Monday, July 29, 2013

Legitimate Golf Diaries, volume 4: on the Hudson River line

Hi. We're on the road again. Catskill, NY. Why I'm here, don't ask. Something to do with antiquing. To me though this place will always be associated with this guy--in my opinion one of the most terrifying video game villains of all time.

Opting out of antiquing for the day, I snooped around and found a sleepy little semi-private course. This here Catskill Golf Club is old school. No fancy on-line tee time bookings. You want a tee time here you'll have get it the old-fashioned way--pick up a "tele-phone", dial a number and ask for one.

This is a continuation of my new year's resolution to get out and play the world. I'm starting to get into kind of a groove with this. Being home(course)-less, it's not so bad. I'm finding a lot of charm in these old tracks, even the modest low-key ones designed by no-name architects. This one's no exception. It was built in 1928, and seems to be a tight knit club of golfers. Playing the course, you can sense the pride. And why not?

A perfectly good, typical old school Northeast wooded, mountainy course.

Pretty straightforward, challenging (135 slope) without resorting to a lot of visual chicanery.


There are a few blind shots, but the scorecard is a really helpful, a nice touch.

This little hole-by-hole is a modest little gesture, but it goes such a long way. I consulted it on every hole. It was really there for me when I needed a bit of guidance or re-assurance. All you courses that don't have this on your scorecard, you ought to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourselves--Why don't we have this?

Fun fact: the "C" is for Catskill. Word up.

A lovingly informative scorecard, charming cast-iron tee markers, birdhouse yardage markers... because I'm from where I'm from I guess I'm easily impressed by little niceties on a course. There were free tees in the pro shop and believe me I helped myself to a big grubby handful. While I was in there, I had to ask the pro shop guy a number of times about the pace of play out there. But I don't think he really got what I was talking about until the sixth time. "Oh yeah don't worry about it, there's hardly anyone out there." See, I think there are a lot of issues, a lot of beefs I have with public course golf, that simply don't exist in many parts of the world. I probably came off like a real cityfolk a-hole.

This is one of those places where walking and riding inexplicably costs the same, so today I'm riding. The carts here have a little more horsepower than normal, good for getting up and down this hilly terrain. Say that's a nice-looking hole. Which way to the tee?

Oh, okay there's the white tee. But where's the blues?

Aw jeez, I gotta walk up there?

That's pretty dang steep.

A little unsafe even. I'm getting winded...

Well okay, I guess it was worth it. This is a nice vista, and my tee shot got about a minute of hang-time,  and that is pretty cool.

Driving on a mountain course, there are some dicey moments. This is a hell of a lot steeper than it appears in 2-D.

Around that next turn, I have both feet on the brake, I'm white-knuckling the wheel.

Okay, got to the 16th hole. Say that's a nice looking par 3. But where are the blue...


This is some real-deal hiking my friends. It's taking all I have just to not have a nasty spill here.

OK let's wrap it up with a shot of the 18th tee shot. A really narrow chute. I didn't quite make it through, and I bogeyed, but it was a fun hole. I ended up riding the bogey train around and shooting 88. But I had such a good time, and the course was empty enough, so I went for the replay and managed an 83 while fighting off some heatstroke during the last four holes. 

Now I hope that was enjoyable and all, but I'm sort of afraid of this blog becoming a quaint little travelogue. That was not the plan. See I've got to get down to the nitty gritty. What about the golf, man. It's been a rough year for my handicap--I'm around five strokes worse than last year--and even though I'm not getting out as much this year, I really ought to do something about that. I mean, where is this so-called legitimate golf, man?

Playing the 36 holes in succession, sans waiting, was good, it really helped me to finally feel what the swing was doing. Might be the first time all year I've felt that. I mean you rely on fundamentals to get you through most rounds, but I just don't see how you can play to your potential when you can't feel your (club) face.

So some ho-hum scores but a pretty good day for the swing. Couple things--I remembered that there is only one way to hit a tee shot--hard! It's easy to forget that when you're not playing often. Also, I played this 6482 yarder--that's longer than most of you chumps play probably--without hitting the driver once. 

Yeah so that club is freaking me out lately--so what. It happens to the best. Tiger Woods is kind of scared of his driver lately too, and people are always saying how he is "number one". Only difference is, I will freely admit it. Why bust out driver on some tight and troublesome course that I've never seen before. Who needs that kind of stress. Anyway it worked out fine. I only had a couple of long approaches, and I couldn't really reach any par 5's in two but--I saved myself a bunch of consternation and nut-sack splitting. Which means more fun. And that, as we all know, is what it is--literally--all about.


  1. Enjoyed the write up. Keep trying out the unknowns. Maybe give competitive golf a try if you can find an amateur tournament close by that is worthwhile. Maybe that will crank up the tension a notch or two.

    p.s. "punch out" rules

    1. Glad you liked it JF. There might be a fairly big local open (as in amateur or pro--gulp) tournament coming up, and I might enter it. I have to get my handicap down a couple of strokes in a little over a month in order to qualify.

      Punch-out.. I'm not kidding when I say I was freaked out by that as a kid. With sweaty hands heart racing I managed to beat Super Macho Man a few times. But Mike Tyson was overwhelming. Even after someone gave me the technique for winning it was still impossible. The pressure was just too much.

    2. In my area, the big deal in the circle of golf dudes I know is the "City Tournament" - where you must have a legit 6 hcp or better to even enter, then there is qualifying rounds and then tournament. Maybe in a few years I might progress to the point where I can try it. I play with a few guys now and they who go for it. Right now my competitions are the events open to anyone of any hcp.

  2. Nice write-up. I wish I'd gone safe on the tough course I just played. I got Mike Tyson bitch-slapped to a 112 on a 'tight and troublesome' 135-slope track just yesterday. I've decided to eat my humble pie and come back harder/stronger/faster for my next shot at the belt.

    1. Thanks Dukes. Playing safe off the tee is the new thing. Let's all try it!


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