Golf Blog

The Eighty Club

With all of the pictures I post of fantastic golf courses, I often get asked "How can I also play at these exclusive private clubs?"  People have written books on the topic, but to me, the answer remains simple.

  • Join a private club.
  • Network with other members of your club and others.
  • Play golf frequently with new people at new places.
  • Help out others whenever you can.
  • Be awesome to play golf with.

The best part about putting effort into the ideas above, is that you get to meet some really cool and interesting people.  There are a lot of people out there that love golf as much as I do and every time I meet one of them, we become fast friends.

One of those friends is Sean Ogle, the founder of Breaking Eighty.  Not only does Sean run an excellent golf blog, but he has created a forum to bring these friends together.  It is called The Eighty Club.

As Sean describes it.  The Eighty Club is a private golf society for the game's most passionate followers.  I describe it as a place where a group of golf nuts can talk about golf courses, golf architecture, golf equipment, or even golf ball shaped pizzas.  The rules to join are simple.

  • You must belong to a private club.
  • You have an interest in traveling and playing a variety of different golf courses.
  • You are passionate about the game and want to share this passion with others.

So what goes on in the Eighty Club?  

  • Online forum - Everything golf related gets discussed.
  • Weekly Newsletter - Sean gets on his blog horse and sends out the week's hottest takes from the club and the world of golf.
  • Potential for easier access - Meet people from other clubs around the country.
  • Live events -  The Eighty Club is looking to host 4-6 events annually. 
Portland Golf Club hosted the very first Eighty Club event.

Portland Golf Club hosted the very first Eighty Club event.

As you can see, Sean Ogle is pretty excited about having you join the Eighty Club.  Here he celebrates at Columbia Edgewater in Portland.

As you can see, Sean Ogle is pretty excited about having you join the Eighty Club.  Here he celebrates at Columbia Edgewater in Portland.

I show a couple of Eighty Clubbers the ropes of iPhone golf course photography at Pumpkin Ridge.

I show a couple of Eighty Clubbers the ropes of iPhone golf course photography at Pumpkin Ridge.

Shown here are 5 of The Eighty Club's 122 members, or roughly 4.1%

Shown here are 5 of The Eighty Club's 122 members, or roughly 4.1%

In my personal opinion The Eighty Club is one of the best ways to meet people that love to travel, love to play golf, and love to show off their clubs.  When you're not playing, it's a well run forum where you can discuss all things golf with people that are passionate about the game.  The people that I have met so far have been welcoming, knowledgable, and a lot of fun to play golf with.  As the club grows, it's only going to get better,  

The first event was a ton of fun and took place at some of the best clubs that Portland has to offer.  With Sean scheduling events all over the country The Eighty Club has the potential to dramatically boost your golf network as well as your travel itinerary.  I know I am looking forward to the next event in Philadelphia. 

So how do I get in the club?  There is a $500 annual membership fee to join The Eighty Club.  But the good news is that if you mention you are a friend of pjkoenig, Sean will knock $100 off of the annual price.  Sean covers the details here on his site and if you are ready to submit your application, click here.  As far as memberships to social clubs go, this one receives my highest rating: 10/10.  I look forward to seeing you inside the club.  

Guest Golf Blog Post - Paul Bradshaw

Have you ever thought this to yourself "I bet if I just quite my job and played golf all day, I could probably make it on the PGA Tour?"  Yeah, I played Torrey Pines once and shot a 74.  Yeah sure, I just need to hole a couple more putts and hello US Open!  How hard can it be? 

Here to share his story as an aspiring pro, we have a very special guest on the PJKoenig golf blog, Paul Bradshaw!  Paul hit his first golf shot at the age of 5, and from that point on was immediately hooked. He went on to become one of the leading amateurs in South Africa, securing a full golf scholarship with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Turning professional in 2004, Paul played extensively on the Sunshine Tour and co-sanctioned European Tour events.

Today Paul works for a major golf retailer in South Africa and operates his passion project, Golf Assessor.  Below you will find Paul's story, you can also find out more about Paul at www.golfassessor.com.

People think the life of a touring professional is all bells and whistles. Trust me on this one – if you’re a journeyman, it’s definitely not.  

I turned professional in 2004 after attending the University of Arkansas on a golf scholarship for a couple years. And ‘excited’ was an understatement. I couldn’t wait to get started on what would be a great learning curve and journey filled with ups and downs.

