Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby kirkschwart » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:29 pm

the track i play most of my golf at is the oldest 18 hole course in texas. all the old guys played there. ouimet won an
amatuer event there in 1922 (it used to be houston country club until they moved in the 50's). built in 1908 which in texas was
along time ago. galveston was the largest city in the state back in those days.

it plays about 6300 from the tips, and has remained pretty much intact with the exception of a few greens.. it has lost a ton of trees
the past 10 years due to old age and recent droughts but still has 8 or 9 outstanding holes. it is usually not in great shape
but it has it's moments. for a long time held claim to longest par 3 in texas, 240 yards, dead straight to a turtle back.

i've been playing it with old gear lately and it makes a few holes brutal, like the 425 yard 11th- all uphill to a tricked out green
tiny green, the type they stopped designing decades ago. a couple of greens are so small there is only one pin position....middle.

a couple of years ago i took a few guys (at their request) out there who belong to a fancy club, none of them shot within 8-9 strokes of their handicaps. they
spent the post round complaining about the thin lies and overall lack of grass. i just laughed, drank their beer and counted money. they don't ask
me to take them out there anymore....

best of all, the guys in the proshop let my 7 and 4 year old "unofficially" play for free, and they extend that courtesy to alot of youngsters. now that is old school of the finest kind.

every city has an old track like this one, and those are the ones i love....wellshire in denver, cedarcrest in dallas, lions in austin, glen eagles in lemont, il,
city park in NOLA, fort walton beach country club....
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby apples2967 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:52 am

Took my perimmons and Powerbilt Levelume blades to Royal Adelaide for a low thrills am event this weekend. 36 hole stroke, and one of the purist courses in our land, was a treat I was looking forward to.
I was to leave Thursday night, and guess what, my new (lag) clubs arrived along with a " chip roller" about 30 mins before i was to leave. I bit the bullet and took em with me.
I got a practice round in on Friday, and the 1st hole is a gentle dog leg left, about 350m long. I push a drive about 2 yards right, walked to my ball, and could see 3 dimples, lol. Wow i loved it. I hit this 50 yr old wedge onto the middle of the green, and it went so far over the back i needed a yardage.

The course was set up to test us all, such a thrill, to play it as intended, no tricks, hit it straight, or go home and learn to. Very simple message.

I played nice, shot a pair of 73's and finished 6th. Considering I was using a set of irons id never swung, and a putter , sorry, Chip Roller for the first time, i was chuffed. Both rounds my partners smacked it by my "funny" driver, but they never broke 80 either day.

It was so much fun to play that course with that gear.

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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby lagpressure » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:50 am

Great stuff..

You'll love them even more after you really learn them over 4 to 6 months of playing and feeling them.
I love not having to putt anymore. It's great being able to get hot once in a while with zero practice using the "roller". If I have the pace down putts go in. No longer having to worry about "line" is really wonderful.
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby Newman » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:50 am

Northwood GC, Monte Rio CA. 9-hole Alister MacKenzie design.
So sweet to hear the 'CRACK' of persimmon echoing through the redwoods!!
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby Newman » Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:51 pm

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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby norcalvol » Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:49 pm


Today was my first round playing blades and persimmons. I chose one of my favorite courses for my inaugural round.
And I took some photos, so I hope you enjoy them.

The Course

Par 72 (36-36)
Tips: 6649 yards, 72.5/130
Blue: 6233 yards, 71.0/125

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The Sea Ranch Golf Links is located along the Pacific Ocean on California Route 1 about 100 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Its remote location (no major highways are anywhere near this location) allows for quite remarkably uncrowded conditions. For example, I was a walk-on today at about 11:00, and I played by myself with no waiting -- today was a Saturday, and the weather was sunny and in the low 60's.

It is a very tight course that asks some very good questions of the player. It is not a tricked-up course, but instead is designed based on some of the classic tracks in the British Isles. Even though the course is located along the ocean, it is not an oceanside course like a Pebble. It is more of a parkland style layout, with Number 8, a par 3, the only hole where you get to see some breaking surf.

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Robert Muir Graves designed the course. He died a little over 10 years ago and is one of the more well-known California golf course architects -- his courses are all over California. He became known in the 1960s when he redesigned Lake Merced CC in San Francisco. Later, Graves settled in Bend, Oregon but maintained a second home in The Sea Ranch, a small coastal community of minimalist houses that are designed to blend into one of the most beautiful spots on this planet. It is a famous enclave among the world's architects. And Graves kept his design of the local course to mimic the philosophy, as The Sea Ranch Golf Links is one of the early examples of natural, minimalist golf architecture. The front nine opened in 1973, and the back nine was completed several years later.

