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Course Review – Winstar GC, Thackerville, OK

The Winstar Golf Course is located right next to the Winstar Casino that’s sitting on Native America territories right off I-35 and just north of the Red River that divides Texas and Oklahoma. Depending on what part of Dallas you’re in it’s one to two hours drive, sitting 67 miles north of DFW airport. It’s about two hours south of Oklahoma City.

The course has 27 holes, with 18 being in play at any given time. The par 72 course was designed by DA Weibring and Steve Wolfard, and with five tees on each holes it can play anywhere from 4,900 to 7,300 yards in length.  The course is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation.

I played here last weekend for the first time, and I have rarely had such an overwhelmingly positive impression of a course after just one round. All four of us in my usual foursome agreed that everything about this place is just right.

Even in the middle of a drought and three weeks of temperatures in the triple digits both fairways and greens were in great shape. The Mini Verde Bermuda greens in particular were fast but true and consistent.

The course as a whole looked great, and each individual hole was very appealing to the eye on its own. Sometimes accents were created by elaborate bunkering, and at other times the dramatic effects were increased by vegetation. Around the greens you often found a lot of different kinds of lies that challenged all parts of your short game.

The holes were challenging without being overly punitive; and there was a great sense of variety as we worked our way through the course. From the blue tees Par 5 holes range from 530 yards to 597; Par 4s range from 310 to 444, and Par 3s range from 149 to 212 yards. It’s truly a course for all levels of golfers.

The weekend green fees were only $69, and included a cart, range balls and a cooler pre stocked with water. This is a great value for anywhere close to the Dallas area.

There’s a true Golf Academy, and the facilities include a large putting green as well as a short game green.

The people were friendly and they had a great clubhouse that served an absolutely kick-ass Philly Steak-n-Egg sandwich.

Location-wise you’re less than a mile off I-35 and less than a mile from the Winstar Casino, but it’s very quiet in spite if it’s convenience.

In short, I can’t wait to go back.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

The Feherty Show on GC

David Feherty has long ranked right up there as one of the most polarizing personalities in golf commentary, along with McCord, Miller, and Faldo. It seems everyone either loves him or loathes him.

Always candid, honest sometimes to a fault, and oftentimes controversial; there’s no denying that he’s one of the true characters in golf. After a long time working for CBS he’s now joined GolfChannel in a dual role. In addition to his typical tournament commentary he’s also hosting his own 30 minute interview show.

I’ve only seen a couple of the episodes, but I think this show is a forum where he can truly blossom. He can be goofy and funny without appearing irreverent to whichever golfer has the unmitigated gall to try to putt while he’s telling a story. He can share his own life’s story, which is very interesting, while also getting to know his interviewees on a very personal level. The show is edited well, moves at a comfortable pace, and is both insightful and entertaining.

I for one am a fan, and I look forward to every new episode.

Even my wife, who at best can be described as a marginal golf fan, will watch this show with me, and this is more than can be said for anything else on GolfChannel.

Feherty can also be reached on Twitter as @fehertwit.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Enough with the “Game doesn’t suit links golf” already

The guys at the 19:th hole needs to start hitting some of the sponsor’s wares, because they’re stone cold stupid.

Again, talking about Phil, running out the old “His game doesn’t fit links golf” because he hits the high ball.  It’s been heard for decades, and it’s been bullshit for decades.

Newsflash:

  • Jack Nicklaus – High ball hitter – 3 championships.
  • Tom Watson – High ball hitter – 5 championships.
  • Tiger Woods – High ball hitter – 3 championships.

If you’re good you’ll win.  End of story.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

 

 

My British Open Picks – It’s Westwood

My buddy Tony at http://www.thegolfspace.com asks us to pick winners, a dark horse to contend, someone to flame out, and the top three.

For me, that works out to be:

WINNER – Lee Westwood
DARK HORSE – Matteo Mannesaro
FLAMEOUT – Kaymer
TOP 3 – Westwood, Day, Stricker

Westwood has two wins and nothing worse than T14 in his last eight starts. The guy is smoking hot.

