Random Golf Thoughts is a collection of ideas, course information, advice, and a variety of other concepts all focusing on the game of golf.  Chuck Dogg started distributing "Random Golf Thoughts" in 2013 as a way of sharing information about the game he loves so much with the Chicago golfing community.

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Random Golf Thoughts while I ponder the many golf relationships I've developed over the 20+ years I've been playing this game.

Golf Cliques (August 2016)
Golf offers the chance to spend 4-5 hours with three other people thus allowing the opportunity to meet, network, and learn more about them.  That's exactly what I try to do. I rarely will play with the same 2 or 3 guys.  I always try to find someone whom I haven't played with and enjoy a round with him.  For some reason, the Chicago golfing community is not like that.  Most of us prefer to play in the same foursome week after week.  We develop these cliques and tend to stay with them.

One of the most common quotes I hear is, "I don't wanna play with him." Really?!?!?  Man life too short to be on that kinda bullshit.  Let that shit go.  One of the best rounds I had this year (shot a 78), was played with three guys who all shot 95-105.  

We all have different quirks, that's what makes us unique.  Lets stop worrying about and focusing on who we are playing with, and place more emphasis on how we are playing, then perhaps we will play better.

Random Golf Thoughts while I ponder whether Tiger Woods will ever play competitive golf again.

Get a Handicap!!! (August 2016)
For the life of me I cannot understand why so many golfers play this game without a legit handicap.  It makes absolutely no sense.  Personally, I've been using myscorecard.com since 2006.  I log every single round I play.  Since that time I have over 500 rounds of golf listed on this site.  Right now, my handicap is lower than it has been since 2013.  I am currently trending to 7.5, with an OFFICIAL USGA HANDICAP of 8.0.  How did I get so low.  If you break 80, your handicap will most assuredly drop to single digits.  I shot a 78 at Aberdeen, and a 79 at Palmira.  Handicap is NOT your average score, but an average of your best scores.  So if you log 10 rounds, the system will automatically throw away the highest five rounds, then take an average of your best five rounds to develop a handicap. To view my current handicap information click here.

Notes on a Few Courses (July 2016)
Deer Creek has lost over 250 trees due to the asian long-horned beetle.  Even the famous tree which guarded the green on the par 3-8th hole is gone.  It's still one of the most difficult par 3's in the Chicagoland area however.  The last four holes (par 5-15th, par 4-16th, par 3-17th, and par 4-18th) are perhaps the most difficult finishing holes in our area.

I played Big Run a few weeks ago, and loved it.  The course was in outstanding shape.  One thing that I like about this course is the elevation changes, and the fact that there are very few flat putts.  Trees line just about every fairway and bunkers guard every green.  You gotta bring your game to this course!

Gleneagles is another course that is in great shape. I played there on Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised.  There are two 18 hole courses and both are very short (6200 yards from the tips), but the greens are fast and extremely undulating, very similar to the greens at Big Run, Balmoral, and Glenwoodie.  

Chili Dip Open 2016 (January 2016)
As we move closer with anticipation for the 2016 golf season, Garlande, Eric, and I are excited to bring you our 8th Annual Chili Dip Open Golf Tournament.  Last year, we changed the format and made it a two-day event, with a cut after the first round.  That first round, played at Woodruff Golf Course was a supreme challenge, At only 6100 yards you'd think the scores would be really low, but it ain't always about distance as accuracy was paramount.  We will be going back to Woodruff again for this year's first round.

The second round was played at Settler's Hill Golf Club in Batavia.  A bit longer at 6500 yards, it still wasn't the distance, but the narrow tree-lined fairways, steep elevation changes, and undulating greens that brought our golfers to their knees. These two courses represented golfcompetitiveness at its best as golfers scrambled just to keep their ball in play without even having to use a driver off the tee.  Our second round will be played at Settler's Hill again for the 2016 CDO.  In March, we will announce the dates for this year's Chili Dip Open and hope you can join us.

Flex Tees (December 2015)
During the first round of the Chili Dip Open, back in June, I found a "Flex Tee."  Some 20 rounds and 3 months later, in September, I lost it.  Yes, you read this correctly, I used ONE tee for over 20 rounds of golf.  The tee never broke, and was only lost because it went in the water after one of my 175 yard drives.  lol...
At the time, I didn't know what the tee was called. I searched on line until I finally found something that looked like what I had, and made the drive to the PGA Superstore to invest in two packs of Flex Tees.    You will see a package of 8 tees, but the 2 orange and 2 yellow tees, are too short for me.  I only need the red ones.

