A Day At Oakmont, As Good As It Gets

Three Years In The Works

I think I was first invited to play Oakmont over three years ago. My friends of 20 years became friendly with a member and the opportunity to play seemed inevitable. But life’s funny in how it teases you and torments you. For whatever reason plans to actually play one of the best courses in the world never materialized. 2020 was going to be different. We set the date, we planned ahead, we locked it in…..then a pandemic hit. What was supposed to be an early August prime weather loop around the greatest of all U.S. Open venues was nixed when prior guests caused a COVID outbreak in the guest houses. The text came in that my chance to play was on pause again and I was crushed. But all involved pressed forward. The club re-opened to guest play after Labor Day and our host wasted no time putting us back on the books. It was time for me to make a trek to Pittsburgh to play my white whale, Oakmont.

That’s me putting on #2, and laying up to a good number on #4 with the Church Pew bunkers looking on.

Now that you’re a few paragraphs into this post you’re probably wondering if this is a course review of Oakmont. Nah, nope, no chance. I don’t do that. Sure, I write course reviews on public courses I visit and pay to play like any other schmuck that shows up, but not private clubs. I’m a guest when I play those clubs. I will not review them, that’s just rude. After all, I’m America’s Guest. I like to get invited back to the places that will have me.

The Vibe

This is Oakmont, historic as it gets for American Golf. That’s the vibe. The club is nestled into a Pittsburgh suburb of the same surname. Ironically, while it has an Oakmont address the golf course itself rests in the town of Plum, Pennsylvania. A guard lets you in via the gatehouse, your bag is whisked away to the range, and your day at Oakmont begins. I was in the clubhouse 0.5 seconds before I could smell history. Okay, it was more cigar than history, but you knew where you were and what it meant. You’re now in a locker room where Open champions have toasted their victories, where Hogan changed into his shoe with an extra spike, and where Arnie sat and thought after his final U.S. Open round. There is history around every corner because the club embraces it and puts it on display with great pride. Photos of the evolution of the course are stunning (making 5,000 trees disappear is magic in itself). Equipment used by its major champions is resting in cases. And replica trophies shine out of the corner of your eye as you’re trying to keep up with the conversation around you. Oakmont is a historical landmark for a reason.

Looking up the 9th fairway to the clubhouse.

There isn’t anything snooty about Oakmont compared to several other top clubs I’ve visited. You can where shorts. You can take pictures. And if your physical condition limits your ability to traverse the course you can even take a cart.

The caddie we had was an all-timer. Matt has worked there 26 years and he isn’t a day over 38. His dad worked there 40 years. It is the family business. Matt was pure Western, PA – and the best double bagging caddie I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing execute his craft. I wish I’d trusted his reads the first 3 holes. His lines were gold, he hustled his ass off (even if he didn’t really need to for us) and he had a yardage and club suggestions before I could even think of the next shot. And he did all this on a 90 degree day hiking 8 miles with little to no shade. Stud.

The Course

I could write 50,000 words on the course, but I’ll save you from that. Pictures are better anyway.

Yeah I hit two in the ditches, made par from both.

When you leave the range the caddies steer you up to the real putting green that is the back of the 9th green, you knew that. The property leans downhill from there to the turnpike that splits most of the front nine from the back. That means when you drop a ball on the back of the putting green you see it roll away quite quickly when the greens are running 13+ on the stimp meter. I think we caught it on a slow day as it rained the night before.

The first tee nearly brought a tear to my eye. It is one of the most idyllic opening shots in all of golf. And with out of bounds down the right it can be a bit intimidating. The rest of my group played the member tees. Our host was kind enough to allow me to play the back boxes, so long as we didn’t fall behind the 4 hour pace of play rule. That made the whole experience even better for me. I estimate it was only set up at 7100 yards that day. There’s another 300 yards back there. When I got home I re-watched every US Open final round at Oakmont on the USGA app. I played the course very similar to the yardages and pins used in 2007. Very cool.

That’s hole 3 above, your first look at the infamous Church Pew Bunkers. I hit a big drive up past the far right bunker then airmailed the green. There’s a chipping area behind it, the pin was back. I was told Tiger Woods made 6 from there on Sunday in 2007 and that cost him the championship. I spun one in there stone dead for an easy par. Eat your heart out, Tiger.

That’s 8, the par 3 that can play 300 yards. I bogied it from 255. From there you cross the turnpike again and hike back up the 9th. Seeing the whole course from atop the first tee is stoic. Crossing the turnpike feels historic. And coming back down the 10th hole is almost a little sad because you know your round here is more than half over.

Every shot you hit requires thought and strategy. The collection of short par 4s, par 3s, and ball busting US Open par 4s is unlike anything I’ve ever played. The only course I’ve ever walked with such undulating topography is Augusta National (to watch the Masters not play it). The closing stretch will test you mentally and physically. The 17th is a architectural wonder. Depending on how far you can hit it and where the pin is, the prudent play is to lay up more often than not on the 315 yard hole. But if you only get to play it once in your life, and your host tells you he’ll never invite you back if you lay up, you hit the disco stick and pray. Easy bogey. And then there’s the 18th…

The 18th is Oakmont’s Chef’s Kiss. If not for Pebble Beach it would be the best closing hole in our Open rota, or at least right there with Oakland Hills (but Oakland loses points for converting a par 5) without a fight. I think it is better either way, but that’s a whole other post. The downhill tee shot at 18 lets you bomb away, but you better hit the fairway if you want to hit the green. The clubhouse over your shoulder as you putt out is a fine way to end your day too.

I loved everything about the golf course. I played ok, but some sloppy swings put 80 shots on my card for the day. The highlight was a chip in at 6 for birdie. Just before that I was informed that by missing the green in my first attempt I was in good company as Bobby Jones missed it his first half dozen loops here.

The Extras

Lunch and a complete tour of the clubhouse were a great way to complete the experience at Oakmont. But then I was turned loose in the golf shop. I could spend a few paychecks in there if I had no restraint. They have everything you could want with every brand and fit. Oh, and the lady that works there is a saint. She has 9 months of guests coming through asking her dumb questions and having her pick stuff out for their wives. God bless her. I did enjoy her advising a patron that the slim fit shirt he was looking to buy would not hide his beer gut (she said this much more tactfully that I’ve typed it).

I’ve been fascinated by those bunkers since 1994 so there was no way I was leaving it out of my putter cover collection.

I can’t say enough about the whole experience at Oakmont, and I can’t thank our host and my friends enough for making this happen. There’s so many things in life that can’t live up to the hype you build up in your head, but Oakmont certainly does. It was worth every mile I logged there and back, and I’d do it all over at the drop of a hat if I’m ever invited back.

Posted in Courses, Majors, Uncategorized, Weekend Hacks: Amateur Golf | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

#MichiganPublicGolfBracket Results, Re-ranked, and More

To the Victor Go…

Quarantine/lockdown can make anyone go crazy during a pandemic. Hell, I’m posting on my own website for the first time in 11 months because of it. But this post is long overdue and I wish I’d done something of this ilk before quarantine drove me to it. If you aren’t on the Twitter then perhaps you missed what I’m talking about. Some Michiganders on the social platform were discussing all the brackets out there being filled out to replace our beloved/canceled March Madness. The idea of a bracket for Michigan courses was born and I took the ball and ran with it. Why not? I’m America’s guest. Who’s played more tracks in the state than me?

The Mitten has a collection of courses that can hold its own against any state. While many of its gems are private, for the purposes of a bracket it only seemed fair to make the tournament specific to the great public tracks in the Michigan. I broke the state down by regions. The West, south of Traverse along the Lake Michigan coast including Grand Rapids. The North, consisting of the Traverse City area, Petoskey, Harbor Springs and the Upper Peninsula. The Central, the upper part of the Lower Peninsula east of 127 and 75, while North of Saginaw. And the Southeast, Detroit, Lansing, and the urban sprawl down to the Ohio border.

Obviously the North region was stacked. If I had a do-over I’d move Forest Dunes to the Central, along with the Loop routings. I’d also include Macatawa in the West. But that doesn’t really change the result. In the end the heavy hitters advanced, but a few surprises made the Final Four and a plucky underdog won the whole damn thing. Congrats to Diamond Springs of Hamilton! The Mike DeVries designed course held its own on the weaker side of the bracket and used its social media presence to push past Tullymore in the semi final and Marquette’s Greywalls (another DeVries course) in the final.

