Archive for August 2010



Golf Lessons at TopGolf

Posted by cjsharp1 on August 30, 2010 in Events 2 Comments

Last week, I took my first golf lesson at TopGolf in Wood Dale, Illinois. I’ve always considered taking a lesson or two, more so during the beginning of this project so I could learn how to properly hit the ball, but golf lessons seemed to be just a little too expensive. Luckily, a couple months ago, Groupon.com offered a coupon to TopGolf, which was good for six free games and a 30 minute golf lesson. I quickly purchased two coupons, one for me and one for Beth.

Our lessons were given by one of TopGolf’s Directors of Golf Instruction, Matt Vinge. A Director of Golf Instruction, from what I understand, is one of TopGolf’s best instructors, so their lessons are more expensive (starting at $110 per hour). The instructors underneath them are called Certified Golf Instructors, and their lessons are a little cheaper (starting at $95 per hour).

The lesson area at TopGolf is called the TopGolf Academy, and it consists of two hitting areas and a practice putting green (not all TopGolf locations may be the same). Each hitting area is equipped with a camera that the instructors can use to videotape your swing, which is then analyzed with your previous swings or swings of professional golfers. If you take a full lesson, the instructor will upload your swing video to the TopGolf website, so you can log into the website and view your swing videos. They can also provide videos for drills you can do to make your swing better.

My lesson mainly consisted on fixing my grip, my stance, and half of my swing. I’ve played around with different grips before (see this link), but always settled on the ‘ten finger’ grip because it felt more comfortable. This was the very first thing Matt changed when he saw my swing, switching it to an ‘interlocking’ grip. His main reasoning behind switching it was “all the pros use this grip”. Ok, fair enough, I guess I can take that as an answer. It took me a while to get used to the grip; it just felt awkward. But, supposedly, it should help my slice, which has started to become predictable.

The second thing he changed was my stance. I really had no clue how I was supposed to stand. When I was first starting to learn how to play, I mainly focused on keeping my head down and my knees bent. I guess what I was really doing is not keeping my back straight, or hunching over the ball. A reason against this makes complete sense, and explains why I would top the ball a lot. When I would take my swing, I would straighten out my knees, which lifted my whole body, and moved the path of the swing away from the ball. With the new stance, my knees are just slightly bent and my back is straighter, which make it feel like I’m standing up a lot more. There’s now less room for error, as long as I keep my head in the same place.

Finally, certain parts of my swing was fixed; most notably, how weight gets shifted during the swing and how to follow through after you hit the ball. And it all makes complete sense: on your backswing, put weight on your back foot, and after you hit the ball, transfer your weight to your front foot. During your follow through, this should put your body over your front foot. With all these points, including a proper grip and a proper stance, essentially what you are doing is directing the ball to go straight.

Beth’s lesson pretty much consisted of the learning the same thing, but with a little more focus on trying to hit the ball. She’s very new to golf, and is lucky to get the ball to go more than 20 yards, much less even just hit the ball.

A couple days after the lesson, Beth and I hit the driving range and tried to put everything that we learned to use. It took a little bit of warming up, but things turned out to be better than they were before. I was hitting straighter, longer shots. I wasn’t slicing as much, and if anything, I was slightly pushing to the right. My swing still didn’t feel completely smooth and comfortable, but I think I will get used to it over time. Beth saw the most improvement. She was consistently hitting the ball, and was hitting it [slightly] farther than before. She pretty much just needs to hit more, and get used to how to swing a club.

Obviously, the lessons were a great thing for my (our) golf game. It’s just going to take some time to perfect what we learned and get comfortable with everything.

Another Birthday (and New Stuff!)

Posted by cjsharp1 on August 26, 2010 in Golf Gear, News 0 Comments

Yup. It’s that time of the year again! This time around, I only got two golf-related items… but they are substantial items!

First, Beth got me a TaylorMade Rossa Monza Spider putter. I’ve been eyeing this putter for a while now, and I figured it could be a nice addition to my set of TaylorMade clubs. I really like the feel and weight distribution of mallet-style putters. This putter allows you to move around the weights, which adjusts the center of gravity to increase stability of the putter. I don’t necessarily think I’ll need to mess with this, but it’s nice option to have.

