Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 11, 2018

FROM SHINNECOCK TO PINE VALLEY

Does every golfer have a bucket list of courses they want to play. Shinnecock Hills had been on mine forever. This past Saturday I was walking the streets of NewYork at 6:00 to walk to a Hertz rental location with my clubs on my back to rent a car for the drive to Shinnecock Hills.

It was worth the walk, the drive, and the trip to New York. Shinnecock Hills was everything I imagined and more. The visual presentation was spectacular, and like all courses on TV, you have no idea of the incredible elevation change until your there to see  it and play it. This is a VERY VERY tough course with very narrow driving areas, and tough tough par 3 holes. The view from the clubhouse out over the course is amazing.

I won’t name the stud players I had the pleasure to play with, but I will say that my partner is a member of Augusta National, and a very cool and fun guy. We ended up tying our match on the 18th hole, but during the round he was very keen on trying my side saddle method. I am going to send him a STX side saddle putter to try. But like with everyone else, the key is the technique, and making sure that the left hand does NOT MOVE when you are swinging the putter.

I am not allowed to talk poorly about my putting, as I will need to putt the “LIGHTS OUT” at Pine Valley in the Crump Cup this week to be competitive. With this tropical storm coming in, I would be surprised if the course will be fast and firm like I love it there. Regardless, its Pine Valley the absolute #1 course in the world.

I’ll have some photos for you of the changes made recently to the course, especially on #12. Stay tuned also for the STOCK PICK OF THE CENTURY. If your still holding LFVN, don’t sell it.

More later, stay tuned!!

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | September 4, 2018

WILD RIDE IN AUGUST- Tesla got me good

After finishing as runner-up in the British Senior Amateur, I was shocked to learn that I had earned an exemption into the USGA Senior Amateur at Eugene Country Club. I heard its a new exemption for 2018 and beyond. I first learned of this possibility on the plane back from London when I saw my good pal David Nelson. He said I have some good news for you, and told me I was now exempt into the USGA Senior Am. I honestly thought he was playing a very bad prank on me, until the next day when I received the exemption email from the USGA.

I WAS THRILLED, as I felt I had a decent chance to play well in Eugene. Of course I had a tournament right after getting back from the UK starting on Monday with me arriving back into the USA on Saturday afternoon. Only a small problem occurred, my golf clubs did not make it on my flight somehow, despite checking in over 2 hours early.

I was promised I’d have my clubs delivered Sunday evening, as I was going to drive up to Winchester Country club for the NCGA Valley Amateur that Monday morning for a 1:00PM tee time. When the clubs didn’t arrive by midnight I knew I was in trouble. I woke early on Monday and started calling the baggage delivery service, finally getting someone to answer at 8:30 AM. They informed me that the clubs were to be delivered that afternoon. My only option was to drive the opposite direction in rush hour traffic over to Burlingame by the SF airport, and then head north in heavy Monday traffic through traffic over the bay bridge and east towards the gold country of California.

I wasn’t expecting much after my 5 hour drive, but for some reason my back felt relaxed, and I seemed to have a full range of motion. I like most everyone did not see a 66 possible that day on this golf course, but my 7 birdies, and one lone bogey gave me a tight two shot lead over my good Pal Tony Padilla heading into the last day. My first error was to commute back all the way home to Orinda, to stay, when we had the morning tee times the next day. The second error earlier was being short Tesla stock, as I thought their earnings would be lower than expected and had me sitting in a short position as I played that infamous Tuesday when Elon decided to Tweet (Considering taking Tesla private at $420, funding secured) that I first saw on day 2 when I was even par on the 9th hole. With Tesla skyrocketing I was sick to my stomach, and couldn’t concentrate on golf.

By the 10th hole they had halted trading on Tesla and I was in utter shock, at what was going on while I was trying to win a major golf tournament. My back nine started with a bogey on the 10th hole, while the others in the lead group struggled as well. By the 12th tee I was 4 shots ahead, and with a good drive on 12 I felt I could stumble in and hopefully still win. What a horrible attitude to have, try to hang onto a lead, that you’ll never succeed at doing. On the 12th hole with wedge to the green I pulled my shot left of the green, then left my first putt short of the green and then 3 putted for a double. LEAD DOWN TO TWO.

