membership. If you ever have the opportunity to play Galloway, go out of your way to do it. I have played nearly twenty courses in the general area surrounding Galloway, and this course is the top of the heap. Fazio did a remarkable job maintaining a natural feel in a landscape that includes pine barrens, wetlands, and scrubby, sandy wasteland. There is plenty of elevation change, generous fairways, strategic angles, and interesting green complexes that can give one fits if he's not rolling his ball. Golf Week ranks Galloway National #38 in it's Top 100 ranking of modern courses, and it is very deserving. Hats off to the designer, the superintendent, and the membership!