$#!% Storm of a Week or What Golf Teaches Us About Dealing With Tough Times

You know what happened and I’m not going to bring up the details.

I’m playing golf tomorrow morning. It’s, very literally, the one thing that can take my mind off of anything. It’s my moment of zen that lasts four hours. I golf when I’m down; I golf when I’m up; and anywhere in-between. Tomorrow is one of those golfing when I’m down rounds.

I read an article, passed around the twittersphere, earlier this week by the Fred Rogers Company that talked about looking for “the helpers” during times of tragedy. Listening to Mr. Rogers giving advice to parents for talking with their children about communities in crisis nearly brought me to tears. So poignant, indeed, were his words that article after article after article after article after article were written about them. And people helped, I think in no small part, because of his advice.

Living and working in the DC area makes it tough to help in a concrete way those folks in Boston or Texas. So, I think I’ll offer my two cents on what golf can teach us about dealing with difficult times. And, there’s a metaphor here if you’re patient until the end…

At the Masters, Tiger got an unlucky break. On an approach shot, the ball hit the pin and ricocheted into a water hazard. His reaction to it was to take a drop and play the next shot. He didn’t throw a hissy-fit, yell, slam his club into the ground, punch his caddy in the face, or otherwise go completely apoplectic. He could have, that’s for sure, but he didn’t. Why?

Because those types of things happen all the time in golf. For every lucky bounce you get, it seems like a bad one happens on the next hole. A hole out from the fairway on two; a lost ball on three.

Here’s what I try to do when I hit a bad shot or get a bad break: act like it’s a normal shot. There’s no reason to get upset and throw a temper tantrum. The ball is already at rest, and I’ve already hit the shot. There’s nothing I can do now except to go hit it again.

Giving voice to the bad, making a scene, and working myself up can only carry over to the next shot. The last thing I want is to be standing over my ball pissed because it’s in the trees. I have to give my full attention to the shot at hand. I can’t do that if my mind is filled with vitriol because of that bird that squawked right in the middle of my backswing.

Don’t let one bad shot ruin the hole. Don’t let one bad hole ruin your whole round.

However, on a good shot, I give plenty of voice to that — even saying to myself, “Good shot, Luke.” Sometimes I go a little overboard and tell my playing partners that I’m impressed with the shot I just hit. It may sound like I’m being a conceited jerk but really I’m just celebrating something that I’ve worked hard for or, better yet, something that I just got lucky on!

When others hit a good shot or get a good break, I always make sure to praise their effort and the result. Why? Because it’s important that others hear that they’ve done well and that I recognize their accomplishment. And it’s important, not just to them but, to me. I need to say those things because they give me a positive feeling on my next shot.

Hint: you never ever (ever) say anything when someone hits a shot with bad results. They know the results aren’t ideal; they don’t need to be told. Also, you wouldn’t want to hear anything after a shot you’ve hit was lost forever in the trees. Just let it be.

This sounds a lot like my mother’s favorite pastor, Joel Osteen, who would say don’t dwell on past mistakes but look to the future and what is waiting in store for you. There’s great advice in that. In life, when things are seemingly falling apart, recognize that it is what it is, clear it from your mind, and make the next move.

Say thank you to the guy that says, “Great shot!” after you hit a shot with good results. He’s your helper.



It’s Your Turn

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to get a round in at the PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville, MD. It’s a gem of a course – plush fairways, smooth rolling greens, variety of tee boxes, ample PB Dye marketing, and a great clubhouse to grab a dog at the turn and a beer after the round. That’s the focus of this post: the turn.

The turn is the transition from the front nine to the back nine; hole 9 to 10. It’s one of the most overlooked parts of a round. It’s the halfway point – a milestone or benchmark, if you will – that is given a lot of words but not much time for consideration. “Made the turn at 2-over. Finished with an eighty-eight.” “The Masters doesn’t really start until the turn on Sunday.” “Think we got time to stop by the car at the turn?”

I view the turn in a slightly different light. It’s an opportunity to relax a bit between nines, to grab a dog, maybe a beer, apply some sunscreen, wash the hands, and get ready for the next nine. It’s also a time to meet new people, take a break with your group, and take an already social game to the next level…

A big complaint in golf, right now, is that it takes too long — play is slow. This is true. Every player walking off yardages down to the inch, taking five practice swings before every shot, reading putts from every angle, marking their ball when they have a six-incher, and going back-and-forth about who’s away, guarantees at least a 5 hour round. Once in a while, though, it’s worth setting aside a few minutes to enjoy the company of the group you’re with.

