Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Legitimate Golf Diaries, volume 1

#10 at Dyker Beach, first hole of the day.
It was a muggy 93 degrees today in NYC, and I attempted to play some golf. So this blog's gonna be some kind of a journal for every one of your boring rounds, huh?

I don't know! We'll see. But as I'm working on some cool content for you all, in the meantime this'll just have to do.

Temp-wise 93 wouldn't seem so bad. But the humidity was severe, enough to put us under heat advisory from the Weather Service. I knew that going into it. But here's some indication of the psychological scarring I've built up from playing a lot of golf in the city--extreme weather calls out to me, because it means I just might score a quick round.

It was empty enough alright. That's because it was officially too hot to play. Brutal sun and sticky air that makes it a challenge just to grip the club right. Let's cut to the chase--it was an abortion. I shanked an iron on the second. I had a ball vanish on me on the seventh hole, and didn't finish it. Three holes to go and an unexpected isolated t-storm sent me running back to the clubhouse--from the furthest end of the course.

The storm didn't last long but I was exhausted from all that running, and rather than go back out to the course I jumped on the last bus into Manhattan. I've been questing for a solid 18 hole round since I haven't broken 80 once this year, but it would have to wait, again.

It was a logistical headache, but using ESC I cobbled together a simulated score of 91, for handicap purposes. It definitely occurred to me to pretend like this whole wreck never happened, as far as statkeeping's concerned. But no, that's not how I'm gonna roll.

Yup, just gonna let it all hang out, let my handicap index go wherever it's meant to go. No fudging, no denials, no deciding mid-round that a round is now a "practice round". USGA says thirteen holes is enough to constitute a score for handicap, guess I will have to enter it. Sure I'd rather my handicap not balloon upwards, but hey--what good is a handicap system if it's built on a foundation of lies. To be dishonest with the system would render it all a big elaborate lie. And who needs that.

So yeah after entering this score my handicap goes up nearly a full stroke to (11.6). I played around a seven for most of last year, so this is bumming me out right now believe me. But what can I do; the number reflects the times. My golf consumption is way down this year.

Anyways not much else really to say about the round, cept that I strung together a bunch of GIRs at the end there, so things are looking okay for my quest to score one in the 70s soon. Guess that'll be a theme for the time being I guess.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 24, 2013

IBP: Rise of the Machines

Yesterday world number one golfer Inbee "IBP" Park won for the fifth time this year on the LPGA, reaffirming the emergence of yet another Asian as the runaway best player in women's golf.

This week is the U.S. Women's Open on Long Island NY, and here she'll be attempting to win a third "major" event consecutively. Just how "major" these women's events are is open to debate, but IBP has now won 7 of her last 23 starts, and that is indisputably pretty excellent.

As of today, there are just three white women in the top ten of the world rankings, only one of them American. Make of that what you will.

Many will see the rise of IBP as another blow to an already-flagging LPGA product. In the other half of the golf world though, many more will view her success as a triumph of hard work, steady nerves, quiet self-confidence and more importantly some kick-ass putting. (Park is ranked first and second in both putting stats available on LPGA.com).

I say "Why not?" I caught a bit of the end of yesterday's tourney and was pretty darned impressed with IBP's play over the last couple holes. She swung with confidence, putted with conviction and if you look closely, seems to have developed the stare of a real tournament killer. (If there was a putt to save the world I think that an Asian woman, either IBP or Ai Miyazato, would probably represent mankind's best hope.)

No matter how boring a player seems, winning golf tournaments in bunches demands attention. So it'll be interesting to see how this week's U.S. Women's Open, i.e. far and away the biggest tournament in the women's game, plays out and what kind of fanfare will accompany IBP's bid for major championship immortality.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Legitimate Golf Farewell

This week we bid a Legitimate Golf farewell to my good friend and fellow Legitimate Golfer Dr. T.

A native Canuck, the doc had been living in New York City while working as a resident at one of the big hospitals around here. About a month ago though, he accepted a work offer back home in the North. It bums me out to lose a trusty golfing cohort; however I'm genuinely glad for him, because this is a horrible place for golfers and athletically-minded people in general.

Dr. T attempting to negotiate #6 at Bethpage Black. He'd go on to eagle the next hole.
As a young resident he was worked like a slave, afforded just one lousy day off per week. I was always complimented by the fact that he chose to spend a lot of those precious days golfing in the ghetto with yours truly.

We played lots of rounds together over the last year and there were too many close nassau games to count. Dr. T has got a great swing and a natural feel for the game that is enviable (big hitter too, the doc). Somehow though, I was able to make some putts and win a fair share of our bets. I have a feeling though in the end he's probably a few bucks ahead.

Lots of great memories but in particular there was one time we challenged some guys to a best-ball match. Just a random pairing on a weekend in Brooklyn, a couple of youngish dudes with that whiff of junior exec arrogance about them. Not especially good golfers, but we were certain that their egos would forbid them from shrinking from a friendly bet. So we thought it'd be fun to try and rearrange the money distribution in the universe a little bit.

Of course before I could even finish asking, they took our bet. And it was tremendous fun--I pulled out a back nine 37 and we ran away with it. We realized that there's a good amount of free money out there, if you have the nerve to ask for it. I thought we made a solid best ball team, between the doctor's intimidating length and high ball flight and my own annoying way of chipping 'em close and saving pars.

