The streak is over

No, not the lack-of-blogging streak. The playing golf every month streak.

As I sit here on the evening of March 1, I realize I haven’t played real golf (simulator golf doesn’t count) since the early days of January. So February passed without me getting on a plane to tee it up.

As a result, my streak of playing at least once a month for 34 consecutive months comes to an end.

The last month I didn’t play was March 2015. I actually played in both January and February of 2015 and my first Minnesota round was on April 1.

The streak is certainly aided by the fact that my parents live in Arizona and I have gone down over New Year’s the the past few years. In the process, I usually get December and January rounds on that trip.

In February 2017 I went to Florida for a weekend and made a somewhat ridiculous down-and-back trip to Des Moines and there was Minnesota golf in March. In 2016, I played February golf in Seattle of all places (it was slow and soft) and then followed it up with four days of golf in Houston.

And while the streak ended, I’m not too worried. I just booked a quick trip to Arizona later this month that will probably feature four rounds in four days, a baseball game and some time with my parents.

First look: Apex irons, Ping G irons, Crossover

Minneapolis isn’t always the greatest place to be a golfer. Sure, the summers are great, but the winter? Looooong. 

So I have to find ways to entertain myself. That means an occasional range session. And it means lots of times looking at (and sometimes hitting) new clubs on the shelves of golf stores.

On Saturday, I did a bit of both. 

After a range session at the Golf Zone with the tortured Cleveland sports fan, I stopped by 2nd Swing and spent a little time hitting balls on the launch monitor.

Somewhat limited on time, my focus was on three new offerings: Callaway’s Apex CF16 irons, Ping’s G irons and the Ping Crossover hybrid/driving iron thing. 

My quick thoughts:

Ping Crossover: This thing pretty much made my head explode. I started out hitting the 21-degree 4 Crossover. I was intrigued when the Crossover was announced and thought it might be a 4-iron replacement.

This thing just goes. And goes. And goes. 

I hit 10-15 balls on the launch monitor and sometimes all I could do was laugh. The 4 Crossover was registering distances certainly beyond what I hit my 17 degree hybrid and approaching what I hit my 15-degree 3-wood. 

While I want to hit it outdoors to see ball flight and see what it does in the wind, but this is very intriguing. One thing to consider, however, is that I might actually want the 24-degree 5 Crossover as a 4-iron replacement from a gapping standpoint. That would leave me going driver, 3-wood, hybrid, 5 Crossover, 5 iron. It might look weird, but I think it might help avoid some big gaps.

Ping G iron: I have previously discussed how I am a fan of Ping irons. I wasn’t disappointed with what I saw on Saturday. They are certainly easy to hit and they definitely go further than my G30 irons. I tried a few shafts and was pretty consistently hitting the G 7-iron at least 10 yards further than I hit my G30s. 

I was pleased with how they look as well. Looks aren’t everything for me when it comes to irons, but the top line looks a little thinner and the overall footprint of the club looks slightly smaller than the G30. Throw in the forgiveness of Ping irons and it seems as if this is going to be a big winner.

Callaway Apex CF16: As impressed as I was with both of the new Ping offerings that I hit on Saturday, I was honestly most impressed with the new Apex. 

My guy Scott at 2nd Swing has tried at times over the year to get me into a set of irons that were a little less game imrovement. I tend to err toward forgiveness and distance over feel and control. That said, I did have a set of forged Mizuno MX-300 irons that I probably should have never gotten rid of. 

While I have looked at many forged irons over the past few years, I never really pulled the trigger. I never really loved any of more recent Mizuno offerings, I have never loved the Titleist AP2s like others have and that’s about it.

The Apex CF16 might change things for me. Why? The initial test of these irons checked all of the boxes: Looks, feel and distance. 

I have never seen the kind of numbers from a forged iron that I saw from the Apex. For me, they actually flew further than the G irons – something I didn’t think would or could be possible. Well-struck shots felt great. And they look fantastic – they certainly aren’t shovels. 

I definitely want to hit these some more, but my initial reaction was more than positive.

Summary: I hit three great clubs on Saturday and I think all will be winners. The G irons might have the most commercial success. I think there will be players who are put off by the looks of the Crossover, but the results are much prettier than the looks.We’ll see if the Apex end up in my bag, but they are the current leading concender.

