Don’t Jump! Life Is Worth Living!

hangmans-nooseI pen this missive to encourage today’s competitors to not commit suicide. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, you looked like someone that isn’t ready to play on the big course, like someone who should be sticking to the course where putting through the witch’s mouth is nirvana, where you’re a hero if your first shot gets past the blades of the windmill. Most of you (like I played well) should have been putting with a white cane rather than a $300 putter. But sometimes, that’s the way the cookie bounces. And besides, the way you played today, even if you tried to shoot yourself, you’d most likely miss anyway.

I am a mathematician. To me, statistics have always been more exotic that any porn I’ve yet to see. Today’s statistics were true hard core. Here they are!

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At first glance, they are merely numbers, cold, hard, uncaring numbers. But look closer. Note the following …

The average “differential” was 11.0. “Big deal,” you say? Consider this; the average differential is normally on the order of 3.0 strokes. As a group, we were nearly four times the average today.

The average score was 91.1. With the handicaps carried by the group, the average score should have been roughly 85. The average was six strokes higher than expected!

Under normal circumstances, the average score to handicap is plus three, i.e., three strokes over the difference between course rating and gross score. Generally, about one in five golfers will shoot his handicap or better.

Here are the facts …

No one, not a single golfer shot better than four strokes over handicap today. One golfer (name withheld to protect the guilty) shot 24 strokes over handicap. Another was 19 over handicap.

Why did this happen? Because the course (Padre) was in a bad, very, very bad, mood. The greens were lightning fast, the fairways were as receptive as my first wife with a headache, the wind was constantly changing. I haven’t seen the golf gods this pissed off in years.

Now the up-side …

Everybody had to compete on the same course. If you had a bad day, so did everyone else. The field was level. Quitcherbichen.

Many moons ago – in my days of climbing the big mountains – I learned  that when the mountain’s in a bad mood, she’s not going to have any guests. On other days, she embraces even the novice climbers. Such is the case with a golf course. The Padre was not accepting guests today. If you survived, you did well.

There were some great shots hit out there today. In fact, on one hole (#2), I had six of them.

Wednesday’s another day. Suck it up. Play well. The field is level. If it’s tough for you, it’s tough for everyone. Oh my! I say that, but I’m going to quit golf altogether if I don’t do better, a lot better.

Going Native on Ambiente

High GrassWith a few new members and a few whose memories come into and out of focus from time-to-time, let’s review the rule associated with playing out of the “native grass” areas on the Ambiente course at Camelback.

Native grass areas are deemed “lateral hazards”. This means:

  1. YOU MAY NOT ground your club when addressing your ball. You MAY lightly touch the grass, but you MAY NOT do anything that alters the swing path such as taking practice swings that tear or uproot the grass or plants near the ball.
  1. YOU MAY NOT move any loose impediments in the hazard. You MAY NOT brush any rocks or pebbles aside. YOU MAY NOT pick up or move any twigs, pine needles, coyote droppings. You DO NOT get relief from “obstructions” if you’re in a hazard without incurring a penalty stroke. This includes things like the fire hydrant on the ninth hole.
  1. YOU DO NOT get free relief from standing water if you are IN the hazard. That’s sort of why it’s called a “hazard”. After the rains, many of the native grass areas become native rivers. No relief without penalty.
  1. YOU MAY NOT “build a stance”. You can place your feet firmly on the ground, but you may not uproot plants or kick big rocks around while taking your stance.

Relief from a lateral hazard is covered under Section 26 of the Rules of Golf. You have five options:

  1. Play the ball where it lies without penalty and subject to the prohibitions outlined above. Obviously, you have to find the ball to do this. No penalty.
  1. Stroke and distance. Return to the spot from which you hit the ball. You incur a one stroke penalty. If you hit the ball from the teeing ground, you are now hitting your third shot from the teeing ground.
  1. Drop a ball within two club lengths of the point where the ball crossed the margin of the hazard. You take a one stroke penalty.
  1. Drop a ball within two club lengths of a point on the opposite side of the hazard, but no closer to the hole than where the ball first crossed the margin of the hazard. You take a one stroke penalty.
  1. Drop a ball as far back as you wish on a line from the point of entry and the flagstick. You take a one stroke penalty.