Here’s another tweet with the best image I could get of the entire bracket:

Diamond Springs is a great golf course, and a great value. Don’t go there expecting it to be pristine. Have an open mind. Enjoy the value you’re getting, and enjoy the design. The setting and use of the land is divine. You’ll play holes you never could have dreamed of.  And as the title here says, to the victor go the spoils. The Fried Egg has a video that includes shots of several courses that made our bracket and Diamond Springs is heavily featured.

In addition, there’s a whole post on Andy’s site discussing the intricacies of Diamond Springs with some great photos. Hit that up here.

No Bullshit

Is Diamond Springs that good? Should Greywalls have beaten Arcadia Bluffs and Forest Dunes to get to the final? Yes, Diamond is that good, and fun as hell to play. But there’s a reason I made it the 5 seed in the West region to start the tournament. Greywalls? I haven’t played it. But if it is half as good as the other 4 DeVries designs in Michigan it probably earned its spot. The pictures of Greywalls have me planning a family trip to the U.P. for 2021. I have not been there since 2002. Golf, man.

Now let’s step back a minute. In one and done match ups anything can happen. A club pro can beat Tiger Woods, a 16 seed can beat a 1, and a hot drunk girl can hook up with an absolute dork. I’m not saying either of the courses that made the final are duds, they’re great. But perhaps re-ranking 25 of the courses in the bracket makes a little more sense in hindsight. I’ll give it a whirl.

  1. Arcadia Bluffs (Bluffs) – still the big dog based on setting, experience, views, and fun.
  2. Forest Dunes 
  3. Greywalls – this tourney run says something. Golf Twitter loves the place.
  4. The Loop – both routings, can’t double dip here like we did in the bracket.
  5. Diamond Springs – from 5 seed in the West to 5 overall. It is now on everyone’s radar.
  6. Tullymore
  7. Eagle Eye
  8. Belvedere – This grandfather of northern golf has quite a following.
  9. Arcadia Bluffs (South Course) – new kid on the block, a golfers golf course.
  10. Bay Harbor
  11. Pilgrim’s Run – Another DeVries that is no longer hidden.
  12. The Heather
  13. Stoatin Brae
  14. Sage Run – I’m not sure how I made this one a 16 seed.
  15. Shepards Hollow
  16. Jones Masterpiece – Treetops
  17. The Orchards
  18. Forest Akers – West
  19. The Gailes
  20. Manistee National
  21. Bucks Run
  22. Harbor Shores
  23.  The Legend
  24. The Grande
  25. Hawk Hollow

Once you get past 25 you’re splitting hairs in rankings. I made moves up/down the ranking based on performance to seed in the bracket and popularity in comments and inquiries. If your course made our bracket it is pretty damn good. If it didn’t, drop a comment and make the case for why it should. Perhaps it will make the next one. Until then, stay safe, and think about which one of these Michigan gems you’ll play next once this whole pandemic thing settles down.

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Course Review: Bethpage State Park (Black Course)

Bethpage State Park (Black Course) – Farmingdale, NY (Architect: Albert Warren Tillinghast 1936)


When the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt set the wheels in motion for his New Deal that would bring the country out of the worst economic times it had ever seen. Part of FDR’s new deal included plans to put people back to work building infrastructure and other public goods, including parks. Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York on Long Island is a result of one of the New Deal’s programs. In 1936 A.W. Tillinghast was hired to build the Black Course at Bethpage.

The Black Course has become infamous for being tough, just like the Long Islanders that play it, but before 1995 Tilly’s fantastic design had been left for dead. Enter David Fay, the USGA’s former Executive Director had played the Black in his youth. He happened by the course on a trip back to his home in New Jersey while still the USGA chief and saw the potential it had. The course simply needed a face lift. Fay got the state, the USGA, and NBC all to buy in and agree to have Bethpage host the 2002 Open only if a severe restoration could be done in time for the championship. Thanks to Fay’s vision and everyone that bought into it the Black Course became the first publicly owned facility to host a U.S. Open. Since then it has hosted a 2nd U.S. Open (2009), a Fed Ex Cup event with more coming, and a PGA Championship and Ryder Cup in the not too distant future.


When Fay walked the course on a whim that fateful day he saw a beautiful old girl that needed an influx of cash and some TLC. Rees Jones, the Open Doctor, was hired to do the restoration work. The bunkers you see on the course today are mostly his works of art in Tillinghast’s fingerprints, but the routing and green complexes are all thanks to Tilly. Mr. Jones came back between the U.S. Opens and added another 400 yards and I noticed new tee boxes on several holes that didn’t exist when I first played the course. The Black has some of the thickest everyday rough you’ll ever play thanks to their staff over-seeding it every spring.

I’ve made two trips around the Black. The first was in 2002, 4 months after Tiger Woods won his 2nd U.S. Open there. The rough was cut to 3.5 inches, but was so thick you could not advance a club longer than a 7 iron from it. The sand in the bunkers was so fluffy that any shot that landed in them that had height on it would result in a fried egg. I played from 7100 yards, had two birdies, and shot 79.

I returned in 2006 in the middle of a NYC heat wave. The course is “walking only” and I carried my bag in 102 degree heat. There isn’t much shade on the rugged Black. Moisture wicking material hadn’t yet hit the golf world. My cotton shirt and shorts were ruined for life after that day but I still had a blast. We played from 7400 yards that day and I shot 77. I can practically remember every shot. The Black does that to you. Everything about it is memorable.

Of course the urban legend surrounding the Black course is that you have to sleep in your car to get a tee time. Not exactly. It is a State Park and the New York State employees run the show here. Tee times can be made by New York residents in the tee time system. Back in the day, other state residents could donate a kidney, get in the tee time system, and grab a time by calling to see if anyone cancelled the day before. Ok, not a kidney, but they did want a copy of your license and social security card to add you. I actually am in the system and made a time there my 2nd time around. The first time I showed up around 9 on a nice October day and was on the 1st tee by 10:45. Weekends are a different story. If you don’t have a time you’re sleeping in the car. When you pull in they give you a wrist band to make sure you don’t get out of line. The last car in line keeps their lights on. You get certain times before the sun comes up and a few cancellations. This is the democracy our forefathers dreamed of 250 years ago.


If it isn’t dark out when you pull into the Bethpage parking lot you notice that it is immediately aesthetically pleasing. The old trees that line the drive, the stately clubhouse, the view off the first tee….nothing about it screams “MUNI!” until you see the driving range or try to check in (more on both later). The brick walk behind the clubhouse leads you around the putting green and the famed warning sign comes into view as if you’re about to chug a bottle of poison.

That’s all New York ego. Don’t let it scare you. From the 1st tee your drive will launch out into space to a fairway that is about 50 feet below the tee. It is a majestic opening shot and your ball will travel about 30 yards further than you’d expect (unless into the wind) because of the change in elevation. What a great way to start a round. The grueling walk begins once you find level ground in the first fairway. Holes 1, 15, 16, 17, and 18 are the only 5 holes in the same section of the park as the clubhouse. To get to number two you cross Round Swamp Rd. and the hike truly begins up and down Long Island foothills you didn’t know existed. The warning sign is more applicable to the walk you face if you ask me.

That is the par 3 eighth hole above. It looks benign and the water isn’t in play but that tree will reach out and slap a push into the H2O if you get sloppy. Humble brag alert –   I birdied it both times! The turn is made to the back nine at the farthest point from the 1st tee. They don’t sell rounds of 9 just as the golf gods intended it to be. At this point in the hike the course actually flattens out for 3 or 4 holes, but 10, 11, and 12 can be some of the toughest on the course. If you really bust a drive you may have a short iron to 11, but the 10th is a long par 4 you’ll be lucky to reach in two no matter how good you hit it. If you’re in the rough you have no shot at the green.

Your last hole before you again cross Round Swamp Road is the short par three 14th hole. The USGA will play the hole anywhere from 100 yards to 165. I think you’ll see it more around 150 for the Barclays, PGA, and Ryder Cup events coming up. A reader tells me they’ve revamped the green a touch. Perhaps there was too much slope and it was brushed up to allow for more hole locations.