I somehow scraped a par putt in on the 13th hole, while the others made birdie. I then got some room with a par on 14th and a birdie on the tough 15th hole over water. But again the next two holes I missed the greens with sand wedge, and made a ugly bogey, and a saving par on the 17th hole. Mark Morgan and I were tied going to the easily reachable par 5 18th hole. Hitting last I cranked a drive out past the guys in my group by 30 yards and had a 6 iron to the green. I felt I needed to step on it a bit, which was completely unnecessary. I big over the top rope hook resulting in a very ugly bogey left me two back, and tied with Tony P for second place. This was one of those VERY miserable days where everything goes quite poorly and then some!!

I bailed on my short position the next day, taking a massive loss, and now await participating in the class action law suit that awaits ole Elon. It blows my mind that this guy would spout off like this, and then later so, oh going private is to distracting. What an asshole, from once upon a time a fan of his. I’ll take my lumps, but as you all may or may not remember I have recommended two stocks on this golf blog. I recommended ID Watchdog at $0.10 and it went to $0.40 when they were acquired by Equifax a year ago. And then a year ago I STRONGLY recommended LifeVantage at $3.25 a share and today it hit a high of $13.29 or almost 400% in one year. The shorting Tesla is only about having trading action, its not investing, its just fills a void for us action junkies that love volatility.

My next stock pick will probably be the best one I will ever give you, and you’ll get it in the next few posts, but for now, its back to golf.

My next decision was to wether to play in both the NCGA Amateur at Spyglass (I’m defending champion) or withdraw as the practice rounds on the USGA Senior are that Thursday and Friday (semis on Thursday and finals on Friday) I decided to play in the NCGA Match play, reaching the finals on Friday against my good friend and nemesis Tony Padilla. Tony plays his best when we are going at it head to head, and this day at Spyglass was no different. He had his A game, and I was at a B- at best. My putting sucked, and I could never put any pressure on him. The only hole I won was when Tony 3 putted the 15th hole to go 3 up with 3 to play. He bounced back with a birdie on the toughest hole on the course #15.

I bounced out of Spyglass and drove to SFO to catch a 4:00 PM flight to Eugene, arriving at the course at 6:00 the officials let me fly around the course in a golf cart and play a few holes golf. Saturday of course I got one of the early times 7:20 AM and felt very unrested. On top of that I was paired with one of the most famous guys on the planet, Jimmy Dunne playing in his first USGA event. So there were lots of people, TV cameras and photographers. I was not driving the ball particularly well, and was missing badly left and right off the tee. However once I had any kind of clear shot to the green, I took advantage of it and made birdies and pars. I three putted our 18th hole (the tough 9th hole at 445 yards) to finish at even par 72. I knew that Sunday afternoon could be rough if I didn’t straighten out me tee shots.

I was equally as wild off the tee on Sunday, and struggled mightily to keep my ball somewhere in between the tree line. This is a beautiful course with huge trees, and very penal rough. I held it together and made putts I had no business making. On our final hole, before I teed off, Jimmy Dunne said “hit the damm ball in the fairway” and for some reason that worked for me, and I stripped on down the middle, onto the green and into the cup for a closing birdie and a 73 or 145 total getting me the 10th seed. But I knew I was a fraud with all the errant tee shots, and spending some time on the range adjusting my posture and take away.

I drew USGA Legend and US Walker Cup past captain Buddy Marucci, and went to battle with only a small arsenal of shots. The match went back on forth with either of us hitting crisp great shots, especially off the tee. My back started to spasm in a place it had never spasmed before (in the middle). But finally after a very ugly 17th hole I prevailed going one up with one to go. Again somehow on 18 I was able to get the ball in the fairway with wedge left. I tugged my wedge shot just enough for it to roll to the fringe leaving me a 30 foot birdie putt. Buddy was in fairly tight at 12 feet from the pin. My first putt with eyes closed of course was stubbed half way to the hole, followed by a poor putt low of the hole. So my chance to end this match on the 18th hole was blown by a quick hit wedge left, followed by two poor putts.