Yes, I’m obviously interested in what Ping’s selling

I had heard rumblings that Ping was going to announce a new line of G clubs around the time of the PGA show in Orlando, so I wasn’t surprised when they made the news earlier this week — especially after some of the clubs were spotted in Tour bags at Kapalua. 

I have a pretty long history with Ping irons. I got a set of Eye 2s back in high school in the late 80s (yep, I’m old). A side note: I really wanted a set of the beryllium copper Eye 2s, but never pulled the trigger. If you played in junior golf tournaments in Minnesota in the late 80s, you knew that the fancy private country club kids had the BeCu irons.

Since, I have had the following Ping sets: ISI K, i3 O-Size, G5, i10, i20, G25 and I currently have the G30s in my bag. I think that’s the complete list, but it is possible I could have missed something.

I stopped by 2nd Swing on Tuesday night after work to see what the new irons look like as they have received their fitting components. I liked what I saw. And I am obviously interested.

It was only a few weeks ago when I listed my G30 irons as part of my Gear of the Year. So would I really consider a new set of irons even though my current irons are less than a year old.

I will admit that I am a little surprised – and even a tiny bit miffed as a consumer – that Ping didn’t stick to its standard two-year product cycle. Annual releases seem to be the standard for many companies, but Ping and Titleist have become outliers in this area. That said, I’m willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt and am willing to believe that this product is better than the G30 line.

Why? It seems as if we are in an era of significant improvements in irons. For much of the past 15-20 years, the technological improvements in metal woods and golf balls were amazing. Drivers became bigger and more forgiving. There were more shaft options on the market, making it easier for a golfer/fitter to find a great combination, golf balls were longer, softer, low spin off of the driver and high spin off of lofted clubs. It has really been amazing.

Irons, however, didn’t really seem to change that much. The badges might be a different color, but the shapes seemed similar and most sets had some sort of True Temper steel shaft in them. While I frequently changed drivers, putters and other things, I would go several years before changing irons. I think I played my Ping i3 O-Size irons for three or four seasons (I made my only hole in one with them) before going to a set of Callaway X-18 irons (which also stayed in my bag for multiple seasons).

But in the past few years, there have been more and more new and interesting things enter the iron game. Weight has been moved around in the head, making it easier to hit the ball higher and carry it further. Companies have worked to increase ball speed through face slots and sole slots and thinner faces. 

I have honestly never hit a set of irons as far as I hit my G30s that I bought earlier in the year. They are hard to hit super crooked and they are about a club longer. That isn’t marketing mumbo jumbo. Where I used to hit 6 iron, I now hit a 7. I needed to actually re-tool my bag set up as I needed another wedge.

That’s the long story to why I will hit the new G Series irons, along with some other offerings from companies including Callaway and TaylorMade. Will they be easier to hit? Will they fly further? Will they be even more point-and-shoot than my current irons? Have some of the offerings from other companies become even easier to hit while also feeling good?

I’m interested in all of it. I admit to liking golf clubs. As a result, I’m obviously looking forward to hitting the G Series.

Will I buy new irons? If I’m being honest with myself, there’s probably at least a 50-50 chance of it happening. 

The Tour is back (and two weeks of prime time golf)

My first fantasy golf lineup of the season has been set. I have updated the PGA Tour app on my phone and iPad. Kapalua photos have filled my social media channels. 

Yes, I’m ready for the PGA Tour to be back. I’m also excited that we will have two consecutive weeks of prime time golf from Hawaii. I will watch a little bit after work the next two nights. I will certainly watch the final round after Sunday’s football games. 

I realize that the official start of the PGA Tour season came back in the fall when the “wraparound” events were held. Call me a purist or a football fan, but to me the year doesn’t start until January. I also like the break from the end of the Playoffs until the January. I don’t need a year-round tour.  

And closed circuit to the PGA Tour: If someone like me – an avid golfer who spends arguably too much time and money on the game – doesn’t get excited about the Open, the Sanderson Farms Championships and the other wraparound events, I can’t imagine many others will either. There’s this thing called football and a lot of people like it. It seems to work really well in last quarter of the year, way better than pro golf.  

Over the next 14 weeks – that’s now through The Masters – I will watch a good bit of the Tour, especially on Sundays. What else is there to do when there snow on the ground here?