Admittedly, it is called a “lateral hazard”, but this DOES NOT MEAN you can drop a ball laterally out of the hazard. You MUST drop within two club lengths of the point where the ball first crossed the margin of the hazard (assuming you’re taking relief as defined by #3 above).

What are the native grass areas? For most golfers, it’s pretty apparent that the arroyo area on the starboard side of the course is a “native grass” area. However, some golfers lose their clarity when they end up in a little “island” area of native grass. If it looks like native grass, you’re safe assuming it is a hazard. This includes places like (1) the tall grass between the cart path and the sand traps on the left side of the #3 fairway, (2) the grass areas running the entire length of the port side of pretty much every hole on the course, (3) the grass areas above and to the left of the traps on #18, (4) the tall grass area between the cart path and the #16 green, (5) the grassy area above the trap at the end of the dogleg on the #1 hole. These are just a few of the “native grass” areas. If it’s got flowers, it’s not fairway, it’s not rough, it’s native.

A couple of final comments on this topic: if you’re playing the Padre course and hit a ball into a native grass area that’s part of the Ambiente course, e.g., the area behind the twelfth green, IT IS NATIVE GRASS and deemed lateral hazard.

Consider this a “local rule” for The Jones Boyz Group. I don’t recall if Camelback has addressed this issue, so don’t claim it as an “official” local rule for the club without checking. There are areas on the course where the cart path runs through native grass areas. For example, on #3, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and other holes, there are sections of the cart path with native grass areas on both sides of the path. Technically, with a ball on the path or a ball adjacent to the path where the concrete interferes with your swing and the finish on your $100 club, you are NOT entitled to relief. However, by Executive Decree of the Tournament Committee, i.e., me, we will play with our own local rule. You MAY take relief from the cart path without penalty. However, you MAY NOT take relief out of the hazard. The free drop must be within a club length of the nearest relief from the cart path, but within the hazard.

We’ve got a great golf group and we should be proud that we have fostered a culture where we play by the rules. We don’t improve our lies. We don’t bump the ball. We’re pretty much “by the book”. Hopefully, this helps some of the newer members of the group to stay on the high road.

In the final analysis, the best way to avoid conflicts with these and other rules is to hit your shots into the fairway. I’m thinking about trying that approach. I’m always open to new things.

Silverado Golf Course – Slightly Better Than Nothing

silveradopic3A group of a dozen golfers decided to give Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club a second chance. The first chance came nearly a year earlier; we weren’t favorably impressed. But, it seemed unfair to base our opinions on only one data point. Anyone can have a bad day. Perhaps we happened to be there for the only bad day they’d ever inflicted upon golfers. The second chance came Friday, April 21st.

Based upon our experience on the 21st, our first experience may have been one of their better days. The second chance was as close to disaster as one can come without seeing a mushroom cloud. Most of us feel fortunate to have escaped the property with our tattered, challenged and abused senses of humor intact.

Continue reading “Silverado Golf Course – Slightly Better Than Nothing”

2017 Camelback Golf Club Ladies Invitational a Great Success

Day One (94 of 177)The Last Annual Camelback Golf Club Ladies Invitational tournament is in the books. “Our Swan Song” came off as another great success with the proceeds benefiting the Semper Fi Fund for wounded veterans and their families. As we have for the past three years, we accumulated plenty of pictures of the action and posted them on this site for your viewing pleasure. I hope you enjoy them.

Note that you can scroll through the images or click on any one of them to go into the “slide show” mode where you can view them full-screen and advance through the presentation with your arrow keys.

As has been the case in the past, you can get copies of any of the pictures by requesting them via email. If you do, please identify the image(s) by name. Also let me know if you intend to have an image printed for framing so that I can provide you with a high resolution copy of the requested image(s).

I have tried to include shots of all of the golfers, but with so many playing, I’m sure I missed a few. If someone parks a cart in front of a player or stands in front of the player, I can’t get shots from where I was positioned. For those who noticed me, you also noticed that the photo equipment wasn’t very portable. It weighed more than a few of the golfers themselves.

