Tag Archives: Heritage Shores

Do You Golf Like An Artist or Scientist?

artvsscienceHuman beings are predisposed to favor either creativity or analysis in their thought processes.  Take cooking for example.  We prepare a successful meal by either following a recipe or inventing one on the fly.  I am definitely in the latter camp, and believe that when we identify with a trend, it’s probably best to play golf in a similar fashion.  I had an epiphany recently.  I have always thought I trended scientific, but now believe the opposite is true, and realize my current technical approach may be hurting my game.

Do you play with a laser range finder?  I do and my regular golf partner has a GPS device.  These are wonderful instruments of precision and we normally share information on most shots, so I have the distance to the flag, the distance to the front, middle, and back of the green, as well as distance to any hazards or hidden course features at my disposal.  When I factor in wind direction and speed, condition of the putting surface, and my current swing key(s), it feels like I’m trying to land a 747 on a small runway in a 20 knot cross wind.  I’ve been consuming all this information for a long time and have been struggling to hit shots when thinking so precisely.  I think there’s a connection because I had more success when I simplified by calculating yardages old school (using sprinkler head distances to the middle of the green and adding or subtracting estimated yardages for front or back pin placements).   Lately I’ve also noticed I’ve had good results executing difficult recovery or partial shots where my approach has been very simple.

Here’s two recent shots side-by-side to illustrate.  Shot 1:  Yesterday I had a short approach into a par-5.  I measured 54 yards uphill to a back flag.  It was downwind, and the greens were running fast.  I had 60 yards to the back.  I thought, “lob wedge to 51 yards” but tried to be too precise and shut the face a little and the ball trickled over the green into the fringe about 25 feet long leaving a treacherous downhill putt, which I promptly three-jacked.  I’d have been better off playing for the middle of the green.  Shot 2:  Last week, I drove a ball under a tree with low hanging branches.  I had 160 yards left but could not elevate a shot.  I thought, “hit a low 130 yard 3-iron then let it run up”.  Now who practices that shot on the range?  Not me, but I just rehearsed a simple little half flip with the club and hit the shot as planned.  My target was much less precise, but I felt more relaxed during my pre-shot routine than for Shot 1.  Why?  I believe Shot 1 had too many technical inputs and Shot 2 didn’t.  It allowed me to take a creative approach that my brain was comfortable with.

So what to do now?  It’s quite possible that I’m not using the information at my disposal correctly or maybe it’s just too much information.  I’m going to experiment on my upcoming eastern shore golf trip Friday to Sunday.  Friday’s round is at Heritage Shores which I have played twice and am less familiar.  I’m going to use the laser and GPS.  Saturday we play Eagles Landing which I have played over a dozen times and know where to hit it.  So I will go old school and pace off yardages and simplify.  Sunday at Baywood Greens will be the more comfortable of the two approaches.  I will let you know how it goes next week.

Do you over-complicate your approach on the course?  Hope not.

Play well!

Heritage Shores – Course Review

Summary

Clubhouse at Heritage Shores

I played Heritage Shores on Sunday, November 4, 2012.  The course is part of a new +55 residential community in Bridgeville, DE and is conveniently located on Rt 13, one mile south of the intersection of Rt 404 (main thoroughfare to the Delaware beaches.)  This Arthur Hills design presents a classic open style links play with significant green-side mounding and very little protection from the wind.  The day I visited it was windy and while the layout isn’t particularly difficult, the wind made scoring a challenge.  Most of the par four and five holes are fairly open but are bordered by a considerable amount of water, usually running parallel or diagonal to the tee shot.  The view from the tees fit my eye well and I didn’t find it too difficult to avoid the hazards but you get the feeling on several holes of a repeat look.

The front nine is the more pleasurable of the two as the course winds its way out into open areas and you feel more secluded.  The back is crammed into “house world” with the new single-family homes all looking the same.  I don’t mind playing courses tightly woven into housing communities, such as Oyster Bay in Sunset Beach, NC, where the properties are very different and present some variety, but that’s not the case at Heritage Shores.

Conditions were good through the green with the putting surfaces rolling medium fast and holding iron shots reasonably well, despite the heavy wind.  The bunkers were in terrible shape, with nearly every one loaded with casual water and leaves.  In all fairness, Hurricane Sandy had deposited about 10 inches of rain a few days earlier but the rest of the course had drained well so I was unsure if the greens crew had ignored the bunkers or these were just poorly designed.  I only had the bunkers at Queenstown Harbor, which I had played two days earlier, to compare to and they were in pristine condition.

18th green at Heritage Shores

Value (2.5 out of 5.0)

Greens fees were $59 which included a cart.  I believe the in-season rates are the same which would make it a better play in the summer, but I wouldn’t go any higher to visit a course of this caliber.  A small bag of range balls was $6 and they should really be included in the greens fee to improve value.

Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)

Heritage shores has a giant clubhouse that serves the entire community with two restaurants and houses the cart barn along with other non-golf related offices.  The smallish pro shop is combined in an adjacent building with a fitness and aquatic center.  A small snack bar sits next to the golf shop entrance but was closed when I played.  A small number of soft drinks were available for sale in the pro shop but I was surprised not to find the snack bar open for weekend play.