I realize televised golf isn’t for everybody, but it does get me excited for the season. It’s fun to watch guys hit good shots. I like seeing courses like Waialae and Riviera. And it really beats watching college basketball.

I’m back from Phoenix, so there is now a decent chance you’ll find me in front of the TV. 

What’s cool: New Year’s golf

The new year is three days old and I have my first three rounds of 2016 already in the books. That’s a pretty great feeling. I have plans to play this morning and may even play a fifth round (weather depending) on Tuesday.

I know people love watching college football and the ability to affix yourself to the couch and watch roughly 12 consecutive hours of bowl games. But I will take golf over football pretty much all day every day.

So after flying to Phoenix on New Year’s Eve, I teed it up on the South Course at The Boulders. The good news is that I found a great rate on the Internet. The bad news is that one hole/15 minutes into 2016 I already had my first double bogey of the year.

This was only the second time in my life when I played on New Year’s Day. The other was on Jan. 1, 2000 when I was living in Raleigh, NC and played a local semi-private course called Wildwood Green. 

Obviously my attitude is shaped by having lived in Minnesota for much of my life – and for having New Year’s come during my busy season when I was a sports hack. But it feels like you’re stealing something when you get in rounds this early in the season. 

I followed up The Boulders – which is not a great value, FYI – with a Jan. 2 round at Wildfire (Palmer) at JW Marriott. On Sunday, Jan. 3, I joined a couple of friends for a round at Tonto Verde.

While I hit a bunch of foul balls off of the tee, it is always fun to play when there is snow on the ground at home. 

Yes, very cool. 

2015: My Gear of the Year

I certainly have a reputation, there’s no question about that. My friends and golf buddies know how much I like golf stuff.

And by golf stuff I mean almost all of it: Clubs, clothes, accessories, shoes. Especially shoes.

I’m not an expert and I don’t hit everything that hits the market, but let’s just say that demo day is always dangerous, I have a hard time going into a golf shop and not at least considering making a purchase and I’ve been known to spent a bit of time looking at things on eBay.

Here are some of my favorites from 2015.


For context, I’m a solid low-to-mid single-digit handicap. I like clubs that make the game easier – further and straighter are good things – so you aren’t going to find a set of blades. Basically I like my gear easy to hit and user friendly for a guy who has a job and doesn’t really practice.


Ping G30 irons:
I keep hearing how Ping is going to announce a new G series iron at the PGA Merchandise Show, but I not sure what they can do to make these things better. These were easily the best new addition to my bag this year. They fly high and fly far. I’m not a big believer in claims of distance gains that the club manufacturers make daily, but I do know that the G30s are at least one club longer than my previous set of Ping G25 irons. Just as important is the fact that they were very consistent for me. It wasn’t a scenario in which I would hit a 9-iron 135 yards on one swing and then 145 on the next – that has been an issue for me in the past with some manufacturers.
Callaway Great Big Bertha driver: This was a late-in-the-season addition to my bag as the club was released after Labor Day. I am a notorious driver changer, but I’m quite pleased right now (we’ll see if that lasts when all of the the new 2016 gear is released. Distance with this has been good and after spending much of the year hitting the G30 driver, I do like the ability to move weight around with the Great Big Bertha. There is something reassuring about knowing that if your swing is in a slump, you can pull out the wrench and move the weight one way or another to encourage your preferred ball flight.


When it comes to clothes, I want things that keep me comfortable while looking good and I want things that are easy to take care of. I don’t care how great a shirt looks on a rack, if I’m going to have to iron it, I’m not going to buy it. It also needs to look nice either out of the dryer or after hanging to dry.

My favorites in no particular order:

Peter Millar Summer Comfort shirts: The best golf shirts out there for me. The wick moisture well and still look nice on a sweaty summer day. They have a classic look to them the actual fit is a nice middle ground between the slim fit brands and the really baggy stuff. They are not the cheapest option, but deals can be found at the end of the season or on eBay. I’m very happy that my pro buys these and I can take advantage of member pricing. I have some that are now a couple of years old and they really wear well without fading or fraying.

Footjoy, Nike and Under Armour shorts: I like all of these. The pretty much fit true and the come out of the wash looking crisp. I like them more than any of the adidas shorts out there. One note on UA, however, their factory stores have a different line of golf shorts that I don’t think fit as true or are as well made. The shorts at Nike outlets seem to be of good quality.