In cases where photos were clearly not “flattering”, I have deleted them from my system. However, over my many years as a photographer, I know the most people, me included, feel as if it is not possible to take a pleasing picture. Historically, I’ve found the problem seems to be even bigger when photographing the ladies. If I have posted a picture of you that you truly find so unflattering that you’d like to have it removed, let me know and I’ll try to accommodate. However, my style of photography is one where I eschew “posed” pictures in deference to spontaneous ones where people’s emotions are visible. I have found that those are truly the best pictures. We are at our most beautiful when we are our most real selves. Someone rarely smiles after missing a putt, but we’re only human and we all miss putts from time-to-time. It’s a part of the game of golf and metaphorically, it’s a part of the game of life. Rejoice in being a part of humanity.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

OrangeTree Very Pretty and the Orange Flower is Sweet, but …

orangetree18A dozen Camelback golfers took a little road-trip on Friday, November 11th. For some, it had been years since they had played OrangeTree Golf Course. Others had never played it. When all was said and done and the last putt rolled into the eighteenth hole, the general consensus was … as munis go, it’s a nice course, an interesting layout and a good value. In fact, had we not been spoiled with the great layouts at Camelback, we might even play it again. On a scale of zero to one hundred, OrangeTree averaged a score of sixty-five from the golfers in the group with individual ratings running from fifty-five to seventy-five. To be fair, it is not a muni, but it definitely has a muni feel. That’s not necessarily bad, but don’t expect to come away feeling like you just played an exclusive private club.

The strengths included an interesting layout. It’s mature and many of the holes are quite scenic. They were varied and offered some good golf challenges, however, the course was not a “championship” layout. With a rating of 69.3 and a slope of 119 (from the middle “white” tees), it was more than manageable for most golf skill levels. Fairways tended to have wide landing areas, but greens tended to be small. Miss the green and odds are you’ll be short-sided. With one notable exception, the staff was cordial, friendly and helpful. The biggest positive at OrangeTree is its price. We got a $49 rate in the late morning – cheap by Valley standards. It included the cart, but did not include range balls.

OrangeTree’s weaknesses seemed to be budget related. Greens were a bit “spotty” and hadn’t been rolled since the late Pleistocene. A six foot putt could be a bit of an adventure. Predicting the ball’s roll was like trying to predict the path of a pinball during an earthquake. Tee boxes either hadn’t been moved enough or were too small to allow much movement. They had the appearance of a corn field shortly after harvest. Over all, the course was in “respectable” condition, but that’s about the best that can be said.

More evidence that the drive to reduce expenses may be a touch overly aggressive appeared when I went to wet my towel at the restroom by the sixth hole. As I approached the water fountain outside the little building, it became apparent the fountain hadn’t been functional for quite some time. I went into the bathroom to find water. As I opened the door, I got the impression it wasn’t the spiffiest restroom in the golf world, but as the door closed behind me, the darkness became the cleaning agent. The light didn’t work so I could no longer discern the lack of clean. As my eyes slowly adjusted and a hint of light crawled in through the small window on one wall, I could make out the outline of the bathroom’s features. There was water in the toilet bowl. My towel remained dry. In the dim light, I saw what appeared to be a clipboard with a piece of paper on it. I took it outside to see what I had discovered. It was a “Restroom Cleaning Log – Hole #6”. There was a series of dates beginning with “27-Oct” and running through “19-Apr”. Next to each date was a space for the initials of presumably the person doing the cleaning. There were no initials for any date beyond October 27th. That wouldn’t have been a problem were it not for the fact that it was November 11th. If the truth be known, it had probably been cleaned in the previous two weeks, but the person doing the work couldn’t find the clipboard. Remember … it was too dark without a working light in there.

There was one employee that made the day especially memorable. The “starter” seemed to have the personality of Ukrainian prison guard. As some of the members of our group began sharing their starter experiences with me, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought there’s no way someone could have a position so closely associated with the image of the golf club without having a personality that put a “happy face” on the customer’s golf experience. I suggested that the starter may just have a very dry sense of humor and that the casual onlooker would pick up on it after a brief wait. I decided to get a firsthand look and judge for myself. After a brief exchange with the starter, I stood back and watched as he interfaced with a number of other golfers. I came away concluding that his humor must indeed be bone-dry, so dry in fact, that he came across as a real horse’s ass. But that couldn’t be the case. After all, he was still employed.

