Saturday, April 28, 2007

Golf: PGA West - Nicklaus Tournament Course

After my fitting at Callaway, I headed over to PGA West in La Quinta to play at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament course. I got there just in time and headed down to the first tee where the starter told me that I was going to play alone and there was no one behind me for another 30 minutes. The bad news was that I was playing behind a bunch of foursomes and it was going to be S-L-O-W. Perhaps I should play two balls, he suggested.

Great idea! Instead of an incredibly slow 5.5 hour round of golf, it will be an incredibly fast 36 hole day!

Today's round turned into a concurrent 36 hole day of golf comparing the Callaway HX-Tour with the Nike PowerDistance PowerLong ball. On each hole, I played two balls from tee to the hole, alternating tee shots between the different balls and then kept each ball's score. I figured that the golfer and the clubs are the same, so perhaps over 18 holes something will really pop to show which one works better for me.

The front 9 was pretty much all Callaway. It had 3 GIRs while the Nike only had 1 (and that one was followed by a 3 putt!) and after 9, Callaway was leading 42-48. The Back 9 started pretty much the same with a bogey for the Calaway and a triple for the Nike (flying into the next neighborhood on the tee shot didn't help). Then the Nike started to really catch fire (perhaps it was the 103° heat -- or perhaps it just got sick of sucking). and went par - bogie - bogie - birdie - bogie - birdie. The first birdie was particularly impressive. After a crappy 100 yard 3 wood tee shot (one of only two fat shots in the day) the second 3 wood did a low cut, staying out of the desert breezes, flying 210 yards and rolling to a stop about 2 feet from the cup. It just goes to show that even a crappy tee shot can lead to a birdie if you stick with it.

At the same time the Nike was heating up, the Callaway went into a slump, finding the water on the par 3 12th and a lot of sand leading to a couple of double bogies while the Nike was doing it birdie thing. On 17, though, the Callaway came back with a par 3 tee shot to about 20 feed and a perfect roll to the cup for it's first birdie -- and my third for the day!

The score on the back 9 was nearly a mirror image of the front 9 - Callaway 47, Nike 42 but that last birdie put the Callaway on top 89-90. Effectively a tie with the Nike up one GIR and the Callaway with two fewer putts. The Callaway feels much better on the clubface, yet the Nike costs about 1/2 as much.

The real winner, though, was me. The little competition made what would have been an incredibly slow round into a much more interesting and fun game.

In other news on the round, while the Nike Ignite was still pretty unreliable, the Cleveland Launcher 3 and 5 woods were great both from the tee and the fairway. My irons, with the help of the tip from the fitting session, were also very nice, though still a bunch shorter than I would have liked, most of the iron shots flew high and straight with a slight tendency towards the right. They were not hooking like they had recently and I only had one fat iron shot.

Wedges need some work. I thinned 5 or so wedge shots close to the green which would have been at least 5 strokes off the day had I hit them well. There is a lot of sand on this course and I was in the bunker probably 15 times (a LOT of sand...) but most of the outs were very clean.

Seeing the ball roll was awesome. Maybe soon we'll see some of that up near Seattle.

All in all, not too bad on the scoring front considering how early it is in the season and how long I had to wait on the tees. There are lots of places where things can get better, I just need to get out and practice more. I'm looking forward to it!

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