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Friday, February 29, 2008

Guest List: 10 Most Exclusive Courses

In October of 2006, I wrote this post about the most exclusive golf courses in America. Yesterday, some bored financial types in New York were arguing about which courses were indeed the most exclusive. They did a little Googling and came across my piece. Turns out, one of the guys involved in the conversation, Christian Siegrist, is a friend of my brother Jimmy.

So, below is their list of courses. I would point out that in my article, I said that Augusta is a given, so it was not included in my list.

Here is the list of the most exclusive private clubs that we believe are nearly impossible to play as a “non-member”. These clubs have very few members and strict policies that limit guests. It is highly unlikely that even the most well-connected golfer will be able to tee off at any of the below courses any time soon.

1) Augusta National Golf Club
2) Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
3) Seminole Golf Club
4) Oakmont Country Club
5) Merion Golf Club
6) Royal Montreal Golf Club
7) Wannamoisett Country Club
8) San Francisco Golf Club
9) Burning Tree Golf Club
10) Chicago Golf Club

With Maidstone Club and Sankaty Head Golf Club as alternatives to any on this list. Yes, number six is Canadian, but very exclusive.

My analysis: This is a good list, but not very original with the exception of Wannamoisett. I particularly like the inclusion of San Francisco and Chicago Golf. I understand that Chicago has one of the smallest memberships in the world and is very difficult to get on. Others that could have been included are the Valley Club of Montecito, The Country Club, Newport Country Club, and The Golf Club.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Courses on My Wish List

I've been keeping an informal "wish list" of courses to play for the past five years or so. Some of them are almost unattainable, but stranger things have happened than a guy like me playing Cypress Point. Below are the courses I have not played that I'd like to play before I go six feet under.

1) Royal County Down
2) St. Andrews (Old)
3) Royal Portrush (Dunluce)
4) Royal Melbourne
5) Ballybunion

USA - Private
1) Cypress Point
2) Pine Valley
3) Augusta National
4) Seminole Country Club
5) San Francisco Country Club

USA - Public
1) Pacific Dunes
2) Pebble Beach
3) Mauna Kea
4) Shadow Creek
5) Pasatiempo

Monday, February 25, 2008

PGA Tour Predictions for Rest of the Year

The PGA Tour season is in full swing with the boys heading to Florida this week for the Honda, and though it seems like I'm cheating by making my 2008 predictions now, nothing has happened very different from other years (i.e. Tiger dominating) that would change my predictions if I had done them two months ago.

Here they are:
1) Rookie of the Year - Jason Day
2) Player of the Year - Tiger Woods
3) Masters Winner - Phil Mickelson (2nd - Angel Cabrera)
4) US Open Winner - Tiger (2nd - Mickelson)
5) Open Championship Winner - Sergio Garcia (2nd - Justin Rose)
6) PGA Championship Winner - Justin Leonard or Ernie Els
7) Number of Wins for Tiger Woods - Nine
8) Number of Wins for Mickelson - Four
9) Surprise Two-time Winner - Steve Marino
10) Ryder Cup Winner - GB& I
11) Ryder Cup Team (USA) - Woods, Furyk, Mickelson, Stricker, Cink, Mahan, Weekley, Verplank, Leonard, Marino, Dustin Johnson, and Jonathan Byrd (others to watch are Lucas Glover and Zach Johnson)
12) Ryder Cup Team (GB&I) - Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Niclas Fasth, Rory McIlroy, and Colin Montgomerie (others to watch are Daniel Chopra and Bradley Dredge)

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Club in the Bag

For all of the golf I play (about 60 rounds in 2007), my equipment is a bit outdated. My high tech golfing buddies remind me about it all the time. The last club I bought was my driver, and it's now about four years old. Before that, I bought a putter -- in 2001.

So while the wife was away, I ventured over to Washington Golf to check out three-woods. The three-wood I'd been using was a no-name brand that I'm pretty sure was purchased at Costco for under $50 more than five years ago. I hit it pretty well, but not all the time. As a matter of fact, I was very inconsistent with it, and the shaft was too whippy.

I was determined to test out several clubs and come away from Washington Golf with a shiny fairway wood to complement my Taylor Made Rescue 19 degree (on semi-permanent loan from Jay Payne) and help me out on short par 4s. The guy at the shop asked me a few questions about my game, and we picked out three-woods from Taylor Made, Ping, Cobra, Exotic, and Titleist.

I got loose on their indoor "range", and then started pounding away. It was a little difficult to know exactly which one flew the best, but I was able to get a feel for which clubs fit my swing and which ones were only okay. The Taylor was really nice, but I didn't like the look of it at setup. Same with the Ping, except that the Ping felt really odd because it had a much more closed clubface than the others. The Cobra didn't do it for me (I like their drivers, though), and the Exotic blew me away.

I had never even heard of Exotic until yesterday. The Washington Golf guy told me that they were selling well and that the company guaratees 20 extra yards with it, or you can take it back. I was skeptical, but he said he'd tried it, and it was super long. It has the mamixum COR allowable by the USGA, and the face is some kind of souped-up titanium. Well, it didn't disappoint. The ball exploded off the clubface. It felt illegal. If I had the bucks, and if I intended to hit my three-wood more than three or five times per round, I might have purchased it. Unfortunately, it costs $349, so no dice.

I really liked the first Titleist I tried, but the shaft was a little weak, so we grabbed the same club with a stiff shaft. It set up well, and it felt good. I hit a bunch of shots with it right on the nose, and it was less than $200. Sold.

