After playing in my first GolfClubAtlas.com (hereafter GCA) Midwest Mashie last year, I was feeling pretty down with my game. I played very poorly. Perhaps intimidated by playing a wonderful club like Canterbury Golf Club; perhaps putting faces to names I hadn’t met before; perhaps the VERY cold weather (40* and sleet). All these factors caused me to tighten up and generally suck it up.
Haven’t a lot of us golfers had that feeling where you’re just ready to give up the game? Golf is certainly not a cheap sport. You spend a lot of money on equipment, green fees and lessons. You spend a lot of time learning, practicing. It’s a damn hard game.
I decided to use my experience at Canterbury as a turning point in golfing career. I basically started over with my swing; watched A LOT of YouTube videos. I found great video instruction through Mark Crossfield, Rick Shiels, Peter Finch and the Me and My Golf guys, Piers Ward and Andy Proudman. Did lots of practice. Did lots of reading on the short game, mental aspects and practicing. Hell, I went to (heated) driving ranges in 20 degree (Fahrenheit) weather!
The culmination of this work would be the 2015 GCA Midwest Mashie. The main event of the Mashie is two rounds of four-ball and singles matches. After completely melting down mentally at the 2014 event, I wanted to be sure I didn’t embarrass myself again.
All was going okay until about a month out from the event when I got a serious case of the iron shanks. I got really worried I was going to have a repeat performance of 2014. Up until about a week out of the event, I didn’t know which game I would bring to the event.
My itinerary for my visit to Minneapolis was optimistic to say the least. I flew in Thursday morning and immediately drove to Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of the 2016 Ryder Cup. I didn’t have a tee time, but I wanted to visit a place with so much golf history. The staff was incredibly accommodating and let me roam the clubhouse at my leisure.
Day 1 – White Bear Yacht Club
After driving by to look at Minikahda (you can’t see much from the road) and Interlachen, and having a quick lunch, it was off to my first course: White Bear Yacht Club. The course is credited to Donald Ross, though there are disputes of the original designer. I had heard the course was full of wild undulations, but it’s only until you step on the property that you get a true sense of it. My playing partner described it as “Kingsley Club on clay”.
Being able to play WBYC was like eating my dessert before the main course. I don’t know that I’ve ever had that much fun on a golf course. I didn’t shoot great, but I played fairly respectable, and gained a bit of confidence heading into my next rounds. A big thanks to the club for allowing me to visit and play. I promise a full write-up of the course in the coming weeks.
Day Two – Midland Hills and Keller
On Friday, we played our warm up rounds. In the morning, we started at Midland Hills Country Club. Although I live 25 miles from a pretty good (putting it lightly) Seth Raynor design, I had not had the opportunity to play one of his courses until I played Midland. While there has been some alteration of the course, there are some really good bones in that course.
Recent work to open up the view of 4 makes the Short hole look outstanding. Other favorites of mine included the Cape hole at 2 and the Punchbowl at 14. A very good members course, and one I would like to visit again when conditions are firmer.
In the afternoon, we made a stop by Keller Golf Course. A two-time host of the PGA Championship, Keller was recently renovated by Richard Mandell. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better bang for your buck for a course anywhere in the United States. Rustic Canyon and CommonGround (haven’t played either) might be up there, but this place was $23 to walk on a weekday and was right up there with the best I played all weekend.
I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the par 3 4th. It’s no more than a short iron in, but a massive tree blocks the green. Mandell told us there was no way he would have been allowed to take that tree out. I am sure I loved the par 3 13th. Uphill par 3’s get bad wraps in my book, and this is one of the finest I’ve ever played.
So, how did I fair in the main event? Stay tuned for part 2, as I go through my experiences at Windsong Farm Golf Club and Town & Country Club for the main event of the 2015 Midwest Mashie.