October 9, 2016

Myrtle Beach 3.0 Preview

October 13-16 2016

It's finally here... the trip we've all been waiting for since MB 2.0 back in April 2015.

MB OG's- shout out to Ry's bathing suit

First, a history lesson. The MB family of getaways was founded in October 2014, when 8 of us made the virgin trek to the holy land. Everyone do yourself a favor and check out that golf trip recap here: http://www.nobodywinsontheblue.com/2014/10/myrtle-beach-golf-trip-2014.html

After having such a great time at MB 1.0, we vowed to make it an annual trip. 2015 rolls around and we decided to have my Bachelor Party down in Myrtle for MB 2.0.

I didn't make a blog for 2.0 because my blog is basically dead. However, given that it doubled as a bachelor party, having nearly 0 pictures it always solid. We grew attendance nearly 100% for MB2.0 which means for half the group, MB 3.0 will be only the second time down there.

First, let's all take a moment to thank the golfing gods that Hurricane Matthew landed THIS weekend, and not next weekend. The hurricane made landfall in the US just south of MB, and in fact the city of MB even discouraged residents from returning to the city until Sunday night. However, most courses will be open by Wednesday so we should be in the clear.

With the hurricane in the past, lets take a quick looksy into what we can expect for the trip, less than a week out:

That is a beautiful sight to see. MB 1.0 either was significantly better than the weather for 2.0. October seems to be the better time of year to visit.

Legends Golf Resort
1500 Legends Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

We are staying at Legends Golf resort. Our condo will be on property of 3 courses and our room cards gets free* range balls anytime. The breakfast buffet is free* every morning, and lunch is provided as well. 2 beers per round are also provided.

Alright. Down to business. Trip Itinerary, Teams, Pairings, Tee Times, ETC.....


Friday & Sunday- Individual Stroke with Handicaps 
Play your own ball like any normal golf round. 1st place gets 14 points, 2nd place 13 points, 3rd place gets 12 points, etc

Saturday Morning- 2 man scramble match play
Each member of the winning twosome will receive 7 points. Losing teammates will receive 0. If the match remains All Square through 18, each person will earn 4 points.

******Jeremy and Campbell only will be playing heads up 1v1 match play for ultimate bragging rights on Saturday AM******

Saturday Afternoon- Team Scramble match play
The people you are playing with are your teammates. A regular stroke play scramble. 3 man teams do not get a 4th shot. First place team members will receive 12 points each, second place team members receive 8, 3rd place team members receive 4, and the last place team receives 0. If there is a tie for position, the team with the lower score on the hardest handicap hole will win.

Everyone will be Venmo'ing me $25 for prizing. Do that now. Players will accumulate points in every session (except Abe, probably) and the payouts will be:

$200- 1st place
$100- 2nd place
$25- 3rd place

James- 0 

Bill- 2
Dante- 2
Jamie- 2

Adam- 5
Ryan- 5

Marty- 10

#- 15
Abe- 15 
Dan- 15

Beckerman- 18
Campbell- 18
Jeremy- 18

Paul- 25

Friday October 14th, 2016
Heritage Golf Club
Format: Individual stroke play (Normal golf- play your own ball)

Course- Heritage Plantation is a tribute to the rice culture that revered the land centuries ago. Over 600 acres of giant magnolias, 300-year-old oaks, fresh water lakes and marshes have been transformed into a golfing community to rival the finest in the world. Built on the site of the True Blue and Midway Plantations, Heritage reflects a history of gracious, tasteful living. A magnificent avenue of oaks leads to the Southern Colonial clubhouse overlooking the Waccamaw River.
Ranked among the “50 Best Public Courses in America” by Golf Digest, the Par 71 Heritage Club, a Dan Maples design, follows the natural contours of the land, stretching out beside long abandoned and historic rice fields. Heritage features spacious, rolling fairways and large, undulating greens, surrounded by lush stands of crepe myrtle, camellias and azaleas. Heavily landscaped areas of wildflowers and flowering shrubs will maintain the beauty of this historical setting for generations to come.The results form the last time we played here:
James- 85
Ryan- 99
Adam- 101
Abe- 104
Beck- 105
Campbell- 106
Paul- 124
Jeremy- 137 (!)

Yikes. We'll look to play better as a group this time around.

12:04pm: Beck, Jeremy, Marty
12:12pm: Ryan, #, Campbell
12:20pm: Dante, Jamie, Dan, Paul
12:28pm: MAGL 
Tees: Blue (6,658 yards)

Saturday October 15th, 2016
Legends Heathland
Format: 2 Man team Scramble Match Play

Abe playing Heathland in 2014
Course-The par 71 Heathland Course, designed by Tom Doak, is a return to the grand “Old Country” traditions of the game. It has been distinctly molded in the image of the British Isles links courses, with holes reminiscent of familiar links like St. Andrews, and lesser known gems like Lahinch and Cruden Bay. Most of the holes are without high vegetation, providing a visual presentation like no other course in the area. The challenge and difficulty of this course comes primarily from the unobstructed breeze that wafts constantly over the course, and the strategically placed bunkers and lush, deep rough that closely border all fairways. Many of the greenside bunkers are deep and require creative shots to make an escape

7:32am: Jeremy vs Campbell  (One on One) 
7:40am: James/Dante vs Jaime/Ryan
7:48am: Adam/Beck vs Bill/Paul
7:56am: Marty/Abe vs Dan/#
Tees: Blue (6,800)