That’s Tiger at the 15th above. This hole statistically is the toughest but it has been neutered a bit by modern equipment. At 475 yards most players will hit 3 wood then 8 iron to the severely uphill and undulating green. A long iron into this in 2002 made the approach much more troublesome. The hike up to that green is exhausting at that point in your day, and once you get there you have to focus on navigating one of the Black’s few greens that has real teeth.

The 17th might be the signature hole of Bethpage. The 200 yard par 3 has a natural stadium around it. The fescue grown post 2002 between the tee and the green frames the hole well with the hills, trees, and bunkers creating a postcard back drop. The Black’s weakest link is its finishing hole. Eighteen is a mere 410 yards down hill. Three iron followed by a short iron is no way for a major championship to be decided. There’s no room to extend the hole either. In 2009 the USGA had the hole play 295 yards in the final round and almost no one went for it. While the hole isn’t perfect the idea of making it driveable is as gay as cum on a mustache.

If I have a favorite hole (it is hard to pick just one) I’d go with the 5th shown above. Number 5 at Bethpage Black is often discussed as the quintessential Tillinghast hole. It is about a 480 yard par 4 with a new tee added around 2006. There are bunkers down the right and woods on the left. The tee shot requires a slight fade or a 295 yard carry over the bunkers. The approach requires a slight draw to a green that sits 25 feet above the fairway. Fade tee ball with a draw approach, that’s why they say its a classic Tilly hole.

My first grade in this review is a 5 out of 5 for the layout. There were once some ugly backdrops around holes 3, 15, and even 2 but those have been cleaned up. I’m nitpicking the 18th hole only because it is the final hole. If it were played in any other order it would be a fine hole. I won’t deduct a point for that. Tillyinghast’s routing is classic and thrilling. When you walk the land you know you’re some place special.

Score: 5.0


My sample size of what the conditioning is like at Bethpage is a small one, but both times around the Black the place was in fantastic condition. This was true even in October just a few weeks after the greens were aerated. As I noted already the rough is thick and lush as if the grass is being fed steroids. It isn’t kept long for everyday play but the ball settles down easily in it. You don’t get too many good lies. See below.

The greens at the Black aren’t too undulating, minus a few, and from what I saw they were consistent and mowed at decent speeds for both my loops. I’d bet for everyday muni golf you won’t find any better. They probably run about a 10.5 on the Stimp meter. If they made them much faster the every man playing the course for 99% of its rounds wouldn’t break 100. I also noted above that in 2002 the bunkers were too soft. That was fixed 4 years later. The track I saw in 2006 could have hosted a Tour event with 48 hours of prep. No point deductions here.

Score: 5.0


Because Bethpage is a state park the New York residents get a nice break here just like San Diego County residents get a price break at Torrey Pines. You can see the fee structure below.

Bethpage State Park Golf Coursesbpresidents

Yeah, $65 to play a 2 time U.S. Open host site that is getting a PGA and a Ryder Cup…??? There’s no better deal in the world for a big boy golf course. Even the out of state rate isn’t too bad and well worth it. I think I paid $89 and $110 for my fees around the Black. Nothing in New York is cheap, and you rarely find true value in anything within 50 miles of Manhattan, but golf at Bethpage is the exception to the rule.

Score: 5.0


So far everything at Bethpage Black sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Here’s a category that will take the Black down a peg. When you check in you’re basically cattle. You stand in a line like you’re at a bank. You have to have all your shit ready and your whole group there to get a wrist band that gets you a date with the starter. That’s all after you slept in your car if you went that route. The staff is made up entirely of state employees. They don’t have to be nice because there are 20 people behind you that would love to be shit on just to play the famed course.

Things don’t get much better from the staff once you get to the 1st tee. The starter has seen all types and he’s not there to entertain you like so many with his job might try to do at a resort course. He’s a tough Long Island guy who wants you to be ready and get the fuck out of his sight. He’ll grunt at you as he cuts off your wristband (it is entirely possible that the wrist band system is gone since I haven’t played the course in ten years). Staff at the halfway house is average at best and don’t expect a hot college girl to roll up on a beverage cart. Those don’t exist at the Black.

You like that big black cloud I just threw at you concerning the service? Well, it only gets worse in this category. There is no pace at the Black course. It isn’t a crawl, but you’ve got a packed course everyday that has as many tourists on it as it has locals. The tourists might not even belong on a course this tough but they’ll play it to say they did. They’ll take 5+ hours to do it to. And remember, they’re walking! The hike is tough and it certainly hurts the pace at the Black. I scored BPB low in this category but not a 1 or a zero. The staff is probably a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rounds and customers. There’s not much more they can do when offering up a course like that with such a low price.

Score: 2.5


The part of Long Island that Bethpage is on isn’t exactly a place you’ll want to hang around in after you play the Black course. The park itself has some amenities like a restaurant, tennis, hiking, etc, but there’s no way you’re up for any of that shit if you just hiked the Black. You’re thisclose to New York City. Go explore it. Go to a Mets game, go to a horse track, go to Manhattan and do any of 100 million things there is to do there. Pro tip – when you’re done with any of that find a good seat at Scores and don’t use the ATM once you get there.

As for the golf amenities, this is another category that Bethpage will lose a point or more. The range is a joke. It has no grass hitting area. It was significantly improved from 2002 to 2006 when I came back but it still isn’t up to snuff with what you’d expect at a major championship course. Note that they make a range on one of the other courses when the PGA Tour comes to town. The putting green is fine but there’s no short game area or anything resembling one that I ever saw when I was on the premises. There’s no golf carts on the Black so you’d think they might have a caddie program. They do, but it wasn’t official or affiliated with the course ten years ago. It was local dudes offering to carry your bag for somewhere between $50 to $100 for the round. They sit around the outside of the clubhouse and appear more likely to rob you than they do to give you the right club or read a putt. They might all know their shit and be great caddies, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Score: 3.5


Outside of the pond in front of the 8th hole there’s not a water hazard on the course. There are a few forced carries, TO THE FAIRWAYS, that may be too much for weaker players so you’ll want to make sure you’re playing the correct tees. Note that the white tees are still nearly 6700 yards. That’s long for an average player. Most people don’t check the yardage and tee it up on  the white tees without thinking. That’s too much golf course for a guy hitting 200 yard tee shots. As I said earlier, many of the greens are flat-ish, with a few exceptions. I think the main challenges thrown at you by the course are the rough and the approach shots. It is a tee to green course. No short game wiz that hits it shorter than average is going to win a tournament on the Black.

I do think that the course is fair and playable for players that have an 18 index or lower as long as they don’t lack distance. You have to be pretty far off course to have tree problems at Bethpage. You aren’t likely to lose a ball. The longish heather is way away from the fairway and there’s plenty of primary rough to play from should you miss a fairway. The most difficult task ahead of you playing BPB is hitting to the greens. Many are raised or sit on top of a decent size hill. You’ll be clubbing up for much of your round because a 150 shot here will likely play 160 on most holes with just a few exceptions. There aren’t any true blind shots but there are several holes that you can’t see the putting surface from the fairway. The Black fucks with you that way.

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. Bethpage Black is hard, but it isn’t tricked up and there’s nothing crazy asked of you outside of the rough and some extra yardage. I don’t think a short knocking 25 handicap would have any fun on it, but the course wasn’t built for them. It was built for championship golf. It has a high slope and course rating for a reason. It is going to punch you in the face a few times. Can you take a punch? If so, play the Black. Don’t be scared.

Score: 4.5


The composite score from all categories above takes a hit for the service, pace, and amenities the facility lacks, but there’s no shame in the score I arrived at. The course and its conditioning are as good as it gets. If that has more to do with your decision to check a course out then by all means you need to put Bethpage Black on your bucket list. If you need to be pampered, ride in a cart, and have everyone on staff service you like you’re the 1st lady, go play somewhere else. This is the People of New York’s course, they don’t want you here anyway.

