Monthly Archives: May 2014

JC Golf Salutes Kerry Everett for his Double Eagle at Temecula Creek Inn

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                A routine round of golf for Kerry Everett in his Wednesday men’s league at Temecula Creek Inn in April turned into something rare and special when his second shot on a par-5 found the bottom of the cup for a double eagle.

                Everett’s rare feat occurred on the dogleg right 519-yard par-5 7th on the Oak nine. After a solid drive, Everett’s rescue from 220 yards found the hole, much to his surprise and his group. Shielded from a view of the green by trees, no one saw the ball go in, Everett said.

                “I knew I hit good and I knew it was pretty close to the flag, but none us saw it on the green,” he said. “When I got up there, I looked behind the green and in the bunker and didn’t find anything. Then I checked the hole, and there it was.”

                The shot was the highlight of round where Everett, a 4 handicap, shot 68.

                “It was a really good day,” he said.

                A double eagle, also known an albatross, is considered the rarest shot in golf because it takes toward good swings as opposed to just one for a hole-in-one. Golf Digest pegs the odds of a hole-in-one for an amateur at 12,500 to 1. It hasn’t established the odds for a double eagle with such mathematical certainly. Or at least a Google search on the topic was inconclusive.

                Whatever the math, Everett takes it to another level because this was his second double eagle. He scored one in Laughlin, Nev., 10 years ago, he says, when he wasn’t taking the game as seriously as he has the past seven.

                Shortly after scoring his second double eagle, Everett says the irony quickly occurred to him of what he’d accomplished without ever having a hole-in-one.

                “I’ve come close,” he says of getting an ace. “Hopefully in my lifetime I will, maybe even more than once.”

                Everett lives in Temecula and has been playing in his men’s league for a year. He regards Temecula Creek Inn as his home course and says he appreciates the challenge of the layout and the quality of the course conditions.

                “With all the trees they have, it’s not an easy course,” he says, “but it’s a very well-kept course. The greens are always nice, and a little quick, but they take great care of it year round. It’s always in good condition, which I like.”

Highlight Hole: No. 16 at La Costa (Champions Course)

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    As you know about the blog by now, we love to write about golf holes and can spill a thousand words about one at the drop of a hat. With No. 16 at La Costa’s Champions Course, that isn’t necessary. Pictures suffice.

    I’ve played each side of the renovated course twice now and can report this is easily the prettiest hole on the course. I played it again yesterday and was reminded of that. No. 16 is a 160-yard par-3, and you either make the green or you don’t. Besides the traps, there’s a bailout right. I hit an easy 7-iron, but most days it’d be a club less because you’ve got the ocean breeze behind you.

    Everyone in our threesome hit the green – and no one made the putt. I will say, though, that my 15-footer stopped an inch short due to recent maintenance, which created slow green conditions. Any other day, that putt goes in.

    No. 16 comes amid a great stretch of finishing holes that is more scoreable (and fun) that what awaits you on the Legends Course – the famed “Longest Mile in Golf.” I finally got my game together and played the final five holes in two-over. That’s the best stretch I’ve put together in a while.

     Anyway, if you club 16 right, it’s a great scoring opportunity on that home stretch. It’s also one of the holes you see as you arrive at the course. It’s just as fun to play as it is pretty to look at. I hope you get a chance to experience it.

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The SLDR Mini Driver: A New Way to Play the Opening Holes at Twin Oaks

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Shop the New SLDR Mini Driver + Free Shipping at TaylorMadeGolf.com!

Like all of you, I’ve had my trails playing the tight four-hole opening stretch at Twin Oaks.

I’ve probably played them 20 times or so now, achieving mixed results. Dozens of lost balls have gradually coaxed me into a less aggressive strategy that doesn’t make for as many birdies, but it makes for a lot fewer bogies. I’ve taken a bit of a survivalist mentality about the opening combination of two short par-4s, a long par-5 and a mid-length par-3.

I had a bit of a breakthrough on this stretch, however, two weeks ago thanks for a breakthrough in TaylorMade’s R & D department.

I was carrying TaylorMade’s new SLDR Mini Driver for the first time. The Mini Driver is a club between a driver and a 3-wood. It’s a driver with a 260cc and a Speed Slot, designed to provide the accuracy of a 3-wood off the tee while providing the distance of a driver, or just shy of.

TaylorMade gave me an advance chance to experience the Mini Driver, and I took to it immediately. My first shots on the range were dead straight, and I found I was able to hit it about 260-280 yards, sacrificing only 20-40 yards from my driver.

