Monthly Archives: April 2012
Quick trivia for you. Who’s the last player to start a tournament by shooting an 8 over 44 on the front 9, yet finish T2 at 7 under? Your answer? PGA Tour rookie John Huh who somehow managed to shrug off a front 9, 44 that a few of us might have been able to shoot, and play the next 63 holes at 15 under. Also consider that Mr. Huh managed to pull off this feat at the hardest golf course (according to a scoring average, of 73.655) on the Tour.
It seems as the era of Tiger Woods has passed us by, new players and especially tour rookies are finding success at much earlier stages of their careers. Branden Grace of the European Tour has already won 3 events this season after just graduating from Q- school last year. Through the first three events on the European Tour, Grace had won two of them, including beating Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a playoff for his second title. That is beyond impressive. Back across the pond we have seen rookies find early and continued success on the PGA Tour. Last years PGA Champion Keegan Bradley of course comes to mind, but don’t forget some fantastic seasons that we’re turned in by rookies and now PGA Tour event winners Brendan Steele, Chris Kirk, Jhonatthan Vegas, and Scott Stallings. Even Charl Schwartzel was classified as a tour rookie when he took home the Masters.
2012 seems to be shaping up to be that same exact type of year and John Huh seems to be at the forefront of this years rookie movement. While every player of course wants to a win, a rookie season is about making paychecks, and that means making cuts. The Cal-Northridge product Huh, has made 9 out of 11 cuts this year and already raked in a tidy 1.735 million dollar bankroll. As the season wears on this rookies stats just continue to impress; Top 10’s = 3, Top 25’s = 5, Runner Up’s = 1, Wins = 1, Fed Ex Cup Rank = 14. The one stat that is missing is, “Guts = 1.” The perseverance and guts it took to come back from a front nine 44, at a golf course that difficult is nothing short of remarkable. You might expect that kind of fortitude and moxy from a 40-year-old tour veteran, but from a 21-year-old rookie? Amazing.
The Duf Breaks Through
No doubt in my mind that the gentleman who got his break through win on the tour this weekend, was the best player out there without a win. To little fanfare and media discussion, newly crowned 2012 Zurich Classic Champion Jason Dufner has been consistently outplaying a talented, yet winless group of players that receive much more notoriety (i.e. Rickie Fowler). Dufner’s unassuming, even keeled demeanor on the golf course and lack of a boy band video of course is likely the reason he is not a regular golf channel topic or gracing the cover of a recent golf magazine. But make no mistake; while the Zurich is his first tour win, this guy has crazy game.
Talk about having a great week?! Win your first PGA Tour Event on Sunday, move to T9 in FedEx Cup points, then get married the following Saturday. Now that is an impressive week! Congratulations to Jason on what is sure to be just one of many wins to come on the tour.
The Ping i20 Driver
What Ping has to say….
The 460cc head is built from Ti 8-1-1, a light low-density alloy that enabled PING engineers to optimize weight distribution for increasing forgiveness. Dense tungsten sole weights elevate MOI across the clubface and position the CG for low-spin, penetrating trajectories and long, accurate drives.
The aerodynamic crown is engineered to reduce drag for maximizing clubhead speed and ball velocity, resulting in greater distance. The i20’s striking matte-black finish absorbs light to eliminate glare and reflections.
Info from us…
Shaft Info – The i20 comes with 1 of 2 stock shaft choices: The Project X Black or the Ping TFC 707D. Our tester came equipped with the Project X Black which is the lighter of the 2. Project X shaft rates their flexes a bit different then most companies. Instead of the standard R, S, X they go with a number system to give players more choices; 5.5=R, 6.0=R/S, 6.5=S+, and 7.0=X. We got a 6.0 which should have been a 6.5. I think if we would have had the firmer flex Ian’s impression of the i20 would have been a bit different.
Ian, 13.5 Handicap:
It’s no secret that if you read our review of the Ping G20, that thing knocked my socks off. I may be playing an R11 right now, but that’s only because my Golfchops partner in crime Jason zoomed away with the G20 in his trunk giggling as I cried in his rear view mirror. I’m still convinced that is the best driver I have ever hit. With that said I was really excited when the new i20 from Ping showed up on the doorstep.