A few months ago, a friend of mine had the brilliant idea of starting a Facebook group of golfers – friends, co-workers, strangers – for the purpose of setting up tee-times over the spring and summer. We put together two foursomes to go out to Langston on a freezing Saturday morning. We were basically the only people on the course. On the front nine, each of us plotted our way around, barely speaking except to say, “It’s cold.”

At the turn, however, we spent a solid twenty minutes updating each other on our work, families, jokes, memories, and everything in between. Yeah, we could have just grabbed a dog and made our way out but, instead, we took some time to know each other better. Cold, though we were, we made our way back into the elements and enjoyed the rest of our round. I’m not suggesting that every group, every round, needs to take twenty minutes with their playing partners in the grill. I’m just suggesting that, if you’re going to be out there, get to know the folks you’re going to spend another two hours with. I promise the back-nine will be much more pleasant. You’ll probably play better, too.

Also, this…

I was chipping in my bed room on Friday night before my round at PB Dye. As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a great way to get the feel for chipping after a long winter season. I noticed that I was gripping the club like I would grip a putter — too much club in the palm of my left hand. I was losing accuracy and distance in a big way. I fixed my grip.

When I got out to PB Dye, I was hitting everything longer and straighter. What’s the problem with that? I wasn’t used to it. I shot a pretty decent 41 on the front. My friend and I took a 15 minute break in the clubhouse at the turn, talking with the bartender, and discussing how impressive the greens were even though they’d recently been aerated and sanded. In my mind, however, I was thinking, “club down and aim at the pin…club down and aim at the pin.”

On the back nine, I shot a one-over 37. Shockingly great play given my previous several rounds.

That would not have happened if I just went straight on to the 10th hole as soon as I was done with 9.

The point: take some time at the turn.

Anchored Putter Ban – My Two Cents

The PGA recently decided that it was against the proposed ban on the anchored putting stroke. The USGA responded. That’s the news.

I think this is a great opportunity to discuss the history of this ban (and others). The USGA recently proposed a rule change that would go in effect January 1, 2016. The ban is on anchoring the putter to your body while making a putting stroke. Here’s an infographic to help. Many PGA tour players, including Keegan Bradley, use this method. Phil Mickelson’s used it; Ernie Els uses it; Ian Woosnam; the list goes on. Thousands of amateurs use this method as well. In fact Dave Pelz, the short game guru, recommends using the method on short putts and a more “traditional” method on long putts (I don’t have a link for that. I just remember it from one of the Golf Channel Academy’s he hosted). It’s becoming more and more popular with the kids because the anchored style helps quiet other movements typically made during a putting stroke.

The USGA argues that anchoring is not consistent with the spirit of the rules of golf, specifically Rule 14-1. The gist is that, as Nick Faldo eloquently put it recently, “It’s called a golf swing, not a golf hinge.” Another argument is that, seriously, it looks funny. And, truthfully, it’s only in the short swings that this technique works — you wouldn’t, for example, anchor your driver to your belly and expect to pipe one down the center 250 yards. The proposed change to Rule 14-1 would, in effect, provide a bit of consistency through every shot on the course.

Opponents of the rule change suggest that the USGA, once again, is making an already difficult sport more difficult. By taking this option away from amateurs, some have said, people will be leaving the sport in droves because it’s far too difficult. The change will lead to people getting called cheaters, would be golfers staying away from golf because they can’t get that darn putting stroke down, golfers who’ve used this method for years will leave the game.

I played a round of golf a couple of weekends ago with a 20-year-old junior college player that uses an anchoring style putting stroke. He said that his putting has improved dramatically since changing to the belly putter. Like many junior golfers, he hit the ball a ton, far past me on every drive; he had no patience for hitting solid iron shots; and 100 yards and in, it was a guaranteed missed green. But, what struck me is his putting. He made one putt over 4 feet. In 18 holes he made one 6 footer. He missed countless 2-3 foot putts. In no way, shape, or form was he frustrated by this. After all, his putting improved dramatically since changing to the belly putter. To say that I was shocked is an understatement.