Score: 4.25

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Titillation From Tiger

Never A Doubt

The dumbest question I hear asked in golf of late is this…..”is Tiger back?”. Of course he’s back. Tiger has been back since he won the Tour Championship in September of 2018. “Where the fuck have you been and how have you missed this?”…..is what I’m thinking every time I hear it. With his fused back and mental fragility in tow Tiger played a full tour schedule, contended a ton, and made it through every stage of the Fed Ex Playoffs while winning his last official event of the last calendar year. The only thing left for him to do to keep this question from driving me insane was to end his near 4000 day drought of not hoisting a major championship trophy in his hand. Mission accomplished.

Tiger lured us back in to having interest in him in 2019 with just the right amount of precision, touch and power in his recent play.  Enter the Masters tournament this week and things got even more interesting around Tiger. He looked good in 2018 coming into this week but finished in 32nd place.

I was intrigued on Thursday when I saw him drilling straight tee shots down holes 1, 7 and 11, fairways he’s struggled to hit for over a decade. But his putter cost him in the 1st round and what could have been a 65 ended in 70 shots. I shrugged and thought this looks too much like 2010 Tiger still. Then Friday came. He was a magical and surgical mock neck blur you couldn’t take your eyes off. The only thing that could have slowed him down was a 40 minute rain delay and an eager beaver security guard.

Saturday in contention would surely separate the men from the boys. How about a 67 with vintage Tiger on the greens and escaping the Augusta pines. Who is this guy and where has he been for 3954 days? Yet Sunday’s finale was filled with more obstacles. Koepka, Johnson, Molinari – all guys who had won majors in the last 3 years. All guys with strengths in their games that spell trouble for Tiger. But there was our hero, our Tiger, the guy we’ve been waiting to reappear in our Sunday afternoon stories – back in his signature red (albeit hideous mock neck) shirt and black hat, ready to reclaim glory.

This couldn’t have gone any other way. He played chess with Molinari for 11 holes and when Franky found Rae’s Creek at the 12 Tiger pounced. Safe to the middle of the green, birdies at 13, 15, and 16 made him look like Tiger circa 2000. And the best bogey of his life at 18 made everyone in the world feel 22 years younger

The shot of him above, clutching son Charlie within feet of where he and his pop embraced in 1997, put mist in my eyes. If you’re a parent you don’t have a soul if you didn’t feel something there. Tiger has said for a few years how his kids are what inspire him to keep playing and trying to win. They knew him only as the “YouTube Golfer” for so many years. Today they saw him as the golfing hero the world has known and loved since 1997.

That graphic from Tiger’s Wiki page really grabs you doesn’t it? It puts into perspective how rough golf has been for TW since his life was destroyed by his scandal in November of 2009. The embarrassment of that along with the back problems that flared up in 2013 are the reasons you see the yellow top 10 finishes fall off the graphic from 2014 through 2017. Tiger had surgery to fuse his back on April 20, 2017. He didn’t know if he’d ever walk again, let alone play golf. He had the surgery to restore some comfort and mobility back into his life so he could do more with his kids. Then he figured out that he can make a golf swing without pain and decided to give it a try.

The result is that 24 months later we now have a Tiger Woods who was humbled and is grateful. He understands his place in the public, his place in golf and his place in his own home. He’s happy to be a dad and take his kids to soccer but still play in big boy golf tournaments and be out on the Tour with the fellas. And he sure hasn’t lost an ounce of the old Tiger swag.

What’s next for Tiger is anyone’s guess. He has 15 majors. Read that again. I wasn’t sure I’d every get to say that, but there it is in print. And it is a real life thing. Fact. He also has 81 wins, which is one behind Sam Snead for the all-time record. He can still catch Nicklaus. He’ll be the reigning Masters champion for 364 more days. He’s won majors at the next two major host venues (Bethpage Black and Pebble Beach). And he’s the captain of the U.S. President’s Cup team later this fall. I’d say the next 5 years are damn near limitless.

But step back from all that. Think about the greatness we all were lucky enough to witness today. Think about how you saw either the best or damn near close to the best golfer of all time take down a field of studs playing well, on Augusta National, 11 years removed from his last major win to become the 2019 Masters Champion.

I’m still not sure it was real. Hollywood can’t even write something that cheesy and hokey. But it happened. It was real. And it was spectacular.

Thank you, Tiger. Welcome back.

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Random Thoughts: 2019 So Far

World Number 1 Wins At Torrey Pines

How many times have you read/heard that? I’d guess about 8. But this time it isn’t a headline that pertains to Tiger Woods. Of course we’re talking about Justin Rose. With a new equipment and clothing deal Rosie showed up in San Diego not fucking around. He had a few sloppy holes, notably the 14th on Saturday, but played so well even his brain farts didn’t matter.

I often cringe when guys are at the peak of their game and make equipment changes (hi Rory!). But JR’s change from Taylormade to Homna gear appears to have done nothing but improve is game. That should scare you if you’re a peer on tour trying to take his #1 spot. We’ll have to see what the rest of 2019 has in store for Justin but anything short of winning 1 major should be as disappointing as the garb provided by his clothing sponsor.

Big Cat 

He’s right on schedule. Gone are the days of TW showing up at Torrey, knocking off some rust, and winning with ease. He’s a little more than “just a guy” on Tour these days. And he’s far from the ceremonial golfer several pundits predicted he’d be. He’s a big game hunter still. He’s doing everything he can to peak for the majors. A 9th win in San Diego would mean very little to him.

He drove it well. That’s a big deal. His iron game was average. That’ll get better. He hasn’t putted poa greens in almost a year. No sweat. He won’t win or contend in L.A. in two weeks either but he’ll be right there lurking by the time the boys tee it up for money in Florida.

The buzz about Tiger on Sunday was all about his wardrobe. Had he worn something other than his traditional red shirt? Was it pink? Why the stripes? What the fuck, Tiger? He was asked about it after the round, whether it was pink or red, and answered only “yes”. I think he was right to change it up, after all, he was playing the back nine first in the final round.

Kapalua, Sony & Hope

I watched them all. I was entertained. But these weren’t marque events with football still dictating viewing schedules. Xander Schauffele was amazing at Kapalua. The shots he hit down the stretch to nip Gary Woodland left me in awe. Now I wonder why he doesn’t win more.

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Sony was interesting because of the Kuchar/caddie story that loomed over the weekend as Kooch ran away with the title. Without that you might as well go watch some middle aged accountant play your local muni in Sketchers and it would feel about the same.

At the Hope we nearly saw a 59 from Phil. Then he loses by a shot to Andrew Long who was a 500 to 1 bet at the beginning of the week. Yeah, FIGJAM had him with a $10k bet and let him win. That $5,000,0000 was too much to pass up for just another PGA Tour win. Oh by the way, Mickelson led the field at the Hope in driving distance. He’s going to be 49 in June. Chew on that.

Picture of the Year

Lock it up, we have a winner and January isn’t even over. Two time US Open Champion Brooks Koepka, on vacation with Dustin Johnson and their women, decided to put on girlfriend Jenna Sims thong and show off for the camera.

Right about now you’re asking why he would do this. Here’s my guess. Paulina, and Jenna said if you put that on you can bang us both at the same time. Dustin snorted a line and nodded in agreement. Thongs goes on. Brooks poses for that pic. Two chicks at the same time. I can’t blame him.

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I Was On A Podcast, Made Some Predictions, It Didn’t Go Well

Yes, This Site Is Still Active

Ok, I admit, I almost left it for dead. I might as well have as I haven’t posted since July. I do have an equipment review and a course review coming your way in the next few weeks. I’ll probably have something to say about the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua next week too. In the mean time I give you this, the Fore Golfers Network Podcast from this week. I came on to talk to host Bill Hobson in January to discuss some predictions for 2018. Bill had me back on this week to check in on my predictions. I was wildly wrong on two of the three.

The link in the tweet above will get you to the podcast. I’m at the end, but the other guys (minus Fonseca) are worth a listen too. In summary, the USGA did nothing with the ball. I was right! The U.S. was crushed in the Ryder Cup. I was wrong! And the Anthony Kim one…I’ll leave that up to you guys, so what if it was 2 year old video.

Thanks to Bill for having me on again, it is always fun to chat with him.