For my dark horse I made myself pick someone outside the top 10 in the world ranking. Mannasero has one win and two other Top 10 finishes in his last eight.

For my flameout I decided to pick someone in the top 10. Mickelson is too easy a pick to flame out, his game is in tatters right now. Kaymer is struggling as well.

Look, I picked an American!

Jason Day has seven top nine finishes in his last 14 starts, including runner ups at the Masters and the US Open. He’s primed for a big win.

Strick has two wins and nothing worse than T19 in his last eight starts.

Hot Weather Golf Tip – Wear a Rain Glove

It’s July in Dallas. We’re looking at weeks on end with temps in the hundreds. Other places have wicked humidity along with the heat.

At times like this it becomes increasingly challenging to keep a good grip on a golf club. It’s tough enough to stay hydrated and upright without having to worry about the club slipping out of your hands.

I’ve found that on really hot and humid days your best bet for getting a grip is to wear a rain glove. They’re usually not lined, like the cold weather gloves, but they’re specifically designed for providing grip in wet circumstances. I usually keep them on for putting and everything. If the environment is particularly severe I’ve been known to wear two rain gloves, to help with my right hand grip as well.

Plus, you’ll look like a Bad Ass with the black gloves on.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Who The Heck Is Neil Schietekat?

I watch a fair amount of pro golf, and I read about it both on line and in the printed press, but there still comes times when I run across a name I just don’t know anything at all about. I like to learn, so I google’em, and since you might like to learn as well I thought I’d share a few tidbits about Neil Schietakat, who tees off at 6:10 AM at The Open.

  • Born 1/31/84 in Harrismith, South Africa.
  • Has participated in the Africa swing of the European Tour for the past four years.
  • Best finish this year was 2:nd place in the Telkom PGA Championship on the African Tour.
  • Ranked 452 in the Offical World Golf Ranking.
  • Qualified for The Open by way of a qualifying tournament in South Africa in January.
  • Nicknamed “Skietie”.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

“Morgongymnastik” – Morning Exercises

The idea of a morning exercise program has been around about as long as there has been physical exercise. The benefits include getting your heart going a bit, getting more oxygen to the brain, and to stretch out the muscles that may have tightened up overnight.

Growing up in Sweden the term that was used was “Morgongymnastik”, and that’s still how I think about it. An Olympic medalist named Bertil Uggla had a daily radio show from 1929 to 1945 where he would walk his listeners through a fairly fundamental series of exercises, and it’s still a term that’s in use today.

Today it’s still common practice for large crowds to gather in squares throughout Asia to perform a morning program that borrows from martial arts, tai chi, and Pilates. The Sun Salutation that’s part of many Yoga routines is another example of a way to start your day.

Well, I have started doing something alone these lines over the past year or so, and I have to say that the benefits have been significant and tangible, and a big part of my improvement as a golfer. I highly recommend you incorporate something like this into your exercise routine wherever possible.

What I do takes only about 15 minutes, doesn’t require any equipment or special clothing, and I usually don’t even really break a sweat. My routine is a combination of stretching and flexibility exercises that works every part of my body. My focus is on back strength and flexibility, and I also focus on countering the tightness that builds up in my legs because I sit all day (back of thighs, front of hips). I use some things I learned doing Physical Therapy after my back surgery a few years ago, a few yoga and Pilates movements, and a couple of things I came up with myself. I won’t list them in detail because what would benefit you may be completely different from what’s working for me.

I have noticed several tangible benefits as a result of this program. They may not be much, depending on your age and how your health is, but they are very real to me:

Leg Cramps – My hamstring would cramp up fairly regularly, sometimes after as small of a thing as rolling over in bed. When I do my stretches regularly it almost never happen anymore.

Back health – It’s one of those things you take for granted but if you’ve ever gone through a period in your life when your back was weak or in pain, as I have, then you will definitely appreciate this one. It’s currently no problem for me to just bend down, pick something up off the floor, and get back up again. I don’t have to position myself a certain way. I don’t have to put a hand on a chair. I don’t have to get down on one knee.

