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Archive for the ‘Nick’ Category

In 2011 I first published my list of my top twenty-five favorite golf courses.  I’ve updated it a few times since then, the last time in 2014.  Now that I’m back from a week of playing golf on east- and north coasts of Ireland, I thought it appropriate to update it again.

Northern Ireland’s visually stunning Ardglass debuted no. 2 on my list.

Of the nine courses I played on this trip, seven made the list:

  1. Cruden Bay (Cruden Bay, Scotland). If there’s a more fun course on the planet I’d love to know what it is.
  2. NEW Ardglass (Downpatrick, Northern Ireland).  As visually stunning as any course I’ve ever seen.
  3. North Berwick (West)(North Berwick, Scotland). Back nine is the most enjoyable nine holes I’ve ever played.
  4. NEW Royal County Down (Newcastle, Northern Ireland.  As of this writing, Golf Digest has it ranked no. 1 in the world.
  5. Prestwick (Prestwick, Scotland.) Very eccentric and about as historic as it gets.
  6. Royal Dornoch (Dornoch, Scotland.). Other-worldly.
  7. NEW The Island (Donabate, Ireland).   A hidden gem located just outside Dublin.
  8. Muirfield (East Lothian, Scotland) Probably the strongest course I’ve played (Portstewart a close second).
  9. Turnberry (Ayshire, Scotland.) Has the beauty and course quality, but lacks Cruden Bay and North Berwick’s fun factor.
  10. Bandon Dunes (Bandon, OR). Probably not as great as its Pacific Dunes sibling, but considerably more enjoyable.
  11. St. Andrews (Old)(St. Andrews, Scotland.) Makes my top ten because it is the Old Course, but truth be told its true greatness escaped me.
  12. Tobacco Road (Sanford, NC).  As visually stimulating as any course I can remember, I consider it the Prestwick of the South.
  13. Chambers Bay (Tacoma, WA). Too bad I can only afford to play it once a year max.
  14. Los Angeles CC (North) (Los Angeles, CA). Played LACC in November 2013 for the first time since 1993. (More.) Every bit as great as I remembered.
  15. Pacific Dunes (Bandon, OR). The best course I’d ever played until I went to Scotland.
  16. NEW Royal Portrush (Portrush, Northern Ireland).  No. 16 is the toughest par 3 I’ve ever seen.
  17. NEW Castlerock (Mussenden)(Coleraine, Northern Ireland).  Not objectively “great,” but an excellent everyday course.
  18. NEW County Louth (Baltray, Ireland).  Ditto what I said about Castlerock.
  19. Gamble Sands (Brewster, WA).  Voted Best New Course of 2014 by Golf Digest.
  20. Pinehurst No. 2 (Pinehurst, NC).   Only course I’ve ever played that didn’t have rough.
  21. Royal Aberdeen (Aberdeen, Scotland.) Not as memorable as many of the other Scottish courses, but I remember it enough to know it was outstanding.
  22. NEW Portmarnock (Dublin, Ireland).  First “official” course on our 2017 Ireland trip.
  23. Pine Needles (Southern Pines, NC).  Site of three U.S. Women’s Opens and the perfect and prototypical Southern pine-filled course.
  24. The Valley Club at Montecito. (Montecito, CA.)  Course is very good, but the upper-crust vibe is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. (More.)
  25. The Dormie Club (West End, NC).  Right up there with Muirfield and Portstewart in the “big boy” golf course category.

Knocked off the list: Royal Oaks CC (Vancouver, WA); Musashigaoka (near Tokyo, Japan); Bel Air (Los Angeles, CA); Victoria CC (Victoria, BC); Bandon Trails (Bandon, OR); Old MacDonald (Bandon, OR) and Predator Ridge (Kelowna, BC).

When the likes of Bel Air and Old MacDonald fall out of my top 25, and Portstewart and Royal Dublin never made it, you know I’ve lived a pretty charmed life.

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Another year, another Glendale Invitational.

We didn’t do much this year.  Our Friday round of 38 points had us dead last in our flight.  Our Saturday 72 was good enough to get us back to the middle of the pack — and save us a good deal of money we looked certain to lose after about the fourth hole.

We did manage to finish third in the horse race — good for about $60/each.  And, of course, we were able to kill it in the matching shirts department:

After our disasterous 38-point performance on Friday (I shot a cool 82 sporting a 5 handicap)

 

Saturday’s 72-point total saved us a lot of money (I shot 76).

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Another year. another Greenspan Cup in the books.  This was the 20th annual edition of the tournament I founded in 1998.  I went 5-0 this year.  Good, but not good enough for my Seattle Team.  We lost a close one — 15 1/2 — 14 1/2.

A few photos:

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For the last four years I’ve coached a Zeeks Pizza baseball team.  We started in tee ball, first as the Pirates then the Penguins.  In 2016 we graduated to “Farm” (coach pitch), first as the Pilots and this year as the Panthers.