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10 Reasons I Love The Open Championship

Lists Usually Suck

Three months off is nothing, hibernating bears do it every year, but your favorite blogger probably owes you more. There’s no apologies here though. That’s not the M.O. of this site. Fuck it. I have better things to do. And what did I miss anyway? Koepka won another U.S. Open. Spieth is still in a drought. And Tiger still hasn’t won in his comeback phase of his career.

I’m back tonight because it is the eve of the greatest championship played in the world. The Masters is the best toon-a-mint, but the Open Championship is a different animal for many reasons. I’m here to give you a few of those right now in my 10 reasons why I love the Open. Let’s get on with it.

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10.  The Open Scoreboards – You know what they look like and you know what your’e watching as soon as you see one. Yeah, big, yellow, hand operated, and the message they put on them after the champion receives the Jug….it’s all part of the culture of the Open that we embrace. It is as if a giant piece of Fenway Park or Wrigley Field is transported across the pond for the week and spray painted like a bus.

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The board, or boards, are so iconic that the Open website shows their leaderboard in the same style as a simple reminder of the championship you’re tracking. If I ever make to an Open I may just sit in wonderment and watch them for an hour straight as the names and scores change like a stock ticker. If you want more scoreboard hit the link for a Jimmy Roberts piece that aired on the Golf Channel. I had no idea that they’re operated by rival school boys that sleep in tents nearby for the week.

9. WAGs in Europe – Yummy yummy, Paulina in plaid, Jenny Sims in a kilt….hey, a guy can hope. Most likely you won’t see much of them anyway unless their guy is the big winner come Sunday, but outside of the Open the wags don’t get their Euro fix unless it is an away Ryder Cup year.


We deserve more, and we deserve better. I’m hoping for Allison Stokke to fire up her sleepy Instagram account while Rickie is on the course this week.

8. Gorse – Yup, just a shrub that is part of the pea family with a yellow flower. Really, that made the list?

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It has to. For 50 other weeks of the year we don’t hear about this alien plant. Then our golf gods turn up on the British Isles and they’re losing balls in this sticky shit that can cost a guy a major. I love hearing the Euro announcers say the word. I love hearing the American announcers over use it by calling ever piece of the course that isn’t fairway, tee or green “gorse”. Idiots. If you see yellow, you’re seeing gorse. Don’t hit it near there.

7. Unknowns – Every year there’s some guy that contends that I’ve never heard of. Sometimes they even win it. See Curtis, Ben; Lawrie, Paul; or Hamilton, Todd (fucking). I won’t even bring up Jean Van de……no, I won’t do it. My first memory of an unknown almost stealing an Open was in 1994 at Turnberry. This skinny fucking piece of Euro-trash with his hat brim flipped up was about to take a title from one of the best players in the world at the time, Nick Price. I had never heard of Jesper Parnevik and there he was putting with his glove on with the Claret Jug nearly in his grasp.

I remember rooting against him. He was going to ruin the Open. I no longer hold a grudge against him like I do for Steve Jones for ruining the U.S. Open two years later. Jesper eventually became a vetted Ryder Cup staple. That validated his 1994 run. He probably should have beat Price. Watch again this year, a guy you barely know will be around until the end, like Mathew Southgate. Pssst, check his Open record if you’re looking for Draft Kings pick.

6. Ivor Robson – If you don’t know Ivor by name, get the fuck out of here right now. Ok, that’s harsh, but you’ll know him as soon as you listen to this clip.

Unfortunately for us fans, Ivor retired after 41 years of starting every group at the Open Championship. It isn’t the same without him. If he were still going he might be as high as reason number 2 as to why I love the Open.

5. Breakfast and Golf – What is better than this combo? Go back to that 1994 Open again for a second. I can still remember playing PGA Tour on my Sega all night with my buddy and waking up to my mom making pancakes and bacon while we watched Price and Parnevik battle. I love gluttony. I love breakfast food. I love golf. And I love majors. Mix all that together and waking up to it for four days in July is heavenly. That is all.

4. Champion Golfer of the Year – I don’t turn the final round broadcast off until I hear some grumpy ass R&A official call the winner by his rightful title. The only thing that could make it better would be to have the god damn queen come down from a thrown to knight the CHAMPION GOLFER OF THE YEAR on the 18th green.

It is special to us, but even more so to the man of the hour. That clip makes me tingle.

3. The Open Rota – For those that don’t understand that, it is the courses. The list has changed a bit with Royal Portrush now in the mix. The rest are as follows: Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Hoylake, Birkdale, St. George’s, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Troon, Muirfield, and St. Andrews.

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I’ve never stepped foot on any of them but I love them all. There are nuances and romance to all of their settings, their history, and the culture that surrounds them. They hold communities together in some towns and connect train lines to others.  That list is the Open Championship.

2. R&A – Why is the R&A on my list? Because they’re the anti-USGA. They don’t care about par or making the course hard. They let mother nature play the courses of the Open rota as the players do and the chips fall where they may. They’ve advanced the game of golf and protected it more than the USGA could ever dream of. Sure, they may be stuffy and narrow minded, but without them none of us would likely even have taken golf up, there would be no USGA, and no modern game. The Open is their championship. They do it well. I tip my cap to them. There’s no Open to love if there’s no R&A.

1. The Claret Jug – She’s a beauty isn’t she? If only she could talk and tell us stories. I’d love to hear about her first few nights with Darren Clarke in 2011. The 2nd oldest trophy in sports has been filled with thousands of glasses of champagne, whiskey, and beer. It has been peed it, lost, dropped, and crashed from mantels yet it still doesn’t look a day over 147 years.

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A green jacket is nice, a Wannamaker is bigger, but the Claret Jug at your disposal is the stuff dreams are made of.

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Course Review: Arcadia Bluffs (Bluffs)

Arcadia Bluffs (The Bluffs Course) – Arcadia, MI (Architects: Warren Henderson and Rick Smith – 1999)

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In 1999 the Northern Michigan golf landscape changed dramatically when the brash, bold, and eye-popping Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course debuted to the golfing public. Architects Warren Henderson and Rick Smith (yeah, the guy who was Phil’s instructor for more than a decade) collaborated on a links style course with sod wall bunkers that rests on the bluffs of Lake Michigan in the middle of nowhere. For nearly 20 years Arcadia has been the crown jewel of buddy trips to the lower peninsula of the Mitten State and there’s no sign of that changing, unless you gain access to one of the stellar private clubs that are somewhat nearby.

Arcadia will expand to 36 holes in August of 2018 when they open the South Course about 1.5 miles down the street, appropriately just south of the original layout. With the birth of a sibling the original course will now be called the Bluffs Course. The Bluffs course sits about 200 feet above Lake Michigan. Only three and half of the 18 holes on the Bluffs course are on the water, but the topography of the land allows for you to see the big lake from almost every vantage point unless the club house is blocking it out.

There’s a lot to love about Arcadia. The golf course is fun to play and the imagery you’re playing in and around is stunning. I’ve played it 6 or 7 times now and have come away pleased as punch with every experience. However, if you talk to a course architecture nerd, many of them will yuck your yum by shitting all over the intricacies of Arcadia Bluff’s design. I’ve heard many complaints about how fake it is, the insanity of the greens and their difficulty, and the bunkers are too deep/hard for hack amateurs to play from. Those are valid complaints, but I try to suspend myself from reality a bit when I’m at the Bluffs. The design isn’t perfect, and I particularly dislike the hole in the picture above (par five, 5th hole), but so what? Look around. Soak it in. And have fun with every shot you play. That’s what Arcadia is all about.

Henderson and Smith gave golfers plenty of room off of every tee. The fairways are man-sized and so are the greens. Off the short grass you’ll have 10 to 15 yards of 2nd cut before your ball finds the native grass. Even the tall stuff is more than fair at the Bluffs. Of the 20+ companions I’ve traversed Arcadia with I can’t recall anyone losing a ball in the junk.

The shot above is typical of what you see from every tee. That’s my boy Werm sniping one down the par five 11th hole. The tees are mostly elevated which makes for great views and long drives downwind. The course plays firm and fast unless a monsoon has come through recently. In the old days of the Bluffs there was a digital weather instrument behind the pro shop counter. It tracked the current temperature and wind speed, as well as the highest gust in the last 24 hours. It got your attention from the second you arrived on the property because there’s seldom a day when you can play the course without wind having an impact on your score. I’d hazard a guess that the normal wind speed is pretty close to 20 mph. That makes some of those elevated tee shots a bit frustrating. At the same time, the holes that play into the typical prevailing wind aren’t overly challenging in their design.