Before that round of golf, I was indifferent to the rules change. I hadn’t been convinced that a rule change was necessary or unnecessary. There’ve only been a few major champions to use that style and no one argued that they won because of prowess on the greens. Can you name me a great putter that uses the anchored style? Hint: no.

But, what to do about this kid? His putting improved and, yet, he was awful on the greens. watching him miss a 4 footer three inches outside and long by 2 feet, smile, nervously “tap in” – nothing was a tap in that day – and walk off the green as though this was something normal, made me ask myself, “What is wrong with the USGA?”

I’ve been a USGA member since 1994, going on twenty years here. They host some of the best championships out there; they’re affordable enough that, if you are a golfer of any stripe, you can qualify to play. They very much are the guardians of the rules of golf and have led the way in research on sustainable golf course design. They support a program that aims to speed up play, asking players to play from the tees that best suits their game. The mission and their overall actions demonstrate that they hold the amateur golfer in the highest esteem and consideration.

Recently, though, it seems like they’re going for the opposite. I was disappointed when they banned square grooves – technology that can generate more backspin on impact and leads to greater accuracy out of tricky lies. People flocked to golf stores and websites to purchase square groove wedges because it helped players keep approach shots on the green. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one, though, because it’s the technology that leads to that ability (sort of…).

But, outlawing a swing is a little far fetched. I don’t believe that people will leave golf because they can’t use the anchored putting stroke. I don’t believe that professionals who use the putting stroke will fall from the top of the world rankings to the bottom when they have to use a more “traditional” stroke. I DO believe that golfers that use the anchored style will enjoy the game less – and that’s a problem. The more putts they have during a round of golf, the longer it takes – that’s a problem. People that were already complain about 5 hour rounds will be apoplectic about taking 6 hours out of their Saturday afternoon and likely will play less rounds every year – that’s a problem. Long story short, increasing the number of strokes on a golf course is not good.

The PGA Tour is making the right call in rejecting the proposed ban. The USGA should rethink its decision “for good of the game.”

Publinx Replaced With Fourball

Not that anyone asked but I’m positively thrilled with the decision by the USGA to change the championship roster beginning in 2015. The US Amateur Public Links has been around for a long time but, at this point, it’s basically the same competition as the US Amateur. Sure, some tour greats have won it, including one of the hottest players on tour, Brandt Snedecker (2003), but that doesn’t mean that we need to keep it around like it’s luggage handed down from our grandparents. Sometimes, it’s time for an upgrade; something a little more snazzy.

That’s why I’m thrilled with the announcement. For those of you who are just as confused by the term fourball as I am:

  • two teams of two players
  • each golfer plays his own ball through the round
  • A team’s number of strokes for a given hole is the lowest individual number of strokes of that team’s players on that hole.
  • Stroke play (the first 36 holes of the tourney): scores are added normally and the 32 teams with the lowest scores move to match play where
  • each hole is won by the team whose member has the lowest score on that hole, and that team is awarded a point for the hole. If the teams tie for a hole, the point for the hole is divided between the teams. At the end of the match, the team with the most points wins.

Further excitement: for men, the handicap limit is 5.4; for women, it’s 14.4. This opens the tournament up to an enormous number of people. What’s more, the team members don’t have to belong to the same club, live in the same state or country, and they can be substituted up until entries are closed.

Put all together, it means that I will likely get to qualify to play in a USGA tournament with my best friend and favorite golfing buddy.

Yesterday’s ruling was the most exciting ruling of the year. Yeah, that’s right anchored putting style, I’m including you here.

Get Golf Ready My Way

Every couple of hours on Golf Channel an ad pops up that asks, “Are you golf ready?” The point is to sell five hours of golf lessons from your local PGA Professional. I get it. It’s a really good idea for people that are just starting in golf or seasoned vets to have some guidance on the range and around the green before heading out to the course. And, in a business that’s losing interest among the public, it’s important to make sure that those in golf and those coming to golf get a good start to the season.

But, it made me wonder: what am I doing to be golf ready?

For years, living in Texas, getting golf ready meant calling my best friend, setting up a tee-time, and going to the course on a Saturday in December. There was no off-season. Now that I’ve  moved to the District-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) are, it’s a rare thing to even hit the range between the months of November and March. It means I’ve had to make some drastic changes to my life and to the way I approach the game.