Through all this time we never lost a game.  Sure, we didn’t keep score in tee ball, but in the two seasons we did, we never lost a game.

Pretty good.

We put all that on the line yesterday in the Farm Division final against the Metier Bombers.  Christian Shewey’s Bombers came as the no. 2 seed and, next to us, by far the best team in the league.

We got the job done.

Barely.

Things started out well enough.  We had a 4-0 lead after one inning and a 4-1 lead through two.  But the Bombers rallied for five runs in the third to take a 6-4 lead.  I thought we were in big trouble and I think most of the Panthers did, too.

But we rallied big time.  After the game was interrupted for a “4th inning stretch” featuring Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” we rallied for five in the fourth to take a 9-6 lead.   Thanks to some base running blunders on the Bombers’ part we shut them down in the top of the fifth, which meant that three runs — and a 12-6 lead — would seal the deal.  (A five-run limit per inning would make a six-run lead insurmountable in the last inning.)

Three runs is exactly what we got.

What made the victory so sweet was that everyone, from the top of the order to the bottom, contributed.  As for Finn, he went 1-for-3 batting at the top of the order.  He scored a run with a nice slide at home plate and made two nice plays at third base, one on a towering pop up and another with a bullet throw to throw the runner out at first.

All in all, a fantastic finish to an incredible run of little league baseball.

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Last night was one of those nights that was just — well, cool.

On Monday morning I received an email about some sort of open Husky softball practice around of this weekend’s NCAA regionals.  It included a t-shirt giveaway.  Sounded pretty cool, Reese can always use a free t-shirt, so I sent out an email to the Models parents and by yesterday afternoon I had five players and my assistant coach, HT, committed to join us.

A signature pyramid attempt before practice began. (Clockwise from the top: Maddie, Emerson, Gracie, Emily, Sammie and Reese.)

We headed to the softball stadium in the early evening.   I was expecting to see fans by the hundreds.  To my surprise and dismay, there weren’t any more than a dozen more.  (I’ll leave my rant about the short shrift women’s sports get for another post.)  Because of this, our access was front row — literally.  When the Huskies concluded their stretching routine inside Dempsey Indoor — a routine we copied (I’m still sore) — they invited the girls over for some high fives and gave them a cheer.

In the middle of those Huskies are our Models, including Reese.

It got better from there.

The Huskies then moved over to the softball stadium.  We joined — and literally sat in the front row.  Like fifteen feet from the players, if the crow flew through the net.  And as we were pretty much the only ones in the building, we weren’t unnoticed.  Perhaps most noticed was Finn’s Panther teammate Isaac Couch.  At one point he was dancing in the outfield bleachers, and shaking her groove thing with him from a distance was none other than Husky 3B Taylor Van Zee.

World class athletes, all.

It gets even better.

After a few hours of watching practice, we decided to call it a night.  It turned out that in the course of their evening shenanigans, all the girls got balls.

All but one.

Emily.

We started to walk home on that back east road, near the lake.  Everyone was happy as clams but there was a tinge of melancholy because one of our Models hadn’t collected a ball.

The Models with their souvenirs.

For some reason Reese looked back south.  Just then — and I am not making this up — someone at Husky batting practice laced one clear out of the stadium.  “Look!” she yelled.  The ball was headed for its permanent resting place in Lake Washington, took a huge hop — and hit the guard rail between the road and the lake.  It bounced back in and stopped in the road. Reese chased it down and VOILE! — Emily had her ball.
We continued our walk back, with me and HT commenting on what had just happened.  “Dude, that was WEIRD!” was the general gist of it.
Reese opined “that was karma.”
She was right.
Either Emily had something good coming to her from the universe, or the Huskies have something good coming to them (NCAA championship?) or a little of both.  But it was a pretty darn cool moment and one I won’t soon forget.

Post-practice we did dinner at Din Tai Fung — and got out of there for $90.

The girls were so wound up from their experience that they refused to go home.  We ended up eating dinner at Din Tai Fung, where we escaped for $90, and then grabbed a quick dessert at Menchies.
Home by 10:30, on a school night.
Pretty sure a few of the Models were tired at school today.
I’m certain of this because from all the texts I received from parents, their Models couldn’t stop talking about what a great night they had.
They weren’t the only ones.

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Today I turned 48.

Happy to have made it this far.

It wasn’t as great a birthday as last year’s — the weather made sure of that.  Still, it was good fun.  Tops on the list — our first-ever trip to Queen Anne’s Melting Pot.  Service wasn’t great and it was a bit pricey, but the fondue was a memorable experience to be sure.

A few photos from the day:

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Another year, another Easter.  This year it was brunch at Sand Point CC with the Johnstons; followed by an Easter egg hunt; golf lessons for Reese at the UW; and dinner at the Gouks.  A few photos:

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