Nike 1/2 zip pullovers: The folks in Portland are really strong in this area. I don’t really like their golf shirts, but their layering pieces are really nice. They have them in different weights making them good for different temperatures. As a Minnesotan, the pockets on some of the Therma-Fit one are great for cool days. Footjoy also makes some great 1/2 zip tops and the one I bought early in the year at Champions Golf Club in Houston is one of my favorite items of the year.  

American Needle Technocrat hat: I am a hat wearer. Always. I’m not a fan, however, of a cotton hat on a warm day as I just sweat through them. I picked up the American Needle tech hat at a couple of places (both in white) and they have been good. They didn’t get visible sweat stained either while playing or when they dry later. Both of mine have clean logos that are big enough to see, but not too big. I will continue to look for these in 2016.

My second tier:

Footjoy and Donald Ross shirts: The quality is good on both of these, but they can really large/baggy and I sometimes feel like I’m swimming in them. The good news is that you can toss them in the dryer without issue.

Maide shorts: I got a pair of these and I was initially skeptical of these. I thought they might be too slim fitting for me as Maide is part of the millennial (and skinny person) friendly Bonobos, but they are actually good. The downside is they are really expensive. I’m not a fan of paying $80-90 for a pair of shorts. Even over the holiday season, the deals weren’t great and the free shipping threshold was more than I wanted to spend. Yes I’m a consumer who doesn’t want to be gauged for shipping by online retailers

Yes I really like golf shoes and when I find a style I like, I’ve been known to buy pairs in multiple colors. My two favorites were the Nike Lunar Control 3 and the Footjoy DNA. 

I liked the Nike LC2s and liked the LC3s more than I thought I would after initially seeing the pictures of them. They had an athletic look to them, without totally looking like tennis shoes. They also look good with both shorts and pants. I got the white/blue one as soon as they came out and added a white/black pair later in the year thanks to a good eBay deal. I am on the lookout for a great deal on the grey/orange ones that were released in the later part of the summer. These might be the last LCs I get for a while as I’m not a fan of the new LC4s that have been released. I don’t like how shiny the material is and I really don’t like the massive toe swoosh.

I’m admittedly late to the DNA party. I had read on GolfWRX about some of the quality control issues when these were initially launched in 2014, so I stayed away. But I was in the market for an all white pair of shoes earlier this year and used a Golfsmith gift card to pickup a pair of DNAs. I thought they were quite comfortable and pretty stylish. Since FJ announced the DNA 2.0 late in the summer, there are great deals to be had on the original DNAs. I picked up a cool pair of the white/green ones for cheap on eBay this fall and just got a pair of all black ones for $72 on the day after Christmas. I would expect there will be plenty of deals on these over the next few months. One item to note: They run big and I had to go down a half size with these.

Other items

A couple of things I picked up over the past year that I liked: 

  • Leather scorecard holder: My pro ordered a some of these at the beginning of the season and I immediately purchased one. The best part is that scorecards don’t get destroyed by sweat when using them. One big of bad news was the dye of the leather did mark some of my shorts just above the back pocket where I carry it. 
  • T-shirts: At some point I don’t need any more golf shirts or hats. I have begun seeing more clubs that have cool t-shirts. I’m a fan.
  • Tervis tumblers: Again, I’m late to the game here, but a nice Tervis tumbler with a club logo is a nice item.

2015: My year in golf


I have had years in which I played more golf courses than I did in 2015, but this has to be near the top when it comes to quality of golf courses and great experiences. I was very fortunate.

The stats

For the year, I played 28 different courses in 10 states. No new states in 2015, so I have still played golf in 33 of the 50 states. Of the 28 courses, 15 of them — more than half — were courses that I had never played before.

I don’t know exactly how many rounds I played, but I posted 90 handicap scores. I certainly played more than that as I don’t always remember to post 9-hole rounds and quite possibly missed a couple of rounds

The highlights

Pure Michigan: One of the highlights of the year was a great Michigan weekend that included single rounds at Orchard Lake and Crystal Downs and multiple rounds at the Kingsley Club.

Orchard Lake is a Colt and Allison design in suburban Detroit that was recently renovated by Keith Foster. I didn’t know a ton about the course before playing there and didn’t have the highest expectations, but was very impressed. It has a great flow, cool bunkering and some really cool greens. If it was in the Twin Cities, it would push for inclusion in the top five in the metro.