Start with a stretch

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that my ass is in the worst shape of my life. I eat too much garbage and drink too much booze; I sit too long at work and don’t exercise enough; on a typical night I get nothing but “airplane sleep” and, on a typical weekend, I spend my time running errands in my car. My job is a whirlwind of confusion and there’s absolutely nothing steady about my life. Long story short: there’s no reason I should be alive today except that God has a twisted sense of humor.

But, when I get out on the course for the first time in March, I’ll be ready to go. Why? Because I swing a golf club every night. I just pick up the 6-iron in my living room, make a few practice swings and set it down. I don’t work on anything. My body knows what it’s doing and there’s not a ball on the ground so I can’t see the complete failure to produce. I’m reminded what it feels like to swing a golf club and that’s enough.

I hit a few putts on the carpet in my bedroom. I take a few chip-shots with my brand new 48 degree wedge. Sure, I’m aiming at a target, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself to make anything; I’m just going for a general area. I remind myself how to take a putting and chipping stroke.

All of that takes me around 5 minutes–every night. Why every night? Because, not only am I reminded about taking golf swings and hitting putts, I’m reminded that I really love the game and cannot wait until it gets warm enough for me to hit the links.

Read Something

I’m not a huge fan of reading instruction articles in Golf Magazine or Golf Digest. That’s not to say that they don’t offer anything useful–nearly every article does. I just mean, if you can’t get out on a range and try the tips out, you really aren’t going to get anything out of it. (Tip: If you read something that you really like, save it and wait until you can get to the range to try it. Do not try it at home.)

In those magazines, however, you’ll find a lot of good stuff on the rest of the game. Analysis of pros, discussion of life on tour, women’s golf, and this. Here’s the most important thing you’ll research on golf: The statistics page on the PGA Tour Website. If you enter into an office pool for the majors (as I do), this is your bible. Last year, using only these stats, I won my office pool for the Masters, US Open, The Open, and Ryder Cup. We didn’t do a PGA pool for some reason and I’ll admit my Ryder Cup win was mostly just because I prefer the Europe Team over the USA–shocking, I know!

Take the time off from playing golf to hone your fantasy play.

Finally, Plan Your Season

There are three course I want to play this season: Musket Ridge in Maryland, Kingsmill in Virginia, and anywhere in the Bay Area. Those are my must-plays for the season. However, there are ton of courses in the area that I’d like to play but, for one reason or another, I haven’t. So, I’m making a list of the courses that I’ve yet to play as a just in case my go-to’s aren’t available.

A friend of mine created a facebook group for our golfing buddies in the area. What a great idea! So, now, we can coordinate people for weekend tee-times without having to pick up the phone.

Budget: I’ve been setting aside money each weekend that I would otherwise be spending on a tee-time. Hopefully, this means that I’ll be able to play more golf…or not…

North of the Beltway 1: Hampshire Greens

The benefit of playing golf with one of my close friends in the area is that he takes me out of my comfort zone. On a typical weekend, I’m perfectly happy to go out to the Glade or Langston but, sometimes, I need a little change in my life. Enter Maryland north of the Beltway.

The first course I played this summer up north was Hampshire Greens. A beautiful course with challenging fairways and greens and brutal rough that can be pretty punishing. The course starts in your typical straightforward fashion — a 340 yard par four dog-leg left (we played the middle tees here. 6512 yards, 71.6 CR/128 Slope). It’s on this hole that I discovered just how tough the rough was going to play. With a sand wedge in my hand, I hacked out and dribbled the ball to the front of the green. The greens, while plenty receptive, are deceivingly slick. I was thrilled to walk away with just a bogey.

Warm-up over; they don’t wait to bring the heat. The second hole is a 560 yd par 5. The challenge here was getting the ball left enough to be in the fairway, not so far left that you miss. Once safely in the fairway, the layup is reasonable — the good kind that makes you think. And then a tough little approach to a green that’s tucked behind a hazard. This day the pin was a long way back and to the left.

The first par 3 of the day is number four. At 180 yards with water on the right and bunker to keep from bailing out left, it’s pretty intimidating. Also, it’s very likely the smallest green on the course at only 25 yards deep and not much wider. Beautiful hole.