Off to sudden death and back to the first tee. I appreciated Buddy’s sense of humor when he said on the tee that it certainly wasn’t our finest hour. That continued in sudden death, although on the first hole I had another chance to win, when Buddy had an 8 foot slider to save par and extend the match. On the second hole, a long par 3, I made my 4th consecutive bogey on the hole and dodged a bullet when Buddy missed a 6 foot par putt.

But it all came to an end when I double crossed a wedge into the 3rd hole leaving me an impossible up and in, I conceded Buddy’s 3 foot par putt, and was happy to dash off to the airport for the last flight back to SFO.

In hind sight did I sacrifice the USGA Senior Am by playing in the NCGA Stroke Play, perhaps I would have gone deeper into the match play rounds, but certainly wasn’t playing well enough to knock off the likes of Jeff Wilson that was many under par in most of his matches. Match play is always how you play vs your opponent and yes you can catch a guy on an off day. But that is a guy like Jeff shooting around par, not +4 or +5.

This month of August had some super highs (runner up in the Senior Amateur) and some clunker lows, but in the end it reveals the weaknesses in my game. With fatigue my long game goes from a weapon to a liability. My putting worsens as the pressure goes up. I found myself moving all over the place even putting with my eyes closed. In the end I have to be thankful as hell that I get the opportunity to compete and play in the greatest Senior Amateur events in the world. But with that said, I am competitive and mediocrity is unacceptable. So you like me always have a choice- either work harder and get better, be happy be mediocre or quit.

Today I chose to work harder and not let my body break down as badly as it did during this 7 days of golf (even riding a cart which I hate to do).

Stay tuned for the STOCK PICK OF A LIFETIME, and more on golf.

 

 

 

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | August 5, 2018

THE DREAM LIVES ON

As it took quite some time to acclimate to Senior Golf at age 55, now at 59 its my focus and dream of winning a National Championship, something that has eluded my amateur career, and has for most of us. Winning a national championship requires perfect timing, some luck, and the ability to perform at the highest level, regardless if you a pro or amateur.

The pain of missing in the USGA Senior Amateur qualifier on July 16th stayed with me as a very bad hangover through the beginning of my trip to Scotland to attempt to play in my 6th Senior Open at St Andrews. Like anything in life, when you REALLY want something, the only thing that changes is the amount of pressure that you’ll experience while competing, and that surely was the case at Big Canyon on July 16th. I played poorly, and again my putter kept me in the game, and allowed me to come to my 17th hole even par on the round. Knowing that even par was probably going to make it into the US Senior Amateur, made those last two holes play very very tough. Some say winning many tournaments and playing in 39 USGA events helps with the pressure, I would beg to differ, that it STILL is very challenging and tough to control your body, and the speed at which you play and make decisions.

The end result of my journey is I will be playing in the US Senior Amateur, based on an exemption that I was not even aware of. My trip could not have ended any better. And this morning I woke up thinking perhaps I had dreamt about the exemption, so again I look at the email I received for the USGA welcoming into an event that was very important to compete in. I will now focus all of my attention, training and energy towards being prepared for the intense pressure that comes with a match play event. I am sure most of you are aware of the difference between stroke play and match play. In match play the pressure is heightened with each shot as your opponent is right there with you shot for shot, hole by hole. And as the round progresses so does the intensity and pressure. So how do I handle the pressure of match play? I think over the years you learn that all you can do is play each shot as strategic as possible based on the situation. Some say playing match play is just like stroke play, and I disagree. If my opponent has just hit a poor shot, I will tend to counter with a more conservative shot, and vice versa with a great shot needs to be answered by a great shot by me.

