Course Review: Erin Hills

Erin Hills – Erin, WI (Architects: Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, & Ron Whitten)

Erin Hills Logo

Background

Bob Lang made millions selling greeting cards and then turned his passion to golf later in life. More specifically, he wanted to build a golf course that would host a major tournament in central Wisconsin. Lang sought out experts like Ron Whitten and executives at the USGA to get opinions on his dream. After showing his consultants the Kettle Moraine land he planed to build on, they were sold, and the USGA had a new project that could be the newest belle of the U.S. Open ball.

Erin Hills Host of 2017 US Open

Construction on Lang’s new love began in 2004 and the course officially opened in 2006 in Erin, Wisconsin. Erin is roughly 40 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee, but nowhere near a major highway. The course was originally built with quirks that were meant to mimic famous design characteristics of Scottish golf. It was immediately selected to host the 2008 USWAPL, the 2011 U.S. Amateur, and later scored the 2017 U.S. Open by beating out the redesigned Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill near Chicago. Being selected to host such tournaments was suprising because it made Erin Hills the first course to ever host USGA events and be owned by one person. Sadly, that person isn’t the man who dreamed it all up. Lang put so much into Erin Hills that he was forced to sell the course to Andrew Ziegler in 2009.

My first trip to Erin Hills came in 2008 on a rainy summer day. It was cold, wet, and down right miserable for playing golf. That didn’t matter. Erin held its own just fine. At one point my group decided that we were as close to the clubhouse as we were going to get. Why not dry off, get some food, and try it again in an hour? During our break Lang took the time to great us, show us around, and talk about his dream. He made quite an impression on me. I was sad to hear he had to sell the course. I can only hope he still takes joy during that week in June of 2017 when his dream becomes reality.

Once Ziegler took over, he attempted to upgrade the conditioning of the golf course by banning motor carts and hiking up the greens fees to increase the maintenance budget. The lodge and pub built by Lang have been expanded on and the property now also includes a hotel and cottages.

Erin Hills Golf Course Map

Additionally, the quirks originally built into the course have been removed at the request of the USGA. The 2nd green was about the size of a 2 car garage slab, it is now 40% bigger, but still looks tiny from the fairway. The original 6th hole was named the Dell hole. The green sat in a natural fold of the land and was not in the golfer’s vision from the tee. A white rock at the top of the fold was moved each day to align golfers to the hole location. This hole was completely removed. The 9th hole today was once known as the “Bye” hole. You played it in the middle of your round as a 150 yard par 3 that drops 70 feet from tee to green. With any wind in play, it is a tough shot. Your score on that hole was used to determine tiebreakers on bets once you finished your round. This hole is now number 9 and it replaced the old Dell hole.

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The original 10th hole was a long par 5 that has been changed to a longish par 4 and the green was redesigned. Several other smaller changes were also made, but they don’t impact the golf course nearly as much the ones I have described above.

Layout/Scenery

The cliche that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ rings especially true at Erin Hills. The golf course has very few trees on it and there will be less every year according to the caddie in the white had shown below. There’s also no true water hazards unless the junk in front of the 14th green has been filled by a recent rain storm. There is natural grass/fescue for as far as the eye can see. The long stuff frames the holes while the rolling terrain gives the track all the character you can ask for. To me, the look of Erin Hills is quite natural and spectacular.

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It is almost hard to believe that the rolling hills of this flat-ish area of Wisconsin is all the work of glaciers from thousands of years ago. And the fact that Hurdzan, Fry, and Whitten were forward thinking enough in their design to keep things this way and use the natural terrain is a credit to them, there vision, and their ability to construct a course. Well done. While I love the look of Erin Hills and how it plays, the layout itself is not without flaws. As you read above, the USGA felt the need to tweak some things, but I think there are still fixes needed to make this a true championship golf course.

First hole first, I’d blow it up. You start your round at Erin with a demanding tee shot and a goofy hole. It’s awful. Hazard down the left, bunkers down the right, side hill lies. It doesn’t fit the rest of the course. And this is all after they tried to flatten it out and make it more fair than the original design. I also don’t like starting with a par 5 and ending with a par 5. Although, 18 will not be a gimmie birdie for any professional trying to make up a shot at the final hole of the U.S. Open. It’s tough. 

Outside of number 1, I have no complaints. I like the other changes they’ve made since Lang opened the course. I love how they used the land, and I love the open spaces that make the property feel so expansive. One of the first things you notice when you drive on to the grounds is how much more land is still unused. I think the USGA loves that too as they’ll use it for parking, corporate tents, etc. Perhaps the 2017 US Open will net Erin Hills enough cash to build a 2nd course.

Score: 4.5

Conditioning

In my most recent course review I gave the Lawsonia Links course a break on any conditioning flaws thanks to Wisconsin’s short golf season. They get a break because they don’t have a high priced greens fee. Erin Hills is a championship course charging you top dollar and therefore you should expect tour quality conditioning for every round you play there from June to October. Expect to be disappointed.

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I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll get there and play unmowed fairways and slow greens, but that is what happened to us. After a week of perfect weather in the area I expected every blade of grass to be perfectly manicured and the course to be firm and fast. We played on a Sunday. The fairways appeared to have been recently top dressed and not mowed for close to 4 days. How do you not mow on a Sunday? The greens rolled at about a 9.5 or slower. That’s unacceptable to a golfer that paid $200+ to play there. There was also plenty of turf damage that looked like it remained from the previous winter of Polar Vortex. What the fuck? We played in September. I love the venue, but it wasn’t up to snuff for us and I don’t think the staff here wants to put in the work to make it perfect until it is U.S. Open time.