Every golf course needs a great short hole. Number seven is probably my favorite on the course for that reason. I appreciate a good 420 yard par four every once in a while but requiring above average distance off the tee takes par off the table for far too many golfers and they don’t all get to experience the hole in the same way. Number seven is only slightly downhill and just around 350 yds the day we played. What makes this hole great is the sharp right turn at about 230 yards off the tee coupled with the enormous green. The front pin placement required some serious math and an ability to conquer any trust issues you may be plagued with on the course. Surprisingly, I hit a helluva gap wedge to about eight feet. I missed the putt but, as anyone who’s ever played a round of golf with me will tell you, I was lucky to have made contact with wedge in my hand.

Warning: No walking this one, folks. The distance between the green on number 8 and the tee box for number 9 is a bit ridiculous.

Nine is one of those good par fours that requires some accuracy off the tee and then gives you a little bit of a break on the approach. Great time for a dog!

I’m starting to sense a theme, here. The dog was ample, probably a quarter-pounder. They have all the condiments you could ask for, including a variety of hot sauces, onions, relish. Overall, I’d give this one a solid A. The lady behind the bar that sells you the hot dog was as nice as could be. No question, a great clubhouse experience (a couple of people were just there playing cards, watching the Golf Channel).

We’re gonna skip a few holes here — not that they aren’t memorable — but, you should just get out to the course and experience them for yourself.

Number 12: Keep the driver in the bag. That’s a lot coming from me. I hit the big dog on every hole typically. Looking at the fairway from the tee on this par 5 of just over 500 yards had me thinking, “not worth it.” You’re forced to hit the ball left to right on the first shot, left to right on the second shot, left to right on the third. With everything sloping away in that direction, it’s ever more frustrating.

Up the hill to number 15, a long par four for it’s length. Again, keeping the ball in play here is key. Anything more than 250 yards off the tee could put you in some trouble as the fairway tightens to single file at about that.

Sixteen is the first on this side where “grip-it-and-rip-it” is in full effect. But it’s only 320 yards long! Here I took the opportunity to completely flub my sand wedge in and am no longer a valuable critic of the hole.

Eighteen is a fantastic closer . 420 yards, a little uphill, a bunker on the right keeps dissuades you from the direct approach, and the bunkers on the left keep you from bombing it. The play here is a slight cut off one of the mounds on the left of the fairway. The entire hole creeps to the right lazily along grass bunkers and nomansland. Great driving hole, exactly how a long day should finish. The approach is where things get really interesting. There’s no trouble on the right and the big bunkers that extend from landing area to seemingly the front of the green really aren’t in play at all. The approach requires a sweeping draw. Not easy to do from a fairway that favors a fade.  A straight shot or god forbid a slice puts in some deep rough greenside. Don’t do that. A brilliant finishing hole that I wish other courses would attempt.

The course: A+ for the area. Great greens, plush fairways, consistent rough, actual sand. Can’t beat it.

The clubhouse: A. The staff is great. There’s a ton of options for food and drinks. The bathrooms are immaculate.

Pace of play: C–. This is always tough. I never like to knock a course because of a few bad apples but I feel like I need to here. In no way, shape or form should my critique keep you from playing this gorgeous course. You should just take my comments under advisement in your planning. It took us six hours to make the loop. The starter did a great job of getting people out on time but once on the course it was chaos. It took an hour and a half to get through 3 holes. At that rate, it would’ve taken us nine hours to finish the round. Luckily, late in the round, a marshal hurried the groups in front of us along. As I said, I don’t believe this is entirely the fault of the course; every player has a responsibility to be aware of his/her time, search for balls only for a reasonable period, and make the experience positive for all the other players. I do believe, however, that the course has a responsibility to monitor the pace of play and make suggestions and changes where they are necessary. This did not happen until very late in the round. The $60+ round of golf was close to “too pricey” for that slow of play.

Overall, however, I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to be challenged and enjoy a magnificent layout.

The Glade Valley Open

It’s been close to a year (well, 9 months but I promise no one is counting) since my last post about Langston Golf Course. I was inspired last weekend to write about what I think is a national treasure—Glade Valley Golf Club.