I’m not one that needs a “players” driver, but that G20 was just so amazing to me I expected this golf club to be nothing short of the space shuttle. Out of the box it’s a pretty angry looking golf club and I really liked that. A really cool black matte finish, with an all black stock Project X stiff shaft and black grip. I love Ping’s traditional approach on some things. It’s not white, it doesn’t come with a wrench or a bicycle pump, and you don’t have to take it to a fitting center for someone to set it up for you. Here’s the golf club, it looks bad ass and we hope you pound it.
Range: Well, we’ve given it a visual so now time to see what it does. Right out of the gate the first thing I notice is that this stock Project X Shaft, marked as stiff is really whippy. I remember how solid that shaft on the G20 felt through out the swing and this couldn’t have been more different. I actually had to visually check the shaft a couple times to mentally confirm there was an “S” on the shaft. Looking at Ping’s website I don’t see any specs on the shaft, which is weird, but it sure feels like one whippy stiff shaft.
Ball striking wise it just never clicked for me in two separate range sessions. In the first session I blocked it right on nearly every shot, in the second session I hit it better, but still had no predictable ball flight. Even when caught correctly on the center the club didn’t give the feedback or noise to think I got one well. When you flushed that G20 it seemed like the clouds parted and angels sang, but the i20 just gave me a slight mute pop no matter how or where I hit it. My only hope was that Jason crushed this thing so that I could take the G20 out of his bag.
Overall: Well, it was like owning a Ferrari and not being able to afford the gas. Its looks great in the bag, but I couldn’t hit it for the life of me. I’m usually into this pear shaped, “players” head look, but this one just never inspired any confidence in my stroke. When I stood on the tee with the G20 I was confident I was about to hammer the ball. With the i2o it was a guessing game for me.
Jason, 8.2 Handicap (Should be about a 20 given my play of late):
With the i20 in hand I have now played all of Ping’s last 4 driver offerings. I have to say that the i20 is by far the best looking of the bunch. When the G20 was first launched I couldn’t figure out why they chose to paint it grey. Now that I’ve hit the i20 I get it; the G20’s lighter color makes the head appear slightly larger giving higher handicapped players more confidence at address and i20 with its flat black head give the better player that classic pear shaped look that lets them know if they need to curve their tee shot around a dog-leg this club will do the trick.
After my first range session (before a round at The Home Course) I was not confident with what I was about to do. I must have hit about 15 balls with the i20 at the range that morning and not 1 of them was good. That all being said I had committed to playing the i20 for the entire round. I then proceeded to have one of the better driving days of my life with the i20. I hit 10 of 14 fairways and the thing is long! I was 300+ several times and on a cool early spring day I was very impressed.
LAKE SPANAWAY GOLF COURSE
15602 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98444
Course Review Date: 4/14/2012
Course Reviewer: Jason
Finally some good weather on a weekend in the great Northwest! An invite from a buddy brought me down to Lake Spanaway Golf Course in Tacoma. Opened in 1967 Lake Spanaway twists its way through native fir trees and presents a very good challenge to all golfers. The greens are large and at the time of this review where very slow due to a punch a couple of week prior to our round. From the blue tees the course measures 6,965 yards and is a par 71. The course was in great shape overall; tee boxes, fairways, and rough was all well maintained and greens were coming into form after their resent punch and sand. Lake Spanaway has a good enough range (covered hitting area with mats) and a well placed practice putting green (right next to the first tee).
The overall theme of this course is hit it straight off the tee or risk your only second shot being a punch-out out of the trees. Each and every hole is lined with large fir trees but in most cases it’s only a single row so if you’re lucky you’ll have a shot at or near the green. The 519 yard par 5 9th hole is really your first chance to score if your able to fly the fairway bunker on the left. The 10th hole is my favorite on the course because it offers true risk vs. reward. At just 458 yards from the back tees it’s a short par 5 but with a large pond protecting the green, but you’d better be confident with the club in your hand for your second shot.