Second, with some “birthday card cash” (and a couple of Golfsmith coupons that I luckily found), I bought a new golf bag: a Sun Mountain Four 5 stand bag. I chose this bag mainly because it was one of the few stand bags with a 14-way divider. I’ve heard a lot of good opinions and bad opinions about 14-way dividers. Obviously, this is all down to personal preference, but I think the bag will satisfy a bit of organization OCD I might have. The bag also has an easily accessible water bottle pouch, which will be nice when I have to walk 18 holes again. And, best of all, the bag only weighs 4.5 lbs (hence the name “Four 5″), without clubs, of course.

Once again, thanks to all that helped contribute to this!

Valley View Golf Club [Field Trip]

Posted by cjsharp1 on August 22, 2010 in Field Trips 0 Comments

During a quick weekend trip back to Louisville, I got a chance to play a round with a couple of friends at Valley View Golf Club. Valley View is located in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, which is about 10 miles northwest of downtown Louisville, and was opened in 1963.

The course measures in at 6,514 yards from the back tees, and consists of four par-3 and three par-5 holes for a total par of 71. The fairways are surrounded by large trees, and vary from wide and flat to narrow and hilly. Seven of the holes are doglegs, with three of the holes being nearly 90 degree doglegs. Water touches eight of the holes, including the 10th hole (a 306 yard par-4) where you have to hit your second shot over a pond, and the 11th hole (a 396 yard par-4) where you have to hit your tee shot over a pond. Sand traps are incorporated on every hole either near the fairway or the green.

This was probably the hottest round I’ve played so far, with the temperatures nearing 100 degrees. I played the round with two Fraternity brothers, Tim and Stephen, and Tim’s coworker, Frank. Tim and Stephen are pretty new to golf, but are learning quickly, and Frank seemed like he’s been playing for a while. Frank had some really nice drives, but struggled with his irons. Stephen’s shots just amazed me. His setup and practice swing was ugly, but he always seemed to hit a long, straight shot. And Tim’s shots were just… like mine when I first started.

I really can’t say much though. I didn’t have the best round. My drives were decent, but mostly right, like always. My iron shots were inaccurate, like always. And my putting was horrible. I 3-putted ten times, and didn’t 1-putt at all. But I still had a fun round, mainly because we played a side game of Wolf. Since everyone in our foursome had equal golfing skill, I figured playing the side game would keep things fun throughout the whole round. During the front nine, Frank and Tim teamed up a couple of times and took a nice lead, but Stephen eventually caught up with them near the end of the front nine. During the back nine, I caught up with Frank, and we eventually tied for the lead after the 18th. Frank and I had a quick putting contest to break the tie, and I ended up winning with a 2-putt.

I ended up shooting a 114 (43 over par). Tim shot a 125, Frank shot a 113, and Stephen shot a 105. I think if my putting was better, I could have easily shot in the low 100’s (if i didn’t 3-putt at all, I would have shot at 104).

Valley View Golf Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,185 (white tee boxes)
Course par: 71
Course rating/slope: 69.8/123 (white tee boxes)
My score: 114 (43 over par)
Tim’s score: 125 (54 over par)
Stephen’s score: 105 (34 over par)
Frank’s score: 113 (42 over par)

Valley View Golf Club
3748 Lawrence Banet Road
Floyds Knobs, IN 47119

Crane’s Landing Golf Course

Posted by cjsharp1 on August 5, 2010 in Courses 0 Comments

I finished the weekend with a round of golf at Crane’s Landing Golf Course. Crane’s Landing is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and is 30 miles north of Chicago. The course is part of the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, and is one of two Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries in Illinois that sits on Marriott property (another being Willow Crest Golf Club in Oak Brook).

As you could expect, Crane’s Landing is a beautiful course. The par-70 course consists of four par-3 and two par-5 holes, and measures in at 6,290 yards from the back tees. The rolling fairways are pretty wide, and are surrounded by medium-sized trees. Water touches 16 of the holes, although the water might not always be in the direction of play (meaning you don’t have to worry about hitting your ball into water). A small amount of sand traps are integrated into every hole either on the fairway or near the green. The greens are fairly large and contain some challenging breaks. I should also quickly mention that there are four tees: blue, white, yellow, and red. The yellow tees box markers, although sometimes pretty far apart from the white tees, appear to be faded out from the sun, making them look the white tee box markers. So just keep an eye on which tees you are hitting from.

I played the round with a twosome I was placed with, Mark and Beth, who both grew up in the northern area of Chicago and were very familiar with the course. Mark was a pretty good golfer, and was trying to teach the game to Beth. Although Beth didn’t have the power and distance in her shots, she did have straight, accurate shots, which is always a good thing. They were both very nice and I enjoyed playing the round with them.