Outside of that, I will say that the conditioning is fair in other parts of the course. The bunkers are good, the fescue grass is playable, and the primary rough is not going to break your wrists. I also liked that the course generally will play firm and fast, except for the greens.

Score: 3.5

Value

Playing Erin Hills is roughly 40% cheaper than playing its big brother, Whistling Straits, up the road in Kohler. For that reason alone golfers playing it should perceive some value in a day on the course. Where Erin loses points is the conditioning I described above. There are no discounts or twilight rates. You’re paying $225 no matter what. The staff will also recommend getting a caddie that will cost you another $100. The loopers are pretty good here, but not worth the full $100.

Everything else at Erin Hills is reasonably priced. We had breakfast there and it was less then $15 per guy. It was pretty tasty too. The proshop items are also reasonably priced all things considered.

Score: 4.0

Service/Pace

As I noted above, when you play Erin Hills you have to walk. Whether that’s carrying your own or having a caddie, this element adds time to your round. Then throw in the 10,000 yards you walk, time to find balls in the fescue, and a few stops for photo ops and you’re going to play in 4 hours and 45 minutes or more. Things move pretty well because most groups have caddies to push things along, thank god.

The service from the staff is top notch too. There were a few cute Betty’s in the pro shop and servers, starters, rangers, caddies, and other staff all over the grounds to help you with anything. One of the rangers even gave my hungover ass a ride from the 16th tee to the green after I actually found it in regulation.

Score: 4.5

Amenities

With Milwaukee only 40 some minutes away, you can find something to do with your time at Erin Hills besides golf if you want to. But why would you do that? The downtown scene can be fun and if the Brewers are in town it would be worth your time to see a game at Miller Park. However, if you can stay in Erin Hills’ hotel you have a plush room and great food right on site to enjoy.

The golf amenities themselves are top notch. Nice putting green, great range, caddies, etc. What I think they should do is build a grass short course for patrons to use. Playing the course takes a lot out of you, but you’ll likely finish with plenty of appetite left for golf. Going back out on the big course would be like eating another 5 course meal after you finished one, hence the need for another attraction.

If you’re up for something unique, you can always go up the road to Holy Hill to find god. Perhaps he can help you with your short game. Holy Hill is the church tower you see in the distance in some pics above. It sort of haunts you throughout your round. Apparently this is a Catholic shrine to Mary that is a registered National Landmark.

Score: 4.5

Difficulty

If you don’t lose a ball at Erin Hills, you’ll likely finish your round without a penalty shot. And you’ll have earned every fucking whack you took there because the course is god damn hard. It’s long and it requires precision to play to the proper parts of the fairways and greens. Missing a green is no picnic, and hitting it in the fescue is a half shot penalty or more. The key from the fescue is to not get too greedy with your recovery shot and to simply take your medicine. 

There aren’t any true forced carries at Erin Hills unless you go for the 14th green in two (its a par 5). This is doable from the middle tees, but not so much from the black box. What also makes the course hard are some of the elevated greens you must play to with longer clubs. That’s a tough shot. And of course, if you’re a true bomber, feel free to take a bite out of the 8000 yard tees that are available to you. I played this from 7600 yards the first time I saw it and felt like I played 10 par 5s because the course was wet. It is much more sensible from the 7176 markers. Erin Hills Golf Score Card

Per usual, this rating isn’t based on a 5 being “way too hard”. I’m rating a course a 5 when I’d say it’s playable and enjoyable, but not easy, for players of all levels. Erin Hills is hard and can be a bit unfair thanks to your ball bouncing off its intended path in the fairways or on the green. While it won’t penalize you with strokes from being in a hazard, it will penalize you almost everywhere else when you get off line. I don’t think a player that has a handicap north of 18 will find much enjoyment at this course, and that hurts the rating for this category.

Score: 3.5

Composite

As I noted when I rated Lawsonia in my last review, much of the ratings I gave were based on expectations. Having played Erin Hills twice and watched much of the 2011 U.S. Am there I think my expectations were somewhat unrealistic when returning to the course in 2014. The composite score reflects this. The scores are low, but fair. I’m not going to tell you not to play it, it is a championship track and if you’re with 100 miles of it and willing to pay the freight, go see it for yourself. However, if you never check this one off your bucket list, don’t lose sleep over it. It is a special place but lacks grooming and history of the company is has been lumped in with.

Score: 4.08

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More Stupid Is As Stupid Does From Bubba

I Think He Compared Himself To Jesus In The Video

I try to like Bubba Watson, I really do. I’d just gotten over all the whining and bitching from the PGA Championship . Last week, the Golf Channel aired a nice segment showing Bubs with young Tommy Morrissey that made me feel all gooey inside. It is the holiday season, so may be its time to let water go under the bridge and give Mr. Watson a fresh start. Why not?

I’ll tell you why in two words. Bubba Claus. That sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? Bubba bringing toys to unfortunate kids or something like that, some type of Make-A-Wish event…..how could this go wrong? Well, it went horribly wrong, quickly. Take a look a Bubba’s latest ‘all about me’ track that he dropped on YouTube this week.