Swingbyte (December 2015)
If you're like me, you've probably taken two or three lessons in your golfing career (21 years for me), and do all you can to improve your game on your own.  Well after another of my horrible rounds during the 2015 golf seasons, I strolled into a PGA Superstore and there was a guy there from a company called Swingbyte.  He placed a device on my club which was bluetoothed to his tablet.  After taking a few swings, he showed me my swing plane, and other information useful to help me improve my game.  There are tons of reviews out there to view what I found on amazon, click here.  You can also visit the swingbyte website by clicking here.  If purchasing, I suggest going on ebay, or to one of the discount online retailers like Rock Bottom Golf, or Budget Golf.  You can find better deals there.  I purchased a brand new one on ebay from Rock Bottom Golf for $80.  The list price is $169.

Keep Your Head Down (December 2015)
A young man is playing golf with a priest.  At a short hole the priest asks, "What are you going to use on this hole son?"  The young man says, "An eight iron, father.  How 'bout you?"  The priest says, "I'm going to hit a soft seven and pray."  The young man hits his eight iron and puts the ball on the green.  The priest tops his 7 iron and dribbles the ball out a few yards.  The young man says, "I don't know about you father, but in my church when we pray, we keep our head down."

A Bad Year of Golf (October 2015)
Although I was able to claim my 2nd Chili Dip Open Championship, my overall game this year sucked.  I was only able to break 80 three times. (77 at Coyote, 79 at Woodruff, and a ).  While shooting over 100 twice and eight additional rounds in the 90s. My handicap, which is usually around a 7 is now sitting at 10, and my average score this year rose from an 84 to an 86.5.  
I may have finally figured it out though, too bad it's the end of the season.  The camera on my phone (Galaxy Note 3) has a golf setting which allows me to take a slow motion video of my golf swing.  I saw two flaws that are causing me to slice the ball with all my clubs, thus losing precious yardage.  

I'm dipping my left shoulder as I start my down swing, which also causes me to cover over the top.
At the top of my swing, I'm cuffing my left wrist causing me to take the clubhead back to far.  I also noticed from this video that when I strike the ball, my clubface is slightly opened, which is probably caused by problem number 1.  I will be working on preventing these flaws in my upcoming round tomorrow at the Links of Carillon as I take on Gene Young, Cake Pullen, Lawrence Hollis, and the rest of the Diamond Strikers Golf Group.

My Scorecard.com (September 2015)
Since 2007, I've posted my scores on myscorecard.com.  In that time, I've played almost 500 rounds of golf.  There are several things I like about this site, here are a few:

  • I'm able to see all my scores, number of putts, greens in reg, fairways, and courses 
  • It keeps and provides my with a valid USGA Handicap.
  • I'm able to see how others in my group are playing.
  • It shows me the number of times I've played a course.

Being able to go back and check my scores and see how well I've played gives me something to focus on during the offseason. This year, for example I decided to put more work into my short game.  It's paid big dividends!!  Here's an example of what I'm talking about.  On Sunday, I played the difficult Thunderhawk Golf Course from the tips (7000+ yds).  I shot an 83, despite slicing/fading the ball on just about every shot, iron or wood.  But I got up and down 6 times for par, and had only 29 putts.  If I'd hit the ball better off the tee, I'dve shot in the 70s.  
My average number of putts dropped from 34 in 2014, to 32 during this season.  My average fairway hits dropped from 9 to 6, and average greens in regulation fell from 8 to 5.  All this and more can be easily tracked and logged on myscorecard.com.  

It's only $10 per year to join the site.  If you golf as part of a group/organization, this should be mandatory.  Not only will it help to police your group, but it will also allow for fairer gambling.  

Skins (September 2015)
A couple weeks ago, I had a discussion with some friends about the skins game.  I told them that the gambling game of skins is slanted heavily in favor of better players. They disagreed, saying, "Anybody can get a birdie."  

While it is true that anybody can get a birdie, it is also true that better golfers get more birdies and have more birdie opportunities. Most golfers are going to struggle just to get par.  

Lets say 8 golfers are competing for skins. John, Jay, James, Joe, and Jacob normally score somewhere around 95-105.  While Bill, Bob, and Berry normally score around 80-85.  Isn't it logical to think that Bill, Bob, and Berry are going to collect most of the skin money?  Although better players have an advantage, it's always a good idea to get in the game.  

