Archive for the ‘Field Trips’ Category



So… How do I begin this post? I guess, first of all, I have to say thanks to Beth for setting this all up. During a recent trip to San Diego, with my birthday in sight, I got surprised with a set of rental clubs and some time set aside to play this very popular course. At first, the thought of playing this course seemed out-of-reach, because this vacation wasn’t meant to be a golf vacation. Luckily for me though, I have an awesome wife who sometimes contributes to my golf addiction.

She definitely did her research for this round too. It turns out that greens fees are crazy expensive, as expected for a course that’s an annual stop on the PGA Tour. So, I ended up playing the course on a Monday morning, when greens fees lower to a manageable amount, and the number of waiting single golfers reduces the queue to less than a couple hours. What’s worse is that the price just to make a tee time is more expensive than your average golf course in Chicago. So waiting for an open spot is what people normally do, even if it takes sleeping overnight in the parking lot just to be first in line at daybreak, something that many golfers do on the weekends.

So I arrived at the course around 8:00 AM, and put my name on “the list” to play the South Course. Torrey Pines has two 18-hole courses: the South Course and the North Course. The South Course is the more popular (and more expensive) of the two courses. The tournament on the PGA Tour that stops at Torrey Pines, currently known as The Farmers Insurance Open, previously known as the The Buick Invitational, and originated as the San Diego Open, actually uses both courses at Torrey Pines. For the first 36 holes, they split players between both courses, then the final 36 holes are played on the South Course.

I was anticipating being on “the list” for a bit of time. I was told to come back in one hour, which didn’t really bother me. This gave me plenty of time to hit some balls at the range. I guess you can say I showed up for this round somewhat cold, although I did play a round nine days earlier, but I had a set of clubs that were brand new to me. Well, in actuality, my wife did her research and rented a set of clubs that were very, very close to what I use now… pretty much the same set of clubs, but a year or so newer. Still, a bit of time at the range, I would think at least, would help me prepare for what’s ahead.

The range at Torrey Pines is surprising small. There’s probably around 20-30 hitting bays, and it stays pretty narrow all the way down the range. I don’t think they knew about my drive when they built the range, because all my shots seemed to be magnetically attracted to the netting. The range also has a decent chipping area, and I spent about half of my time at the range working on my high loft flop shots, because why not?

When the hour was up, I went back to see my status on “the list” and check-in for a tee time. I nearly got told to come back in another hour, but luckily they found an open spot in a tee time 50 minutes later. I was in. I spent the remaining time at the putting green, which was so busy you would have thought people showed up to the course just to practice their putting. There were about 2-3 people practicing their putts on each hole, spread out on a putting green large enough to hold around 15 holes (so, do the math).

Eventually my turn on the course came, and I headed to the tee box of the first hole. As expected, I was placed in a foursome, with two of the guys being local San Diego residents, and the other guy a British songwriter/producer (you have likely heard one of his songs). Since Torrey Pines is a municipal course, San Diego residents actually get a great deal to play the course; their greens fees cost about 1/3 the cost for non-residents. That’s like playing Dubsdread at Cog Hill Golf Course for $50 if you’re a Chicago resident. Just think about how busy that golf course would get.

Without going into the standard details like I usually do, the course is pretty amazing (at least, coming from someone who normally plays courses in the Midwest). The course sits next to the coast of the Pacific Open, on top of a cliff that provides constant easterly winds for the neighboring Torrey Pines Gliderport. If you’ve ever watched the PGA tournament at Torrey Pines on television, you’ve likely seen the paragliders or hang glider make an appearance. The winds during my round didn’t pick up until later on the back nine, so I didn’t see them too often throughout my round. Anyway, the course sits up high next to the Pacific Ocean, so the views are beautiful.

Torrey Pines Golf Course – South Course

It turned out that the other golfers in my group were pretty good, so we ended up playing from the farthest back tees we were allowed to use (the real back Black tees are used by permission only). So, suddenly, I’m playing tees that are normally for 0-5 handicaps. Tees that set the length of the course to 7,051 yards. I’ve never played a course that long. Luckily for me, I rented a cart and the others were walking, which gave me a chance to quickly get to my ball and set up for my next shot.

I really can’t complain about my round, no matter how badly I played. After all, this is Torrey Pines. I actually had a lot of fun enjoying the views and getting a first-hand experience with the tall California roughs. I made some bad shots and I made some good shots. I didn’t walk away with any pars or better, but I did manage to walk away with only losing two golf balls. I ended up shooting a 110 (38 over par, 57 on the front nine, 53 on the back nine), which given the rating/slope of 75.3/137, I’d say that’s pretty good.