Saturday October 15th, 2016
Legends Parkland
Format:  Team scramble

Adam playing Parkland in 2014
Course- Taking its place alongside the award-winning Heathland and Moorland courses, Parkland is quickly establishing itself as the most exciting new course in Myrtle Beach. Offering distinct contrasts to the first two Legends courses, Parkland demonstrates the diversity and beauty of the natural terrain with contoured, tree-lined fairways, vast natural areas, deep-faced bunkers and massive, multi-level greens. Opened for play in October 1992, Parkland is modeled after the style of architects Alister MacKenzie, (Augusta National) and George Thomas (Riviera Country Club). Playing the unforgettably challenging fairway and green-side bunkering requires a deft touch off the tee and on the approach. From tee to green, strategy will be the order of the day on this stunning, par-72 playing field. The last time we played (* Paul's infamous brownie round)  here the scores were as follows:
James- 88
Ryan- 95
Adam- 99
Beckerman- 103
Abe- 110
Campbell- 114
Jeremy- 122
Paul- 157*

This time, again, it's the team game. The teams:

1:16pm: Dante, Ryan, Jeremy 
1:24pm: Adam, Jamie, #
1:32pm: Bill, Marty, Abe, Paul
1:40pm: Champions of the Dirty D
Tees: Blue  (7,108)

Sunday October 16th, 2016
Legends Moorland
Format: Individual stroke play (Normal golf- play your own ball)

Course- Considered one of the greatest challenges on the East Coast – a par 72 triumph – Moorland was designed by noted golf architect P. B. Dye and opened for play in 1990. Large expanses of natural growth, sand, water and waste areas combine with extraordinary undulations and bulkheads to present a course reminiscent of the PGA West Stadium Course. This controversial course is definitely a “target” golf course. Created in the Dye tradition, Moorland will cause golfers to rise to incredible heights on the sculpted terrain, sink to considerable depths in the bunkers, and constantly use every ounce of skill and luck in their possession. Moorland indeed earned its designation as one of the “Top 10 New Courses of 1990,” by Golf Digest. Play the 245 yard par-4 16th and see for yourself why the large bunker guarding the green is so appropriately named “Hell’s Half Acre.”

9:48am: James, #, Jeremy, Marty
9:56am: Adam, Ryan, Jamie
10:02am: Dan, Paul, Beckerman
10:10am: Bill, Campbell, Abe, Dante
Tees: White (6,203)

See you in MB 

July 26, 2016

The 98th PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club

Welcome to the 2016 version of the PGA Championship where Jason Day will look to defend his first Major title. The venue this year is Baltusrol Golf Club, which was the host site of the 2005 PGA Championship where Phil Mickelson won his second major with a birdie on the last hole. A look at the final leaderboard form 11 years ago:

The course itself is LONG. A shade under 7500 yards. The back nine is the better half for scoring, especially with both 17 & 18 being par 5s. Although, Hole #17 will play over 600 yards so it's hardly a birdie hole.

A couple other tid bits:

-Five of the last six PGA Championship winners won their first major there
-Jason Day is at risk of losing the #1 OWGR spot to DJ this week
-This is the last big chance players have to shoot up Ryder Cup Standings. The Americans on the bubble needing to play well include  Kuchar, Koepka, Reed, Fowler, and Piercy
-Balusrol has also hosted 7 US Opens. Jack Nicklaus won 2 of those

The weather forecast for the weekend looks spotty... When Phil won in 2005 they imfamously had to finish the last few holes the next day and the clubhouse leader, Tiger Woods, left the venue assuming the field would not slip up and force a playoff. He was right, but caught a ton of shit for it. 

Now on to fantasy.

The final scores from our 2016 British Open pool:

Bill  +1
James  +2  (Cool)
Beck +9
Sean +12
Paul +13
Jeremy +14
Adam +17
Dan +23
Campbell +25
Abe +27
Marty +44

All Time Major Winners, Updated:

2013 Masters- Abe
2013 US Open- Bill
2013 British Open- Paul
2013 PGA-  Adam

2014 Masters- Campbell
2014 US Open- Jeremy
2014 British Open- Paul
2014 PGA- Bill

2015 Masters- Jeremy
2015 US Open- Paul
2015 British Open- Paul
2015 PGA- Bill

2016 Masters- Jeremy
2016 US Open- Beckerman
2016 British Open- Bill

2016 PGA Championship Rules:

The final score of all the players on each team will be added up and the lowest cumulative score wins. Each team will have 4 golfers.

+5 will be added to any players score who misses the cut

-10 will be deducted from the score of the team who picks the Champion

If there is a WD, that player will be given a score of the worst round from that day. And then a one time penalty of +5 (the same penalty a player who misses the cut would get.)

The draft order will be the reverse final standings of the previous major


Round 1
Marty- Dustin Johnson
Abe- Rickie Fowler
Dan- Jason Day
Adam- Jordan Spieth
Jeremy- Rory McIlroy
Beck - Henrik Stenson
James- Phil Mickelson
Bill- Matt Kuchar
Dante- Adam Scott

Round 2
Dante- Bubba Watson
Bill- Justin Rose
James- Patrick Reed
Beck- Zach Johnson
Jeremy- Sergio Garcia
Adam- Justin Thomas
Dan- Branden Grace
Abe- Jason Dufner
Marty- Brandt Snedeker

Round 3
Marty- Brooks Koepka
Abe- Charl Scwartzel
Dan- Louis Oosthuizen
Adam- Rafa Cab-Bello
Jeremy- JB Holmes
Beck - Jim Furyk
James- Tony Finau
Bill- Andy Sullivan
Dante- Martin Kaymer

Round 4
Dante- Keegan Bradley
Bill- Steve Stricker
James- Hideki Matsuyama
Beck- Paul Casey
Jeremy- Scott Piercy

The Teams:
Team Beck- Stenson, ZJ
Team Adam- Spieth, Thomas
Team James- Phil, Reed
Team Marty- DJ,
Team Abe- Rickie, Duf,
Team Bill- Kooch, Rose
Team Dan- J Day, Grace
Team Jeremy- Rory, Sergio
Team Dante- Scott, Bubba

July 11, 2016

145th Open Championship

Welcome to the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon

Zach Johnson will be defending his title from 2015, where he won in a playoff against Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman. Here was the final leaderboard:

Jordan Spieth and Jason Day look to take it to the next level, after finishing 1 stroke short from qualifying for the playoff last year. Dustin Johnson is the hottest golfer in the planet right now, having won back to back tournaments (US Open, Bridgestone). Here are the current OWGR heading into the week: 

Royal Troon is a relatively short course, and is set up for a difficult back 9. The front 9 holes all head outward from the clubhouse, with the back 9 coming in. The front 9 is where most of the scoring will happen, which means there may be some drama with guys dropping shots on the back 9 on Sunday. 