Glade Valley is nestled among the corn fields of Walkersville, MD. It’s a par 72 measuring out to just less than 6800 yards from the tips (Blue tees). I’ve played this course more than any other course in the DC area. It’s around an hour and fifteen minutes from Capitol Hill and there are plenty of options for fast food before the round on the way. Side note: one of my golfing buddies introduced me to the Sheetz sandwich. The total lack of human interface in the experience is worth far more than the $4 for the sandwich. Beautiful.

When you arrive at the club, the 17th green and the entire 18th hole are to your left. This is a great opportunity to note the location of the pin on number 17—important because, as I’ll discuss later, the 17th is the most deceiving greens on the course. The parking lot is ample. I’ve never had trouble finding parking and, the lot doesn’t have that vast feeling that other golf course parking lots can have. The driving range, while I’ve never used it, has plenty of hitting space (mats and grass) for a course that doesn’t specialize in tournament play. The range is adjacent to the parking lot so it gains points for convenience.

The clubhouse has what I’m learning, a mid-Atlantic home feel with a decent pro-shop, friendly staff, and a good selection of golf balls. The mainstays for a golf course that focuses on golfers, not on shoppers. The attendant behind the counter is always friendly, smiling, and mindful that your purpose is to get on the course, not chit chat. The Glade seems to take pride in simplicity and “getting the job done.”

Let me take a few seconds to talk about proper practice green design. Practice greens should give you an opportunity to warm up, hit a few flat putts, get yourself in the right frame of mind, sink a few routine four-footers to build your confidence, and give you a chance to hone your rhythm. They should also prepare you for the putts you’ll face on the course. We’ve all been to courses that do only one or the other. My home course in high school had one flat putt; my home course in college was undulation free. Neither satisfied my simple request. Sadly, there are a multitude of courses that, either because they don’t think it’s important or through oversight, completely miss the point of the practice green. Glade Valley isn’t one of them. On the edges, there is plenty of undulation and in the center you have 360 degrees of flat putts to work on. I always spend a little more time than usual putting and, as my best says, hitting some socially unacceptable chip shots.

The starter fits the stereotype: an octogenarian that spends the majority of his day at the course and who doesn’t have time to really offer much more than “good morning” and “you’ll be going off right after this foursome. I’m putting you with a single. Hopefully it’ll be a nice pace out there. I’ll call you when it’s your turn.” What more do you want from a starter?
It’s our turn on the tee. This particular round, my partner and I decide to live-tweet the round under the hashtag #GladeValleyOpen in honor of our usual third player.

The first hole is a fantastic hand shake hole. 350 yards, a little dog-leg right at around the 100 yard marker, some traps on the right so you don’t get too greedy on your first drive and a pretty wide fairway by the Glade’s standard. I just got a new driver and this would be the first time that I hit it on a course so I just play for a little cut down the center. I get what I wanted; my partner (we’ll call him Matt) hits a bit too much of a cut and knocks it into one of the traps on the right. I’m not going to go through every shot – that would take too long. I am, however, going to say that, even being in the trap at 100 yards out, Matt was, at least, able to salvage bogey which is a testament to the fairness of the opening hole.

Number two is a more “let’s see what you’re bringing to the course today” hole. It’s 375 yards, water in front of the green with a serious slope down to the pond. If you’re short on your approach, you’re probably dunked. The good news is that you can bail out long and not really have difficulty getting up and down.

Hole 3 is a straightforward par three with the largest green on the course. Seriously, it’s almost comical how big this green is. I would guess that left to right we’re talking about 30+ yards. Matt got to enjoy every one of those yards with his miss to the right. At 175 yards, that can be expected. Beware the “play to the middle of the green” mind trap.

Four is a par four with some interesting mounding on the left and right. If you miss the fairway, the low-hanging limbs of the trees can make things interesting. Number five is a fun driving hole. The fairway drops a good 20 feet and slopes right to left. If you can put a little draw on your drive, you’ll be a happy camper on your second shot. Hint: bail right, do not try to overcook a draw. As I’ve proven time and time again, that ain’t good.

Number six is the signature hole on the course. At least, it’s the signature hole for Matt. We’ve played the course maybe a dozen times and damn near every time he hits a slice into the middle of the cow pasture just to the right of this hole. It’s usually a spectacular meltdown. This time, to the crowd’s disappointment (and a little bit to his disappointment) he put one down the pipe. I nearly flew mine OB right but got a lucky kick off of one of the trees. It’s a pretty decent par five but rather toothless once you get past the drive. It’s only hazard is temptation to hit more than necessary for a layup at the risk of soaring your second shot into the field right next door.