In the end, match play is very exciting, and requires tremendous focus and strategy. I am so looking forward to returning to a venue where I went to the quarter-finals in the US Mid Amateur about 20 years ago. There is something about this beautiful tree lined course that fits my eye well. I am talking about Eugene Country Club which has hosted many of major golf events.

What I need now is for British Airlines to get my golf clubs to me, as they didn’t make my flight yesterday despite being at the airport 3 hours early, and flying business class. I laugh when I think they put that priority sticker on your bags, and once they leave on the conveyor belt it means absolutely nothing. Tomorrow is the start of the NCGA Valley amateur at Winchester Country Club, I be there now if I had my clubs, but it looks like a 50/50 shot I’ll have them back in time to compete in this important 2 day event.

Pretty much a jet-lagged sleepless night, but thrilled to be home

Stay tuned

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | August 4, 2018

A thrilling finish at the Senior Amateur

Nobody was ever going to catch Trevor Foster, so the second tournament was wide open for the runner-up spot.

Starting the final round I was T-6 and only two shots out of second. But the competitors ahead of me are the worlds best senior amateurs, a guy named Chip Lutz and Gene Elliott. I wasn’t really even thinking about passing them, my focus was more on having fun, and finishing strong. The round got off too a nice start with birdies at 1 & 4 followed by a bogey on the par 5 fifth hole.

As the wind picked up the scores started to rise, and I could feel that I was close to the lead for the runner-up spot as nobody was catching Trevor who was on cruise control.

After making two crucial pars on the very difficult 15th and 16th holes I knew that I had to be in the hunt. With the downwind par 5 17th hole, I knew that a birdie at a minimum was necessary.

My amazing caddy Phil, who faithfully carried my bag the previous year in the Senior open at Royal Porthcawl asked me if I wanted to know where I stood on the 17th tee. My answer this time was NO I just want to focus on these last two holes and see where I land on the leaderboard.

After a very solid drive off the 17th tee, I was left with only a 7 iron to the green. After a poor shot right, I was left with a tricky pitch from the wispy grass right of the green. I was overly cautious and hit the shot too hard and over the green leaving me with a downhill 60 foot putt that looked almost impossible to get down in two putts. My first put rolled 6 feet past the hole leaving me a tricky finishing par putt. Somehow I knew deep down that this was a crucial putt and that I needed to stay calm and confident. As most of my putts are struck while my eyes are closed, I opened my eyes to see the ball rolling true and pure right into the center of the cup!

The very difficult finishing whole requires an accurate tee shot as a bunker right and heavy gorse left protect both sides of this fairway.

After a solid drive down the right center I was left with only 130 yards to the pin which was situated in the middle tier of the green on the left. I deliberated with my caddie Phil as to whether a punch nine iron or a ripped wedge would be appropriate based on the wind conditions straight at me with a slightly downhill shot. I chose hitting a pitching wedge, which I knew I needed to strike very solidly to get the ball anywhere close. The contact was good and as I looked up I saw my ball soaring straight at the pen. From my view it look like the perfect shot, but when the gallery around the green didn’t respond I knew that I was not close, and was wondering where I had ended up on the green. My shot apparently hit about 30 feet short of the pin on the downslope and because it had so much spin into the wind that the ball back up the hill leave me with a 30 foot downhill putt. I safely two putted from 30 feet and registered my first par on this difficult finishing hole.

To my utter disbelief and shock, as I was approaching the scoring trailer I looked at the leaderboard and noticed that I was solely in second place one shot ahead of my good friend Gene Elliott.

After Gene finished with a par on the 17th hole and two putt par on the 18th hole for another par I realize that I would end up in the runner-up spot and receive the silver medal. This did not fully sink in until later at the awards presentation.

My goal for this three and half week journey was to at least do well in one of the three events I was prepared to take on during this incredible golf journey which took me through orange county to Scotland and then to Wales to the senior amateur.

My putter saved me everyday, almost to the point of being ridiculous during several stretches of each round. It honestly amazes me that I am able to make the putts I make while putting side saddle with my eyes closed at impact.