The weather will certainly be a factor this week, with a lot of rain expected into and through the weekend: 

Now on to fantasy.

The scores from our 2016 US Open pool:
Beck: +21 (Winner)
Adam +24
James:  +31
Marty: +45
Abe: +49
Bill: +49
Dan: +50
Jeremy: +55
Cbell: +64
Paul- WD
Sean- WD

All Time Major Winners. NOTE: No one except Paul has ever won the British Open Challenge. What a time to be alive.

2013 Masters- Abe
2013 US Open- Bill
2013 British Open- Paul 
2013 PGA-  Adam

2014 Masters- Campbell
2014 US Open- Jeremy
2014 British Open- Paul
2014 PGA- Bill

2015 Masters- Jeremy
2015 US Open- Paul
2015 British Open- Paul
2015 PGA- Bill

2016 Masters- Jeremy
2016 US Open- Beckerman

2016 Open Rules:

The final score of all the players on each team will be added up and the lowest cumulative score wins. Each team will have 4 golfers.

+5 will be added to any players score who misses the cut

-10 will be deducted from the score of the team who picks the Champion

If there is a WD, that player will be given a score of the worst round from that day. And then a one time penalty of +5 (the same penalty a player who misses the cut would get.)

The draft order will be the reverse final standings of the previous major


Round 1
Campbell- Jordan Spieth
Jeremy- Jason Day
Dan- Dustin Johnson
Bill- Rory McIlroy (again)
Abe- Adam Scott
Marty- Justin Rose
James- Henrik Stenson
Adam- Rickie Fowler
Beck- Bubba Watson
Sean- Branden Grace
Paul- Louis Oosthuizen

Round 2
Paul- Jason Dufner
Sean- Phil Mickelson
Beck- Zach Johnson
Adam- Sergio Garcia
James- Shane Lowry
Marty- Matt Kuchar
Abe- Danny Willet
Bill- Lee Westwood
Dan- Hideki Matsuyama
Jeremy- Martin Kaymer
Campbell- Marc Lesihman

Round 3
Campbell- Paul Casey
Jeremy- Patrick Reed
Dan- Brandt Snedeker
Bill- Jim Furyk
Abe- Charl Schwartzel
Marty- Scott Piercy
James- Graeme McDowell
Adam- Rafa Cab-Bello
Beck- Justin Thomas #sb2k16
Sean- Jimmy Walker
Paul- JB Holmes

Round 4
Paul- Kevin Na
Sean- Francisco Molinari
Beck- Andy Sullivan
Adam- Smiley Kaufman
James- Ernie Els
Marty- Matthew Fitzmagic
Abe- Bill Horschel
Bill- Steve Stricker
Dan- David Lingmerth
Jeremy- Matteo Manasero
Campbell- Russel Knox

The Teams: 
Team Paul- Oosthuizen , Dufner , Holmes , Na
Team Sean- Grace, Phil, Walker, Molinari
Team Beck- Bubba, ZJ , JT. Sullivan
Team Adam- Rickie, Sergio, Rafa CB,
Team James- Stenson, Lowry, Mcdowell
Team Marty-  Rose, Kooch, Piercy, Fitz 
Team Abe- Scott, Willet, Horschel Schwartzel
Team Bill- Rory, Westwood, Furyk Stricker
Team Dan- DJ, Matsuyama, Snedeker, Lingmerth
Team Jeremy- JDay, Kaymer, Reed, 
Team Campbell- Spieth, Leishman, Casey, Knox


Bill  +1
James  +2  (Cool)
Beck +9
Sean +12
Paul +13
Jeremy +14
Adam +17
Dan +23
Campbell +25
Abe +27
Marty +44

June 14, 2016

2016 US Open

The 2016 US Open is upon us-the first of a slew of great golf events over the next 3ish months. (US Open, British Open, PGA Championship, Olympics, Ryder Cup)

The venue this year looks more impossible than even last year. Oakmont has a long history with championship golf, the most recently being the 2007 US Open when the Duck beat the Tiger and the Birdman by one stroke at +5 over par.

The videos being posted on social media by Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, etc all show how crazy impossible the course looks. The greens look very, very fast. The rough looks ridiculously deep. As in, without spotters, you would likely lose your ball in the rough completely. The winner of this tournament will likely be over par over 72 holes. Jordan Spieth, defending US Open champ, said he would happily sign for even par right now if he could! The cours

Going into the major, here are the current official World Golf Ranks:

Now on to the fantasy side of things. As an update, here is the all time list of Major Winners:

And the updated all time Major Results:

2013 Masters- Abe
2013 US Open- Bill
2013 British Open- Paul
2013 PGA-  Adam

2014 Masters- Campbell
2014 US Open- Jeremy
2014 British Open- Paul
2014 PGA- Bill

2015 Masters- Jeremy
2015 US Open- Paul
2015 British Open- Paul
2015 PGA- Bill

2016 Masters- Jeremy

Jeremy, Paul, and Bill are the "big 3" in this universe. Each of them has a US Open under their belt already. You'd have to go back to the 2014 Masters to find a winner from outside this trio. The last 3 majors were also won by these 3 people. SO.... EVERYONE ELSE..... lets go. Lets end this streak.

