And I’m back: A return to golf blogging

Ever since my parents moved to Phoenix about eight years ago, my winter has gone like this: Play as late into November as possible, hit balls a couple of times in December, play three or four times in Phoenix at Christmas and then put the sticks away for a little while.

From roughly January 1 until some point in February, I go into golf hibernation mode. While I will still read some golf stuff on the web and post on a few message boards, I don’t do much else The sticks sit in the basement and I take my only real break of the year from the game.

But at some point, golf again moves toward the front of my mind. I’ll stop and pull a club or two out of my bag and grip it on my way back upstairs from the laundry room. I start to watch more golf on TV. I break out the XBox and start playing Tiger Woods golf. I stop at Golfsmith or Golf Galaxy during lunch or on my way home from the office.

Let’s just say that I’m very ready for this winter to be over. I have been in total golf freak mode. I’m reading a whole bunch. I’m watching the PGA Tour. I’m looking at clubs online and in person. I’m plotting my spring golf. I’m frequently wondering just what this lack of snow and warm winter will do to spring course openings in Minnesota. Basically I’m a mess.

Anyway, here are a few items that have been floating through my head.

– I realize this isn’t a coincidence, but I think it is the PGA show that really starts to get me excited about golf. As has been well established on this blog, I like golf gear. I mean really, really like golf gear. I love getting new clubs. I’m always looking for the latest and greatest driver. I’m not nearly as quick to switch irons, but I can’t wait to try some of the new driver offerings. As a guy who launches the ball too high at times and spins it too much with the driver, I’m very interested in hitting the new Bridgestone J40 driver. I’ve checked out the Ping I20 driver, but I’m not sure that’s the answer.

– Can I be a better putter this season? I’m so desperate to play golf that I ordered a 9 foot long putting green a few weeks ago and have putted a couple of times. I’m not sure how much I can really improve my ball-striking this time of the year, but working on my putting stroke can’t (edit here) hurt.

– On the topic of putting, I must admit that I’ve played around with the belly putter at some of the golf stores I’ve visited. I will admit that my thoughts on the long/belly putter has probably changed in the past year after watching dude after dude on tour win with the thing. I used to think it was a sign of desperation, something you go to only when you have exhausted all other options. Now I’m not so sure. It seems like there are more and more decent to good putters moving in that direction. Now it is pretty clear that I haven’t spent enough time to know a whole lot, but I’m not sure the belly is the answer for me. I can hit several good ones in a row, but then I will roll a couple that have no chance of sniffing the hole. And I think it would take a lot of work to really get comfortable with it.

– I guess here’s a question for a couple of my blog readers who work as golf course supers: When do you think we are going to see golf courses open here? Obviously some of that hinges on how much snow we get in the next month, but I can’t imagine there is that much frost in the ground and I would think that the dry fall and lack of snow for much of this winter means that the time required to dry out courses will be be shorter. Am I off base? Two years ago, pretty much everything was open in late March. Could that be the case again? Could we have an even earlier open?

– As has been well documented on here, I’m a big fan of True Linkswear shoes. A couple of updates there. First, last year’s models can be found on eBay for around $80. In addition, the Golfsmith in Minnetonka has some of the new True PHX shoe in stock. – As you know, I’m all about saving my readers money. So I’ll pass along this nugget. Golfsmith is now regripping clubs for free if you buy grips from them. They want a week to do it, but I wanted pass that along.

– Another sign that spring is coming: Starting to see golf deals being posted on Groupon and similar sites. Nothing that has knocked my socks off, but we’re getting close.

– I’m about 10 days away from a quick golf trip to Houston. Still working on the details, but it is a place where the weather will hopefully be warm and I could get there on pretty short notice on frequent flier miles. I’m looking forward to it.

10 thoughts on “And I’m back: A return to golf blogging

  1. Stuart Groskreutz

    I’m certainly no super, but there is virtually no moisture in the ground so also very little frost. Talking to a few folks at the Golf Show, they didn’t seem too worried about not having any snow cover for the greens this winter unless we really get some frigid temps.

  2. Paul Diegnau

    Not to be the bearer of bad news but the weather coming up in March will make or break turfgrass conditions on golf courses this year. Stuart is correct in his assessment of current soil/frost conditions. We were VERY dry going into winter. A turfgrass researcher/extension educator friend of mine paints the picture as follows:

    The abnormally mild winter has resulted in grass plants that have basically lost their winter hardiness (their ability to deal with seasonal weather extremes). In addition, the mild temperatures have increased plant respiration rates far above “normal” rates. The respiration process requires energy so plants have used up the majority of their energy reserves (stored as carbohydrates). Essentially they are tapped out. If March proves to be a wet month combined with the normal temperature fluctuations experienced during this time of year, the possibility exists for some major winter kill.

    I respect my friends insights but I sure hope he is wrong! Back-to-back seasons with winterkill issues makes for a long golf season. I just finished reading an article on weather predictions for 2012 In the January 2012 Golf Course Industry magazine and you guessed it….”Overall, prepare for a cool spring. This year will see above normal rain, but less than last year and a cold April with winter trying to hang on late in the Great Lakes and Northern Plains especially…With winter 2011-12 starting late and going from now and into March or April, we can look for the soil to be soggy and wet into April for some areas and then below-normal temperatures can create the precipitation to stay on the ground later and may limit the early golf for some areas to get an early start.”

    There you have it. Take it for what it is worth!

    Paul Diegnau
    GC Superintendent
    Keller GC

    1. Paul — Thanks for your note. What I know about turfgrass, you could put in the fairway off the tee on 16 at Keller — but I wonder: Is there *anything* you can do, at this point, to counteract the dry-fall, high-respiration winter? Dan

      1. Paul Diegnau

        A nice, thick blanket of snow would help moderate any temperature extremes at ground level :>)

        On the other hand, how effective will our snow mold chemical applications be after sitting exposed to the elements all winter long?

  3. I would say one really can’t make an assessment on how a winter will affect course opening until the third week of March. In 2007, we had little snow and it appeared we were headed for an early opening. The end of March and early April brought a lot of snow and it was one of my latest opening to date.
    In 2010 we had a lot of snow early, then a swift warm up in March resulting in the early openings across the state. When I left for the Golf Industry Show in Vegas on Monday the ground was bare, now we are looking at about 2 feet and thoughts of an early opening are up in the air.
    Paul’s comments about Carb storage are great and I am wondering how the greater use of carbs over this winter will affect spring growing conditions. Much of the early season growth comes from carbs reserves left over from winter. As those reserves have been used heavily this winter spring growth and green up may be slower this year than the past few.
    It will be an interesting spring of observing conditions.

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