Being from Cape Town, South Africa I chose to tackle the Sunshine Tour first. So many players have used it as a stepping stone through their careers such as Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Tom Lehman, Lee Westwood to name but a few. A tour that has a good number of events each year with a handful of them co-sanctioned by the European Tour having purses of $750 000 at that point in time.

The first tournament I played I fired rounds of 73-70 and missed the cut by one stroke. Welcome to life as a touring professional! Being only my first event though and being hugely confident in the early stages of my career, I wasn’t phased. Plenty more events coming up.

My second event was the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and also a European Tour event. I was staying 50 minutes away from the course that week (because the course is in the middle of nowhere) and I still had a private courtesy car pick me up and take me through to the course each day.  Free food and drink before and after each round in the clubhouse. Manufacturers on the range letting you test clubs and if you’re happy with them – they’re yours. Four dozen balls for the tournament, 4 gloves and 3 caps. How does anyone even use that many balls in 4 months never mind 4 rounds!!? It was somewhat of a whirlwind that was oh so enjoyable.

A tough course and I opened with rounds of 71-73. Coming into the scorer’s tent after the round I honestly felt as though my score wasn’t good enough and I had missed the cut. Well, turns out I made the cut by 5 strokes. Easy Game!

Third round I was paired with Tim Clark and final round paired with Francesco Molinari (his first ever event as a professional and now he’s gone on to make millions of Dollars). I didn’t finish the event off as well as I’d liked, but I finished in a tie for 48 th and made $3 000 for my efforts. As a 21 year old I thought to myself “I can get used to this earning decently and not even playing my best too!”

Fast forward 6 months and 8 events later. I missed a few cuts and now the co-sanctioned events were over meaning tournament prize money purses were back to peanuts. Events where you make the cut, but unfortunately still don’t make enough money to cover your costs for the week. One three round event during the winter tour I carded rounds of 71-69- 70 to finish 6 under and T7th. I made a whopping $750. On the Sunshine Tour. A Top 10 finish. My expenses for the week came to $500 so I recorded a profit of $250. That’s when I started realizing that this is a whole lot more difficult than people think.

The general public see the bigger names earnings hundreds of thousands if not millions of Dollars, but don’t necessarily understand that they are the huge minority of professionals that don’t have to worry about money ever again and are just chasing victories. As for the rest of us, it is tough!

Don’t get me wrong though – if you are talented and driven (keyword ‘driven’ there!) then you may just take advantage of windows of opportunity and make a successful career of it. Look at guys like Ian Poulter, he was a very average amateur who struggled to even break 70. He isn’t a great ball striker at all and stats and other players will vouch for that. However, he’s made a killing from golf and drives a couple Ferarri’s, has a mansion in Florida and never has to worry about money again.

I take my hat off to the guys that have plugged away for hours on the range for years and years and finally succeeded by winning a tournament or securing playing rights or whatever it may be. It is tough on you mentally and it’s amazing how professional golf can sift out the stayers and the ones that fall away. It takes a toll on you mentally especially if you’ve missed a number of cuts in a row. That’s why players like Justin Rose I have immense respect for and should all of you. He missed 21 cuts in a row as a professional after finishing T4th at the 1998 Open Championship as an amateur. If that was me I don’t think would’ve ever been able to recover. But he did. And now he’s ranked 9 th in the world as of 10 April 2017. Absolutely phenomenal.

All I can say is when watching your next PGA Tour event, take note of the adverts in between footage.  Because the PGA Tour’s slogan is oh so right – “These Guys Are Good”.

2017 Masters

A week before The 2017 Masters, I received a text message with an offer to attend a practice round and the Par 3 contest at Augusta.  It didn't take long for me to reply and pack my bags.  The first thing I put in that bag was my camera.  You are permitted to bring cameras on the course for practice rounds at Augusta!  

Upon our arrival, we decided to check out the scene on Washington Road.  Washington Road is the same road where John Daly hangs out at Hooters and sells T-shirts and fancy pants.  Naturally we stopped by.  I passed on taking a picture with big John, as I felt weird about a two time major winner ringing up hat sales.

With the Z on the end, it sounds pretty official official to me.

With the Z on the end, it sounds pretty official official to me.

After some corn hole and various other shenanigan type things, we found Magnolia Lane on the map and decided to take some photos like a couple of delinquent teenagers.  