I’m sorry, but anytime a white guy is rapping about Jesus and hovercrafts in the same song he’s earned every bit of hate mail he’ll get for being a jerkoff. The Golf Boys stuff, that was somewhat humorous and poking fun at themselves. This thing, whatever it was supposed to be, is like a Lady Gaga Redneck Xmas Special on acid. Watson is getting grief from every angle for this. Here’s one of my favorite responses from Brendan Porath via Twitter.

Didn’t he say he wanted to be taken more seriously and that was one of the reasons he didn’t partake in the PGA’s Long Drive Contest? (scratches head) I think he’s bipolar. And hey, if you ever become ‘fuck you’ rich like Bubba, try to remember that charitable acts and donations of your time are better left undisclosed and not rapped about in a self-aggrandizing tweet, video, vine, Instagram, or whatever the fuck type of media you want to use. Thanks for trying to ruin Christmas, Bubba.

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Fox Sports, The Golf Broadcasting Apocalypse

Don’t Bring a Knife To A Gun Fight

The Fox Golf Broadcast team made its debut at the Shark Shootout yesterday. I didn’t get to see it because I was too busy playing with golf myself. I’m also without a DVR while moving this weekend. I was hoping to catch their broadcast on Sunday, but Fox made sure to wrap up this silly season event on Saturday as to not interfere with NFL games. The grades are out for Fox and they’re generally not good. First off, they didn’t have Tits McGee…..errrrr…. I mean, Holly Sonders, on the scene to give viewers the ‘extra’ they were looking for. I’m guessing there was some contract issue that means she can’t be shown until 2015, but that’s still a colossal failure right off the bat.

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To start the broadcast Joe Buck attempted to lower our expectations by claiming Fox wasn’t worthy of what they were doing and couldn’t hold a candle to their CBS and NBC counterparts. They hoped someday they could. Huh????? Can you imagine Apple advertising their new iPhone as a product that didn’t stack up to a Samsung phone, but hey……maybe someday it will once they figure it out? From what I’m reading on the interwebs, Fox commentators also erred by talking over each other time and time again while trying to act like they were having a great time and loving their new gig. It sounds forced. And Buck might be the biggest problem in all of this. He’s got enough going on with football and baseball broadcasts, why bring him into golf to further saturate what he is? There are other guys available that would do a better job and who’s voice would not wear on you. Go find one and use him instead.

Caption This!

On a positive note, most of the discussions on Fox’s sad attempt at golf give them a big pat on the back for the way they handled Ian Poulter and Billy Horschel’s standoff with a Fox cameraman on the 17th hole. The players both wanted the camera on a stand moved, and the cameraman tried his best to ignore Bill and Poults until his boss gave him better direction. Fox laid back and let viewers hear the entire discussion thanks to some well placed mics. At the same time, when Fox did finally weigh in, Norman called Poulter “Sunshine” and he tag-teamed with Buck to mock the entire incident. Well done.

Poulter and Horschel is an odd combo, but perhaps Billy took one for the team because no one wants to play with Poulter (just ask the Lake Nona membership). After some jubilation on the course, Billy high-fived Poulter and sent him to the ground. The following image ensued. Now we have to caption it. Embedded image permalink

That is a well timed shot. You can see this in the video below at the 1:03 mark. You can also see highlights of the rest of the telecast as narrated by Amanda Balionis for PGATour.com. Oh, and by the way…congrats to Jason Day and Cameron Tringale for winning. Day playing this week in Naples makes his absence from recent Australia events even more bizarre, but that’s a whole different discussion.

Hey Fox, why not hire Amanda to be part of your broadcast?

Make sure you leave your caption of Poulter laying on his back in the comments below.

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Site News: Moving Is A Bitch

Cat Is Out Of The Bag

Perhaps you’ve felt the stress in my posts over the last two months. If not, you probably just think I’m a cranky dick. In September while golfing in Wisconsin (see course reviews) I accepted a new job that would move my family about 250 miles away from the major metro area we’ve lived in for 8 years. The good news is, the cost of living is less, the pay is good, and the job is the next step in my career. The bad news is, I bought my previous home in 2007 so you can only imagine the bath I’ve taken in selling it. I’ve also been living in a hotel for much of the past 5 weeks.

Still, the fucker sold in about a month, and I’m moving as I type this. I’ll update the ‘about’ section of this site to someday reflect that. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ve lived in the Chicago area for the eternity of this site. The Windy City has been good to me and it will be missed. It is an incredible golf town. Our house there was the first I owned and the one Mrs. ShutFace and I brought our first born home to. It will also be missed.

As of today, that sale is final. While I’ll be homeless for 2 days, I’ll also be getting some golf in over the weekend. And if this shit wasn’t stressful enough….what was left behind intentionally by our movers has been stuffed into our two cars. They were full of our shit and ready to go. The plan was simple: leave the house, go to the close and sign shit, grab the kid from school, and get out of dodge. Nope. My SUV’s starter died. And now I’m typing this from a repair shop it was towed to while they fix it and I wait to hit the road. Life isn’t easy. But fuck it. Onward and upward.

So do me a favor while I’m on the run for a few days. Watch the golf, and tell me what happened. I might not get to a TV in time to see what Fox Sports does to bastardize our wonderful game.

Good bye, Illinois. It’s been real.

