Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bobby Jones Golf Complex in Sarasota , Florida - How good is it? Round played July 25th 2014

I play Bobby Jones Golf Complex often. As a matter of fact, over the past 4 years I played almost every week one round of golf there.

Bobby Jones Golf Complex is a course with history. It was opened in 1927 and from there on was a place where all kinds of golf greats competed. This history was one of the reasons I actually went there the first time.

It is always exciting to walk a course where you know some of the most accomplished golfers in history have walked.

But back to the course. Yesterday I was back on Bobby Jones yet again for a game which is played there for over 30 years.

The pro shop and sign in:

My first way was to the pro shop. This shop has not the biggest selection of products, but you will find the most needed things for a round of golf. Also some shirts, bags, clubs and shoes. There was no long line, so I was up right away. The staff is a little slow and certainly not cheerful. A smile here and there would be nice, but yesterday I did not find that.

Right now the summer rate after 12 pm is 17 $ with cart. I had my nephew with me and had to pay 10 $ for him riding the cart. A little much for a 13 old who was not playing. The reasoning was that they could rent the cart space otherwise. Nonsense I thought, I would walk if not for my guest. Also, there was about 20 people on the entire golf course and an empty parking lot.

We bought some balls for the range as well. 3 $ for a small bucket is reasonable. Do not expect great balls though.

The Range:

I picked up my cart. The carts are always in good shape and clean. The cart boys are great. Friendly, always a joke on their lips and always helpful.

We drove to the range. A short range ( about 200 yards), mats only, no woods unless you are a short hitter. There is a few target pins. This time I got lucky with the balls. Plenty of lost golf balls of the course. So my warm up was good.

The course:

We played the British Course. This is the longer track ( Blue tees are 6700 yards). I have not played in a few weeks there. The last time I was on the course I was not to thrilled about the upkeep. So My hopes were high. The chipping green was in OK shape and the putting green improved a lot. So there was a good start. Signed in with the starter. All starters are retired staff members. They are friendly. A little more cheerfulness would help though.

On the tee box I noticed that they did put some effort in getting them in better shape. Looking at all tee boxes the staff succeeded on some. Over all they are OK but could use some leveling and seed. You will be able to get a good stand after looking for it.

The fairways were in good shape I though. Grass well grown and for the most part you find good lies. However, there are many sandy spots in front of greens, along cart path and at times in the fairway. Those lies do not help to enjoy the round any more. For the most part you should move the ball to a better lie to actually have a chance for a good golf shot. Some of the areas should be ground under repair.

The greens were mixed. The front 9 greens seemed to be better and in much better shape than just a few weeks ago. Not very fast, but they had some roll. Still bumpy. The back 9 greens were green, but oh boy where they slow. When you walked up to the green you could actually see the grass height. Not sure if they cut them at all on that day. They were all green and looked healthy for the most part, but they were not cut. So we were putting more on a lawn than a putting green.

I was in some bunkers and I think they have partly improved. But the traps are not of great quality. When it is wet, they are not playable. Just not enough sand. The rakes they had need to be replaced. Some of them are broken and all of them are very old.

The landscape on the course was taken care of. There were many nice old trees and bushes which are for the most part seem to be original. Some ponds add to the over all look of the course and a couple of them actually come into play.

I would say the course is not the toughest challenge, but has some very nice holes. It is wide open so it accommodates all kinds of players.

The 19th hole:

After the round we stopped by the restaurant for a drink. They offer all kinds of draft beers, pops, wine and they have a full bar. If you want to snack something, You will find all kinds of things there from nuts to chocolate bars and so on. There was free popcorn as well.

If you get hungry you might consider looking at their menu. We were not very hungry, but I did order some fries. In the past I had some fries which were not exactly tasty and of different quality every time I ordered them. I asked if the current fries are good and was told they were. That is why I ordered them.

This time we got fries which were the same like at Checkers. Brown and crispy. Not very tasty. In short. We did not like them to much. Ok to eat, but not my favorite.

In the past I had chicken wings there and hot dogs. Both I did not order more than 1 time. Self explanatory I guess. Prices for drinks are good. Beer is cold, pop is mixed well and the drinks are good quality. They have a wonderful bartender/server who takes great care of everyone, is very cheerful and always smiles. Very positive.

What I liked most was that you have a nice view of the golf course and putting green. So it is a good place. The restaurant could be improved.


If you want to play for a good price, Bobby Jones Golf Complex might the course you are looking for. They offer 2 different courses ( British and American ) and a par 3 course ( which I did not try out yet. The British course is for the most part wide open which allows players with all kinds of handicaps to enjoy the round.