On a chili October day last year, most golfers in our field of over 20 guys, shot well above their group assigned handicap, including my good friend Eric (one of the highest handicappers) who carded a 114.  Yes a 114.  But on hole 17 he hit a beautiful tee shot leaving only 140 yards to the pin.  His approach shot left him with a 10 foot birdie putt which he calmly drained for his only birdie of the day.  Turns out, nobody else birdied that hole, he won a skin!!  There were only four skins that day with a total pot of over $1400!!  Eric pocketed a cool $350!!!  

Repairing Ball Marks (September 2015)
Believe it or not, there is a proper way to repair a ball mark on the green.  I see many golfers pulling up their ball marks, thus leaving a brown spot on the green.  This takes months for grass to regrow in this spot and the green suffers.  Instead you should actually push the grass around the mark in, so that it covers the mark. I've included a video to show you the proper way.  I learned this a few years ago when a gentleman I was playing with corrected me.  I hope this helps...Click here to see the video.

Tiger Woods (April 2015)
Just when we thought Tiger was ready to return to form after posting an 8-under and being only 3 shots off the lead, he goes and shoots a 3-over 75, on a course he's won twice!!  I'm starting to wonder if he'll ever win another tournament again, let alone a major.  

It's puzzling to see someone who was so good, play so badly, and for such a long time.  Asgolfers we know there's going to be ups and downs.  But all of us expected Tiger to be "Back to his old self" by now.  
The PGA Tour, and golf itself needs Tiger to return to form.  Personally, I find it difficult to watch golf without him, because I really have no rooting interest in the other golfers.  Most non-golf people feel the same way.  In fact, the emergence of Tiger Woods some 15-20 years ago, got a lot of people interested in playing golf, especially those of the African-American variety.

Tiger Woods (July 2015)
The last time I wrote about Tiger, I got some flack from people telling me to lay off Tiger.  I personally don't think Tiger reads "Random Thoughts."  But if he did, perhaps he could use a little of my advice.  Hey Tiger, you wanna get back on your game, here is a simple checklist of shit you should do.

  • Get rid of swing coaches.  You're Tiger Woods!!  Just play the game you know how to play the way you know how to play it.
  • No girlfriends.  Tiger, you enjoy and are probably addicted to sex.  So committing yourself to ONE female plays with your mind, and causes you to lose focus on the course.
  • Play more.  Tiger, you ain't playing in enough tournaments.  You must play to win and get better.  

Do these things Tiger, and I think you will regain some of the form you have obviously lost.

Tournament Golf
A little more than 10 years ago, I was introduced to tournament golf while playing with Lerone Sidberry and the Stroker's Golf Tour.  I'd never played in a tournament before, and the experience I had with those guys is something I miss dearly.  Sure it's fun to play with you buddies for skins or a small Nassau bet, but until you stand on the tee box knowing you can win a tournament or need to sink a putt to win you haven't really played golf.  That rush of excitement is unparalleled.  

The pinnacle of golf for us hackers is a tournament that last more than one day.  Lerone used to do these two day events where you'd have to make the cut to come back and play the second day.  Then you'd be paired with those golfers who you need to beat to win.  Now that's what golf is about to me.  If you or your organization hold an annual event, let me know, I'd like to play. 

Why I Play This Game
Sending a special thanks to Tunnie Glass (Tunnie please forward this to the B.U. field, thanks) and the rest of the Brothers United Golf Group for allowing me to participate in their outing this weekend.  We played Balmoral Woods on Saturday, and Ruffled Feathers Sunday.

I am so grateful to God for granting me the hindsight to listen to Fitzroy Thompson and pick up the game of golf 20 years ago.  I could have never imagined the fun I'd have.  Fitzroy and I used to spend our weekends at the pool hall.  But after he discovered golf, I'd call him to go play pool, and he'd say, in his Jamaican voice, "Man fuck pool, golf is da shit!! You should come play!!"  "Yeah right."  I would tell him, "I ain't playing that boring-ass shit!!" 

It took me two years to take Fitzroy's advice, and I'm glad I did.  I've spent the last 20 years trying to get better at this game, and have enjoyed every minute.  I really enjoy playing different courses with different people.  This year, I've played 23 rounds of golf, and have only played the same course twice.  I've also been able to play with a variety of golfingorganizations: The 3G's, Brothers United, The 2-Seaters, and the Men of Mayhem (I think that's their name).  I will also play with the Circle of Friends, and Diamond Strikers later this month/year.  If you're club/group has a schedule or send out emails to others about weekendgolf, please add me to your list.  I'd love to come out and golf with you and your friends, and enjoy a drink with you after our round.