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Silly Season – Weekend Round Up

Bridging The Gap To Hawaii

Shark Shootout next weekend, Tiger’s tourney last weekend…..these events really don’t mean shit. They are just a stop-gap until Kapalua. But they are entertaining, and when Jordan Spieth shows up jet lagged and ready to put on a show you sort of have to pay attention. Spieth of course cruised to a ten shot win….yeah, read that again…..a fucking 10 shot win, in the Hero World Challenge. It wouldn’t have mattered if this were a 250 man field, or a 5 man field, no one could beat Jordan the way he played. He drove it well, he flagged irons, and he made seemingly everything he looked at on the greens. That’s 66-67-63-66 if you’re scoring at home.

Final-round highlights

This comes fresh off a big win in Oz last week where Jordan shot a final round 63 to lap the field in the final round of the Australian Open. He showed up at Isleworth on Tuesday having not seen the course since college (a mere 2 years ago), took one look at the place in the pro-am, then kicked ass for 72 holes. Merry Christmas to him. Walking away with two nice checks at two decent tournaments in back to back weeks has everyone curious what 2015 will result in for Spieth. I think it is safe to say he’s turned the corner, got over the hump, whatever…..he’s here to stay and challenge Rory McIlroy for the foreseeable future.

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Not only does this set up Jordan for a big year, but all of professional golf is now set up for a huge 2015. Tiger looks healthy, Stenson and Keegan are playing at a high level. Patrick Reed will be in the mix. Bubba will play well where he plays well, and then you have guys like McIlroy and Fowler that will be player of the year candidates. And I haven’t even mentioned Bitch Tits yet. Now we just have to wait a month for the calendar to turn and the season to resume. The run up to and through Augusta could be epic.

Catch Him By His Tail

The run down on Tiger’s return to competitive golf is that he looked pretty good with full shots, and chipped like a toddler. A perfect example of this came Sunday on the par five 13th hole. TW hit a great drive that left him about a 4 iron in to the green for his 2nd shot. He missed it slightly short and right in a spot old Tiger would have made 4 from 8 of 10 times. New Tiger has a short game problem right now. I can’t find the clip from Sunday, but it pretty much looked like this shot from Thursday:

Green high at the 13th in 2, TW chunked his 3rd, his 4th, bladed his 5th to the back of the green, and then three whacked for an 8 after having an iron to the green and taking no penalties. I was amazed. He hit roughly 10 shots exactly like these chunked flops/chips throughout the entire event. The good news is he finished the event, albeit dead fucking last. The better news is, he can fix his short game almost overnight. Tiger fans, you have more to feel good about right now than it appears. He’s going to be fine. He’s going to have a solid 2015.

Elsewhere In The World

My prior post already covered John Daly returning to the winners circle. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Padraig Harrington also won an event overseas this weekend for his first trophy in four years. Paddy won the Indonesian Open. I have no clue what kind of field competed. All I know is he needed something to help him mentally, and this might do it. It will also help improve upon his 360 something spot in the world rankings.

In Daytona, Florida, Tiger’s niece Cheyenne qualified for the LPGA Tour. She finished 11th in the qualifying tourney even though she nearly killed her chances with a 2nd round 79. Why do we care? First, her making it on the lady’s circuit gives the tour a shot in the arm of star power. The LPGA needs every ounce of this they can get. It has come a long way, but now a player like Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko, or Woods needs to start dominating like Annika did. The more potential stars they have, the better. We also care because if gives you another chance to vote on how many beers you need before you get carnal with Ms. Woods.

Lastly in South Africa, Luke Donald’s fine play couldn’t hold up over the final round of the Nedbank in Sun City. That baboon must have shaken him up! Instead, fellow Brit Danny Willett closed strong with a 66 and beat the field by four. Willett is a former Walker Cupper who isn’t a household name to anyone in North America, yet. He’s only played in two majors to date. Still, he’s someone to pay attention to as he could be a guy that challenges to make Europe’s next Ryder Cup team. I’ll be rooting for that, if only to see more of his wife Nicole.

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Mr. Willett apparently knows how to score off the course too. Congrats on the win young man.

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What A Fucking Baboon

If At First Second Third Fourth You Don’t Succeed

Fact: John Daly is a fucking idiot. The former drunk and 2 time major winner has been married 4 times before. Scar tissue aside, Daly appears to have found happiness in his relationship with his current squeeze of the last 7 years.

Her name is Anna Cladakis and she’s been his caddie, his business partner, and sex toy in what seems (on the surface) to be a pretty normal relationship, especially for John Daly’s standards. That all looks likely to change because the big man announced via social media that the couple got engaged this week.

Great rack. And I’ll give her a pass on the rest of her appearance considering she’s in her mid 40s. I bet she brings chicks home for them to play with.

To no one’s surprise, John met her because she works for Hooters, who John has a sponsorship deal with. I can only imagine how this one will end. His past relationships have terminated with him nearly getting clawed to death, ex-wives getting smacked by John, and others just getting sick of him sticking his dick in random chicks while being a deadbeat. Still, America loves JD, and therefore he’ll always be famous and always have women throw themselves at him (they love his huge member). This was bound to happen, and if he lives long enough he’ll probably even have a 6th wife.

While I’m skeptical of how their relationship will workout, it must be agreeing with them both right now. After all, she did say yes, and he just won his first tournament in nearly 11 years.  It wasn’t anything important, just something called the Beko Classic which is a 3 day pro-am in which he made $8,000 for winning. That won’t even cover JD’s travel costs to be there! And the field was horrid unless you consider Darren Clarke a competitive golfer. The win has JD feeling confident going forward. He thinks this is a stepping stone to better playing in 2015. I feel like John’s triumph is the equivalent of Mike Tyson winning a fight with a trained kangaroo at a circus in Russia (think washed up freak shows).