For the first 3 to 4 years the golf course layout played as originally designed by Smith and Henderson. At some point the routing was tweaked and holes 7 through 16 were shifted around to accommodate a better pace of play and to allow for both 9s to finish near the club house. The change didn’t hurt a thing.

The Bluffs begin with the easiest hole on the course, a 519 yard par 5 that doglegs to the right. It is reachable in two unless you really miss one off the tee and there’s no reason not to go for it. The 2nd hole is a mid to long iron shot of a par 3 with the only tree in play on the golf course about 20 yards left of the green. From there you climb a little hill to the 3rd tee and see all that is in front of you for the rest of the day.

The third hole also introduces you to the biggest sod wall bunker you’ll see in North America. It protects the front of the green and will get you to steer your approach shot a bit just to make sure you avoid it. The 4th hole is of interest because it plays into a punch bowl green as you continue your decent toward the bluffs. From 3 tee down to the edge of the bluffs is a 225 foot drop in and of itself. You sniff the lake at the 5th green but then swing back up into the hills where the holes mostly play through man made trenches from tee to green.

The 8th hole, which is the original 12th, is a bit interesting. The actual back tee is never used anymore. From that old back tee the hole plays close to 450 yards uphill and makes it a mother fucker. The true back tee is shut down because it is on the opposite side of the main driveway. When I’ve played it in the past you have to have either the starter (from the nearby 1st tee) or a member of your group stop traffic. You can see why they don’t use it. From the middle tee it is a mere 400 yards and leaves you with a short iron or wedge to the big, elevated green. Yawn.

The back nine grabs your attention quickly as it starts with a tough hole and blind tee shot. Your aim point is a barber pole sticking out of a man made dune. That’s a little gimmicky. The 10th gets a lot of complaints from my playing partners. The bitch of it is that you’re typically stuffing your face with something delicious from the turn. That quick loss in focus will lead to a quick bogey or worse on the tough par four. 11 may be the signature hole to many golfers – hi MGL Bill – as it is the 650 yard par 5 that plays back down to the lake. The forest to your left frames the view quite nicely with the rolling hills to the right of the fairway. It isn’t my favorite hole. The fairway will allow shots to run out but you’ll be just over 300 some yards still with no reason to consider hitting anything but a 200 yard shot for your layup. I like options. This hole doesn’t give you many.

The 12th is a show stopper. You can go big or small off the tee and still have a scoring club in your hand. Of the 3 prior images shown above, this hole is the first two of them. The hole (which was originally the 16th) plays near 400 yards from the back with a huge fairway that you can’t see much of from the tee. That’s a nice feature by itself, but the big lake and 200 foot drop to your left will get your heart pumping. There’s no missing left. The height  alone at the teeing ground has made me grip my driver a little tighter than I should. This is my favorite hole on the course. It is Arcadia.

The 13th hole above is no slouch. It is a 240 yard par 3 that plays over a ravine with Lake Michigan to your left. It often plays into the wind. In the first handful of times I played it I hit a hybrid and might have hit the green once. I might have parred it twice. It is a bitch. When I was there last October, and took most of the pictures you see in this post, we played it at 205 and it was downwind. That’s much more fair but I enjoy the challenge it presents from any 200+ yardage. The green is huge but it is the most firm on the course in my mind because it gets a lot of sun and wind. It has no protection.

The 14th begins to route you back up the hills toward the clubhouse again. Those closing holes are good, and interesting, and 16 is another hard long par 4, but the pizzazz of the round has left you now that the lake holes are behind you. I often wonder if they had a mulligan on the design if they’d find a way to have the clubhouse closer to the lake to allow you to finish your round near it. Overall, any complaining on the layout and the views are nitpicking. I love the place. It is easy to give Arcadia a perfect 5 in this category.

Score: 5.0


In a nutshell, the conditions are good but not great. The super here must be damn good. The place has a packed tee sheet, rain or shine, from the day it opens until Halloween. That’s their entire season. With that much traffic, and 99% of them using a cart, it is amazing the place is a pristine as it is. The contours of the fairway also make for several collection areas which means you’ll see sections that are littered with divots You can’t overcome that with maintenance. It is what it is.

The greens, while huge and undulating, would be impossible to maintain at most resort style course with high traffic but Arcadia doesn’t have any issue doing so. They’re really good and they aren’t too soft, too firm, or too bumpy. They’re just right and I think they are somewhat easy to read because the exaggerations in the slopes make the break obvious. The score here is a tough one to give. I can’t give it a 5 because it just isn’t perfect.

Score: 4.5


For most of the 19 years Arcadia has been in existence the rack rate greens fee has been $180. In 2018 that has moved to $195. That’s a pretty good rate for a top 100 golf course (#68 in the U.S. in 2018 by Golf Digest). Whistling Straits across the lake isn’t as good of a course, in my opinion, and they charge double. That being said, most things in Northern Michigan present some value as the cost of living in the area is much lower than the nearest big cities of Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee.

In the last decade the club has added a lodge and several cottages so that they can now accommodate a buddy trip of any size. The rooms are plush and they won’t kill your wallet. The restaurant is top notch and if you don’t go deep on the wine list you’ll find yourself satisfied with your meal and your bill.

If you don’t live too far away and you can pick your spots, you’ll also find that some of Arcadia’s shoulder season rates are more than fair. The greens are typically aerated around October 1. The rate after that is half the price. We played on near perfect greens that were fully healed from aeration in late October and got lucky with a 74 degree day. It likely snowed on the property 3 days later. FYI, you’ll never see a discount rate from Arcadia on Golfnow or similar sites as they just don’t do that, nor do they need to.

Score: 4.5


They do it right at the Bluffs. The bag guys, the shop staff, bartender, cart girl, rangers, starter, etc. They’re all top notch. My group on my last trip included two low single digit players and a 16. We played the tips and the 16 didn’t check his ego so he did the same. Homie teed it up high on the first and went right under it as the tee backed up due to groups having to wait for the green to clear on the short par 5. A starter at most places would have lost their shit right there. I looked over after the whiffed shot from our hack. The starter’s eyes got big, his eyebrows jumped off his face, but he said nothing. I assured him we’d keep the chopper moving along. Kudos to him for not being a dick to a guy that was a little nervous playing with the big boys.

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For as good as the service is, the pace is pretty bad. Plan on 5 hours when you’re here. How can it be any other way when the tee sheet is always full, the wind always blows, and everyone wants to stop and take pictures along the way? The good news is you don’t notice it much because the views and service are so damn good. I swear the cart girl came out of the tall grass near the fairway every time we had to wait. And yes, she was smoking hot.

Score: 4.5


As I noted above, Arcadia now has plenty of options for lodging. The accommodations in the lodge rival what you’d find at any 4 star hotel. The work out facilities are new and shiny if you’re a health nut. And the cottages have full kitchens, with grills, and great spaces for watching the ball game and playing cards for your evening activities.


That is a shot from their new-ish bar behind the proshop. It is a choice place to settle your bets and load up on booze. It has a nice selection of local Michigan beers to sample. The bad news is that it isn’t right out on the back porch where you’ll find a plethora of Adirondack chairs aimed at the sunset and the 18th green. There’s no better spot in Michigan to end a golfing day, smoke a cigar, and give your buddies shit as they putt out on the final green.

The Lodge

The range is good to great. The short game practice area is one of the best you’ll see and it even has a sod wall bunker to give you a taste of the big course. They have caddies available but you’ll have to call ahead for those because they are seldom used. Up until 2018 the only thing Arcadia didn’t have was much nightlife and a 2nd course. With the South course on its way you can check one of those off the list. My only knock in this category is that there’s no nearby strip club, casino, or other evening activity to scratch my itch for debauchery.

Score: 4.5


Arcadia Bluffs isn’t fun for the 20+ handicapper, but if they want to spend the money and frustrate themselves and everyone else in their group, fine. On the other hand, the course is about as much fun as you can have if you can hit a drive moderately straight, over 175 yards in the air, and are better than a bogey golfer. There’s a tee for everyone. Don’t go to the tips if you’re aren’t a 5 or better that can get it out there 275+. That’s not the place for 95% of golfers. If you pick the right tees and bring your A game you can score here. Embrace the wind, realize not every result is going to be perfect, and have fun.

