Wilson makes top of the line golf clubs. Who knew?

Last week I sold my Nike Pro Combo forged irons after only playing them a couple of months.  The swing weight was way too low on these clubs.  I think they are D1’s and D2’s depending on the club.  Since I like to think of my swing as though I’m swinging a lead ball at the end of a string I want some weight on the club head.  In the past three seasons I’ve played the Nike’s, a set of Cobra SSI’s and Titleist 695 forged cavities.  I keep coming back to my 1999 Top Flite Tour OS clubs for the swing weight and shot consistency.  I’m about exactly 140 yards with my 7 iron, 150 if I crank it.

I’ve been trying to find clubs to replace the Top Flite Tours for years.   I think they are the most under rated irons in the history of golf but mine are beat to death.  The 9 iron looks like I’ve been swinging it in the gravel parking lot at the driving range.  I went on an extensive search recently at Golfsmith and the Pro Shop at the Falls driving range.

I hit Ping G10’s and Titleist AP1’s.  They are both $599 retail.  The Pings were alright for swing weight but pretty boring and I hate the looks of Pings at address.  I think Ping has become a golf cliche and a victim of their own success.  The Titleists were quite awesome as any $600 set of irons should be.  But then I decided to try a brand I’ve never really considered before.  On the rack was a set of Wilson Staff Ci7’s.  They sure look damn good.  Better than any club on the rack (I later learned they won the Golf Digest 2008 award for “best looking” club along with “best feeling” club).  Then I saw the price – $389.00.  The rep in the store told me Padrick Harrington won the 2008 British Open Championship with this exact Wilson model.  It was time to hit them.

First thing I noticed on the Wilson’s was the stock grip.  Nike should take a lesson.  These were straight up Golf Pride DD2’s with a Wilson logo.  That’s an $8 grip on each club.  No need to change them right out of the box like I had to with the Nike’s.  Then I noticed that the shaft sticker that said “spline aligned”.  If anyone’s ever bought a replacement shaft they know this is a critical part of club assembly often not incorporated in “game improvement” irons.  Manufacturers reserve it for the $1000, hand assembled, forged pro sets.

After the first few swings I took with the Ci7’s I was ready to buy.  To me the swing weight is better than my Top Flite Tours.  I haven’t been able to say that about any clubs in 10 years.  I was real impressed with the TX-105 True Temper shafts.  Every component Wilson chose for these clubs is top of the line.  And if pros are winning majors with these sticks then they are only “game improvement” irons by classification and price.

So Wilson is bad ass.  Again, who knew?  These are not my Grandfather “Pops” old Wilson persimmon woods sitting around in the cracked and dusty leather bag.  That was the image I always had in my head of Wilson golf clubs.  Sales volume is about brand name recognition but performance has nothing to do with logos.  If Wilson had the reputation in golf that they do in tennis these clubs would sell for more than the Ping G10’s and Titleist AP1’s.  I’m getting some this week.

I hear the Staff Di9’s are incredible, I haven’t seen them in person, but priced at the point of the Ping and Titleists.   And guess what… I found the Ci7’s even cheaper on ebay where they are going for about $249 or less with free shipping.  I actually feel like I’m stealing or that I know something I shouldn’t.  The guys I play with will never understand why I got rid of my Nike Pro Combos for Wilson Staff’s.  Until I beat them by six strokes each next weekend.

Zebulon Country Club Course Review

I played at the Zebulon Country Club this week.  Overall it’s a very good course as far as conditions go.  Among local courses I would rank the fairways and greens slightly above Lochmere and Wil-Mar.  It’s definitely way better than nearby Wendell Country Club (which is barely a golf course anymore). We were told the greens may be a mix of bent grass and Bermuda.  They were almost as good as the bent grass greens at Carolina Country Club.

It’s not a long course and has some easy to par 470 yard holes.  It’s got a couple of easy to birdie par 4’s if you’re even slightly better than me.   All-in-all it’s a course worth going back to many times, again based on the conditions.  But it does have one really bad problem on weekdays: lots of grumpy old men.  I mean, these old timers are straight evil and angry that anyone under 55 years old dare, yes dare, come on their course.  They play with no golf etiquette, none, zero.  They don’t finish out their putts from five or ten feet and then proclaim “ya, I scored a 74 today”.   Right, minus any putting at all.

