By Bruce Meadows
Rain, wet conditions no reason to stop working on your golf game
For those of us – and that includes me — who have been begging for more rain to ease drought conditions, you have reason to smile.
But when is enough enough?
In my perfect golf world, it would rain hard one day a week to thoroughly irrigate golf courses, then the sun would come out and allow us to tee it up.
Rain is a fact of life, and we are just getting more than normal, although it definitely affects our ability to play and even practice.
I should add a shameless plug, that even in rainy weather, there are still places such as Fairgrounds Golf Course – where I work in the pro shop four days a week – where you can try to keep your game in shape.
I asked local pros and amateurs to give me their thoughts on what to do when you can’t get our for nine or 18 holes. Here are some of their responses.
From pro Jess Stimack at Bennett Valley:
“Stay patient with your expectations when the weather does clear. Focus on your balance and grip pressure, as we tend to forget the simple things that make the golf swing work.
“Take an extra club on most shots, where you are realistically accounting for a slightly off-center strike.
“In wet conditions, try to shallow your swing with more of a sweeping motion. If you get or remain steep on your downswing, enjoy the mud bath!
“Most putting greens are in good shape regardless of how much rain we’ve had, and that is where the most rust can gather in our games.”
I like what Jess says about taking an extra club, but not just in wet conditions. How often have you looked at a shot and thought, “hey, I can probably get there with a really good 7-iron” and you end up short. Why try to hit a career 7-iron when a smooth 8 will produce better results?
From Jason Schmuhl at Windsor:
“The sport of golf has been losing people for a while now, leading to golf course closures and decreased revenues, and the weather we are having definitely doesn’t help.
“I think the best way to keep your game in shape when the weather is bad is by doing golf-specific exercises and keep swinging. Even if you can’t get out to hit balls, take your clubs and take practice swings every day. Keep your golf muscles active and work on the fundamentals.
“The more we can get families playing golf together the better for the future of golf. Introducing more women and kids to the game of golf is essential for the future success of golf courses.”
From Foxtail’s Val Verhunce, SSU golf coach:
“I am afraid it’s going to be a while. The best-draining course, Adobe Creek, just closed as you know. Sad to see. As for your questions here are a few thoughts.
“Golf in general is still on the decline. There is a definite decline in volume of rounds and lessons in the area and I don’t suspect it is because of pricing
“My guess is that “time” still plays a big factor, I think the average golfer who played two to three times a week is playing once a week. Play around, hang out, have a beer and a dog and give your buddies a hard time about the round. You know, the good old days!
“I know that we have been talking a lot about TOP golf and their model. They have turned the game more into an “entertainment” experience. Something to think about going forward?
“As far as trying to keep your game sharp, find a good place to practice your short game. I am of the thought it would be a great time to get your body and mind in shape. Head to the gym, read some books, take up yoga, etc.
“This year we are looking at starting the Junior PGA League teams at Foxtail. We are also planning on special workshops that will include a new driver, another that would include new wedges, and another that would include a new putter with each of them custom-fitted and an instructional-based workshop.
“I have enlisted the services of Kristin Walla to be part of our instructional team at Peacock Gap and have had Rebecka Heinmert providing her teaching services at Foxtatil since last fall.
“I will update you on a few fundraiser dates soon, and the SSU women will be competing at Foxtail April 2-4, 2017 along 13 other teams in an NCAA Competition.”
As far as Adobe Creek, Verhunce, who taught golf there, hasn’t heard what might become of the 18-hole course, And Bill Carson of Wine Country Golf Group, which ran Adobe for a short time, said he isn’t sure what will happen to the East Petaluma layout either.
From Paul Nikol, Windsor High:
“My advice to my players at Windsor is to practice your putting indoors during the off-season time.
“On the carpet, on the hard floor or on the cement in your garage . . . work on your hands. The pressure you put on your hands is different on different greens. How they are cut determines the speed of the putt . . . that is why before you play a course, putt on their practice green to see what the speed is.