No 9 Sea Ranch Par 4_DSC0540 small.jpg
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One of the features of the course is that it is not kept 'pristine' as defined by today's standards. For example, during dry seasons, the course is brown and hard. Even today, after a good wet stretch of a few weeks, there are lush portions of fairways as well as thin and hard ones. And the greens are overall nice but with some rough spots (and occasional deer tracks). Being isolated, this area has expensive water, so to maintain economic viability with low playing traffic, the course is managed in a pretty bare-bones way with some volunteers pitching in. For me, this just adds to the course's specialness.

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The proshop is small and simple, with very little equipment, clothing, and food/drink, and the local pro (I'm assuming he is one) seems idle a lot of the time. Occasionally, one of the local residents might be tending the cash register instead. It's not imposing to the environs, just like the community of The Sea Ranch.

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As you might imagine, the ocean breeze plays its part in every round I've played here. A prevailing northwesterly wind results in 9 holes playing into the wind, 6 holes having a nice tailwind, and 3 holes with a cross breeze. I've played about 6 rounds here, and only one had a reverse southerly wind. That completely changed the course. But today was the normal direction, and not more than an occasional gust of perhaps 15 mph.

No 13 Sea Ranch Par 5_DSC0535 small.jpg
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The only downside of this track -- and perhaps I'm in the minority -- is that there are too many houses. In all, 10 holes have a noticeable number of homes within reach at some point of the fairway, leaving only 8 holes completely or relatively dwelling-free. But the homes are the reserved style of The Sea Ranch and don't make you feel you are at a resort.

And by the way, this is not a resort, but instead is a collection of a few hundred houses, many of which are rented as vacation homes. On the occasion that I have played with somebody else here, they are usually a resident or a visitor who is renting a home for a long weekend or a couple of weeks. Only once have I played with someone who lives locally outside of The Sea Ranch (a gentleman who lived in the nearby coastal town of Gualala).

People come here not only from the nearby Bay Area but also from all parts of the world to rent a house for a few days to a few weeks. There is great hiking and a stunningly beautiful coastline. Because of its remote location, golf is usually an overnight affair even if you are from Northern California. But the whole experience is really worth it.

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The Round

Front Nine: +12 (48) 1/7 Fairways 0/9 Greens 20 putts
Back Nine: +2 (38) 5/7 Fairways 4/9 Greens 15 putts

To say the least, it took me a while to get used to the new blades and persimmons. Heavy, flat, and stiff is a brand new experience for me. So what were the problems and challenges?

I hit the long irons fairly straight, when I hit them square.
I hit the medium irons a tiny bit right, when I hit them square.
And I hit the short irons 15 degrees or more right, when I hit them square.

And the ball hit with the woods did exactly what I told it to do: a stalled pivot caused a draw/hook, and a crappy swing caused a crappy swing (fat, thin, etc.).

I knew all of that was coming based on my little bit of range work with the new sticks.
But the biggest surprise was the effect of the clubs on my short game.
Because of the weight, the ball FLEW off the clubface compared with my old, light, cavity-back Ping Eye-2 irons. I was long on every pitch/chip, some of which ran right through the green.

But I didn't dispair, BECAUSE THE BALL FELT WONDERFUL ON EVERY PITCH/CHIP. I just wasn't used to the distance, and recalibrating my feel was an immense challenge.

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There was a glimmer of hope on the last 3 holes of the first nine, so I didn't get too down.
And after starting the back with par, bar, birdie, the old juices flowed again.
I started hitting the ball square, I was finding the fairways, and my short game settled down.
And making a few putts never hurts.

The final hole featured my best shot ever with a blade. After a short drive with a 4-wood, I flushed a 2-iron: 205 carry, straight with a piercing ball flight, and it rolled through the green to the back rough. An up-and-down for a par was the proper way to reward that 2-iron that I might just remember for a while.

Since I'm only a Mod 1 student, I'm probably not swinging THAT much different than when I found ABS. But I am trying to pack in the arms/elbows more. And on the back nine, I discovered that when I made a really good powerful swing with a good pivot, the ball tended to end up in a good spot. Anything less or different, the results were quite different.

But on this very tight course, there were no lost balls or other types of penalty strokes.

This was a great experience to usher in a new chapter of my golf game. I look forward to a lot more.

I'm all in.
Accelerate forever!
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby LipOut » Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:12 pm

Vol - great writeup! I asked my wife to marry me at St. Orres which is the set of cabins + restaurant with the Russian style dome in Gualala. We go back every year and I get to play Sea Ranch. I love that course. Your description did it justice. Graves is honored as a hero there. Playing that course for the first time was one of the events that triggered my modest interest in golf course architecture and I was surprised to find that the muni course I grew up playing on was also a Graves design. He's got a few duds but a lot of great tracks in California including La Purisima near Lompoc which is excellent. He also did Boundary Oaks, Franklin Canyon, Blue Rock Springs, San Geronimo, etc. in the Bay Area.
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby norcalvol » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:00 pm

Good to hear from you, Lip.