Today when I saw my good friend David Nelson on my British air flight to San Francisco, he told me that there was some good news that I was unaware of, obviously I was quite curious as to what news he had for me, and was shocked when he told me that my second place finish had earned me a spot in the field for the USGA senior amateur starting later this month.

Since I missed in the qualifier on July 16th I was quite upset that I would miss out on this National Championship on a golf course that suits my eye. After I landed this afternoon I received an official email from the United States golf Association officially inviting me into the event, I could not be happier.

As Golf goes, everyday is a different day. The first two weeks of my trip were very disappointing with my close miss in the USGA Senior Qualifier, followed by my clunker in the Senior Open Qualifier to get into the Open at St Andrews.

I had no idea that a second place finish in the Senior Amateur would land me a spot in this year’s USGA senior amateur at Eugene country club.

The trip ended on a very high note, one that I will never forget. To finish ahead of all the great American players, not to mention those from the other 23 countries is a true honor.

The people in Wales are amazing and true Golf fans. The photos below are of me and my amazing new friend and Caddy Phil. The next photo is of Nic and Peter Evan (the head golf pro at Porthcawl) I had played in the Senior Open Qualifier with Peter in 2017, and have been friends with him and his lovely family since we met.

My closing comments are true and honest, I don’t really know how I do what I do sometimes. This game is filled with way more disappointment and failure than success. I am a very lucky man to play in these great events and meet the extraordinary people I am privileged to meet that all have touched my life.

Stay tuned August is packed with events and training!

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | August 3, 2018

SENIOR OPEN AT ROYAL PORTHCAWL

Today under perfect conditions will be the final round with one player enjoying a historic 8 shot lead going into the final round.

Senior Open Live Scoring

This is the article written about one of the best rounds ever played in Senior Golf History.

Trevor Foster played one of the rounds of his life to leave the international field trailing in his wake at the 50th Seniors Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl in South Wales.

The 58-year-old Lancastrian from the Accrington and District club bagged ten birdies and dropped just one shot over the 6,776 yards of the fearsome links to be round in 63, seven clear of his nearest rivals.

“I’m a bit in a daze to be honest,” said Foster, as he came out of the scorers’ cabin.

“I felt good out there today and hit it really, really well. Probably one of the best rounds I’ve ever played,” said the retired club greenkeeper, who paid tribute to his former Lancashire team mate and captain Bill Bromilow, who was on his bag.

“He’s had all the numbers right for me. I’ve just had to hit the ball.”

Birdie spree

With a stiff breeze blowing off the Bristol Channel when Foster teed off at 9am he was soon into his stride with a birdie at the 374 yard first, hitting driver and a wedge to 10ft and holing the putt.

He didn’t pick up his next birdie until the 385 yard sixth with a 3-wood and a wedge to five feet, then he parred the short seventh before bagging four more birdies on the bounce.

He hit, driver, 3-wood and pitch to a foot to birdie the par five eighth, then driver and 8-iron to 15ft at the ninth to be out in 32.

Foster on fire

Driver, pitch to 6ft and one putt got him started on the back nine, before he hit his 6-iron to 60ft on the shorth eleventh and sank it.

He could only manage a par at the long 12th but then birdied the 438 yard 13th with a driver and a 7-iron to a foot. It was driver and 6-iron to 6ft on the 15th and another one putt before he dropped his only shot at the 16th.

His 3-wood off the tee found a poor lie in the fairway and he could only advance it 80 yards. His pitch third finished 15ft away and he took two putts.

Strong finish

Unfazed he finished in style with birdies at the two closing holes.

A drive and a 5-iron got him to the front of the long 17th and he had two putts from 60 ft, then a drive and an 8-iron finished on the front fringe at the last and he holed it from 20ft.

Winner of the Irish and West of England Seniors already this year, Foster, a former Lancashire champion at open and senior level, is playing in his third Seniors Amateur.

“I was eleventh I think at Formby and then missed the cut at Sunningdale last year when I got the worst of the weather.”

Chasing pack

Three players are in joint second place on two under par seven strokes behind Foster.