Course awards: In 1997 it hosted the 14 Annual Pacific NW Men’s Amateur Public Links Championship. Again, in 1998 it hosted the 1st Annual Pacific NW Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. In 1999 the Seattle PI rated it as one of the regions driest golf courses. September 2003, Lake Spanaway hosted the USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifier. In 2004 Lake Spanaway hosted the Washington State Golf Association Men’s Amateur Championship.
Golfchops.com Rating: 17/25
Customer Service – 4
Condition of Greens – 2
Perceived maintenance level of course – 3
Value – 5
Amenities – 3
-Customer service was solid. Everyone was friendly.
-As mentioned in the review the greens had been punched a week or 2 prior so I rated them a 2 but I’m sure they will be much better in the future.
-The course way in very good shape overall with a few areas under repair and the greens recovering from the punch.
-At just $36 for a weekend prime time round, Lake Spanaway is an excellent value.
-Solid driving and well placed practice putting green.
Pictures of Lake Spanaway Golf Course
Innovex Golf Balls
Reviewers: Ian Favre & Jason Gilliland
This whole golf industry is one amazing beast! Think about the billions of consumer dollars that are spent every year on the driver that goes the furthest, the ball that spins the most and the snow shovel that doesn’t allow you to hit a slice. Take it a step further and just to play golf in the Pacific Northwest you have to own a gore-tex rain suit, top of the line “mudder” shoes and an umbrella that will handle gale force winds. The kicker? We haven’t even paid for the damn round of golf yet! This game will surely send some of us to the poor house in the end.
Being your everyday average weekend hack, I certainly appreciate a good deal on golf products. Maybe I’m just cheap, but under no circumstance on god’s green earth will I stand for paying $46 dollars for a dozen tour golf balls. The whole thought is just absurd to me. And honestly, how many of us really need to be playing a tour level ball? As a 14 handicapper, I don’t think I will be held back by not playing the same ball as Webb Simpson. That said, I sure as heck would like too! Golf is so much about image these days, and you know you bust your buddy’s chops when you ask him if the Noodle or Top Flight in the fairway is his.
Well, I think I have found a remedy to all three of these issues: quality, price, & image. Not only that, but it’s a local company based in Medina providing us the goodies. Innovex Golf is an up and coming, Seattle based golf ball manufacturing company with two excellent performing and priced golf balls on the market right now; the e-motion and the v-motion. Both 3 piece balls, the e-motion ball is the is the harder of the two with an Aeroblend cover and a 392 dimple, wind cutting pattern. The V-Motion is a very soft, tour caliber three piece ball designed to compete with the likes of the Pro V1 or Penta TP. Having possibly the softest Urethane cover on a golf ball I have ever seen, this thing has some amazing stop and spin power. – Ian
Ian - Honestly, I’ve played every brick on the market and this thing was awesome. We played in the wind and rain at The Home Course in Dupont and I could tell an immediate change in ball flight and short game action. I don’t have any launch monitor numbers to back up the statement but it seemed to have a lot less side spin on the driver that the other balls I was playing and it was solid to putt with. You know that clicky noise a super brick will make when you putt it? Yeah, none of that. I really enjoy putting with it and I’m really picky about that. And….they are only $20 a dozen. I’ll play these puppies for the rest of the winter without debate. Excellent winter ball.
Jason – When I first pulled one of these balls from its sleeve my first thought was “Wow this thing feels like a brick!” Despite my first impressions I decided to play the front 9 with the E and the back with the V. After 9 holes of play with the E-Motion I was so impressed I decided to complete the entire round with the ball. Not only was this thing long and straight off the tee but it also provided soft feel around the green. The other major take-away is that the E-Motion is extremely durable. I was able to play all 18 holes with the same ball and after the round the ball didn’t have a scuff on it. In my opinion there is not a better value in golf that the Innovex E-motion!