We were looking forward to hustling all across the tri-state metro area but alas--it was not to be. As I told the doc, his sudden departure leaves me kind of devastated. I'll pick up the pieces and find a way to carry on though. Hopefully he'll be spreading the good word of Legitimate Golf up there in Canadia, and hopefully we haven't heard the last of him. Stay cool, hit em straight, Dr. T.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ghetto Golf, Volume 1: Express Bus edition

Occasionally I am asked about what it's like playing golf while living in this urban hellhole, relying only on public transportation. I won't lie, it's a fairly hardscrabble life compared to that of most of the golfing universe. So I thought I'd try and photojournal some of the experience.

Contrary to popular belief and to the surprise of even a lot of people who live here, there are golf courses inside of New York City limits, at least a couple in every borough except Manhattan. Full on, 18 hole par 71s and 72s. Up to 6,900 yards if that's what you're into. A few of them are even directly accessible by public transit. Which technically I should be grateful for, I think.

It's not easy though, bringing a golf bag on a subway or bus. Space is already tight, and there's plenty of climbing up and down steps. People in your face all the time. Not being mindful, you might find yourself locked in a random conversation with a guy who played golf one time. Sometimes trains are crowded and you have to stand, which means wrangling the bag with one hand and holding on for dear life with the other. All this takes a fair amount of practice before you can do it without stressing yourself out.

Last year Golf Digest managed to spot a golfer in the NYC subways and ran these shocking Bigfoot-style photos.
My own subway trip, I'll cover in another post. Today, we'll be traveling via MTA "Express" bus. This particular route runs from midtown Manhattan all the way to the southern tip via Broadway and by chance, stops right in front of the Dyker Beach course in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. (Fun fact--it's where TV's Scott Baio hails from.)

There are maybe eight or nine 18 hole courses within the city limits. But this route is by far the shortest. On a good day I can get there in about 45 minutes.

(I live about a mile across town from the nearest bus stop. I could either walk or ride a bus or train there, but typically my trip starts with a short bike ride.
Stock photo to give you a rough visual--I assure you this isn't me.
It took me a while to work up the nerve to actually strap on my golf bag and go for a bike ride, but once I did it became normal pretty fast. It's a pretty sweet way to get around, you just have to get used to the wide load. Sometimes I underestimate the width and some sideview mirrors get bumped.)

Ok, here I am arriving at Union Square, where I'll park the bike and catch the bus. Centrally located, its a major juncture of nearly every city subway line making it a popular meetup spot as well as gathering area for skaters, creepers, drifters, activists and other assorted scum.

Looking north uptown, there's the Empire State Building. Think I see our bus coming; somehow, it's on time.

Express Bus is the lux route compared to the subway. There are: fewer stops, fewer passengers, plush seats and tinted windows. On a good day its the fastest ride out there. All this is reflected in the fare, which costs 240% more than the standard subway or bus ride.

 Passing through Greenwich Village/NYU area.

Crossing Houston ("HOW-stun" is what its called over here) Street into SoHo. Renowned shopping destination. For jerks.

As a matter of fact yes, stuck behind tourists again.

The signage there commemorates the Canyon of Heroes section of Broadway, site of many a triumphant historic victory celebration. Except that one time when Jay-Z copped a ride on the Yankees' float, which quite frankly kind of sucked.

A rare bit of inspiration in a golf-barren wasteland.

Zucotti Park, which you might recognize as the site of the "Occupy Wall Street" event. I played a lot of golf during the movement, and got a front seat to history just by taking this bus route to course. I was there man.

In today's New York City, a slice of pizza costs a dollar, and sucks.
In New York City, Subway stores feature classic gothic architecture.

Serving up NYC's famous "dirty water" hot dogs.

Shoe shine guys doing business on the sidewalk.

 At times, it feels practically third world over here.

There's some tourists, worshipping at the Wall Street bull.

Finally, we've reached 1 Broadway at the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

It's really tiny, in the left half of the shot, but technically I am showing you a photo of the Statue of Liberty here.

Entering the Battery Tunnel. This thing got completely flooded by Hurricane Sandy last fall, putting a major dent in my golf routine.

Trying to snap this photo I accidentally used the flash. I was mortified at what I had become but hey, just one of the costs of running a blog I guess.

Welcome to shitty Brooklyn! While there is a decent part to Brooklyn, somewhere, this isn't it; this is the harsh, industrial, polluted butt end. Here we are on the expressway. There's Staten Island in the distance, and that tall bridge over yonder, if you can make it out, is the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island and we're headed towards the base of it.

After a few boring miles of expressway, our exit approaches. 

 And here we are in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

 See ya!

A quick trip today--about 45 minutes from pickup and here we are at lovely Dyker Beach Golf Course (and Dog Run). Time to shake off the cobwebs from the bus ride and tee off.

Hope you've enjoyed this little slice of life. Naturally there's a few sights I missed out on this trip, but don't worry they'll get covered in an upcoming edition. Stay tuned for that and others including "Ghetto Golf: Subway edition".

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Welcome to a new website about golf. Where we'll talk about your game, my game, the pro game and probably anything in between. To be honest we don't really know what to make of all this just yet. For sure though, frank opinions will be shared, discussions will spring forth; inevitably notions will be poopooed, tempers will flare, and so on. Hopefully, a good time will be had.

Comments are not encouraged--they are mandated.