Image result for arcadia bluffs scorecard

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 Bluffs course at Arcadia Bluffs is too hard for true chopper and it presents a great challenge for the single digit index if they don’t play it too short. Some of the holes are a little tricked up, but there’s nothing too over the top or unfair. I’ve noted how big the greens and fairways are. Like most courses in the top 100, Arcadia was built for championship golf as well as every day play. It has a high slope and course rating for a reason yet it is fun, creative, and unlike the type of golf you’re playing on a weekly basis back home. Next time you’re planning a trip, think Pure Michigan and think Arcadia.

Score: 4.0


The composite score from all categories above for the Bluffs course comes out to one of the best I’ve given and is in the company of Kapalua’s Plantation Course and Torrey Pines (South). That’s pretty fair as both of those venues are also destination courses with great service, views, and amenities to complete your experience with them. Don’t pass up the Arcadia experience, instead, find a way to get there.

Score: 4.5

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Masters Week 2018: The Finale

The Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Not because Patrick Reed won the Masters, or because Trump is President, but because I’m posting for the 2nd time in a week. It’s been quite a long time since that has happened but the Masters can do that to someone. I’m going to change things up from the normal tournament wrap up this time.

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I’m going to take you through every name in the field that made the cut and give you no more than a few sentences, and sometimes no more than a few words, that sums up their week at Augusta to me. Let’s do this starting from DFL to the man selecting next year’s Champion’s Dinner menu.

Chez Reavie – I saw him once, on the third hole today playing with Phil, he sneaked in as Phil’s putt went in to get a read. That’s it.

Kyle Stanley – In 30+ hours of Masters coverage I watched I didn’t see Kyle hit one shot.

Xander Schauffele – MIA, but the Masters newbie made the cut so there’s something to build on.

Doug Ghim (A) – What a week for the Illinois native, Texas Longhorn collegian – he was low amateur, made some eagles to get Masters crystal, and it was highlighted by his Thursday hole out on 18.

Vijay Singh – Contention for a minute Thursday, playing with legendary marker, Jeff Knox, on Sunday. Perfect.

Martin Kaymer – I forgot about the Big Gay German (not that there’s anything wrong with that)  just like CBS did.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – I saw John Daly of the East on the Amen Corner coverage for about 5 shots. He smoked. He chipped. He was angry.

Tyrrell Hatton – Featured group coverage on Saturday with FIGJAM, dude couldn’t make anything. Hit is great though.

Brian Harmon – That’s too much golf course for Harmon, and even more so when wet and cold. Glad he made the cut though.

Ian Poulter – Lucky to be in, he should have tried to enjoyed it more with less bitching about his lack of practice time, etc.

Mathew Fitzpatrick – Does what he does, no one notices, his 67 on Saturday was the round of the day until the leaders went off.

Jhonny Vegas – There’s a rumor Vegas as on the grounds this week. I didn’t see him after the Par 3 Toon-a-mint.

Fred Couples – Father Time is undefeated, but Fred challenges this notion. With his bad back it is amazing Fred was even walking upright after 72 holes.

Bernhard Langer – @The_Fried_Egg tweeted how Langer uses the angles of the dog legs of Augusta National to compete as he loses distance. Great stuff.

Bryan DeChambeau – Does not compute, syntax error.

Raffa Cabrera Bello – Featured group with Tiger on Sunday, nice opening round. Dude hits it too good to only make the cuts in majors.

Zach Johnson – His 94 second chat with his caddie on 11 was weird. There was tension. Might a caddie shake up be in the future?

Phil Mickelson – Never had it after Friday, until Sunday when the pressure was gone. Admitted he’s running out of time to win majors. Sad face.

Haotong Li – Exciting dude, can get up and down from everywhere. I’d pay to watch him play. Asian Seve.

Daniel Berger – Dude was T32 and I didn’t see him play a shot. He must have been on because I was getting texts about his girlfriend, Victoria Slater.

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Sunday feels 🌴

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Adam Scott – Beam me up, Scotty, and find this man’s golf game.

Tiger Woods – He walked and finished 72 holes. He made the cut. He earned world ranking and Ryder Cup points. We didn’t know if he’d play ever again 6 months ago. The entire tournament is a huge step forward and a win for the Big Cat.

Matt Kuchar – Gollie gee, Matt. You looked great Thursday. What happened? Matt and Chick-Fil-A have a lot in common on Sunday at Augusta, they both lose money.

Kevin Kisner, Satoshi Kodaira, Ryan Moore, Bernd Weisberger, Si Woo Kim – I’ll make this one easy, I didn’t see these guys play a single shot. CBS and ESPN didn’t care. And I must have been grabbing refreshments while they came through the online coverage windows.

Adam Hadwin – He is Canada’s best right now, no maple syrup about it. Dude can play.

Branden Grace – He was under the radar all week and didn’t break par until conditions got soft on Sunday. Yawn.

Jason Day – Disappointing. I’m not sure we’ll ever see peak Jason Day from 2015 ever again.

Jimmy Walker – Still showing signs of improvements in health and his game. I’m rooting for you, Jimmy.

Frank Molinari – I still can’t tell how to differentiate between him and his brother.

Webb Simpson – Final round included back to back eagles on holes 7 and 8. Only the 4th guy to every do that at the Masters.

Hideki Matsuyama – Still getting back from injury, a top 20 finish isn’t so bad.

Tommy Fleetwood – I expected more from him after Saturday.

Justin Thomas – World number 2, played well at times but was 2nd fiddle to buddy Jordan in what seems like an all too familiar story line.

Russell Henley – I swear he posted a 6 under weekend but you wouldn’t know it from the coverage.

Paul Casey – Goes from playing with Knox on Saturday to near course record on Sunday. Look at for him at the Open.

Louis Oosthuizen – Louis, Louis….we all keep waiting for him to challenge at a major again. Close but no cigar.

Justin Rose – One of the heavy favorites, he was due for a “down” year at the Masters. The bar is high when T12 is a down year.

Dustin Johnson – World number 1 isn’t right these days. I’m not sure he’ll ever win the Masters but Sundays here are more fun with him around the top of a leaderboard.

Charley Hoffman – All aces, helluva shot Charley.

Tony Finau – The ankle, that’s all anyone wants to talk about or remember, but damn he was good. Final round 66, top 10, he’s punched a ticket for the 2019 Masters already.

Marc Leishman – Dude putts like a motherfucker and should fit into your Masters pool picks every year, just don’t expect him to win it. He doesn’t have the right mindset for it.

Rory McIlroy – Ugh. That sucked. I wanted this one for him, but it was over by the 10th tee. He’ll pick up the pieces, he’ll putt well again someday, but today was tough.

Henrik Stenson – Hank played well for a guy with a so-so record at Augusta. He might have a 2nd major in his future this year.

Cameron Smith – Breakout star, maybe. His back nine 30 on Sunday was nuts.

Bubba Watson – Gerry putted into the bunker today on number 2 on his eagle attempt. That is all.

Jon Rahm – Rambo has all the game in the world, does he have the patience to win a major? I’ll say no.

Jordan Spieth – Par at 18 gets you a shot at a playoff and a course record. And your tee shot hits a tree to lead to a bogey. Even though he shot 64 that tee shot is a bit of a choke. I had an interesting Twitter debate on this, what do you think? Check out the thread below:

Rickie Fowler – Big balls just to hang in there when he didn’t have it early and then pour it on late. No choke in Rick’s game. Kudos to him for making Reed earn it. His time will come.

Patrick Reed – Patrick “Mother Fucking” Reed. What else is there to say about this guy?

He came, he saw, he kicked ass. I don’t root for Pat but I don’t root against him. He played brilliantly for 54 holes and played well enough to survive to day. His putter and short game are lethal. His biggest weapon is his self confidence. He never wavered. I never could have seen this coming and wrote him off as a Masters champ in my prior post because of his record in previous years. Reed had never broke 70 at the Masters prior to Thursday, so of course he posts 15 under for the week to win.

