We may finally be heading towards some better golf weather in Northern California as today was calm and pleasant at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex. What wasn’t calm and pleasant was my frustration and attitude on the golf course. Since my 7 year absence from this great event, things have definitely changed, and I’m not sure for the good. First off I was misquoted last weekend when the article posted on Amateurgolf.comq said “the Alameda courses were in better shape than the home of the 2012 US Open Olympic Club Lake course”. I didn’t bother contacting anyone about that, but I have gotten some grief over the quote (good to see so many people are on the awesome site). That was no big deal, as you cannot compare the Chuck Corica courses with the famed Olympic Lake course. Currently the Lake course is in amazing shape and will be a real treat for those playing in the upcoming California State Amateur at the Olympic Club later in June.

Back to the Earl Fry North course. My main issue was the pin positions today, there were 12 of 18 pins that where 9 paces or less from the front of the green, and in all cases in either the left or right corner. I’m all for a good test, but what kind of test is it when you are relying on bounces and caroms to get a ball close to the pin. Even after a good shot, you’d be faced with  a very difficult putt as the holes where all cut on a side slope. Over 30 years I have never seen such pin positions in ANY event I’ve played. I am a big believer in the 6-6-6 concept, which is 6 tough, 6 moderate, and 6 pin positions that are relatively accessible.

I guess I can’t complain about the gnarly rough just off the very tight fairways and around the greens, but if you short sided your self in the rough, you have little chance to get the ball close to the hole. My strategy today was to leave the driver in the bag and hit 3 metal off the tee to keep out of the penal rough. I was successful for the most part, but again found myself making bogeys with 56 and 60 degree sand wedge shots to the green. The problem for me was I’m behind and trying to make up shots on the leaders, which led to trying to execute perfect yardage shots to all the front pins. This worked on the first two holes, with birdies, but on the 3rd and 5th holes where I had 60 degree sand wedge shots, it didn’t leading to disappointing bogeys. My game is not well suited for this course, it never has been. I’m seldom going to win the sand wedge game against the guys that are REALLY good with these clubs (George Gandranata and Rick Reinsberg come to mind, along with the KING of the Commuters Bob Blomberg who still tries to hole every shot he sees).

Being in the rough is now a big penalty, which means the guy that wins tomorrow will find a way to keep it in the fairway and most importantly be patient. I was not patient today and several times I lost my cool and beat my club into the turf in frustration. That is NOT how I like to conduct myself, and I feel a bit embarrassed by lack of patience and I truly apologize to those that may have witnessed it.

The San Francisco City should take a chapter out of how this event is run. The San Francisco City has a great group of dedicated and hard working guys that do their best to make it run smoothly. Their biggest challenge is the cost to run the event with the green fees required by SF. The Commuters must have over a 100 local business that are prominently displayed on the tees and around the putting green. This allows the Alameda Committee to keep the entry fee at a very reasonable level at $135 which is $33.75 per round for those making the cut, and $67.50 for those that play 36 holes. In this economy this is a huge issue for those playing in the San Francisco City where you pay $150 entry for one or two rounds, and then $70 every time you advance in the event. It seems to me that the San Francisco communities would support the historic SF City and contribute to keep the cost in line with other local events.

The Alameda Commuters committee members are some of the friendliest and dedicated gentlemen I’ve seen at any event I’ve ever participated in. These guys are proud of this longstanding event, and create a feeling of goodwill amongst the players. With that said, here are my suggestions for improvement.

  • Cut the opening field to 180 players (90 on each course) and play in groups of three to avoid the 5+ hr rounds
  • Use the NCGA pace of play policy with red/yellow/green cards during the round, which will enforce a proper pace. Some of the younger players need to learn how to play at an except-able pace
  • The rough and tight fairways are great, but don’t put the pins up front and in the corners on 2/3 of the holes
  • Provide better range balls that don’t hook then cut or cut then hook during warm up, it seems for $7 for a medium bucket the complex could provide range balls that aren’t so cut up

Normally the  results link would be here, but the results haven’t been posted yet.

Tomorrow I’ll post the final results and early next week I’ll post the results from the Whisper Rock National Invitational.

Stay Tuned

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