The full results from the 2016 Masters. The order for the draft will be reverse standings:

Jeremy : EVEN (Winner)
Cbell : +15
Paul : +17
James : +18
Bill : +25
Dan : +30
Beck :  +32
Adam : +37
Sean : +42
Abe : +43


The final score of all the players on each team will be added up and the lowest cumulative score wins. Each team will have 4 golfers.

+10 will be added to any players score who misses the cut (this has been altered as a larger penalty for this tourney since the projected winner may be above par)

-10 will be deducted from the score of the team who picks the Champion

If there is a WD, that player will be given a score of the worst round from that day. And then a one time penalty of +10 (the same penalty a player who misses the cut would get.)

Moving on the the draft,


Round 1:
Abe- Ricky Fowler
Adam- Jordan Spieth
Beck- Jason Day
Dan- Hideki Matsuyama
Bill- Rory McIlroy
James- Dustin Johnson
CBell- Justin Rose
Jeremy- Matt Kuchar
Marty- Henrik Stenson

Round 2:
Marty- Adam Scott
Jeremy- Patrick Reed
CBell- Phil Mickelson
James- Bubba Watson
Bill- Brooks Koepka
Dan- Branden Grace
Beck- Zach Johnson
Adam- Sergio Garcia- loser
Abe-Ryan Moore

Round 3:
Abe- Brandt Snedeker
Adam- Charl Schwartzel
Beck- Danny Willett
Dan- Louis Oosthuizien
Bill- JB Holmes
James- Kevin Chappell
CBell- Jimmy Walker
Jeremy- Daniel Berger
Marty- Charly Hoffman

Round 4:
Marty- Marc Leishman
Jeremy- Paul Casey
CBell- Lee Westwood
James- Matthew Fitzmagic
Bill- Billy Horschel
Dan- Webb Simpson
Beck- Justin Thomas
Adam- Cabrera-Bello
Abe- Jim Furyk

The Teams

Team Abe: Fowler, Moore, Sneds, Furyk

Team James: DJ, Bubba, Chappell, Fitzpatrick

Team Dan: Matsuyama, Grace, Oost, Webb

Team Jeremy: Kooch, Reed, Berger, Casey

Team Adam: Spieth, Sergio, Charl, Cab-Bell

Team Beck: Day, ZJ, Willett, JT

Team Cbell: Rose, Phil, Walker, Westwood

Team Bill: McIlroy, Koepka, Holmes, Horschel

Team Marty: Scott, Stenson, Leishman, Hoffman

The Final Standings

Beck: +21 (Winner)
Adam +24
James:   +31 (including the bonus for DJ)
Marty: +45 (+24 from Stenson)
Abe: +49 (wins tiebreaker with Bill from Furyk)
Bill: +49
Dan: +50
Jeremy: +55
Cbell: +64

June 4, 2016

West Coast Golf Trip

It's now been several weeks since returning from what most certainly was the most epic golf trip of my life thus far and the thought of memorializing the trip in some form was a must. So for that reason, I'm excited to make James' blog great again (or in the opinion of Jeremy T, make it great for the first time)! I'm Matt LeBlanc and the guest blogger for this go-round and a current resident of America's greatest city, Chicago.

Let me set the scene for you on how this trip came to be...

My amazing wife (Becky) and I were thinking earlier this year of what we could do for our big vacation of the year. We've been very lucky to take great international trips together in each of the last three years (Thailand, South Africa, and Croatia), so naturally we thought about other international destinations. But for those who know me, I have about the worst luck at vacations (tornado in my parents' town, food poisoning, and a broken foot respectively on those three trips), so staying closer to home became more appealing. Several years ago, Becky and I had road tripped through California, from San Francisco to San Diego, hitting all 5 MLB stadiums there within a week. So why not head north? Neither of us had gone to the Pacific Northwest so we began to brainstorm. My ideal vacation is always being on the go and making the most of where we are at. Becky's is admittedly quite the opposite, so compromises needed to be found. Alas, the West Coast Golf Trip was born!

We were able to incorporate the beauty of 17-Mile Drive, the calming Napa and Sonoma Valley, majestic California and Oregon coast line, and spots in the great cities of Seattle, Vancouver, and Tacoma. Now to the golf run down...

Stop 1: Spyglass Hill

For those that have ever looked into golfing at the Pebble Beach facilities, you will know that getting tee times is not easy...or cheap. Spyglass would be the only one that I would be able to advanced book (could have booked Spanish Bay or Del Monte, but wanted to take the challenge of one of America's most difficult courses), with a booking only being allowed 90 days out. I would only be able to attempt to book Pebble one day in advance (or a year in advance if we stayed at the resort...for $800 per night...for a 2 night minimum).

I arrive to the course and it is a beautiful day. I took a section of the 17-Mile Drive on the way to the course and it was arguably the most scenic thing I have ever seen (Matt Wilson would have hated it...he hates beautiful golf courses). The clubhouse is rather unsuspecting, almost resembling what you would see at a local park district course. But the SWAG inside of it...amazing! I got myself a sweet 50th anniversary of Spyglass driver cover and t-shirt. I went and hit some balls at their on-site driving range and practiced some putts before beginning what would most certainly be a challenging day on the course.

I walk up to the tee and am contemplating playing the Gold (6,538 yds/140 slope) or the White (6,123 yds/132 slope) tees. The first words my caddie, who was a native of Cape Cod, spoke to me was to say that the true yardage was 500+ yards more than the scorecard. Whites it would be. So alas, I teed off, playing with a nice Canadian couple celebrating the husband's 40th birthday, and another guy who also was celebrating his 40th birthday.

First hole (I promise to not touch on every hole, only the majors) was a long par 5, playing down toward the water, which I bogeyed (thanks to a long putt) which I was very happy with considering my jitters. Most noteworthy on this hole was us seeing a coyote crossing the first fairway as we walked down the hole...with a dog or some other animal in it's mouth. Spyglass at times would end up being the coyote and I would be the dog during the day.