The next day was a great treat. Not only did we get to play Crystal Downs – No. 13 in the US according to Golf Digest and the No. 10 Classic course in the US according to Golfweek – we got to play with architect Mike DeVries, who worked at the club growing up and is a member. This was my first Alister MacKenzie golf course and only the second time I got to putt greens constructed by Perry Maxwell (who assisted on the design). When you look at the scorecard, you see it is only about 6500 yards and a par 70. How hard can it be to break 80 here? Well, on your first time around, it can be quite hard.

The greens are magnificent. I hit the green in regulation I believe on No. 5 and felt pretty good. I was basically pin high and had mentally written a par on the card. At that point, DeVries said, “you’re dead.” That was a bit of an exaggeration, but my first putt had probably 5 feet of break and I made a heck of a two putt just to save par. There were a number of holes where you absolutely couldn’t be above the pin because if you were long, the odds were decent that you could just tap the putt and end up off the green. There is a lot of defensive putting.

It was the kind of place where you walk off 18 and want to immediately go back to the first tee. We didn’t do that, but we did go to the outdoor area out outside of the main clubhouse and enjoyed some Michigan craft beer.

Kingsley – No. 18 on Golfweek’s list of US Modern golf courses – is one of those places where I had been interested in visiting for some time. Similar to clubs like Ballyneal, Kingsley is a place that has onsite lodging and very few local members. My friend Howard invited me and I planned some of my summer around this weekend. Kingsley is very cool, there are a bunch of great holes and there is the ability to be very creative. Sometimes the best play around the greens is to hit it several feet away from the hole and allow the earth to funnel the ball to the hole.

Kingsley is a very relaxed place. It never seems to be that busy, so you kind of play when you want to play and once you are there, you kind of have the run of the place. After playing Crystal Downs and getting some food, we went out for an emergency nine and raced the sun. It was a fun preview for the next two days and the highlight was nearly making an ace on the par 3 ninth hole in near darkness.

A return to Texas: Early in the year, I made a return trip to Texas. Between a winter trip there in 2012 and some work travel over the years, I’ve probably played in Texas five or six times in the past dozen years.

This year, I met some friends there for a long weekend of golf. After landing at IAH, we immediately drove to Champions Golf Club, which is known as the Houston club that is all about golf. We weren’t in the locker room – which is the center of activity there – for more than a few minutes before meeting club founder Jack Burke Jr., the winner of the 1956 Masters.

It was the start of four days of golf – albeit some of it in pretty cold weather – on some cool golf courses. Just as importantly, I was able to meet a bunch of cool guys who are also big dorks when it comes to golf course architecture and the game.

Alabama and The Masters: For the second year in a row, I organized a foursome of guys who spent a weekend playing golf in Alabama and then went to the Monday practice round at The Masters. We again played most of our golf and stayed at FarmLinks, a cool place about 45 minutes from Birmingham. The golf course is pretty interesting and the lodging/food combo is top notch. It is also not usually all that busy there, so pace of play is good and you feel like you own the place.

The Masters was The Masters. It is just such a cool place. If you are a golfer – or even just a sports fan – you should go. Practice round tickets can be won in the lottery (I’m living proof) and walking around the place is awesome. With my past life as a sportswriter, I saw a lot of cool things, but Augusta National is one of the small number of places that lives up to the hype.

Olympia Fields: I was very fortunate to be able to make multiple trips this year to Olympia Fields Country Club in suburban Chicago. It is a great place with two really good golf courses. The North is a Willie Park designed championship course that has hosted a number of majors and hosted the 2015 US Amateur. The South is a Bendelow design was redone about a decade ago by Steve Smyers. The greens are super – maybe the best set of 18 greens in Chicago – and there are some really cool holes. No. 6 is a tremendous short par 4 and some people say it is their favorite hole on the entire property.

All told, it’s a wonderful club with a great staff and a friendly membership. And with 36 holes, it is easy to get out. It’s just a cool place with a nice laid-back vibe.

A cool day in Indy: The quick summary goes like this: 18 holes on a really good Pete Dye design (Crooked Stick) in the morning; Skyline Chili for lunch; 18 holes on a Donald Ross design (Broadmoor) in the afternoon. It doesn’t get much better.

