By Bruce Meadows

It’s that time of year again . . .

Where did 2018 go?

Doesn’t seem that long ago we were making New Year’s resolutions – some about our golf game – and here it is time to do it, or at least think about doing it, all over again.

It’s also time to think about what to get your favorite golfer for Christmas.

Golf manufacturers and golf courses and shops will once again try to sell you the latest in equipment, all but promising you a better swing and lower scores. That’s what sells new merchandise.

The “latest” golf gear is no guarantee to improve your game, but sometimes it can help you psychologically if not financially. That’s one reason companies keep coming up with new ideas each year.

I’ve always believed it’s the operator and not necessarily the equipment. I recall having a chance to play nine holes with the legendary Lee Trevino and two other sportswriters at Silverado many years ago.

To make it interesting, Trevino suggested he use our clubs, and to make it even more interesting, he told me to pick a club, any club, and that’s what he would use.

 

I chose my 9-iron and he proceeded to cover nine holes on Silverado North in one over par. He hooded the 9 on tee shots, angled it for shorter shots and opened it full to get out of a bunker. He even putted with it.

It is a good time to ask Santa to replace golf equipment that might be past its prime, like worn and leaking golf shoes – or maybe replace the spikes on a comfortable pair. Maybe a new putter to replace the one you broke hitting your golf cart after you missed a two-foot putt for birdie.

I’ve had the same old Ping putter for more than 35 years. It works well for me and I never found a reason to change, and I have tried just about every new one that has come on the market.

If your clubs are working pretty well for you, maybe consider having them regripped instead of breaking the bank buying new ones.  That’s not to say getting a new set can’t make a difference.

Giving golf lessons from a reputable teaching pro for a present can also be a good and rewarding gift. There are some very good instructors in our area, although sometimes finding the one that works best for you  can be a challenge, a matter of trial and error.

As I’ve said before, a lot of pros provide similar instruction but you need to find the one who really listens to you and can craft the lessons to your particular needs. When you find him – or her – you’ll know it.

Giving rounds of golf – many courses offer player cards good for a certain number of rounds – is also a gift golfers like to get. Also consider getting your favorite golfer a range card good for multiple baskets.

You might also think about giving that young golfer on your Christmas  list a one-year membership in Youth on Course, an NCGA program that lets kids play courses for far less than they would pay without one.

When in doubt, there’s always that gift card so a golfer can buy his or her own stuff. Hard to argue with that one.

Regardless, I hope 2019 is a good year for all of you for all the right reasons, and that includes knocking a few strokes off your handicap.

 

Getting up to speed . . .

I recently came across an interesting article from the Golf Course Supertintendents of America regarding green speeds.

According to the article by Ph.D Thomas Nikolai, the term “green speed” didn’t even exist until the balata golf ball replaced the gutta percha ball around the start of the 20th century.

“The equipment change raised golfers’ expectations and led to the need for putting green research,” according to Nikolai.

More information from Nikolai, the “Doctor of Green Speed” and a turfgrass academic specialist at Michigan State University:

In 1932, the first green speed study was performed with a bulky piece of equipment known as the Arnott mechanical putter, which was built to test whether there were differences in green speed among eight creeping bentgrasses. The result? The assumed green speed differences among species did not exist.

In his 1937 article “Introducing the Stimp,” Eddie Stimpson said he invented the Stimpmeter because green speed was an issue, and, “It occurred to us that there was no way of measuring how fast putting greens are.” He also reported six green speed measurements from three different golf clubs. The average green speed from those measurements was 2.5 feet.

Thirty-seven years later, in 1974, Stimpson still owned the only Stimpmeter in the world. At that time, he wrote, “Putting greens — How fast?” and reported green speed measurements taken from 1946 to 1973. The average green speed over that period remained 2.5 feet, which included the green speed from the 1963 U.S. Open, which was 2.7 feet.