Yesterday, one of the golfers asked me, where do you normally play?  Who do you normally play with?  I laughed, cuz I don't have a regular course, and outside of my good friend Jay Johnson, (whom I met because of golf), there is no one that I normally play with.  

There are several reasons why I play this game, I don't want to bore you with all of them.  But, (1), the camaraderie of 19th hole.  (Don't be a trunk slammer [A golfer who puts the clubs in the trunk, then slams it and leaves without comin' into the clubhouse]). Just cuz you played bad doesn't mean you can't stick around and fellowship); (2), the opportunity to meet new people and develop new friendships, and (3), to be able to play a variety of golf courses experiencing the challenges while taking in the beauty of the course itself, would rank high on my list.

Sunday Golf Group (April 2015)
On Sundays I play with a great group of guys that I've met 5 or 6 years ago.  I even had the opportunity to play with the greatest professional athlete of all time (Bo Jackson) because of my affiliation with this group.  This pass Sunday we played at Prairie Landing on a day when the wind wasn't really a factor.

Of the 22 guys that tee'd it up, we had a total of 35 birdies.  Yeah that's right 35 birdies.  About half the group played the gold tees, and the other half the blue.  Eight golfers had scores in the 70's.  In this group we have four prizes with a total entry fee of $35.  ($20 Skins, $5 CTP, $5 Low-Net, $5 Draw-Ball).  One of our golfers recorded 5 birdies, yeah FIVE!!  And did not win a skin.  That is unbelievable!!!

Pound-for-pound, man-for-man, no handicaps involved, I'd put this group up against any golfing group in Chicago.  You bring your top 20 golfers, and we play a match-play event.  20 golfers - $20 per man.  Consider it a challenge.  I dare you to accept!!!

7th Grade Golfer (May 2015)
As mentioned earlier, I played Klein Creek (more on the course in a minute) on Saturday with Miles, a 7th grader, and his dad.  Miles hit 11 or 12 of the fourteen fairways, and every tee shot looks exactly the same, (Straight down the middle 220-230 yards (He reminds me of young Marco Serrano), The kid is extremely consistent.  Same ball flight, same trajectory, same distance. If Miles hits 30 drives on the range, They'd all be within 5-10 yards of each other. His father on the other hand, bombs them off the tee.  Most of his drives travel 280, he is erratic though.  We ain't talkin bout him though.  Back to Miles.  On the par 3-17th, Miles' tee shot lands on the side of a hill and there is a 30 foot tree between him and the green.  Miles takes a lob wedge, opens the face and hits a high arching shot which comes to rest about 8 feet from the pin, he then calmy sinks the par putt.  One of the greatest displays of shot-making I've seen.  WTG Miles!!!!!

Two Apps
While playing with Miles on Saturday, he showed me this app called Golfshot.  It's really cool.  Click Golfshot to view the details.  The cool thing I like about this app is it tells you what others have shot on each hole of the golf course you're playing, and can give you the distance your golf ball travels when you hit it.  

Driving around Illinois to play golf can be challenging trying to avoid heavy traffic. When I golf I use the Waze app.  This app is amazing!!!  It's a GPS and it actually gives me the fastest route to get to and from various places.  For example.  I used it to drive to Prairie Landing on Sunday.  From my house I normally would ride through downtown, pick up 290 and take it to 88.  But the app instructed me to go south to Sibley Blvd, pick up 294, and take it to 88.  That ride is 9 miles longer, but it saves me from sitting in bumper to bumper traffic downtown. 

Betting on Golf
For those of you who are admins or part of a golf group, here's a couple of things I've seen done in other groups that can add to the overall experience for your organization.

Hole-In-One Pot - For the past four years "The Men of Mayhem" (If that's their name)Golf Club has collected $2 per man for whomever can get a hole-in-one.  Last year that pot reached an epic $5,000.  That's a nice-ass payday for hitting golf's ultimate shot!

Birdie Pot - Yesterday while playing with "The Men of Mayhem," I got two birdies at the windy and difficult Bolingbrook Golf Club, but didn't win a skin.  Really?!?!?  TWO BIRDIES!!!!  A birdie pot insures that anyone who plays a hole in outstanding fashion (Getting a birdie) wins a prize.  This is great for those groups who don't have a lot ofgolfers who are single digit handicappers.  

King of the Tee - Simply rewards the person with the best handicap adjusted score (net score).  A $5 per man pot would generate a nice competition between golfers.  You could even run a year long tournament based upon this same concept.  Simply keep a running total of scores.  EX: if Eric's course adjusted handicap is a 10 and he shoots a 81, then his net score is 71.