Since they don’t putt out once they hit the green they’ll pick up their ball and tee off immediately while the group in front of them is still on the fairway.   One thing is for sure, these old coots won’t slow you down.  They’ll spray the ball to bejesus, usually on to another fairway, and then without warning or any dialog drive their carts straight onto a fairway someone else is playing to hit their shots.   We were playing fast (pars and bogeys) but one group behind us was so bad we let them play through since no etiquette, hurry up golf was their thing.  Only to have another Geritol gang come up behind us and almost hit us with a ball (literally) as we  finished putting.  I said something the the effect of “You need to slow down and chill”.  To which one old man replied “No, you need to move boy!”.   So I replied “No. I do not and will not”.  I know what they’re trying to do because I’ve seen it before.  It’s an ego trip for these old guys to be able to say they can play 18 holes in 2 1/2 hours or less, score be damned.  It happened a lot at Winton Country Club in Virginia where the average member age is probably 62.  Nothing makes them prouder than to have the “youngun’s” let them play through.  Somehow in their minds this equates to better golf.  Never mind taking the time to make shots that score low.

I’ve decided to try this course another day at a time later in the afternoon to see if the “Geritol Thugs” might be less of a distraction.   The first time I went to check the location and prices a really nice manager was offering some attractive membership rates.  Even with the wonderful turf this course has, if you’ve got to sacrifice playing a complete game to let angry old people who don’t really care about quality golf have their way, it’s not worth it.  The attitude of regular patrons can make or break a golf course.  I’ve played many, and these regulars are the absolute worst I have ever seen despite the sign coming into Zebulon that says “Home of Friendly People”.  Ya right, friendly people that think they own a golf course because it’s the only one they play four times a week.  I hope my next experience is better so I don’t have to leave these great turf conditions to the cranky old coots.

Trajedy of the week: THE GOLF CARTS BURNED UP.

CartsAll of the golf carts at the Wendell Country Club (my weekend stomping ground) burned to ashes early this morning.  I am grief strucken beyond my ability to put into words and may need to seek professional help.  These carts were young, only a couple of years old.  Lightening is to blame so perhaps God is trying to tell me something about how I should spend the weekend (I will be working).  Why oh why was there no mercy for these poor, innocent golf carts?

Hedingham Golf Club actually got worse.

Who would have thought it was possible?  I thought Daryl threw away our rain check for 9 holes at Hedingham.  Not only did he keep it but yesterday he wanted to use it.  I agreed thinking it couldn’t be any worse than it was last time.  Man was I wrong.  The little guy at the counter was accomodating when we arrived, letting us go straight to the back 9.  But the very next thing that happened was the start of the worse 9 holes of golf I’ve ever experienced. 

There were two carts to choose from.  One was swarming with flies, so our choice was obvious.  The cart lasted about six holes.  Daryl pushed it up any hills the last three.  But before we even got started we had a portly guy with a crew cut, who looked to be in his 20’s, come along and ask to see our receipts to play.  Hmmm.  We just walked out of your club house with a cart key jackass… Anyway.  This guy felt it necessary to assert his authority on a couple of guys in their mid to late 30’s who are obviously into stealing free golf games at the course with the worst conditions in the area.  Never mind the little thugs all over the place.

So let’s talk about the little thugs on the bikes all over the neighborhood cart path.  They were swarming and didn’t care if we were coming through in a golf cart on the cart path, oh no.  We would go around the dumb little thugs and accomodate them for the money we paid.  At least at Wil-Mar, or any other clubs we play we won’t find groups of kids gathering on the cart paths or near the greens to smoke behind their parents backs.

So we left the cart at the 18th green because it just wouldn’t make it up the last hill to the club house.  We went inside to let them know.  Guess who we got to talk to?  Mr. Insecure, respect seeking, loser with an attitude.  Yep the same asshole who demanded to see our receipts to play his cheap *!itty course.  We expected an apology or something but no.  All this aggrevated guy would say is “our phone number was on the scorecard”.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  This displays the attention this “Golf Club” pays to protocol on a golf course.  I don’t even take my cell phone and I don’t want to hear anyone elses ringing on the course.