Mowing heights and other maintenance practices changed very little between 1930 and 1973. Therefore, it’s logical that Stimpson’s green speed measurements changed very little during that time.

In the mid-1970s, the USGA modified the Stimpmeter by making the ramp longer and changing the U-shaped groove to a V, which decreased the friction created when the ball rolled down the ramp. Before releasing their modified Stimpmeter (briefly known as the “Speed Stick”), the USGA took green speed measurements in 1976 and 1977 on more than 1,500 greens in 36 states. The average green speed was 6.5 feet.

The USGA’s Stimpmeter was released in 1978 following vast improvements in greens mower technology that included thinner bedknives that made it possible to mow as tight as 0.125 inch. Superintendents lowered their mowing heights, increased topdressing frequency and micromanaged fertility inputs, which led to smoother, more consistent speeds.

 

Jessica and Rebecka had a lot of fun at Bodega Harbour

Next stop: Tucson . . .

      With rain a welcome sight but nonetheless problematic at times in our area, Oakmont’s Jessica Reese Quayle is offering an alternative.

Jessica is looking for foursomes to travel to Tucson Feb. 18-21 or Feb. 25-18 to participate in the Tommy Thomas Pro-Am at Casino Del Sol Resort and Sewallo CC.

Entry fee is $2,895 per amateur for all pro-ams (price does not include air or ground transportation). Jessica explains that “four amateur players and myself will make up the team,” with amateurs receiving 80% of their handicaps with a maximum handicap of 36.

The package includes single-occupancy rooms for every player for four nights; a gift package for each amateur (from Adidas Golf); four rounds of golf with all five players on winning teams paid after each round ($9,200 daily purse based on 23 teams); golf cart and practice balls; lunch all three tournament days; daily closest-to-the-pin competition for pros and amateurs; three dinner parties with open bar (four at Casino Del Sol); complimentary attended beer station and hors d’oeuvres at the scoreboard;  buffet breakfast (with omelette station) all three tournament days.

Mail entry fee to: Golf with Jessica, 7025 Oakmont Dr., Santa Rosa, CA  95409, or email [email protected] or call 707-321-9791.

Jessica and fellow pro Rebecka Heinmert recently held a three-day golf outing at Bodega Harbour (see photo above). “We had so much fun,” says Rebecka. “The event included on-course practice and play, a special dinner and beautiful scenery . . . a great time.”

 

 

Gift idea: Skunk Train, Little River Inn

Little River Inn is offering a special “Magical Christmas Skunk Train Package, which includes two nights’ lodging in a traditional ocean-view room at historic Little River Inn Resort, and admission for one adult (age 13 and up) and one child (age 2-12) on the Magical Christmas Skunk Train out of Fort Bragg.

Packages begin at $350, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Additional family members are infants (under 2) $8; dogs $8; child (age 2-12) $27.20; adult (13-and-up) $35.20, exclusive of Historic Railroad fee.

Train rides are scheduled Saturdays, Dec. 9 and 16; Sundays, Dec. 8, 15 and 22; Friday, Dec. 14 and weekdays Dec. 17, 18, 19, 20. Multiple departures on  Saturdays and Sundays.

“Share your cookies with Santa Claus aboard our Magical Christmas Train. We deliver Santa right to your seats, so you can skip the usual lines and experience Christmas through the imagination of a child . . . bring the whole family, even the dog!”

Little River is a relatively long drive, but a unique place to play golf and The Inn is a wonderful place to spend a few days and nights.

For information or reservations, call 707-937-5942.

 

Football and golf . . .

The 15th Green at Bennett Valley

Bennett Valley invites you to come out and play golf and maybe watch a little football before or after your round.

Cost to play 18 is $39 walking, $49 with a cart, and BV will toss in a small bucket of range balls.   Call 528-3673 and book a tee time.

 

When it’s raining . . .

     The much-needed rain is upon us, which is good news for the grass and trees and other vegetation, not to mention the firefighters battling the many wildfires throughout the state.