I know St. Orres well. Have enjoyed food and drink there a couple of times. Glad to know it's a special place in your life.
Graves -- must be why I enjoy Boundary Oak, Franklin Canyon, and Blue Rock Springs (East) so much.
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby cox11 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:47 pm

On Friday of last week I had the pleasure of playing royal Melbourne (west). Given that this was my second time playing there in the past 6months, I was able to enjoy and observe it's beauty more than I did back in October.

Although I can't profess that my bag was truly classic, with frying pan and pro v1 in hand. However this was the first time that my m85's were in my bag as my main gamers and not it's usual spot of novelty clubs.

The weather was perfect, a sunny 27*, with no breeze. The course was at its firm best. approaches were cut almost green like, bunkers almost devoid of sand and greens had a speed and firmness that rewarded a good shot but didn't murder you with anything less so. Unlike the marble tops I encountered when I played there just before the oz masters.

A day day out on such a marvel of the golfing world is not about ones score, but for those who care, I was 1 down. Not bad for my first serious bash with my 60yo blades.

Oh.....before I forget, who needs a $150 vokey 62* wedge when my M85 sw may have have been there for my best sand play performance of my life.

Ok, now for those who have never seem the course, here are some picks.

The approach to the 460m par 5 2nd. An uphill drive with a sweeping right dog leg to a severe back right to front left green. I had an eagle putt. I carded a 5.

The very strategic 324m short par 4 3rd. This has a green which slopes from front left to back right. Best approached from the right, with a grounded approach. I played a 2i to the right side then tried to run a 7i onto the left side of the green, came up short and then played a sw from the rough which landed on the fringe and rolled out to the back corner. Finished with a 5

From the tee

The approach from the left side

View from behind the green

The famous 156m par 3 5th. Yet again a daunting back to front green which punishes anything short of the pin with a likely chip back up into the green. Luckily today we had a pin in the back corner. Thanks to my lack of mod 3 work I pulled my tee played a delicate sw to the top edge of the left bunker and released it to 3m. 2 putted for a 4


And to our last hole of the day the all world 392m 6th. A sweeping dogleg right with an up hill approach to a back left to front right green. What a beautiful hole. I played a good drive to the safe zone on the left, leaving me about 165m uphill. I played a 4i into the right trap sw to 2m tapped in for par.

Sorry about the darkness of these shots, they were taken late in the day and into the sun

View from the ideal line for your second shot

View for my 2nd shot

The approach to a beautiful green

That was my day on the hallowed turf of royal Melbourne (west)
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Re: Classic Rounds with Classic Gear on Classic Tracks

Postby 20 Mule Team » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:20 pm

I got a chance to play this course today in Carrollton, Georgia.

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It was built in 1948 and designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. It has kind of a neat history as LPGA events used to be played here in the 50's. Louise Suggs' father was the first pro. There is a picture in the clubhouse of Babe Zaharias, Suggs, Betty Jamieson, and Patty Berg from when they played here.

Its a short course, just 6300 from the tips (par 71), and its very tight with small greens. There are lots of holes with OB on one side and water and/or trees on the other. As usual, I was the only guy in our foursome playing persimmon and blades. These guys used to out drive me by 20-30 yards when I played moderns, now its more like 50 yards at times.

I really struggled with my short game and did not score well at all, shooting 82, but I did hit 11 of 13 fairways and won by 3 strokes over the next best score, despite giving up so much yardage off the tee. Whenever I play here I think of Lag when he was on the launch monitor at the golf store and said, "I don't think I need to hit it that far at my course." I keep trying to tell these guys, You're hitting it too far! None of them could keep it in play.

Its a measure of how much I've progressed when I can shoot 82 and be disappointed, I guess. Its been just 11 months since I played one of my first all vintage rounds at this course and shot a 93. The last time I played here, about 2 months ago, I shot a 76 -- one of my best rounds.

After the first 18 myself and one other went back out and played another 16 holes. I was just 5 over for these holes but 3 of that was on one hole where I bladed my bunker shot into the woods -- ugh! And I played the last 11 in even par, hitting every fairway and 8 greens. The last 3 holes were especially satisfying, as I hit an 8 iron to 5 feet, then a 6 iron to about 12 feet, and then on the last hole (pictured above) I hit a 2 iron from 190 to the center of an elevated green. These are shots I couldn't have hit a year ago before I started studying here at ABS and practicing/playing with the classic clubs.

This is a private golf club, and so I've only played it maybe a dozen times over the 20 years I've lived in the area. And I have to say, I've always hated the course until I started playing it with persimmon and blades. Now that I'm playing it the way it was designed to be played, with proper gear, I'm really starting to enjoy and appreciate it...and this is the third time in a row I've won the day against guys playing all modern gear. So to those of you who might be struggling with the transition to classic clubs, take heart, a good ball striker is a match for anyone.
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