From One Baboon To Another

Much of the Euro Tour is starting their 2015 season at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa this week. Luke Donald is in the field and after a Friday round of 63 he’s still leading with one round to play. He also got the shit scared out of him during that round when a wild baboon came at him while he began to contemplate his shot from the fairway.

The video is incredible. We’ve seen animals interrupt play before, especially birds, but this could have ended much more strangely. Luke knows it too. Baboons are capable of extreme violence. Hopefully he had a change of trousers in his staff bag as I’m sure he needed them after such a close encounter.

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Como Se Llama, Tiger Is Back: Hump Day Musings

Tiger 4.0

Last week Tiger announced to the golf world that he was working with Chris Como as his new swing coach. This week at Tiger’s tournament, he’s now unveiled the swing that he and Como are working on, or should I say, working to get back to. It seems as though Tiger Woods is finally ready to listen to the public opinion that has been screaming for years for him to return to the move that won him 6 majors before he turned 26. Como isn’t teaching Tiger anything, he’s simply being used as a mirror or a sounding board. Tiger (with a whisper in his ear from Notah Begay) is the one that decided he needed to find his old swing. Look at the thing, it was perfection.

What Como does is give him the feed back he needs to hear on how he’s progressing, what it looks like, and be more of a swing cop than a coach. He and Tiger have even dug old VHS tapes out of Momma Woods’ basement to look at Tiger’s swing form the early 1990s. Who doesn’t want to see themselves rocking a bad ass La Mode shirt with a Ping Eye 2 in their hands?

What does any of this mean? We’ll find out over the weekend, to an extent. I don’t expect much from TW’s performance, but I’ll be looking to see if the new/old swing holds up in tournament play. Golfers tend to go back to programmed or learned muscle memory under stress. It takes a lot of reps to wipe that old move from the vault. Of course, Tiger is a freak and can do it faster and better than most. he’s already done so 3 times prior. For now, it looks like this:

You can see the longer swing and how much further he gets his hands away from his body in just a few swings. I think that will serve him well. The issue he’ll have is that he’ll never have the agility, flexibility, and lean muscle that he had circa 2000 to fully replicate that swing and get the same results.

The rest of what TW said today at his presser went something like this……”blah blah blah explosion, blah blah blah reps, blah blah blah compete, blah blah blah tournament”. The end. You didn’t miss anything.

Punxsutawney Phil

Phil Mickelson made a bit of news himself on Wednesday. First, he made it known that he plans on playing in the Bob Hope (I will not call it the Humana today) to start his 2015 PGA Tour season. To me that is almost like the groundhog coming out of his hole to either see or not see his shadow and let us know the season is/isn’t changing. Once Phil or TW tees it up, the pro golf season has begun. It also means that Bitch Tits will have a full week of reps that Tiger doesn’t when both of them (likely) peg it at Torrey Pines the following week.

Lefty said he’s been dieting and working out and is all jacked up to start the season (snooze). Do any of these guys come out and say they’ve been eating Fritos topped with chili cheese all fall while watching football and gained 24 pounds of lard? In other Mickelson news, Phil’s less talented brother, Tim (who is the golf coach at Arizona State) qualified for the U.S. Four Ball championship by shooting a team 63 to win the qualifier at Poppy Hills. I can’t imagine how much fun an All-Mickelson Nassau match would be with Phil and his brother.

Kaymer Doesn’t Know What To Do With It

The golf world got a bit of a shake up this week in the WAG department when rumors began circling that Sky Sports host Kirsty Gallacher was dating U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer. Ummmm……yeah, sure…..dating. Gallacher is hot as hell and has even been named a ShutFaceGolf WAG of the Month this year (June). She’s also Euro Ryder Cupper Stephen Gallacher’s cousin. Stephen is apparently the person who introduced Martin and Kirsty.

Martin Kaymer is reportedly dating Sky Sports News presenter Kirsty Gallacher

The reports go on to specify that Gallacher has gone through a rough divorce this year and Martin and she are just starting to date and flirt. In high school terms that means he’s felt her up and made his finger stink. In Kaymer’s world, that means they go shopping, get pedicures, and do Pilates together. Hey, doesn’t every girl need a gay friend to talk to when they’re getting divorced? In case you missed the memo, Martin Kaymer isn’t into women. I don’t believe the tabloids and I’d bet the ranch Martin isn’t fucking her. On the other hand, perhaps she’s hot enough to turn him.

WAG Of The Month

You may have noticed that I didn’t crown a new Wag of the Month for December. It isn’t that I’m tardy in addressing this issue, but more so the lack of November talent we have to choose from to pick a worthy WAG. No body won in November that has a WAG worth looking at. Plus, we just named Alexis the WAG of the Year. Therefore, I simply changed the banner to honor her accomplishment for one more month.

I promise we’ll hit the ground running again in January unless you’re ready to move on to some other fun add on in that space. I’m open to ideas, but I’m not feeling that creative at the moment.

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Spieth Wins Down Under

Keep Copying Rory And You’ll Be Alright, Kid

Last year at the Australian Open Rory McIlroy snaked the title away from Adam Scott on the final hole to end Scott’s drive to win the Australian Golf Triple Crown. Rors of course used that victory as a springboard to bigger and better things in 2014. This weekend in Sydney, Jordan Spieth ran away with Oz’s Open with a sizzling final round 63. If he can accomplish a fraction of what McIlroy did following his Aussie win, he’ll have an amazing 2015.