But the rain is a problem if you want to play golf or work on your game . . . unless you check out Fairgrounds Golf Course.

Seven stations on the15-stall driving range are covered and also lighted, which allows golfers to come out early or late . . . and to stay dry. And it’s open every day, rain or shine. Call 284-3520

 

 

Oakmont specials . . .

Jessica Reese Quayle and Rebecka Heinmert are offering several holiday lesson packages and gifts.

The Winter Package includes eight golf lessons, club check/fitting and a four-hole playing lesson. If the weather is bad, lessons will be taught indoors at the Golf Lab using a launch monitor.

Cost of the package, which must be completed by March 31, 2019, is $599. A package with 12 lessons plus a nine-hole playing lesson is $999.

Couple/Friends Outing: A 90-minute lesson followed by lunch at The Quail Inn, then a nine-hole playing lesson. For two or four players at a cost of $450 per group.

Clinic Punch Card: Buy four clinics and get one free, $140, or buy eight clinics and get two free ($280). Must choose either a punch card for Jessica’s clinics (Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.) or Rebecka’s clinics (Thursdays, 10 a.m.).

Golf special: Play 18 holes Monday through Thursday for $31. including green fees and cart; play 18 holes Friday through Sunday for $39, includes golf and cart. Offer expires Dec. 31.

Gift certifcates: Call 539-0415 for details.

 

Rooster Run specials . . .

Rooster Run’s Dave Johnson, like most pros, thinks giving golf lessons for Christmas is a great idea.

Two nine-hole playing lessons from Dave, plus four hours of private instruction, are available for $599. Or three hours of private lessons from Dave for only $225, a savings of $75.

   Contact Dave at 707-484-0467 or go to www.davejohnsongolf.com

 

Consider Oakmont for your event . . .

      Oakmont GC likes to host tournaments and would love to put you on their schedule.

Marketing director Heather Peterson explains Oakmont’s largest events are the local Realtor tournament as well as the Santa Rosa Education Foundation outing, which she says raises $25,000-$40,000 per event for children.

“We recently hosted the Heroes of October event with KSRO and Amatura Sonoma Media and many other large sponsors, and raised over $30,000 for the Resilience Fund.”

It was called the Pat Kerrigan Golf Scramble with a lot of local celebrities and heroes joining the festivities.

“The event received national coverage and the day was one to remember,” says Heather, adding that “we run smooth, organized tournaments and our team is amazing and makes the process enjoyable.”

Peterson and her crew create custom cart tags, scorecards and scoreboards all branded with the client’s company logo, and offer special 2 for 1 Tournament Playback Passes to every tournament participant.

“Because I am the Marketing Director for Oakmont Golf Club, I am able to give tournaments special attention on social media and to our membership data base to help increase exposure and attendance,” she says. “We care about our clients and want them to have fun and raise the most money possible.”

Call 539-9215, Ext. 228 and ask for Heather. Or go to [email protected]

 

 

 

          Oakmont offer extended . . .

Oakmont GC is extending its “Oakmont Strong” golf special through Nov. 30 for both the East and West courses.

On Mondays through Thursdays, you can play 18 holes, including cart, for $31, and on Fridays through Sundays, it costs $39 for 18 holes, including cart. The special rates are not available for tournaments.

Oakmont also has a tournament special: Book a tournament by Nov. 30 and receive free range balls for your group of 32 or more players.

To book a tee time, call (707) 539-0415.

 

 Let’s hear from you . . .

            Thanks for your comments, questions and suggestions.

If you have information about anything golf-related, including upcoming activities, please let me know. And if you have questions, complaints or compliments about golf in our area, I’d love to hear them.

If you have a golfer you know who you think would be an interesting story, let me know

And we would be proud to include you as one of our sponsors – thanks to Bill Carson at Wine Country Golf – so if you care to get some details about being a sponsor of GOLF 707, email me at [email protected]