The first 5 holes play along the water or toward the views were out of this world, especially considering the weather. The 3rd hole was a 125 yd par 3 playing into the water with disaster completely surrounding the green. I had a nice GIR and two-putt for a par.

I rode that momentum into the 345 yd par 4 4th hole, which while the yardage was lessing than intimidating, the approach shot more than made up for it. The hole is named the "Blind Pew" because of the extremely narrow green, which is the narrowest on the tour circuit, and is said to be designer Robert Trent Jones Sr.'s favorite hole on the course. An absolute must on this hole is keeping your tee shot on the right to have any shot on the approach. I heeded my caddie's advice and did so. I absolutely hit a perfect shot in for the approach, landing on the top part of the green, which is shaped like an eyebrow, and funneled down right to the hole. Two-putt for a par. Loving life at this point.

Well when you head into the woods, the fun stops and the grind begins. Being a long hitter is huge in being successful and I'm just not quite to that point yet. I can pipe the occassional 250 yd drive, but am more consistently around 230 yds. Considering the fact I didn't even attempt to hit driver until 1.5 years ago, I look forward to bombing it in the future.

I was scrambling on holes 6-9 and trying to keep afloat. Absolute killer on the 9th where I took the scenic tour around the green, carding a quad (insert monkey emoji covering his eyes), finishing the front with a 51. I quickly went to get a Stella to get my mind right and got back out there. First 6 holes of the scenic back 9, I had 1 par, 3 bogeys, and 2 doubles. I also saw a deer run across a green we were on...while actively giving birth. Nature!

I stumbled a bit coming in on the final 3 and carded a 50 on the back, finishing with a 101 total. Being the first round of the trip with only a handful of rounds in the season and new irons and wedges (my wedge play was for the most part not good at all), I was satisfied, but felt primed to rebound the remainder of the trip. When the round ended, they gave me this awesome bag tag and then they like air pressure wash your golf shoes which was honestly a crazy feeling. Felt like I was walking on clouds.

Stop 2: Pebble Beach

I failed to mention, but I got a tee time at Pebble! Most certainly helped that I was a single, so easier to squeeze in, but I was locked and loaded to go off at 8:50 am on a Monday morning, which honestly was perfect for our then getting to Napa that evening. Becky decided she would walk the course with me, which was definitely a nice add to what would be a special experience.

I got to the course and checked in, went to the off-site range (via shuttle bus), and returned to the large practice green on-site, where I had my 5 minutes of internet fame.

The weather was slightly misty, but nothing of substance and my nerves were INSANE. I mean, I'm about to play Pebble Beach, the #1 public course in the United States, how cool is that?!? The nerves most definitely showed on the first couple holes, as I carded a triple and double. I blame the fact that I probably had tens of people watching me tee off on the first.

I needed to get my game together and I needed to do it fast. Little mental pep talk went down and back to work. Great tee shot on the 334 yd par 4 3rd hole, which left me around 150 yds in. I absolutely stuck an iron approach in to about 10 feet and JUST missed the birdie. Rolled it right over the right edge. By the way, now would be a good time to mention that my caddie for the day was awesome! Probably the best one the whole trip. Not only had he been caddying at Pebble for significantly longer than I've been alive, but he also did a great job of giving Becky and I information about the course, the houses surrounding it, etc. Oh and the couple I was playing with, from NJ, was a very nice pairing for the day. The husband, who has just been golfing for 3 years and related his addiction to golf to what he assumed would be similar to being addicted to "crack," was roughly my skill level, so was nice to go shot for shot.

Back on track now...my positive streak lastest just one hole before I found a green side bunker on 4. I missed my approach probably only 10 feet right of my target, which proved to be a disaster. Admittedly the one part of my game that I have the most area for improvement is on sand saves. I let the small green and matching bunker on the other side of the green get in my head and butchered the out. The next 4 holes, I went bogey-par-bogey-bogey, which was probably the nastiest stretch on the course.

The 6th hole is a great par 5 and very visually intimidating. The fairway has a decently wide landing area, with a line of 5 bunkers on the left and a massive cliff on the right. I did not heed my caddie's advice and I went down the left side. The golf gods did me a solid though and my drive, which was very straight, hit the path that ran adjacent to the bunkers, and through some miracle hopped right over the last couple bunkers that I should have landed in on the fly. End result was a 280+ yd drive (path assisted). That made my 2nd shot much easier than it otherwise would have been, as between your tee shot and your 2nd shot was a 60-70 ft elevation rise. If you don't get the height, have fun nailing it into the side of the hill. Had a good 2nd shot and a great approach. Once again, missed my birdie putt just over the right edge, gah! But a par on the #2 handicap hole, I'm in.

The 7th hole is the signature par 3, which is really just a short wedge shot in. Before my tee shot, my caddie warned that the slope of the tee box, causes people to miss left to a greenside bunker, which has the most traffic of any bunker on the course. And go figure, I ended up there. Great out from the sand though (won't hear me say that often) and ended up with a bogey.

The 8th hole is magestic. You can't hit your tee shot any more than 200 yds, so I took an iron and left it a little less than I had hoped, leaving about 200 yds left to the hole. If you ever play Pebble, I would recommend not going up to scope the approach shot. I didn't heed this advice and saw the huge cliff and ocean filled chasm that stood between my ball and the green. Insanity! I gripped and ripped a 4-iron and left just left of the green, phew. Take my bogey and move on. Had a lost ball on 9 when flying the green and ended up going out in 51.

After the 10th, you move away from the water a little bit and play a bit more inland. Had a great par on 179 yd par 3 12th hole (played the par 3s very well all day with 2 pars and 2 bogeys) and a solid bogey on the very uphill and into the wind par 4 13th hole. Had a couple blips on 15 and 16 (see wedge play comment from Spyglass). On the 163 yd par 3 17th hole, I missed the green by about 40 yards to the right (slice mania), chipped on to about 30-40 feet, and then nailed the par putt! (#memories) The signature 18th was as cool as it looks on TV. I hit a meh drive and a meh second shot (hit the fairway tree...). I was able to scramble with a great approach and two putt though to save bogey and ended up shooting an even 100. Through my wedge play and a handful of putts I missed by a combined 2 inches, I easily could have been low 90s, which means I will need to see Pebble again for redemption!

