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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Great golf photos Vol. 1

Why don't we call that one good? I'd chase them too if they were dressed that badly. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Some of Jay's favorite holes Part 1 (see article below)

The frightening chasm at the par-5 2d hole of Royal New Kent. Minimum carry is 225 for the second shot. Posted by Picasa

The strategic par-4 4th at Bethpage Black. Photo by Chuck Cordova. Posted by Picasa

Mailbag! - Jay Flemma's favorite holes (Part 1)

This is from Jon in Virginia:

"Dear Jay: You've played a lot of great golf courses. What are some of your favorite holes that I can go see and play?"

Boy talk about giving a starving man a menu. The number of courses I have visited for my book had reached 220. That's alot of great golf courses and many memorable holes - some beautiful, some strategic, some terrifying and some that blend some or all of those characteristics. I'll write about more holes soon, but here are five of my favorites, in no particular order. (Four of these you can run out and play!) Pictures are above.

A. 4 at TPC Sawgrass. Par-4, 360 for pros, 339 regulation, 257 forward. Far from the camera eye and overshadowed by the finishing stretch, this is the most underrated, but strategy rich hole on the course. With the green guarded on the front by water and with a lateral water hazard on both sides of the fairway, going for the green is crazy. The green and fairway slope off in a false front into the water. Two bunkers in the back of the green make sand shots terrifying as one bladed effort and the ball is in the water hazard. A long iron or fairway metal will result in a middle to short iron to one of the toughest greens on the course as it has enormous undulations and two tiers. The shortest par-6 you ever played.

B. 5 at Bethpage. Par-4, 450. One of Tillinghast's most brilliant strategic holes. A mammoth drive must carry a cavernous crossbunker that cuts obliquely into the landing area. Take the bunker out of play by hitting safely to the left and the approach is blocked by a stand of trees guarding the pedestal green. Only a perfect hard draw will reach the green. The proper play is to heroically challenge the bunker to have a clear shot from the right side of the fairway. The pedestal green is guarded by three huge scalloped bunkers and the snack shack behind.

C. 2 at Ventana Canyon (Mountain Course). Par-4, 376. Even I need eye candy some times. Fazio set this green to a backdrop of a forest of saguaro cacti. It's primal as well as gorgeous.

D. 2 at Royal New Kent. Par-5, 505 yards. This horseshoe shaped par-5 plays around a 70 foot deep crevasse of dense, impenetrable scrub.
The minimum carry on the second shot is 225 yards to a sliver thin green which is also guarded by a bunker on the left and trees behind. Conservative players may lay up well to the left to face a shorter but just as perilous third shot approach. It is reminiscent of the fabled 13th at the Dunes, another horse shoe par-5 around a lake. Both tees shots must be placed on the right side of the fairway to offer any hope of getting home in two. The left side of the fairway is the optimum side to aim for if a player will lay up. Those who find themselves on the right and decide to play safe, have a more difficult angle of play.

E. 4 at Black Rock (Boston). Par-5, 500.
I made architect Brian Silva's day on the fourth hole of his superb private design Black Rock in the southern suburbs of Boston. When he told me I had to play my second shot OVER a five story tower of bunkers stacked into the hill like pancakes and that, once clear if the bunkers, the ball would plunge straight down the fairway to a punchbowl green, I cheered so loud you would have thought U2 was coming back out on stage to play their encore at Red Rocks. Of all the places I have played in my life, it was one of the most exciting and unique shots I have seen.

I'll write about other great holes soon, including holes from Pasatiempo, Pacific Dunes and Hiawatha Landing (which has one of the most amazing finishing stretches in the country.)

Earlier this year, I conducted a fan and reader poll of your favorite holes. Here are the results, again in no particular order. As there are two holes from Bethpage, it may be a little NYC heavy, but then again, bethpage is truly terrific.

18 at Pebble Beach
5 at Bethpage (Black)
17 at TPC Sawgrass
17 at Red Tail (Boston)
4 at Bethpage (Black)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

My first article at Golf Observer and some quick golf travel tips.

My first piece, a short biography of Old Tom Morris, is up at www.golfobserver.com. I'll also be doing some pieces here too, including reviving my mailbag features, where I answer your golf travel and golf architecture questions. Here is my piece's direct link, but read the other guys as well. They are some of the most brilliant and cutting edge minds in golf.

Lastly, here are some quick travel tips. For Midwesterners, Fowler's Mill states its case admirably as the best public course in Ohio. This Pete Dye design, built in 1971, so it's as classic as Harbour Town for Dye, battles western Ohio's excellent Longaberger Golf Club quite well for top honors. Firestone Farms in Columbiana has many interesting holes as well and is dirt cheap...as low as $38 in high season.