Look guy, you made your life choices and now you’re a manager or assitant greenskeeper or something at the worst golf course near Raleigh I’ve ever played.  Deal with it and get your attitude right.  The only thing that could have made this course any worse is unhospitable staff.   Now Hedingham has nothing going for it: a bad course in a low end track home neighborhood full of staff who seem to have a chip on their shoulder because they’re reduced to working there.  It makes for a lot of mental challenge for your game that if overcome, just might make you a better golfer.

Hedingham golf course sucks. Period.

So I paid $40 to play 18 holes at Hedingham golf course in Raleigh yesterday.  It was the absolute worst course I have ever played on.  Other courses in the area that are in the same price range make this course look like the field in the back of my house.  It was litterally hard to tell the fairways from someones back yard.  They were full of crabgrass and the greens were full of holes and flattened weeds that looked like they had been smashed flat with a mower.  And big burn marks that looked like a cart had peeled out from the greens and left huge skid marks.  This is not a lie: there was a Dandylion growing on a green.

It was so bad we only played 9 holes and told them we wanted our money back.  They refused and gave us a rain check that we promptly threw away.  Everyone knows a course has to be bad to keep our crew from playing.  On the 8th hole we came across one of the greenskeeping staff sitting next to the tee box in a small greens truck.  He procedeeded to hand roll himself a cigarrette (it appeared to be a real, tobacco cigarette) and then talk on his cell phone at full volume as we tee’d off.  At most reputable courses this would get him fired based on a complaint, but not Headingham.  At one point my ball even landed in a man made hole in the middle of a fairway.  The kind of hole a kid digs in his back yard.  Why would anyone play this course when Wil-Mar is right down the road for the same price?

Avoid this “golf course” and save your money.  It hardly even qualifies as a course because it’s mostly a bunch of undefined fairways in the back yards of townhouses.  I feel bad for those who bought actual houses surrounding the “Hedingham Golf and Athletic Club”.   That’s nothing to be proud of right now.  It’s the worst course conditions in the area and should only cost a fraction of what other courses cost to play.  But it doesn’t.

How I play exclusive golf courses for free.

I can now officially say I have played the top three golf courses in the Raleigh, NC area: Northridge, Prestonwood and now the Carolina Country Club.  The beautiful thing is I only had to pay at one of them.  How is this possible you ask?  It’s who you know.  And since I don’t know any rich doctors, lawyers or local politicians I rely on the greens keeping staff.  My people are the ones the rich have labeled the “working class”.  I had the chance to hit a 28,000 sq. foot house with a golf ball but I didn’t.  Hows’ that for “conservative”?

Daryl now has a job at the CCC.  I am not talking about the Carolina Country Club in Spartanburg SC.  I’m talking about the one hidden inside the beltline off Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh.  The Carolina Country Club is still not racially integrated and to my understanding blacks are still prohibited from playing there.  Very sad.  This factor alone is keeping me from rating it the best place I have ever played.  It is definitely one of the nicest courses I have ever played, right in line with Prestonwood and Winton Country Club in the mountains of Virginia.

One of the coolest things about the CCC is that I may be getting to play there as much as twice a month for free if Daryl has his way.  This will be AWESOME if it becomes reality.  I dunno, Daryl likes to play golf and the only thing better than playing at a course like this is playing on it for free.  Look at me – I can’t afford a new car but I’m playing golf at clubs with $50,000 membership initiation fees and $125 guest fees.  Amy, I now have an obligation to play more golf and get better so I can live up to the honor.  Even if it is at my home stompin’ grounds, the good ‘ol Wendell Country Club or Wil-Mar golf.

August 1st

Yesterday was an unexpected series of events. A whole lot of stuff happened good and bad. It started off real bad then it got great….

I installed the new Pack-Rat BlackBerry server at our hosting location Peak 10. After getting it into the rack I was looking at the back of the server to check which port I had the network cable plugged in to. Out of nowhere the end of an industrial zip tie that was holding together some cables sprang loose and hit me straight in my right eye. I walked out with blood dripping from my eyelid down my face. Nice. I went to Urgent Care and other than not being able to sleep much last night everything’s okay. It feels like I’ve got sand in my eye.

But that didn’t stop me from going to the driving range last night where I FINALLY GOT RID OF MY SLICE for the season. No more over the top. I remembered the rule: Always release – do not pull. And that would be the best news of the summer except for one other thing I found out yesterday:

Amy is pregnant again. Connor is going to have a little brother or sister by March of next year. She’s just as excited as she was the first time. I love her. And my little man.