After the round, Becky and I got some lunch (amazing food) and hit up the Pro Shop. We probably spent a trillion dollars there because everything was amazing. I ended up with a polo, t-shirt, long sleeve pullover, hat, and amazing putter cover (with th 18th hole layout on it). Pebble was a total YOLO round.

Stop 3: Old MacDonald at Bandon Dunes

This round was not in the well thought out LeBlanc vacation itinerary. We would be leaving from Sonoma on Wednesday morning and driving 417 miles (414 on the same road; shout out to the 101) to Bandon Dunes. We had a relatively early night on the Tuesday after doing some wineries (love wine tasting, possible new hobby), so hit the road by 6 am-ish. After snaking through the Redwoods and finally getting into Oregon, my plan to try and sneak in an extra round almost hit a detour in the form of getting pulled over. Perhaps I was driving too fast (I've already pled no contest and paid my fine like an upstanding citizen), but the stop was quick and officer was nice about it.

Anyway, we got to Bandon, which truly is in the middle of nowhere, checked in and got to our room by 2:45 pm. By 2:46 pm I was on the phone to the Old MacDonald Pro Shop asking if they had open afternoon slots and got word that they were wide open. I changed, took the shuttle to the course, hit some putts, and got on the course for a solo round (w/ no caddie). From the first tee, I knew I was in for true links golf, as it was all wide open. Great tee shot on the 304 yd (played green tees; 6320 yds/125 slope) par 4 1st hole left a short wedge in. Two-putt par. I think to myself, "alright, I think I'm ready to go low." On the 2nd, I hit an iron shot just short of the green on the par 3 and like a doof, didn't think to putt from off the green (for non-golfers, if you're still reading this, you can putt from practically 50 yds away). I chipped, rolled long into a bunker (hate greenside bunkers), and ended up doubling. Proceeded to also double 3 and 4 (the 3rd is a real cool hole with a depressed tee box to an elevated sand dune fairway that is totally blind and you aim at a single dead tree). The double on 3 was particularly painful because I ripped my drive, almost hitting the target tree, and had a short wedge into the green and left that on the right side of the green. Probably a good time to mention that the greens are GIGANTIC. I'm talking 4-5x the size of a normal green and they undulate for days. If you ever needed a caddie to help you read them, this was the course, and I was solo. Well, four putts later, I had my double.

Rallied pretty well for the rest of the front, bogeying each of the last 5 holes, to end up with a 45 on the front. I tracked # of putts (just from the green) on the front only and had 22. Yes, 22 of 45 shots were putts from the green. Insane.

I had pretty clear sailing for the front 9 with no one in sight. Finally knew I would hit a foursome around the 12th or 13th, so I started playing a couple balls to get in a little extra practice (only counted my first ball on each hole for the few holes I did this). Started out triple, double on the back 9 (mid-fairway bunkers 1, Matt 0). Then I started to turn it on. Had a bogey on the 205 yd par 3 12th and par on the 319 yd par 4 13th and met the foursome. Was secretly hoping they would let me play through and they did, after they hit their tee shots on 14 (they were so slow; they went off with another foursome in front of them, which were 2 holes in front of them...).

Normally when I play solo and go to pass people, I hit absolute crap tee shots because I rush myself. This was the rare occurence where I didn't do that. The 14th was a short (297 yds) par 4, but completely uphill and important that to leave it right of the green on the dogleg left (bunkers blocking the green if you went straight at it). I hit a great tee shot that was honestly pin high, which left a short wedge into the green where I proceeded to par. I also had par on the par 5 15th and 17th holes, sandwiching doubles on the 16th and 18th. What an amazing layout, which some predict may end up being the top ranked Bandon Dunes course, which is certainly saying something considering it is homes to 4 championship courses ranked in the Top 16 Public Courses in the United States. I ended up with a 47 on the back, so 92 total, which is much more around my average.

Stop 4: Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes

It's well known that Pebble Beach is the #1 ranked Public Course in the United States, but less known that Pacific Dunes is actually #2, and at times since opening in 2001 has held the #1 spot OVER Pebble.

Before my late morning round at PD, had a nice breakfast with Becky before checking out the Punch Bowl (their 1+ acre putting green which they convert into almost an adult minigolf), and hit up the practice facility for the first time. The practice facility is amazing. It has dual driving ranges that are straight into the wilderness where you fully expect a grizzly bear to run out at you. There is also a ginormous putting green and a 9-hole par 3 course (named Shorty's, which is open Thursday-Sunday; played this with Becky on Thursday afternoon after PD). After the range, I took the shuttle (you take shuttles everywhere on the property, makes life super convenient) over to Pacific. Hit some putts and actually had our (played with a 3-some; a dad and two sons from PA that had come in for a guy trip and played all the courses with Pacific being their last) tee time bumped up because the group behind us was late in showing up and weren't ready (major golf etiquete no-no).

But alas, met my caddie (Bandon will pair you with a caddie to do all your rounds while there unless you otherwise ask for a change, which was nice) and we teed up and were off. I played the green tees here as well (6142 yds/133 slope) which is the 2nd longest tees on property. Started out strong on this Tom Doak designed course with a par on the 1st, carrying over some of my momentum from the day prior. Had a double on 2 and started a nice string of holes through the rest of the front. Had a bogey on the 3rd, which is a 476 yd par 5. This is despite hitting my tee shot into a mid-fairway bunker and literally needing to playing out sideways with one knee on the grass outside the bunker and one foot in it due to the front and back lips being nuts. The very long (449 yd) par 4 4th makes for a very difficult, yet very scenic hole as it plays adjacent to the Pacific Ocean for the entirety.