The driving range is a short cart ride across the street and boasts about 15 hitting stations.  We were hitting from mats and there appeared to be an ample grass area that was not open.  One thing missing was some type of bag rack or device to hold clubs and towels next to the hitting stations.  There was nothing, as you can see in the picture below, which required you to lay your clubs on the ground.

There were two very small putting greens adjacent to the golf shop entrance and I saw a sign indicating the short game practice area was closed.  I never observed the area and will reserve comment.

Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)

I booked a tee time over the phone and my impression of the golf shop staff was courteous and professional.  The starter drove out to the range to notify me when it was my turn to play which I appreciated.

The GPS units on the golf carts were touch screen, but only showed distance to the center of the greens, not the flag stick.  You had to drag the flagstick icon to a particular part of the screen where you thought the flag was and the GPS would recalculate the yardage.  I found this kludge and was glad I brought my Bushnell rangefinder to snap accurate yardages to the pins.  I could also do without the constant stream of adds on the GPS which required you to touch the screen to “return to golf”.

Overall I viewed Heritage Shores as a decent retirement community golf course but not a facility dedicated to the serious player.  For the record, I played the green tees at 6,477 yards and carded a 12-over par 84.

GPS unit

Overall Rating (2.75 out of 5.0)

Driving Range at Heritage Shores

2012 Fall Golf Trip Update

Just returned from a 3-day golf trip to the Delmarva that almost didn’t happen because of Hurricane Sandy.  The aftermath of the storm left the Delaware and Maryland coastal areas with windy and cold conditions that were less than optimal for golf.  I pushed through three blustery rounds that left me battered, exhausted, and glad to be home.  Full course reviews for Queenstown Harbor (River) and Heritage Shores are coming.

Freezing my butt off at Queenstown Harbor.

If you’ve ever played golf in heavy wind, you know there’s a premium on good ball striking.  Without it, you have no chance.  Oddly enough, I was getting it off the tee but couldn’t hit an approach shot to save my arse.  Only 15 GIRs over three rounds left me with handicap busting rounds of 85-90-84 and some serious second guessing about my motivation to take this on.  It had  been seven weeks since I last touched a club and the game rust exacerbated the difficult conditions.

Several truths came out as well.

Truth 1:  You MUST strike the ball solidly in the wind.

Truth 2:  If something is not working, change it.  We are creatures of habit and when you are on the bogey train or worse, and missing shots consistently, it’s probably a mechanical flaw.  I know it goes against conventional wisdom to try and fix your swing on the course but missing shots the same way every time (e.g. big push slice) can be addressed with little tweaks until you find a wood band-aid.  I found my fix on the range yesterday morning and finally put some good swings together after 50 holes.  Admittedly, it was a little late, but I enjoyed my last four holes and actually birdied #9 at Heritage Shores to end the trip.  While I will be “coming back”, I left the course with my game feeling like that crane in New York.

My golf game yesterday.
Picture from the New York Daily News

Truth 3:  No feel on the putting green?  It’s because your brain is flying on auto pilot and heading towards that big mountain.  You need to radically alter your setup and/or stroke to get your head in the game.  In round one, I was 10-over after nine holes and had taken 20 putts.  I abandoned my square stance, quiet hands, and shoulder propelled stroke, and went with a wide open stance with my heels together and implemented a very wristy stroke with a little “pop” at the bottom, and BINGO!  All feel returned and I rallied for a 3-over 39 on the inward half and took only 14 putts.  I have done this before, especially when playing in very hot weather where your concentration tends to wonder.  Something as simple as removing your hat, or putting with your glove on/off works.  Anything to break your routine can shake you into a course correction.

Truth 4:  Roll is easier to judge than flight.  I’ve been struggling with my green-side pitching.  Yesterday, in the wind, after another bladed wedge, I switched to low running bump and run game for all shots without forced carries and regained a measure of control and confidence.  Actually chipped in with an 8-iron where I normally would have tried to pinch a sand wedge.  The pros hit this shot with great effectiveness, but unless you have a ton of practice time, take the easier route and stay low.

Looking forward to expanding on these truths and playing some good weather golf this fall.  Any tips you’d like to convey for playing in the wind, please send them along!

Golf trip set – Destination: Maryland Eastern Shore

My exciting fall line-up is booked for the last week of October.  First up is a new course for me, Glen Riddle – Man ‘O War which is part of a two course complex just outside Berlin, MD.  Next is Eagles Landing in Ocean City, MD, which is one of my favorite courses at the beach.  And we’ll finish with another new play, Heritage Shores, which is a semi-private track in Bridgeville, Delaware.

My game is in strange shape after last Sunday’s round at Maryland National.  I carded my highest score of the season (89) but felt strangely good after the round since I putted so well using the new Stockton method.  Didn’t hit it close all day which gave my lag putting a workout.  Weird how you can get excited about a poor round of golf.  Anyway, full course reviews are coming and please send me any recommendations or playing tips you have on Man ‘O War or Heritage Shores.  Thanks!