ISSUE: All of the greater Cleveland area courses have experienced severe drought conditions this year with some courses actually running out of irrigation water. Call to all western Ohio courses before scheduling trips and ask about conditions. Fairways at all courses on my trip were mildly brown, but the courses are doing the best they can and prices were comp[etitively low.

In Boston, Red Tail, always at the head of the class, was in fantastic condition this weekend. The native grasses had grown knee high, the greens were lightning quick and the already wonderfully sculpted and shaped fairways were pristine. Run don't walk for a tee time and look for a longer Boston piece soon at Golf Observer soon.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The par-3 11th at Pacific Dunes Posted by Picasa

bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes - Chip shots and travel tips

Bandon Dunes is a golf resort to end all arguments, one of those life experiences that defy description by mere words. It is as poetic and blessed a plot as our golf nation has ever seen – the closest thing to a terra incognita golf adventure as can be found on Earth. The courses at Bandon Dunes have not only been regarded as modern classics, but have skyrocketed to the top of every major magazine’s top 10 list, (in the case of Pacific Dunes, ranked either number one or number two). They are already immortal. Travelers the world over already revere them as the equal of Pebble Beach, Ballybunion or the great courses of the British Open Rota. Sadly, the facility cannot accommodate spectators and thus cannot host a major championship, even though it richly deserves one.

Moreover, the après golf is unparalleled. The native Oregonians and the staff are as warm and inviting as anywhere in the country and the cognoscenti who have gathered to bask in the essence of these marvelous courses are always in an inspired mood. The days seem to pass with a soothing timelessness and the sweet gorse-perfumed nights are filled with a cherished comradery found only at the rarest and most fabled golf venues. No matter how droll, monotonous, empty, meaningless or trivial life can be at its worst, if any golf destination can refill the elixir of the soul – be a restorative - it is Bandon Dunes. It is truly timeless. If you love golf, it may be the best four hours of your life. Everyone should experience the resort once in their lifetime to truly appreciate what the spirit of golf is all about. Spend more than a day here or you will barely touch the essence. Leaving this once-in-a-lifetime moment is a bittersweet nostalgia; a parting of sweet sorrow.

Spectacular, serene and seductive, soon Bandon Dunes will take its rightful place as the heart of our national golf identity. Because of the still affordable price, the remoteness of the locale and the primal, natural designs, we are privileged to live in the heady halcyon days of a nascent golf scene. It is as unspoiled an experience as can be found in the game. Come now, before commercialism, capitalism and corporations corrupt this last bastion of the old ways. Standing there on the edge of the world, contemplating how far architecture has come since the iron grip of certain designers who promote tricks and gentrification instead of architecture, with the right kind of eyes you can look at the cliffs below the grassy castle of turrets, battlements and ramparts of fairway and actually see the high water mark; that point where the great golf architecture and design wave we are riding has crested. Bandon Dunes provides the inspiration to carry that wave as far inland as we can let it sweep.

********************AUTHOR'S TRAVEL TIPS******************************

Bandon’s remoteness assures that only serious golfers are patrons. Over 100 miles from the California border, the course is also five hours from Portland, eight from Seattle, and over seven from San Francisco. Fishing, hiking trails, kayaking, horseback riding, bird watching, whale watching, wind surfing, rock formations and the quaint town of Bandon-by the Sea all round out the incredible après golf that can be enjoyed almost year-round. If there is any drawback to the facility, the rooms in the lodge are somewhat Spartan. Best of all, in low season, the course is a wonderfully inexpensive $70 with $35 replays. The caddies are well worth the investment as their course knowledge will shave many strokes off your round. They also keep the pace of play at four hours or better.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Jay Flemma joins Golf Observer.com

I am happy to announce I have joined the outstanding golf writing team at Golf Observer. Golf Observer is one of the world's leading golf information sites and golf writing cadres. It features great writers and scholars such as Geoff Shackelford, Sal Johnson, Billy Casper, Frank Hannigan and many more. My work will begin appearing there towards the end of the week, www.golfobserver.com. As you know, there is no need to keep any of my old addresses except this one, my personal site which I will use for other announcements about further golf writing sites and my golf travel books.

Thank you to everyone who reads and supports me. The esteem of one's colleagues and friends is every bit as important as monetary success. I am looking forward to spending the rest of my writing career "getting less dumb" at golf writing.

Best regards,