So I walked away this round with a many new things: 10 new golf balls, a new golf glove, a new bag of tees, a Torrey Pines golf towel, a Torrey Pines South Course 3D Yardage Book (I go all out), a round and a score I can mark down in my log, a PGA tournament course I can say I played, and, most importantly, an experience I can remember for the rest of my life. Thanks Beth. I love you.

Torrey Pines Golf Course – South Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 7,051 yards (blue tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 75.3/137 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 110 (38 over par)

Torrey Pines Golf Course
11480 North Torrey Pines Rd.
La Jolla, CA 92037

I’m really hoping to make a round at this course an annual affair. About this time last year, I got a chance to play Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club, a course that is somewhat important to me (I got married next to the tee boxes of the first hole). Luckily enough, our host for the round, John, had such a good time last year that he invited me, Mike, and Chuck back for another round, and we gratefully obliged.

Crystal Tree is located in Orland Park, Illinois, approximately 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. The course opened in 1989 and was designed by the world-renowned Robert Trent Jones, Jr, who also designed Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago, Illinois, and ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park, Illinois. In the mid 2000′s, a new 55,000 square foot clubhouse was built, and the holes were renumbered to accommodate for the new clubhouse.

The course features four par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,810 yards from the back tees. There are five sets of tees: the back Gold tees, the 6,405 yard Silver tees, the 6,003 yard White tees, the 5,578 yard Blue tees, and the 5,248 yard forward Red tees. The course weaves its way around the Crystal Tree neighborhood, resulting in a course layout where two fairways are rarely next to each other. Overall, this is a fairly hilly course, but the rolling fairways are generally wide and open, and are surrounded by large trees or the houses that are part of the neighborhood. The design and layout of the fairways is what makes this course so beautiful. Water touches nine of the holes, three of which you’ll need to carry your tee shot or your approach shot over if played safely. Large bunkers are found on every hole, either near the greens, near the fairways, or both. The challenging, undulating greens are generally pretty deep and narrow.

I’d like to say I improved my score this year, but that’s not the case. Much like my previous rounds, I kept the driver and fairway wood in the bag again throughout the round, and hit nearly all of my tee shots with my hybrid. My tee shots were still pretty inconsistent, but I was generally hitting straighter shots. The same goes when hitting off the fairway with my hybrid; sometimes the shot would be really good, other times it would be really bad. My iron shots were decent, but I lacked accuracy and typically pushed right. I was still chunking my wedge shots. This could be related to the “no practice swings” routine with my irons, so I’ll probably start making practice swings again. My putting was the most annoying of the entire round, because I found myself barely missing my putts to the left on many occasions.

I shot a 107 for the round (35 over par, 53 on the front nine, 54 on the back nine). This consisted of one par, four bogeys, eight double bogeys, and all others worse. I 1-putted four times and 3-putted three times, and had five sand shots and four penalty shots. I really should work on my driver more, because only teeing off with my hybrid on these longer courses are not helping my score, especially on the par-5 holes.

As for the others in my group, Mike shot a 108 and Chuck shot a 115. In our side game of Wolf (which we heavily modified for our group), Mike won with 11 points, I made 9 points, and Chuck made 8 points. As the Wolf, Mike was 3-for-5, I was 2-for-4, and Chuck was 3-for-9.

Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,405 yards (silver tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 72.0/136 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 107 (35 over par)

Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club
10700 W. 153rd St.
Orland Park, IL 60462

Glenmary Country Club [Field Trip]

Posted by cjsharp1 on December 15, 2012 in Field Trips 0 Comments

A round of golf in December doesn’t come too often in this part of the country, especially if you want to play without needing to wear a thick coat. This round, though, wasn’t in the Chicagoland area, but instead in Louisville, Kentucky at Glenmary Country Club (funny enough though, the temperatures turned out to be better in Chicago that particular weekend). Glenmary is located approximately 15 miles southwest of downtown Louisville. The course was designed by John Addington, and opened in 1990.