Seven, or “Jurrasic Park,” takes you into the woods where the tee box is a chute to an astonishingly wide fairway. It’s a short hole at only 350 yards but there’s always a chance of catching a tree branch with a slightly off center drive.

Number eight is a par three that is deceivingly short. I always hit far too much club. I should remember this post next time I play. I probably won’t.
Number nine is a short par five that basically lets you know that a hot dog is coming. Hit the drive with all your might—the payoff is far greater than the risk.

The Dog. Nothing special about the dog. I like that they have hot pepper sauce, dill relish, and onions out for you. Frankly, the BLT was a win; that’s probably my go-to snack for the course from here on out.

The back nine at The Glade is tremendous with a ton of variety. Hole 10 is a pretty long par 4 that plays much shorter than it actually is. The hill that bisect the fairway provides some significant forward roll off the tee that you should only have a mid-iron in. A raised green makes club selection a little tricky, but adding a half club is all we’re talking about. I typically hit a 7 iron when I’m only an 8 out.

Number 11 is a great opportunity to let the big dog eat. It’s a 500 yard par five and, last Sunday, I was 180 yards out. Great opportunity squandered when I didn’t respected the slope of the green. Pay attention to the prevailing lay of the land. When in doubt, the greens break to the east.

Twelve is a straightforward break from the two previous and the two following.

The 13th—my nemesis. 13 is a par three. I take pride in my ability to tame par threes on golf courses. I know that on most, I’m all but guaranteed a par. This hole gets me every time. It’s an 8-iron, 150 yards. What’s so tough? The severe slope left to right leaves every putt an uphill putt. I don’t wanna talk about it anymore. Moving on.

The 14th. Now this is my kind of golf hole. Narrow fairway, tree lined, short (only 312 yards), a sliver of a green, water on the left, a five foot drop off the right, gorgeous. You’d be silly to hit driver, but I always do and it almost always pays off. I have only a 40 yard wedge in. Cake. Never have I even come close to sniffing a birdie on that hole. One of the great frustrations. Like I say, twelve gives you some respite from what’s to come.

If number 12 is a vacation, 13 and 14 are the days immediately back to work, 15 is the Wednesday you take off when you realize that you were just taking a break before all hell broke loose. It’s a run-of-the-mill par 3 that lets you take a bit of a breather. Don’t get cocky and decide to relax, though. The bunkering on this hole will turn a standard par three into an impossible up and down for par.

Number 16 is a par 5 alongside another corn field. The drive is fair; the second shot is tricky. The green is tucked to the left, making the layup more difficult than you’d expect on a hole that’s only 530 yard. If you give yourself plenty of room on the third shot, say 100 yards, you’ll do fine. Don’t waste your time tempting the bunker at 50 yards out.

17 is your first interaction with what my friends and I call “Ray’s Burn.” There’s a shallow, narrow creek that runs through 17 and 18 fairways. It really doesn’t come into play on 17 but it’s there. Remember at the beginning of this diatribe me mentioning the pin position on 17? Well, this where paying attention on the drive in becomes important. The green is deep and the slope from back to front is substantial. If the pin is on the back, add at least a club and a half. If it’s on the back, take away a club and a half. Do not miss right.

Ah, at long last, number 18. Ray’s Burn is definitely in play on the drive. Matt flies it over every time; I do well to hug the Burn on the short side. The green is a monument to itself. Relatively flat, with the exception of the false front, it’s guarded by three bunkers—one to the right, one on the left, and one back left. Not surprisingly, the pin is usually on the left. This is a whole that I strongly recommend just playing to the center. Worst case scenario is that you have a twenty-five footer.

Here’s what I love most about Glade Valley: you can play an inexpensive round on a course that’s designed to challenge you but not make you hate the game. In our usual threesome, we have a guy that shoots regularly in the mid-80s, a guy that shoots in the mid-90s, and a guy that can put together a upper-70s round. Every one of us has a blast on the course; not just because we enjoy each other’s’ company but because the course is never in bad condition and always fair.