While we were playing, they told me the back nine was more difficult than the front nine… and they were right. The back nine is about 500 yards longer than the front, and many of the par-4 holes on the back nine are over 375 yards (compared to 325 yards on the front nine). The holes on the front nine are also pretty straight and open, where the back nine contains two holes that have a slight dogleg with more narrower fairways.

I had a difficult time with this course. I started the round overpowering my drives, which caused them to slice far right. After the first couple of holes, I started to back off on the power, and my drives started to get straighter, although I was will hitting right. My iron shots were OK, and I was making pretty good contact, but still lacking on accuracy. My putting was horrible, but I mostly blame the greens for that. Mark was also having a tough time with his putting. I 3-putted five times, and 2-putted the rest of the time. I was hoping to get par on at least one hole, and I set myself up for par a couple of times, but I couldn’t convert. The best I could do is bogey on four holes and double bogey on seven holes.

I ended up shooting a 111; 53 on the front nine and 58 on the back nine. It’s not my worst round, and it’s on track with how I’ve been playing recently. Coming away from this round, I know I just need to focus on not overpowering my shots, especially my drives. Also, I really need to figure out why most of my drives are going right, which is something I’m consistently doing. I think once my drives get straighter, then I could easily break 100.

Crane’s Landing Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 5,949 (white tee boxes)
Course par: 70
Course rating/slope: 68.9/123 (white tee boxes)
My score: 111 (41 over par)

Crane’s Landing Golf Course
10 Marriott Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069

Deerpath Golf Course

Posted by cjsharp1 on August 2, 2010 in Courses 0 Comments

I begun another weekend of golf with a round at Deerpath Golf Course. Deerpath Golf Course is located in Lake Forest, Illinois, which is 30 miles north of Chicago. The course is the only golf course owned and operated by the City of Lake Forest, and has been open since 1926, making it one of the oldest golf courses in the area.

I really liked this course. Considering it’s a city course, it’s maintained very well. The par-70 course is 6,211 yards in length from the back tees, and is comprised of four par-3 and two par-5 holes. Water touches seven holes, mostly on the front nine, and sand traps are integrated into every hole, although some holes might just have one sand trap near the green. The rolling fairways are not too wide, but not too narrow, and are surrounded by medium- to large-sized, thick trees (what do you expect for a course that has been around since 1926). If you end up hitting a shot into a tree, expect it not to go through. The trees seemed to bat every ball down. The hole are fairly straight, with the exception of the 11th hole, a par-4, 344 yard, 90 degree dogleg.

I played this round with a gentleman I met on the tee box of the 1st hole. His name was David, and he was a member at the course. In fact, I think a large majority of the people playing the course were members, or if not, just regulars. It seemed like David knew a lot of people on the course, occasionally saying ‘Hi’ to a nearby golfer. David was a great guy to play a round with. He knew the course very well, and he was very laid back, not minding so much that I was still trying to learn how to play the game. We ended up walking the full 18, thanks to the rain from the night before. Deerpath is another course that does not have fully-paved cart paths. That makes two weeks in a row that I had to walk a full 18… and I don’t mind it one bit.

I felt like I had a pretty bad round. My drives were inconsistent and mostly sliced right, my irons were not accurate, although the distance was good, and my putting was random. The greens didn’t feel too fast or too slow, although I’m guessing they were probably a little slow due to the rain, and they had some challenging breaks in them. I 1-putted four times and 3-putted three times. But even though I felt I had a bad round, my score didn’t really show it. I actually had a bad front nine, shooting a 57, and a good back nine, shooting a 47, for a round total of 104.

I definitely felt like I played better on the back nine. I somehow shot par on the 11th hole (the 90 degree dogleg). My drive when straight into the trees on the right side, toward the other side of the dogleg, but somehow rolled through and onto the fairway. My second shot went a bit long and rolled onto the fringe on the back of the green. At this point, I’m putting for birdie from about 15 feet to the hole. My putt was very accurate, but rolled two inches from the hole! Ahh! Another par-4 birdie missed by inches! I’ll take par any day, though. I actually shot a par the 18th also. Like I said, the back nine was better than the front nine. On the front nine, the best I could do is two bogeys. On the back nine, I shot par on two holes and bogey on four holes.

Deerpath Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,100 (white tee boxes)
Course par: 70
Course rating/slope: 69.7/127 (white tee boxes)
My score: 104 (34 over par)

Deerpath Golf Course
500 West Deerpath
Lake Forest, IL 60045

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