Eagle Pot - Collect $1 or $2 per man and watch this pot build.  It's not going to reach "Hole-In-One" pot levels, but it will build, thus adding to the conversation in the clubhouse after the round.

Saving Money and Playing Golf
While I enjoy many of our "local" golf courses, it's the nicer courses that I really would rather play.  I'd pay more to play a finer course than play a Deer Creek, Lincoln Oaks, Tuckaway, or Cardinal Creek.  I'm just prissy like that.  If you're on a budget, this can be tough.  So here are some suggestions to help you save money while playing golf.

****Get Out of the Golf Cart - Many courses now charge $15 for a cart fee.  Walking will save you 

****Say No to the Cart Girl - She may have a really nice rack, and when she bends to get some ice, the cleavage is lovely.  But a gatorade, beer, and candy bar is gonna hit you for $10.  Stocking up at a Walmart on items you like to have on the course can save you big money in return.

****Invest in a ball retriever - I purchased one last year and it has already paid for itself.  I estimate finding over 50 Pro V1's since puchasing.

****Get a Shag Bag - Range balls, depending on where you go can cost as much as $10 a bucket. Getting that shag bag and practicing in the park doesn't have that golf course feel, and bad lies can be a problem, but learning to hit from these type of lies will help your game and save you $$$ as well.

****Stop Buying New Clubs - That new $300 driver is not gonna go any straighter or farther than your old on.  Let's face it.....It ain't the clubs!!!!  Until you get to the point where your skill level no longer fits the clubs you use, then continue to hit what you got!!!

****Play Better - This is easier said than done, but I routinely win a skin or two, and a ctp.  When it's all said and done, I often times win enough to cover my green fee.  

Senior Open
I am currently negotiating a deal with a major golf course to host a Senior Open.  This idea came to me because I've had the pleasure to play a few rounds with a couple guys well into their 70s, and came away with tremendous honor and respect for these gentlemen who are still playing this game at their age.  I pray (1), that God gives me that many years, and (2), He allows me to play golf at that age.  

To honor these magnificent gentlemen, I've decided to put together a Senior Open.  In order to play you must be at least 65 years old and have state ID to prove it.  (PLEASE REPLY IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PLAY).  Before booking I'd need a verbal commitment from at least 10 golfers.  Probable date is Sunday July 6th. 

Once I book the course I will give you more details.  This is NOT about me, I ain't even playing in the event.  It's about honoring guys like (Dexter Ford, Senor, Don Thrower, Rip, Ernie "The Legend" Todd, Jimmy "From the 3G's Golf Club, Les "The Rainman") and several other gentlemen who give me hope for competitive golf if/when I reach senior status.

This event never happened, I didn't get enough support.  Maybe next year...

Hole In One
For the past three years I've played with the "Men of Mayhem" (Not sure our group has a name so I will call it....Men of Mayhem) Golf Group.  Back when I started playing with them they'd collect $2 per man every Sunday and call it "The Hole-In-One Pot."  Right now the pot stands at $5,000.  Yeah a cool five grand for a hole in one.  We've had a couple people to get a hole in one while playing with the group, but they had either: (1), not paid into the pot or, (2), owed too much money and failed to make back payments to catch up with everyone else. 
If you play with a normal group of guys, why not start your own HIO Pot.  It's really a good idea and adds to the excitement of hitting golf's greatest shot.

Toughest Par 3's in the Chicago Area
The course with the toughest set of par 3's in the Chicagoland area has to be Ruffled Feathers Golf Course.  The par 3-3rd hole has a large body of water running along the entire right side, with trees running along the left, with sand traps strategically placed to catch all those that aim right to avoid the lake.  The hole plays like 170-190 yards so a long iron is needed.  To add to the difficulty, the tee box is lined up slightly left of the green which makes for a tough shot.
The par 3-8th is perhaps the easiest of the set.  But its 220 yards from the tips and 200 from the next set of tees.  The green is extremely undulated which makes putting difficult.  Bunkers surround this par 3 to the right and left, leaving very little room for those that can't hit a club high enough to carry the green and must land short and rely on roll.
The par 3-11th is basically an island green.  Its short (130-160 yards), but there is not a lot of landing room.  And the green is probably the most difficult on the course.
The par 3-17th is heavily guarded by a large lake on the left which also butts out to make you carry a 180-220 yard shot to reach the green.  Many players will choose to aim right but several bunkers guard the hole on the right side. 
The next time you play Ruffled, check your score on par 3's I'd be willing to bet you won't shoot even par on par 3's at Ruffled.