7619 East Country Club Drive
Arlington, WA 98223
Course Review Date: 06/07/2014
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre
Continues to be one of the “go-to” tracks for our entire crew. Course conditions seem to be better every time we go out and play, price is fantastic even for prime time weekend spots and the condition of the greens is just perfection. One of the better turnaround stories associated to a golf course you will ever find. Honestly, if you haven’t played out here in a few years and still think its a poorly maintained track worthy of being a dog park, you are dead wrong. Some additional notes:
What we like:
- Greens at 10.6 and rolling dead perfect. How often do you get perfect greens at a neighborhood public track?
- Under $40
- Cart Service 4 times during our round. Other courses need to take note because cart service has been poor at other places this year.
- The marshals drive around with FREE water on hot days.
- Excellent group deals.
- The half dozen I donated by not hitting it straight. The Eagle is tight.
- Sleeping in for anyone on the course. “That ball is hooked and going to wake someone up for sure!”
Course Review Date: 05/11/2013
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre
In our previous couple reviews of Gleneagle Golf Course we honestly could not have been more impressed with every aspect of the facility. From staff, to course maintenance, to the conditions of the putting surfaces, we were all pretty blown away with our experiences there. Our most recent adventure up to Gleneagle did nothing but reaffirm all the positive statements we had already made about this place. To avoid the redundancy of gushing over this place as I did in our last review, I’ll just provide the highlights from our visit last weekend.
1. I brought one of our writers up there for the first time and his first statement was “Holy <profanity>, you were not kidding about this putting green.”
2. $35 for greens fee, cart, dog and a beer? Find me a better deal for golf in Western Washington I dare you.
3. As last time, the greens were immaculate and rolling at a perfect 9.5. I am buying this green keeper a Christmas card this year.
4. Cart girl comes around WAY to often and her mission of making sure we had beer in hand at all times caused the scorecard to go out the window on the back 9. Which leads to my next statement….
5. This might be the toughest 5850 yards you can play. Ego says under 6k yards from the tips? No problem….then the course punches you in the mouth.
6. Course marshal out delivering water, for free, to the players because it was so stinking muggy. Well played Gleneagle.
7. I won’t do it, but I wouldn’t fault anyone for laying up on the par 3, 3rd. That is one tough par 3. Matter a fact, all the par 3’s are nail bitters.
8. Golf course is in such amazing condition and price is so good, we’re bagging reviewing a different course this weekend and heading back up to Gleneagle.
Gleneagle is in better condition and has greens twice as good as golf courses in our area charging double or triple the greens fees. I’ve got no bias or reason to heap such praise on this place except for the fact that it’s 100% true and they’ve earned it. If I could move this golf course 20 minutes from my house I would play there 4 times a week. Looking forward to heading up again this Saturday and avoiding the refreshment cart.
Picture 1 - A look from the 10th tee box at Gleneagle. A solid par 4 that offers one of the rare wide open landing areas for your tee shot. Your approach requires tactical precision to a very narrow, but large green that is protected by water left and a bunker long. One of my favorite holes on the golf course.
Picture 2 - Just like our last visit, the putting green looked like a picture out of Golf Digest. When I dream about having a putting green in my back yard, this is what I dream about. Find an imperfection, I dare you.
Picture 3 - Random proshop pic.
Golfchops.com Score: 25/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” Maintenance Level of Course: 5
– Once again a super friendly and accommodating staff. Marshal passing out water on the course was a great touch.
– Perfect. No other words needed. Their greens are perfect.
– Just like last time maintenance is excellent, with more improvements being made. Crews were out all day making the place even better.
– $35 for greens fee, cart, dog and a beer? You must be joking…best deal in Western Washington golf.
– Putting green simply perfection, grass tee driving range, non-stop cart service, good marshaling. Outstanding once again in all areas.
Course Review Date: 11/9/2012
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre
Without debate, we have really been stealing one this fall. A limited amount of rain and a lot of unusual sunshine has given us amazing course conditions, and specifically greens conditions that frankly are just not used to for this time of year. Over the past 2 months or so of writing about courses, we haven’t had a single one come across our radar where the greens were in anything but exceptional shape. Gotta make a Northwest golfer smile huh? Sticking with the theme of unexpected treats we decided to head to Arlington for a return visit to Gleneagle golf course. Gleneagle is solid track, but that caught us off guard last April by how excellent their course conditions were.