Now normally, we would have been stoked out of our minds for The Masters in the morning, but we had been staring at the forecast below for the past 72 hours.  We were still stoked, but just more of an angry at the rain gods type stoked.

Don't worry, the TERS on the other side of the sign worked just fine.

Don't worry, the TERS on the other side of the sign worked just fine.

Lighting not ideal for late night photo operations.

Lighting not ideal for late night photo operations.

With a mild stroke of luck, the rain would hold off and the gates to Augusta National would open.  We gleefully entered and strolled the grounds.  Knowing that we would only have an hour or so before the storms rolled in, we headed out to the hot spots.  

I was able to get some pretty good shots and the sun actually came out for a full 90 seconds while we were on #13.

To view all of my photos and my top 11 Augusta list, click here.

Augusta National1-51.jpg

After a couple of hours, the weather horns would sound and we would be given the boot.  However, after a several hour delay, the course would re open and we would come rushing back. As you can see, people were excited to return.

Just as the Par 3 Contest was getting underway, the horn would sound again and we would be given the heave from Augusta National for the day.  This was the first time in 50 years, the Par 3 contest was cancelled due to weather.

All was not lost though, Snoop Dogg was in town to play some golf and give a little rap show.  Be sure to click the link to get the Golf Digest Recap.

Note:  When I say catch his flight, I mean watch Delta fumble around and cancel flights for 2 days: Summary: Masters good, Snoop cool, Delta bad.

The Snoop Dogg set offers up a range of songs from Journey to Gin and Juice.

The Snoop Dogg set offers up a range of songs from Journey to Gin and Juice.

Before our flight out of town, our group headed up to the fantastic Champions Retreat Golf Club.  Located only about a half hour away from Augusta, Sean of Breaking Eighty even had time to hole out from 170 yards for eagle before catching his flight back to Portland.  

Sean Ogle celebrates the 3rd eagle of his lifetime..

Sean Ogle celebrates the 3rd eagle of his lifetime..

The 2017 Masters Picks

There comes a time every year in March when I drop everything that I am doing and say "Holy Shit, The Masters is in 15 days, 3 hours, 12 minutes, and 42 seconds."  Sure enough, its my biological golf clock kicking into gear for the season.  After some brief homework and careful consideration, I present my selections for the 2017 Masters.

  • Bubba Watson - These days, I make my picks for Bubba based on the color of ball he plays.  This one is tough as we won't know if Bubba's pink and white swirl order will be delivered by Thursday.  Projection: Ehh
  • Phil Mickelson - With Phil's trending performance this year on and around the greens, he will play nicely at The National.  Phil will stand a chance to win if he can find the fairway with consistency.  Either way, Phil will deliver a riveting Sunday post round interview in which he mentions being inspired by this very pjkoenig blog post.  Projection: T-3rd
  • Ricky Fowler - While trying to escape tree trouble on 10, Ricky suffers an unfortunate injury to the groin on a White Dogwood ricochet.  Fortunately, State Farm is on site to turn his misfortune into a series of highly entertaining advertisements. Projection: Solo 16th
  • Dustin Johnson - With DJ's ascension up the OWGR golf ladder complete, he reaches another high with a course record 62 on Friday.  Unable to maintain his mojo, we watch DJ's lead slowly slip away over the weekend only to be overtaken on the 72nd hole.  Distraught by the events, Paulina Gretzky posts bikini photo on Instagram. Projection: 25.6k likes / Runner Up.
  • Rory Mcilroy - Still looking to banish his 2011 Masters' demons, McIlroy and Spieth hold a demon seance on the 10th green at midnight on Wednesday.  Rosemary's Baby is in attendance along with that demon girl from The Ring. Projection: 60% demon reduction / T2.
  • Tiger Woods:  A recent twitter poll found that the opening of Jurassic Park was more likely than a Tiger start at the 2017 Masters.  Projection: DNP

 