Spieth’s 63 is even better than it looks on paper. Only 8 players in the field finished under par for the week. The next best round on Sunday was four shots higher. He beat the field by almost a half shot per hole. And to put a little more perspective on it, Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champ that had been playing well of late……he shot an 80. Spieth himself even called it the round of his life. His front nine included 4 birdies and no bogies. He had a bit of a lead going to the back side and I wasn’t sure he had the onions to stay mistake free on the difficult Australian Golf Club track. But he didn’t just avoid mistakes, he kept his foot on the gas to snatch up 4 more birdies on the back and run away with this national championship.

Why does any of this matter? Spieth is obviously a great player who, based on his track record, produces fairly consistent results across all swings of the PGA Tour. What I’ve often felt is his shortcoming is that he tends to press a bit when in contention. I believe he averages an over par round if he starts the final round of an event in the top 5. You may recall his final round 62 in Boston in 2013 being an exception to this thought, but he did that coming from out of nowhere that day. In summary, the Aussie result means that Jordan found something within himself that he can use going forward when its time to close a championship. Spieth learning to win, and learning to close in championship conditions, could be a mother fucker for his fellow competitors to deal with.

Not Rory’s Week

Winning wasn’t in the cards for Rory McIlroy this weekend in Australia. The defending champ hasn’t met a firm and fast golf course that he likes. Think about that, all his major wins are on wet golf courses. Sometimes you play how you feel, and when you dress like Rory did today you’re asking to play like shit. Look at what $woosh did to him. That is fucking horrible.

Rory McIlroy

What does one even call that, salmon? Coral? Puke? Of course, $250 million paid to my account and I’d wear whatever the fuck they told me to wear too. No matter what caused it, his 6 over weekend left him T15. Rory knew the course was playing tough, and he acknowledged Spieth’s fine play via Twitter.

Can you imagine Tiger tweeting that to Phil after getting dusted by Lefty in a tournament? What a breath of fresh air Rors is. Then when Spieth’s plane was too packed to fit all his, Keegan, and Gary Woodland’s shit, Rory swooped by to take on some extra luggage for them back to Florida on his jet. Faggy pants aside, this kid is alright.

Be Grateful

If you watched any of the broadcast on the Golf Channel late on Saturday night in America you likely noticed that the production values of this telecast were pretty weak compared to what you typically see for either a Euro event or standard PGA Tour production. What the Aussie’s gave us was stock in terms of yardages and club selection. After that, there wasn’t much for viewers to digest. And did anyone ever address the conversion of yards to meters for the viewers. Don’t make me Google it! There were no hole graphics, no technical info provided….this was bare bones golf on TV.

But hey, at least we had the familiar sounds of Ian Baker-Finch! In all seriousness, if this thing hadn’t been in HD it would have been like going back to 1994. The lack of any bells and whistles should make you appreciate what NBC, the Golf Channel, and CBS typically provide viewers on a week to week basis.

Shot Of The Week

Aussie Greg Chalmers probably feels that he should have won his home country’s open this week. He was the 54 hole leader. But he didn’t lose the tournament, Spieth obviously took it from him with stellar play. Still, Chalmers tied for 4th and that performance will get him into the British Open next year. Chalmers also gets my Shot of the Week award for playing one off the gallery at the 11th hole on Saturday.

I think my handicap would be a shot lower if I could play with galleries I can bounce it off and get help finding my ball in the junk.

Where Was JDay? 

Two months ago Jason Day finished T4 at the Tour Championship. Has anyone seen him since? According to his wife’s tweets he’s working hard to get ready for 2015. A few outlets reported that he’s been resting to get healthy after dealing with nagging injuries for much of the last 8 months. Ok, that’s fine, but then why is he planning on playing one week from now in Tiger’s cash grab?  Playing in that but skipping out on the three major tournaments played in his homeland of Australia seems strange. If you can go next week, why didn’t you play in the Aussie Open which is supposedly so special to you?

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I like Day, and we all like Mrs. Day, so I’m not going to rag on him or continue to question this decision. My gut says this decision isn’t injury related, but more likely ‘wife didn’t want him on the other side of the world during the holiday’ related. Wife’s usually win. And hey, if she’s still blowing him every day, why wouldn’t he listen?

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Course Review: Lawsonia (Links Course)

Lawsonia (Links Course) – Green Lake, WI (Architect: William Langford)

LawsoniaLinks_FullLogo_BK

Background

Golfers travel by the thousands into the great state of Wisconsin to play golf at Lake Geneva, near Kohler, and at Erin Hills. Those are the destination resorts and courses that make the most noise to attract patrons to their tracks. A course that gets over looked as a Dairy State destination is the Golf Courses at Lawsonia – Links Course. Lost among its younger and flashier brothers, Lawsonia is a value packed experience back in time to play one of the greatest lesser known layouts you can possibly imagine. 

Like the historic Baltusrol Courses in New Jersey, the Lawsonia site takes its name from the farmer that worked the land well before we ever played golf on it (you didn’t know Baltusrol comes from a farmer named Baltus Roll?). As happenstance would have it, the farm land bordering Green Lake later became a golf course thanks to the design of Chicago’s William Langford, circa 1920. Langford and his design team aren’t as well known as some contemporaries of their time like Donald Ross, but they have over 200 courses to their credit (most of which are in the midwest). These include gems as the nine holer at Harrison Hills in Indiana and an impressive re-work of Skokie CC in Illinois.