Quick little back story on what I had previously known/heard about Gleneagle. I had never heard anything good, specifically about the conditions on the golf course. Greens were terrible, course could best be described as “frumpy” and the management at the time seemed to care less about getting the golf course into shape. Now I can’t confirm that because I hadn’t played there, but this is what I heard from players.
During our visit to Gleneagle in April we found exactly the opposite of what the rumors had told us. A very friendly and accommodating staff, a very well maintained golf course that featured some really tough par 3’s for such a short track and very good putting surfaces. Couple all that with a $30 Groupon that provided golf for two with lunch and we were pretty darn sold on this place being excellent. A return visit was a no brainer, especially having that Groupon again (thanks Lisa). If you see this $30 Groupon for Gleneagle, buy it immediately. Wife, that was a message for you as much as it was for our readers.
Last April when we played Gleneagle it was soaked with months of continuous rains so, while it played fine, it still played soaking wet. Our return visit gave us a much better opportunity to enjoy close to dry conditions and assess how far this place has come. Even more than the first visit we were beyond impressed with how great of shape the entire golf course was in. The GM, Mike Simpson had told us his greens were in great condition before we tee’d off and after a few holes we all agreed that he couldn’t have understated that more. His greens were in remarkable condition. Is this really Western Washington in November? Can’t be….Not only were all 18 greens great, but their putting green has to be the healthiest, nicest, best rolling putting green I’ve ever seen. I’ll be the first to admit that we are total golf nerds and were straight geeking out about this putting green.
Picture 1 - The previously mentioned amazing putting green at Gleneagle. I’ve played courses in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Nevada and this is the best putting green I’ve ever rolled the ball on. I’d drive 40 minutes up there just to practice putting here. Crazy.
Picture 2 - Snapshot from the first teebox. Get used to this theme when you’re at Gleneagle because she plays tight and winds through a heavy residential neighborhood. I was pretty surprised that between the three of us, none of us had a house blasting out there. We certainly had our chances, but managed to only find a couple backyards…..I think.
Picture 3 - Rolling putts on one of the amazingly well-kept greens at Gleneagle. Amazing how the right group of people can take a golf course that most have scoffed at and turn it into this. I’d be happy play here anytime.
Additional Course Comments:
Don’t take this golf course lightly just because it only plays 5850 from the tips (green tees). From the green tees it rates at 75.5 with a 140 slope. You don’t see courses with 140 slopes very often, Chamber’s slopes at 142 from the tips and that’s at 7600 yards as an fyi. The par 3’s here all play really tough with 3rd hole playing at 220 yards with a really tough water feature eating anything that leaks to the right. Not often the thought of laying up crosses your mind on the tee box of a par 3. The other par 3 that is just tough as nails is the 16th. 183 yards, narrow as a toothpick with bunkers and sticker bushes chewing up anything that misses. This hole makes you feel like you are playing in a tunnel. If you can make pars on the par 3’s at Gleneagle you are having a great day.
Golfchops.com Score: 25/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” Maintenance Level of Course: 5
– Friendly and accommodating just like the last time we were there. Even the grounds crew out working was friendly.
– Wow, your greens are nothing short of incredible. Well done Gleneagle.
– Great course maintenance. There’s one bunker out there that is g.u.r but tee boxes, fairways and hazards were all in great shape.
– $23 greens fee on a Friday, nothing wrong with that at all. Groupon is a screaming deal and I suggest you buy it the moment you see it.
– Awesome putting green, driving range and a great restaurant/bar that has .99 cent pints of Bud Light during Hawks games. Jackpot.
Yeah, first perfect score I’ve ever given to your run of the mill neighborhood course. They are really doing an amazing job at this place. My compliments to the chef.