  • Jimmy Walker - Jimmy Walker misses the cut, meets up with Johnny Walker immediately afterwards. BAC Projection: .15%
  • Stewart Hagestad - With Vegas giving Hagestad 2000/1 odds, the most likely scenario is that Stewart hires Fred Couples to wear a Stewart Hagestad mask and play the tournament in alternate disguises.  After the scandal is uncovered Saturday morning, everyone still loves Fred Couples.  Hagestad and Couples are permitted to finish under the little known "Hilarious Masters Pranks Clause" Projection: Hagestad: T52 Couples: T32.
  • Hideki Matsuyama - After hitting a perfect 3 iron into 15, Hideki holes out for double eagle on Saturday.  Disgusted with the shot, he throws his entire golf bag into the lake and is unable to finish.  Projection: DQ
  • Andrew "Beef" Johnston - After a sluggish start, Beef gains momentum by putting his curly fry headcover and Arby's hat into play on the weekend.  Although he has the beef, Beef doesn't have the birdies to seriously contend.  Projection: Delicious
  • Jordan Spieth - With one win under his belt and fresh off his Wednesday night demon seance, Ole Spiethy is one of the favorites coming into Augusta this year.  If that putter gets hot, not even the 12th hole can stop this man.  Jordan's Scotty Cameron explodes into flames as he holes the winning putt on Sunday and the golf demons are released into the sky.  Projection: Masters Champion
  • Justin Thomas - This kid is no longer on Spring Break and he is here to seriously contend in this year's Masters.  Even though JT fades on his Sunday back nine, Justin and Ricky build a 2 man shirtless pyramid on the 18th green to honor their spring break bretheren's Masters' victory.  Projection: T4

Bonus Masters Graph Section

Ian Poulter Analytics

Projected Ball Count

Augusta Demon Distribution

Los Angeles

With the forecast for Seattle in January predominantly consisting of rain, it appeared to be a prudent move to book a long weekend trip to Los Angeles.  I called up my Portland buddy, Sean Ogle of Breaking Eighty and fellow Seattle-ite, Ben Garrett, and they both agreed with me.  A sunny January date in LA was booked and tee times slowly filled up a marvelous agenda.

Everything was looking fantastic until about a week before the trip when someone told us to look at the weather forecast.  Epic rainfall, flash foods, and the inevitable golf course closings!!  Even our VRBO land owner offered to refund our money if we wanted to come back another weekend.  However, these 3 golf dudes would not be denied.  We had rain pants and it would take a lot more than some silly "flash food" to keep the drivers out of our hands.  Plus, the weatherman is usually right only about 1 out of 10 times.

The view from the 1st tee at Riviera.

The view from the 1st tee at Riviera.

Up first on the agenda was The Riviera Country Club.  After watching The LA Open on TV for years, I was super excited to play Riviera.  Also, those clouds in the sky are definitely not bringing any precipitation.  The tee shot on the first hole is one of the coolest I have experienced, you are probably fifteen feet or so from the clubhouse as you fire one off down the hill.  They even announce your name on the tee to make you feel like a tour pro.  Some of us hit that tee shot like a tour pro, some of us did not.  

With respect to the rules of the game, no breakfast balls are allowed on the first tee at Riviera.

The par 3 16th hole at Riviera with the 6th in the background .

The par 3 16th hole at Riviera with the 6th in the background .

A small river runs down the middle of the 3rd green at Griffith Park.

A small river runs down the middle of the 3rd green at Griffith Park.

After drying off our socks and wringing out our pants, we struck gold with another rain free day at The Valley Club of Montecito.  Not only was the weather good but the course is an absolute gem and we had a fantastic host.  The Valley Club has done an outstanding job of keeping with Alister Mackenzie's original design plans and as a result, the course is very enjoyable.  

Ben would make an eagle 3 on the 15th hole and Sean would almost card an ace on the 8th hole to secure a tie for the "Shot of the Day" honors.

With our tee time at Los Angeles Country Club coming up next, rain threatened another round.  However, our host was just as hardcore as us and we headed out for a water logged round on one of California's finest golf courses.  We finished up 18 and watched the Falcons destroy the Packers from the fantastic clubhouse.  I can't wait to come back and visit this course on a sunny day... Or any other day, it's just flat out great.  

After our round at LACC, we grabbed some grub at the Misfit in Santa Monica, then hit the hot tub.  As you can see, the hot tub party was off the chain

After ringing out our pants for a second time, we had one last round to get in, the odds were in our favor with only a 30% chance of rain.  As it turns out, the sun wouldn't be the only good fortune that would shine down on us during our round at Rustic Canyon.  Ben Garrett would make his 7th career ace on the 8th hole.  4 of those 7 aces have come in the last 4 months.  Probably time for this kid to start buying Powerball tickets.  Hopefully, our next visit to LA will include more luck with the weather.