“This is the one shot in golf where players lose unnecessary strokes. Not to say putting is not complicated, but why complicate it further.”
From Jim Strong, at Strong’s Golf in Santa Rosa:
“You most likely won’t want to print this because it’s not real positive, but it is true.
“I’ve talked to a lot of my friends in the golf business and all of us seem to agree unfortunately that it is on the decline. The kids aren’t taking it up like they once did when Tiger was hot. It takes too long, and you have to practice a lot to get good at it, people don’t want to put the time in, and it’s expensive. The kids would rather play with their phones.
“I could see this coming years ago when the schools no longer required the kids to have at least one hour of PE per day in school. Then the phones came along and that was the beginning of the bigger drop.
“Look what happened to a lot of golf courses . . . gone. Los Arroyos, Wikiup, Adobe in our area alone . . . gone. In my lifetime I never thought it was possible to see a golf course close.
“Look at the bigger chain golf stores, Golf Smith, Edwin Watts, etc., bankrupt and gone. I hang in there, but nothing like it used to be.”
From Marcie Bradley and Rich Aprile, Northstar at Tahoe:
“Golf in Tahoe has stabilized after a course building boom in the ‘90s and 2000s. With perfect summer weather and a plethora of course options, the golfers in Tahoe have great options.
“From world-class resorts and private golf communities, to 9-hole munis, there is truly something for every golfer. With so many recreational activities available in Tahoe, some people forget that playing golf in the mountains is extremely enjoyable — perfect weather and scenery — and the ball flies well in our dry air and high elevation.
“Northstar offers a fun, beautiful, and challenging yet playable course, routed through the meadow on the front nine, and climbing into the forest on the back. Booking ahead online can save on rates already low for the Tahoe golf scene. You can play 18 at Northstar for half the cost of some Truckee-area courses. This is truly the best value in Tahoe resort golf.
“Winter training should include some flexibility and strength training, along with swinging a weighted club to keep the feel and rhythm of your swing. Practicing putting indoors on your carpet can help maintain feel and proper technique.”
I love playing golf at Tahoe, and Northstar is one of my favorites. Two incredibly distinct nines. And as Marcie said, prices are very reasonable. We usually spend a week or more in July — about a 5-wood away from the first tee — and also try to make it up for Thanksgiving.
From avid local golfer Richard Schoellhorn:
“The way I keep in shape is walking every day, swinging the speed stick and doing a Pilates workout two to three days a week.
“The other thing you can talk about is the upcoming changes by the USGA to the handicapping system. Keep your head down and your kilt up!”
Pro golf coming back to Windsor
“We are hosting a Symetra Tour Event at Windsor April 6 through April 9,” said Windsor’s Demian Reddy.
“Hopefully we can get a lot of people out to watch some future LPGA stars,” said Demian. “We are excited about hosting the event.”
“I didn’t work at Windsor when the Hogan/Nike Tour was played here in the early 90’s, but I know it was a neat event. Bringing back a tour event to Windsor is going to be cool thing.”
The Symetra Tour is an LPGA event, similar to the Nationwide Tour for the PGA, or as Demian says, “basically what Triple A baseball is to the majors.”.
“Press releases will be coming out soon from the LPGA, and we are looking forward to getting the community involved and showing the LPGA that Sonoma County is a strong location for an annual event,” said Reddy.
I can recall watching some of those “future stars” such as David Duval and Tom Lehman treat golf fans to a look into the future. It was a good event and I was sorry to see it move on.
I felt the same about the Champions Tour when it was played at Sonoma . . . a great opportunity for local golf fans to take a short ride and see some of the game’s legends.
“Hopefully we can get a lot of people out to watch some future LPGA stars,” says Windsor’s Schmuhl. “Bringing a Tour event back to Windsor is a good thing.”
