Western Vaction, Part 4: “Talking ’bout the Y-M-C-A”

Let’s see, where did I leave off? Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

Monday morning, we went on a group hike on the Waterfall Trail, which was a pretty easy hike except for the fact that we are already at 8700 feet and we had to herd a gaggle of elementary school aged hikers. Kind of a funny thing at the end: we hiked and hiked, looking for a waterfall, and we got to this place that was kind of like a waterfall. We took some pictures and everything. Then we looked around the corner of the path and then we saw the real waterfall pictured here.

Monday afternoon, I played golf with a couple brothers-in-laws Sean and Dan (who was a real trooper since this was only the second or third time he played golf in the last five years) and my father at this place called Pole Creek Golf Course. I took some pictures with my cell phone, but I screwed up and didn’t save any of them. It’s too bad because it was a really beautiful course. Play-wise, it was an interesting place because some of the holes were relatively easy– I actually won the par contest with a total of 4– and some of the holes were im-fucking-possible– I ended up with about 120 for the round, and that’s with a fair amount of cheating along the way. Expensive, but well worth it.

Monday night included much roasting of marshmallows and creating of s’mores around the fire. Ah, camp….

Tuesday has featured stuff around the YMCA camp. Will and I made a visit to the craft area where we made a catapult– I’ll have to upload the picture for that later. The craft center was pretty nice. All the kids made tie-dyed t-shirts the previous day, a couple of them made little boats and stuff. I’m sure we could go down there and make those lanyard things out of the plastic strips from camp.

Then it was time for family pictures, some minigolf, some hanging out, etc. The camp is nice– beautiful scenery and nice facilities– but it is a little, well, wholesome for my tastes. It’s not like religion is being shoved down my throat or anything like that, but there are many young people sitting around the lobby where I’m typing this message quite busy studying their bibles.

More later; in the meantime, check out the uploaded photos.

36 Holes is a bit too much…

There’s a golf course around here called Hickory Sticks that I play at on a fairly regular basis because it’s a nice course (hilly, challenging, but still a kind of “intermediate” course) and also because they have some pretty good deals for greens fees. Yesterday, Steve B. and I took advantage of such a deal: $50 for two players, all the golf you can play. $25 apiece is a pretty good deal for 18 holes around here; the question we had was could we “pig out” on golf, become the proverbial fat guys at the all-you-can-eat buffet who tries to put ’em out of business with their gluttony?

Okay, I exaggerate a smidge.

My play (and I think Steve B.’s too, though he was not in his usual form all day, really) declined during the day, though it started with a 49 on the front 9, the lowest score for 9 on a “real course” I’ve had in quite a while, maybe ever. I had a 56 for the back 9 (I think), salvaging a very respectable (for me) 105 for the round. The third 9 wasn’t as good, and by the time the fourth 9 came around, well, we were tired, we decided to have some beers while playing, and there were some assholes hitting into us behind us, too.

A fine time overall, though I don’t think I’ll be doing that again anytime too soon. This was (obviously) an all-day deal, and I just don’t have that kind of free-time, even in the summer. At least not right now.

New clubs are fun, but…

… they ain’t much help with my game yet.

I’ve been out a few times with these new golf clubs a few times now: once for 9 (just me, just at Hickory Woods, which is a goofy-little par 3 sorta course that has the attraction of costing $10 and easy to finish in about 2 hours), and twice for 18: once with Steve B. and Bill HD at Hickory Sticks, and once yesterday with Steve B. and Craig. A few things I’ve learned recently:

  • No more playing in the rain. I wasn’t myself after Thursday’s round until a nice long hot shower took away the cold numbing my fingers and toes. By the way: it figures that today, when I have lots of family plans and commitments, the weather is beautiful.
  • During both of these rounds, I had pretty good front nines, and I had absolutely crapola back nines. For example, yesterday I shot a 51 on the front and a 64 on the back. Ick.
  • My new Adams Redline three wood is the best club I bought. No question.
  • I kind of need to relearn how to hit with these new clubs. I’m not entirely sure why, but I seem to be hooking all of my irons, though when I hit them (or my woods) right, I realize that I frequently line up kind of cock-eyed. In other words, I’ll hit the ball straight, but still not where I want it to go.
  • It doesn’t matter if I drive well, hit the ball from the fairway well, and putt decent. If I’m going to have three dumb-ass little chips around the green, I’m still going to do badly.
  • Even with all of this, the new clubs are fun. When I hit the ball well (and I have hit the ball well a number of times), I look and feel like I know what I’m doing. There’s a feel from these clubs, at that short moment when you make contact with the ball, that is somehow much more satisfying than I had with my previous (and quite old) golf clubs.
  • I just got to practice a bit more so I have that feeling more often. Which will be fun.

    My new golf clubs

    I’m pretty sure that the only person who (semi) regularly reads my unofficial blog and who will care about this is my father, but I thought I’d post about my new golf clubs anyway.

    A bit of background: when Annette and I went on the job market this year (and, it seems to me, I said something like this last year, too), I said that if she ended up with a tenure-track job here and/or we decided that we weren’t going to move, I was going to buy new golf clubs. I’m pretty sure that Annette thought that neither of these scenarios were that likely, because her response was “yeah, whatever.” Well, lo and behold, Annette got the offer for a tenure-track job here at EMU, we’re likely to be here for a long time (and quite happy about that, too), and, true to my word, I decided to buy new clubs.

    Some more background: I golfed when I was a kid, but I gave it up from high school until about three or four years ago (give or take a few rounds here and there when I was in college and a few times after that). What motivated me to start playing again? Well, lots of things, but mainly because I have some friends/colleagues who also like to golf around here, and I guess I’m close enough to being middle-aged to find a new appreciation to the game.

    Okay, just a little more background: I’m a pretty crappy golfer. For 18 holes on a “real” golf course, a good round for me is about 110. I’d like to get to a point where I was shooting in the low 90s on a regular basis. For the uninitiated who are still reading this message, par (what you would “ideally” score) on most golf courses is 72, and, on the courses I play, the kind of pro golfers you see on TV could probably shoot in the high to mid 60s without trying too hard. So yeah, relative to good golfers, I suck quite badly. My main goal is to get to a point where I am merely a kind of crappy golfer, and actually, I think new clubs might help me get there. Maybe.

    For the last four or so years, I’ve been playing with my now deceased grandfather’s clubs. It’s a long story, but my Grandpa Krause also played golf left-handed (though he was quite a bit more ambidextrous than I am), so I inherited his clubs. They’ve served me well enough, but they were at least 10 years old, probably more. So it was time for an upgrade.

    Okay, with all that, here’s what I bought:

    • A set of Powerbilt Grand Slam irons, which look like this. I bought these new with the help of my friend Joe. Interesting story: when I went to the golf store to shop for these, the guy at the store was trying to sell me on Cleveland of Callaway irons, which were literally twice as expensive as these things. Joe pointed out the Powerbilts. I spent a few minutes hitting a 7-iron of each of these three different brands of clubs, and while all of them seemed better than what I have now, I couldn’t tell that much difference between the expensive and less expensive clubs. Certainly not twice the difference. Thus my Powerbilt purchase.
    • A Powerbilt 7 wood. What can I say? I like the lower-end name-brand clubs.
    • A (slightly used) Cleveland Launcher driver, which looks like this but did not cost me near this much money. A pretty good deal.
    • An Adams Redline 3 wood, which was originally listed at $245 and which I bought for $80 (0r something like that). Also a good deal.

    I’m probably going to keep carrying my grandpa’s 5 wood, at least for a while, and I might figure out a way to have his old 7 wood (a real antique, actually made out of wood and everything!) mounted or framed or something.

    Sadly, the weather around here is forecasted to be pretty crappy for the next few days, so I might not be able to actually try my new clubs out on the course. Oh well. At least I had the shopping the experience.