The course features three par-3 and three par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,540 yards from the back tees. There are four sets of tees: the back Black tees, the White tees that drops to the length to 6,050 yards, the Gold tees that drops the length to 5,493 yards, and the forward Red tees that drops the length to 5,093 yards. The course weaves its way throughout the Glenmary neighborhood, which is a fairly hilly community with a lot of large trees. The fairways are generally straight, formed from rolling hills and surrounded by large trees. Water touches ten of the holes, mostly on the front nine.  You’ll need to carry over water many times, either on your tee shot or on your way to the green, though mostly just are just small creeks. The largest water hazard you’ll find is small pond in front of the tee box the 10th hole, where a straight tee shot over 150 yards will safely find the fairway. Bunkers are found on all holes, either near the fairways, near the greens, or both, and they generally seemed in good condition, given the circumstances of a late Fall round. The greens are of average size and difficulty (though it’s hard to accurately comment on greens this time of the year).

I really liked this course. The layout and difficulty of the holes kept the whole round fun and interesting, and the environment around the course is beautiful. I do wish I got to play this in the summer. The only thing that really bothered me with this course is the condition of the cart paths, which were very rough in some areas.

My round went fairly smoothly and I was pretty happy how it turned out. My drives were really good throughout the round, with only a couple of slight pushes or pulls. I think I was expecting to play worse than I did, so actually making straight and accurate shots was nice. My iron shots were about average, as was my short game with my wedges. My putting was random throughout, but it was difficult to stay consistent considering the green condition and weather (some light rain started halfway through the round).

I finished the round with a 95 (23 over par, 48 on the front nine,  47 on the back nine). This consisted of three pars, eight bogeys, six double bogeys, and a triple bogey. I had six 1-putts and four 3-putts, along with four sand shots and three penalties.

This round marks the end of my 2012 golf season, which actually turned out to be a decent season for the project and my golf game. I feel like I ended the season on a good note, and I’m hoping I can start the 2013 season right were I left off.

Glenmary Country Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,050 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 70.0/128 (white tee boxes)
My score: 95 (23 over par)

Glenmary Country Club
10200 Glenmary Farm Dr.
Louisville, KY 40291

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to play a course that is fairly dear to me: Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club in Orland Park, Illinois, which is located approximately 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. This course is close to me, not only because I spend a lot of time in the Crystal Tree neighborhood, but also because I got married next to the tee box of the first hole. I originally got the opportunity to play the course in 2010 thanks to a gift from Denise and John (Beth’s mother and step-father), and planned to play the round in 2011, but timing and schedules never worked out until this year.

Crystal Tree opened in 1989 and was designed by world-renowned Robert Trent Jones, Jr, who also designed Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago, Illinois, and ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park, Illinois. In the mid 2000’s, a new 55,000 square foot clubhouse was built, and the holes were renumbered.

As close as this course is to me, it’s even closer to the two other golfers that was in my group: Mike and Chuck. Both Mike and Chuck caddied at the course in the late 1990’s, but never got a chance to play the course. Prior to the round, John introduced us to the Head Golf Professional for Crystal Tree, Gabe Exiner. It turned out that Mike and Chuck both knew Gabe, because Gabe was the Assistant Golf Professional back when they caddied. Gabe gave us a run-down of the course, and updated Mike and Chuck about the changes that were made since they caddied. John rounded out the foursome, but only acted as the photographer. Even though he didn’t play, he did say he enjoyed the round. I really appreciate the opportunity to play this course, and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity.

The course features four par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,810 yards from the back tees. There are five sets of tees, ranging from a length of 6,810 yards to 5,248 yards. The course weaves its way around the Crystal Tree neighborhood, and many of the fairways do not sit next to another fairway. Overall, this is a fairly hilly course, which is something you don’t see too often in the Chicagoland area. The rolling fairways are generally wide and open, and are surrounded by large trees or the houses that are part of the neighborhood. The design and layout of the fairways is what makes this course so beautiful. Water touches nine of the holes, three of which you’ll need to carry your tee shot or your approach shot over if played safely. Large bunkers are found on every hole, either near the greens, near the fairways, or both. The challenging, undulating greens are generally pretty deep and narrow.

Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club

I think I was the most nervous that I’ve ever been leading up to this round. The Thursday before the round, I went to the driving range and had a pretty bad session. None of my drives felt smooth, and I was slicing a lot of balls. Before the round started, I got a chance to hit a couple balls at the club’s driving range, and things improved a bit, but I was still slicing, including one drive that sliced so far right that it found its way to a nearby parking lot (which was luckily empty). With how I was hitting, my goal was to finish the round with a 110 or better.