Gene Elliott from Des Moines, Iowa along with fellow American Todd Hendley from Columbus, North Carolina and East Kilbride teacher Ken Gallagher, playing in his first Seniors Amateur championship.

Elliott, joint runner-up at Sunningdale on his first appearance in the Seniors last year, finished the front nine with three birdies after dropping a shot at the fifth to be out in 34 and he was level on the way home with a bogey at the 14th and a birdie at the 17th.

Hendley had birdies at the first, sixth, eighth, 12th and 17th and dropped shots at the second, 13th and 15th.

Gallagher was out in 33 with a birdie at the sixth and an eagle at the eighth, then dropped shots at the 14th and 16th and birdied the 17th on the way home.

For me it was a mixed bag of some great stretches of holes, with both days ending in a thud. Today I will be able to enjoy a stress free round, and just enjoy the amazing vistas at Royal Porthcawl. I am pretty sure I do not have a round of 63 in me, but to finish the tournament in the red would be a great goal, and would end this very long road trip on a high.

In my next post I’ll talk a bit more about playing golf in Scotland and in Wales, more on the people here and the total experience.

Stay Tuned

Posted by: randyhaaggolf | July 30, 2018

GOLF IN SCOTLAND – THE AMAZING OLD COURSE

I’m sure many of you have been watching the Senior Open at St Andrews. While on TV it may look less than impressive, you must play it to feel the presence of the history of this magical place. There is no 1st and 18th hole in golf like St Andrews anywhere in the world. The 1st and 18th holes share a fairway that spans at least 120 yards, and you have double greens starting at #2 and #16, #3 and #15, #4 and #14, #5 and #13, #6 and #12 all adding up to 18.

We played on a calm Saturday, similar to round #1 of the Senior Open, and yes the course is a sitting duck without the wind. When the wind blows, its a completely different course. Without the wind, the 12th hole is drivable, into a strong wind, the hole is VERY tight. The downwind holes are also very tough, as you cannot stop your ball once on the green. This is not the typical golf we play here in the USA, and it does take an array of different shots to be efficient in these conditions. Many people I’ve spoken to about the Old Course have said that they didn’t really like it, thought it was a “dog” track. I completely disagree, this is the home of golf, where it all started. The city of St Andrews is amazing and beautiful, and everything about the place is magical and historic. So if you have not been there, get it on your bucket list!!

Oh so how did I do in the qualifier? For the last 5 days I kinda felt like the old saying in golf, when someone asks you what you shot, 80% of the people don’t really care, and the other 20% wish you would have shot higher. I have plenty of great excuses why I shot my worst round ever in a qualifier over here. Even after three rounds of under-par practice rounds does not mean your ready. I made many mistakes this year in my attempt to get into my 6th Senior Open. I was staying up too late at night and sleeping till late morning. My sleep pattern never normalized, so when I requested an early tee time and got it, I had no sleep the night before, not one wink of sleep. I dragged myself out of bed, tired and without any balance.

My round started with 4 straight 5’s on the card and in a deep hole. As I rallied back, I realized that an under par round was not going to happen for me, and that I needed to get as close to even as possible. As it was 73 played off, 8 players for 4 spots. After a tidy triple bogey on the 10th hole, I was pretty much done. I felt quite disgusted at not giving myself a better chance at making this years Senior Open at St Andrews. Instead I am parked in Wales in a town called Porthcawl, where Royal Porthcawl is located and prepared to host the Senior Amateur starting this coming Wednesday. Its a very tough course and is where I competed in the Senior Open last year.

All the courses over here are baked out and brown dormant fairways. However we’ve just been hit with a huge rain and wind storm the past few days that should soften up the course a bit. Stating the obvious, I’d like to end this VERY long trip with at least a respectable showing in the Senior Open, and perhaps even a W!!!

My post tomorrow will review the past 5 years with the 2 stock picks I have given you. Both have appreciated more than 300%, and I will be giving you my next pick that should appreciate more than 1000% over some time (although there are no sure things).

And stay tuned from more from Porthcawl and the start of the Senior Amateur

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