Sudden Impacts – I used to have to brace myself whenever I would cough, sneeze, or ride my golf cart over a bump. If I didn’t, my back would be in pain. Now, I don’t have to worry about these things at all (from a back point of view, anyway).

Posture – I’m much better able to maintain a correct posture when I sit, rather than slumping and letting gravity have its way with me.

Weight – When I do my exercises regularly I find that it’s a lot easier for me to maintain my weight, or even to lose weight. Using the whole body is key to this, and I also think that doing something like this in the morning increases your metabolism all day long.

More Golf – Doing these exercises is key for me being able to play and practice golf without pain and injury. No matter how early my tee time is, I get up early enough to run through a quick program before I head out the door.

Better Golf – Flexibility, balance, and core strength. They are key elements of a golfer’s fitness, and they are all improved as a result of my “Morgongymnastik”.

Your program may be fundamentally different from mine. Be careful and be sensible. But I highly recommend you do SOMETHING.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Carnoustie – My Favorite Open Track

When it comes to dream courses I’d like to play, I’m really no different than 99% of all golfers: It’s St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, and Augusta National. You just can’t argue with the diverse history and appeal of these three courses.

But because they’re so obvious, let’s take them out of the running for a bit and talk about where else we’d like to play. A course that’s always been close to the top of the next echelon in my book is Carnoustie. It is widely acknowledged as being the most difficult course in The Open rotation, and it has a long and storied history as well as some very dramatic and tragic recent finishes.

Golf has been played on the Carnoustie links since the early 16:th century, but the official course opened in 1842, having been designed by Allan Robertson and Old Tom Morris. The original course only had 10 holes. Another eight holes were added in 1867.

The Open Championship was first hosted by Carnoustie in 1931, won by Tommy Armour, and it has been played there six additional times. Some of the more memorable tournaments were 1953, when Ben Hogan won his third major for the year; 1999, when Jean Van De Velde melted down in a nuclear reactor sort of a way on 18 to allow Paul Lawrie to win; and 2007, when Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff after more drama on the 18:th hole. Other winners include Henry Cotton in 1937, Gary Player in 1968, and Tom Watson in 1975.

While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the 18:th hole a bit. It may possibly be the best finishing hole in all of golf. A 499 yard beast of a par four, with the famed Barry Burn running across and along the entire hole much like a Python Snake squeezing the very last bits of energy and courage out of a golfer’s body and soul. Van De Velde took a seven here in 1999 to fall back into a playoff which he would go on to lose. Harrington put two balls in the creek in 2007 to double bogey the hole, allowing Garcia to slide into a playoff even though he bogeyed the hole himself.

There are several courses that copy holes from Scotland and the UK, such as Royal Links in Las Vegas or The Tribute here in Dallas. It’s very unfortunate that neither layout has included a copy of this magnificent hole.

It has not been announced when Carnoustie will next host The Open.

Keep’em in the short stuff.

Digging On Oostie

Louis Oosthuizen is quickly becoming one of my favorite golfers. I have been watching him for about two and a half years now (since we first got a puppy and someone – me – had to get up very early on weekend mornings to let her out and there was nothing else on TV but the European Tour), and I’m very happy to see the success he’s had. His talent level was obvious, but now we’re getting to know his personality a bit as well.

He’s got that gap in the front of his mouth that looks like a Tom Watson/Alfred E Neuman/David Letterman remix, but you see it a lot because it seems he’s always smiling, both on and off the course.

I loved seeing him with his wife and young daughter at the Par 3 contest at the Masters. His daughter wore “OOSTY” on her back, because she’s too small for the whole long last name to fit on her onesie.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images North America)

And now he’s playing the week before The Open, where he’s the defending champion, because he wanted to make a pilgrimage of sorts to the John Deere plant. His manager said he had to take Louis’ credit cards away from him or he would spend way too much money shopping for his farm back in South Africa. In the interviews about it he’s been funny and self-effacing, and coming across as a really cool guy.

He’s got a great swing and actual personality. What’s there not to like?