I am writing this post while on a 7 hour flight back from Costa Rica. How was the experience? It was long and grueling, playing 5 completely different courses with different grasses and conditions.
I had written a long draft post about the California State Senior at Wilshire CC, but decided not to post it. I have the utmost respect for the SCGA, and I will never write anything that undermines what they do for the game of amateur golf. The challenge that the SCGA faces is getting top venues to host their events. Wilshire is considered by many to be a very good test of the game. However for me, it was a miserable place to play golf. The greens had been punched two weeks prior and did not come back very well. They were fast, but not true. The course is short, so its defense is undulating fast greens, and multiple fairway bunkers on most every hole. I guess the course did not suit me well.
Nobody likes to hear excuses of why someone didn’t play well, and when someone asks “what did you shoot” the fact is 75% really don’t care and the other 20% wish you’d shot higher, leaving perhaps 5% that do care. You are playing against the best senior amateurs in the State and they all have EGO, and want to stack up well against their peers.
I had absolutely no game at Wilshire, and missed the cut with rounds of 75-80 after being runner-up 3 of the past 5 years. I did nothing well, and was happy to not have to play the course again a third day. I did not hear one player say anything good about their experience at Wilshire. And the truth is they didn’t even treat us very well there. I have to laugh, they wouldn’t let you take a cart to the driving range which was about 400 yards away. With my bad ankle that extra walking was not welcomed. At the player meals you had to give them your name before they would issue you a plate. My god really?
The crazy thing about that was all the wasted food that was brought out when I was the last person eating after the last tee time on Tuesday. They completely restocked the whole Buffett when nobody was left to eat. Maybe I am just a bitter poor sport, that hates to lose, and playing shitty on a short course that should be taken down, is just not acceptable regardless of the conditions, everyone has to play it, and I did not do a very good job mentally of grinding it out like the other top players did. Totally my bad!!
But when the winning score is +2 over par ( a hearty Congrats to Hall of Famer Casey Boyns) then something is wrong, as opposed to an under par total at The Preserve which technically is WAY more difficult than Wilshire. The players I spoke to ALL said they couldn’t understand how the course could be in such poor shape for a major championship. Obviously the club didn’t care as they punched the greens two weeks prior to the event, but in the end, they did give us access to their course when the majority of the top courses in So. Cal do not, so for that, THANK YOU Wilshire CC.
I’m sure that someone perhaps from the SCGA will read this and take offense, but if you read what I have written very carefully, everything is exactly the way it is, nothing is exaggerated at all.
The good news is I got to leave after two excruciating rounds, and head to San Luis Obispo to a course that was in amazing shape with greens running close to 15. Mike Rowley knows how to run a first class event, and he’s been doing it for over 20 years. He attracts players like Fred Couples, John Daly, Loren Roberts, Kenny Perry, Bob Ford and many other tour winners like major winner Larry Mize . Its a two day pro/scratch that has everything you could ever want in an event. I’ve know Mike for over 20 years now, he’s a class act, runs a great company, and really cares about the game of golf.
His global company Straight Down, is now launching a new line of very cool golf shoes. With my $150 gift certificate I got a pair and wore them in Costa Rica. I must say I love em, and would highly recommend you try a pair!
My partner in the event is one of the most liked guys I’ve ever known. Now almost 5 Years as Director of Golf at the Olympic Club, Will Hutter has made a significant contribution to our club. Getting to play and hang with him for the weekend was awesome. We battled hard, but suffered my first career team triple bogey on the tough downhill par three 14th hole. I will spare you the details. I hope to play in this event as long as Mike and Will will have me. At Mike’s house on Saturday night for a small dinner gathering, I was able to corner Loren Roberts and ask him about what makes him putt so great. To be honest I cannot remember exactly what he said, other than match you speed with a line that you feel is best for that putt, that’s all you can control.
Off to Costa Rica on a red eye after driving back home Sunday night to do laundry, repack and head to the airport. What the hell was I thinking with an injured ankle that requires surgery on Dec 18th to now fly to Costa Rica for another 6 rounds of golf.
I’m thinking when you’re 60, you start thinking about how many more years will I be able to keep doing this, as opposed to being 25 and thinking you’ll live forever and time is on your side. Since the event was a WAGR points event, I wanted to play to see if I could make up for my missed cut on the State Senior that will ultimately hurt my world ranking (currently 7th in the WAGR for 55+)
The bottom line in Costa Rica was I went from greens running 15 to 5. The grass and green speeds in Costa Rica are the slowest I have ever experienced anywhere in the world. Honestly when you have the YIPS, and you need to put a hit on a putt, you are going to struggle mightily and I did. In round one, I hit so many quality shot, only to three putt and walk off with yet another bogey. The first course we played was Costa Rica CC, its nine holes you play twice from different tees, and one different green. The first hole is a par three up a steep hill plays 140 and 160. In both rounds I hit really good shots within 20 feet and walked off with a bogey and a four putt double bogey 5.
I shot a cool 80 on a 6,000 yard course. I played better the next day at a longer course to move up a bit. Heading into the final round I knew that I actually would hurt my WAGR ranking if I did not finish 3rd or better. I entered the final round tied for 5th after rounds of 80-74. The last course also located in San Jose Costa Rica was the best of the three courses. It was called Cariari Country Club a 6500 yard course that played more like 7200 yards, very tight and tough. I was too far behind to win the event, but knew that 3rd was possible. I got off to a good start, then bleed out a few bogeys.
Coming to the last hole I knew I was in the hunt for 3rd, and with a made 4 foot slider for par on the 18th hole, I accomplished my goal of 3rd, with the champion at age 15 and second place finisher all of 18. I was low senior, but most importantly I notched a few WAGR points to hopefully maintain my 7th position, as now the top 15 senior amateurs in the world are exempt into the USGA Senior Amateur.
San Jose Costa Rica is not a place you want to visit. It felt dangerous, the traffic was horrific, and its not beautiful like the Costa Rica coastline. If this event in the future would be at a Seaside venue I would return, but I have seen San Jose for the last time other than driving out of it from the airport.
Back home tonight so I can share with you my scathing letter I am sending to the Board at Helius Medical. I have never seen a company make so many mistakes. In my next Post I will give you a longer apology for those of you that took my suggestion and bought shares of this company. But remember the device does work, and they will one day have a major uptick I believe.