When work travel is awesome: I generally don’t mind work travel, but there are times when it can be a drag. There are other times when it leads to great experiences. I had two of those experiences this year on separate trips to Seattle.

The first trip was in mid- February. I was scheduled to fly to Seattle on a Tuesday morning and on Monday I checked the weather forcast there. It was going to be 60 degrees. I knew that if I busted my tail on Monday and worked into the evening, I could be in a spot where I could tee it up with only a little bit of guilt. So I flew to SEA, grabbed my rental car and then drove to Washington National, a decent Bob Cupp design about 25 or so minutes from the airport. It was great fun despite the course being in winter conditions (meaning softer than soft). It was unexpected, but it was a blast.

The second surprise was in June. I was going to spend time in both Seattle and Vancouver on the trip and I was going to drive between the two cities. When I looked at the dates – picked because they worked for my boss – I realized I was going to fly into Seattle on the Monday of US Open week at Chambers Bay. So I ended up booking the first flight out, I bought a cheap practice round ticket off of StubHub and spent much of the day checking out the course before driving up to Seattle. It was great fun that had be very much looking forward to the event that Jordan Spieth would eventually win.

The state of my game: I generally spend more time talking about where I play than how I play, but humor me for a moment. While my handicap actually went up a little bit this year, there were some signs of life. Among them:

– Winning the season-long match play at my club: Over the course of the summer, I won five matches and won the lower handicap division of the match play. While the matches are handicapped, I never got a shot. I had to give shots in four of the five matches and the other match was straight up. I was thrilled with how I played in these matches in part because I felt like I played with confidence and composure.

– A great round: On Father’s Day/US Open Sunday I played in the early afternoon with plans of heading home to watch the final round from Chambers Bay. While I pumped one out of bounds on the second hole, I made a couple of birdies and shot 37 on the front. On the back, I managed to birdie 10, 11 and 13 to get to 2-under and I was seriously out of my comfort zone. I quickly made bogey on 14 and found ways to save pars on both 15, 16 and 17. I stood on the 18th tee 1-under for the day and my goal was to make a par and finish under par. What happened? I drove it in the fairway, hit a good approach shot and made the birdie for 70. It was my lowest round ever at Midland and my lowest round overall in several years. To make six birdies in one round is pretty unheard of for me.

– A really good round at Olympia Fields. I played in a really strong group in June on the North course. I played with a buddy who has played in several Wisconsin amateurs, his friend a club pro and a guy who won multiple Wisconsin Ams and Opens before a stint as a mini-tour player. Somehow I managed to make a couple of birdies and – despite bogeys on 17 and 18 – shot 76. I was the low guy in the group. It was a casual round on a Sunday morning, but it still felt great. Now if I had only avoided limping in.

Fun MN golf: There was a great afternoon at White Bear, an evening at Edina, a weekend that included rounds at Midland, Windsong and T&C. I played in steady rain at Minikahda and Southview. I caught up with old friends at Mendakota and saw the new bunkers at Stillwater. I made a trip to St. Cloud to play with a friend just days before he had open heart surgery and can happily say that he’s doing great.

It was a great year with great friends on great golf courses. I feel very fortunate and am looking forward to 2016. .

A very golfing Christmas

While a number of my friends in different parts of the country have been able to sneak in some bonus golf this December, I haven’t been quite as fortunate. 

Temperatures have been well above normal here in Minneapolis, but it hasn’t exactly been golf weather for many beyond the true diehards. Plus, the combination of work and short days made it difficult.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a golfing Christmas. Yesterday afternoon I got texts from two of my buddies who wanted to share their haul. One got a new set of irons and another got Ryder Cup tickets. Talk about something that is better than a sweater.

Me? Well, here’s what I scored:


So what was the haul here? I might have had some influence on these, but it is always good to find some golf gear under the tree.

Nike 1/4 zip Ryder Cup pullover: I’m not always a huge fan of dated items as they become, well, dated. But I requested this one in part because the Ryder Cup is still nine months from now and because I spent a summer in college working at Hazeltine. I know there are people out there who dog the course for being a hard slog that lacks personality, but I have good memories of the place. 