I took it out to a real range today, and the difference between my new Titleist 906 F4 and my old Costco Special is tremendous. I can see it being my "go to" club on tight holes, short par 4s, and shots from the fairway when I need about 220 yards of carry. I think it was a smart purchase, and now I need to get my swing in gear to maximize its potential.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Top 10 Course Rankings

I just returned from the Dominican and was able to play three times in five days. I will dedicate a post or two (with pictures) to golf in D.R., but for now, I want to post an updated personal top 10 list of my favorite golf courses.

The list has changed a lot in the past year (five of the courses are new in 2007 and 2008), so I thought this would be a good time to unveil the revision. I'm still not sure if these are all in the right place, especially Casa de Campo and Punta Espada. I'm going to continue thinking about both of these courses over the next few weeks and let you know if I change my mind.

1) Mid Ocean Club
2) Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Championship
3) Casa de Campo (Teeth of the Dog)
4) Merion Country Club (East)
5) Cap Cana - Punta Espada
6) Princeville Resort (Prince)
7) The Cascades Course
8) The Course at Yale
9) TPC at Sawgrass (Stadium)
10) Highlands Links

Knocking on the Door:
11) Lundin Golf Club
12) Golden Horseshoe (Gold)
13) Bayonne Golf Club
14) Bethpage State Park (Black)
15) Galloway National Golf Club

Thoughts? Disagreements?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Don't look now, but there's another Steve Strickeresque rejuvenation happening in the ranks of professional golf. Very quietly, Lee Westwood has turned his game around and is now ranked 18th in the world. This is a guy whom most observers either wrote off or simply forgot existed.

Let's set the scene. Ten years ago, Westwood was the most promising Englishman (and European, for that matter) to come along in a decade. It seemed like he was winning everything he entered, and his career peaked in 2000 with six victories on the Euro Tour and a place atop of the Order of Merit.

Shortly after that, his game sputtered. He ended 2001 #52 on the European money list, which seems almost impossible for someone with his talent to accomplish. It would be like Tiger Woods going from #1 to about #100 on the PGA Tour money list. In 2002, it got worse, as he slipped to 75th on the money list.

Now, one could argue that Westwood never lost his game quite to the extent that Baker-Finch, Duval, or Ballesteros did. However, he had some bleak years after being "The Man" in Europe. Since 2002, he's slowly gotten himself back on track. In 2003 he won twice, but the rest of his year was littered with T-67s. He was showing progress, but doubters still had good reason to doubt.

Around the same time that his game started recovering, many fresh faces appeared on the European Tour who stole the limelight from Lee. These players include Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Nick Dougherty, and Luke Donald. Westwood became a forgotten star almost overnight. Though he continued to improve from 2004 through 2006, he didn't win during those years, and he became known more as an also-ran than a threat to win every tournament he entered.

Fast-forward to 2007, and Westwood is right back where he was eight years ago. He won twice on the European Tour and finished in the top 36 of all four majors. He's currently on top of the Order of Merit for 2008 and has had a recent run that I feel has gone unnoticed by most of the golf press. He has placed in the top 10 in eleven of his last twelve tournaments. Eleven of the last twelve!

I expect to see more good things from this brilliant Ryder Cupper in the years to come. Hopefully he can keep the good vibes going and stay on top. He's only 34 years old, so he should be entering his prime. It should be fun to watch. Maybe other golf fans will start to take notice.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Ian Poulter/Tiger Woods Satire

This is probably only funny to people who know Tubby G and Jack Hession, but I thought I would post it anyway.

Ocean City, NJ (AP) – Tubby Gorman said Thursday a British golf magazine took his words out of context when it quoted him as saying when he reached his potential he would be the only one capable of challenging Jack Hession.

The interview with Gorman, in the March edition of Golf World U.K., created a buzz at the Dubai Desert Classic, where Tiger Woods opened with a 7-under 65 to build a two-shot lead.

Hession, the No. 1 player in the GBI Rankings, is coming off a two-shot victory at the the 2007 GBI. Gorman is at No. 6 with zero career victories.

"The trouble is I don't rate anyone else,'' Gorman was quoted in the magazine. "Don't get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven't played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Hesh.''

Gorman, a flamboyant 25-year-old American, appears nude in the magazine behind a strategically placed golf bag.

"The whole answer to the question has been taken out of context,'' Gorman said from his basement apartment in Chicago.

Golf World U.K. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He said Hession was so far ahead of everyone else in the rankings that the real battle was to become No. 2.

"If people do play well over a period of two years, you can get to No. 2. You can't reach Jack,'' Gorman said. "It would be a dream to see Jack Hession and then me in the GBI Rankings as you look down. What's wrong with that? Is it being rude? Is it being disrespectful to everybody else? I don't think so.

"Jack Hession is so far in front, and people want to get as close as they possibly can to that.''

Gorman, who is known for his more eccentric hair styles and clothing in the conservative golf world, has only one top 3 in three tries at GBI. He has played in two Pop Pop Invitationals, winning once.

Golf World U.K. is not affiliated with the U.S.-based weekly Golf World, which is published by Golf Digest Companies.

Gorman said the interview took place three months ago. He said he had not heard from the magazine since and had not seen a copy.

But he couldn't keep the controversy out of his mind Thursday.
"I'm not going to lie. I'm going to tell you, I've been thinking it the whole time during this whiteout in Chicago,'' Gorman said.