William Langford and Theodore Moreau formed their design partnership in 1918 and walking the grounds at Lawsonia allows you to easily see the influence C.B. Macdonald’s early version of Chicago Golf Club had on them. The good news for golf nuts like you and me is that much of the original design on the Links Course has been preserved some 90 years later. While some holes have been lengthened to accommodate technological advancements in equipment, the design principles are not lost and cannot be ignored by anyone playing the course today.

The Links Course at Lawsonia has more quirks than a midget with turrets syndrome, and that is in large part what makes is so damn fun to play. The best example of one such quirks is the fabled 7th hole, which is a phenomenal short par 3 shown below.

The 155 yarder doesn’t look like much until you realize the repercussions of missing the green in any direction. Note where the man in red is shown in the picture. That is roughly a 15 foot rise up to the putting surface. Is that natural? Not a chance. The urban legend is that a railroad car was buried underneath the green to create the rise. That’s the kind of fun you’ll have playing Lawsonia.

Layout/Scenery

Though much of the land you traverse while traveling through Wisconsin seems like flat, boring farm land, the glacial movements of a billion years ago did a find job of creating some very interesting topography in some of the central areas of the state. You see some of this at Lawsonia, albeit aided by Langford’s willingness to move dirt and bury things. The routing at the Links course is superb. While you do begin your day with two mostly blind tee shots, most of the course is right there in front of you, or so it seems. In my mind, there isn’t a single hole or shot that you play here that mirrors one you’ve already attempted. Lawsonia asks you to hit shots into long par 3s, reachable par 5s, short par 4s, and long par 4s. There are opportunities to hit risk reward shots, but the golf course also allows you to hit a recovery shot from almost anywhere you could think about hitting a stray ball.

Aptly named the Links Course, there aren’t many trees in play and the course plays mostly firm and fast. There are also several opportunities to run shots on the the greens as you would expect on a links style track. While the Links course is anything but long, you will find yourself hitting some longer clubs to greens based on how the hole is designed. The greens Langford designed are some of the most difficult, subtle, and fun putting surfaces you’ll ever see. While you always have an opportunity to recover from a shitty shot, being out of position is usually a recipe for a bogey, and that is largely due to how the greens were built. I’ve never played 18 greens that were so incredibly difficult to get up and down on after being just a yard or two off the edge. As you can see from the pictures, Langford used several large banks and built up the land around the greens to create ‘hazards’ for the golfers mind and eyes to deal with.

 

You know how sometimes when someone tells you about a course, they’ll also tell you to bring a full dozen balls because you’ll lose so many? That isn’t the case here. There is no water in play that I can think of. Even if you hit it in the fescue grass, you’ll likely find it and be able to advance it. We played 36 holes and I think I used the same ball all day. The Links Course also gives you a few decent chances at birdies as long as you execute the proper shots and play to the proper angles. Getting above the hole will be no picnic for you either.

The fescue grass I previously mentioned frames the holes quite well for you from the tee and the fairway. Combine that look, with the rolling hills, antique design features, and well conditioned course, and you have an absolutely under-rated layout and design that any golfer would enjoy playing. That being said, you have to remember that when you get out of position and you’re facing a 15 yard lob shot over a 10 foot bank, you’re the one that hit the shot that got you there. Don’t be a hater, just take your medicine.

Score: 5.0

Conditioning

Wisconsin only has about a 6 month golf season, which means they also only have a 6 month growing season. Don’t show up at Lawsonia on May 10th and expect it to be in tour condition. That can’t happen. The nights are too cold in the spring for grass to grow and to have the course flush until around mid June. Still, from June to October you’ll likely be very pleased with how the course is groomed. It was meant to play firm and fast, and the week of 75 degrees and sun leading up to our visit had the course doing just that. 

It does seem to be a busy place during the peak of the season, so therefore you’ll find some wear and tear on the greens that you wouldn’t find at a private club. However, the staff has done all they can to give you a great experience while you’re at Lawsonia. You also might find a rock or two in a green side bunker, which is part of the ruggedness of the course. It didn’t bother me but it does knock the score down just a peg.

You also won’t find much of a primary rough at Lawsonia. That kind of grass wasn’t meant to be a hazard 90 years ago and the irrigation here makes it a moot issue to this day. As I also noted above, the fescue is there to mind fuck you and shape the holes, but it is playable to an extent. That’s how it should be. If you had to re-tee every time you hooked one in that stuff the course would blow.  While I noted that the greens show some evidence of excess traffic, they’re still very good and quick enough to make you take notice of some of the undulations that can be both subtle and severe.

Score: 4.0

Value

If you read this site regularly you know that I also recently reviewed the Straits Course at Whistling Straits that was part of the same trip we took to Wisconsin. When you get wallet raped in Kohler, coming to Lawsonia seems much more gentle. We played 36 holes for something like $110. For a course this good, that’s worth every penny. I think the rack rate is about $65 or so, but I wasn’t involved with any of the bookings, etc, so I can’t say for sure. Some of the rates go up a bit on the weekend, but no matter how you slice it, the Links Course at Lawsonia is one of the best values you can imagine for the quality of golf course you’re playing.

Lawsonia doesn’t nickel and dime you for anything else while you’re there either. Range balls cost what they do anywhere else, merchandise is reasonable, and so is all the food you’re going to take down in Langford’s Pub in the clubhouse. Remember, you’re in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin, the you should get some bang for your buck.