Good for him. I’m glad he’s on our side. I’m guessing Texas BBQ for the Champions Dinner. There’s no truth to the rumor that Patrick will buy his own cow and name it Rory McIlroy.

And with that we’re 360 some days from another week of glory in Augusta. I’ll savor one last pimento cheese sandwich…..

…we’ll watch Live From a few more times, and we’ll think about Rickie’s chances at Shinny. Sixty-seven days until the next major.

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Masters Week 2018: Thinning The Herd

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Jordan Spieth’s Hariline (Or Mine)

Oh hell yeah, its Masters Week! My Christmas is finally here, it really is. Just 3 more days until Santa comes down the chimney and golf nerds like you and me get to open our presents. I’m sweating pimento cheese (mainlined)  just thinking about what Sunday afternoon could be like. First things first – Masters music and gambling.

The Masters field now includes Rasputin Ian Poulter after his big win in Houston on Sunday (don’t get me started on IJP). With Poulter we’ll have 87 players tee it up at Augusta making it the smallest field the Masters has seen in 21 years. Hey, this isn’t some all inclusive resort where you’ve got to fill the rooms. You have to earn your way. I don’t want to hear crying for players being added like Charles Howell. I don’t want to see dual tee times off 1 and 10 before the cut because the field has 140 players. The only player that should even be considered for a special invite is this guy:

Like we need any more swag added to this field. DJ and Tiger have that covered. What fun would the Masters hype be without taking a gander at who Vegas thinks can win a green jacket? Here we go.

Tiger Woods 9/1
Justin Thomas 11/1
Rory McIlroy 11/1
Dustin Johnson 23/2
Jordan Spieth 12/1
Phil Mickelson 16/1
Jason Day 20/1

These 7 guys are the favorites, not only according to Vegas but in how they’ve played and how their games fit ANGC. I could see anyone of them putting a new coat on late Sunday night. Tiger winning would be the golf story of the century. That’s not debatable. The needle wouldn’t just move it would fucking break off the scale. JT is probably the best player in the world right now. Rory, did you see him close out the deal at Bay Hill? Spieth just has “it” at the Masters. Same with Phil and his game has been strong. And Jason Day, he’s won this year and the course is built for him. At 20 to 1 he’s got some value.

Justin Rose 14/1

Rosie was my pick 3 weeks ago. But his odds keep pushing down and he’s becoming a very popular pick with the media. Justin Ray points out all the reasons in his tweet above. Because of the media treatment, because Rose is wearing a new pair of his wife’s sunglasses, I’ll pass. He can still win but I’m finding it less likely.

Bubba Watson 15/1
Jon Rahm 20/1
Rickie Fowler 20/1
Paul Casey 25/1

Speaking of hard passes, I’ll take one on all four of the guys above. They’re all great players, but Bubba isn’t winning the Masters two weeks after grinding out 7 matches in Austin. Rahm, he’s been AWOL for months now. Fowler, too much of a head case to keep his shit together if in contention. Paul Casey, there’s no major in his future. I think he’ll contend though.

Sergio Garcia 28/1

Lightning never strikes the same place twice, right? Don’t waste your money.

Hideki Matsuyama 35/1
Alex Noren 40/1
Henrik Stenson 40/1
Patrick Reed 40/1
Tommy Fleetwood 40/1
Matt Kuchar 50/1
Louis Oosthuizen 55/1
Ian Poulter 60/1

Kuchar has a lot of a value at that number. He’ll be around but that will only tease you if you have anything on him at 50 to 1. Louis has a chance. Put some money there. Poulter? I cant’ believe I’m saying this but he has a real shot. He’s hot and has figured something out. He’s playing with house money now too.

The rest of that group have too many flaws or have played too shitty of late to waste your money on.

Marc Leishman 60/1
Adam Scott 66/1

Those are two tasty picks at 60 and 66 to 1. Aussie Aussie Aussie indeed.

Thomas Pieters 66/1
Tyrrell Hatton 66/1
Brian Harman 70/1
Branden Grace 80/1
Bryson DeChambeau 80/1

Image result for Bryson Dechambeau confused image

Another group of no-chancers. Pieters can’t putt, Hatton hasn’t been there before. Harmon doesn’t hit it long enough. Grace hits it too low. And Bryson…..come on.

Charley Hoffman 80/1
Patrick Cantlay 80/1

Bet both of those medium, they’re for real and could crash the party.

Rafael Cabrera Bello 80/1
Xander Schauffele 80/1

Not happening, great players but neither is built for the Masters or has the experience, yet.

Charl Schwartzel 100/1
Daniel Berger 100/1
Kevin Kisner 100/1

Some real value above in that trifecta. Charl hasn’t done much but he’s a former winner who could sneak up and steal another green jacket. Berger’s form has been off but worth a gamble at 100 to 1. Kiz, perhaps the knock is that he’s too short off the tee. I get that, but the way this mother fucker putts is too much to not give him a look.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat 100/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 100/1
Tony Finau 100/1
Cameron Smith 125/1
Gary Woodland 125/1
Kevin Chappell 125/1
Pat Perez 125/1
Ryan Moore 125/1
Zach Johnson 125/1
Adam Hadwin 150/1

Not a fucking chance in that group of 10 above.

Jimmy Walker 150/1

Image result for jimmy walker images

This one is interesting. Jimmy has been sick for 18 months or so but he’s playing better and his game fits Augusta National. He’s also won a major in the last 2 years and most ‘experts’ seem to forget that. If I were walking by a Vegas casino in the next three days I’d probably find a way to bet $20 on Jimmy, just in case.

Brendan Steele 150/1
Russell Henley 150/1
Shubhankar Sharma 150/1
Webb Simpson 150/1
Francesco Molinari 175/1
Haotong Li 175/1
Jason Dufner 175/1
Martin Kaymer 175/1
Patton Kizzire 175/1
JB Holmes 175/1
Bernd Wiesberger 200/1
Kyle Stanley 200/1
Ross Fisher 200/1
Austin Cook 250/1
Billy Horschel 250/1
Si Woo Kim 250/1
Danny Willett 275/1
Angel Cabrera 300/1
Fred Couples 300/1
Jhonattan Vegas 300/1
Wesley Bryan 300/1
Ted Potter Jr 400/1
Joaquin Niemann 500/1
Vijay Singh 500/1
Yusaku Miyazato 500/1
Yuta Ikeda 500/1
Bernhard Langer 750/1
Doug Ghim 750/1
Doc Redman 1000/1
Harry Ellis 1000/1

Pretenders, all of them, no matter how accomplished of a Tour pro they are. There’s a reason they’re listed so low by the odds makers. Remember, the bottom 3 on that list are amateurs.

That leaves about 15 to 20 guys of the 87 that can actually win the 2018 Masters. Almost any of those guys winning would be quite a good story, some better than others.

Do I Have Any Other Helpful Masters Tips For You? Of Course I Do

Some of you maybe headed to Augusta National as soon as tomorrow morning. Whether it is your first time there or your 41st here’s some shit you’ll want to be aware of for the coming week.

First, there’s a new merchandise area and Golf Digest has all the details for you.

The Men of the Masters don’t fuck around when they bring new stuff to the toon-a-mint. Look at the practice facility and VIP area they introduced in the last decade. Better than 1st class, as always. It seems the new merch area is right in line with other improvements. When I was there in 2011 it felt like a run down Gap in your local mall. There was nothing wrong with it, but it was a bit small time for what the event is.

From what Golf Digest will tell you the merch area has essentially become its own mall. The operation is more smooth and there’s more room to display gear, knick-knacks, and other collectibles you’ll spend half your 401k on.

Other stuff I think you’ll want to check out:

Trevor Reaske’s piece on his first trip to Augusta, which falls in line with what myself and so many others will tell you about their experience.

And my own post from 5 years ago in which I laid out a how to on getting to the Masters along with a few do’s and don’ts.

Wait, what? You’re asking me about that VIP area I mentioned above?

Image result for Berckmans place image

That’s Berckman’s place, which the Men of the Masters opened to the public circa 2013. It is a pricey ticket but more of a “who you know” type of place. I’ve got more info on that for you too (again from 5 years ago).

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more later this week and follow me on Twitter @shutfacegolf to read more of my bull shit in Cliff Notes versions.

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