The Confidential Guide: The original version of The Confidential Guide, written by Tom Doak, came out in the mid-90s. It is difficult to find in print and is expensive when you do find it. A year ago, Doak added three co-authors and they are in the process of putting out a five-volume version. I didn’t get the Volume 1, which includes Great Britian and Ireland, but I’m excited about the two editions that cover the Americas. Volume 2 looks at winter destinations while Volume 3 (expected to come out in Fall 2016) will focus on summer destinations. Doak has been somewhat controversial in his ratings and I’m looking forward to what he has to say.

The Midwest Associate: In the past couple of years, I have gotten my first look at the work of architect Perry Maxwell. Maybe because most of his work was done in the middle of the US, Maxwell doesn’t have the same profile as architects such as Donald Ross and Seth Raynor. But what I’ve seen of Maxwell — I have played Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club and recently saw the work he did with C.B. MacDonald at Crystal Downs — is really cool. I’m looking forward to learning more about a guy who was a genius at designing interesting green complexes with great internal movement.

When you live in a place where snow is a sad reality, you need something to get you through the winter. These three items will certainly help.

2015: My golf year in photos

Officially, we still have several weeks remaining in 2015, but another round would be a huge upset.

I will write more about the year later. But here I will show you about my year.

I am a fan of Instagram. I like snapping iPhone pictures while I’m on the course. It doesn’t happen every hole or every round. I don’t post course tours, but my camera roll is littered with golf course pics.

Here are a few of my favorites and a tour of my 2015:

Jan. 9: Talking Stick North, Phoenix



Feb. 17: Washington National Golf Club, Auburn, Wash.



Feb. 21: Champions Golf Club, Houston



April 4: FarmLinks, Sylacauga, Ala.



April 6: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.



April 23: Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Ky.



May 7: Olympia Fields Country Club (South), Olympia Fields, Ill.



May 24: Southview Country Club, West St. Paul, Minn.



June 15: Chambers Bay Golf Course, University Place, Wash.



June 28: Olympia Fields Country Club (North), Olympia Fields, Ill.


July 8, Midland Hills Country Club, Roseville, Minn.


July 15: Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, Ind.



July 18: Midland Hills Country Club, Roseville, Minn.



July 30: Orchard Lake Country Club, West Bloomfield, Mich.


Aug. 1: Kingsley Club, Kingsley, Mich.



Aug. 10: White Bear Yacht Club, Dellwood, Minn.



Aug. 26: Olympia Fields Country Club (South), Olympia Fields, Ill.



Sept. 10: Midland Hills Country Club, Roseville, Minn.



Sept. 11: Midland Hills Country Club, Roseville, Minn.



Sept. 19: Olympia Fields Country Club (South), Olympia Fields, Ill.



Sept. 27: Town & Country Club, St. Paul, Minn.



Oct. 11: Midland Hills Country Club, Roseville, Minn.



Nov. 27: Wickenburg Ranch Golf Club, Wickenburg, Ariz.


The good golf news (and the not so good news)

I must preface this by acknowledging that this is a first world problem or a golfer problem. This is not a real problem in the least.

Today, I am scheduled to play at one of the more difficult private clubs in the Twin Cities for this guy to access. I have been there a couple of times and while there is certainly significant money there, it isn’t snobby or snooty. It is just a place where I don’t really know any members and a place that isn’t exactly the normal place for a guy from Willmar to hangout.

The golf course is great. The place has great history. The whole deal.

The bad news? There is pretty much a 100 percent chance of rain. While I don’t always believe the forecast and I think that they tend to exaggerate the chance of rain, when they are in the 90- to 100-percent chance range, they are pretty darn confident.

Will I play? Probably.

I’m tougher than I used to be when it comes to bad weather, but I’m still not exactly a murder. I don’t love the idea of four hours under an umbrella and usually avoid it. It is probably part of the reason why I haven’t gone to Bandon — I don’t love the idea of playing with rain coming down sideways.

I have rain gear. I have rain gloves (a must for wet weather). I have some layers since it is going be in the mid-50s. I’m simply hoping for sporadic light rain. My fear is steady, pretty hard rain with bursts of really hard rain.

But when you have limited opportunities to play somewhere really good, you take them.

My round two years ago at Bethpage Black was in the rain from the first tee to the 18th green. I played Interlachen in snow flurries. I will suck it up today.

I’m just hoping that if it does rain — and the weather forecast is accurate — that it is of the light-green-on-the-radar variety and the yellows and reds stay away.