Probably the most talked about feature at Riviera is the bunker in the middle of the 6th green, after 3 putting my way around the bunker, we decided to play a shot out of it just for kicks.  The 6th hole was certainly unique, but personally, I gave the nod to the 16th for best par 3.

The 10th hole was also just as fun as advertised.  After driving it on the 11th tee box, I managed a nice par.  A huge thanks to Mayumi and Tal for setting up a fantastic round.

After the rain free round at Riviera, we would not be so fortunate with our second round of the trip.  After getting fully rained out at Wilshire Country Club, we found a course that was actually open for play.  It was going to be a wet one at Griffith Park.  After 15 holes of downpour, we played the last 3 in just a drizzle. 

The par 3 14th, with the 1st hole and the clubhouse in the distance.

The par 3 14th, with the 1st hole and the clubhouse in the distance.

Ben easily captures 1st place in the "Best Overall Trip Photo" category.

Ben easily captures 1st place in the "Best Overall Trip Photo" category.

After the screaming and excessive high five-ing ended, Ben takes time to show off his male model skills in a celebratory pose.

After the screaming and excessive high five-ing ended, Ben takes time to show off his male model skills in a celebratory pose.

Sean and I would try to add to the hole in one tally, but "look good missing" was the only thing we were actually able to accomplish.

Sean and I would try to add to the hole in one tally, but "look good missing" was the only thing we were actually able to accomplish.

2016 Recap: 12 months, 12 winning rounds.

Contrary to what you may find elsewhere on the internet, 2016 was an awesome year.  I was able to play over 100 rounds of golf at some of America's finest destinations with some of America's greatest people.  I even got a couple of Canadian rounds on the books.  Check out 2016's winners for round of the month below.

January 2016:  Streamsong with Mayo and Ogle.

The year started out  strongly with a journey to Florida for the PGA Show and some golf with Ashley Mayo of Golf Digest and Sean Ogle of Breaking Eighty (The second  best golf blog on the internet)  36 at Streamsong was hard to beat.  Ashley and Sean are even tougher to beat.  

Fantastic use of the sandy terrain at Streamsong Red.

Fantastic use of the sandy terrain at Streamsong Red.

A lot of pictures happen with this threesome.

A lot of pictures happen with this threesome.

February 2016: Wolf Creek with Ashmaeb.

Wolf Creek is just about as memorable of a golf course as one can find the U.S.  In a winter month vacation, Maebs and I brought the Instagram heat to Wolf Creek.  Be sure to click on any of the course links for more photos and stories.

AshMaeb goes deep in Mesquite

AshMaeb goes deep in Mesquite

The difficult par 3 8th at Wolf Creek.

The difficult par 3 8th at Wolf Creek.

March 2016:  Spanish Oaks.  Can't keep a good Texas caddie down.

On a trip to Texas, I was paired up with an all world caddie at Spanish Oaks, his yardages were spot on and his knowledge of the course shaved countless strokes.  I even canned a few long putts that I would have otherwise misread.  

The 17th at Spanish Oaks.

The 17th at Spanish Oaks.

The caddie made the difference in March.

The caddie made the difference in March.

April 2016: Consolation Round: 2016 Golf Digest TYPHI.

After Cody Ross and I suffered a tough loss in a playoff at the Think Young Play Hard Invitational, it was time for T-Rex to take on the Links at Bali Hai in the consolation bowl.  Sarah Moodie, Jeremy Lusk, and I hit the links hard indeed.

The 3 putt penalty hat lacks style and functionality

The 3 putt penalty hat lacks style and functionality

May 2016: Pinehurst No. 2 with Payne Stewart

I was never fortunate enough to have met the man in person, but the spirit of Payne Stewart lives on.  There is no place where this is more true than at Pinehurst No. 2.  The site of Payne's first US Open Victory and iconic victory pose.

To the left: Payne and I discuss pre-round strategy.  Above: I fail to properly execute pre-round strategy discussed.

To the left: Payne and I discuss pre-round strategy.  Above: I fail to properly execute pre-round strategy discussed.