With this new weapon stashed in my bag, I approached the first tee at Twin Oaks. The opening dogleg doesn’t play to my draw, but I’ve learned to basically get by punching a 3-wood out left, just past the tree. Well, two weeks ago, I pulled the Mini, which is ideal for shorter par-4s, especially tight ones.

In short, I hit my best drive ever on this hole. I took it 280 yards right up the middle, leaving me about 50 yards. Due to a two-putt, birdie eluded me, but I felt like I was onto something.

Unfortunately, I pulled my tee ball OB with the Mini on the difficult par-5 2nd, but I executed the drive on No. 4 to just shy of the two fairway traps to set me up for another par. I got around the opening holes in 2-over, which may or may not be my best, but it felt different. This felt like success I could repeat, and hopefully drop a few putts the next time.

The Mini Driver comes in lofts of 12, 14 and 16 degrees. The lofts are supposed to remove sidespin from the ball to produce straight shots and thus more balls in the fairway.

At a media event for the Mini on Monday at La Costa Resort and Spa, TaylorMade’s Brian Bazzel, Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods, explained the performance benefits of increased loft.

“If you take a player who hits a 10-degree driver and has lots of side spin, look at what happens when they hit a 16-degree driver,” he said. “They square up the face more often and decrease the sidespin by almost half. When you do that, you’re speed goes up, you efficiency goes up and suddenly you’re hitting it farther and hitting more fairways.”

Bazzel says shorter hitters in particular can benefit from increased loft.

“What’s most obvious from the research is the biggest benefit of high launch, low spin is for slow-swing players,” he said. “They already have low spin. We just need to get them to loft up and hit it higher and the yardage gains are there. They’re actually the ones leaving the most yardage on the table right now.”

Putting the Mini in of course means taking a club out. Bazzel says that decision will be different for each player depending largely on what loft their driver is and then gapping appropriately after.

But Bazzel says the evolution of club combinations in golf bags has already begun.

“Throughout every swing speed, you’re going to see a new club combination and bag makeup that utilizes the technology to achieve more distance. The average driver loft on Tour has gone up one degree to 10.5 degrees and several 12 degrees are in play. Their bag has completely changed, just in one year.  The longest iron in the bag now often will be a 5-iron. You’re going to see those changes being reflected in recreational players from what they see on Tour.”

Don’t be surprised if it shows up in a bag of one of your playing partners soon. The club went on sale in May and retails for $279.           The club is designed for enhanced performance off the tee, but can be played from the fairway as well. Bazzel says he’s still discovering the shots that can be hit with it.

As for me, my driver is out and the Mini is in. I’ve been experiencing a bit of the driver doldrums recently and the Mini has proven an excellent remedy.

For more information about the Mini, contact your JC pro and see if it’s a club that fits into your golf bag of the future.

Highlight Hole: No. 8 at Strawberry Farms

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When reviewing golf courses from one golfer to another, we usually first default to brevity and try to capture the course in a word.

For instance, it’s common to describe a given course as “long,” “tough,” “hilly” or, best-case scenario, “fun.”

For Strawberry Farms in Irvine, that word is “tight,” which we all know is golf speak for narrow. That’s partly why I’ve shied away from this course when it has been presented as an option in the past.

Well, last week, there was no option. We had an online deal and this was the course we were playing. So I stocked up on golf balls and pointed my car north prepared to experience a little pain and frustration – & hopefully discover a great golf course along the way.

What I found is a beautiful course with a lot of scenic holes, many of which are, indeed, tight, especially on the back nine. In golf, this is what we call a shot-maker’s course, and you know it’s going to require strategy and to occasionally check your ego on the tee and hit iron.

One of the holes were you could, and probably should, do that is the short par-4 8th … but that’s not what I did. I went for it, and made it, thanks for a weapon in my bag that is more than the point of this post than the course.

As you can see from the photo, No. 8 is one of those diagonal fairways littered by bunkers. Playing it for the first time, it’s nearly impossible to pick the proper aim line because you don’t have any experience with the yardages and the landing area.

Well, the day we played I looked at the green sitting 292 yards out, noticed the wind behind me and decided there’d be no laying up. With that, I reached in my bag and pulled my 14-degree SLDR Mini Driver, the latest club breakthrough from TaylorMade. It’s a driver with a 260cc head that performs more like a 3-wood off the tee in terms of accuracy, but it’s got a Speed Slot so you still get distance. After two weeks of toying with this club, I hit it fairly straight and about 260-280 yards, about 20-40 less than my driver.