Do not expect top quality. It is a city course and it shows. But it is not in super bad shape either. It is reasonable for the price. The staff and marshals are not the friendliest but do their job. Bobby Jones Golf Complex to me is a good place to pay with your family and kids and a track which I will continue playing as long as summer rates apply.

In season rates go up to app 40 $ to 50 $ and for that price I would not play.

If you are in Sarasota I think you should check it out. The American course is a nice challenge as well, but I have no knowledge about the shape at this point. Same accounts for the par 3 course.

Have you played Bobby Jones Golf Complex? Tell us about your experiences. Maybe you have some older fun stories as well. I will follow up on this round in a few months and see how the course developed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rolling Green Golf Club in Sarasota - Review of course and club house

Rolling Green Golf Club at 4501 N Tuttle Ave, Sarasota, FL 34234 10

When I moved to Bradenton, FL about 5 years ago, I was looking to play golf within a 10 I mile radius and possibly finding a club where I can play and practice. Back then I actually stopped by at Rolling Green Golf Club to check it out. I only played once, but used the range several times.

My memories from back then are not very detailed. However I do remember that the course was in OK shape. Last week I had the opportunity to play in a skins game over there and decided to join in and see how the course has developed and if it is worth to spend time there.

I got there at about 6 40 am in the morning as we had an 7 30 am tee time. When I checked out the website I found that they have some green fee specials which would include breakfast, lunch and 2 drinks. So I wanted to try it and learn about the kitchen while I was there.

Arriving at the parking lot I already saw about 15 cars parked. So there was some people out there. A good sign. The parking lot was clean and there was plenty of space. Right away I realized that the club house , cart area, range and chipping area have not changed a single bit from the outside.

All looked exactly the same and was , as it was back then, well taken care off. I entered the club house where I friend Jerry Hinton already was waiting for me. He told me to check in , mention our group rate and make sure I get the food with it.

The assistant professional was on the phone while I was getting there and pretty much did not offer any greeting. While not unfriendly, he was not exactly showing inviting behavior. But I was there for golf and not for making a new friend.

Told him I am with the group. The green fee for that is 22 $ plus tax including the cart. I told him yes and that I also would like the food deal with it. Breakfast, lunch and two drinks.

He told me that this would be 29.63 $ including tax. Right away I thought that this sounds like a good deal, but before making up my mind I wanted to wait for the food.

Sat down with my friend. I ordered 2 Italian sausages, 2 eggs , toast and a coffee. The food came in about 5 minutes and it was very good. I have to say, that the sausage was perfect. Eggs just as I liked them and all was served by a friendly server.

After enjoying the good breakfast I was told I get some free range balls to warm up. I practiced on that range before and was looking forward to find out how the balls were and so on.

The range balls were the same they had 5 years ago. Maybe the added some new balls on top of that. I did not expect brand new range balls but was kind of hoping they improved the quality of the balls. After all they offer extensive range plans. The balls were free and so I was satisfied.

The range is actually pretty nice. They have plenty of targets and you can go deep with your driver ( unless you hit over 270 with the range ball). There is a nice pitching and bunker play area. The green was redone some time ago but still looks good.

The putting green is huge and very well taken care of. It runs nicely, has plenty of pins and you can also use it for chipping. There is plenty of room around it which gives you the opportunity to chip from all kinds of lies.

Tee time came up and we were ready to go. The first hole had a good looking tee box, which I like. It is nice to stand level when hitting the tee shot. Put it in the fairway which gave me a first look. I must say I was impressed. The fairway was nicely grown, no weeds, no dry spots. I had a good lie without clean , lift and placing ( which they do there ). I hit my second shot into the par 5 and made my way up there.

What I found was a good looking green. Also nicely taken care off and when I putted I found it was rolling great. Not super fast, but very nice. No bumps and dents.

The first hole set my expectations high for the rest of the round and I have to say that I was very satisfied with what I found. Most of the tee boxes were in good shape and gave you a good stand for your tee shot. Despite the fact that some fairways were very wet ( because they were close to wet areas or hazards) the fairways were in good shape and you found good lies for your second shots.

I think all greens were nice. That is a huge factor for me when I play golf. I can live with some bad fairways and tee boxes. But I do want some good fairways.

We made it around in a good time, enjoying a well kept golf course.

After finishing with an eagle on 18 I was hungry and looking forward to lunch. When I asked the server the told me that they make fresh burgers there. So I ordered it to find out how good they are.
Only took a few minutes and I got my burger and it was very good. You can see and taste, that it was not out of  a freezer. It was nicely garnished. I had onion rings with it, which was only 1 $ more and they were OK as well.