June 2016: The Massacre at Merion

This one was an easy victory for Merion as it is without a doubt one of the most special places that I have ever visited in the world of golf.  In an epic Merion showdown, it was the women vs the men.  Although the women were fantastic hosts, they took no mercy on Sean Ogle and I, scoring a lopsided victory in what would later be called "The Massacre at Merion."  Even though we suffered a crushing defeat, Sean and I would consider the loss a victory.

Our group at Merion

Our group at Merion

Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam of Golf on this very hole.

Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam of Golf on this very hole.

July 2016: Friar's Head with Captain Joe, Ashley Mayo, and Jeff Blind

As I look back on 2016, it would be tough to remember a round more enjoyable than this one at Friars Head.  As Ashley Mayo reminds us, it's not where you play, but who you play with that makes the difference.  This round had both areas covered in style.

The 9th tee box at Friars Head is special.

The 9th tee box at Friars Head is special.

So many birdie push-ups.

So many birdie push-ups.

August:  Water Balloons at Manzanita Golf Course.

My good friend Joey the Cat was turning 30 and it was time to celebrate.  What better way to beat the heat, but with water balloons.  I kicked things off with a splash here in Oregon.

Behind the scenes action shots taken by Andrew Herrold.  Even though I was soaked on the 1st tee, my pants dried quickly and the rest of the round was a blast.

Behind the scenes action shots taken by Andrew Herrold.  Even though I was soaked on the 1st tee, my pants dried quickly and the rest of the round was a blast.

September: Robert Trent Jones and the RTJ golf trail

With a full line up of golf bros and endless golf, the RTJ trail in Alabama really felt like one endless round.  Perhaps the best value in all of public golf, the trail is a fantastic destination for any group of die hard golf buddies.

I would card one of my better rounds of 2016 at Grand National's Lake Course with a 72.

I would card one of my better rounds of 2016 at Grand National's Lake Course with a 72.

October: Golfing next to the President at Olympia Fields. Chicago Cubs win the World Series

Few people in the world get the chance to play golf with an active President.  I am currently not one of those people.  However, I did have the privilege of playing golf on the same course at the same time with Barack Obama at Olympia Fields.  Later on, the Cubs would win the world series.  It was a good trip to Chicago. 

POTUS Obama tees off as I play the other way at Olympia Fields.

POTUS Obama tees off as I play the other way at Olympia Fields.

November: $9 solo mission on Thanksgiving at Tuscan Ridge

While playing golf with friends is fantastic, heading out to the course as a single can be just as satisfying.  After paying a modest $9 greens fee, it was just me, the grass, and my golf ball as I worked up a Thanksgiving appetite.

A look back on the 3rd hole at Tuscan Ridge.

A look back on the 3rd hole at Tuscan Ridge.

December: The Club at Estancia

When my plane landed in Phoenix my wife informed me that it was snowing in Seattle.  Although, I missed my wife, I didn't miss the weather.  The next day I would be teeing it up at Estancia in 70 degree desert conditions.    Between our fantastic hosts and Tom Fazio's visual assault on my golfing senses, The Club at Estancia delivered one of the year's most enjoyable experiences.  

Like any good New Year's post, I will close with a vague and immeasurable New Year's resolution.  "Play more golf in 2017."

The short 11th at Estancia

The short 11th at Estancia

Looking back on the 12th hole

Looking back on the 12th hole

Santa Pants!

After a long off season for Santa Claus, he decided to hit the links one more time before the big Sleigh ride.  With an 8:30 tee time, Santa headed out to Chambers Bay for some Christmas eve birdies.

Because Santa is a big time celebrity around the holidays, he receives many high fives, and joyous smiles from his fans.  Santa was even encouraged by a local neighborhood girl to "hurry up" as she was aware of the big job Santa was responsible for in the evening.

The Santa fist pump is second only to the Tiger fist pump.

The Santa fist pump is second only to the Tiger fist pump.

Because Chambers Bay was built for the local community, not just golfers, Santa was able to spread holiday cheer on just about every hole. After some birdies and a jolly good time, Santa high tailed it out of Chambers bay just in time for his annual sleigh ride.  Thanks to everyone at Chambers Bay for hosting and Happy Holidays to all!

Santa goes for the green on the short par 4 12th as the 15th green lights up the background.  

Santa goes for the green on the short par 4 12th as the 15th green lights up the background.  