No area to miss right here and I hit a great tee shot to left side of fairway, about 250 yds, leaving me still 200ish to the hole. Left me approach short, but had a nice chip and two putt for bogey. The 181 yd par 3 5th plays shorter due to the wind aiding you, which proved helpful as I carded a nice par. I played the 6th hole very poorly off the tee, as you do not want to be on the left side of the fairway, but I ended up there much to my dismay. From my angle, the green is elevated probably 50 feet and guarded in front by massive bunkers. I had a wedge in, so no issue with height, but with minimal landing area, I had rolled off the other side down a steep slope. I putted up...and it rolled back. Tried it again and got it very close, so I salvaged a bogey. The 9th hole, which is a 379 yd par 4, made for an awesome end to the front 9. The hole actually has a top and bottom green and for this day, the top green was being played. I hit a 250 yd drive out and had a short iron shot in which I got on in regulation and had a great lag putt to then par. Went out in 44, very happy at this point.

Very rarely do you see back-to-back par 3's, but that is how the back started at PD. Both were along the water and wow, were they spectacular! Had a par on each of them, which had me riding high. The tee shot on 11, despite it being the #18 handicap and 131 yds, is mentally intimidating, as are many shots at Bandon, because of huge bunkers surrounding the green in all directions. I left my tee shot just to the right of the green on top of a hill (no idea how it stayed there). I had a very delicate putt down the hill and left it within a couple feet to tap in.

The 13th hole, one of the many signature holes, plays right along the water and you can NOT leave it left. There's about 5-10 yards of rough between you and falling onto the beach (literally the beach). I hugged the left, but stayed in played. My approach the went into this giant mountain of sand. Had a great out to about 15 feet but a steep downhill putt. Shot it way past and ended up 3 putting, which considering my sand out, was frustrating. Had a great tee shot on the 189 yd par 3 17th that left me close and ended up parring. Big false front and false back on the green that makes staying on hard if not positioned perfect. Ended up with 4 pars and 1 bogey on the 5 par 3's.

The finishing hole is long. 575 yds INTO the wind. I hacked my way down and bogeyed to end the day with an 88. That's one off my personal best of 87, shot at Harborside last year. Was absolutely thrilled with that and LOVED Pacific Dunes (more to come about that).

Stop 5: Bandon Dunes

Time now for the final round at the amazing Bandon Dunes complex, getting to play its namesake and original course. I had an early tee time (8 am) this day before we set off to drive to Portland for dinner and Seattle for the night, but managed to get some time in on the range first.

My playing partners this round were hilarious. There was a dentist from Portland (does a couple days a month by Bandon so gets a round or two in every month at Bandon; super jealous) and then two buddies. The friends were DRUNK. Definitely were drunk from the night before and they were still going strong, it was impressive really. One of the two, who was rocking golf knickers and cap, had 3 Manhattans before we teed off at 8 am, yet they still played very well. Once again played the green tees (6221 yds/133 slope) with same caddie as day before. The first hole is very manageable, but left my approach right of the green so had to get up and down with a bogey. The 155 yd par 3 2nd played much longer than yardage indicated due to the very uphill green and the left to right wind. I had a nice GIR, but 3 putted on the undulating green.

Had a double on the 3rd, which is another hole you can score on early. At this point I'm at a critical juncture, either I get myself in gear or I keep playing bogey golf. I chose option 1 and had a par on the next 3 holes (two 4's and a 3). Bogey on 7 and then on to 8, where I had one of my most memorable shots of the trip. Had a bad drive, which left me like 180-200 yds out and hit a meh approach, to 55 yards short of the green. I hit a 58 degree wedge (finally a good wedge!) within inches of the cup for a tap in par.

With the ocean as the backdrop on this hole, very cool and memorable experience. Ended up going out with a 43 (par 36) and felt great about how I was playing.

Carried that momentum straight to the first 3 holes in the back. Failed to mention that by this point the drunk guy was making bets with us on his ability to hit shots (i.e. 35 foot downhill putt that he bet us all $20 on that he would hit...not even close). He also heavily reloaded with drinks at the turn. His caddie was not digging it.

Anyway, fun fact about #10 is that under the tree on the right side of the fairway, there is an irrigation box. In this box 10 years ago, these friends put in a wood box with hard liquor. 10 years later, its become local legend and people will drink from bottles in the box, replenish and sign the book saying they had found the box (I just signed the book).

Now, most importanly to my best hole all trip! The 351 yd par 4 11th hole, which was the #2 handicap hole. Hit my tee shot to about 130 out on the left hand rough. Hit a great approach to maybe 6 feet and hit the birdie. About time!

Had some bad luck on 13 with my tee shot ending up on a whispy grass mound. Caught it very clean coming out (too clean) and went in a hazard that I didn't expect to be in play. Doubled that. Had a grassy hill tee shot on 14, but had a great pitching wedge approach to the green, yet 3 putted (these greens...). Now the wheels started falling off (I was +7 through 12). Bad tee shot on the 131 yd par 3 15th (one of my few bad 3 tee shots of the entire trip honestly) left me pin high but well left. I putted up, but hit on the wrong side of the ridge and had to two putt from there to bogey. On to the 16th hole, which is the signature hole on Bandon Dunes and I can see why. Absolutely gorgeous along the water. You had two options off the tee with one being a longer (but safer) tee shot to a top fairway or one with a more aggressive shot straight to the hole with a small landing area. I took the aggressive but ended up safe with my tee shot. I had maybe 100 yds out but with a more difficult approach, which was blind, and the ocean immediately to my right. I got lazy on my swing and put it into the ocean. Dropped from same spot and ended up with a 7, should have had a 5.