2 free beers rounded up a good lunch.

So what do I think about Rolling Green Golf Club ?

I think it is a nice little golf course. Not the toughest lay out, but with some challenging holes along the way. The lands cape might not be stunning, but it is nice. There is some residence living around it, but it does not interfere at all with your game. There are two holes along the road, but the road is so far to the right, that you need to hit your worst shot ever to get on to it. The traffic does not bother at all.

They take well care of their course, which gives you good position on the tee, good lies in the fairway and the opportunity to make putts on greens which might be a little slow, but are actually green and in good shape.

The practice area is very nice. You can do all you need to do. The range balls might not be the best quality, but it works fine. I really like the putting green.

The club house is old. However, you find all  you need. Good food for a good value, a little bar with cold beer and a pro shop with the most important things for a round of golf.

Servers and cooks were fun and friendly. The pros shop assistant might have been a little tired still. Not unfriendly but not cheering either. Since you just going to pay there, it does not matter.

The price value is I think OK. That is mainly because of the quality of the greens and the over all condition of the course. In summer time you are able to play country clubs and other good golf courses for less. However, often you find bad greens, dry fairways and so on.

Considering that breakfast, lunch and two drinks were only 6 $ plus tax to add, this is a great deal. You will not get that anywhere else and not of this quality.

Rolling Green Golf Club offers some special deals for golfing and for practice on top of that. Please visit their official site to learn more about that.

Rolling Green Golf Club is a place where you can enjoy a nice round of golf for a good price. So when you are in Sarasota, why not check it out.

Have you played at Rolling Green Golf Club? Have eaten at their restaurant? Did you try the monthly deal they offer? I always like to get comments on that. Keep it positive :)

Video of Rolling Green Golf Club in Sarasota

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Cradlz Smartphone Holder - Is it a good product?

The Cradlz Smartphone Holder
Technology in golf is moving on and I now start moving with it. It took me a while to read up on all my options on how to help myself and my game in a professional matter.
There is a few things I integrated in to my practice routine. One of them is videotaping my practice as often as possible.
I began with a JVC video cam and was not unhappy with that even though it was complicated. At least I thought it was. Then I learned that there are several sports analysis software applications for Smartphones on the market. After some research I found and purchased one and was pretty excited and looking forward to get to the driving range. Once there and ready to start however, I discovered that I had a challenge.
I was alone!
This represented a problem. Since I usually used a tripod or had a partner with me. Both were not available. So when coming home I started looking for a solution right away.
On one of my favorite golf shopping websites I found exactly what I was looking for.
The Cradlz Universal Smartphone holder.
I purchased the item and within a few days I had it on my doorstep. I unpacked it right away and was on the spot surprised on how solid the item felt. Pretty solid. Instructions were simple. All you need is a practice stick and you are ready to go.
Took it out to the range for a first session a couple days later. First I tried it with was chipping. I put the stick in the ground, opened the application, placed the Smartphone in the holder and secured it.
At that point I noticed that the screen was showing towards the back of the holder (away from you). That made not many functions on the screen accessible, but the record button was easily to reach, which is the most important thing.
I taped several swings through my application which made the above mentioned challenge even more obvious. Then I taped a couple sequences with my Smartphone camera feature and without the application. For that I was able to turn my phone around and use the front cam which had the benefit that I could see myself. Interesting thing, which I thought will be very useful in the future.
I then took the stick and went over to the range. Worked on my driver. First I taped some swings from behind and then from head on. All worked well.
The Cradlz Smartphone holder was really easy to operate.
It took seconds to attach it to the practice stick. Clips on really easy. I was able to secure the phone easily and take it out just as easy.

At the end of the day I can say the following about the Cradlz Smartphone Holder.
It is light but durable.  You can attach it in any height which enables you to shoot videos even on just over ground level, which is great for putting and fitting.
The cushions on the inside of the Cradlz protect your device. So you can use it with or without your Smartphone protection case ( I find it better without because it fits better and more tight ).
They write it fits most Smartphones. I carry an HTC and there was plenty of room for wider phones. I would check before you order it.
Overall I think that the Cradlz  Smartphone holder lives up to what they say it will do and look forward to work with it.
I paid 29.99 $. Not sure if that is the best price you can get it for. Surely you can shop around.
Great product. Somebody has the same item in use? Share your experience or opinion.
Couple more photos of the stick and the holder.
 Cradlz Holder on Practice Stick from front
 Cradlz from behind on Practice Stick
Backside of package with some professionals who used it. Front shows Bill Haas who said he likes it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Florida State Golf Association - One day tournaments