The Hammer 2.0

As an avid watcher of golf on television since the late 1980's, it was nearly impossible for me to avoid The Hammer X Driver infomercial.  Widely hailed as the best golf commercial to ever air.  The infomercial below is a thing of true golf glory.

The Hammer's pitchman is 6 time World Long Drive Champion Jack "The Hammer" Hamm.  In the original infomercial below Jack screams and yells as he bombs drives over mountains.  What a golf animal!!

After admiring Jack Hamm's technique for years, I decided to take my game to Chambers Bay and put Mr. Hamm's moves to work in my own Hammer infomercial.  What you are about to witness is 100% real.  No gimmicks or camera tricks have been used.  We even interrupted Instagram star, Karin Hart's busy schedule to get her take on the Hammer.

"Phase 2" Tiger

With about 500,000 blog entries, online posts, and articles written about Tiger Woods since he last hit a competitive golf shot, let's face it, you're still gonna read one more.  Here is my take on The Big Cat.

As a 36 year old, I grew up playing golf and watching Tiger Woods... and when I say watching, I mean screaming loudly at my TV as I watched him pull off shot after shot of magic.  Even as a youngster, with very little frame of reference, I knew this was an amazing time to be alive.  In fact, I would yell those very words at my television.

If you take some time to watch those shots, you will find that Tiger was apparently able to will the golf ball into the hole with his mind!  Did you see that putt on 18 at the 2008 US Open?  How could you "Expect anything different?"  What about that chip at the 2005 Masters?  Or when he raised the roof at the biggest party in golf?  Tiger is not simply "Better than most," he is the best. 

Bob May remembers this finger point well.

Bob May remembers this finger point well.

Rocco Mediate felt the sting of this scream.

Rocco Mediate felt the sting of this scream.

I mean, you'd have to be a damned fool to believe that Tiger Woods will not win another golf tournament, or another major, before his time is done, right?  Unfortunately, over the past several years, Tiger has given us reason to doubt.  We have all seen the timelines, the injuries, the missed cuts.  The fall from grace and the time away from the game was tough for Tiger fans.

Things headed the wrong way for Tiger Woods at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.

Things headed the wrong way for Tiger Woods at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.

Not all Victory Red days, end in victory

Not all Victory Red days, end in victory

But even as the 898th ranked player in the world, I continue to believe.  There is a reason that Tiger still continues to command a tremendous audience.  There is a reason that "Tiger hits a chip shot" will always outperform "Pampling wins on the PGA Tour for the 1st time in 10 years."  The last time we saw a comeback of a similar magnitude, he came in T4th at The Masters.  We all know deep down, you simply can't count this man out.

I think most of us can agree that with this recent injury, that would have ended the career of any normal athlete, the days of total Tiger domination are beyond us.  But with a long pause, I believe Tiger has taken the appropriate amount of time to consult with the golden rule.

You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.
— Golden Rule

Even though there is a bit of humor in that last quote, I can't force myself to believe anything else.  The world's most glorious golfing mind has certainly found a way to embrace his age, leverage his ego, and tap into his tremendous passion to win.  I am very excited to watch it all begin to unfold this Thursday and I am more than ready to yell "What a great time to be alive" at my TV again.

The Devil's Nas-Saw

Every Halloween, Satan himself heads out to West Seattle Golf Course to host The Devil's Nas-Saw Tournament.  How does Satan set up a golf tournament?  Well, he sets up one of the most ridiculous, tipped out, pin tucked, terror inducing golf tournaments in the United States. "The Saw" has terrorized golfers in Seattle for the past 20 years.

Normally, West Seattle plays 6800 yards to a par 72 from the back tees.  For the Devil's Nas-Saw, the par is increased to 75 and the yardage is stretched to 8,000.  The course rating is 86.9 and the slope is a modest 182!  You will play 300 yard par 3's, 480 yard par 4's and the first hole is your standard 618 yard "Downhill Ride to Purgatory."  Over the tournament's history, 81 is the lowest recorded score.  

The Devil himself (PGA Professional Colin Gants) kicks off the tournament.  The Devil's main rule: No whining in Hell.

The Devil himself (PGA Professional Colin Gants) kicks off the tournament.  The Devil's main rule: No whining in Hell.

The format for the golf tournament is straight up stroke play.  However, set your expectations accordingly, birdies are about as common as a zombie with a heartbeat and 4 putts are standard practice.  The course is also extra muddy, so don't expect any roll out on those drives.