It’s ideal for a hole like No. 8, which is usually the type of hole that hands me my lunch because I hit a draw and struggle working the ball left to right. The Mini Driver turned this from a nervous tee shot into a confident one.

I hit a ball high in the wind, aimed at the front left of the green, and it carried the pot bunker in front and settled in some rough near the fringe. I’ve had a few success stories so far with this club, but this was by far the best.

My playing partner took his first swing with it and got similar success, though he was about 10 yards shorter and caught the pot bunker. Still, they were two impressive shots that ultimately produced pars.

You’ll be reading more about the Mini some pieces I’ve got coming up, but I wanted to share this experience because it’s one I’m not using elsewhere and is the example of the perfect shot scenario for this club.

If you try this club, you’ll notice you get a feel for it very quickly. The three people I’ve had try it have been immediately impressed.

With that quick trust in hand, you quickly start get a sense for when to pull this club. I’m using it as my driver right now and haven’t really tried hitting it out of the fairway, though I’m told it works well off the deck, too.

Anyway, if you happen to have a chance to experience this club, I’d appreciate you adding your two cents in the comments. I’m cataloging my Mini Moments as I continue to play with this club, and I’m sure you’ll see future posts here about it. Maybe I can include you.

Stay tuned to your local – heck, global – golf blog for more Mini news to come.

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Tee shots on No. 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JC Golf Spotlight Hole: No. 8 at Encinitas Ranch

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The short stretch of canyon holes on the front nine at Encinitas Ranch ends with the par-4 8th, which General Manager Erik Johnson deems possibly the toughest hole on the course because of its make-or-break tee shot.

Standing on the blue tee box, you’re faced with carrying a diagonal canyon that poses a double dilemma. One, is making the nearly 200-yard carry into the fairway on this 407-yard hole. The second is the risk-reward of setting up your second shot. But the more left you go, the more risk you incur of contributing to a canyon full of golf balls.

From a design standpoint, No. 8 is a masterpiece, Johnson says.

“It’s truly a brilliant design,” he says. “It’s by far the toughest drive on the course because it’s visually intimidating.”

And for those who know this tee shot well, you know the numbers for the canyon carry are variable and deceiving because of one formidable factor – wind.

“A 195-yard carry doesn’t sound like much,” Johnson says, “until you figure it plays into a prevailing wind. A safe shot is to play a 200-yard hybrid or long iron out right (which carries its own danger of OB), but that leaves you a very long second.

“In that regard, there really is no safe shot here. It simply rewards the best tee shot. A good drive can you leave you 8-iron, 9 or wedge. A lesser drive can leave you  200-plus.”

And that’s to an uphill green on this dogleg left, where the wind becomes a crosswind on your approach.

For aiming purposes, three fairway bunkers present convenient targets. For every bunker you move your aim left, however, the more aggressive your tee-shot ambitions become.

Playing with a threesome recently, my group came to this hole under unusually benign wind conditions. Per my usual, I aimed at the middle trap and comfortably found the fairway. Our straightest hitter took a more aggressive route and seemed to clear comfortably, though that later proved deceiving. Our third hit a push that just barely managed to find a patch of remote right fairway.

As is often the case on this hole, what looked to be our best drive on this hole wasn’t. Our friend who played the farthest left tee shot found his ball barely beyond the canyon in the rough instead of the fairway.

My ball sat on the short grass a comfortable 180 yards out. Factoring the uphill and a back pin, I clubbed up to a 5-iron, which I pushed right, about pin-high in the rough right of the sand traps.

The player with our longest second shot recovered nicely with a flushed 3-wood that resulted in a ball over the back of the green. Our canyon survivor’s second came up short left, a common result from that position.

In all, we netted two pars and a bogey, with the bogey being the least likely suspect based on our original perceived tee shots.

With a back pin on a long green, that outcome is no surprise to Johnson.

“If the pin is in back, I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but it’s really hard to get your approach back there,” he says. “You’re normally looking at a long putt if you’re going for birdie. Sometimes a better plan on the approach with that pin is just to play short of the green.

“Par is just like a birdie here.”

Johnson says the hole distributes its difficulty evenly from the blue tees and the whites, which play to 330 yards. The white tee spares players some of the crossing, but the fairway traps and canyon remain a factor.

“It’s a good tee shot no matter what set of tees you’re playing.”

And most likely the key to your success on the front nine if you’re in the hunt for a good score.

“On a course known for scoring, No. 8 and No. 17 (par 3 guarded by water) are where the teeth of the course really come out,” Johnson says.

“If you do well on No. 2 (long par 3) and No. 8, you’re most likely going to have a good score on the front nine.”