Fortunately, other staff members were friendly and helpful. When golfers were “entertained” by three twelve or thirteen year old boys in a yard adjacent to the course, the staff dispatched someone to deal with the homeowner. Mom didn’t seem to grasp the concept of golfers being accosted by boys hurling unmentionable obscenities as not being great for public relations, but the club staff did send an emissary to the scene of the crime in short order when the problem was reported.

The course offered a good value for the money. Where else in the Valley can you get to drive the old style gasoline powered golf carts. The course was fun. It wasn’t in great shape, but it was in good enough shape. It wasn’t extremely challenging, but it was challenging enough. I recommend playing OrangeTree from time to time, particularly if you’re a golfer on a budget.

Kennedy’s Flourish Before Winter in Winnipeg

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Bob Kennedy kicks in a putt

After Wednesday’s torrid competition, it wasn’t surprising to see scores fall back into the statistically “normal” range, at least for most of the golfers that is. The big exception was Bob Kennedy. Bob recorded a net 63 with an outstanding round on the Camelback Ambiente course. Given his handicap, that’s a better than 200-to-1 odds round of golf. It really paid off in the day game, especially after his partner, Maddie Levy, posted a 10-to-1 odds round. They walked away with half the pot for winning the front side and then escaped with the other half of the pot by winning the back side by one stroke over Jack Summers and Jim Funk.

Speaking of Jack Summers, he continued to play with a hot hand with a one-over-par 73. When his handicap hits bottom, it will probably be the lowest he’s seen in ages.

Low Net

  1. 63 – Bob Kennedy
  2. 67 – Jack Summers
  3. 68 – David Harbour

Low Gross

  1. 73 – Jack Summers
  2. 81 – Maddie Levy
  3. 82 – Bob Kennedy and Howard Jones

The course seemed to play a little tougher – or should I say, less easy – than it did Wednesday. There were only nine birdies in the group. Bob Ewing accounted for one third of that total. Summers, Jones and Bob Kennedy claimed the rest. The scores returned to normal with players averaging three strokes over handicap. The weather was perfect. The course is in great condition. And smiles decorated the faces of all the participants – even Sandy Wiener’s!

Cooler Weather – Hotter Golf

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Ron Dobkin – eleven below handicap

It defied explanation. Fifteen Camelback golfers decided to bring their “A” games to the course all on the same day. Scores averaged more than three strokes below what would have normally been expected. Forty percent of the field posted scores in the 70s on the Ambiente course. Some golfers played very well; others played better than that.

Ron Dobkin rode his well-earned 21 handicap in route to a gross 79, net 58. He was eleven strokes under his handicap. It was his best round in two years. Interestingly enough, the competition was so tough that Dobkin’s net 58 only got his team a tie for second place. Regardless, it was a spectacular effort.

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Dr. Jack Summer – gross 71

Dr. Jack Summers took medalist honors with a fine one-under-par 71. Bob Ewing was another competitor carding a super round five strokes under his handicap. Seven of fifteen golfers shot below handicap. Statistically, a golfer normally shoots three strokes over handicap. I’m not sure what virus had infected the field, but if it could be bottled and sold, there would be an insatiable market.

Low Net

  1. 58 – Ron Dobkin
  2. 64 – Bob Ewing
  3. 65 – Jack Summers

Low Gross

  1. 71 – Jack Summer
  2. 72 – Matt Flores
  3. 76 – Mike Smothermon

It was indeed an unusual day. With only fifteen golfers, it’s notable there were twenty gross birdies. Every single hole on the front side yielded at least one birdie. The third hole gave up four of them. There were eleven net eagles and one net double-eagle. Ron Dobkin had a net one on the challenging ninth hole. More than eighty percent of the scores recorded were net pars or better. The average gross score was 82! If I were to pick one word to describe Wednesday’s play … Wow!