These Goblins are eager to host any golfer foolish enough to enter the West Seattle Golf & Graveyard.

These Goblins are eager to host any golfer foolish enough to enter the West Seattle Golf & Graveyard.

Some 70 yards down a maintenance path you will find the Devil's tee box on the 4th hole.  "Good luck getting home in 3, you short hitting heathens!"

Some 70 yards down a maintenance path you will find the Devil's tee box on the 4th hole.  "Good luck getting home in 3, you short hitting heathens!"

The 3rd hole, "Hell's Canyon," is a 243 yard par 3.  Good luck getting it through the chute on #12 tee box.  This would be a tough pin location from the hole's usual 120 yard distance.

The 3rd hole, "Hell's Canyon," is a 243 yard par 3.  Good luck getting it through the chute on #12 tee box.  This would be a tough pin location from the hole's usual 120 yard distance.

Any time you make a par at the Devil's Nas-Saw you feel as if you have accomplished something special.  Nice par, now prepare for "Death on Rainier."  Satan keeps the pressure applied on just about every hole.  The only let up is when you get a boxed lunch and a brewski at the turn.  The Devil's chili was also delicious.

Here is Satan spicing up ‘Little Alcatraz,’ The Blair Pitch hole location from 2012.  Colin Gants recalls: "You had to hit it inside the bathroom and hole out near the urinal.  We had some dry ice going and scary music.  It was awesome but way too hard."

Here is Satan spicing up ‘Little Alcatraz,’ The Blair Pitch hole location from 2012.  Colin Gants recalls: "You had to hit it inside the bathroom and hole out near the urinal.  We had some dry ice going and scary music.  It was awesome but way too hard."

It's a Halloween massacre on the Devil's leaderboard.

It's a Halloween massacre on the Devil's leaderboard.

Good times await your 2 iron approach on the "Burning Man" 5th hole.  Satan has tucked just about every pin.

Good times await your 2 iron approach on the "Burning Man" 5th hole.  Satan has tucked just about every pin.

Driver and a sand wedge? Nope; now it is a 450 yard dog leg that will kick your ass
— Satan

One of the Devil's Nas-Saw's traditions is the Blair Pitch Project.  The BPP is a mysteriously located 19th hole that can yield scores ranging anywhere from a 2 to a 12.  In year's past, the hole has been located on bridges and guarded by mole traps and barbed wire.

This year, the 135 yard hole was tucked in the corner of the golf course behind a fence.  Go long on "Stairs to Egan's Citadel" and you are O.B.  Come up short and you will face a flop over the fence to save par.

In the shot of the day, my tee shot struck the flag on the fly and ended up at about 7 feet.  Suck on that one Blair Pitch, I ain't afraid of no ghost!!

"No whining because remember, in Hell...  All hole locations are illegal."

"No whining because remember, in Hell...  All hole locations are illegal."

The 2011 Blair Pitch Project hole location.  Yes, that is the hole down there in the middle of the bridge.  "The Goblins will be choking on all of the balls you hackers are hitting into the ravine."

The 2011 Blair Pitch Project hole location.  Yes, that is the hole down there in the middle of the bridge.  "The Goblins will be choking on all of the balls you hackers are hitting into the ravine."

Costumes are encouraged at "The Saw."  Here we see evidence that Batman and the Head Banger are indeed friends with Satan.

Costumes are encouraged at "The Saw."  Here we see evidence that Batman and the Head Banger are indeed friends with Satan.

In the end, the winning score would be a mighty fine round of 82 in a field filled with single digit handicappers.  The score of 82 by Elias Tunison was just one off of the all time tournament record of 81 shot by Mike O'Keefe in 2009.  Either way, the Devil wins again.  

I would wind up with a 95 myself while managing to make only 5 pars.  Sahalee Club Champion, Ben Garrett. would record the only birdie in our foursome on the day.  That birdie would come on the 16th hole; one of three somewhat "regular holes."  

Even though the The Devil's Nas-Saw is painfully difficult, it is easily the most fun a 4 handicap can have shooting in the 90's and I shall return next year for more torture.  I think I have the skills to break 90.  

A big thanks to Colin Gants and the West Seattle Golf Club for spooking up Seattle and creating a fun and unique golf tournament.  Congratulations to the winners and Happy Halloween to all!