JC Golf would you love to hear you stories and strategies from playing No. 8. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section at jcgolf.com.

JC Golf: Five Reasons to Play Reidy Creek

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If you haven’t yet discovered Reidy Creek, an executive course at the base of the Escondido Mountains, you might be surprised at what you find.

It’s easy to say this isn’t what you’d expect from an executive course. It’s another thing to show you.

Take the third hole. It plays to 167 yards nearly dead uphill with two deep sand traps guarding the right side. There’s room short and left, but long is OB. The green is double-tiered, not counting the false front. It took a healthy 6-iron for me to find the back fringe.

It’s no stretch to envision this being a par-3 on the course you play regularly. And that’s what Reidy largely feels like – a real golf course at an reduced yardage (2,582). It’s more like a second-shot course, if you will, because the greens are what you’d expect to find at the end of a regulation par-4 or -5.

Take that level of play and put it without terrain that winds through the wilderness of a wooded area (trees, streams, wildlife, etc.) and you’ve got an uncommon executive golf experience. Note: If you aren’t hitting it reasonably straight, you will lose balls here.

I played Reidy for the third time last week, first in a while, and was glad to be reminded of its merits. I came away with at least five things I really like about this course.

Sophisticated greens – The normal association you get for greens at an executive course is small and mostly flat. Not here.

Every green at Reidy is undulating and some are quite large (there’s a double green on back nine) meaning they can host multiple pin positions and really change how the course can play.

Some pin positions can be quite tough. For instance, I hit a shot to 6 feet early in round that ended up being a 15-foot putt. My ball landed on the wrong side of a ridge.

And that’s part of what keeps this course challenging for advanced players. If you go pin-seeking every hole, I guarantee you’ll eventually have to hit a major recovery shot at some point. For me, it was a bunker shot from an awkward stance.

The other benefit of these types of greens is that if you aren’t good at reading greens, this is an ideal place to learn. And the green speeds are kept at a pace that doesn’t penalize you terribly for your misses.

To show you what kind of putts you can get, I was really wanting a birdie to get my card back to 1-over going into No. 18. That meant sinking a 12-footer on 17. The putt had 6 feet of break and I just missed, grazing the cup. Not a putt you normally find an executive course, but great practice for my next regulation round.

You will earn your score here, trust me.

Walkability/pace – My only reservation about walking here is simply a few long, but manageable, stretches between holes. But I saw people walking who told me they didn’t mind.

The Reidy staff told me about a third of players walk or take a pull cart. Either way, playing in under three hours is certainly doable and a refreshing break from the plodding pace you find on some bigger courses.

I zipped around in about 2:30, playing through about three groups in the early afternoon. It found my rhythm on the back and scored well.

You can play fast here, or take time to teach, which I’ll get into in a few more paragraphs.

Great condition – Save for some maintenance on the tee boxes this time, this course has been in peak shape each time I’ve played it. And the greens are tip top.

You don’t have to worry about spotty greens or finding a course that’s rough around the edges here. You get the same quality you’d expect at every other JC course.

 Great couple’s course – It’s common to see couples here, and for good reason. It’s a course that can easily accommodate differing handicaps.

From my own experience, I brought a former girlfriend here who was getting back into the game.  She found the whites tees comfortable and the course quite playable. On the back nine, after a few near-misses, she finally bagged her first birdie on No. 16 and did a victory dance around the flagstick.

That success came after a little coaching and a little practice, which the pace here allows for.

Meanwhile, I was getting some solid practice in on my irons and my short game.

The only possible drawback here is that you don’t get to hit driver, which I know some players like to do at least once or twice on an exec., but you don’t really miss it. The level of shot making required keeps it interesting enough.

No. 18 – Try to think of a finishing hole at an executive course you’ve played. Can you?

You’ll remember the 18th at Reidy Creek, partly because it gives you your first impression of the course.

When you pass the pro shop, the first thing you see is the pond surrounding the 18th green and the stone walking bridge leading to it. It’s an eye-catcher and evokes a little Amen Corner association the first time you see it.

Playing it is a challenge. It’s 164 yards to a deep green, which, again, is surrounded by water on the right and OB left. What’s more, factor in a slight crosswind.

When I played it, I pushed a little too hard for birdie and yanked my tee shot OB. There’s a rather safe play available to the front of the green, but then you’ve got a lot of putt on your hands.

I took double bogey and walked off in 3-over on the back. I’m coming back to par it. Hey, didn’t I say that last time?

To book a round at Reidy Creek, call 760.740.2450 or book it here at jcgolf.com.