Golf Blog

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.

The Final Countdown (2015)

We have reached the time of year when people look back on the past 365 days and do some reflection.  I always like to take this opportunity to summarize my year in golf.  In review, I have been lucky enough to play some truly outstanding golf courses this year.  2015 was probably the most adventurous golfing year of my life.  I played golf in 3 countries and I am currently at 145 rounds and counting.  I met numerous new friends, shared hundreds of laughs, and 3 putted way too many times.  

In typical New Year's fashion, I have decided to count down this year's greatest hits.  I have selected the top 5 favorite golf courses that I have played in 2015.  Each day as we count down to New Year's Eve, I will reveal  another member of my top 5.  The suspense is sure to be obscenely great as the courses are slowly revealed.

 

#5 - Erin Hills - Erin, WI

Starting our list off in style is Erin Hills.  The course will host the 2017 US Open and I had an absolute blast approving the course for Open Play.  Erin Hills pulled off a squeaker with so many hot tracks in the running for the 5 slot.

In the end, the variety and interest from tee to green pushed it over the edge.  The course challenged just about every aspect of my game and there wasn't a single hole that didn't reach out and grab my attention.  "Oh man, this shot is going to be fun" was a common phrase.

#4 -  The Golf Club at Black Rock - Coeur D'Alene, ID

The Golf Club at Black Rock roars into the 4th position as we continue the countdown to 2016.  Designed by Jim Engh in 2003, the course sits next to the beautiful Lake Coeur D'Alene.

Black Rock is a course that has about 5 signature holes and some of the most unique approach shots that I have ever played.  The 11th hole pictured on the right features an uphill approach over several waterfalls.  The 13th features more waterfalls and is immediately followed by another great par 3 over a canyon with a rocky backdrop that can generated some interesting bounces.

Although many of the features are clearly man made, Black Rock quickly grabs your attention and does not let go until you finish up on 18.  

#3 - Chambers Bay - University Place, WA 

The home town favorite comes into our countdown at #3.  The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr and opened for play in 2007.  A mere 8 years later it would host the US Open.

Chambers Bay was heavily criticized for the consistency of its greens and it's appearance on television during the US Open.  While, the color of the course and the greens where not as perfect as tour players are used too, Chambers Bay is a first rate golf course and experience.  Each green complexes provides the player with a lot of options for creativity and unique short game options.  Chambers Bay never lets me down!

#2 - Cabot Cliffs, Nova Scotia

While Cabot Cliffs will open for general play in 2016, I was able to get a sneak preview in 2015!  Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo did a great job of setting up the fantastic trip.

Cabot Cliffs has already earned high praise as the Best New Course of 2015 and it certainly did not disappoint.  The course starts out strong and features plenty of oceanside golf early.  By the time you get to 15, you are already having the time of your life.  Things go into overdrive as Cabot Cliffs delivers 4 of the best finishing golf holes that I have ever seen.  If you can make it out to Cabot Links/Cliffs you will be very glad you did.

#1 - Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, WI

Winning a squeaker over Cabot Cliffs, Whistling Straits is my favorite course played in 2015!  Designed by Pete Dye, Whistling Straits is a bonafide championship venue, most recently playing host to the 2015 PGA Championship.  I would take on the course only a couple of weeks after Jason Day's recording setting victory.

Whistling straits was a thrill from the beginning to the end, there was not a hole that I wasn't thrilled to play.  The course makes excellent use of it's lakeside property with 8 holes directly on Lake Michigan.  Whistling Straits provides plenty of challenge while still allowing the golfer to make some creative and fun recovery shots.  This course is one of the best in the country.

Happy 2016 from the 3rd hole at Whistling Straits

Happy 2016 from the 3rd hole at Whistling Straits

2015 US Open Predictions

Here are my US Open predictions for Chambers Bay.  They are in early this year, which should make them even more impressive.  As a disclaimer, I would also like to remind everyone just how hard it is to correctly predict golf tournaments.  