It sure does get old watching the pro’s playing in beautiful 80 degree weather week in and week out doesn’t it? As I’m watching this fairly boring edition of the Shell Houston Open I can on day-dream about what a drive will look like when it rolls out; what it feels like to hit a wedge out of dry, dare I even say fluffy sand. My day-dream is quickly crushed when I realize the noise I keep hearing in the background is rain hitting inside my chimney and echoing about the condo. How fricking hard does it have to rain for me to hear it in my chimney? The dog days of a winter that feel far from over I guess. Well, this is going to either take some bravery or downright stupidity, but I am playing golf the next day even if I need an arc to get to the course.
In reality its free golf, which I’ve turned down about as many times as I’ve said no to a free pint. Really, who says no to free golf? Through a Living Social deal that was expiring on Monday (thank you Sean Charlton) JR and I found our way to a frighteningly cold, 7:30am tee time at Gleneagle Golf Course, a place I honestly didn’t know much about. All I had even heard about this golf course was from a Golfchops Facebook follower (shameless plug to follow-up on FB people) who said we had to get out and try this joint out. Yes, we certainly did, and why not try out a golf course for the first time after its rained unmercifully for 12 straight day I ask you. Checked in by very pleasant gentleman in the club house and shown the way to the first tee, away we went on a our sloppy little adventure.
Gleneagle is an extremely residential golf course that is lined by homes on just about every side of every hole. Very close to the playing area I might add. I’d be a little shocked if any amateur foursome went through this golf course without delivering at least one wake up ball to someones roof or siding. There’s just so many houses that it’s basically inevitable. If you have ever played Twin Lakes G&CC in Federal Way it’s very much like that, except the house are tighter to the golf course at Gleneagle. Tricky little joint too when you look at the score card and see just about 6000 yards from the tips. That’s not exactly an intimidating distance, but I guess in this weather everything is going to feel like it has an extra 2000 yards on it.
Only 6000 yards, yet all four of the par 3’s are 195 yards or higher….huh? Make sense of that one….Here’s the meat of what you can expect out there. For starters, it’s an excellent design. We both really liked the course and can’t wait to play it when its dry….someday. That said, this is one narrow sucker. Really narrow. If you are not driving the ball straight, very straight, you are in the someones back yard, a water hazard or the bush. Bring a lot of balls. You’re going to need them. One thing that I wasn’t much of a fan of is that great shots off the tee are not rewarded at all. I had an excellent day out there with the driver yet I had a slide hill, uphill, any thing but flat approach shot to the green all the time. The course has a tremendous amount of undulation on the fairways and leaves you playing the ball above and below your feet all day.
The kicker to those tough fairway lies is that every green has a lot of protection to it. I remember standing on one of the tee boxes on the back 9 and asking JR if every hole we have played had water left and a bunker right. Just about is the basic answer. There’s a lot of water, there a lot of bunker protection and its narrow. Whew…Of the more challenging holes out there, the extremely narrow 185 yard par, 3 16th hole really stands out. The scorecard has this as the #16 handicap hole and that is the biggest farce I have ever seen. It was playing about 195, tight housing and trees left, trees and bush right, plus a nasty waste area to gather anything that is topped or comes up short of the green. A downright filthy mean golf hole. I loved it.
Summary: Can’t believe I am just finding this place! It was excellent. In doing some research on their website, it looks like they have done a lot of course improvements and maintenance on it in the past year. Good for them for finding someone who can take care of this place. An excellent little neighborhood track with a $25 greens fee? We are so in.
Golfchops.com Score: 22/25
Customer Service: 4
Condition of Greens: 4
“Perceived” Maintenance Level of Course: 4
– Very friendly staff from check in to restaurant service. Welcoming comfortable environment.
– Surprisingly some of the best greens we have seen all winter. Ball rolled great and even with some pace after heavy rains.
– Pretty tidy out there. Tee boxes looked really good and hazards are well maintained.
– Ummm… $25 in April, for solid conditions and a good track? Yeah, we like.
– Cart service on the course, been a while since we have seen that. Excellent restaurant and bar, with separate hot dog/snack area. Good sized driving range and a putting green with a little water hazard on the side. Impressed.
This is a look back from the green to the teebox on that very narrow, long par 3 I mentioned. That look like the 3rd easiest hole on the golf course to you?
Approach shot to 18.