Starting in early March at Windsor there will be Spring Golf Clinics, including sessions on putting (March 7), chipping (March 14), pitching/short irons (March 28), hybrids/short irons (April 4) and driving (April 11).
Clinics, which will be on Tuesdays from 4:45 until 6 p.m., are $25 each and are open to all adult golfers, with experience necessary. Go to Windsor.com for details of call 838-7888.
Caddysnax catching on for golfers
From NorCal PGA spokesperson Emmy Moore Minister:
“Caddysnax, the leading delicious, nutritional meal designed by golfers for golfers, will be featured at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, January 25-28.
“Caddysnax took the golf industry by storm in 2016 when it introduced a nutritional solution for golf course operators and tournament managers. The meal box which includes 5-7 nutritious snacks plus an electrolyte supplement and a wet-nap towelette, is individually sealed, packed and designed to conveniently fit in a golf cart or golf bag, so players can snack while also enjoying a round of golf.
“All food items found in Caddysnax meals are individually wrapped to ensure freshness and long-term shelf life averaging 90-120 days. The snacks contain protein, good carbs, salt replacement, with fiber option as well, and has the endorsement of the public health education initiative Doctors Orders: Play Golf.
“The uniqueness of Caddysnax includes various options for box customization. Their design team can create a box to sync with an event message, highlight a sponsor or feature a facility’s branding through color selection, logo placement and/or printed text. Since sustainability is also important to CADDYSNAX, the light-weight box is made from recyclable materials and easy to dispose.
For more information about CADDYSNAX and its array of offerings for golf, corporate events, and hospitality, visit: http: //caddysnax.com/#/ or contact Jill Mann Strite at the LPGA, [email protected]
Pro golf may have a new look
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan tells Golf Channel that talks are in the works with LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to stage a similar women’s event jointly with the men’s in the future
“You could see men and women here at the Tournament of Champions,” Monahan told Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner.
“That is something we are thinking about and talking to Mike and the LPGA about. We would like to see that happen. We have some interest from sponsors.” Monahan didn’t give specifics on how the joint event would be presented.
Back in March, the PGA Tour and LPGA announced a “strategic alliance agreement” where the tours would work together coordinating schedules, including trying to come up with joint events. The tours said the alliance would include joint marketing and domestic television and media strategies.
“We have been partners with the LPGA for a long time, so when we made the announcement it really wasn’t anything new,” Monahan told Lerner. “It’s just more formalized.”
Women’s Golf Day returns in June
Women’s Golf Day, celebrated nationally, is scheduled for June 6. Last year 20 Northern California courses participated.
Women’s Golf Day “is a four-hour experience happening globally where women and girls can experience golf for the first time or where current players and play and engage with women interested in golf,” according to a press release for the event.
The special day will be held at public and private courses, golf stores, driving ranges and even miniature golf courses.
Participants will have the option of two hours of golfing, which can be in the form of lessons or nine holes of play as well as an hour on the driving range and an hour of chipping and putting. At some locations, there may be an additional two hours of “socializing.”
We will have additional details in the next GOLF 707, so stay tuned or ask your favorite course if they will be participating.
The Women’s Golf Day Team includes former Ursuline High golf standout Cheryl Lala, one of the best female golfers in local history.
Let’s hear from you . . .
This is our first GOLF 707 for 2017, and we plan on posting more columns this year than in 2016.
To make that work, we need your support – we are also eager to talk to potential advertisers — and your help in getting the word out to golfers. If you have a story idea, any kind of golf-related question, a compliment or a complaint about a local course or golf store or anything you’d like to contribute, please contact me at [email protected]
We’d like to get information on upcoming events at your course, including clinics and tournaments . . . anything. Also, let us know if you have any improvement projects planned for your course.
We want to make GOLF 707 a forum for you and a place you can find information on the game you love. Let me know your thoughts and tell your pro to send us pertinent information.
GOLF 707- Winter 17
By Bruce Meadows