Score: 5.0

Service/Pace

There aren’t a lot of frills and extras that aid in your Lawsonia experience, but there doesn’t need to be. There’s a beer cart, there’s a restaurant, there’s a proshop, there’s a starter, you get the idea. Everything operates smoothly and efficiently as it should, and these happy cheese-heads do it all with a smile. The staff here has been doing this like pros for years, they don’t have to retrain staff like a resort would every year, they just keep on truck’in.

And the pace? It’s pretty damn good. What helps Lawsonia move along is the general fact the the course is so damn playable. You might spend some time looking for a ball or two in the fescue, but it doesn’t happen every hole. It also doesn’t get bogged down by tourists snapping photos and getting lost in the sites. Plus, this is a golfer’s course. If you’re coming to Lawsonia to play, you’re probably not some rich jerkoff playing golf to entertain a client, etc. You’re here for one thing, and the rest of the patrons are too.

Score: 4.5

Amenities

If you’re reading between the lines in this review, you’ve already figured out that Green Lake doesn’t have much to offer in the way of amenities like some of the other resorts in Wisconsin. Ahhh….but don’t assume so easily. Green Lake itself has plenty of dining options and a nice little town with just enough nightlife to get you in trouble. The lake can also provide you with other things to do if you aren’t one that wants to golf 36 holes every day you’re in town. Be warned though when choosing your lodging, if you rent a place on Green Lake the mother fucking fisherman will likely have you up at 6 am running their god damn outboards in the wrong gear as they scoot across the water to get to their favorite spot.

foxtails montello

Local bars and open water not your thing? Then reach out to the good people of the Foxtail. Our group of 12 refreshed at the house, had dinner, and clean up just in time to have the limo from the Foxtail pick us up for our evening of fun. No, the Foxtail experience isn’t going to compare to a Vegas strip club, but it is better than playing cards and starring at the walls with your buddies. Ask for Devine.

The amenities at Lawsonia are perfectly fine as well for all things golf. They have a locker room, but it isn’t anything to take a picture of, just good enough to take a shit in to rid your body of mud butt from drinking all that Miller from the previous night. Lawsonia doesn’t have a caddie program either, so they lose a half point there. What they do have is a 2nd golf course. We didn’t play it because I’m told it just isn’t nearly as good as the Links Course. Why slum it if you don’t have to? If you have played the Woodland Course, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Score: 4.0

Difficulty

It is hard to imagine that such an old track like the Links Course at Lawsonia can hold up over time, but this one certainly does. Yet, it is playable for those of all levels as long as you know what tees you should be playing and don’t try to do too much when you are out of position. I don’t recall any forced carries that would be unattainable for high handicappers or women. There are birdie and/or eagle (I made eagle on number 5 the 2nd time around!) opportunities to be had if you execute the correct shots.

 

Golf at the Links Course at Lawsonia is really more of a chess match than it is a round of 18 holes. To me, that is the challenge, as well as the appeal of playing a course like this. This isn’t a place where I’d say to hide the women and children. A beginner learning to play golf at the Links would probably enjoy the game much more than a player of a similar ability learning on TPC Sawgrass (for example). 

Per usual, this rating isn’t based on a 5 being “way too hard”. I’m rating a course a 5 when I’d say it’s playable and enjoyable, but not easy, for players of all levels. The Links Course at Lawsonia is fair, hard, and yet is absolutely playable for golfers of all levels. That is becoming a rare find with much of today’s golf course architecture.

Score: 4.5

Composite

When you have no expectations of a golf course when you get there, the grades you give it in a review can go either way on the scale. Having played Whistling Straits 24 hours before I played Lawsonia probably helped for me to see the subtle beauty and simple design virtues in what the course is compared to what it should be. Yet, all things considered, Lawsonia is a hidden gem that any golfer should play if they’re in this neck of the woods. If you’re an architectural nerd, you’ll love it. If you like golf that is fun, this is your place. If you want a great course at a good value, check….get here. I can only think of one type of golfer that wouldn’t enjoy Lawsonia – Links, and that’s the guy that likes to brag about where he’s played, where it is ranked, etc. If you’re that guy, go elsewhere. All others, add Lawsonia to your ‘to-do’ list.

Score:  4.5 (out of 5)

That’s a pretty high score for me to give. To put it in perspective, of the courses I’ve reviewed on this site, only the Plantation Course at Kapalua and Torrey Pines – South have received higher composite scores. Lawsonia – Links is in good company.

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I’m Confused, Please Help Me!!!

Red Carpet Special

The LPGA ends their season with a bang. They have a Tour Championship, just like the men, but before the fun of the tournament starts they have an awards dinner. This is probably a marketing ploy so that they can sell their stars as sex symbols to an extent for once and not be judged. It gives the ladies a chance to look fancy in public as they get all dolled up for the evening. Normally what you see at this event is a bunch of women out of their element and bad tan lines screaming out from under their ensembles. I normally don’t give the whole deal a second look, but then this picture of Michelle Wie came across my screen.

Michelle is now all grown up. I’m still not a fan, but she’s working something here and a lot of men and their penises have noticed. So as BustedCoverage.com (friend of SFG) likes to ask….”how many beers?”

We haven’t gone down this road in some time and I felt like the site needed to get back to what it does best. So what’s your number? I’ll go with 4 tequila shots, 1 Long Island Ice Tea, and 7 domestic beers just to make sure I’m still drunk when I wake up from this debacle. Hit the poll or the comments to give your answers. Be completely honest, I won’t judge you.

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