I am playing tournaments for many years and just about 3 years ago I decided to start again on the amateur circuit and work my way towards other tournaments. There is all kinds of different golf tours I am playing, but today I just want to write a short overview about the FSGA ( Florida State Golf Association).
It was only last year when I first heard about this organization. I think the reason was that I played mainly skins game events in the area for which I never needed a handicap. So the first couple years I actually never signed up to get a GHIN number. Only when I joined the Golf Channel Amateur Golf Tour I got myself a handicap again.
Last year I was not to eager to actually play any tournaments in stroke play format. That changed towards the end of the year and so I decided to actually join the FSGA.
They have different levels of membership which you can find on their official website. I picked the 50 $ a year membership. This level gives you the opportunity to play tournaments and that is all I was interested in. The other membership levels give you other perks, but naturally they have their cost.

It was pretty simple to sign up. Just went to the website and used my credit card to get going. Got confirmed very fast and was ready to sign up.

That is exactly what I did. Signed up for my first tournament at the Longboat Key Country Club, Harbor Side. They had two one day events right after each other and since I only played one of the two courses (Island side) so far I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.

Entry fees for those tournaments are were 50 $ each. That included play, cart, range balls and prize fund. What a deal. If you sign up after the entry due date, you are charged an extra 10 $ if you still can get in.

Considering the golf courses they play, this is a great price to get into competition, considering that most of the tracks you play are private and pretty expensive. Most of them you can not play at all unless you are a member or a guest of such member. Most of the  time you can play a practice round for cart fee. That is another great bonus when playing on the FSGA. There is however some golf clubs who do not allow practice rounds. Although I think that is strange and there is really no good reason for it, we have to respect the club members wish.

I showed up for my first tournament at Long Boat Key Country Club about 1 hour before tee off. Sign up table was outside and easy to find. Jeff had all the info and I was checked in and ready to go within seconds. Paid money into the skins game fund ( it was and always is a reasonable 10 $ ) and started warming up with my free range balls.

I left my bag on the cart which was actually marked with my name and the name of my cart partner. We were told to be at the cart about 15 minutes before the shot gun start. But we did not have to watch the time since they actually made an announcement a few minutes before that time and again at exact 15 minutes before starting time.

The tournament director then welcomed everybody and shared information  about rules and course rules. It all went down very fast and all was easy to understand. You also get a little sheet with info on it.
Staff members of the golf course then lead all players in direction of their tee box. After we arrived at ours we started right away. There was no horn or shot gun shot.

We got 4 hours and 30 minutes to complete our round. There were times for each hole printed on the score cards.

Penalties were to be given when you were caught causing slow play. Actually the entire group would have gotten a penalty ( I think there is a warning before that, please refer to the FSGA website).

I loved this part. In my mind there is no reason in tournaments like that or any tournament for that matter to play 5 hours  or more. This particular course ( harbor side) we played in 3 hours and 58 minutes. We did not rush at all and took our time when looking for balls, getting ready or putting. It was fun.

Sometimes the FSGA representative checked groups and asked how things are going. I also liked that. They wanted to make sure that the tournament ran smooth and without incidents.

We came in , compared cards and brought it to the FSGA tournament director. The score was posted and even entered into the GHIN system right away. This is exciting. You do not have to do anything other than play golf. Because it was a shot gun start, groups came in pretty fast and all was done without long waiting times. The results were posted clearly on large boards and shortly after they announced the winners and gave out the pro shop certificates and paid out the skins.

All very simple, clear, easy. The second event at Longboat Key Country Club Island side was no different and as professional as the first one. As a matter of fact, the third event I played happened to be at Buckhorn Springs Golf and Country Club and was consistent with the others. I even heard that they offered some breakfast.

The FSGA offers one day events, Championship events and team events for men and women. You play with your handicap and even have the choice to play in the gross division. So there is plenty of opportunity to compete against players of the same ability or better.

If you come to Florida and are interested in playing competitive golf for a good price in a fair and old fashioned matter, the FSGA is a great thing to be part of. FSGA tournaments are professionally organized, not expensive and you get to play on premier golf courses in the area.

I will play on this tour whenever I have a chance and when the events are close to my home or in reasonable travel distance.

Have you played on any FSGA golf tournament before? What was your experience?

If you have never heard of the Florida State Golf Association  and want to check it out visit the official site below.