Ended up double-double to come in with a 48 and a 91 total. While I am most certainly happy with that score, I easily could have gone mid-80's without that collapse. I will get you next time Bandon Dunes!

Stop 6: Chambers Bay

This was the swan song of the trip and the reality check that it was finally time to head back to work...

After stops in Seattle and Vancouver, we returned to Tacoma and I teed it up at Chambers Bay, home to the 2015 US Open. The weather was perfect the day I played and when you drive up to the course, you don't know what to expect, as you park at the top of the hill and the main clubhouse is there. When you walk to the edge of the parking lot and look down though, amazing. Green for as far as you can see.

I would later find out from my playing partners (a couple architects from Seattle area) and my caddie, that when the local community was deciding what to do with the parcel of land, they decided not to just make a gof course, but to make a world-class golf course. They received proposals from the who's who of the golf design community, many wanting to put 36 holes there (and there was plenty of land to do so), but only a select few wanted to put 18, including Robert Trent Jones II, who ultimately was selected. Apparently when he walked in to give his presentation, he handed out bag tags. The Chambers Bay logo was on one side and on the other was "The Future Home of the US Open." (gives me the chills) Needless to say, he was selected and Chambers Bay was home to the first US Open in the Pacific Northwest.

The practice facility was a shuttle ride down the massive hill away. I put in arguably my worst practice session of all time. I naturally take a divot on all my irons and this is not a course to do that on. I was chunking everything due to the hard packed sand base. Had I suddenly forgot how to golf? Felt like it.

Anyway, didn't have much time to putt since shuttle was delayed in getting me from the range to the first tee, so my confidence level walking to the first tee was not high. Hit a nice tee shot though. Bad iron shot into a right bunker, but nice play out of the bunker to about 20 feet. Without having hit many practice putts, definitely expected them to roll fast based on watching the US Open...quite the opposite. They had just sanded them and they were SLOW. Super cool first hole though. If you miss the green to the left on your approach, it truly does roll 100 yards away (one of my playing partners did so) and it's a nasty chip shot up to keep it from rolling back down again.

I got the putting down after a few holes, so I basically could drive well, putt well, and hit zero approaches. Hit maybe 1-2 good ones all day. Really had to scramble out there.

With that in mind, not as many memorable shots as the prior rounds. On the 488 yd par 5 8th (played the white tees at 6015 yds/127 slope), I hit a huge sidewinder putt to save bogey that had I missed, I would have probably rolled 50 yds off the green because it was coming in HOT. On the very next hole, which was a 168 yd par 3 from a very elevated tee (100+ feet), I left my tee shot right into a greenside bunker (ugh) and played a meh chip out and still had 60+ feet to putt for par uphill. AND HIT IT! Somehow went out with a 50 despite hitting no good iron shots. Miracle.

I started the back much like I started the front with 3 straight doubles and then a triple. It felt like I was back in time 4 years with my golf ability. Could not hit off that surface for the life of me. The 12th was a cool hole with it being an uphill, narrow 246 yd par 4 (played 311 yds for the US Open). This is driveable if you can keep it straight. I hit a decent tee shot but botched the chip and putted for days. I finally started to get acclimated around the 14th hole (which I guess is better late than never?). I hit a really nice drive and a nice approach (one of my few) to land on a ridge at the top of the right side of the green. Totally crazy putt and ended up with bogey.

The 15th hole, which is a 103 yd par 3, is one of their signature holes, as it has the Piuget Sound right behind it, as well at the course's lone tree and the train tracks. Hit a nice wedge that had it gone 2 more feet would have funneled to the hole. Instead it started funneling to a bunker, no! It literally hung up in some rough by about 5 blades of grass. I had to play the ball behind my stance by like 2 feet and just hit a tiny chip up to get it on to the green so it (and myslf for that matter) wouldn't fall into the sand. Hit a bogey there and a bogey on 16. Hit my best shot of the day on 17 (119 yd par 3) to about 12-15 feet and lipped out the birdie putt. Finished with a nice bogey on 18, thanks to a great lag putt, to come in with a 48. Which after starting +9 through first 4 holes of the back is great. Shot a 98 in total.


So many have asked since the trip ended what my favorite course was. That's practically impossible to answer. In the span of a week and a half, I played 6 of the top 26 Public Courses in the United States, including 5 of the top 12. But if forced to answer, here is my order:

1a) Pacific Dunes (Golf Digest Rank: 2)
1b) Pebble Beach (Golf Digest Rank: 1)
2) Bandon Dunes (Golf Digest Rank: 7)
3) Old MacDonald (Golf Digest Rank: 12)
4) Spyglass Hill (Golf Digest Rank: 11)
5) Chambers Bay (Golf Digest Rank: 26)

Pacific Dunes was so similar to my golf trip in Ireland last fall, it almost was a flashback. The whole Bandon Dunes complex is golf the way it is meant to be played. The only people on the course are the players and caddies. The turn houses are concealed so that don't obscure the landscape. There are no ballwashers or signs to describe the holes, just small wooden signs on the ground to point you in the direction of the next hole. There are also no carts allowed.

Don't get me wrong, Pebble was amazing and if ever given the chance to play it again, I would in a heartbeat. But Pebble is all about the pagentry, which is obviously no problem, but it is not a links course in the true definition of links golf. You can also play multiple Bandon courses for the price of one round at Pebble, so that factors in too.

Simply put, Pebble is a once in a lifetime golf opportunity and Bandon Dunes is an annual or every couple year golf trip destination, despite it being in the middle of nowhere.

My caddie at Pebble was definitely a 10 out of 10 though. And the Pro Shops at both Pebble and Bandon Dunes were out of this world and took much of my money. Bonus points to Bandon Dunes making it very easy to stay there and visit. You hit a button in your room for a shuttle bus and it shows up in a couple minutes. You can charge everything (food, drink, rounds, souvenirs, caddie cash) to your room and you settle up when you check out.

Is it time to go back yet???