Not surprising, I started the round by slicing my drive into thick trees, then proceeded to do the same with my provisional shot. It was kind of disheartening to start the round with poor drives like that, but I had to move on.   My next eight tee shots also went right, but didn’t majorly slice. It wasn’t until the back nine that my tee shots improved, including three really nice tee shots back-to-back-to-back on the 13th, 14th, and 15th. My iron shots were pretty random, mostly with accuracy. I didn’t feel as comfortable with my iron shots as I did in my last couple of rounds. My short game was also a bit random. I had some nice wedge shots and putts, which were probably the key factor in keeping my score low.

I ended up shooting a 105 (33 over par, 57 on the front nine, 48 on the back nine). This consisted of one par, six bogeys, five double bogeys, and the rest triple bogeys.  I 1-putted four times and 3-putted four times, and had four penalties and five sand shots. Much like the last couple of rounds, there was a couple times I was putting for par, but ended up 3-putting for double bogey. I really need to work on my putting a bit more.

Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,405 yards (silver tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 72.0/136 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 105 (33 over par)

Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club
10700 W. 153rd St.
Orland Park, IL 60462

Inwood Golf Course [Field Trip]

Posted by cjsharp1 on July 26, 2011 in Field Trips 0 Comments

To wrap up the hot weekend, I played a round at another Joliet Park District course: Inwood Golf Course in Joliet, Illinois. I ended up playing this course because I found a great price on a tee time, and I actually didn’t realize it was a ‘field trip’ course until I started heading toward the course. In either case, I thought it was fitting to play this course, because the previous day I played Woodruff Golf Course, another JPD course. As I mentioned in the post about Woodruff, Inwood Golf Course is one of three Joliet Park District courses (the third being Wedgewood Golf Course). Inwood is the ‘middle child’ of the three courses, both in age and course length, and is located about 10 miles west of Woodruff.

The course features five par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 71 at a length of 6,196 yards from the back tees. If you play from the front tees, the length drops to 4,678 yards, and the par drops to 70 (the 11th hole is a 500 yard par-5 from the back tees and a 335 yard par-4 from the front tees). The fairways are mostly straight and wide. Medium-sized trees surround the fairways on nearly all the holes, while a couple holes on the back nine have large trees along the left side of the fairways. Some of the holes have a slight dogleg left or right, while the 16th hole, a 366 yard par-4, has a near 90 degree dogleg left. Water hazards touch ten of the holes, many of which you’ll carry over on your tee shot. Probably the most notable water hazard comes on the 2nd hole, a 327 yard par-4, where the fairway doglegs slightly left before an island green (similar to the 17th hole of Pete Dye’s TPC Sawgrass, but smaller and far less maintained). Sand traps can be found on every hole, mostly near the greens. The greens are mostly flat, and didn’t seem too challenging.

I ended up playing this round by myself. I wasn’t really expecting to be paired up with anyone either, since the temperatures were in 90’s, resulting in a course that was almost empty. I somehow got stuck behind an impassable twosome for most of the round, but I ended up finishing the round in about 4 hours.

I felt like I played another good round. I kept with my new practice swing routine, and it seemed to still be working. With it, I’m still not slicing as much as I have in the past, and for this round, I was actually pulling more shots left than pushing them right. I was still trying to use my fairway wood and hybrid more, and I’m starting to see those slowly improve. Actually, if it wasn’t for my fairway wood, I wouldn’t have shot par on the 8th hole, a 502 yard par-5 (I missed birdie by about an inch too). Anytime I can make par or bogey on a par-5, I’m happy (I actually shot triple-bogey on the other three par-5 holes). I felt that my approach and chip shots were pretty good, and I was making solid shots with my irons. My putting was about average. I probably should have slowed down a little more on my putting to try to make more 1-putts, but I was mostly just trying to get out of the sun. I ended up 1-putting once and 3-putting twice. Not too bad.

I ended up shooting a 99 (28 over par), which breaks 100 again. The triple-bogeys on the three par-5 holes didn’t help at all, and I think more practice with my fairway wood and hybrid will help make those holes easier. I actually ended up making four pars on this round, which is another goal for the season! Aside from that, I made four bogeys, six double-bogeys, and four triple-bogeys (way too many double- and triple-bogeys). I probably could have made more bogeys if I focused more on my putting, but I’m still happy I walked away with a 99.

Inwood Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 5,890 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 71
Course rating/slope: 68.7/122 (white tee boxes)
My score: 99 (28 over par)

Inwood Golf Course
3200 West Jefferson St
Joliet, IL 60435

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