Top: 5

  1. Jordan Spieth - about 3 years ago, I predicted Jordan would win his 1st major at Chamber's Bay in 2015.  This long range pick is looking even more likely now that Jordan his risen to #2 in the world and claimed victory at the Masters.  Spieth wins by 1 draining a 12 footer for birdie on 18 that sends the crowd into a frenzy of total madness!!!
  2. Rory McIlory - Rory goes down swinging after suffering a tough double bogie on the 16th hole to give up the lead and lose by 1. Rory manages to roll in a nice birdie on 18 forcing Spieth to make his 12 footer for the win.  Ratings glory for FOX!!
  3. Jason Day - Another solid performance in a major by J-Day.  His all weather Adidas pants propel him up the leader board with the low round of the day on Sunday.
  4. Dustin Johnson- I originally had Sergio here but decided to go with Dustin Johnson.  This was based on the fact that I think Dustin is a better golfer at the current time.      
  5. Ryan Moore - Going with the hometown favorite to have a strong showing.  A tough Sunday round sees him fall out of a tie for the lead.

Notables:

  • Tiger Woods:  Tiger plays 2 of the 4 rounds under 70 and the other 2 not so much.  He finishes a respectable T-26th place.
  • Rickie Fowler:  Rick finishes in a tie for 6th ending that whole "top 5 in a major" thing he had going on last year.
  • Jason Dufner:  Dufman finds his grove and leads after day 1, he then turns in 3 sub par (above par) rounds to finish in a T-27, 1 shot behind Tiger.
  • Angel Cabrera:   My friend Joe will bet heavily for "El Pato" to pull this one off.  Joe will lose heavily.
  • Greg Norman and Joe Buck:  Earn moderate to bad marks as Fox's 1st time US Open commentating team.
  • Phil Mickelson:  Phil's driving holds him back this week.  Too much trouble off of the tee costs him a realistic shot at a Sunday run.  He finishes in a T-7 position.  He chips in a whole bunch though and people love it. 

Cinderella Story:

A 21 year old by the name of Ollie Schniederjans (a) from Georgia Tech plays like a man on a mission through 2 days coming into within 1 shot of the lead.  The papers erupt with Francis Ouimet stories of old.  People start chanting Ollie after every birdie, One particularly ambitious fan paints "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free" on her T-Shirt.  In short, people get real excited.....  Unfortunately, Ollie fades into a respectable finish over the weekend right along side Jason Dufner.  Not bad for a 1st timer. 

Winning Score in relation to par:  1 under par:  A near perfect score for the USGA.  The weather ends up being about 1 stroke nicer than expected.

 

Best Man and the Bunker

Back in 2012, I played Chambers Bay for the first time.  Even though a lot of memorable shots were struck over the course of the day, my favorite belongs to the man who would eventually become the best man at my wedding.  

There is an exceptionally deep bunker about 100 yards out on the 18th hole, that no one would ever want to visit.  You will undoubtedly see pros at the US Open doing everything possible to avoid it.  My man John had other ideas, he went right into the middle of that boss providing me this excellent photo opportunity.  You can sense his excitement in the photo.  He escaped and made bogie.

This past weekend, John was again in town and we decided to have another go at Chambers Bay. On the front nine, the birdies flew and both of us came to the 18th safely into the low 70's.  John was now acutely aware of the bunker from his last visit, but John is not the sort of man that will back down!  He went right after it sending his layup directly at the massive sand pit.  While it is poor form to wish another golfer such a miserable fate, I was obviously cheering that ball on.. "Oh, oh, get in there!!"  His ball rolled right into the heart of the beast again.

John is now 2 for 2 on trips to chambers bay and trips to that bus sized bunker.  To his credit, he made a great run at saving par, but carded another bogie.  As you can see in the photo, his excitement for this beach has only increased over time.  What a legend.

Same pants, same bunker, different hand gesture.

Same pants, same bunker, different hand gesture.

Birthday eagle on #8

If you play the game of golf long enough, you will inevitably witness some of the most amazing feats of hitting balls into holes that the world has to offer.

Last week I was able to experience one of these moments.  I was paired up with Gavin and his wife Megan for a round out at Chambers Bay.  To set the story properly, it must be noted that this was a birthday round of golf for Gavin.  

On the 8th hole Gavin found himself 130 yards out and on the side of the steep slope that lines the left side of the 8th fairway.  I was surprised he was even able to find his ball amongst the dense grasses.  Perhaps sensing his birthday moment was upon him, Gavin boldly struck his approach toward the green.

I heard a "great shot" from Gavin's caddy followed by a "It went in!!"  Sure enough, our birthday golfer had found the bottom of the hole for an eagle 3 on the difficult 8th hole.  

It is worth mentioning that anything on the green would have been considered a great shot given Gavin's position on the left slope.  Probably one of the coolest eagles I have ever witnessed!  I'd take that eagle over birthday cake all day long.